PSWA Newsletter June 2012


Editor: Marilyn Meredith,

This is your newsletter, please contribute articles, your news, book reviews, or anything else you think might be of interest. It is also open to the public, so it’s a great place to share your expertise.











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One of the many advantages of being a member of PSWA is access to the members-only listserve, the online forum that allows our members to network with one another on just about any topic they choose.  There’s always a lot of traffic on the listserve about the topics you might expect.  For example, our mystery writer members frequently query our public safety members about the technicalities of everything from gathering forensic evidence at a crime scene (the way it’s really done as opposed to the way it’s done on TV and in the movies), to how to solve an arson crime, to what kind of patrol car the NYPD had in the 1950s.  There’s always someone who knows, and the conversation back and forth is always interesting.

Lately, we’ve had a lot of discussion about two specific topics:  the legalities of writing a fictionalized account of a real event and how to make sure every single error has been corrected in a manuscript before it goes to the publisher/printer.

The legality question continues to be a lively one, complete with a lot of real life examples of how individuals and publishers have dealt with these issues.  A few of our lawyer members have given their opinions as well as members who are fire fighters, police officers, active and retired military intelligence officers, and a host of others with expertise in this area.

The issue of how to make a manuscript error free has also drawn interest and has led to some very constructive back and forth about how to find a good editor, what editors cost, what they do and how authors and editors work together.

These and many other topics will also be discussed at the upcoming Public Safety Writers Association Conference, to be held in Las Vegas, July 12-15.  Registration for the conference is still open and all the details can be found on this website.  In addition to panels and presentations by experts, there’s always a lot of time for networking, talking with other attendees with a wide variety of skills and knowledge and meeting our many published authors.

So, whether you’re just beginning to think about writing that book or article, you have a lot of questions about a work in progress or you’re looking for the opportunity such a gathering always provides in giving you encouragement, great new ideas for your work and meeting a lot of new and interesting people, the conference is for you.

Hope to see you in Las Vegas in July.

Marilyn Olsen


Public Safety Writers Association

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Three basic rules for surviving critical incidents.

by John Wills

Winning mindset, the will to live, a miracle; there are a myriad of terms used to describe surviving incidents in which people came close to dying. When someone inexplicably survives an incident which should have resulted in death, we often have few tangible clues to explain the outcome. Therefore, we try to explain it by crediting the survival to something ambiguous like, the will to live.

Since 1968, I’ve been in the business of keeping the peace. I’ve been in the military, police department and a federal agency. I’ve seen dozens of cases where individuals have been involved in situations which should have resulted in their death. Instead, these rare “survivors,” did not succumb to their injuries. Why? How do you explain two people suffering the same incident, yet one dies and one lives?

Besides my own research and observations in over forty years of law enforcement experience, I recently read a remarkable book: The Survivors Club by Ben Sherwood. The author cites personal accounts of survivors from all walks of life who have experienced critical incidents which should have killed them. The tales are astonishing and miraculous. But through anecdotal information and consultations with doctors and scientists, Sherwood has concisely put together a veritable survivor handbook for everyone.

To begin, Sherwood lays out the Three Rules for Survival:

1. Everyone is a survivor. This does not mean all of us are super heroes, fighting bad guys and always winning. Rather, it means survivors are regular people who suffer the same failures, disappointments and other challenges as the rest of us. They sometimes win, but also lose. Survivors have their good and bad days, and suffer bouts of depression and gloom. But survivors have something in common. All of them share the same mindset. They make the most out of life and figure out what’s best for themselves, their family and friends.

2. It’s not all relative. Whether you’re a victim of a shooting, a near-drowning or you’re battling a disease, the situation doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the crisis you face is a life and death struggle—and it’s your struggle. Comparing your battle with someone else’s is unimportant. Relativity in this instance is meaningless. So the second rule is simply that your battle is just as important as anyone else’s.

3. You’re stronger than you know. As we live our lives each day we are rarely tested in terms of life or death. It’s only when we are thrust into a situation which could result in losing our life that we discover how strong we truly are. This toughness lies dormant in each of us until we face that challenge that causes this inner strength to explode from our inner being. Survivors later often marvel at what they’ve done, how strong they were and how unlike themselves they became. Survivors often remark, “I didn’t know I had it in me.”

What it takes to survive.

In the ER trauma world there is actually a formula that’s used to calculate a patient’s chances of survival. Take my word for it, it’s too complex to understand. But in simple terms, survival is a function of a number of factors: age, vital signs, blood pressure and respiratory rate, and, of course, the injuries you’ve suffered. It’s critical to distinguish the difference between injuries involving knives, bullets and brick walls.

If you arrive at the ER with a stab wound to the heart and no vital signs, you have a 37 to 40 percent chance of surviving. Contrast that with a bullet to the heart and no vitals, and your chances drop to just four percent. The reason: size of the wound and collateral damage from the bullet, versus one clean wound from the knife. Crashing into a brick wall or any blunt trauma injury is the least desirable type of injury. The blunt trauma caused by car crashes, falls, etc., causes multiple injuries to bones, organs and most importantly, your brain.

What’s so important about the first factor, age? Youth is the key to surviving injuries, particularly brain injuries. Sherwood’s research indicates that the optimum age for a brain injury is between 16 and 18. After the age of 20, survival rates spiral downward. Most people in law enforcement know about the “golden hour,” the critical time to get an injured person to a hospital. But luck plays a role in many critical incidents. Where did the injury occur? Was it out in an uninhabited rural area, or in a big city just minutes away from critical care? Also, if you are mere minutes away from a hospital, is it one that is a major trauma center?

And then there are things classified as the intangibles, things like attitude and personality. Injured or sick people who maintain a positive attitude fare much better than those who are negative. In my experience I’ve learned that if a person thinks they are going to die, there’s a good chance they will.

Two other intangibles exist which have an impact on helping people survive. First, the amount of love and support family and friends offer to the patient. There seems to be a correlation between the number of people in the waiting room of an ER who support the patient, and that person’s recovery. Second, people of faith seem to have a higher survival rate. Obviously, no proof exists to support this in a scientific sense, but anecdotal evidence supports the notion that those who call on their higher power survive at a higher rate that those who do not.

What are the magic numbers associated with Staying Alive?

The Air Force’s research indicates two numbers are key to your survival in an emergency. The first number is 98.6, your core body temperature. They recommend maintaining that number at all costs—simply put: cold kills. The second important number is 3, and here’s why:

The Rule of 3 states you cannot survive:

3 seconds without spirit and hope

3 minutes without air

3 hours without shelter in extreme conditions

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

3 months without companionship or love

The last thing I want to impart to you about survival is that luck plays a role in whether you live or die. In Sherwood’s book, luck is defined as, “an unpredictable phenomenon that leads to good or bad outcomes in life.” But Professor Wiseman, in experiments, has deduced that, “Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead, it is a state of mind—a way of thinking and behaving.” Wiseman says we have more control over our lives than we realize, and says only 10 percent of life is purely random while the other 90 percent is “actually defined by the way you think.” Translation: a person’s attitude and behavior determines nine-tenths of what happens in their life.

Having been a trainer most of my professional life, I find the above facts to be extraordinary. The research involved with this thumbnail sketch I’ve supplied about who lives and who dies is unquestionably solid. Please share this article with your colleagues, family and friends. It may very well save a life.

Web Links:

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The following article originally appeared on, the online resource for Law Enforcement, and is reprinted by permission of the PoliceOne editorial team.  Visit PoliceOne to access articles, information, and resources that help officers across the United States protect their communities and stay safe on the streets.

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by Tim Dees

A few words about the cop journalism racket:

This week, I and a number of my fellow “expert columnists” (I always snort a little when I say that) are at the annual conference of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA) in Wheeling, Illinois. Several of us are presenting sessions at the conference, and our esteemed and benevolent editor asked that we write a column on our presentation topic.

My session is called “Writing for Fame and Profit.” I’ve done tech-centered sessions in the past, but I get just about as many inquiries about writing for the law enforcement market as I do about gadgets. It’s a sideline that many cops aspire to, with varying levels of success, and one that has been very good to me.

When I was a cop, I read every police magazine I could get hold of, and often thought, “I could write this stuff.” At the time, POLICE Magazine had a feature on the last page of each issue called “The Beat.” It was usually a personal, anecdotal “war story” and was my favorite part of the magazine. I wrote a short essay called “The Yard,” about getting dressed for a midnight shift in the winter, and sent it in, expecting no response. A couple of weeks later, I received a publication contract, and on mailing that back, a check for $75. I wrote five more “The Beat” columns over the next few years, plus more feature pieces for that magazine and others. That eventually led to two full-time editor jobs on law enforcement websites, and to the columnist gig I have here.

As an editor, I looked for two qualities in aspiring writers:

1.) You have to know what you’re talking about.

2.) You have to know how to write.

There are lots of people who have one, but not the other. I’ve found that nearly everyone is an expert in something, usually several things. The expertise might be in removing stubborn caps from ketchup bottles or servicing nuclear reactors — both valuable skills in the right context, but not mutually saleable. Most cops build up some expertise that can be valuable to others. It was the writing quality that was more elusive.

From my days as a college instructor, I know that even many college graduates do not have the writing skills one would commonly see in a high school graduate of 50 years ago. Some seem to believe that the editor’s primary job is to correct spelling and grammar. Granted, sometimes that’s part of it, but sending in a draft that is rife with spelling errors and the wrong forms of there, their and they’re tells me they haven’t bothered to learn the most basic skills of this craft. Without that, it’s difficult to take what they say all that seriously.

The space limitations of this column don’t allow for everything else I plan to discuss at ILEETA, but here are some of the more salient points:

1.) You can get away with what I call “writing out of your head,” discussing issues of which you have personal knowledge, for only a short time. Eventually, you’re going to have to do some research.

2.) Never plagiarize, misrepresent yourself or make a statement unless you know it to be 100 percent true. Any one of these will poison you with publishers forever. They do talk to each other.

3.) Be prepared to write for free for a bit. One very profitable gig came when the editor read a column I wrote gratis for an association newsletter.

4.) Meet your deadlines. Don’t be the guy the editor has to chase down to fill that hole he allocated for your work.

5.) You have to furnish pictures, captions for those pictures, and the names of the people in them. Learn some basic photography. Just because you saw a picture on the Internet does not mean it’s in the public domain. Just ask this guy.

6.) Online media is not necessarily inferior to print. Most of the work I do these days exists only as electrons, and the money is as good or better.

7.) Equipment manufacturers will not send you free stuff just because you tell them you will write an article about it. However, if you write enough articles, they’ll send you free stuff and even fly you to places where you can play with their gear. This is at least as much fun as it sounds.

If you haven’t attended an ILEETA conference, you owe it to yourself to go. You will not find a greater congregation of high-quality, dedicated people anywhere in law enforcement. I hope to see you there, if not this year, maybe next.

About the author:

Tim Dees is a board member of PSWA, writer, editor, trainer, and former law enforcement officer. After 15 years as a police officer with the Reno Police Department and elsewhere in Northern Nevada, Tim taught criminal justice as a full-time professor and instructor at colleges in Wisconsin, West Virginia, Georgia, and Oregon. He was also a regional training coordinator for the Oregon Dept. of Public Safety Standards & Training, providing in-service training to 65 criminal justice agencies in central and eastern Oregon.

Tim has written more than 300 articles for nearly every national law enforcement publication in the United States. In 2005, Tim became the first editor-in-chief for, moving to the same position for at the beginning of 2008. He now writes on applications of technology in law enforcement from his home in SE Washington state.  Dees can be reached at

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by Marilyn Meredith

As many of you know, I recently finished a 30 day blog tour. In the past, I’ve hired a company to organize my tours and decided to do it myself this time. It was much hard than I though it would be.

Of course it takes a lot of planning.

On the whole, my blog tour for No Bells has been successful. I’ve heard from people who bought the book because of the tour. How well it worked as far as sales, I won’t really know until my next royalty statement. I did have a lot of fun and I enjoyed seeing how determined three people have been to win the prize I offered of three of the previous books in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series. It was also fun to see the varied folks who did comment on blogs. (I awarded the prizes to all three of them—how could I not?)

Here are some things that worked well:

1. Finding blogs to host me that had different followers worked. My idea was that it might introduce more people to my Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

2. Making sure that I had something different on each blog. It was helpful when the host told me what they wanted me to write.

3. Putting different photos of me on each blog was fun too and the followers seemed to enjoy that.

4. Making sure to let people know on Facebook, Twitter and all my listserves what I was doing each day. Not just where to go for the blog–but a clue as to what it was about.

5. Having the tour far enough after the publication of the book so I’d have copies to send to anyone who wanted to review the book for the tour and scheduling the reviews near the end.

6. Having a way to keep track of each person who commented on each blog so I’d have a good record to know who did comment on the most blogs. (I promised a prize of three books in the RBPD series to the person who commented on the most blogs. I had several faithful followers.)

7. Doing all the blogs ahead of time and sending the information to each host as soon as possible.

8. Keeping track of the blogs and what day they would appear–and the subject of the post and what photo of me I sent. (I still had a few duplicates, but that part worked well.)

9. Making sure to check each blog several times each day and for a couple of days afterwards.

10. Acknowledging each person who did leave a comment. (That means commenting back to that person. Some ask questions so it’s important to make sure you give an answer.)

11. I posted the entire schedule of my tour on my blog so people could go back and read the earlier posts if they were interested.

What I’ll do differently:

1. I won’t schedule blogs for the weekend. Though you’d think people would have more time to visit them, it didn’t work out that way. My guess is weekends are when people go away. Even for me, I had things to do on the weekends making it harder to check each blog.

2. I’ll make sure that everyone who I ask to be a part of my tour has an easy way to leave a comment. Believe it or not, finding the place to comment was sometimes a mystery.

3. Those daggone captcha code things are really a pain. A few times it took me between 3 and 5 times to write the correct letters. Someone who is following along for the fun of it is not going to bother if it’s too hard to leave a comment. ( I don’t have that on my personal blog. I also wasn’t fond of the blogs where the comment had to be approved.)

4. A couple of days before each post is supposed to appear, I’ll check with the host and make sure everything is ready. Unlike me, not everyone puts the post up to appear on the correct date and time and wait until the very day to put up all the information. (And one person forgot completely.)

5. On my email, I’ll make a group list of every listserve I want to send notifications too so that won’t take so much time each day.

6. I’ll be sure to check the “subscribe to comments” on the blogs that have that option. It makes it easier to know when to go back to a blog and acknowledge comments.


When doing a blog tour, be sure to check each post for typos, I had some in mine that I didn’t see until after they were up. When someone sends me a post for my blog I fix typos—others don’t do that.

Always include links to your website and blog and where the book can be purchased.

Send the host a .jpg of the book cover and one of you along with the post. It’s better not to embed it in the body of your email unless this is what they asked for.

Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith, author of No Bells)

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by Tim Dees

Recently, I assisted a PSWA member with the editing of a Portable Document Format (PDF) file that contained his book manuscript. The PDF had been created by a publisher, formatted for printing as a trade paperback, but the writer now desired to go the self-publishing route. He wanted the old publisher’s name and logo removed from the cover, and some minor editing (only a few words) done to portions of the text. Once that was done, he found some errors in the manuscript that he wanted corrected before he printed a large number of books for distribution. This is where I had to bow out of the project. The edits that he wanted were going to take too long, and the end result wasn’t going to be pretty. This was mainly due to the format and file type of the manuscript.

Most of us write with a word processor. Microsoft Word is the far and away favorite, but some people use the WordPad program that comes with Windows, Google Documents, or WordPerfect (yes, they’re still making WordPerfect—it has a niche market in the legal profession). Most any word processor allows you to set up the appearance of the page and text just about any way you like, before or after you’ve written it. If you change the margins, font, font size, indents, etc., the text will just re-flow into the new format automatically. For those of us who started out with manual typewriters, this is pretty close to magic.

Adobe Acrobat, the primary software that produces PDFs, is a kind of photo editor, but for text. Don’t confuse Adobe Acrobat with the free Adobe Reader, which most people have installed on their computers. Adobe Reader allows you to display PDFs and even fill in forms when the document has them enabled, but you won’t be able to edit the PDF itself or save the form with your data intact. You can fill out a form on the computer and then print a hard copy with your data, but as soon as you close that file, the data is gone. The full version of Acrobat allows you to create PDFs with or without form fields and to save completed forms with the entries intact. It’s not a casual purchase—the full version is around $260 retail.

When you install Acrobat, it shows up in your list of printers, even though it’s software and not a physical printer. This is because Acrobat will create (print) a PDF document from just about any software source you can print from, and save that PDF as a separate file. You can then print the PDF on a conventional printer, or transfer it to someone or someplace else via email or some other file transfer.

Since you can also print from Word, Excel, and other programs that create documents, why would you want to use Acrobat? The reason is that Acrobat preserves the formatting and appearance of the document. I can create a Word document that is carefully sized and arranged so that it just fits on a single page. If you get that file and then make any change that expands the text, or even if your default display font is different from the one I used, it will spill over onto a second page and won’t look the way intended it to look. If I take the same Word document, print it to a PDF, then send you the PDF, it will arrive exactly as I intended, and unless you own a copy of Acrobat with which to edit it, it would stay that way.

I could even keep you from editing it with Acrobat by password-protecting the file. There are several layers of passwords available. The highest security requires a password just to view the document. A lower level requires a password to print it to a hard copy, and a third protects against any changes or editing. Even if the document is editable, I can electronically “sign” the document and have a verifying icon appear next to my name, showing that the document has not been altered since I signed it. If it is altered in any way, the icon changes as a warning. I use this feature to sign author’s agreements so I can send them electronically.

Assuming you have editing privileges for a PDF, it’s still not all that easy to do. Text in a PDF can be edited in a very basic way, changing a word here or there. The problem is that the changes are similar to if you changed the text on a hard copy of the document. The text doesn’t re-flow to make the lines even and redistribute the surrounding words. Changing a word from plain to italic text typically uses less space, and the line containing that word will be shorter.

Doing any serious editing of a PDF is a bit like making changes to a statue cast in concrete. It can be done, but you’re a lot better off to do it at the mold stage, rather than try and change the finished product. In this case, the “mold” is the word processor version of the work.

Printers and publishers have similar problems in making changes once a work has been put into the form necessary to send it to the printer. The publisher may not use Adobe Acrobat, but chances are they use InDesign or some other software that isn’t intended for text editing.

The upshot of all this is that you want to make very sure you have completed all your edits and made all your changes before you send your work off to a printer or publisher. This goes double if you are using a vanity press or other publisher that won’t be assigning an editor to review your work and fix your errors (and we all make errors). Once your masterpiece is finished, it’s always difficult to have patience and wait until readers and reviewers can go over it and give you feedback. It’s also true that there has never been a writer so good they couldn’t benefit from the services of a good editor. Take the time to get it right and not have to be embarrassed by a misspelling, malapropism, or grammatical error that will make your book less than the masterwork it was supposed to be.

Tim Dees is the tech guru for PSWA .

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by Keith Bettinger

As I said on the listserve, I recently returned from a fun filled high school reunion.  The funniest things Lynn and I heard from people I haven’t seen in 44 years was, “I can’t believe Keith became a cop.”  The other comment that is as good as money in the bank for an author was, “I didn’t know Keith could write.”  I’m still trying to figure out if that one is a compliment or a putdown.  I think I’ll take it as a compliment.

While away I did some guerilla marketing of my books.  Maybe these ideas will help a new author advertise or even give accomplished authors a different approach to getting their material out to the reading public.

Besides being secretary of the PSWA, I am also secretary of the Shields of Long Island, a fraternal organization of active and retired police officers.  At each meeting besides enjoying a pleasant meal, we honor an officer of the month, have a guest speaker presenting on a topic of interest to police officers and we have raffles and door prizes.

As a raffle prize I donated a copy of my novella, End Of Watch.  Like the Master card advertisement says; One book given away in a room of approximately 150 active and retired police officers; the cost to me – minimal.  The goodwill – priceless.  After the meeting the prize will be announced in the upcoming newsletter and read by almost 1,000 members.  That’s money in the bank when it comes to advertising.

The second thing I did with my books was take them to the reunion.  Here I did something different.  I had six books with me; two copies of my comedy book, Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny and four copies of End Of Watch.  One of the organizers of the reunion, while planning this event, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  I decided to donate the books to the reunion committee (of which I was a member) and we raffled them off to raise money for our classmate to donate to the pancreatic cancer fund.  We raised approximately $150.00 from the raffle.  Everyone, whether they won a book or not, had a good time and got a warm feeling for doing something to help our dear friend.

Many of my classmates said they couldn’t wait to read the book and would let me know how much they liked it.  When I receive positive reviews I add them to the others and print them out prior to going to book sales.  I have them on the table with the books so potential customers can see what readers thought of the book.

In doing a little more guerilla marketing, I shamelessly promoted the Public Safety Writers Association.  There were 130 plus people at the reunion.  Many are now retired and looking for something to do with their time.  WRITE!  I handed out my Public Safety Writers Association business card.  It has our name and logo and all my contact information.  I even came home with someone’s manuscript to review.  I pitched our conference as a learning experience that would improve his unpublished work.

Unfortunately advertising your book isn’t free, but it doesn’t have to always be expensive.  Volunteer to be a speaker at local organizations like Rotary, Elks, VFW, retired organizations, etc.  They will announce your speaking engagement and your book as the topic of discussion.

Probably the best free advertising I ever came across was my classmates saying, “Keith can write?”  After all, many of them probably still remember I almost failed Seventh Grade English.

By the way, if you have read this article to the end, you now know about my books, my trials and tribulations with Seventh Grade English, how smart I have become over the years and that you should really buy my books.

Looking forward to seeing all of you at the conference and don’t forget to tell other writers to the conference.

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by Emily Simerly

Hello, everybody. I am a newbie to PSWA but not to PS. I have been working as a clinical psychologist in the Georgia Department of Corrections since 1993 (but not FOR the GDOC – mental health care in Georgia prisons has been privatized since 1997). For those of you who don’t know much about prisons, there are two sides of the house: Security and Care and Treatment. Security is always the Big Dog, for obvious reasons. Prisons are, after all, very much about Public Safety. Care and Treatment includes chaplaincy, teachers, librarians counselors for non-mental health inmates (called “general population”) who do visitation lists and such, and a few others.

Mental health care is under Care and Treatment. At least in Georgia, and I suspect elsewhere, we are known as the red-headed stepchildren among prison staff. Security thinks we coddle the inmates and that the inmates are all faking mental illness to get out of disciplinary reports and such. Then there are those who are freaked out by mental health inmates and avoid them like the plague because they might become unpredictable or worse. And a lot of staff think that all mental health inmates are retarded (far from the case). Plus there is always the stigma of seeking mental health help. Some Security staff don’t even want to set foot in the mental health unit – afraid of what? That it is catching? I am not sure.

On the other hand, Security and other staff are endlessly curious about what we do. Once, a COII (Correctional Officer II) came in my office just to chew the fat. He worked in my area. He was only in my office for maybe five minutes, during which he told me about two separate incidents when he was a cop when he had had to kill perpetrators. He didn’t describe anything gory, he just seemed like he needed to say what he said, to release it. I felt suddenly like the room was a confessional, but with no veil. He never mentioned it again and I never mentioned it again.

A few weeks ago, I was coming in the sally port in the morning, going through the metal detector, et celery, a lot like the airport. (A LOT of contraband gets into prisons.) One of our captains had just gone through ahead of me. (I would say he’s macho but that goes without saying re Security in the business I’m in. They stay in shape.) I had had only a few interactions with him, but could read him like a book. As he was putting on his metal-infused shoes and belt, essentially getting redressed after going through the metal detector, the officer checking us in nodded at him and she said, mostly in jest, “He needs help.” He didn’t look at me, but I glanced at him, then back at her and I said, “I know, but he’s scared.” I said it in a very maternal way, not in a mean or insulting or one-up-on-you way.

Still, it took him about a week to look me in the eye when we passed each other on the walk, and, unfortunately, the next time we had reason to talk, it was about him needing to okay the move of an inmate to a safer cell (okay, it was about ME needing HIM to move the inmate to a safer cell – remember, Security rules). But I didn’t act needy. I said, “Look me in the eye.” And he did, like he was hypnotized. “This guy needs to be moved for both our sakes.” So the inmate got moved and somehow the spell was broken and now he again treats me like he’s in charge (which he is) and like nothing ever happened about me saying he was scared. But he knows and I know I pegged him with one little short sentence. And in a really caring way.

The truth is, Security rules and Security rocks. Care and Treatment rocks, too, and it takes both sides to make the Big House function.

I also have a gazillion experiences with inmates. I especially love working with psychotic inmates (unless they are angry – that is dangerous). A few years ago I was seeing an inmate for treatment, and had been for several months. He didn’t get it that he had delusions or that his thinking would sometimes take a left turn where none was needed (tangential thinking, and sometimes disorganized thinking). But he was very pleasant. And he did not want to be on the mental health caseload. However, as Mental Health staff, we kept him under our wing because he had to be, because of his severe diagnosis. So we had our session and then he said, “Well, when do you think I can come off the caseload?” “Never” would have been the correct answer but too disillusioning. So I said, “Well, after we have conversations where you are talking a little more straightforwardly and don’t think some things are true that probably aren’t true.” To which he said, “I was hoping that’s what we had today.” We both laughed. I told him we were making progress (which was true).

With another inmate, new to me, we got into a heated argument in session. After about five minutes it was over, and so was his anger. He said to me, “What do you think about me, doc?” I said, “I think you needed to have a big argument with someone you knew would not write you a disciplinary report.” He laughed, and said, “You good with crazy people.” I told him “Thanks.”

Prison is where most of the severely mentally ill are these days. In Georgia, the GDOC has more mental health beds than our state mental health department. The Los Angeles County Jail is the largest mental health hospital in the world. But that’s a story for another day.

Working in a prison is just about the most fun I have ever had, and I have had a lot of fun in my life. It’s full of drama and intrigue and novelty and law and psychology and just about anything else you could ask for. I got dropped in the briar patch and they pay me to do it!

So, welcome to the Other Side of the House. Come see me if you want verite about this part of Public Safety. See y’all in Vegas!

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by Joseph B. Haggerty Sr.

It was 1985 and this was my first trip to California, let alone Los Angeles.  I was an investigator with the U.S. Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography.  My assignment was to identify and invite members of the porn industry, performers, directors, promoters or writers to testify before the Commission at the Los Angeles hearings.  About 80% of the pornographic material produced in the United States at that time was produced in California.  It did not matter what their opinions or beliefs were, we just wanted to give them a voice as part of the Commission’s investigation into pornography.

The first person I talked to was William Margold.  Margold had been a performer, a director, a producer, a talent agent and a writer.  He was very up front, had a great sense of humor and was a pleasure to talk to.  A surprise to me was his father was a former Federal Judge in Washington, D.C.  Margold not only indicated he would testify before the Commission, he would arrange an invitation for me to attend a screening of a new adult video being distributed by Caballero Videos.  He said he did not tell the presenters that I was with the Commission.  He told me that was up to me to do so.  Margold accompanied me to the screening.

The screening took place in an old office type building.  The room was set-up with theater type seating with a capacity of maybe thirty people.  The screen itself wasn’t much bigger than the large screen televisions of today.  The screening was presented by a Vice President of Callabero Videos, Kay Parker.  Parker was a former porn star who had graduated to the front office.  Prior to the screening, Margold introduced me to her, but I did not divulge my assignment.

The video was fairly typical of the pornography being shown at that time, short on plot and long on the moans and groans of the sex scenes.  After the film ended I asked Ms. Parker if I could talk to her.  At that time I told her who I was and why I was there.  Ms. Parker was originally from Birmingham, English and speaks with a slight English accent. She was very candid about her involvement in porn.  She did not feel exploited, but did express a desire to not perform in films anymore.  She wanted to promote them instead.  Ms. Parker indicated she would be interested in testifying and I left her with my contact information.

The next day I was supposed to meet with the President of the Adult Film Association at my hotel for dinner.  We were to discuss his interest in testifying before the Commission.  The president was a no show.  I had waited a couple of hours.  I never received a call or message saying he would not be there.

I called Margold and thanked him for bringing me to the screening, he had left before me and I took a cab back to the hotel.  He invited me to his place for pizza.  I was starved and pizza is one of my favorites.  Another investigator, Sterling Epps, went with me.  Sterling was with the U.S. Customs Service.  When we arrived at Margolds he also had a friend there.  His friend was Jimmy Holiday, who had published a book called “The History of Pornography.”  Margold was his same amiable self, but Holiday seemed rather subdued.  I learned later that Holiday was convinced that Sterling was wearing a wire.  He wasn’t.

Unfortunately I was unable to make contact with any other participants of the porn industry.  We were only in L.A. three days.

The public hearing in Los Angeles took place a month and a half later.  I was also a presenter at the hearing and exhibited to the Commission a variety of pornographic magazines I had purchased in the District of Columbia and had brought to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, who declined prosecution.

Although Kay Parker had agreed to testify, she did not.  Margold did testify and presented a rather vanilla picture of the industry, no drugs, no organized crime, no forced sex or child exploitation.  Margold was one of the last people to testify the first day of the hearings and the Commission members asked him no questions.

Al Goldstein, the editor and publisher of “Screw” magazine out of New York, also testified before the Commission, but again there were no questions of this controversial character.  Goldstein had published a characterization of the Commission members in his magazine and called it “Meese’s Pieces.” He wore a bullet proof vest to the hearing.

Another controversial character was Dennis Sobin a Washington, D.C. pornographer, who also ran escort services, a sex club, a model studio and ran for different political offices to include Mayor of Washington.  Prior to being with the Porn Commission, I had sued Sobin for libel regarding some articles he wrote about me in a pornographic tabloid he published called “The Free Spirit.”

I am still of the opinion that hardcore pornography reduces women to body parts and that it is a visual depiction of prostitution.

It should be noted that during this time period, Traci Lords, a well-known porno-performer announced that she was celebrating her 18th birthday.  Lords started performing in porno films at the age of 15.  I had previously approached her to testify before the Commission, but she declined.  Now anyone possessing a pornographic film made with Traci Lords before 1986 can be prosecuted federally for possessing child pornography.

The porno industry had a golden opportunity to express their views and opinions, which would have been included in the record of the hearings.  Instead, either out of paranoia or fear of Government intrusion, they chose to stay silent.

Since that time it has been shown that organized crime did not play a major role in the production of hardcore pornography, but did control its distribution.  However the money behind the infamous film, “Deep Throat,” was organized crime’s, but they also financed the film, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and other films which appeared in mainstream theaters.

Although 90% of the Commission’s recommendations were implemented, the internet of today has made pornographic material, to include child pornography, more available than ever.

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I’m the author of Criminal Justice Report Writing for Officers ($17.95, Maple Leaf Press). A free preview is available at this link: The book is also available for e-readers ($11.99) in a variety of formats.

I have a blog for criminal justice writers at

Jean Reynolds, Ph.D.

* * *

John Schembra and Writers Exchange are proud to announce the release of John’s new thriller, Diplomatic Immunity

TITLE: A Vince Torelli Novel Book 3: Diplomatic Immunity

Author: John Schembra

GENRE: Mystery/Thriller

ISBN: 978-1-921636-79-0

Word Count: 59, 440

There are sixty-six Consulates and Embassies in San Francisco, and a very talented, deadly sniper is targeting the Consul Generals, seemingly at random.

Homicide inspector Vince Torelli has a reputation for solving the toughest cases in the City, but this one is unlike anything else he has faced. The killings make no sense, lack motive, and appear to be unrelated but Vince knows there has to be a link between them. He struggles to find the connection and identify the suspect, but as he gets closer to the answer, he becomes a target himself. This can end only one of two ways, either by him solving the case, or by becoming a victim himself.

PRICE: $3.99

FORMATS: PDF, PDB (Palm/Ereader), HTML, LIT (Microsoft Reader), PRC (Unencrypted Mobipocket/Kindle), RB (Rocket 1100), IMP (Gemstar 1150/Ebookwise), IMP (Gemstar 2150/Rocket 1200), DNL (desktop author page-flipping format), EXE (Windows Executable page flipping format) and epub.

Author Page:

Book Page:

RELEASE DATE: 21 March 2012

John R, Schembra,

Author of M.P., A Novel of Vietnam and Retribution

and  **Soon to be released** Diplomatic Immunity

Available at Writers Exchange Epublishing and

* * *

Happy to announce!  My book, “REFLECTIONS FROM THE PIT,” is now available on, for your Kindle, at $3.99 & from, for your Nook, for $3.19.  Just type in my name, or the title of my book.

I worked as a patrolman, detective, and supervisor with the City of Miami Police Department for twenty-two years; thirteen of which were spent as an undercover detective in the REAL Miami Vice where I worked everything from Narcotics & Vice, Prostitution, Gambling and Pornography, to Dignitary Protection of President Jose Napoleon Duarte (of El Salvador) and Pope John Paul II.

My book, “REFLECTIONS FROM THE PIT,” pulls no punches; it shows you the good, the bad, and the ugly (warts and all); the dark side of police work, both the humor and the tragedy.

“Reflections from the Pit” was awarded BEST FICTION NOVEL (2nd Place) by the Public Safety Writers Association.

Testimonials reference my book: “REFLECTIONS FROM THE PIT.

“That fellow (Berish) has a real talent for writing a story. That’s excellent work.”

E. Howard Hunt

(American author of sixty-three novels, C.I.A. spy, and coordinator of Watergate.

“This book reflects the very ‘soul’ of honesty as well as the constant corruption involved in working as a beat officer.”

Bill Kelly

Special Agent in charge of Obscenity Investigations for the Southeast United States (Retired) FBI, Miami, FL.

His book’s powerful fiction vividly illustrates the corruption and fury endlessly stewing in the Pit.  its relentless intensity possesses an authenticity, honesty, and directness that obliterates shallow TV shows.

Syd Bradford

Editor and Publisher of Enigma Magazine

Philadelphia, PA.

* * *


A brother’s call for her immediate presence in Palm Springs draws Margot Madison-Cross from her beloved Chicago waterfront—to California’s uncompromising Mojave Desert. The only bright spot is the opportunity to see her niece Camille. But Margot quickly realizes she is ill-prepared for Graham’s actual news, Camille’s medical world, and the Mojave. And before she can deal with her brother and unpleasant family secrets, murder rears its ugly head, putting her niece’s safety in peril. A monumental sand storm, a cave-like Quonset hut, repercussions from past events, and a torrential rain storm conspire against her. All the while, Graham’s horrible secret hangs over all their futures. And so much of their worlds, relationships, and what Margot must do, is based upon Lies of Convenience…

Author Books available in paper and eBook at: Amazon


Barnes & Noble

Signed copy from Author

* * *


Former Air Force Special Agent Jim West’s goal of a peaceful, relaxed life, after a twenty year career in the military and an unexpected, devastating divorce, is once again interrupted by the discovery of a dead body at a rest stop along I-25. Traveling with a friend for a planned golf outing in Colorado Springs, the discovery of the body not only nixes the golf, but also puts West once again in the middle of a homicide investigation. As the investigation evolves and more bodies turn up, West discovers he is not only a key suspect in the investigation, he may also be the killer’s next target.

Book Blurb:   “Bob Doerr turns up the heat in his latest thriller, Another Colorado Kill. It’s a tale packed with suspense, keeping readers on edge as they try to keep pace with Jim West.  Hold on tight as Doerr takes you along on a plot twisting read that will turn you topsy-turvy!”      — John M. Wills, Award winning speaker and author, Creator of the Chicago Warriors Thriller Series

Bob Doerr grew up in a military family, graduated from the Air Force Academy, and had a twenty eight year career of his own in the Air Force.  It was a life style that exposed him to the people and cultures in Asia, Europe and of these United States.  Bob specialized in criminal investigations and counterintelligence gaining significant insight to the worlds of crime, espionage and terrorism. His work brought him into close contact and coordination with the investigative and security agencies of many different countries and with the FBI and CIA.  His education credits include a Masters in International Relations from Creighton University.  Bob is now a full time author, with four mystery/thrillers already published and a fifth to be released in the fall.  Two of his books, Cold Winter’s Kill and Loose Ends Kill, were selected as finalists for the Eric Hoffer Award.  Loose Ends Kill was also awarded the 2011 Silver medal for Fiction/mystery by the Military Writers Society of America.  He lives in Garden Ridge, Texas, with Leigh, his wife of 39 years.

* * *


Johnny Madigan, a teen-aged Union soldier, is brought back by the National Detective Service as an undercover operative after being co-opted by that organization while recovering from a combat wound to infiltrate a ring of conspirators bent on assassination of government officials. Johnny is sent to New York by the Detective Service to obtain employment in a business having a legitimate cover but is engaged in the criminal enterprise of counterfeiting US currency. The ring has ties to Confederate spies and saboteurs and Johnny is imperiled by their murderous efforts to rid themselves of him whom they believe is a Union infiltrator.

Although he has promised to return to Deirdre his adolescent sweetheart, he is soon distracted by Letitia, a woman associated with the counterfeit ring who is encouraged to use her feminine charm to discover Johnny’s real identity while he works as a laborer at the warehouse where the phony money is printed. He is shadowed by two detectives detailed to gather Johnny’s information and protect him from harm while he tries to penetrate the conspiracy of espionage and counterfeiting designed to undermine the Union war effort.

His assignment takes him to Canada where he helps expose a Confederate spy ring and finds himself in the midst of a plot to foment an armed uprising to take over New York City and hold it hostage to force an end to the war against the South. His proven ability then brings him to the nerve center of Federal intelligence gathering. Johnny’s narrow escapes from death keep the reader riveted right up to the last page.

John Bray

The End