Showing posts with label Police officer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Police officer. Show all posts

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Every Day Carry for Police: Information for Writers

We're going to take a quick look at the typical tools available to officers as they confront their days.

Politiekoppel met VLNR: Portofoon, transportbo...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Duty Belt


  • Weight - upward of 30 lbs. (think one-year-old baby) many of the belts are made of leather, though modern uniforms often use nylon to be lighter and washable (think body fluids). 
  • Gravity - with all of that weight, the belt wants to slip down. "Belt keepers" circle the duty belt sometimes referred to as a Sam Browne, to hold it snugly to the officer's dress belt. These are snapped into place. See an example of what it looks like HERE.

Advantage - 

  • Having equipment at the handy.

Typical EDC (every day carry)

  • Pepper Spray - TW blog article
  • Semi-automatic pistol in a security holster - TW blog article
  • Magazines (clips) - TW blog article
  • Phone - TW related article
  • Flashlight
  • Mini-flashlight (typical preparedness saying "One is none and Two is one.")
  • Asp -  TW blog article
  • Portable radio
  • Taser - TW blog article
  • Handcuffs TW blog article
  • Handcuff keys
  • Zip ties - TW blog article
  • Glove pouch (latex)
  • Bullet resistant vest (required by some jurisdictions adds about 5 lbs to the already 10-15 lb duty belt)
  • By individual discretion - back up gun (police personal gun often in an ankle holster)
  • By individual discretion knife/utility tool such as a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman.
  • By individual discretion a kubotan - TW blog article

The Patrol Vehicle

  • Mode of transportation
  • Mobile office
  • Equipment storage

Modifications might include:
  • Push bumpers TW related blog article
  • Rifle mounts
  • Prisoner partitions
  • Specialized locking systems
  • Wiring systems which support the add ons
  • Hidden lighting systems
  • Bar lights
  • Weapons lockboxes
  • Camera equipment
  • Sirens
  • Radio equipment
  • Computer terminals (called MDT for Mobile Data Terminal)
  • For officer safety, the light that usually comes on when opening the door is often disconnected.

In the Trunk of the Patrol Vehicle:
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First Aid Kit
  • Shotgun TW blog article
  • Gas mask/protective suit
  • AEDs or Automatic External Defibrillator (at around 1200$ these are slow to getting in each vehicle)TW blog article
  • Traffic cones
  • Flares
  • Floatation devices
  • Rechargeable flashlight
  • Snow chains

Other Equipment might include:
  • Radar 
  • Alco-Sensor (for initial analysis of blood alcohol levels)
  • Tint meter
  • Ballistic shield
  • Pepperball gun - this shoots round pellets (like paintball pellets) filled with a powder form of pepper spray. Shot at the feet the powder will spray up to disperse a crowd; hit in the chest of an aggressor or suicidal person it gives the officers time to take non-lethal action.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. Cheers,When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Police Interviews: Preparation and Rapport Building with Sgt. Pacifico


detective (Photo credit: olarte.ollie)
Fiona - 
Good morning, Sgt. Pacifico - Thanks for stopping by ThrillWriting.

Today, I have a some questions for you about the interrogation process. I was watching a movie last night where the arresting officer was the one who conducted the interrogation - is that the norm?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Well, that depends. Was the "arresting officer" as you called him a uniformed police officer who knew nothing about the case and just picked the guy up at someone's request or maybe a warrant? Or was he the one who had conducted the investigation?

In this case, he was on patrol, witnessed the crime, and made the arrest. Can you help me understand why you're making a distinction in your question?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Sure. First, let me say that in  the scenario you posed, yes he would conduct the interview. Here is how (in most places and agencies) it works. Contrary to television, the vast majority of interviews and interrogations conducted on a daily basis throughout law enforcement are done by uniformed patrol officers. 

Although the best interrogators are often displayed as detectives -and this is often true - there are far more interrogations and inteviews happening in the uniformed ranks. 

Detectives don't steal cases from patrol officers and start interrogating a suspect without knowing the case very well and having done some of their own work on it. Just like the FBI doesn't come in with their hands on their hips and take cases away from local police departments. 

English: Omar Khadr is interrogated by two Can...
English: Omar Khadr is interrogated by two Canadians (faces obscured) while a female CIA agent oversees. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A detective will conduct an interrogation of a suspect after he has been assigned the case through an administrative process, or if it is the natural assumption of the major case in progress that detectives respond to from the very beginning. In the natural order of things, as the police officers are no longer needed at the scene, they are relinquished back to handling calls in the field.

Something to consider, if we had complete control over the investigation process, the very last action we want to take is to interrogate the suspect. Often that is done very early in a case both in real life and also in fiction. But it is a mistake.

Now the reality is, sometimes we don't even know our suspect is our suspect when we first talk to them. We may think he is a witness....we just don't know either way. I hated it when my suspects would be put in my lap at the early stages of the investigation, and I didn't have enough knowledge to interrogate properly. Asking questions to which we don't know the answer is a dangerous area to be in.

Fiona - 
At what level of concern will a case require a detective to join the team?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Detectives get involved in cases for a couple of different reasons. Most often it is a manpower issue. The detective doesn't need to fly off to some other call and can spend all day, or the next three days or intermittently the next three weeks working the case. Patrol officers have to field numerous calls every day and be as available as possible for dealing with emergencies - domestic fights, bar fights, traffic crashes, fires, medical emergency calls (we are sometimes the closest unit to a medical call) and any other 911 you can think of. 

So if we have a major case brewing that is going to require a lot of coordination, follow-up and by its nature is too enormous for patrol to handle, then detectives are requested by the field supervisor. In most cases this is a sergeant. But then there are those cases which naturally get detective calls without any further ado: homicide, severe crimes against children, some rapes, bomb and arson cases for sure, and some serious assaults

Fiona - 
Some rapes?

Sgt Pacifico - 
Me grilling Dan McD in Law & Order SVU's inter...
Me grilling Dan McD in Law & Order SVU's interrogation room (my buddy MikeC works on the show and let us look around the set!) (Photo credit: dpstyles™)
The reason for the "some rapes" is this - If the case is pretty basic in its investigative properties (readers follow the technical answer not anything emotional here), and you have a seasoned officer with great interrogation skills who is a renowned investigator, and you can spare him from patrol, there is no reason to call a detective. 

A basic investigation might include a date rape. Here a friend/acquaintance or family member is the suspect. The location is accessible. And, there is easily obtainable evidence because it was the victim's or suspect's residence. Also, all involved parties are local and available. A good patrol cop will handle this. 

A stranger rape, unknown suspect with extreme violence, a crappy outdoor and contaminated scene or a late reported case where evidence is lost...that is going to need a heck of lot more work and a detective will likely spend weeks if not months on it. 

Remember, detectives don't just materialize from no where as super interrogators. It's those great street cops that we promote to detective. On Friday, he was a street patrol officer; but come Saturday morning, his orders are effective, and he is now officially a detective. The only thing that changed was his clothing

Thank you for clarifying. I feel better.

How might early interrogation or interviews interrupt a good outcome - good meaning finding the guilty person and removing them from society?

Sgt Pacifico -
Well, the interruption of getting a suspect too early is that without any evidence to provide the investigator with confidence he is the person, it takes a lot of the power of the performance away from the interrogation. That is part of the preparation. Knowing what we know that only the suspect and cops could know. Having some form of proof of his involvement, OR having such knowledge of something that we know we can bluff him with evidence that doesn't exist, but he would believe does exist. That is a whole discussion on themes that we will engage in the future.

Fiona - 
Okay so let's say the crime is one of the one's you listed earlier. The police chief wants to put his crack, A+ detective on the scent. What does the detective do prior to entering the interrogation room? (Besides making sure he had an in and out burger a bathroom break and a cig)?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Interrogation (255/365)
Interrogation (255/365) (Photo credit: andrewrennie)
First of all, the chief ain't involved. That is done by the captain of the division. The chief is running the entire department, (unless we are talking about the small 15 man departments, then yes he might become directly involved in making personnel requests.) 

If a detective is involved in the case at the late hour and was not part of the investigation and now being brought in, he will indeed make sure about the food, water and bathroom and then he will sit down with the investigating officers and get completely briefed on the case. That could take 10 minutes to the better part of an hour. Hence, the In-N-Out Burger is vitally important to obtaining rapport after the detective enters. (And thanks for reminding me that I'm hungry...) 

A good detective will also go over the suspects rap sheet and any written information on the suspects history available. It is in these little bits of history and truths that we know that we can use to test a suspects honesty. 

We want to know as much about a suspect as we can before entering the room to give us an edge. 

Lastly, we need to determine his status. Is he indeed in custody or did he come voluntarily? If he came voluntarily, did he ride in a cop car? If so was he handcuffed? In the cage portion or up front? All these things matter - they help determine the potential defense issues as to whether or not there was defacto custody or not. Bottom line, do we need to do Miranda or not based on the current set of circumstances.

Fiona - 
Now that our detective is up to speed. How does he build the all important rapport necessary to get a confession? Also, concerning Miranda - will the detective who comes in read the miranda rights just to CYA?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
No, with Miranda warnings, we don't automatically read them like on television. If he is NOT in custody we do not need to advise him of his constitutional rights per the Miranda decision if we are NOT going to ask him questions against his self interest or regarding information related to the case in chief. 

As part of the rapport building phase, like in any interview including a hiring one, there is usually chit-chat to break the ice. The cops and crook are strangers to each other most often, and there is a need to get to know each other. So we talk about what I call "sports and horses."

However, before we ask any questions that could illicit an incriminating response AND we plan on keeping him now in custody, then we will need to advise him of Miranda. If though, we are going to let him go regardless of what he confesses to, then we don't have to do a miranda warning. But see, now we are getting back to our previous Miranda discussion. Like I said, there are a bunch of variables to Miranda situations that takes hours and days to discuss and learn.

Fiona -
What might a sports and horses discussion look like - "Hi, I'm Sgt Pacifco. I'd like to put your butt in jail for the rest of you life - hey, did you catch the Nicks' game?

Sgt. Pacifico - 
Well, cut out the first part, and you got it right. "Hey there, I'm Derek, this funny looking, lanky guy over here is my partner Rick. Don't mind his gawdawful tie, his wife is out of town and didn't lay out his clothes for him this morning. You get something to eat? You gotta piss?" 

And it goes on from there - "You a baseball fan? Me too. Can you believe Jeter is retiring? I'm kinda glad. He should go out on top. Don't want to see him stay past his abilities. I'll bet he'll be on the networks doing commentary before next spring training." And away we go.... maybe for a half-hour, a full hour.

Then using the prep work, we ask some questions we know the answer to in order to establishing his truth telling style, his truth baseline. Even a mass murdered isn't going to come in and lie about their hobbies, the weather and conversational stuff. Knowing what his full legal name is, we will still ask him to tell is his name. We want to see where that takes us. If his legal name is William Mark Smith, and you call him Will, William or Bill only to find out he hates his first name and goes by Mark, then you have started on a hated foot.

Fiona - 
So whether you like it or not - you have to read the sports page.

Sgt. Pacifico - 
No, you don't need to read the sports pages. For many years I didn't know enough about sports and really still don't - only baseball. As my son got more involved in playing, we started watching it more. That's why the sports and horses comment. I once had this 15 year old female murder suspect who was neither sport, music, or artfully aware of the world, but she loved horses. Fortunately, I finally found something to talk to her about. Having some knowledge of horses from a summer I spent with some folks who had a horse ranch, I knew enough to ask my suspect questions and have some conversation about something she liked that broke the ice and allowed us to have a meaningful conversation. All the while, I'm reading her facial expressions and body language as it related to something she was comfortable speaking about.

Fiona - 
This is very helpful information - obviously the interview process is key. I'm looking forward to your next visit so we can continue learning some of the tricks of the trade. In the mean time, can you tell me how things are shaping up for the Writers' Homicide School? I bet your novelists are compiling their lists of questions to bombard you with.

click HERE

Sgt. Pacifico - 
I look forward to it as well! The Writers Homicide School is having its next session on June 9-10 in Las Vegas, Nevada. We have writers coming in from as far away as Australia and Canada. Registrations are on sale now, but we will be closing off ticket sales pretty soon so the crowd isn't too big to handle. So if you want to get a ticket, you'd better get in soon. We have a variety of packages available at THIS LINK

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

P.S. If you found this blog article helpful, you might also want to read these other ThrillWriting articles featuring Sgt. Derek Pacifico:
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Home Invasions: Information for Writers With Anti-Terrorist Expert Rock Higgins


English: A photo of S&W Mountain Gun M625-6 .45 LC
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fiona -
This week, I posted an article on FB/Twitter about a recent home invasion, and Rock Higgins and I thought it would be an excellent blog topic.

Although I have written on this subject in my book, Meditations of a Modern Warrior, LINK there is more that can be discussed on this issue and here, Fiona Quinn and I will shed some more light on the subject of home defense.

Fiona -  
Let me say that my remarks are geared towards writers who are trying to write their scenes right, and Rock is the professional who will keep real humans alive and well. To learn more about Rock and his book go to this  LINK 

Let's take a minute first to explain the difference between a burglary and a home invasion.

A Burglary -

* Happens when there is no one home.
English: A door lock broken during an attempte...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Usually happen during the day or when you
   are out of town. (So please don't put your
   fab plans for going to Paris out on social
   networks or make your plans generally
   known - you can share afterwards when
   you have the photos.)
* While some burglaries are done by
   opportunists, typically they are planned and
   the criminal knows quite a bit about you,
   your set up, your schedule, and your
* If you get home and find something off - do
   not go in and investigate it alone. Call the
   police. Maybe you think one of your kids
   just accidentally left the door open.
   Minimally, you can get a neighbor to hang
   outside with your kids and the phone ready
    to dial 911 while you go do a 

Home Invasion - 

* Happens while someone is home. 
* A criminal who is coming into your home
   at night will assume that there is going to be a confrontation.
* Confrontations are to be avoided when possible. So it is important
    to be a HARD TARGET.
* Reason they might choose a home invasion:
   `Their plan may be to get someone to open safes or give pin
   `They plan a rape
   `They plan to inflict harm/kill the people inside

Being a hard v soft target

English: The "YL88 Digital Lock Adjustabl...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Lock your solid-core doors with quality
   locking systems.
* Drill peep holes at your level and the
   children's level so they can see who is
   there, too.
* Lock your windows on all levels of the
   house not just the ground floor.
* Plant thorny bushes under your windows -
   and trim other bushes so that the criminal
   can not use them as a shield to hide behind.
* Motion detection lighting covering the 
   whole yard.
* Dogs 
* Consider a security system especially one
    that includes cameras. But if you can't afford a whole house
    system that is monitored, you can purchase the stickers and yard
    signs to put up. There are also portable alarms, designed for hotel
    stays, that are very inexpensive and can be used where alarms are
    not allowed (a dorm room, and apartment). 

    Remember noise and light make you a hard target. dark and
    quiet make you an easy target.  Link - this link takes you to a
    security store so that you can see the wide range of options. 
    (not an endorsement)
* A safe room set up. 
   `Simply a designated area to retreat to in an emergency. 
   `The children are taught to go there. 
   `The hinges are placed so the door swings out. 
   ` Some things that you might include: 
      A land line phone.
      Fire extinguisher
      Escape rope ladder

Our Home Invasion Stories:


      I was a young boy before my teenage years, my dad worked a shift system. My mom hated the night shift. At certain times when my dad was at work, someone would ring the front door bell or bang on the front door. As my mom went to answer the door, someone would climb over the rear wall and bang on the back door. When my mom went to the back, the front door bell would chime again and so on. This went on for quite some time. The local police were unable to catch whoever it was, and the neighbors never saw anything.

     My mom took to sleeping with a large carving knife under her pillow. My younger brother and I had no idea what was going on. Would I have liked to have been forewarned of events? Yes, definitely. Anyway, one night, my mom had had enough. When the front door bell rang (remember this is in the early hours so no one was coming round for a visit), she went to the front door and waited. When the back door was banged, she waited by the front door with the nib off so the door was open. On the next ring, she threw open the door; with  knife in hand she lunged. The guy had already taken a couple of steps back, and as he was confronted by a screaming woman wielding a blade, he legged it and would have been an Olympic sprint champion according to my mom.

     They never did come back after that and were never caught. When I learned of this story from my parents years later I asked my mom what she would have done that night, ‘I would have killed them’ she said and left it at that.

Are you trained in the weapons you have and are you mentally prepared to kill if it comes to that?

Fiona -

One day, I was home with my four small children when the bell rang. I went to the door and looked through the peep hole to find a man in a phone company uniform. I went to the window and saw that there was a company vehicle parked in front of my house. This was odd because we weren't having an issue with our phone. 
     So I called through the door, "May I help you?"
     "I'm here to fix the phone line..."
      My radar was up - something wasn't right. "We're fine. No issues with the phone. Thank you, anyway."
      He explained to me that it was my husband who had called, and he told me my husband's name. My instinct was that something was not right. I used my cell phone to call hubby to ask him what the issue was with the phone. My husband explained that he had switched our phone service, and we didn't even use that company anymore. My next call was to the police. I yelled through the door that the guy should get off my property, and he started kicking the door in, cursing at me, and ordering me to let him in. I had one of my children go press the panic button on our alarm. With the sirens wailing and whole house flashing red lights, I announced that the police were en route, and I had my gun aimed at the door, one more kick and I would shoot. He sprinted away, and the police congratulated me on not becoming a statistic.

So here I would caution you to  (or if you are writing this into a scene, then apply this to your character) premeditate a strategy. Know the applicable laws in the area you are staying and make decisions. Many of my friends will say, "I'd rather face 12 than be carried by six." My plan: I walk away, and my family is safe.

So Rock, what sparked this whole blog article for us was the story of the home invasion where the mother protected her family by firing at (and missing) the three teens who kicked in her door. Can you talk a little bit about guns and home safety?

English: Picture of a standard 'K Bullet' as m...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Firearms and Home Defense

Fiona has done a great piece on choosing a firearm for a heroine in a novel, and you can see it here: Choosing a handgun link

There is an inordinate amount of literature on firearms for home defense: rifle, shotgun, pistol. With the amount of choices, how do you really decide what is right for you? Well let me say this from the start, stick with a pistol, or a short barreled pump action shotgun at the most. Why? Well the tactics and the training to use a ‘Long’ effectively is 
far more complicated than using a ‘Short’. 

In this post I am going to ask more questions than give advice. This is because I do not know your circumstances. It’s your life, your home, your family. I can help point you in the right direction with questions you can answer.

Before you purchase your firearm get down the range and have a go with a few different types. Your hand size, strength and where you live (I will explain this a little later) all have an effect on the weapon of your choice. Also, take into consideration weak hand drills, that’s your none dominant hand, the weapon should feel comfortable for use in both hands with mechanisms that suit both dominant and none dominant hand firing.

But as you will see you may need to purchase two weapons, one for home defense and one for personal defense while out of the home.

Once you have chosen your weapon and are comfortable firing it on the range, the next step is to plan how you are going to defend your home.

Where you live will have some way to go in your weapon of choice and the rounds you use. Do you live in a block of flats, a house on a street, a semi or detached house? 

What are the walls like in your house, solid brick, plaster board, wooden or other? I ask this because if you live in a block of flats with thin walls, you don’t want a round hitting your next door neighbor while they are reading Virginia is for Mysteries, do you?  LINK

So two firearms: home defense may need .22 or a subsonic frangible round where as a CCW (concealed carry weapon) would employ a standard round for your weapon of choice. Bullet turorial

I have planned homes and night clubs for violent encounters. Why? Most home invasions happen at night and night clubs are dimly lit.

What is the first thing most people do on hearing a noise either outside, downstairs or in another room? You guessed it. They put the light on. This has now put the home owner on an equal footing with the intruder. You must get used to fighting in the dark. In the house it may be pitch black, or there may be ambient light coming in from outside. Either way, this is where the combat must take place, here you have the advantage.

When planning on low light combat, here you will also have to think about any attachments for your weapon:
* Torch (flashlight)? Not a good idea in my book. Remember you want the advantage, giving away your
   position is not having an advantage. 
* Laser dot light? Good if trigger activated, and you are already on target.

Your home must be planned with combat in mind.

* Can you move around your house in the dark without tripping
   over furniture, kids toys, cats or dogs? You should be able to. 

Fiona - Gosh Rock, and here I've been using the kid debris to make us a hard target. There's no way you could steal quietly through the room - and the thousands of lego pieces and marbles are special bonuses.

Rock - Yes,  toys make great noise traps when placed at points of entry. 
* Can your partner or kids move around in the dark to a safe room or escape from the home? 
* Do you have a plan for where you should meet up to count heads 
   in any emergency be it a home invasion or fire? Not next door for
   obvious reasons. 
* What about those who either don’t like guns or live, as I do, 
   where firearms are illegal? Well you are going to have to train in
   other weapons, knives, sticks, batons... Weapons can be placed 
   around the home either as ornaments or as purposefully located 

Fiona - 
Ha! Don't break in at Rock's house. It will go badly for you. Here's hoping you all stay safe and sound. 

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right, presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way are we advocating any position or personal decision.
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Monday, April 29, 2013

Self-protection in Fiction - Carrying an ASP BATON - Information for Writers

dmg ie, my own work
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DISCLAIMER - This is a non-political site that is geared to help writers write it right. I am presenting information to help develop fictional characters and fictional scenes. In no way am I advocating any position or personal decision.

This is an ASP BATON. In the top photograph you can see it in its compact  position. It has a padded handle that makes it easy to grip and comfortable in the hand.

The second photo is the baton when extended.

The type of character who might choose to carry an asp baton for self-defense might include:
*Martial Artists
* Police Officers
* Government law ex. ATF, FBI etc.
US Navy 030416-N-5862D-099 Members of the Auxi...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
* Military and ex-military
* Private Detectives
* Security Guards

Check out the state law where your character is supposed to live to find out about legality. California is a no-go. Because it is a weapon, even if your character has a concealed carry permit, in most states this must be unconcealed. The carrier of this weapon needs to be trained to be effective. Or not. I mean, if your character gets hold of an asp to "look cool," for example then the bad guy/gal could relieve them of their weapon and use it against them. Plot twist.                                                                

                                                                                                                  An asp baton has a little carry case that fits onto your belt loop. 

An asp baton is an excellent jogging weapon. Your character could have an asp baton in each hand. They are comfortable, and add a little arm weight.

And as she is running through the woods out jumps a werewolf, or a wild dog, or an  attacker. 

First the protagonist would take a defensive pose. This tells an attacker that she is not an easy target - that might be all the deterrent she needs. This also put her in position to open her weapon.

Weight is on the back non-dominant foot
Dominant foot is ready to kick, pivot, run


  • Quick snap down. 
  • The weapon extends and locks into place. 
  • This gives shorter women a better ability to protect against long-armed tall men.

This is what they look like extended. They extend by gravity and lock in place with friction (yay, physics!) No buttons to push. It's a fairly straightforward  mechanism. If you want to add tension to the scene, the baton could get stuck. It's still a great weapon and can be used somewhat like a kubotan. See videos below for more closed baton tactical ideas.  


  •  45 degree foot position. 
  • Weight distributed between legs, slightly more weight on the back leg. Ready for quick footwork (shuffling). 
  • Load. Which means to put the weapon into striking stance. 
  • These moves are FAST. You have moved from lifting the weapon to strike position in the blink of an eye - the heroine doesn't want to give her attacker the ability to size up the situation and come up with a plan.
  • Disarm the attacker of their weapon and neutralize the attacker. Use the force necessary to stop the threat. 
  • Use X swipes (see videos)

  • Video 1 - ASP Collapsible baton. (13 min) Goes over all the info an author might need for descriptions. Includes a break down.
  • Video 2 - What is a telescoping steel baton? (1:32 min)
  • Video SET - These are 19 short videos (about 90 seconds each) showing the tactical use of closed and opened baton scenarios include knife fights, bat/stick attacks, grappling, front and back attacks. Excellent.

Thank you so much for stopping by. And thank you for your support. When you buy my books, you make it possible for me to continue to bring you helpful articles and keep ThrillWriting free and accessible to all.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: Police Procedure and Investigation

South Australian Police officers wearing duty ...Image via WikipediaHowdunit - Police Procedure and Investigation - A Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland

Is listed on Amazon for $13.59 and used from $9.90

RATING: Highly recommended

Lee Lofland was involved in law enforcement for two decades and is now a writer and the sponsor of The Writers’ Police Academy. (For further information about the 2011 WPA please see my labels below. Also, there is a link under my blog list for Graveyard Shift - Lee‘s blog). In person, Lee is hysterical, and I very much looked forward to reading his book, that I was lucky enough to win in the raffle.

This book walks a crime writer through the labyrinth of law enforcement. Chapter 1 starts with an overview of our policing system. Who is in charge of what? How is a police department organized, and just what does a sheriff do anyway? Lofland reviews the hiring process -which is arduous. The departments look into every nook-and-cranny of a potential hire's life. It’s very intrusive. Lofland then reviews the missions of the various federal, state and local agencies. Very helpful if you are trying to figure out who is going to show up and investigate. For example, I thought that
drug culture fell under vice - it turns out that many departments have a separate drug department because the manpower need is so great. And the illicit drug investigators will work closely with gang investigators, etc.

Lee then spends a chapter helping us to understand the training. Last spring, I had the opportunity to go to our
State police Academy to ask questions. These men and women must maintain high standards in all aspects of their training - one little glitch and they are out. Most police officers with whom I have spoken all tell me that their job is the culmination of a life-long dream; they had always known they were supposed to be officers. Can you imagine the heartbreak of failing to attain the uniform?

Lee goes through the pertinent aspects of the job. He talks about what a police officer does versus a detective. How arrests are made and searches conducted. How death is categorized and investigated along with crime scene investigation techniques including fingerprinting,
DNA, and autopsy. He includes the court process, prisons and jails, and the death penalty. And, Lofland loves to critique TV, so he included a chapter entitled, “C.S…I don’t think so.”

Of further help to writers’ is a glossary of terms, an index of 10 codes, drug quantity, and federal sentencing tables.

Lofland has written clearly, in an accessible voice, with vocabulary free of cop-speak. It is non-fiction that has the hold-you-to-the-page quality of a novel. A great reference - if you’re doing your due diligence and want to get the sequencing, procedure and players right.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

F.A.T.S. No, It's Not Another Diet, Information for Writers

GLOCK 17 semiauto pistol Image via WikipediaCharacter Designation: Some good guys, maybe a hero, definitely some bad guys…

Character descriptions:
Okay. This is a little tricky. I would love to present a hero figure to you today. I know there were some in the room. I don’t have a clue who they were. I don’t know their names. I can’t even remember if they introduced themselves. Someone was tall-ish; someone was round-ish. There may have been some others, and there may not have been. I was in F.A.T.S. training. It was a simulator to train officers in using firearms, and I had tunnel vision from the second I went through the door.

Writers: If you think a witness is going to be with it and take in bunches of information, I would suggest that this would have to be a highly trained person. I have some training, and I’ve got almost nothing in the way of useful detail.

We went into a classroom, yup - just a normal classroom with a screen and a black plywood cutout. I remember this cutout vividly, because I did a lot of hiding there behind it. Seems that, training or no, my body reflexively wanted to duck. The two people I shot next to didn’t seem to have this reflex and stood square on while they were being shot at. Hmmm. Maybe they're not watching the same movies I am.

Bullets for handloading - Sierra brand in .270...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We were given guns and cartridges. No real bullets. I’m not sure of the technology that allows the screen to analyze your every move, but it does. I was the little number 8 bubble that wavered on the screen when we did the play back. We used Glocks. Now, I shoot a Springfield 9 mm. and a Glock doesn’t feel much different except that we had extended clips. This forced me to change my grip. I broke my wrist punching through concrete at a Tae Kwon Do testing, but that’s a different story for a different day, (Link to the story) and my right wrist never regained all of its strength. I say that with modesty because my right wrist never was very strong. I prefer to kick - I have long legs, and I want to be out of the bad guys reach. Reach in the F.A.T.S. scenario is not an issue. This fight is all about the gun. And my gun was now held slightly to the left of bulls-eye, sandwiched by my hands 

English: Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
First scenario:
We were shown a scene of an airport. A guy was being patted 
down. Some people were moving through the area. A silver haired man about six feet tall came around a barrier and shot at me. Well, us. But it felt very personal. Someone was shooting at me! I dropped behind the barrier. I was the yeller for the group. “Police! Drop your weapon!” All the stupid lines from the movies came back to me. I’m shooting wildly as I’m yelling absurdities. I don’t know what. It could have been, “No you’re not getting up from the table until you eat your peas.” Really. I knew my mouth was moving. I was yelling. But in my head, I was incoherent.

My bullet took him down. I know this because on the play back the little #8 bubble turned red when I shot him in the head. Red is a fatal shot. And then, inexplicably, when his body draped over the table, I kept shooting him in the leg with a bunch of yellow (non-vital hit) indicators.

I had to take off my jacket. It was getting hot in here! Whew! The instructors came over. Okay, now I remember - the guy was much taller than me. 6’2”?   6’3”? Salt and pepper hair. Very calm voice. He adjusted my finger on the trigger to help me straighten out the shot from my floppy right wrist.

Second Scenario: 
Library at the De La Salle College of Saint Be...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We were called to a school. We wound our way through the corridors to the library where a teen-aged boy held two females at the end of a knife. Now, if I were held at the end of a knife with a short bookcase between me and the knife-wielding dude, I wouldn’t just stand there and look frightened, I’d get the heck out of there. Just sayin’. Anyway, in we go. I’m the yeller. “Police. Put your knife down and your hands in the air.” Guy looks over. He's scared. He’s young. All he wants is a way out and to save some face. He knows what he’s doing is stupid - he just can’t think his way through this. He has tunnel vision. I have my gun aimed at him. It’s a close open shot. Of course, I don’t take it. Those girls aren’t really in harms way. They just need to walk in the other direction. 

As a one time Emergency Interventionist, working with people who have homicidal and suicidal ideations, I know I could probably talk this guy down. I need to put on my counselor hat. But no. I have a gun in my hand. I have tunnel vision on top of tunnel vision, and somehow I lost that counselor hat as I was winding my way through all those darn tunnels. There I stood like and idiot screaming, “I said put the knife down!” over and over and over again, until finally I bored the guy into submission.

Scenario three:
Bristol Law School courtroom
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is anyone else getting warm in here? Off came my sweater.

In this scenario we were in a courtroom. The camera panned around the people sitting in rows on the benches. I tried to pick out whom I thought might be dangerous. Turned out to be the prisoner. He clocked the guard that was escorting him, stole his gun, and started shooting at me. AGAIN! I got some rounds off - they only hit him in the arm as he was fleeing - maybe he could have bled out from my hits, but it would have taken hours. Maybe he’d die of an infection... eventually. Good thing my partner shot him in the head as we chased him through the park. That ended things sooner rather than later.

Scenario four:
I am sweating. My heart is beating a fast tattoo. I don’t have any more clothes to shed and still preserve modesty. I look around. There is a man in a red jacket sitting on a seat behind me, chuckling as I fluff at my t-shirt. He has grey hair too. Okay. Maybe I saw a bit more than I remembered having seen. 

      “I’m hot!” I told him. “Are there many more scenarios? I’m going to end up having to strip down.” 
     “Turn up the heat,” Round Guy says to Tall Guy. Tall Guy laughs and walks towards the thermostat. That’s all I saw of them - I was back to tunnel vision.

We were called out to a domestic dispute. As we pull up and get out of the car, a man is staggering up the driveway. He goes down. His back is covered in stab wounds. I chase the woman back in the house. She is obviously up-out-of-her-freaking-mind. Yes. That is the technical term an Emergency Interventionist would use. Yes, inexplicably, I’m the yeller again. I guess they saw what a brilliant job I did back at that library. 

      So again, “POLICE! Put the knife down. Move out into the open with your hands on your head!” Does she listen to me? No! She runs back into the bedroom and shoots at me. My hand comes up. I shoot her BOOM! dead-center in the forehead as I go down behind my little protective panel of plywood. My partners fill her dead body full of yellow #s.

And we’re done.

TAKE AWAY : Tunnel vision is very dangerous. All I could see, hear, feel, touch, think was the person with the weapon IN FRONT OF ME. Everything else, everyone else faded completely away. In a writing scenario this would mean that the bad guys could easily jockey themselves into another position. Hell. They could have walked right up beside me and pistol-whipped me in the head. Yup, that tunnel vision is a bitch and needs to be remembered when writing.

As I read this over, I notice I'm cussing a lot. Yeah - the ticker tape running at the bottom of my consciousness was pure gutter mouth. I was stringing them together like a drunken sailor. Lady-like demeanor be damned. Someone was *&#%ing shooting at me!

Even in a simulation there was a physical response. Every one of your characters should be drenched in sweat. If they’re walking away fresh as a daisy, you’ve written it wrong. They need a shower and a stiff drink.

See this article in action in my novella: MINE

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