I receive quite a few emails asking me to include law enforcement related information/blog posts on my Bad Luck Detective Blog. The emails are usually generic and always tell me they love my blog and feel their information is essential to my readers. I hope during my years of blogging, no one ever felt my blog was essential. The idea behind BLD was to bring a lighter side to law enforcement or maybe a human side. But more, I wanted it to be fun. “Essential” sounds boring.
A week ago, I had an interesting email from Antone Hammers concerning a humorous short film he produced about a cop/doctor i.e. Coptor. This is more like it!
All you not so serious readers grab a hand-full of popcorn, your favorite piece of movie candy, a coke slurp, and you’re ready.
I’ve put in my request for a grandma cop short film next. We’ll see if they listen to me. A working title could be Copgranny.
Click the link below and enjoy your next two minutes with no essential relevance whatsoever!
This is a short post but I’ve been feeling neglectful in my blogging duties and thought I would share something I found this morning. The mugshots you are looking at are typical of today’s county jail booking photos.
These mugshots are a great tool and I’ve used countless prisoner photos for identifying criminals. If I think I know the identity of a suspect, and I know they’ve been arrested in the past, it’s easy to show a grouping of pictures to a witness and ask him or her to identify the guilty party. This is called a six-pack.
Like many other techniques in fighting crime, I’ve trained to use these photos so the identification process cannot be thrown out in court.
I call the jail giving them similar physical characteristics of who I’m looking for and request a booking photo of my suspect along with five to ten others that match my description. I include height, weight, hair color, etc.
I choose five to go with my suspected bad guy, and lay the pictures face down on a table. I bring my victim/witness in and have them pick up the pictures in any order and look at them. By having them choose which picture to look at first, it takes the defense theory of “stacking the deck” out of the equation.
I would love to say this technique always works but in real life, it doesn’t. But when someone is looking at six similar photos and shows you the correct one with no doubt and identifies your bad guy, it’s a great feeling.
This morning I ran across the website below and became fascinated with the pictures of criminal booking photos from the twenties. I don’t know if it’s the black and white, standing photos or just the suits but seriously some of these are a work of art and nothing like we see today.
I loved the guy who wouldn’t open his eyes. Enjoy!
I don’t know if bad luck follows me, I make my own, or that god just knows I have a great sense of humor. Earlier this month, on a book-signing/convention trip to Vegas my journey began with marijuana and ended with marijuana.
Some readers might be saying, “Oh Suzie, what did you do?”
Seriously, I did nothing. This crap just makes for great blog posts!
I stayed in a room at the end of a long hallway. Directly across from me, the occupants of room 1599, smoked MJ the entire time I was there. We were the only two rooms at the end of the hall, and within twenty feet of approaching my door, you could smell it. Luckily, inside my room there was no odor.
It’s hard to stop being a detective and for five days I tried to get a look at my neighbors but never did. The smell was strongest when I came back to my room late at night and I think if I stood outside my room for any length of time, I would have received a second-hand induced high.
I didn’t, I swear!
After I returned from my trip, a friend asked why I didn’t notify people that I was signing books in Vegas. I’ll tell you a secret… I was petrified. It’s very difficult having an a.k.a., much less two and signing those names on books. It’s problematic enough when a reader asks to send their book to my house so I can sign and mail back. I’ve replaced several books, after giving them bad signatures, with my own copies. I now have a stack of unusable books in my closet.
At the signing event, I displayed paperbacks of Bad Luck Cadet & Officer alongside my romantic vampire fiction series, written under D’Elen McClain. My pink handcuffs sat between the two stacks and drew a lot of attention. When someone commented, I picked them up and said, “These pink handcuffs have arrested more child molesters and wife beaters than any pink handcuffs in the state of Arizona.”
True statement and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong.
So, at a predominately romance reader book signing, I sold lots of “Bad Luck” books. I’m happy to report that I managed to sign both my pen names without incident.
My closest partner/table mate at the signing was Wendy (W.L. Sexton). We actually met in the coffee shop that morning, started a conversation, and were friends before we walked out. As luck would have it, we were assigned side-by-side seats out of two hundred authors in attendance. Fate!
A few sales people approached and gave their, “Author, I can do this and this and this for you,” speech. Some were interesting and some not so much. One thirtyish dark haired woman, made my ivy sense kick into overdrive. I knew her and it wasn’t in a good way. She stopped giving her spiel to Wendy, turned to me and said, “I know you from somewhere.”
It clicked. I did know her and remembered arresting years ago.
“I recognize you too, I’m a police detective from Small Town, Arizona.”
Her sales pitch flew out the window and she left before Wendy or I could blink. I explained to Wendy that this was the reason my husband never argues when I take my gun everywhere. I was gunless at the signing and felt completely naked.
I woke up at 5am my final morning and decided to enjoy some quiet time, look through email, and drink some coffee at the outdoor café. Within five minutes of sitting down, a 65ish, older man joined me.
“How are you this morning?” he asked.
I’m 52, hadn’t bothered with makeup, and wore Diamondback’s Baseball flannel pajama bottoms and a really large black t-shirt.
This guy was obviously desperate to pick up a woman or considered me desperate enough to have him.
He told me all about his product. It actually cured dementia and Alzheimer’s, opened your mind to endless possibilities, and would help me lose weight.
This great wonderful product goes by the name… you got it, marijuana. If I smoked it only once a month, my entire universe would be cured of all the ills affecting me.
I gave him the look, smiled, and said, “I’m a cop!”
If you’re wondering if he got away with it don’t worry. Just for the “weight” comment alone, I promise his body will never be found.
I’ll be back in Vegas next July and I’ll give everyone plenty of notice in case you’d like to tag along for some bad luck.
A good officer/detective should thoroughly clean their desk/office every few years even if it doesn’t need it. I finally took the plunge and did a top to bottom muck-out (quite painful really). After heavy procrastination… I donned my gloves, mask, and full body suite and got to work.
Where does all this crap come from? Was my first, second, and third question. Plus, the undertaking took longer than expected because I re-read all the notes and letters sent by wonderful people, mostly victims of crimes, who expressed their appreciation in words.
My favorite included the picture of two brothers, who, after years of physical abuse, were removed and placed in foster care and their mother and step-father prosecuted. The card, with yellow sunflowers on the front opens to simply say, “Thank you. We are happy.” The picture shows them hanging upside down from a tree and smiling for the camera.
I found two letters that didn’t fit the victim scenario. One, from the wife of a man I arrested for road rage. She thanked me for treating her husband with respect. I remember that case so well because the suspect was more concerned with his wife of twenty years worrying about him than the consequences of his actions. I asked for his wife’s cell number, and then after leaving the jail, I called her to explain the circumstances of his arrest. I think the knock upside the head he received after returning home was far worse than his night in jail and the hefty monetary fine imposed, my kind of woman!
The other note that made me smile came from a seven-year-old boy, who bit his mother several times, and then proceeded to get the better of two officers because we didn’t want to hurt him. His scrawled apology included the words, “Thank you for not tasing me.” Gosh… why didn’t we think of that?
When my cleaning was said and done, I shredded two large bags of paper, found enough single bullets to fill my gun magazine, dusted, vacuumed, and beautified my surroundings, then gave a sigh of relief that I wouldn’t repeat the painful process again for years.
*Note* The State of Arizona lost 19 heroes in the Yarnell Fire. Please pray for their friends and families. The 100 Club of Arizona sent checks for $15,000 to each family within 48-hours of this tragedy and I want to thank this incredible organization for their never-ending support of law enforcement and fire. We stand taller because of all you do!
Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend and stay safe!
With the tragedies in Boston and West Texas, I felt the need to write something on the lighter side and step away from the turmoil overwhelming me. I’m sharing my smiling moment of the week to see if my humor is contagious.
Cop magazines inundate the Small Town Police Department every month. I usually have one or two sitting on my desk and I peruse them while waiting on the phone or eating lunch at my desk.
These journals include American Police Beat, Law Officer, LET (Law Enforcement Technology), and American Cop but there are many more. The majority of the magazines sit around the squad room taking up space, cause a mess, and get in our way. My fellow officers (the guys) ooh and awe over the latest police gear, ultra-cool Taser resistant gloves, the hot new police cruisers with all the bells and whistles that our small agency can’t afford, and every tactical gadget on the market.
Flipping through the pages of one of these magazines this week, I came across an advertisement for a new police flashlight. The pictures are the first thing that caught my attention. I started reading the ad and began laughing until tears slipped down my face.
If you’ve been pulled over at night, and had an officer point a flashlight in your eyes you’ll cringe at the pictures below. Looking for your driver’s license and registration, under these circumstances is almost impossible. But, for officers, these flashlights save our lives and many times during my stint at the police academy, I was on the receiving end of their use during practice scenarios. Hours later, when I went to bed, spots remained in my eyes. I know someone out there is screaming about the damage to eyesight but I can’t imagine pepper spray in the eyes is any less harmful and I suffered that too.
This brings me to the ad—“Lumen Face” the latest and greatest Streamlight rechargeable flashlight. I own two of their older models in two sizes and though I’ve tried other brands, Streamlight is my favorite. I finished laughing, read the remainder of the magazine, and then carried it back to the squad room. An hour later I found myself chuckling again, and retrieved the magazine to cut out the ad for my wall.
Some people may not have my twisted sense of humor and if so I hope you’re absolutely horrified (please). I absolutely must get this new light, the Lumen Face +500 lumens. When I arrest someone and get a Lumen Face booking photo, I will share it with you. Seriously their advertising states, “They’ll still be squinting after they’re booked.” Now I just need $150.00 to purchase it.
Jeff is new to our department and graduated from the academy about six months ago. He did well but had a bit of trouble with academics. He still managed to make it through with a 79 average. I will never hold my 96 over his head unless it’s to say, “That’s why I’m the detective.” I use this line on all the guys when they think they’re too smart for their britches.
Jeff received a call for a possible stolen vehicle at our small, but well stocked grocery store. I was in the office and the only supervisor on duty (no raise for this, no stripes, just more work) I could see his excitement and decided to let him handle it on his own.
Jeff ran out the door like he was heading to an active shooter. I smiled.
He radioed from the scene and put out an ATL (attempt to locate) on the missing car. His voice was excited but professional. The stolen vehicle was a gold, four-door, 2010 Buick Allure, possibly heading east. I decided to take a drive around the outskirts of town just in case. Unfortunately, I had no luck but it felt good to get away from my office and report writing.
Just as I put my signal on to re-enter the police department parking lot, I heard Jeff call over the radio that he was doing a “high risk” stop on the stolen vehicle. I pulled back into traffic, activated my lights, and sped to his location. My “fan” beside his vehicle was training perfect and I let him continue the lead.
With both of us positioned; driver’s doors open, sitting in the “V”, and guns drawn… we were ready. Jeff used his radio’s loudspeaker to give directions.
“Put your hands up where I can see them.”
Small, tentative hands went into the air. I started thinking we had a young juvenile car thief on our hands.
“Using your left hand only, open your car door and push it wide with your foot.”
The door opened and a slender leg with a high heeled foot pushed the door. The driver’s head turned around and Joleen from the sheriff’s office looked back at us. She wasn’t happy.
“Umm Officer Davis, I yelled, That’s Joleen.”
“I don’t know her last name but she works at the sheriff’s office.”
“Well she’s in a stolen car.”
“There might be another explanation.”
“The car’s stolen and she’s driving it.”
“Okay, it’s your call but don’t get trigger happy.” He was a rookie after all and I had to say something.
He continued his instructions, “Using your left hand, turn off the vehicle, and toss your keys out the door.”
I could hear the frustration in her voice, “My vehicle’s already off. What’s going on?” she yelled back.
Jeff didn’t miss a beat, “Take them out of the ignition, and toss them outside the vehicle.”
An angry hand threw the keys quite a distance away. Joleen had a pretty good arm.
Jeff went by the book and eventually Jollen was walking slowly toward us.
I only waited until she was at the halfway point, “Hi Joleen, it’s Suzie, the vehicle you’re driving was reported stolen.”
“It’s my neighbor’s vehicle. Mine broke down and she said I could use it to go to the store for milk.”
“Who’s your neighbor?”
“Michelle Rankin.” I knew Michelle.
“Jeff, who does this vehicle come back to?”
My detective brain gears turned quickly. “What color is the vehicle you borrowed Joleen?”
“Jeff, was there another gold vehicle in the parking lot near where Mr. Barley’s vehicle was parked?”
“Yes, but it was a few spaces away.”
“Did it look like this one?”
“Joleen, are you armed?”
“Then put your arms down.”
She continued walking to us and I got out of my car. I saw Jeff’s gun following her. “Jeff, put your gun away.”
Joleen began shaking and I thought she was going to cry. “Did you leave the keys in the vehicle when you went inside Joleen?”
“You know you took the wrong car.”
“I just figured that out.” I smiled which caused her to finally break down in tears. Jeff wasn’t sure what to do.
We called Mr. Barley and his wife drove him to our location. He drove away in his car after Joleen removed her milk and apologized profusely. Mr. Barley laughed and gave her a hug. I let her ride in my passenger seat and took her back to Michelle’s vehicle which, thank god, was still in the parking lot.
Poor Jeff, this is his rookie mistake and he’ll never live it down. I know it sounds like I live in Mayberry R.F.D. and some days it feels like it. If you didn’t know, R.F.D. stands for Rural Free Delivery or in my wishful thinking, Rookie Free Departments.
The picture above is a 2010 Buick Allure (Mr. Barley’s vehicle) and the one here is a 2004 Chevy Malibu (Michelle’s vehicle) but please, I’m no longer a rookie and would have solved this case in minutes because I would have run the plate of the other gold vehicle. I stopped believing in coincidence after my first year on the job.
I bet Jeff does the same thing but then again, that’s why I’m the detective.
Christmas in a small town is truly priceless and this year my holiday came early. The best gifts come in small packages and sometimes justice and laughter have no package at all.
I’ve been working on this case for more than a year. I can’t go into detail but it’s one that haunts me at night.
The long court process takes its toll on victims and officers. So often everyone arrives in court and nothing happens but setting a date for the next hearing. Explaining to victims that the wheels of justice turn slowly is never easy when my own frustration is at its limit.
In this specific case, the defendant has repeatedly changed attorneys and slowed the already sluggish process down. His latest attorney is a hot shot lawyer from the city. He’s nice enough outside the courtroom but thinks his big city antics have a place in Small Town. He’s written countless motions including his latest to suppress his client’s confession.
Everyone involved in the case was re-interviewed and the legal process continued, again.
There are things I do repeatedly throughout an investigation that make little sense to some and obviously made no sense to Mr. Hot Shot Attorney.
I read Miranda from a card in my wallet. I read it word for word. I know all the words, memorized them in the academy, and can probably recite them backwards but I never deviate from my tried and true methods. On the witness stand things get tense. If asked by the defense attorney if I read Miranda, I always reply, “Yes, from the card I carry in my wallet.” If asked to recite Miranda, I pull out my card.
I always re-read Miranda even if other officers tell me they’ve read it to the suspect. I take no chances and prefer to read mine in a recorded room. If I do read Miranda unrecorded, I re-read once I get to the interview room. Mr. Steamy Bullet Attorney decided to attack my practices. Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand justice in rural America.
I have a love/hate relationship with the judge. When he rules my way, I love him and when he doesn’t, I go home and call him names out of earshot from everyone but my dogs. I know who has the power and I’m not about to do anything around curious ears that may get me in judicial hot water down the line.
Judge Hoskiss and I go back to my very first case as a Detective. He’s mostly a cranky old man who sports a long grey beard. He’s “small town hick judge” personified and sometimes I want to scream, “But that’s not the way it’s done.” Seriously, America would have a huge problem with his courtroom. He’s known to let criminals out of jail before they go to prison in order to get their lives in order. Hmmm, years of prison, nothing to lose, let me count the problems. Well, there are so many I’ll eventually write another blog post about them.
So, the suppression hearing lasted three hours. Mr. Burning Ammo Attorney attacked everything he could about my Miranda procedures. Why would I read Miranda more than once? I must not have read it the first time, and so on. He was quite dramatic and the courtroom floor was obviously his stage. I on the other hand had a cold, coughed continually, and blew my runny nose. I had to ask him to repeat some of his questions because my loud sniffles overshadowed his voice. Seriously I wasn’t at my best. He used it all to make me appear like a stupid inept detective. By the time he finished, I actually felt like one.
It was finally time for the judge to make his ruling and I expected the worst.
Judge Hoskiss…“When I got dressed this morning I put on my belt and then I put on my suspenders. I wasn’t stupid or an idiot which you’ve tried quite hard to portray this hard working officer as. I just felt the need to be extra secure in my pants. Sometimes a belt and suspenders are called for on the same day. I rule in favor of the State.”
The gavel came down with a resounding thud and court adjourned. The judge left the bench and slowly from the back of the courtroom quiet snickers began. It continued to build and between sniffles and sneezes my giggles turned into full out laughter.
To everyone who carries a gun and Taser, nightstick and mace, wears a belt and suspenders, or just checks their list twice;