The Graveyard Shift Blog

Since 2008, Lee Lofland has written over 2000 articles on his blog, The Graveyard Shift. Topics such as police procedure, forensics, criminal behavior, and what it’s like to be a cop has helped countless numbers of popular and aspiring writers.

His life’s mission – to remind writers that cordite is dead and gone. Just say no to cordite in your books!

Using Lands and Grooves to Solve Murders

Using fired bullets and casing examinations to solve murders is not a new thing. Not at all. In fact, I recall a case I worked back in the 80s where a man was murdered/executed by a drug dealer and a couple of his "employees."They'd kidnapped…

What it's Really Like to Work as a Detective

Many people have asked me what it was like working as a police detective. Well, in retrospect, my emotions are mixed. Of course, there are far too many good memories to count, but many events took place I'd consider as some of the lowest points…

Friday's Heroes: Remembering the Fallen

Deputy U.S. Marshal - Name: Not yet identifiedDistrict of Arizona, TucsonNovember 29, 2018 - A deputy U.S. marshal was fatally shot while serving a felony warrant on a man wanted on charges of stalking a law enforcement officer.To…
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CS Gas and Crying Cops

It was a blustery, cold night in the mid 1980s, sometime near Christmas, when I had my first taste of tear gas. It wasn't pretty. Not at all.A man who was zonked-out-of-his-mind-high and terrifically "wired"after days of binging on crack…

Snitching to the Snitches: When a Cop Goes Bad

By now everyone is or should be familiar with the term "leaking." After all, we see it in the news nearly every day. It's as if not a single soul in this country can manage to keep a secret no matter how vital it is to not let certain information…

Creating Believable, Eye-Popping Cop Characters

We've all read books where the characters within are basically clones of those we've seen in other books, with the only difference being a name change. This is often frustrating for readers who want to believe the world you've created. They…

Former Inmate #12345-678: My Time in a Federal Prison Camp

Former inmate #12345-678 received a sentence of 37 months to be served in federal prison, followed by a transition period in a federal halfway house, and 3 years supervised probation.The following is his account of serving time in a federal…
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Thanksgiving: Black-Eyed Peas, Pigs Feet, and the Trip South

Our Thanksgiving trip south took us through the Harbor Tunnel in the Crab Cake Capitol of the World, Baltimore, Maryland (aka Bodymore, Murderland), and Washington D.C.On the drive past D.C., the Washington Monument was slightly visible…
Using common sense when writing about cops
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10 Ways to Stop Embarrassing the Hero of Your Story

Detective I. M. Manly here, and I've stopped by today to tell you about a serious situation concerning today's protagonists.We, the heroes of your stories, have been meeting in secret, trying to figure out ways to put an end to the torture…

A Cop's Thanksgiving: Save a Drumstick for Me

Morning parade.Smiling faces.Squealing children.Marching bands.Turkey.Pumpkin pie.Eggnog.Football.Pistol. Badge. Vest.Kiss the kids, please.And save a drumstick for me.I'm almost home. Family.Traveling.Traffic.Bumper-to-bumper.Smiling…

The Rookie - The Switch: A Good Cop/Bad Cop Review

I enjoyed this week's episode of The Rookie more than I did the one that aired two weeks ago (no episode last week because of election coverage). The show's fast pace and the idea of the rookies switching training officers (TOs) to help…

Say NO to Using Hair and Wasp Sprays for Self-Defense

Due to the fear caused by the news of home invasions, using hairspray as a chemical deterrent to ward off attackers has been a hot topic, especially among writers who'd love to incorporate the handy "weapon" into their tales.The general…

Friday's Heroes: Remembering the Fallen

Officer Jared Franks, 24Greensboro North Carolina Police DepartmentNovember 10, 2018 - Officer Jared Franks was killed in a vehicle crash while responding to a robbery-in-progress call.    Officer…

Holding Cells, Booking, and a Foot Pursuit in a Suit: Processing The Bad Guys

"He's running!"A bag of cocaine is tossed to the ground along with a small handgun. The bad guy takes off, and he's well prepared for the run---tennis shoes and loose clothing. More importantly, he has a small head start ... and he's younger.…
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Life After Bill: Alone At 0200

0200 hrs.Wispy fogWhirling, swirling.Streetlight.A lone bat.Looping, swooping.Night sounds.Frogs, crickets.Train whistle, far away.Radio crackles in still, night air.Prowler complaint.Noise outside…

Heading to the Laboratory: Toxicology, DUID, and Kay Scarpetta

As a police detective in the Commonwealth of Virginia, I investigated a vast assortment of criminal cases ranging from forged checks to robbery to B&E, major narcotics cases, murder for hire, occult crimes, and murder, to name a few. Solving…

Cop Details That'll Help Your Stories Zing with Realism: What's in Your Underwear?

It's often the tiniest of details that'll pique a reader's interest in your work. Those elements, by design, just might make a lasting fan out of someone who recognizes that you've done your homework and that you know how to subtly weave fact…

You Have the Right to Know: Why Are There So Many Sheriffs In Your County?

Here are answers to a few of the most often asked questions I receive regarding police and the work they do.1. How do I become a local FBI homicide investigator?Easy answer to this one. You can't. The FBI doesn't work local homicide…