PSWA Newsletter–June 2016

PSWA Newsletter
June 2016





MikeBlack200x200Get ready…. Next summer’s PSWA Conference is right around the corner. On July 14th-18th we’ll once again gather at the beautiful Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas for the eleventh annual PSWA Conference. This year we’ve got some special things planned, including a pre-conference workshop that will offer some one-on-one instruction and critiquing to improve your writing. I do the programming for the conference, and I hope to have the program posted on the website shortly, if it’s not up there already. I’m always interested in hearing the topics you’d like to see on the agenda. Remember, the conference is all about the attendees. My fellow board members and I strive to keep the conference informative and a friendly, and I guarantee that it’ll be one of the most enjoyable and fun conferences you’ll ever attend. These are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. Our diverse membership helps make the conference better each year.

Besides the workshop, which offers individual instruction and feedback from three professionally published authors, we’ll have some great speakers lined up, and we’ll be doing an old-time radio play once again. The panels are a mixture of sessions on writing and public safety topics, and don’t forget about our annual writing contest and awards ceremony. The contest offers opportunities to submit both your published and unpublished work in a variety of categories and possibly become an award-winning author. It’s a great opportunity to rub elbows with professionals in the fields of both writing and public safety. It’s also great chance to learn more about topical subjects and research that book you’ve been planning. The networking opportunities are fabulous, and the atmosphere is always cordial and friendly.

This year we’ll have three publishers in attendance, and they’re willing to hear pitches on your proposals. Although they’re happy to talk to you, we do ask that you have your “elevator pitch” ready. If you’ve got a manuscript that’s completed, and well-polished, they’ll be glad to hear about it, but please don’t approach them with “ideas for a great book” that you intend on writing one day. And resist the temptation to hand that hard copy to them at the conference. The old horror story of an anxious writer shoving a copy of his manuscript underneath the washroom stall while a publisher was taking care of personal business comes to mind. (You can imagine how that one turned out.) So, like I said, please have your act in order, which should include an elevator pitch, a completed manuscript ready to send upon request, and perhaps a synopsis that will sell your project.

The pre-conference workshop has a full house, but we might be able to squeeze in one or two more. As I said, it will be taught by experienced, published, professional writers. It includes personal instruction on writing techniques, and offers a chance to receive individual feedback on your writing. This is the kind of workshop that can take your writing to the next level.

And last, but certainly not least, think about the overall experience. You’ll have a chance to stay in a luxurious hotel for very reasonable rates, get some great meals, meet some fascinating and friendly people, and have some time to explore one of the most fascinating and energizing cities in the world: Las Vegas, Nevada. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a lot to see and do there, including many unique sights such as Hoover Dam, the Mob Museum (which contains an actual wall from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre), and many great shows to see. Many conference attendees tack on a couple extra days to explore the town and take in a show.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to send me an e-mail at and I’ll get back to you. As I’ve said before, the PSWA Conference may not be the biggest one of the year, but it’ll certainly be the best. If you attend, you won’t be disappointed.

I look forward to seeing you at the Orleans in July.

–Michael A. Black


Dees-200Most everyone who has ever used a computer is aware of computer viruses, and what they can do. You may be less aware of a relatively new type of virus or “malware,” called ransomware.

Ransomware installs itself on your hard drive and then starts encrypting either your files or encrypting the master boot record (MBR) at the root of the hard drive. The latter method is faster and more effective. Without the master boot record, your computer may know there are files on the hard drive, but doesn’t know what or where they are. Your files are essentially locked away from you.

A separate file, also stored in the root of the hard drive, displays a message that lets you know you have been had. Some versions appear to be from the Dept. of Homeland Security or the FBI, telling you that child pornography has been found on your computer, your computer has been locked down as a result, and that you will have to pay _____ to get the hard drive unlocked. Other versions just tell you to pay up or lose all your data.

Some earlier versions could be removed with software tools available on the web, but they took a long time and didn’t always work. My employer had this happen to his personal machine, and I was fortunately able to get the malware removed without having to pay.

The more recent refinements are not so easy to get rid of. So far, a sheriff’s office and a hospital, among many others, had to pay out five-figure ransoms to get their data back. The payments are demanded in Bitcoin, which is virtually untraceable.

The source for these malware attacks is usually in Russia or Ukraine, well out of reach of U.S. law enforcement authorities. They get to your computer by sending a “phishing” email message that asks you to click on a link that looks innocent. When you do that, the code downloads onto your drive, and the mischief begins. The bad guys have also been known to post file attachments that appear to be JPEG (*.jpg) images, attached to messages on a discussion forum. You click on the link that you think is a photo of some classic car or a fancy gun, and you get malware instead.

If you get one of these, chances are you will have to pay the ransom or lose your files. Older versions were removable with some effort, but the more recent attacks have been more durable. If you pay the ransom, the crooks usually will send you a code you can use to decrypt your data. However, they may leave behind code that they can use later to victimize you again.There are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Use a good antivirus program. Windows Defender comes built in with Windows, and it’s better than nothing, but still inadequate. My personal choice is Norton Security, which will cost you around $50 per year. If you have more than one computer (including tablets and smartphones), consider their Deluxe or Premier versions, which allow for five or ten installations, respectively. Run a full scan of your computer when you first install it, then later whenever it reminds you to do so.
  1. Also get the free versions of MalwareBytes and CCleaner (don’t bother with the paid, premium versions unless there is some feature there you truly need). Install these and run a scan with them about once a month. Both have features that will pop up at the appropriate times and remind you.
  1. Have a backup strategy for your files. You may not need to back up everything, but you no doubt have a book or articles you’re working on that are critical. Make sure your backup provides for saving past versions of files. If you have only one version and it gets encrypted and overwrites the non-encrypted version, you’re no better off than you were without the backup. One free option is to save your critical files to a cloud service like Dropbox or OneDrive, which preserve past versions of files for 30 days or so. These services also allow you to access your files from any internet-connected computer, and to share them easily. Make sure you use a good, secure password that you don’t use for anything else.
  1. Another backup option is Carbonite, which is as easy as backups get. Buy a subscription to Carbonite, install its software, and it will continually back up an unlimited number and size of files to the cloud, preserving previous versions as you go. This is the most expensive backup method, at about $60 per year, but it’s also fire-and-forget. Once you set it up, you’ll never have to worry about it again.
  1. Have a backup for the backup by making an archive drive. Large-capacity external hard drives are relatively cheap and smaller than a pack of cigarettes. You can get a 1TB (probably more than you will produce over your entire lifetime) external hard drive at Costco for less than $100. Once a month or so, preferably just after the security programs have run scans and given you a clean bill of health, copy your files to that hard drive. If you know how and there is enough space (buy an external drive at least as large as the one in your computer), make an image of your hard drive, and you’ll be able restore your programs, settings, and files later if something goes sideways, without having to reinstall everything. Put the external hard drive someplace very safe, or, better yet, store it off-premises. If your house burns down, your archive will still be safe.
  1. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, regard it with great suspicion. This goes triple if a link or the return address ends in a top level domain from a Slavic country, like .ru (Russia), .cz (Czech Republic), or .ua (Ukraine). Do not, under any circumstances, click on a link in those messages. If you get a message from someone you do know that looks suspicious, it may have come from a “spoofed” address. Your correspondent didn’t send it, but it looks as though he or she did. If the body of the message doesn’t look right, delete the message. Send a separate email message (do NOT just hit “reply”) to your friend and ask if the message really did come from them. The answer will almost always be “no.”

For as long as I have been doing this, I have regularly heard from one colleague or another that they lost all their emails, contacts, files, photos, whatever, due to a virus or a hardware failure. There is just no good reason for this to happen. Please take some steps to protect yourself and preserve your work.

–Tim Dees


I have been asked why I write books and stories, and I have asked others that same question. What I found was a similar reason among several of these writers and authors. I am going to take a wild stab and try to describe that reason.

One weekend my great grandson and my grandson came for dinner. I caught myself looking at both of them, especially my great grandson, and wondered at life. How great it is. How complex the human body is. How wonderful that a man and woman can create this. Then I had thoughts of how a woman must feel when she is pregnant. I put aside the morning sickness, the discomfort of swollen ankles, the cravings, the flux of hormones, and of being off balance with a bowling ball stuck out in front of her.

I wondered how it felt to bring life into the world, to feel life inside you, to feel that life grow, getting larger and larger. Then the strawberry shortcake arrived.

I lay in bed that evening running the day’s events through my mind. The thought of bringing life into the world returned.

My wife needed me at home due to illness and I felt I needed to do something constructive. I had thought before about writing the story of my childhood, my troubled teenage years and being in the service. I wanted my kids to know what I went through and how easy they have it now. But now, being retired, I had the time to do it although I did not have a thought of how to go about it. It sounded like it might be a fun thing to do and beside the soap operas were leaving me restless.

I found myself comparing writing a book to a woman’s pregnancy. Not that they are anything alike, but in my mind they could be similar. Both a baby and a book start with an idea, a plot and a desire. I had all three.

So I started to put words on paper and let them grow. There were discomforts along the way. No matter how hard I tried, some words seemed wrong or they did not seen to flow. Should that be a comma or a period? Is that word used properly? Eventually over a period of time, I had a manuscript. Not about my childhood but of a single situation I had been thrown into and I had to give birth to it. I loaded up the printer and pushed the button. Unlike the real thing, the only pain I had was the paper jams.

Then I read what I wrote and like a baby, it needed changing. Words, sentences, rearranging thoughts, lots of changes and some of them stunk as a child does on occasions. But I wanted my toddler to grow so I kept at it. Eventually my baby grew to be a complete story. A story so interesting that I felt it was something the entire world should read. Instead of giving it to my off spring and heirs I had it published. When I got my first hard copy I became a male mother. What a feeling.

Since then I have been a male mother seven additional times and God it feels good! Now my children, my books, are being exposed to the elements of society. I can only wish them success. Each is on their own just like my real children. They will be loved or tolerated or hated based on what they do, where they go and what others think of them.

And that is why I and many others write. We envy mothers. My great-grandson and my books will live on after me both carrying my name, and, after all, I think they both are the products of some pretty good genes.

Jack Miller, Retired Special Agent of, AFOSI & NSGCB; member VFW, TREA, Nellis Lodge 46 F&AM, FOP, AFRSV, Public Safety Writers Assoc., (PSWA) and Wednesday Warrior Writers. Author of Cold War Warrior; Cold War Defector; The Master Cheat; Operation Switch; The Medal, and Peacekeepers.


In the September 2015 issue of PSWA’s newsletter, Professor X wrote under his/her article titled “ANOMYMITY HAS ITS VIRTUE” suggesting the guideline for how to use an ‘s to form the plural of letters and words used as words in the context of the sentence. He/She gave this example:

“Jim got all A’s and B’s on his report card.”

Being the “trained investigator and security professional” that I am (tongue in cheek), I was able to discover Professor X’s identity and, as most “Professors” do, had an educated discussion with him/her on his/her suggestion. So with Professor X’s encouragement, I would like to supplement that tip with some additional guidelines on this grammar point.

First, let me emphasize that Professor X is correct with the example he/she gave. Let me repeat, Professor X gave correct information. But he/she left-out some relevant information with this grammar tip that might create some confusion when it comes to using figures or multiple letters, and particularly when used to show possessive forms.

According to “The Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual” (copyright 1994), when single letters are used in a sentence, an ‘s should be used.

Mind your p’s and q’s.

He learned the three R’s in school.

The Oakland A’s won the pennant.

However, irregularities and exceptions to rules sometimes will come into play when using single letters and trying to show possession.

The Oakland A’s uniforms were stolen from their locker room.

or should it be…

The Oakland A’s’ uniforms were stolen from their locker room.


The double use of an apostrophe might meet basic grammar rules, but it’s obvious how awkward that looks. And I can’t find any rule as to how this dilemma would be handled. My personal recommendation is to NOT use two apostrophes. It looks like a typo.

Again, according to the AP, the next thing to consider is when using figures or multiple letters, add just an s to numbers or figures. 

The custom began in the 1920s.

The airline has two Boeing 727s.

Temperatures will be in the low 20s.

There were five size 7s. 

She knows her ABCs.

 I gave him five IOUs. 

However, using this rule for figures and multiple letters used as acronyms and abbreviations, adding apostrophes then become a little easier to apply and separate from the plural form of the word.

The Army GIs marched to the chow hall.

The GI’s rifle malfunctioned.

The GI’s M16s failed to pass inspection.

The GIs’ M16s were all dirty from the rain.

Notice the different placements of the apostrophes, or lack of, in the examples above.

The first example is easily understood to be more than one soldier marching.

The second example indicates there is one soldier with only on weapon.

Example number three still indicates one soldier who possesses multiple firearms.

And finally, the last example shows that there was more than one soldier with more than one weapon.

It should be noted at this time that some of these guidelines by the Associated Press are exceptions to Webster’s New World guidelines. So, there may be other reference sources that suggest other than what is mentioned here.

In summary, I just want to leave you with this. Thank goodness there are not several PSWAs around the country, because surely then all these PSWAs’ members would want to add their comments to this PSWA’s newsletter.

In keeping Professor X’s secret identity intact,

Respectfully Signed…

“Professor Y”


john_wills_200Your memory plays a very important role in your life as a cop. There are thousands of things a police officer needs to remember on a daily basis. Laws, both state and local, as well as department policies, can by themselves be overwhelming. While those are indeed important, the rules that govern our survival on the street trump all others.

How does memory fit into survival? Read on. By way of explanation, there is a distinction between short-term memory (also known as primary or active memory) and long-term memory. The simplest explanation of short–term memory is any information we acquire which is not rehearsed or actively maintained; it lasts mere seconds. Short-term memory is also limited—it can only hold about seven items for about 20 or 30 seconds.

If you were to ask someone about their understanding of what long-memory is they’d likely shrug and tell you it’s simply memory, or better yet, remembering things. However, before information can become long-term memory, most experts in the field believe information must first pass through sensory and short-term memory.

To illustrate what short-term memory is, think about the difficulty in remembering a phone number. After hearing it, you try to make a mental note, but seconds later when you try to dial the number, you’ve already forgotten it. Unless you’ve repeated the number and committed it to memory, the information is gone.

Now, let’s compare short-term memory to long-term memory. Since short-term memory is limited in both capacity and duration, for retention purposes, we must somehow transfer the info to long-term memory. How do we do that? Rehearsal. A good analogy of this procedure is studying for an exam, perhaps a promotional exam. You review the relevant information repeatedly until the facts are committed to memory. Unlike short-term memory, which is limited and disappears rapidly, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.

What does all of this mean to you? Simply this—rehearsal, i.e., training, is the pathway to remembering the skills you may need to survive. For instance, range time assists us in permanently marking our mind with regard to firearm skills. Drawing from the holster and getting quickly on target each time is a skill that needs to be filed in our long-term memory. Wearing your weapon in the same spot, along with spare mags, taser, cuffs, etc., and practicing deploying them the same way each time, saves valuable time. When your training is consistent, your reaction time is reduced. As police officers, we know the quickest reaction time to obvious stimuli is ¼ – ½ second. We certainly don’t want to add to that time.

There’s an interesting process known as Myelinization. It causes the brain to quickly process sensory data, via synapses, by building direct pathways between neurons. This process enables us to act quickly and efficiently as the brain sends signals to the muscles to perform a particular motor skill. This Myelinization occurs through repetition in training. Again, firearms, DT, traffic stops, arrest plans, etc., all need constant review and rehearsal in order to fortify our long-term memory. This automatic response to stimuli gives us the ability to act without having to think about it first.

One last thing … how does sleep affect memory? Recent studies have shown that adequate sleep enhances memory for things such as word associations and virtual navigation tasks. The old adage, “sleep on it”, is good advice since the benefits of sleep on declarative memory performance (test taking) have been shown to improve with a good night’s rest. Conversely, sleep deprivation adversely affects hippocampal activation, resulting in poor memory retention. The conclusion—sleep is essential for committing important information to long-term memory.

–John Wills


Scientific American 2/26/07

About health 6/29/15

HowStuffWorks SCIENCE 5/8/07



Leaving Home on Vacation

RonCorbin200x200Summer typically means “vacation time.” The kids are out of school, the weather is warm, and the tax returns have provided some extra cash. So like Clark Griswold and his family, many people head out on a “quest for fun”!

However, unlike what was seen in the 1983 movie “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” where the Griswolds experienced predicaments on the roads, some families return from their happy outing only to the shock and distress of finding their homes burglarized or vandalized. Besides a home security alarm system, here are some simple and inexpensive tips that will help deter criminal activity and better secure your house when you’re on vacation.

Newspaper and Mail Delivery: If possible, have a family member or trusted neighbor pick up your mail and newspaper. Do Not Stop newspaper service. If you do, all you’ve done is alert the paper boy that you will be gone for a certain period of time. If you must stop mail to avoid over-stuffing the mail box, a card can be filled-out at the post office without any declaration as to the reason, and thus not really disclosing your absence. 

Light Timers: Use light timers inside your house. Place these devices on lamps, or radios and TVs. Set the timers to go on and off at the normal hours of your daily routine; that is, to come on at dusk and go off at bedtime. If your blinds are down, open them slightly to allow the light to be seen from the outside. It is also a good idea (from practical experience) to use lamps that have more than one bulb, since one light bulb could burn out while you are away. 

Lighting: Do not leave the front entry or porch light on. Lights at the front door that remain on 24/7 for several days in a row are a sure indication that the residents are away. In fact, if you typically don’t leave any outside or backyard light(s) on, then don’t while you’re away. Instead, install motion sensors that will activate when someone is in an area around your house that they shouldn’t be. 

Side Gates: Locking side gates giving access to your backyard should be an everyday practice. But if not, especially do so when you’re away for an extended time. Yes, burglars can climb fences and gates, and often do in order to gain unauthorized entry into your house without being seen from the front. But climbing a gate is more suspicious to nosey neighbors than simply opening and strolling through it. 

The “Lived-in” Look: Have a trusted neighbor monitor your house. Tell them that they can place their garbage cans in front of your house on trash pick-up day. Let them park their car in your driveway. Tell them they can have their kids play in your front yard. Do not close your blinds or window coverings if that is not your normal practice. 

Social Media and Your Kids: A lot of home burglaries are committed by young people. Strongly impress on your kids that any pre-discussion of their trip at school or via social media is advertising that your house is going to be vacated for a designated period of time. And that this can increase the potential for break-in’s and theft. Tell them they can share their trip with friends once they return home.

Until the next time, Stay Safe and, oh…have fun at Wally World!
Ron Corbin __.___


john_schembra200x200When talking to friends, family and strangers about my books and writing in general, the first question they usually ask is “How do you come up with your ideas?”

I tell them I have no specific process in figuring out what the plot will be.  Inspiration seems to come to me out of the blue when least expected.  It could be something said in passing by people around me, or something I heard listening to the radio in while driving.  It may be an obscure back page news article in the paper.  Maybe something said by a character in a movie or television program catches my attention, or a story told by a friend at dinner.

Whatever the source, it’s whether it piques my interest.  My latest novel, Sin Eater, which will soon be released, came about as I was half listening to a movie on television.  Though I can’t remember what the movie was, I know the scene was two men, one of whom may have been Robin Williams, sitting in a bar talking.  I don’t even remember what they were talking about, but one of them said something about a sin eater.  There was just that one quick reference but it caught my attention.  I had never heard of a Sin Eater and became very curious about what it, or he, could be.  A bit of research and I thought, Hmmm, this might make a good book.   A few months later it had been written.

There are accepted and recommended procedures writers can use in their writing endeavors to enhance and polish their skills and the pace and fluidity of their writing.  However, if one does not choose to use those procedures, it doesn’t mean they are doomed to failure.  Included in those procedures are ways to select a plot theme.  I found, in my case, that spontaneity works best. I don’t wrack my brain for hours trying to come up with a fresh spin on an established plot, or in coming up with a new idea.  Too much hard thinking about those things makes my head hurt!

The bottom line being that if one tries too hard to come up with a plot, or, for that matter, a character, it makes the writing process less enjoyable, and in my opinion, there is less chance of success.

Let those creative juices flow.  If something seems interesting to you, it will be interesting to your readers.

I consider myself a writer.  I don’t have to be normal!

John Schembra

Author of M.P. – A Novel of Vietnam, Retribution, Diplomatic Immunity, and Sin Eater

Coming soon- Blood Debt (Vince Torelli #4)


diana_sprain200x200I’ve been involved in Public Safety for 30 years now and nothing frustrates me more than watching a show or reading a book with incorrect procedures. Now, I understand in most cases the writers are creating a fictional department and have to come up with policies and procedures to support their story line. Most readers have never worked in any of the three branches (law enforcement, fire, or emergency medical services) and therefore don’t know when a procedure is incorrect. For those of us who have however, it is extremely frustrating. In this article, I’ll touch upon a couple of examples of what I am referring to.

I’ll start with emergency medical services. A short-lived show on television called “Trauma” about the ems system in San Francisco aired an episode called “Crossed Wires”.  The basis of the episode was a glitch in the dispatch system computers. During the crisis, dispatch ‘lost control’ of the ambulances. This led to on air arguments between a crew and a dispatcher.  One of the paramedics ended up at the communications center at the end of the show to complain about the call taker, where the dispatch supervisor set him down and let him take a call with a person who spoke Russian. The caller was reporting a shooting. They sent an ambulance and hung up. That’s it.

No folks. That’s not it. First – even if the dispatch system goes down, the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), or communications center, has a back-up in place to handle and manage the radio traffic and units. Dispatchers don’t “lose track” of units. Second, anyone arguing on the radio, no matter which end of the radio it originates from, is immediately dealt with by a supervisor.  Thirdly, field units may come in to sit down with a dispatcher, but they would not take a call. Finally, answering a call for a shooting would require a series of questions and require law enforcement response.

Fire calls are different as the service is generally more regimented. The fire service follows a chain-of-command and most large departments now use the Incident Command System (ICS). One should know the terminology when writing about the fire service. The Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) offers free on-line classes that anyone can take to learn about the program.  Why is ICS important? During the Oakland-Berkeley Hills Fire in 1991, a request was made by a field commander for water support. At the time, dispatchers weren’t trained in ICS. The communications center mistakenly dispatched a water tender (truck with water tanks) instead of air support (helicopters or planes). Big mistake!

Fire Officers don’t always listen to dispatchers. During a riot when the crowd started breaking into business and looting, the police pulled out to the station. The Lieutenant called for mutual aid. Meanwhile, I was on the fire desk. We had fire companies on scene because the crowd had started multiple fires. When I advised the Chief the police were leaving to get their riot gear and wait for help, he said they weren’t leaving due to the fires. That changed when the rioters turned their rage to his vehicle. Once the Chiefs car was turned upside down and set on fire he ordered his men to abandon the area and wait for police support before returning.

Law enforcement incidents get my goat more than anything else. I’ve been dispatching for 27 years and have handled everything from riots and disasters to officer-involved shootings.  Reading a bad in-progress call can turn me off from a book just as quick as seeing the wrong armor or weapons in a historical movie (another pet peeve). Of course, individual departments have their own policies and procedures so if you are writing and using a real agency – consult with a person from that department! If not, consider a few facts. First, from my experience (at multiple agencies), the first officer arriving at an in-progress incident is the one who is assigned to do the paper unless the “beat” unit stands up and accepts the duty.

One night, while I was lucky enough to “escape” dispatch for a couple of hours and go out on a ride-along, we were assigned to cover on a shots-fired call. We showed up first, much to the annoyance of my officer friend (he proceeded to curse rather loudly once he realized he had the assignment). Of course, there was a body in the street. Once he determined the shooter was gone, we pulled up and I checked the victim (at the time, I was still a certified EMT and moonlighting as such).

When writing pursuits, consider checking with your local departments to see how they handle them. Due to concerns with safety, many agencies have severely limited when units can chase vehicles. Examples of when a pursuit can be initiated may include subjects wanted for major felonies or in-progress crimes (bank robberies, shootings). I remember when officers would chase a car for running a red light or stop sign. Those days are gone. Keep in mind, plain clothes officers are generally supposed to DROP OUT once a marked unit arrives to join the pursuit. The first police unit follows the suspect and the second unit calls the chase progression. Classic dispatching repeats the locations with occasionally throwing in the suspect vehicle description and reason for the chase.

As for the initial calls coming to 911, dispatchers are trained to ask questions. We’ll keep a caller on the line for in-progress events as long as it is safe to do so.  For fore calls, I used to tell folks to get others out but we changed the policy and told them to leave, letting fire do the job of getting others out (we decided it was a liability to tell reporting parties to bang on doors or try to help others out of a burning building). We didn’t provide medical instructions, so you’re own your own – sorry. For a suspect in an incident, the format is head-to-toe for clothing. We try to stick with generalities. Instead of asking how tall a person is, I’ll ask if a man is tall, medium, or short. Most folks don’t know how to gauge height and giving a general range is better for the field unit. Don’t forget to consider including tattoos or scars. Those are great helpers. For vehicles, use what we refer to as CYMBL: Color, Year, Make/Model, Body style, and License with state. Again, most folks won’t know all of the information but can give part of the data.

–Diana Sprain

by Joseph B. Haggerty Sr.

joe_haggerty200x200They come to the hot sands to relax and play
Some stay for a week, a month, some just for the day
They wander the boardwalk and eat the delites
Enjoying the sunning days and the partying nights
She walked in the place knowing it was Mick’s
She found the jukebox and selected  B6
The familiar tune made Mick turn with a sigh
As the jukebox played “As Time Goes By”
She sat at the counter and said you know what I eat
He felt the hurt renewing, he remembered her deceit
Of all the pizza joints in the world she walks into mine
Instead of a romantic rendezvous she left him behind
He knew she liked her pie with sausage and pepperoni
And he’d make it for her even though she was a phony
He still remembered Vegas and what he thought was love
The nights they spent together, what was he thinking of
She took all his money and left him all alone
With no transportation and no way to get home
He spit on her pizza and slowly closed the lid
And handed it to her smiling, here’s looking at you kid

I wrote this as a parody to the classic movie Casablanca. I hope everyone remembers the movie.”




Shots fired on the far side of the building. I held tight in the southeast stairwell assured there was no way the police could enter the exterior door without cutting tools.

Screams. Gunshots. I clutched the AR-15 to my pounding chest.

Muffled shouts came from downstairs. Over the racket, I heard, “Help, I’m bleeding.”

Everything happened so fast that my hands started to slip on the rifle.

“Fuck you,” my buddy yelled, still on the move. More yelling. Shooting.

Feet pounding up the stairs. They were coming my way.

When I saw a face at the opposite end of the hall, it was time to run for it. I raced down the dark stairwell and pushed outside into the sun.

I threw my weapon to the ground and ran. Putting distance between me and the hotel, I scrambled to escape.

Cops. Two black and white cruisers sped toward me. I turned off the pavement. They followed. The highway was close. If only I could get to the fence ahead of them.

“Stop. Police,” a voice commanded over the loudspeaker. “Stop. Put your hands up.”

Damn. I raised my hands and gasped for air. The perimeter officers had gotten me. They handcuffed and searched me. I’d have to wait out the rest of the scenario from the back of their cruiser. Unlike the other scenarios in which I was a victim/witness, this time I had been shooter


Ten days of joint active shooter training in March 2016 brought together the city police and firefighters in Lincoln, Nebraska. The training objective was to move beyond a solitary focus on neutralizing the shooter. After a morning of emergency medical instruction using tourniquets, officers had an opportunity to contain a shooter while getting medical help to victims as soon as possible.

All police officers carried tourniquets with them. The simple devices were quickly applied to those bleeding profusely. Victims with minor injuries were helped out of the scene by police and walked to medical crews. For some of the most critically injured, police provided protection and led paramedics to the victims.

It was a drill to allow Lincoln Police and Lincoln Fire & Rescue to work together to square terminology, so they could communicate clearly and quickly. They worked to re-envision the way active shooter scenes are handled. First responders practiced saving law enforcement and civilian victims in the event one or more shooters strike the community.

Lessons learned from the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and the bombing at the Boston Marathon emphasized the importance of stopping blood loss for victims with serious gunshot or puncture wounds. If applied within minutes, tourniquets are an important tool in preventing mass casualties.

No longer in law enforcement, I was there as a volunteer and did not hear the insights gained in each of the debriefing sessions. From past experience, I know it is unlikely mistakes made in training will be replicated. Officers will punish themselves for failing to search and find a bleeding victim. They will always remind themselves to make sure they have someone watching their back before trying to carry a victim out of an active scene. They will keep in mind that a distressed victim without apparent injuries could still die of shock if left unattended too long.

As a writer, this experience gave me a chance to reignite my writing with tension and realism. It suggested hundreds of things that could go wrong for my fictional characters. Unfortunately, this kind of incident happens too frequently in real life.

Law enforcement and firefighters have always collaborated, but now they will begin working more closely when dealing with one of the most volatile situations they are likely to face. During an active shooter incident, the lives of victims are on the line. The lives of police and EMS crews are on the line. Let’s work together to save as many as possible.

— Laura L. Cooper


hilary_romig200x200Every piece of evidence found at a crime scene is crucial. Fingerprints have been one of the oldest sources for identification and are still one of the most effective today. Collecting fingerprints even partial ones are an effective way to catch culprits. While there is stock in other forms of evidence be it DNA or otherwise, fingerprints are a reliable source since each individual has their own unique print.

The law enforcement world has come a long way when it comes to processing prints. Before each fingerprint had to be carefully looked at using a magnifying glass and a pen or stick to count ridges, compare minutia and more. This took time, effort and patience. Comparing fingerprints today is much different however I have found it still takes time, effort and patience. First of all, you still have to go through the whole print and mark important areas in order for the computer to run a match. Often the computer will now mark the points of the print that stand out however, since it is a machine, the human eye still must check the computers’ work. Once that is done the computer will run matches to see if there is a hit in the database. Though this process is much quicker, I feel that the human eye is able to compare fingerprints much more accurately. The computer helps to sort through potential candidates that may match a latent print.

The science and the art of fingerprints are fascinating. Each element must be taken into consideration even down to the substance or surface, which the latent print was found on. Technology may be advancing but the use of fingerprints remains the same. We are now seeing smart guns that use biometric technology in order to operate. Phones and even cars are beginning to use this form of science.

The world of law enforcement may change in the sense of how we acquire evidence or process it. However, what remains the same is the simple yet complex science of fingerprints and their power to help to bring justice to the world.

— By: Hilary Romig


 FAMILIAR EVIL by Louisiana Author Rannah Gray Wins Three National Awards

 Familiar Evil, by Louisiana author Rannah Gray and published by The Lisburn Press, has received three top honors, earning a Gold Medal for True Crime at the 20th anniversary Independent Publisher Book Awards, or IPPY Awards, the world’s largest international book awards competition.

Familiar Evil has also earned top honors in two categories in the 10th annual National Indie Excellence Awards, named as Winner for best New Non-Fiction and True Crime.

Gray, a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA) since February 2016, attended the IPPY Awards ceremony in Chicago in May and held a book signing event at the New Title Showcase of the Book Expo America, the leading book and author event for the North American book industry.

Familiar Evil is the chilling true story of the international search for TV personality Scott Rogers that exposed his dark side as a child predator. The book goes inside the investigation that sent shock waves from Louisiana to London when a young British businessman coincidentally connected with Gray, a Louisiana public relations consultant, and the two worked with authorities in two countries as the investigation built to an explosive conclusion. Mary Jane Marcantel, a key figure in the investigation, and the British survivor known as Ethan collaborated with Gray on the book.
Familiar Evil is available in the U.S. through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and at the book’s official website:

It is also available in all eBook formats in the U.S. and the U.K. through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks by Apple.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Familiar Evil are donated to programs that benefit survivors of child sex abuse

One Dead, Two to Go by Elena Hartwell

one_dead_two_to_go200x300Book One in the Eddie Shoes Mystery Series, published by Camel Press (April, 2016)

Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman … alive. Then her client disappears and Eddie finds herself knee-deep in dangerous company. Spurred on by her card-counting, poker-playing mother who has shown up on her doorstep fresh from the shenanigans that got her kicked out of Vegas, Eddie has to wonder, is her client the latest victim? Or the killer?

“Eddie Shoes is the most fun detective since Richard Castle stumbled into New York’s 12th Precinct.” –Peter Clines, author of 14, The Fold, and Ex-Heroes

One Dead, Two to Go is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and fine bookstores near you, along with ebook and audible formats.

Review & Praise for Dying to Be Beautiful Mysteries by M. Glenda Rosen

dying_to_be_beautiful200x30DYING TO BE BEAUTIFUl is a fascinating look into the multi-million dollar world of beauty and the things people will do to attain it. You are a fun and engaging storyteller who clearly knows her way around a plot twist or two. Jenna manages to be both tough and glamorous in her role as a private investigator.”   New York Publishing Agent

Love the term “arm candy.”  You must have lived through lots of gossip when you were in the Hamptons.  Don’t want to put the book down.–Rosemary L.

Omg book is great!!! Love it!!!!!–Darla D.

Amazon Reviews:

What a great view of life in the Hamptons – with a couple of gory murders added for excitement.

“Dying To Be Beautiful” Mysteries: Without A Head

“What a fun read! It’s an unpredictable plot, starting with a severed head in the sink of a beauty salon! The contrast of life on the East End of Long Island, between the rich summer visitors, and lowly residents, adds an interesting dimension to the book, and the characters, including a beautiful setter dog named Watson,(smart, protective, and necessary to the plot) – brings humor and humanity to the whole. I loved it.”

Applause and more applause for “Dying to Be Beautiful.” I really enjoyed the book, how you thought of all the ins and outs I don’t know but you sure did.  The descriptions of the Hamptons were great, I feel like I’ve been there.  The best are the sentences at the end of most chapters, very clever!  Now ready for next book. –Joyce O.

We’re thrilled to have your book in our store!—Book Soup, Los Angeles CA

Dying To Be Beautiful

The Hamptons are known for the high dollar residents, both permanent and seasonal. With ridiculously large houses, high standards, and a need to have it all, it is not surprising that owning a salon there would be a very lucrative business. After all, everyone wants to be beautiful, no matter what the cost. In Dying To Be Beautiful Mysteries: Without a Head, the matter of the cost of being beautiful is put to the test. Upon opening her salon one morning, Darcy discovers a severed head in one of her shampoo sinks. She immediately contacts her friend, Jenna Preston, a local private investigator. Although born into an affluent family, Jenna has chosen to become a private investigator, and, through her work, has developed a sound reputation as well as a good working relationship with the local police department. Together, with the help of Detective Troy Johnson and the police department, Jenna tries to piece the clues together and catch the murderer. When another body turns up, it seems that what was once thought of as a simple murderous act of jealousy might be more than what they first thought. The closer they get to the killer, the more in danger Jenna finds herself. As she pieces the clues and the victims together, she finds a trail of sex, money, and more that might land her next on the list of victims.—Manhattan Book Reviews

Dying To Be Beautiful: Without a Head by M. Glenda Rosen is a quirky fe- male private investigator novel that will keep readers hooked with its charm, wit and suspense. Private Investigator, and main character, Jenna Preston is someone that readers will be able to relate to and will enjoy following, as she uncovers the clues needed to solve the crime. The connection between Jenna and the police department is well-written in that you see them working together and not stepping on each other’s toes. This makes the charm and wit of the suspenseful story line easier to see and enjoy. What seems to be the first book in a series, I look forward to seeing what falls into Jenna’s lap next.– Faith Lewis, Editorial Assistant

Mike Black reported that his novel, Desert Falcons, is a finalist for the Best Original Novel Scribe Award. The award is given each year by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers, and the winner is announced at the San Diego Comic Con in July. He is thrilled to be nominated. The novel was written under the name Don Pendleton, and it is part of the Mack Bolan Executioner series.

the_group_cover200x300PSWA Member Bob Doerr is happy to announce the release of his new Clint Smith thriller titled The Group.  In this second book of the series, someone is killing off the world’s rich and famous.  The murders are sophisticated, requiring precision and skill, and the killers have a global reach. The international community is in an uproar but surprisingly can develop no leads in its attempt to develop any information on the assassins.  The victims are members of the Bilderberg Group, an international, loose knit group of the uber-rich who meet annually.  While the attacks have not had a direct impact on the U.S.,  Theresa Deer, Director of the Special Section, a small unit whose existence is known by only a handful in the U.S. government, sees this new age League of Assassins as a national threat.  She sends her hunters out.  Clint Smith finds their trail in Switzerland where his discovery almost results in his own death.  The hunt next leads him to Mallorca, Spain, where he witnesses a helicopter attack on a villa where a number of attendees from the Bilderberg conference were holding a smaller, follow-on meeting of their own.  Smith picks up the trail a couple weeks later in Las Vegas, NV, and pursues his targets up to Whidbey Island, Washington.  In this final stage of the hunt, Smith discovers that he is no longer the hunter.  He has become the prey.