PSWA Newsletter–April 2015

PSWA Newsletter
APRIL 2015




Greetings!  Hope you are all having a successful and rewarding writing year so far and, depending on where you live, enjoying the spring weather.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s been a relatively balmy winter – so much so that our annual Memorial Day Ski to Sea 90-mile relay race has had to make a few changes.  While it may be a little different for those of you in the Northeast, we are basically out of snow already, so instead of starting the race on May 22 with downhill and cross country skiing, we’re having to add another mountain bike and downhill run to augment the canoeing and kayaking legs of the race.  The good news is plenty of beautiful spring flowers – starting in February.

But enough about weather.

First, our congratulations to PSWA Board Member Michelle Perin who has agreed to become our vice president.  We are all delighted that she has agreed to assume this important role in the organization.

Now, let’s talk PSWA events.  Please mark your calendars now for two important deadlines.  The first is the deadline for entering our growing and always popular writing competition.  Competition chair Michelle Perin reports that the entries are now arriving often and the deadline for them is May 8.  For all the details about the many available categories, be sure to click on Writing Contest on this website.  Winners will, as is our custom, be announced at the annual conference.

And speaking of the conference, that’s the other deadline.  The conference will be held at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas July 17-19, with the opening reception on the evening of the 16th.  As we do every year, we reward early registrants with lower conference fees.  In this case, the next deadline for reservations is May 15.  After that, the rate goes up.  Conference chair Mike Black has shared with the board the exciting lineup of panels, speakers and other activities, including a very special media presentation.  Conference logistical chair Keith Bettinger has planned another great year of lunches including those extra yummy desserts.  Also, as those of you who’ve attended before, we try to involve our attendees in all of our panels.  Mike says those slots are filling fast, so if you have a panel you’d like to be a part of, get your reservation in ASAP!  Click on Conference on this website to register.

Hope to see you in Las Vegas in July and join the round of applause on Sunday when you accept your writing award.

–Marilyn Olsen


The 2015 Public Safety Writers Association conference is fast approaching.  Soon we will be at the Orleans Hotel and Casino meeting old friends and making new ones.   When making hotel reservations please use the following code to be sure you get the special hotel rate for your stay at the conference: A5PSC07.  The hotel has many fine restaurants, bowling alleys, movie theaters and a showroom.

Las Vegas has much to do and see without spending all your time in a casino chained to a slot machine.   The hotel guarantees the room rates for a week before our conference as well as a week following the conference.  There are so many wonderful things to see and do in the area.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to see the sights and visit some of the history of the old west.

Now with that said, as your conference hotel coordinator, let me cover a few other points to make your trip more pleasurable.  First of all, if you are attending the conference you can sell your books at our book store.  It is much easier for you to ship them to me at my home.  That beats paying overweight luggage fees at the airport. I will bring them to the conference and turn them back over to you.   Do not ship your entire stock of books to me.  Three or five of each title should be sufficient.  We have many prolific authors selling books and people only have so much money to go around.  Also, please be aware, I may bring your books to the conference, but I am not mailing them back to you.  I suggest you bring a self-addressed and stamped priority mail envelope or carton with you for mailing books home. In the meantime, you can ship your books to me at:

Keith Bettinger
9669 Vista Crest Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89148

Let me know via email when you ship the books and I will notify you when your books arrive at my home.  Please include your email address in the shipment. You can also send me any materials or items you would like to have placed in the welcome bags that we hand out at registration.

I am also in charge of setting up the food services.  If you have special dietary needs, make sure you check it off on the conference registration form.  Let us know what you need in the way of food to compliment your health or religion.  More than likely, you will be having a chicken, a pork and a beef luncheon during the three days of the conference.

This year attendees were offered a phenomenal early bird special rate for the conference.  However, the prices of our conference’s amenities have risen.  Let me tell you about conference costs and some of the breaks we receive.  The Thursday night meet and greet we PSWA has to pay for the room, food and bartender and you pay for your beverages.  If we purchase a certain dollar amount of beverages, we do not have to pay for the bartender.  The ball room we use each day for the conference is $1,000.00 per day.  If we have 50 lunches purchased each day, we get the room for half the price.  The meals you receive as part of your cost in excess of $30 and they are phenomenal.  Morning coffee has risen in price to $44 a gallon.  We go through at least five gallons of coffee and tea each day – sometimes more.

With those prices in mind, I am asking you for your help and support.  Every year I come to the membership with hat in hand and ask the members to contact their publishers, printers, editors, home town writers clubs and fraternal groups to sponsor something each day.  $200.00 would buy coffee for a day.  $175.00 would sponsor the bartender.  $300.00 would sponsor the Thursday night meet and greet room.  The food for the meet and greet could also be sponsored.   We have been successful in the past with help from sponsors, but, I cannot keep going back to the same ones over and over again.  For your publishers, editors and printers, it is a great way for them to break the ice and get their business names out to our writers/attendees.  If you can, bring your spouse or traveling companion to lunch each day, that’s another meal towards to reduction in cost of the conference room.  Whenever a business or group sponsors something for us we announce it the attendees and make sure a notice thanking them is posted for the entire day.

Let me thank you in advance for your time and help.  I look forward to hearing what you can do to help, and look forward to seeing you in July.

–Keith Bettinger, Secretary


Our Annual PSWA Board Meeting is rapidly approaching as I write this. In fact, by the time you read this newsletter, chances are that the meeting will already be over. I attended my first board meeting last year and was amazed at how much work it was. Basically, the forthcoming PSWA conference is discussed in depth and planned at this meeting. The evaluations that were collected last year are scrupulously reviewed, and we all put our heads together to make the next one better. I am reminded of the old comparison of how smoothly the swan looks as it sails across the pond, but what is not visible is the frenetic paddling of the bird’s webbed feet under the surface of the water. Our board is second to none in its dedication.

Once again, I have the awesome responsibility of writing the program, so that’s why I’ve recently been asking for suggestions on presentations and panel topics on the listserve. I’ve also been looking for volunteers for such things as timekeepers, bookstore assistance, registration help, etc.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years, and I can honestly say that the PSWA conference is the best. We not only work to make it better each year, but we also change it so no two conferences are exactly alike. Last year we had the CSI Jeopardy show, starring Alex Suspect and our fabulous contestants, Diane, Joe, Thone, and Pete. Who can forget their hilarious ad lib answer, “Sacco and Vanzetti,” for any question that they didn’t know? This year I’ve got a few more surprises up my sleeve including a chance for a few of you to do some real acting in an old-time radio play. Like I said, I’m looking for volunteers to be actors, actresses, and members of an audience jury who try to solve the mystery before it’s revealed. Who knows, maybe a new career in Hollywood is on the horizon for one of you. Additionally, we’ve got some great presentations lined up as well as a great assortment of panels covering aspects of police work, firefighting, forensics, and writing both fiction and nonfiction. You can you rub elbows with experts in all these fields, as well as some great writers, and make some great contacts.

And don’t forget about the fabulous room rates. (Where else can you stay at a five star hotel and only pay thirty-five to fifty bucks?) The meals are excellent as well, and don’t forget you can help keep our rates low by inviting your spouses to join you at the lunches. The only stipulation is that we need to know who all is coming to eat when you register, because the meals need to be ordered in advance.

Like I said, I’m in the process of writing the program, and I’ve received a lot of suggestions for panels thus far. We want to make this conference the best it can be, so don’t hesitate to contact me at if you have any more ideas about what you’d like to see at the conference. Like Dean Martin used to say, “Keep those cards and letter coming, ‘cause I read every one.”

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you next July in Vegas.

–Michael A. Black


By Michelle Perin, Vice-President and Contest Chair

Time is running out to enter the PSWA 2015 Writing Contest. Entries must be postmarked by May 8, 2015 (1 Month 1 Week 1 Day according to the contest count-down on our website). Lots of you have already submitted work in the variety of categories we offer, including Novels, Short Stories, Creative-Non-Technical and Poetry. All categories include both published and non-published options so there is truly a category for everyone. Check out the categories and guidelines at

The entries are judged by a panel of experts in that category and most are accompanied by a short critique which can help you craft your writing. The Awards Ceremony (which is my favorite part) occurs after lunch on the last day of the PSWA Writer’s Conference in Las Vegas. This Sunday event allows us to recognize the year’s winners and is incredibly exciting. I encourage you to enter the contest, come to the conference and join your fellow writers for this informative and fun event. Maybe you will walk away at the end of the day with a certificate stating you are an “Award-Winning Author”. Don’t wait too long to enter as that ticker keeps counting down. Good luck and see you in July.

–Michelle Perin, Vice-President and Contest Chair


If you are not familiar with this acronym, then at first thought you might likely guess it to be some rare disease or health condition, a medical procedure, or even a chemical or biological threat. But don’t be embarrassed if you are unaware of this term. Because even though the concept is thousands of years old, the term itself has only been around for the past twenty to thirty years, and basically something only recognized by crime prevention practitioners and, more recently, architects. So what exactly is this SEP-ted?

CPTED (pronounced: SEP-ted) is the common vernacular for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. This is a crime prevention philosophy based on the theory that the “proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the incidence and fear of crime, thus an improvement in the quality of life.”

CPTED is actually a full semester course of study, so just the basics will be discussed in this newsletter. First, I want to take a moment and comment on the significance of the underlined word “and” in this definition. Something can be properly designed to reduce the incidence or fear of crime, but unless it is used effectively then the probability for crime will increase.

Here’s an example … If you are a home owner with a side yard protected by a gate to control access, the effective use comes when the gate functions properly and is closed. Or even more effective use is applied when a padlock is secured on the gate. Having a gate on the side of your house to control access to your backyard meets the “proper design” requirement of CPTED’s definition. But with no closed gate and/or no padlock, then the second part of the definition is not fulfilled, i.e., no “effective use” to deter unauthorized users.

Starting back in the 1960s, several leading criminologists in the latter half of the 20th Century were responsible for developing the theories of CPTED; such notable names as C. Ray Jeffrey, Oscar Newman, and Jane Jacobs. But much of their theories went unnoticed or rejected. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Timothy Crowe brought prominence to the concept and recognition for past authorities in the field of study. It was then that architects and municipal designers began realizing the value of CPTED and employing those design models into their urban planning. (I had the privilege of taking the basic and advance CPTED courses under Timothy Crowe.)

CPTED’s three foundational tenets are

  • Access Control
  • Natural Surveillance
  • Territoriality

[Note: Two sub-components are Maintenance and Activity Support, and are sometimes included as major components of CPTED.]

I mentioned earlier that CPTED concepts have been around for hundreds of years, but only the term is a more recent view for urban planners. As an example for access control, let’s go back to the medieval times of Europe. Castles were typically surrounded by a moat with a draw bridge controlling who was allowed entry into the inner walls. The high walls, the moat, the draw bridge, and the guards manning the bridge were all forms of access control. Today’s comparable locales would be the “gated community.” Or the modern office building with a receptionist/guard desk and keypads or proximity readers on doors for internal access operated by authorized employee ID badges.

An example for natural surveillance can be found in the practices of the Anasazi; an ancient Native American culture that lived in cliff dwellings in the Four Corner region of the United States. By making their habitats on the side of mesa cliffs, they could see their “friend or foe” approaching for many miles. They also practiced access control by having their homes on different levels and accessed by ladders that could be pulled up to prevent use by unwanted visitors.

Since the beginning of time, most all cultures have distinguished their property rights in some manner of territoriality. Some geographical feature like a river or mountain range, a forest, or a valley defined borders of different people and marked the line for intruders or strangers. Such was the case for the Hatfields and McCoys. If not a geographical division, then man-made elements were established, such as fence lines and signage. This was evident by the use of barbed-wire and its role during the Range Wars of the 1800s. In modern day practice, we reinforce our property rights, our territoriality per se, with landscaping, walls, and lighting … which also coincide with natural surveillance and access control.

Implementing CPTED principles into your home does not have to be expensive. Applications of CPTED can involve nothing more than taking away or reducing the opportunity of a nuisance or criminal activity by understanding behavior patterns of criminals. The best way to secure your house is to pretend you are the intruder, the thief, or other type of “bad guy.” Take a walk around the block and plan-out how you would break into one of your neighbors’ homes. What makes their house an inviting target? Is it poor lighting? Are windows blocked by overgrown bushes and shrubs preventing visibility from the street? Is the side gate left open, or unlocked?

No, CPTED is not a disease or a worrisome health concern, but let’s hope that it’s contagious to us all. In the meantime…Stay Safe!

Ron Corbin


So often when trying to figure out what to do writing-wise, I rely upon what I like to read—what pulls me into a novel and what keeps me reading. Character and Setting are always my first thoughts. Of course, story is important. However, I might have in my hand the most intriguing story every written, but if I don’t like the protagonist, or at a minimum, care about what happens to him or her—I won’t read the book. Equally, if I’m not mentally or emotionally “taken away”—once again, the book won’t get read. Which leads me to “setting,” sometimes referred to as “location.” (I lean toward the word “setting”—seems, a broader concept.)

By my way of thinking, setting done well is a key ingredient—I go as far to say, an essential ingredient—for an enjoyable novel. A novel a reader wants to read. A novel a reader is pulled into.

Here’s a quickie list of some thoughts on Setting:

  • Fully developed, setting adds the underlying layer for your story—the glue so to speak that holds everything together. (Maybe not the best metaphor, but similar to the background in a photo.) It establishes your protagonist and reader firmly on the time-space-continuum, and in a particular place in the universe.
  • Where your protagonist “is,” determines in a multitude of ways, what and how your characters face and deal with the dilemmas you throw their way. And what physical items and constraints are available, not only in daily life, but at hand to maybe save a life? Or solve a crime?
  • The comparison between a protagonist’s current setting versus ones from the past can add an emotional level—e.g., guilt from deeds in a past setting, hope for the future from where they are now, even being part of their understanding of the present.
  • Enables the reader to experience through your words and your character’s eyes, the tastes, smells, sounds, sights, and feel of your protagonist’s world. Emotional and visual pictures readers can’t forget. (I have several such pictures from books I’ve read that I will never forget.)
  • Setting is a key way to show personalities—how they deal with their environment. If your character can see, feel, love or hate a desert, a lake, a city, or???—that response to the landscape can be a key to the reader then loving or hating your character. And not just your hero, but your villain too!

On a personal level, setting has been my story inspiration. Whether walking through a lush green evergreen forest in the pacific northwest, or mesmerized by the sight of long abandoned structures, silhouetted against lower Sierra foothills by a brilliant sunset, or mentally captivated by a rundown mini-mart, neglected and lonely in the Mojave desert, or standing in awe, taking in the expansive view from a Michigan Avenue high-rise apartment of Lake Shore Drive and the lake beyond. Add a few more setting items like abandoned A-frames, Quonset huts, mining caves—the list goes on; all with tales to tell, stories fanciful or real. Setting is the key to that inspiration.

Which takes me back to what I like to read. The authors I consistently read with anticipation and joy are the ones that have memorable characters that take me to a place—setting—I don’t want to leave. A place where I’m sorry I have to leave at book’s end. Developing “setting” as best we can, I think is well worth the time and effort. Challenging, I think. But aiming for a strong sense of place, I also think, is a key ingredient to the “art and craft” of storytelling.

–Madeline Gornell

john_wills_200IS CURSIVE CURSED?

A recent ABC News report suggested that cursive handwriting is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Students rarely use or practice this once standard form of communication. In fact, one high school principal suggested that cursive may become a skill students must learn outside of the classroom because schools are focused on “real-world” job related skills involving technology.,

Even signatures, as important as they are, may not necessarily have to be in the form of cursive. A sales manager at a credit union opined that the lack of a cursive signature isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. The individual’s mark may simply be a dot or an X, and it can be captured electronically.

However, not everyone is willing to abandon this basic building block of education.Lawmakers in Concord, N.H. passed a bill requiring public schools to continue teaching cursive. The bill’s sponsor advised teaching cursive will allow students the ability to read historical documents, such as those created by our founding fathers.

“It’s the last form of personalized communication,” said Neal S. Frank, owner of Santa Fe Pens in New Mexico. With passion and self-interest, Frank is teaming up with local calligraphy and cursive teacher Sherry Bishop to revive the art of good penmanship.

“It is self-expression,” agrees Bishop, who teaches at one of the few local schools that still requires learning cursive, the Santa Fe Waldorf School. “We can’t get much closer to the heart than true handwriting.”

For Frank and Bishop, cursive is about more than good penmanship. “There’s been a couple of studies that show learning cursive triggers the brain on how to learn,” says Frank, adding that “there may be a correlation between not learning cursive and the fact that we [the US] are falling behind the rest of the world.”

Bishop adds that practicing cursive and handwriting improves fine motor skills and head-heart-hands coordination. “It’s this beautiful mediation, and there’s this rhythm that gets the body in sync,” she says. “It’s just me and the person I’m sending the letter to–it’s just this beautiful, private conversation.”

I don’t know about you, but when something wonderful, or perhaps sad, occurs in my life, and someone sends me a handwritten note, there’s no better feeling. It’s much better than a commercially produced card with some stranger’s sentiments printed inside. The personalization and concern conveyed by a handwritten card is something to be treasured for a lifetime.

I encourage my family to communicate using cursive whenever they can. It’s a beautiful form of expression that should not be pushed aside for the sake of technology.

John M. Wills
Award-winning Author / Freelance Writer
Member: National Book Critics Circle
Latest novel: HEALER


Ah, those pesky little verbs, to lay and to lie … They keep cropping up here and there in our writing to cause bumps in our prose like pot holes in the roadway after a spring thaw. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two of them, and figure out how to avoid those grammatical ruts.

First, we need to provide a bit of background. English has verbs called transitive and intransitive. A transitive verb, for lack of a better word, is an action verb. By its very nature, the described action is transferred to something. Thus, a transitive verb requires an object, a direct object, onto which this action is conveyed. Let’s look at an example.

Tom hit the ball. In this instance, the subject, Tom, is performing an action, hitting, on the object, the ball.

If a transitive verb transfers the action to a direct object, it stands to reason that an intransitive verb does not, right?

An intransitive verb expresses action that has no object, such as, Jack smiled, or, The river ran through the valley.

I know what you’re thinking: does a verb have to be one or the other? Actually, some verbs are always transitive (destroy, send, forbid), and some are always intransitive (tremble, chuckle, happen); however, most verbs can function as either transitive or intransitive as in, The teacher explained the lesson, which is transitive, and The teacher never explained, which is intransitive.

Are you following me? Or are you way ahead of me?

Or are have you quit reading out of boredom?

Okay, let’s bring in our two problem verbs, to lay and to lie.

Basically, the difference is simple: to lie means to recline in a recumbent position or remain in lying position. Its principal parts are lie, lay, (have) lain, (is) lying. To lay means to put or to place something. Its principal parts are lay, laid, (have) laid, (is) laying.

Since lay is a transitive, or action, verb, it requires that this action be transferred to a direct object. Lie, being intransitive, expresses an action in itself, thus, it does not require a direct object. When each verb is conjugated, some confusion sometimes results. Jack was laying (transitive) bricks in the patio, while Jill was lying (intransitive) on the lawn chair. After Jack had laid the bricks, Jill realized she’d lain there for over an hour.

So, we can lay bricks, blame, or our cards on the table, while the birds laid eggs yesterday. Things get a tad trickier with lie, in that we might feel compelled to lie down now, although we lay down yesterday, and have lain down in the past week.

It should be mentioned that before the intervention of grammarians, this distinction was practically nonexistent until the early part of the Nineteenth Century. We may be moving toward using the two verbs interchangeably again, but for the moment, the distinction remains in place, often with hilarious results.

Even our past presidents have not been immune. Harry S. Truman once said, “I don’t want anyone to lay down on the job.” At an address at Arlington National Cemetery, Bill Clinton remarked “Remember why many of these people are laying in these graves.” And George W. Bush once told an audience that the power of this country “lays in in the hearts and souls of Americans.” But we shouldn’t be too critical of our chief executives. After all, they were our Commanders-in-Chiefs, not our Conjugators-in-Chiefs.

–Professor X (Identity to be revealed at the conference unless you can guess before that.)

 Joe-Haggerty200x200OCEAN THERAPY

Recently my wife and I bought a house in Florida. It’s a five minute walk to the ocean. I’ve always wanted to live near the ocean. I guess as a kid some of my happiest moments were the visits to my parents’ friends at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. Although I always sunburned badly, I can always remember body surfing in the ocean waves. I was stung by a sea nettle on one occasion and had numerous mosquito bites on another, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the beach. I think part of it was that I was an only child and my parents’ friends, who I referred to as Uncle Pete and Aunt Donna, had two children around my age, Rusty and Donna Joyce. I was never alone. I had my first experience fishing, which was exhilarating. Rusty and I caught a slew of croakers fishing off a bridge close to their house and that night Uncle Pete cooked some for our dinner. The ocean looked different to me then. It was fun, exciting and powerful. It could push me down, turn me around or give me a ride in a rush of salty water that always tasted sweet.

Today as I walk toward the beach, I can hear the waves rolling up to the shores. It’s a familiar sound. A sound that gives me a chill and warmth at the same time.  As the vastness of its never ending horizon come into view, I begin to feel small, not as a person, but as an entity compared to how the oceans cover the earth. I walk down to the sand, take off my shoes and socks and start a slow stroll along the waters’ ever changing edge. It amazes me how each wave creates a different design on the sand, sometimes leaving a salty foam like the foam on top of a mug of beer. I walk at a distance where the water doesn’t reach me, but eventually I walk closer. I feel like if I let the water touch me I’ll be drawn in to want to feel more.

When the water first rushes over my toes I again feel a chill because it is so cold. I step back out of reach of the next wave. Now the sand is clinging to my wet feet and I feel the urge to step toward the next rush of cold water. The water is still cold, but the shock of its coldness is less severe. The water seems to massage my feet first as it covers my foot in between my toes and then as it pulls the sand from under my foot as the water recedes. The higher up the water gets the more I feel a part of its power and strength.  Before my walk is through, my pants legs will be rolled up and wet as I’ve walked deeper into the waves. I’ve even felt like I’ve wanted to take all of my clothes off and let the water cover my whole body, but I am not a nudist and modesty and good sense tells me to control myself. I’m always reluctant to leave my ocean and return to the real world of bills and responsibility. I know it is necessary, but the ocean will always draw me back whenever I’m near.

Whenever there is a bright moon, I’ll go down to the shore and just gaze at the darkness of the ocean. Of course there will be a streak of white light stretching across the moving waters from the moon and it is easier to see as you are walking, but I also look for signs of life on the water. The lights of a ship or smaller boat anchored or moving across the horizon always gets my imagination churning. A cruise ship will have more lights than a freighter or tanker, but either way I wonder who is on that ship, where has it been, what secrets does it carry. Their lights are like beacons in the night bringing notions of sailors and pirates and surly sea captains. Mr. Christian and Captain Bly, Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck, Russell Crowe and Tom Hanks, John Wayne and Gary Cooper were all men of the sea. The Perfect Storm and Captain’s Courageous come to mind. Men of the sea and, of course, their women, are great stories. The ocean also holds great tragedies, the Titanic, tsunamis, slave ships and the thousands of lives buried at sea during wars and harsh weather. One can get lost in the stories of the sea, but I prefer the simple enjoyment of its caress on my feet and the soothing sounds of its rolling waves.

Now I could get very philosophical about the ocean, the connection between continents, its underwater treasures and horrors and its ever expanding waters, but I chose to be self- centered. My relationship with the ocean is purely therapeutic. It engulfs me with its vastness and the constant roar of the rolling waves on the beach. The waters are sometimes cold, sometimes warm, but always there, always pushing wider whether at high tide or low tide. I could stare at its consistency and think about my life’s inconsistencies, but instead I think about God. I think about how thankful I am to be able to stand and walk along these beaches, to feel the water on my toes, to taste the salt on my lips.

For some reason, as I have mentioned before, I feel small, but I feel whole, I feel strong. The world revolves around me not the other way around, and yet, I am just another grain of sand on that beach. The ocean will always be mysterious, exciting, romantic and therapeutic to me and I will always be drawn to its beauty.

–Joseph B. Haggerty Sr.
Author of the novels: Shame: The Story of a Pimp and An Ocean in the Desert
Contributor to the PSWA anthology: Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides
Award winning poet and lecturer on the sexual exploitation of women and children in prostitution and pornography


Many people wonder about the make-up of local fire departments. Actually, no they don’t. Most people, based on what type of department they have locally, just believe that all fire departments are like theirs. For example, if you live in New York City, you probably believe that all fire departments are staffed by people hired, trained and paid by the City of New York. On the flip side, if you live in Custer, Kentucky, you probably think that everywhere else has the same fully-volunteer fire staff. Ok, maybe not so much the volunteer areas since we are inundated with television shows detailing the ins and outs of the larger city career departments like Chicago Fire and Rescue Me. So you can get your facts right when you write, here’s a brief look at the possible make-up of your local fire department.

Career Departments
Career departments are made up of fire fighters who have been hired and are paid by the jurisdiction they work in. They are unionized and belong to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Their work conditions are guided by Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) and they get paid a regular salary, work regular shifts at the station (mostly two 24-hour shifts followed by 5 days off) and have benefits, such as paid-time-off, medical insurance and retirement. Career departments cover most major metropolitan cities from coast to coast. According to the March 2015 U.S. Fire Administration Census (which includes local, state and federal departments) 8% of fire departments are fully career.

Volunteer Departments
The majority of the fire departments in the United States fall into this category. These departments are completely staffed by volunteers from the Fire Chief down to the entry-level fire fighter. The fire fighters are made up of community members and are on-call 24-7. When an emergency occurs, they rush down to the station, jump in the apparatus (fire truck, ambulance, etc) and rush to the scene. Some are allowed to respond in their personal vehicles (POV) but many have moved away from this due to liability. Although some departments offer a stipend per call, these people are mostly un-paid and do not have benefits.  Many members belong to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). 71% of departments fall into the volunteer category.

Combination Departments
The last type of department is a combination of career and volunteer. There are some paid positions on staff. On the smaller departments this can be the Fire Chief with the rest of the members volunteers or it can be 50% career supplemented by 50% volunteer. The career fire fighters have all the benefits of larger, fully-career departments and often the volunteers have some added benefits, such as a longevity stipend that goes into a retirement account. The Census shows 5% of combination departments are mostly career and 16% are mostly volunteer.

You can find out more about the census and some other great statistics by going to One last fun fact, Nebraska has the most volunteer departments at 92.7% and Hawaii has the most career at 72.7%.
–Michelle Perin, FF-1/EMT


CAFFEINE_CAN_KILL--200x311b PSWA Member Bob Doerr announced the April 1 release of the sixth book in his award winning Jim West mystery series, titled Caffeine Can Kill.  This Jim West mystery/thriller, the sixth in the series, finds Jim traveling to the Texas Hill Country to attend the grand opening of a friend’s winery and vineyard. Upon arriving in Fredericksburg, Jim witnesses a brutal kidnapping at a local coffee shop. The next morning while driving down an unpaved country road to the grand opening, he comes across an active crime scene barely a quarter mile from his friend’s winery. A Fredericksburg policeman, who talked to Jim the day before at the kidnapping scene, recognizes Jim and asks him to identify the body of a dead young woman as the woman who was kidnapped.  Jim does, and as a result of this unwelcome relationship with the police is asked the next morning to identify the body of another murdered person as the man who had kidnapped the young woman.  A third murder throws Jim’s vacation into complete disarray and draws Jim and a female friend into the sights of one of the killers.
Violent-Departures-200x298The latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series, Violent Departures, by Marilyn Meredith, writing under the name F. M. Meredith, is now available in trade paperback and on Kindle.

Violent Departures Blurb: College student, Veronica Randall, disappears from her car in her own driveway, everyone in the Rocky Bluff P.D. is looking for her. Detective Milligan and family move into a house that may be haunted. Officer Butler is assigned to train a new hire and faces several major challenges.




fbi-animal-house-200x309“FBI Animal House” is Pete Klismet’s second published book, released in late 2014.  It is the true story of a raucous, party-minded class of New Agents at the FBI academy.  There is plenty of humor and wild antics, but there is also a serious theme.

The author seriously questions whether the basic training for FBI agents changed much between the 1930’s and 1990’s, other than moving to a gleaming facility.  What the public believes is that FBI agents come out of the basic academy as “highly-trained” Special Agents, while nothing could be further from the truth in the author’s view.  The book will not be popular with the FBI, but the author believes the issue is safety and competence of agents in the field, rather than getting by on the myth and mystique of the FBI.  (Available through, and



dragon_key-200x316Mike Black’s latest Executioner novel is Dragon Key, published under the house name of Don Pendleton.









Ron Corbin:

RonCorbin200x200Military pilot, Los Angeles cop, police pilot, school teacher and principal, private investigator, corporate security director, body guard for Arabic royalty, counter-terrorism auditor and trainer for DOE security forces, crime prevention specialist, law enforcement training magazine editor, police academy training manager, author, and cruise ship special-interest speaker.

Trying to complete my resume` in one to two pages is like attempting to squeeze my stomach into one of my old Army flight suits … it can’t be done. Well actually on a dare, I did recently show my wife that I could still do that, but zipping it up became a hazard because one can only hold their breath for so long. Also, I was afraid the zipper was going to break and there would be flying shrapnel across the room. When I did finally unzip, it sounded like opening a pressure-sealed can of coffee.

My story began in 1946 in LeRoy, Kansas (pop. 500). Raised in a small farming community on the Neosho River, fishing for catfish, hunting squirrels and rabbits, idolizing western cowboy heroes, I had a typical Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer style childhood. I attended a small, four-room grade school for eight years. I was 10-years-old when my dad died. As the oldest of three boys, I had to work many part-time jobs to help support my mom and brothers. A few years later my mom remarried and we packed-up the car and moved to New Orleans, where I went to high school for three years. It was there that I met Kathy, my high school sweetheart.

Immediately after graduation in 1964, my mom’s new marriage wasn’t working out, so we moved to California. The day I left, and at the age of seventeen, Kathy proposed to me. I don’t remember saying “yes,” but I didn’t say “no” either. So she “jumped” on my shock of silence reaction and took that as an affirmative response. We were engaged, but lived 2,000 miles apart for the next couple years. I entered the Army’s helicopter flight program in 1965. While in flight school, Kathy and I got married in 1966. Four months later, I went to Vietnam as a Huey helicopter pilot. I served two combat tours in the late 1960s, leaving the service after four years with a couple thousand flight hours.

After the Army, I became an LA policeman (just like Reed on “Adam-12”). Eventually becoming a police instructor pilot for their air unit in 1976, I had a training accident that killed my student pilot. Receiving seventy percent burns, I was pensioned-off. A couple years ago, I wrote my first major book about my memoirs of this accident. It’s titled, “Beyond Recognition.”

My college didn’t begin until after I got out of the military. As a 23-year-old freshman in 1970, being a Vietnam vet on a college campus was not ideal. Anyway, I continued working my way through college for the next eighteen calendar years to achieve my undergrad and graduate degrees, and all the while of being a full-time provider husband and father. In other words, I went to college for a long time, not a fun time.

Almost fifty years later, Kathy and I have three children; two natural sons and an adopted Korean daughter. We are definitely a multi-cultural family. My great-grandmother was Cherokee Indian. Our kids have blessed us with six grand-children, one being adopted from Russia, and with other mixtures of Mexican-Caucasian, Korean-Mexican, and Filipino-Korean.

So, in the “Reader’s Digest version” of my life, this brings me back to my opening paragraph and all the various careers I’ve had. With everything that I’ve done, and some highly classified, Kathy once asked me if I was working as a spy for the CIA.

My reply was, “Well Sweetheart, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Thonie Hevron:

After 35 years in California law enforcement, Thonie Hevron uses her experience to write suspense novels based on the lives behind the badge. She is retired and lives with her husband in the bucolic Northern California town of Petaluma. Thonie blogs stories from law enforcement veterans to portray the police character accurately and giving authors and the public insight into why cops do what they do. Her two police procedural thrillers, By Force or Fear and Intent to Hold won awards in the Public Safety Writers Association Writers Contest in 2012 and 2014. The third book, called With Malice Aforethought is in progress.
Author of By Force or Fear Intent to Hold, award winners in 2012 and 2014

Website: Thonie Hevron
Blog: Thonie Hevron, Just the Facts, Ma’am

John-Schembra-200x200John Schembra

John Schembra spent a year with the 557th MP Company at Long Binh, South Vietnam in 1970.  His time as a combat M.P. provided the basis of his first book, M.P., A Novel of Vietnam, a work of fiction based in part on his personal experiences.  Upon completing his military service, John joined the Pleasant Hill Police Department, where he retired in 2001 as a Sergeant, after 30 years of service.  He then became the lead Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) instructor for the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and has certified by the State of California as a subject matter expert in Emergency Vehicle Operations.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration of Justice through California State University, Sacramento, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration through California State University, Hayward.

In addition to M.P.,  John has had several articles published in law enforcement periodicals, including, Law and Order, Police Officer’s Quarterly, and The Backup.  He is also a contributing author in True Blue – Police Stories by Those Who Have Lived Them, a collection of short stories released by St. Martin’s Press.  His second novel Retribution, a fictional story of the hunt for a serial killer in San Francisco, was published in the spring of 2007, and his third novel Diplomatic Immunity was published in 2012. His fourth novel Sin Eater should be released shortly. John lives in Concord, CA with Charlene, his wife of 42 years.  They have two children, Alexandria, 38, and Scott, 34, who both reside in the Sacramento area.

Barbara Hodges

Jeff and I have lived on the central coast of California for 23 years.  He came here for a three month temporary assignment and never left.  About the same time we fell in love with basset hounds. Heidi is our fifth one.   Along with writing, I am a big NASCAR fan.  There’s nothing like seeing a race in person.  I also design and make jewelry.  I teach a water exercise class at my mom’s mobile home park three times a week. I started doing so after Mom had knee surgery, fourteen years ago.  Now we have eight other ladies that join us regularly.

Before I moved to the central coast and began writing, I was employed in retail management. I’d always dreamed of writing, but didn’t have the time. Now I have nine books out and am working on the tenth.  No Limits, my show on Blog Talk Radio is in its third year and going strong. I also do interviews for Mysterical-E, an online mystery magazine.

Along with PSWA, which I love, I am a member of Sisters-In-Crime and SLO Nightwriters. A local chapter of California Writers Club is ion the process of forming and I plan to be one of its members.

My local writers group, The Word Wizards, is celebrating twenty years of being together.  I am the last active founding member.


  • Writing tips of all sorts.
  • All kinds of promotion ideas.
  • You’ll hear from the experts about fire-fighting and many phases of law-enforcement.
  • And perhaps, most important of all, you’ll be part of a community of writers.


PSWA Newsletter–December 2014

PSWA Newsletter




molsen-200All of us have certainly been saddened by the recent death of our wonderful friend and colleague, AJ Farrar.

I first met AJ in the late 1990’s through our predecessor organization, the Police Writers Club founded by Roger Fulton. As many of you know, the organization has gone through several changes over the years and in 2005, with membership declining, a small group of us (including the late Armand Mulder) got together around AJ and Nancy’s dining room table and, building on all of Roger’s good ideas, reinvigorated the group as the Police Writers Association. Although we were still legally a club (partially because it’s the only way we could open a bank account), we wrote new bylaws and formed a board of directors including AJ, Nancy Farrar, Marilyn Meredith, Keith Bettinger, Tim Dees and me.

After a couple of years, we also renamed the organization Public Safety Writers Association to attract new and encourage a growing number of members who were firefighters, EMTs, military law enforcement, dispatchers and others who serve in public safety roles.

Somewhere along the line, I became the president, someone began calling me the queen and we, facetiously, of course, declared our organizational structure to be a monarchy.

AJ became vice president and membership chair, Nancy Farrar, treasurer, and Keith Bettinger, secretary. Tim became our Alpha Geek and created the Listserve.

We made plans to once again begin holding an annual conference and Marilyn Meredith agreed to take on the task of organizing it. We had 16 attendees.

Since that time, Michelle Perin has joined the board and now chairs our writing competition. Recently Mike Black has also become a board member and, for the second year, is organizing the conference. Marilyn Meredith is editor of our quarterly newsletter.

Our conference attendance has grown significantly, there is continuous lively conversation on the listserve and the contest continues to attract entries in a variety of categories.

We are now in the final bureaucratic process of becoming a 501 (c) 3 non-profit.

Through it all, AJ functioned as a mentor, cheerleader and all around fun person to be with. We will greatly miss him.

Marilyn Olsen, President and Queen

‘Tis the Season (To Be Victimized)

ron_corbin_200Oh yes, it is the time of the season for rejoicing, but it is also one of the greatest times for you to become a crime victim.

Black Friday signals the beginning of the heaviest shopping time for everyone, and that includes the “bad guys.” One of the biggest venues for theft of holiday gifts is in the parking lots around shopping malls and retail strip centers. Thieves are out in force at this time of the season to take what you have bought. This is when they look for an easy target and can rejoice, too, with the “spoils of their efforts.”

Thieves know that besides the merchandise being carried in shopping bags, this is when shoppers carry more cash and credit cards. Women’s purses are as much a target as are shopping bags. While you spend your good, hard-earned money to buy presents and gifts, the criminals don’t have to. Their “shopping places” are not inside Targets, Walmarts, and other retail stores; their locations are the parking lots. And the abundance of shopper-victims makes for easy “pickings” and convenient escape through the crowds.

Also, contributing to this increased opportunity for holiday crime is that our clocks are set-back from Daylight Savings Time, and darkness comes early. Many shoppers thus have to do their gift shopping after work, and will find themselves walking through dark parking lots. Try to park near a light pole. Don’t park next to a van. Visibility is paramount to deterrence.

So what else can make you a potential “crime target.” Typically, a common thing that thieves look for is a shopper with their arms loaded-down with bags and not having car keys in hand. I hate to sound sexist, but ladies you are the worst offenders of this. Digging through your purse and fumbling to find your car keys while standing next to your car door makes you a prime target of opportunity. The instant you are distracted, “Mr. Bad Guy” is sneaking up to grab your stuff…sometimes using force that will also cause personal injury.

To reduce the chance of this happening, plan ahead. Have your keys out of your purse and in hand before leaving the safety of the store. Interlace all those keys between your fingers. I’m not advocating that you resist if attacked, however, should someone attempt to steal your items or assault you, the keys can be a “sharp and painful” deterrent if you swipe at the suspect’s face. [Fighting back is discussion for another time.]

Be aware of your surroundings as you walk through the parking lot. Walk with a sense of purpose and keep your head on a “swivel.” If it appears that someone seems to be following you, alter the route to your car from the driving lanes and walk between parked vehicles to see if the person(s) follows you. If so, immediately head back toward the mall, or hail-down one of the mall’s roving security patrols. If you see another person nearby in the lot, call-out to them. Use a fake name and make it sound like you found a friend. At least you can attract the attention of this other person and hopefully deter any suspicious person that may be stalking you.

Once you have your car door or trunk opened, quickly place all your bags inside while being alert to your surroundings. If someone suspicious starts to approach you and makes you feel uncomfortable, depress the alarm button on your key fob and set-off your car alarm. Get in the car and lock the doors, then you can de-activate the alarm. The alarm will attract attention, which the bad guy doesn’t want.

And here’s another tip for deterring theft or burglary from vehicle. Let’s suppose you have a lot of shopping bags that you want to place in your car and then return to do more shopping at another mall store. Should you find yourself in this position, consider doing this. Place your bags of merchandise in your car’s trunk or, if you have no trunk, on the rear floorboard out of sight. Get in your vehicle and drive away. Then go park in another part of the mall’s lot. The reason for this is that some thieves simply sit in their vehicle for hours and watch shoppers place bags in their personal cars and then go back inside. So, if someone is watching your vehicle, this will cause them to think that you are leaving and their attention will be diverted elsewhere. I know that you will think this is a hassle and big inconvenience or waste of time. But believe me, it does deter and prevent your vehicle from being broken into.

Oh, one final “holiday” tip. When you have finished celebrating your holidays and opened all the presents, take precaution to disguise all those gift boxes when you place them on the curb for trash day and garbage pick-up. Break them down and place inside trash bags. Displaying those cardboard boxes for video games, TVs, laptop computers, and printers just advertises to all the “neighborhood burglars” what is waiting for them inside your house. Remember, it gets dark at 5:00 p.m. when mom and dad are still at work. But the “young burglars” are out of school for holiday vacation, with no parental supervision and nothing to do but “shop at your house.”

Happy Holidays!

Be Aware and Stay Safe!

–Ron Corbin, PhD


MikeBlack200x200Writing hard is kind of difficult topic to visualize. What exactly does it mean?

I sort of get the impression of someone slaving over a keyboard, desperately trying to beat a deadline. Maybe it’s because I was in that position last month when I was struggling to make a July 30th deadline for a new novel. I made it, but not with much time to spare. I’m now in the process of writing the second (of four) books on my current contract, and facing another deadline, but this one is not breathing down my throat. So this time I’m determined not to fall into the same set of circumstances as the last one. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pace myself better and avoid falling behind. Then I won’t put myself in the position of having to be writing hard.

As I said, the way to do this is to pace yourself. Start writing early, and keep at it, even if you don’t really feel like writing. The sage advice is to write every day, even if you’re not in the mood. If you wait until you are in the mood to write, you’ll probably do a good job putting words on paper. Inspiration will no doubt do that. But if you wait until you’re inspired each time, you’ll probably end up with an unfinished manuscript. The process I use is a simple one. I can’t claim credit for it, but it works. I sit down with a certain time allotment and the goal to write two pages and then I crank them out. At the end of those two pages I’ll briefly pause and assess what I’ve done. There are times when I can write myself into the mood of writing, and if I have, I’ll keep going. If, on the other hand, I look at those two pages and decide they’re substandard, and I just don’t have it in me to keep going, I’ll stop and do something else. But at least I’ll be two pages closer to my goal of finishing.

A lot of times, when I do go back later and look at those substandard two pages, I’ll get an idea on how to tweak them to make them better. Sometimes putting them aside and taking on a new project can allow your subconscious to work on the problem, and when you return for the rematch, you know just what to do.

Writing hard might also describe instances when you are inspired and don’t want to stop. I’ve been there, too. I once wrote for an entire day (approximately 12 hours or more) finishing up a novel I’d been working on. It wasn’t that I had a deadline, but rather I was on a roll. It was New Year’s Day, and cold and snowy outside. I don’t think I left the house all day, and took breaks only to grab a bite to eat, make coffee, or go to the bathroom. I managed to finish the novel, producing 25 pages, in one long, extended session. My usual page limit is about 10 or 12 before I’m too exhausted to go on. That particular day remains my personal best, but like I said, I was inspired.

Not that I’d recommend marathon writing sessions. I’ve usually found that writing too long is almost as bad as not writing long enough. I can usually tell when it’s time to stop because I find myself taking quantum leaps in the scene. I’m subconsciously anxious to finish, and start to leapfrog over certain details to get to a stopping point. If you find yourself doing that, it’s probably time to stop writing.

Once again, the key is pacing. If you’ve got a long race to run, you don’t want to tire yourself out in the first part. Leave something in your tank for the last leg. On the other hand, you don’t want to get so far behind that you find yourself in a bind with an approaching deadline. It’s just like voting in a Chicago election: start early, do it often. (Election days in Chi-town are incredibly busy.)

So be mindful of the two Ps. Preparation and pacing are the best ways to avoid placing yourself in a position where you’ll find yourself writing hard.

Michael A. Black


mmeredith-200First, there is a difference between a writing conference and a convention. Two big conventions in the mystery writing world are Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime. These are attended by writers and fans—and are geared toward the fans. Of course there are lots of other kinds of conventions.

A writing conference is for writers—a place to go for writers to learn more about the craft of writing, publishing and promotion.

Not all writing conferences are the same. I’ve been to many both as a participant and an instructor. Some are better than others.

I have to admit that my favorite is ours, the Public Safety Writers Association’s Conference.

This conference is for anyone who writes fiction or non-fiction about any aspect of public safety.

The information may come about in the form of a presentation or a panel of writers or experts depending upon the topic.

Because our conference is small, people have an opportunity to interact, spend time with one another, and make contacts that can be helpful long after the conference is over. Many friendships have begun at our conference.

Mystery writers get to learn and ask questions of experts in the many crime solving fields. Those wanting to learn how to write novels will learn much about the different aspects of the writing craft. We have many participants who write non-fiction who willingly share their expertise.

If you’re like me, you’ll take notes and learn a lot that you can use in your writing or to jump start your promotion.

Another big plus about this particular conference is that it cost far less than any of the others=-and especially if you sign up before the early bird registration fee has ended. (See the registration form here on the website.) The hotel is a bargain too, and just as nice as or nicer than most hotels where conferences are held. And a big plus, your conference fee includes the Thursday night get-together and three delicious lunches.

Because our conference is held in Las Vegas, for those inclined, there is plenty to do at the end of the day.

I can almost guarantee that you will learn lots, meet some terrific people, make new friends, and have a great time. And once the conference is over, you’ll be all fired up about your writing.

Marilyn Meredith
Author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series and writing as F. M. Meredith, the Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery series.


kurt_kamm_200The unbearable heat waves throughout the United States greatly extended fire season. With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a behind the scenes look at wildfire arsonists.

What kind of person sets wildfires? What motivates a person to torch the landscape?

First, let’s eliminate the motives for the kinds of fires we’re not talking about: Revenge – a guy’s girlfriend breaks up with him. He gets angry and sets her apartment on fire. That’s his way of paying her back; Fraud – someone torches his car because he can’t make the payments, or maybe he burns down an entire building to collect the insurance on a failing business; Hate Crime – someone sets fire to a church or Synagogue. In these cases, the reason for the fire is relatively easy to understand. The use of fire is the means to an end.

Now consider the more complex case where the fire itself is the objective–we’re talking about someone who deliberately sets out to start one or more fires during the worst weather conditions, when the fire is sure to spread and wreak havoc. Most likely, we’re talking about a repeat offender, a serial arsonist, what the investigators refer to as a “fire setter.” For these arsonists, the forecast of fire weather conditions, or even the report of a massive conflagration, will be an emotional trigger, bringing them out to start their own fires, often several at a time.

Who is the fire setter, and why does he do it? I use the word “he,” because arson is predominately a male activity. There aren’t many female arsonists. The majority of fire setters are white men between the age of 17 and 25. They are preoccupied with fire and get an emotional release from starting fires. There may be sexual overtones–some researchers claim fire setters are sexually repressed males who masturbate at the fires they set.

The reasons a person becomes a fire setter are complex. Many arsonists are social outcasts who are incapable of stable interpersonal relationships, especially with women. They come from troubled and fragile backgrounds. A dysfunctional or violent family environment is often a contributing factor and the typical fire setter had one or both parents missing from home during his childhood. If his family was intact, he lived in an unstable–often abusive and violent–emotional atmosphere and had a distant and hostile or aggressive relationship with his father. He may suffer from depression, borderline personality disorder, or even suicidal tendencies. Not surprisingly, a large percentage of arsonists indulge in alcohol and drug abuse.

Most investigators will tell you that the fire setter does not think ahead to the possible widespread destruction his arson fire will cause. He’s satisfying an immediate need–he’s starting fires for the excitement he cannot find elsewhere. Further, it gives him a sense of control over something in his life. For many, firesetting satisfies a desire to be recognized and establishes a sense of self-esteem. For others, setting fires is an act of aggression, which allows them to express anger and frustration. Many arsonists have repressed rage for authority figures. Some get the satisfaction of “getting away with a crime.”

Often the preoccupation with fire starts in childhood. A child who is “curious” about fire can grow into an antisocial and aggressive adolescent. Delinquent fire setters are often bored, and starting fires provides them with excitement and stimulation. For many, arson is the beginning of a wide range of activities leading to criminal conduct.

While teen-age arsonists often engage in fire activity with peer groups, by adulthood, most arsonists set fires alone. Psychologists distinguish between two types of adult arsonists: EMOTIONALLY DISORDERED – these are individuals who are emotionally unbalanced and find setting a fire has a calming influence; THOUGHT DISORDERED – these are individuals afflicted with a range of illnesses from learning disabilities to full blown schizophrenic behavior.

This excerpt from a published interview with a serial arsonist—in this case, a person of above average intelligence—is a wonderful description of an emotionally disordered fire setter

I set fires at random, using material I have just bought or asked for at a gas station—matches, cigarettes, or small amounts of gasoline. I set fires only in places that are secluded, such as roadsides, back canyons, cul-de-sacs. I may set several small fires or one big fire, depending on my desires and needs at the time. At the time of lighting the fire, I experience an intense emotional response like tension release, excitement, or even panic.

Watching the fire from a perfect vantage point is important to me. I want to see the chaos as well as the destruction…Talking to authorities on the phone or in person while the action is going on can be part of the thrill. I enjoy hearing about the fire on the radio or watching it on television, learning about all the possible motives and theories that officials have about why and how the fire started. Overall, it seems that the fire has created a temporary solution… I feel sadness and anguish, and a desire to set another fire.

There are not many old arsonists. For unexplained reasons, after the age of 25, most arsonists cease fire setting, but some move on to activities that are more ominous. While doing research for my serial arson mystery novel, I had the opportunity to talk to an arson profiler at the ATF. He told me that serial arsonists often have a history of torturing or killing animals as children, and that some serial killers are serial arsonists when they are younger.

One subset of arsonists bears special mention. “Firefighter-arsonists” sounds like an oxymoron, but they exist. Most are one-time fire setters who are bored at work and want to go out and “fight the fire devil.” Then there is John Orr, the infamous California fire captain who is now serving a life sentence for numerous arson fires in which four people died. Law enforcement officials say he was the most prolific arsonist of the 20th Century, possibly responsible for as many as 2,000 fires between 1984 – 1991.

Orr wanted to be a police officer, but was rejected based on his psychological profile. He eventually became a fire captain and arson investigator for the Glendale Fire Department in Southern California. During the ’80s and early ’90s, there was a series of unsolved arson fires around the Los Angeles area. Orr was often the first on scene and took control of the investigation.

–Kurt Kamm
My new novel TUNNEL VISIONS is on Amazon. Terrorists threaten the SoCal water supply.
PSWA Writers- Serial arsonists are a neglected group. Add one to your next novel and put some fire in your writing! – Kurt Kamm


What is a Public Safety Telecommunicator? In essence, the Public Safety Telecommunicator (also referred to as Public Safety Dispatchers) is a critical component of the Public Safety system. Dispatchers take information from callers, relay that data to field personnel via radios and handle a plethora of other duties (which are agency-specific). Dispatchers may perform their tasks using old-fashioned hand-written logs or utilize a Computer-Aided-Dispatch (CAD) system.

Dispatchers are the unsung heroes of Public Safety. It is said that a field personnel’s most important piece of equipment is his/her radio. When the chips are down and help is needed, it is the Public Safety telecommunicator who takes care of business. Sadly, the dispatcher may be the last voice an officer hears.

There was a time when dispatchers were secretarial staff or sworn personnel. This changed when more skills and knowledge were required. The position became specialized. No longer were dispatchers hired by simple interviews. Most agencies (law & fire) now require potential dispatchers participate in a similar pre-hiring process to the sworn field personnel.

The first skill a Public Safety Telecommunicators learns is how to answer a phone. Calls can reach the dispatch center via 911, direct lines, and special dedicated lines (crime tips, direct-to-other agencies, or in-house extensions. The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) estimates over 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Points (or PSAPs) every year. The call volume is tripled when non-emergency and direct-line connection calls are added to the mix. Call-takers must know Department policies & procedures, radio codes, criminal codes, geography, the call-taking process, CAD, and basic inquires to local, state, and national criminal data bases.

The next phase might be either fire dispatching (for combined PSAPs) or ‘telecommunications’. Telecommunications focuses on the data bases for wanted persons, missing persons, vehicles, boats, property, criminal history, and the other files available. Some agencies are ‘inquiry-only’ which means they don’t enter, update, or clear out information. Others can be partial entry (perhaps they only enter towed vehicles) or full-access (perform all associated tasks in the data bases. Dispatching field personnel takes experience, good training, and a calm demeanor. Dispatchers may set-up block covers, organize back-up in in-progress incidents, give out ‘Be On the Look-Out’ information, and ensure that calls requiring immediate response are taken care appropriately.

Dispatchers may specialize. Fire agencies may have communications personnel trained to work major incidents or wildfires (Incident Management Team). Law enforcement dispatchers can be trained to handle SWAT incidents (Tactical Dispatcher). IMT and Tactical dispatchers man field command posts. In some cases, Tactical dispatchers can be part of the Hostage/Barricaded suspect Negotiation team.

Training varies from agency to agency. Currently there are no mandatory national standards although some states have legislated dispatcher standards for training and certification. Depending on the size of an agency, communications personnel can have initial training in the department academy or via an informal process. The length of time the training takes also varies according to the expected duties. A person with no prior experience may take up to a year before he/she is cleared to work without guidance. Those with prior job experience are called ‘laterals’ and still require extensive training which can last from three-to-six months.

Two of the most famous dispatchers are Shaaron Claridge, the voice of ‘Adam-12’ and Sam Lanier of ‘Emergency!’ fame. Shaaron also played the dispatcher role on episodes of ‘Colombo’. Sam was often shown on “Emergency!” working the radio console. Both Sam and Shaaron were working dispatchers, Sam for the Los Angeles County Fire department and Shaaron for the Los Angeles Police Department.

A study once noted that only 5% of the population had the multi-tasking abilities required to be a dispatcher. Modern technology has cut the number of long-term communications personnel due to the hazards of repetitive injuries. It is a happy day when a telecommunicator makes retirement.

It is a great job. No two shifts are every alike. With a push by NENA and the Associated Public Safety Communications Officials, Inc. (APCO) national training standards may someday become mandatory for every man or woman that answers a phone or directs traffic over a radio.

–Diana Sprain
Diana Sprain works as a Public Safety Dispatcher for the law enforcement division at the Nevada Department of Wildlife. She is a POST-certified Dispatcher, Tactical Dispatcher, Trainer, and Supervisor with over 25 years experience. Prior to taking over the radio, she worked as an Emergency Medical technician. She is the author of “On the Trail of Yesterday’s Rose” and “In the King’s Shadow”. She is in final editing phases of the non-Public Safety Dispatching in America”. Diana is a member of APCO and NENA. You can read more on her blog:


mperin-200It’s almost that time again. PSWA Writing Contest time! The contest opens on January 1, 2015 and you can start sending your entries in a myriad of categories, including novels, short stories, poetry and all forms of non-fiction both published and non. This is your chance to be an award winning author. Entry is only $10 and all you have to be is a member in good standing. The work does need to be related somehow to public safety. The contest closes May 8, 2015 and winners are announced at the Writer’s Conference in July. You do not need to be present to win but it is so much more fun that way. Plus you get great award-winner pictures to post on your website or wherever you do your self-promotion. Additional information and entry forms available on the PSWA website. Enter now! I look forward to your entries!

–Michelle Perin


FBI_animal_house_240x350Retired FBI Special Agent Peter M. Klismet, Jr. has taken a bold step with the release of his new book,FBI ANIMAL HOUSE . Described as a true story, it’s a critical account of his training while attending new agent class at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He pulls no punches in telling his story, which covers the 1980s and 1990s. Klismet contends the training the FBI gave its new agents during that period was subpar, particularly when compared to police departments across the nation.

The author is well-educated (two masters degrees), and is a former Ventura PD sergeant. He left the department after nine years to join the FBI, and served as a profiler during his final years in the Bureau.

Although he acknowledges the training new agents now receive is much better than when he accepted the appointment, he pulls no punches in describing the lackluster training he and his classmates endured. Not only does he say the instruction was lacking, but he also disparages some of the instructors as well.

Subjects such as photography, first aid, and fingerprinting consumed almost two weeks of the 16-week training cycle. He says the classes were a waste of time for the new agents, particularly since the test given for the first aid block didn’t even count as one required to graduate. The fingerprinting block focused more on reading loops, whirls, and arches, rather than taking a person’s fingerprints, lifting prints at crime scenes, and instruction on how to take major case prints. The fingerprint class seemed geared more toward fingerprint examiners than field agents.

The author constantly stressed the Bureau’s attempt to imbue in them a sense of FBI honor and the importance of always exhibiting an exemplary image. A constant theme heard each week was, “Don’t do anything to embarrass the Bureau.” During J. Edgar Hoover’s reign, an innocent indiscretion such as being overweight was grounds for dismissal. Image was everything, and to a large extent, Klismet points out the FBI has survived for years by virtue of the mystique Hoover created about the agency. People are enamored of the FBI image, which Klismet says is largely mythical.

Hoover, although gone by the time Klismet joined the FBI, led by fear and intimidation. The Director kept secret dossiers on many powerful and prominent Americans. Thus, he was a man who could do just about anything with impunity. He had no fear of reprisal, for any accuser could never be sure that Hoover hadn’t dug up some dirt on him that he wouldn’t hesitate to expose to the public.

Judge William Webster became one of a series of FBI Directors after Hoover’s passing. The judge served during some of Klismet’s time on the job. The consensus was that Webster was an empty suit, someone who nothing about fighting crime. The street agents did not trust him. In fact, many of the agents working violent crimes disdained the lawyers and accountants who traditionally filled the ranks during the Hoover era and beyond. Director Webster fostered a climate of distrust. Agents feared their every move was monitored, and by the time a request could be approved at headquarters it had to pass through so many administrative levels of oversight that any sense of urgency was completely disregarded.

Firearms training proved to be another disappointment for the author and his new agent classmates. Although new agents fired thousands of rounds during their training, it only served to make them excellent marksmen. It did little to prepare them for a gunfight on the street. The old Hogans’ Alley, a ramshackle wannabe movie set featuring cardboard targets popping up at windows and doorways, served as a shoot-don’t-shoot drill. It was so easy to distinguish between the two choices that Klismet contends it was a total waste of time.

Once Special Agent Klismet graduated from Quantico, he and his classmates shared the feeling they were ill prepared to hit the street. They had too little knowledge to work a case from start to finish, and had to rely on empathetic colleagues to help guide them along the way. Surprisingly, there was no field-training program in place. New agents (called baby agents or newbies) had to learn by trial and error. Their only recourse was to waste hours in the office reading manuals detailing how and when to perform certain tasks.

Support employees, most often, squad secretaries, were helpful in advising the newbies about which forms to complete for each investigation. In the author’s opinion, based on their training, it took a minimum of two years for a new agent to be comfortable enough to investigate a case.

FBI ANIMAL HOUSE  is an interesting, eye-opening read. It will shock many, anger some, and disappoint others. Remembering the period covered, the 80s and 90s, the book is quintessentially politically incorrect. The language used would not be tolerated today. Nor would the amount of time new agents spent in the Boardroom, the local bar within the academy complex. It wasn’t unusual for Klismet and other trainees to also drink in their dorm rooms, a clear violation of policy. And as much as the Bureau heralds its motto: Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity, the class had no problem with accepting copies of tests from previous classes that had already taken them. Another ethics violation.

Thankfully, FBI training has evolved since the time Klismet went through Quantico. The Academy has adjusted to the times, and training is more contemporary and pragmatic. Now, Hogan’s Alley is a self-contained city with a hotel, drug store, bank, and private residences where new agents can actually work a case, plan an arrest, and execute it. Rather than instructors or other trainees functioning as role players, the academy hires professionals to fill that role. All very realistic.

Additionally, firearms training now includes combat shooting, force on force training, and judgmental simulation scenarios. Emergency Vehicle Operation Training (EVOC) exposes the agents to high speed driving and felony vehicle stops. Training on terrorism and the importance of working informants (Human Intelligence) is a big portion of the program.

FBI ANIMAL HOUSE  is a first person account of one new agent’s experience. It describes his journey through FBI new agent training. The author believes many FBI agents performed their job admirably despite the poor training given at Quantico. The problem, said Klismet, “. . . was a systemic one; the bureau had no interest in changing . . .” FBI ANIMAL HOUSE  is a startling story. (Reprinted from

–John Wills


Greycliff’s Chronicles, Book 2
By Diana Sprain

Gaelynn Blackwood and her husband Sir Braeden du Faucione are in a world of hurt. Bastards, affairs, abuse, and a King that just won’t go away have dug a chasm between them. King Arken of Greycliff desires Gaelynn and the most powerful man in the Kingdom will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Sequel to “On the Trail of Yesterday’s Rose”.

Sequel to, “On the Trail of Yesterday’s Rose”, begins five years after the end of the first book. Gaelynn Blackwood and her husband, Sir Braeden du Faucione, have settled at Faucione Keep. Braeden is busy handling the affairs of the family holdings on behalf of his ailing father, Baron Phillip while Gaelynn has done her best to become a medieval noblewoman. It’s not been easy for a modern girl: she’s lost her independence, privacy, and sense of self. Her sole job seems to be supplying her husband with an heir…a task she has failed. All Gaelynn has to show for their five years of marriage is a bastard daughter sired by King Arken from an afternoon spent in his bed the day before Braeden and she were married.

The relationship between Gaelynn and Braeden is rocky. Braeden’s closet of secrets has broken free. He enjoys sex games and begins an affair with his squire. Braeden discovers he has a half-brother, Sir Kevin of Faucione. Kevin has been in hiding at another holding since he was a child. Now, Braeden is expected to accept Kevin and his relationship with Sir Aumery, Faucione Keep’s Seneschal and one of Braeden’s trusted knights.

Gaelynn has no allusions about her husband. She knows he sleeps with other female servants. When Gaelynn finds her husband enjoying the comforts of his squire, however the shock sends her right to the arms of Braeden’s best friend and Second-in-Command, Sir Ranulf de Corbeau. Gaelynn and Ranulf soon realize their love is true. Braeden suspects his wife of being unfaithful but he can’t catch her or Ranulf.

While Braeden struggles to get his home in order, King Arken of Greycliff makes a visit at Faucione. He can’t get the vision of Gaelynn out of his mind. He dreams of having Gaelynn for his own. The King makes Braeden and Gaelynn Court ‘favorites’. Braeden becomes a trusted knight and war counselor to Arken. After a victory against the Phaelyng, Braeden knows his fate is sealed and he’ll be called again to fight alongside the King.

Gaelynn is torn between three men: Braeden, Ranulf, and Arken. She is faced with a difficult decision of which man to pick. Braeden’s abusive outbursts have increased. Gaelynn comes to understand her feelings towards Braeden were never love but only lust. She loves Ranulf. Regrettably, children tie her to Braeden and Gaelynn knows she can never leave her son, Phillip, behind to start a life with Ranulf. Braeden knows the moment he lets Gaelynn go Arken will take possession of her.

Braeden faces tough choices of his own. He must try to determine who is sending personal information to the King which could compromise the safety of his family, his people, and his life. He also knows that Arken will stop at nothing to take Gaelynn away from him, but how do you protect yourself and your family from the most powerful man in the Kingdom? When Braeden is ordered to accompany Arken to Glodveau as a member of his personal guard, Braeden shares his fear of never returning home with his half-brother Sir Kevin. He doesn’t know that the moment he left Greycliff, the castle was attacked. It is up to the man who has betrayed Braeden’s trust, Sir Ranulf, to save Braeden’s family and home.

Who will live and who will die? Will true love win in the end?

Available formats: epub mobi pdf rtf lrf pdb txt html

Diana Sprain


10_code_240x35010-CODE is the first-ever anthology of stories written by 10 real-life cops honoring officers killed in the line of duty. Proceeds from the sale of 10-CODE will benefit the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund in Washington, DC.

Sworn Officers Kathy Bennett, Michael A. Black, Robin Burcell, Marco Conelli, Suzie Ivy, Rick McMahan, David Putnam, Mike Roche, Scott Silverii and David Swords graciously donated their talents to remember the Fallen.

Best-selling author John Gilstrap’s heart-felt Foreword pays tribute the service and sacrifices of our nation’s Finest.

Please support their legacy of service by ordering your copy today.


Mike Black




A.J. Farrar, 1945-2014

Arthur James “A.J.” Farrar
July 27, 1945 ~ November 13, 2014

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of AJ Farrar on November 13. A member of PSWA since 1997, AJ served as vice president and membership chair of PSWA for nearly 10 years. Many of you knew AJ as the indefatigable emcee of PSWA conferences, with always a ready smile, often a corny joke and never ending encouragement to all of us to work together to help each other achieve our writing goals.

A Ventura, CA native, AJ served in the U.S. Air Force, earned multiple college degrees, retired as a lieutenant in the Ventura P.D. in 1993 and went on to teach law enforcement, retiring as a professor emeritus from Monterey Peninsula College.

AJ is survived by his wife, Nancy, PSWA treasurer, daughter Stephanie (AJ) Huber, son, Matt (Nicole) Farrar, grandson Nathan Huber and 16 nieces, nephews and their families.

AJ was a mentor to many and a friend to all. We will miss him.

Following is AJ’s “official” obituary, as was published to local Ventura newspapers:

Arthur James “A.J.” Farrar, 69, of Ventura, CA, passed away on Thursday, November 13, 2014, in Ventura, California.

A.J. Farrar was born in Ventura, CA, to Jewell and Wilfred Farrar on July 27, 1945. He graduated from Ventura High in 1963. A.J. served in the U.S. Air Force following graduation from Ventura College and went on to earn multiple degrees from Cal State Long Beach; Cal Lutheran, Thousand Oaks; and Cal Poly, Pomona.
He worked as a police officer for the Cal State University, Long Beach Police Department and the Ventura Police Department retiring as a lieutenant in 1993. A.J. later taught law enforcement at Ventura, American River and Monterey Peninsula Colleges where he retired as a Professor Emeritus.He was the Vice President of the Public Safety Writers Association.

AJ is survived by his wife, Nancy; daughter, Stephanie (AJ) Hubner; son, Matt (Nicole) Farrar; brother, Gerald Farrar; grandson, Nathan Hubner; and sixteen nieces and nephews and their families. He is preceded in death by his father, Wilfred Farrar, mother, Jewell Farrar, brothers, Leland Stiles and Truman Stiles, sisters, Daphne McKinney, Jymmye Hitch, and Maxine Sedlacek.

A “Celebration” memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 22, 2014, 11:00 A.M., at Ventura Missionary Church, 500 High Point Drive, Ventura, CA 93003, with The Reverend Dr. Leonard Dewitt officiating.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make donations payable to “Monterey Peninsula College, A.J. Farrar Scholarship Account”, 980 Fremont St., Monterey, CA 93940, Attn: Fiscal Services; or your favorite charity.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Ted Mayr Funeral Home, Ventura. Condolences may be left at

PSWA Newsletter–September 2014

PSWA Newsletter
September 2014




Marilyn Olsen, PSWA President, aka "The Queen"As many of the attendees at the 2014 PSWA Conference will attest, the conference itself with its many high quality and fascinating presentations was just the beginning of their learning experience.

Based on the replies to the conference evaluations, most said the ability to network with so many talented and experienced writers and public safety personnel has given them access to new acquaintances and friends who are more than willing to help them achieve their writing goals.

Many are now connecting with each other via PSWA’s members only list serve. Through the list serve members can ask just one other member or the whole participating list serve group advice on any subject. Almost without exception these queries result in a spirited conversation as people with a lot of different levels of expertise and experience offer opinions, suggestions and generally provide links to other places where more information is available.

Recent conversations have dealt with copyrights, permission to use trademarked material, how to request the right to quote a passage, how royalties are usually paid, what a vanity press is, whether bookstores will accept self-published books, what the best style manual is and even how many police officers are likely to be in a department on a small Caribbean island.

Also, since the list serve is online, it’s available 24/7. So if you wake up in the middle of the night with a burning question, you can ask it then and there.

And, because the list serve is only available to members, everyone can be confident that whatever they say will be confidential. Our list serve is secure and monitored constantly to assure that everyone participating is treating others with respect and good humor.

Of course, the list serve is open to all members, so whether or not you attended the conference, you can certainly participate. It’s easy to become a member of PSWA and easy to join the listserve. Just contact Tim Dees.

Marilyn Olsen, PSWA President



Keith Bettinger, PSWA SecretaryWell it is post July 2014, and I hope everyone who attended the 2014 PSWA conference had an informative and fun time at the conference. Our host hotel, The Orleans, did a wonderful job and if you left the conference hungry, you were in another room while we were eating lunch.

Our conference is unique. We don’t have big name speakers. Why? Because celebrity speakers expect to be compensated in travel, lodging and speaking. When we have a conference everyone pays – including your board. That is what makes our conferences so cost effective.

What else makes our conference so cost effective is the attendance at the luncheons. The more lunches we purchase, the more cost effective the conference room rental becomes. Lunches are expensive, but they are first class. Next year, I encourage you to invite your guests to attend each luncheon. They will have the opportunity to meet the conference attendees and make new friends over an enjoyable repast.

Every year I swear I am not going to do it again, but then I do. I ask for corporate sponsors to help defray some of the expenses by sponsoring activities at conference. For 2015 I am asking the membership for your help in finding sponsors. Two of the three conference days, the coffee that was available for the attendees was paid for by publishers. The bartender at the Thursday night meet and greet was sponsored by another publisher and the room rental was paid for by my Fraternal Order of Police Lodge here in Las Vegas.   The food at the Thursday night get together was paid for by the PSWA.

I don’t want to keep asking the same companies, organizations and friends for their support. You can only go to the well so many times before it runs dry. If you have a publisher, editor, printer or organization that would like to make contact with a great group of possible clients, please let them know that we have opportunities available for them sponsor and to let the attendees know who these sponsors are.

In closing, I would like to present each 2015 PSWA conference attendee with a challenge. Try and recruit a fellow writer to attend the 2015 conference with you. Just think what a great time you will have reconnecting with the friends you made this year, and attending the 2015 conference with friends you have brought from home.

–Keith Bettinger, PSWA Secretary    



Michael-Black-200One of my favorite writers, Roald Dahl, once said, “Good writing is rewriting.” Mr. Dahl, who was an accomplished writer not only of children’s books (Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), but of works for adults as well (many of his short stories appeared in Playboy magazine), hit the nail on the head. Getting that first draft done is only the beginning. Rewriting, or revising your work is what separates that first draft from a finished product. This polishing process can be as detailed as the writer feels is necessary, but there’s no doubt about it: revision is imperative. To become a good writer you need to be able to revise your work with a critical eye. The more you mature as a writer, the more adept you become at editing yourself.

Once I get that first draft done I feel a surge of relief. However, although I’ve typed those two most wonderful words, THE END, I know the work’s not done, the writing’s not complete. As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” How true it is. Depending on the time constraints hanging over me, I usually like to let a first draft sit for a bit before starting the revision. If you have a trusted first reader, it’s also a good time to get some honest feedback. A good first reader will give you invaluable feedback.

Once I’ve taken a break, I then return to the manuscript and begin my own reading. I keep the red pen or pencil handy. The things I’m looking for are word echoes, clumsy sentences, typos, and anything I think could be written better. I usually find a lot of things I want to change. But let’s take a quick look at the aforementioned examples. Word echoes occur when a word is repeatedly used in close proximity. Sometimes it’s hard to control the over-usage of certain words. For instance, if you’re writing about two individuals struggling for the control of a gun, it could be hard not to repeat the word gun during the course of the confrontation. If one person has control of the gun, and the other is trying to wrest the gun from the other’s hand, a certain amount of repetition is bound to occur. Perhaps looks for synonyms or pronouns to vary the beat of the prose. Let’s try rewriting the above sentence using some other words besides “gun.” If you’re writing about two individuals struggling for the control of a pistol, it could be hard not to repeat the word gun during the course of the confrontation. If one person has control of the weapon, and the other is trying to wrest it from the other’s hand, a certain amount of repetition is bound to occur.

This rereading, especially if it’s done aloud, can alert you to clumsy sentences. As a rule of thumb, any sentence that causes a reader to stumble should be looked at with scrutiny. Another thing I look for is sentence structure repetition. Often times, it’s easy to fall into a repetitive sentence pattern of subject verb, subject verb. Robert went to the window. He looked out and saw them. He grabbed the rifle and pushed the barrel through the broken glass. Robert acquired a sight picture and began pulling the trigger.

Just as the above paragraph falls into the subject/verb pattern, it could be broken up a bit by varying the wording. Robert went to the window and looked out. Three men moved in the darkness. He grabbed the rifle and pushed the barrel through the broken glass. Acquiring a sight picture was challenging in the dark, but the feel of the trigger gave him strength.

Neither of the above is an example of what I’d call good writing, but I think you get the idea. Besides, like I said, a little editing never hurts.

–Michael A. Black


john_wills-200I spent thirty-three years in law enforcement working as a Chicago cop and FBI agent. During that time I was also a police trainer. I’ve worked with, and trained cops all over the world. Here are some things I’ve learned from my time on the job. Most of these truths withstand the test of time:

  • Working a busy beat on midnights is the greatest, until things slow down at five or six a.m. Then it becomes the worst, particularly if you have a morning court appearance.
  • More often than not on a domestic disturbance call, family members will attack the police as cops handcuff their loved one who has assaulted the family.
  • Bad guys don’t carry IDs—except those that don’t belong to them.
  • “Who me?” is the first response from a thug on the street when you ask him his name.
  • Any call that involves a nude woman will result in every sector car arriving on the scene in record time.
  • The smallest wiry-type guys are the most difficult to handcuff if they resist.
  • Whatever you do on the firing range, you’ll automatically do if you have to use your weapon on the street.
  • The day you’re well rested, prepared, and energized is not the day you’ll get in a foot chase.
  • Female officers are much stronger and more fearless than you think.
  • The day you feel most tired and can’t wait to go home and sleep, is the day you’ll toss and turn trying to fall asleep.
  • Working with the right partner is the best feeling in the world.
  • A supervisor who shows up on the scene, makes decisions, and isn’t afraid to put his hands on people instills confidence in leadership.
  • Being fit and wearing a clean, pressed uniform is another way to avoid confrontations. Your appearance commands respect.
  • Never trust anyone not to try to hurt you.
  • Never accept a prisoner from a colleague without searching the bad guy yourself.
  • Your paperwork is a direct reflection of who you are and how you do your job. Incomplete or sloppy reporting will haunt you years later.
  • Going through a door on a felony call into an unknown house or business will always be scary. It will also always help you to survive.
  • If a bad guy gives you a hard look and you look away, he owns you.
  • If you’re working UC and a bad guy gives you a hard look and you do not look away, he knows who you are.
  • A traffic stop in the last hour of your shift will often result in an arrest and cause you to work OT.
  • Be prepared for a major altercation when you hear the words, “I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” or, “You’re gonna have to shoot me.”
  • The first few years on the job you’re in a race to be first on the scene. The last few years are a challenge to be the last on the scene.
  • In a gang neighborhood, ten or more people may have witnessed a shooting but no one will talk to the police.
  • When you find a gun in a bad guy’s pants pocket, his first response will be, “These aren’t my pants.”
  • As soon as you pull over to enjoy a cup of coffee and a snack, you’ll get a felony in progress call.
  • Bad guys with no firearms training will fire a gun without aiming and hit you.
  • Often, when a traffic violator is completely cooperative they are hiding something.
  • After searching someone and finding one gun, never stop looking for another one.
  • Never put anyone in your car without cuffing them first.
  • It will rain or snow on range day.
  • Being at the scene of a fallen officer is life changing and emotionally crippling. The same is true at the scene of a colleague who has committed suicide.
  • Most cops will have dreams of being in a gunfight and their weapon malfunctioning.
  • Carry your cuffs off-duty—one day you will need them.
  • The toughest, strongest cops lose it at a death investigation involving a baby or child.

–John M. Wills


  1. – How does your personal vehicle become the “KEY” to your house?

Ron-Corbin-real-200How often do you park and leave your car with a hotel or restaurant valet service, at a mechanic’s shop for repair, in an airport’s long-term parking lot, at the shopping mall, or at your place of employment? Granted, parking our cars is a matter of necessity for our business and recreational activities. But parking your car at one of these locations implies that you are going to be away from your home for duration of a few hours or several days. So, unless you are mindful of a few security things with your personal vehicle, you might as well give the keys to your house to the “neighborhood burglar.”

I know you’re wondering “Okay, if someone breaks into my car, how do they know where I live?” To answer that, let’s begin by taking a peek inside your vehicle’s glove compartment.

If you are like most people, the contents of our car’s glove compartment are like those in that “junk drawer” we all have in our kitchen. An Orleans Casino ball-point pen left over from the last PSWA Conference (one that you have to scribble relentlessly to get the ink to flow); a flashlight with batteries too weak to even illuminate the interior of the glove compartment; …four rubber bands; three paper clips; two copper pennies; one broken breath mint; and a whole bunch of little dust bunnies.

Seriously though, it’s also typically a treasure trove of information to where you live and other personal information. There’s probably a registration and insurance slip with your address. There might be old work orders from oil changes or tire rotations from the local auto repair shop. Maybe even the purchase contract for the car when you bought it from the dealer. (These have a copy of your signature, too, which helps in identity theft…but that’s another issue.) And once a person knows where you live and can presume that you are going to be away from your house for a while, it’s merely a matter of having some time to access your house.

Here are a couple other things to think about. It doesn’t have to be the valet parker or the auto mechanic that you leave your car with who will break into your home. All they have to do while they remain at work is to phone a “friend” and tell them your address.

And if you keep that spare “valet” key that the dealer provided to your car in the glove compartment, now the burglar can even drive your car to your house. He can use the remote garage door opener to gain entry into your garage. Or, if you have one of the newer vehicles allowing you to program your garage door opener directly into a button within the vehicle’s console electronics, then this becomes another easy way to gain entry into your garage.

Oh by the way, how many times do we really lock the door leading from our garage into our house? There’s really no need to lock that one when we leave because the garage door is down and closed, right? It’s all so simple and easy to make your car the key to your house.

Prevention Tips:

Cleaning-out your vehicle’s glove compartment of documents that give your personal information will reduce the chance of your house being burglarized.

If you have a hand-held remote control garage door opener, take it with you when you leave your vehicle.

Leave only the car key with valet parking attendants; remove all other keys from the key ring.

If the valet attendant asks how long you plan on being away from your car, tell him/her “just for a short time.”

You don’t have to keep your car registration and proof of insurance in the glove compartment; just keep the original or a facsimile in your purse or wallet, the same as you do with your driver’s license. That way you will have it to present to the nice motorcycle cop who stops you for a traffic violation.

Be Aware and Stay Safe!

Ron Corbin, Ph.D.


Pete-Klismet-200My research into the ability to write had to go a few steps beyond where I had taken it to that point, which wasn’t very far. So I searched under the topic of “Are Talented Authors Endowed with an Innate Writing Ability?” and found an article by one Mathew Kulas, who claims to be a professor of writing (do they really have these?).

In his article, Mr. Professor Kulas proposes: “Many people argue that accomplished storytellers are born with this skill, however I am in no way certain. Maybe you might have a degree of predisposition, yet I think that authors are created (my emphasis added). In my opinion certain authors are highly gifted but even so these individuals still had to develop the gift by way of extensive learning, practice, in addition to thinking. For that reason, I think writing to be all three — a skill, a craft as well as a talent.”

That didn’t help a lot, but I also realize research means you form a hypothesis (a theory) and then seek to either prove or disprove it. Thus, Mr. Professor Kulas didn’t help much, because he seemed to equivocate, claiming all three are factors. But maybe he’s also saying if you have the native ability and hone it, you could become a skilled writer. Makes sense. However, I have also learned the idea behind investigating or researching something is to avoid coming up with a theory, and then finding facts to fit the theory, not disprove it. So I needed to press on.

Next I came across an article by one James M. Jaspar. Reviewing his website, Mr. Jaspar appears to be interested in teaching people how to write, particularly when he says: “Anyone can learn to write well. This is not some innate skill like perfect pitch. Solid, even
elegant writing is an ability we acquire little by little, learning the proper uses of one verb or preposition at a time, mastering long sentences then short ones — and then figuring out
how to combine the two. We learn to compensate for our own stylistic idiosyncrasies,
whether these are an excessive use of adverbs or logical connectors or a tendency to
write one paragraph after another of exactly the same length.” His website is

So I concluded: Either he’s wrong, or I’m wrong, but I’ll go with him being wrong, since I have little clue what he’s trying to say. Albert Einstein once said “If you can’t explain your topic simply, you don’t understand it yourself.” I didn’t find Mr. Jasper’s article to be simple. Plus, he seems to want to make money by teaching those who can’t write how to write, so I had to conclude we’d have to agree to disagree. Mr. Jaspar’s article definitely didn’t advance my theory much farther than where it had already been.

Partof the reason for even looking into this somewhat esoteric topic was based on thirteen years of teaching in a community college. I found out that reading the written work of some of my students was almost impossible. Many couldn’t spell, but worse than that those same students were not able to carry out a thought beyond one sentence. Others did quite well. So I was stuck in a quandary, wondering if I was truly accomplishing anything in trying to make my poor students write yet more while frustrating themselves to death (not to mention me having to read what they were trying to say). It took some time to figure out that there was a direct correlation between those who were poor writers, and those who got poor grades.

“Ah-ha!” I thought. “Now I’m onto something.” Perhaps the ability to learn is based on one’s intelligence level. Contrary to what the U.S. Constitution says, my theory is that “All men are NOT created equal.” I had a living laboratory right there in front of me. So, I had a meeting with myself, tried to think outside the box, and formed my own theory: “The ability to write well is based on one’s level of intelligence.” Good writers tend to be brighter people. They can interpret information and think critically about what the information means. Then they can explain it in understandable terms. Those who don’t have this ability are only capable of parroting back rote information.

Absolute proofof this came in my Human Relations and Social Conflictclasses. Part of my final exam consisted of doing essays on topics we’d covered over the course of the semester. Being the nice professor I was (!), I let them use their notes to do the essays. I would pose eight questions related to topics we’d covered, tell them to pick the four they liked, and finally to create essays on those four. Without fail, the better students could take their notes and explain what we were covering. By contrast, the poor students would simply re-write their notes, meaning they had written down the information, but had no clue how to explain it, so they just simply parroted their notes back to me.

In the Criminal Profiling class I taught, I did the same thing, only with a higher degree of difficulty, since it was the most advanced course in our program. I’d give them four fact patterns and ask them to do a ‘profile’ of an unknown offender, based on the fact pattern of a murder case or a sexual assault. Voila! Exactly the same results. Some would just re-write a laundry list, but could not explain how they’d come to the conclusions. The better students would do an in-depth analysis and explain every point they were making. It was a pleasure to read the latter, and whether they were right or wrong was less important than how they explained the conclusions they arrived at.

My educated guess would be that the ability to write is a function of one’s intellectual capability. Those with higher intelligence simply write better. Sort of the old “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” The best example of that would be personal observations in my college classes. In fact, I eventually learned to minimize the amount of writing in my classes, because I found a direct correlation between good writing and good grades, and that the reverse was true. The other thing I found was that students who couldn’t write, or were too lazy to do so, would get someone else to write a paper for them. Or wouldn’t write it at all.

In conclusion, I believe you’ve either got it or you ain’t got it. I’ve thought that for years, and I now have myself even further convinced. If your intellect isn’t fairly high, you probably have failed to learn the basics you needed to learn about writing well, which usually happens in the early grades. If you missed that, or ignored it, then it will influence your ability to write the rest of your life. I’d like to think I proved my theory, but I’m still not sure. It was fun thinking about something I’ve wondered about for years. The question would then be, am I a good enough writer that you understand why I wrote this and what it all means? If the answer is “yes,” then I’ve done my job in expressing my opinion.

Pete Klismet


Marilyn_Meredith-200At the end of June and beginning of July, I offered #7 in my Rocky Bluff P.D. series free on Kindle. I had to ask my publisher to do it and she was a big skeptical, but agreed.

I promoted the freebie on many different places, most free, but some I paid for the promo, and one place was pretty hefty, but so many writers I was in touch with said this was the main place to advertise because it had the most subscribers. It also had to give approval to the book and the dates I wanted had already been taken but one.

Most of these promo places had specific requirements, among them you had to have at least 10 reviews and they had to be and average of 4 stars. Each of them had specific questions that had to be filled out. Doing all this took a lot of time and energy.

I just received a royalty report and I can tell you what happened on the first day of the freebie offering. I won’t know about the subsequent days until the next quarter. But one day is enough to tell that the experiment was successful.

Up until the day of the freebie promo the book that I offered free, Angel Lost, had sold 1 copy from January to June, The first day of the promo, 305,782 were downloaded free. (The publisher told me these numbers ended up in the 550,000s.) 134 Kindle copies were purchased on the same day.

Astral Gift, not part of the series, had no sales up until the day of the freebies when 3 Kindle copies were purchased.

Interesting things happened with the other books in the series:

  • Final Respects, the first book in the series sold 15 copies before the end of June, and 113 the first day of the promotion.
  • Bad Tidings, the 2nd book in the series, sold 5 Kindle copies before the end of June and 43 the day of the promotion.
  • Fringe Benefits, the 4th book in the series, sold 4 Kindle copies before the end of June and 23 the first day of the promotion.
  • No Sanctuary, the 5th book in the series sold 3 Kindle copies before and 40 copies the first day of the promotion.
  • An Axe to Grind, #6 had 1 Kindle sold before and 24 the first day of the promotion.
  • No Bells #8 had 2 Kindle copies purchased before the end of June, and 28 purchased on the first day of the freebie promotion.
  • Dangerous Impulses, #9, 7 Kindle copies purchased before and 25 on the first day of the promotion.
  • Murder in the Worst Degree, #10, 26 Kindle copies before and 25 the day of the promotion.

This was the period in which this book first came out. It, and some others, also sold in paper books, but nothing like the Kindle showing.

Before this freebie experiment, I had done all the usual promotions, a Blog Tour, wrote about all the different books in the series on my blog, promoted on Facebook etc. A few paper books were sold as well as the Kindle copies I reported here—but everything began selling on the first day of the promotion.

On that promo day, one book in the series didn’t sell any, Smell of Death.

Yes, the free Kindle book experiment did work, and I made enough in royalties that first day to pay for what I spent on the promotion with some left over.

Will I do it again? Yes, but not for a while.

What I learned. If you do the work and promote on the free and pay sites, this works well for a series.

Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith


Ilene_Schneider-200I’m certainly not Mark Twain, but I was sure I would feel as out-of-place at the PSWA as his 19th century Connecticut Yankee was in King Arthur’s court. Here I was, an unrepentant ‘60s (age as well as decade) countercultural activist, liberal, feminist, anti-gun advocate in the midst of a group of police officers, FBI agents, weapons experts, military officers – all the people I once sneered at and scorned.

And not one of them sneered at or scorned me.

It probably helped that we didn’t discuss politics (although the ones who are Face Book friends often do, much to my chagrin; I’m sure they have the same reaction to my postings). But I was made to feel welcomed, respected, and honored (winning three awards in the past two years). It was a great conference and great experience.

The only reason I felt out-of-place is so many of the other participants had such a wealth of knowledge in so many arcane (to me) subjects. I write humorous cozy mysteries about a woman rabbi in So. Jersey who gets involved in solving crimes. They write thrillers, suspense novels, and nonfiction about their experiences as undercover cops, international operatives, and fire fighters. I know how to dial 911. They know how to answer and respond to those calls.

Many times at conferences I’ll attend a panel and know as much, or even more, than the panelists. Not at the PSWA. Every panel delved into an area unfamiliar to me. I learned from each one. I use the first person narrative in my books, so I don’t need to know more than my protagonist does. She can say, “He had a gun,” and I don’t have to worry about what caliber and type. Many (most?) of the others at the PSWA not only would have described the gun in accurate detail, they could – and do – teach courses on weaponry.

I enjoyed the PSWA so much in 2013 that I returned in 2014. It proves the importance of leaving one’s comfort zone and opening oneself to interacting with new people. I thank all those police officers, FBI agents, weapons experts, military officers who made this fish-out-water learn how to breathe fresh air.

Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D.


My new novel, Tunnel Visions, will be on Amazon and in all e-book formats on September 1. You can also purchase it through my website –

Tunnel Visions is a work of faction a blend of fact and fiction. It weaves together the historical details of an actual water tunnel disaster in Los Angeles, the current struggle for control over California’s diminishing water supply, and a fictional plot to attack the Los Angeles water system. Digging 5 miles inside a Los Angeles MWD water tunnel in 1971, Willie Carter was one of the 17 men killed by a methane explosion in what became known as the Sylmar Tunnel disaster.

Nick Carter, Willie Carter’s son, is a firefighter trained in urban search and rescue (USAR) operations. His fiancée, Cindi, is an ATF Special Agent. On a Sunday in 2014, they are swept up in a massive Homeland Security response to a terror alert in Los Angeles. At the end of Tunnel Visions, when Nick makes a desperate entry into the gas-filled Sylmar Tunnel in an attempt to save Cindi and prevent a disaster, his past and present are brought together in a shocking way.

Kurt Kamm

2014 Writing Competition Results

Fiction Book, Published
First Place Mike Worley Entitlement
Second Place Virgil Alexander Saints & Sinners
Third Place Sharon Arthur Moore Mission Impastable
Honorable Mention Michael Walton Apok
Fiction Book, Non-Published
First Place Jackie Taylor Zortman Footprints in the Frost
Second Place J.L. Greger False Pride
Third Place John Gallagher Pipe Dreams
Thonie Hevron Intent to Hold
Honorable Mention David Freedland Lincoln 9
John Schembra Sin Eater
Non-Fiction Book, Published
First Place Robert Mark Haig Ten Little Police Chiefs
Non-Fiction Book, Non-Published
First Place Agent X FBI Animal House
Flash Fiction, Published
First Place Ilene Schneider Perfect
Second Place Lonnie Lees The Wishing Well
Flash Fiction, Non-Published
First Place David Cropp The Apple Pie Tragedy
Fiction Short Story, Published
First Place Ilene Schneider Miami Snow
Second Place Quintin Petersen Thug’s Brew
Third Place Kathleen Ryan A Primal Force
Honorable Mention Sam Bradley Dr. Quinn and the Medicine Man
Fiction Short Story, Non-Published
First Place Duane Preimsberger Hangman
Second Place Sharon Arthur Moore The Bloody Knife
Third Place Duane Preimsberger The Case of the Missing Police Car
Honorable Mention Barbara Hodges The Lost Hour
Non-Fiction Creative Non-Technical, Published
First Place Evan Wagner Cops & Holiday DUIs
Second Place Jackie Taylor Zortman Just Routine
Third Place Laura Cooper Body Cams: An Instant Replay for Law Enforcement
Non-Fiction Creative Non-Technical, Non-Published
First Place Ronald Corbin A Knock at the Door
Second Place Duane Preimsberger Old Broken Toe
Third Place David Cropp Out to Pasture
Honorable Mention Jackie Taylor Zortman In God We Trust
Non-Fiction Creative Technical, Published
First Place John Weinstein How to Improve Situational Awareness on Campus
Second Place John Bellah NHP-CHP Cooperative Upfitting
Third Place John Weinstein Dealing with Difficult People: 10 Tips for Diffusing Toxic Situations
Honorable Mention John Bellah Fleet Management Tips
Poetry, Non-Published
First Place Joseph Haggerty, Sr. A Buck or Two
Second Place John Wills The Sheepdog
Third Place Joseph Haggerty, Sr. Disclose
Screenplay, Non-Published
First Place Jack Miller Retribution


PSWA Newsletter-June 2014

PSWA Newsletter
June 2014




Marilyn Olsen, PSWA President, aka "The Queen"YES! There’s still time to register for PSWA Conference 2014.

In just a few weeks, PSWA will be holding its annual conference at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This is our traditional location, so we can pretty much guarantee that you will have a comfortable and enjoyable visit.

As you arrive on Thursday, plan to come right to the registration table. Here, you’ll be welcomed by the conference committee and PSWA officers and receive your credentials, handouts and a packet containing a variety of other materials.

You will also receive a printed program with the conference agenda and a bio and contact information for all attendees and speakers. So as panelists are speaking you’ll have a quick way to find their background and area of expertise.

At our Thursday evening opening reception, you will have a chance to meet most of your fellow attendees. This is an informal event with snacks and a no-host bar and we invite you to meet and mingle with people who will be both presenters and audience for the duration of the conference.

We make it a practice to always start on time, so be sure to check your registration packet for the agenda. We also invite you to sit wherever you want and to try sitting in a variety of locations so you meet as many people as possible. If you have any questions at any time, please feel free to ask any of the PSWA officers, conference committee or, well, just about anyone. We are a welcoming and collegial group.

Over the years we’ve also made it a policy to limit the number of attendees, so that everyone has an opportunity to be involved. Our panelists are all PSWA members, so both during the conference and afterward, you can contact them for further information.

In addition to the serious presentations, we always have a lot of fun. Conference chair Mike Black and the committee have something really special planned for this year.

Many of the people registered so far are regular attendees, but we are pleased to see an additional group of new faces as well. So, if this will be your first conference, you won’t be the only first timer. We will do our best to make you feel an immediate part of the group.

Again, there’s still time to become a part of PSWA Conference 2014. Click on Conference for all the details.

Marilyn Olsen, President


Michael-Black-200The PSWA Conference is just around the corner. As a reminder, it’s scheduled for July 10th through the 14th at the fabulous Orleans Hotel and Casino in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. This will be my sixth time attending the conference, and it’s gotten better each year.

This will be my first time as a board member. I was chosen by Marilyn Meredith (with the approval of the rest of the board) to organize the conference program. While I’d been of token assistance to her in the past, this time I got a complete glimpse of the enormous amount of planning and work that goes into making the PSWA conference the preeminent event of the year.

We’ve got a lot of new things planned for this upcoming conference, such as some dynamite solo presenters, Mike Angley, Mark Bouton, and Dave Cropp. Mike will be talking about the differences between the various military investigative services. If you’ve ever wondered how much of Mark Harmon’s performance as Jethro Gibbs is true to life, you’ll get your answers during his presentation. Ex-FBI agent and accomplished novelist, Mark Bouton, will be giving a fiction writing seminar on developing characters and plots. And rounding things out will be Dave Cropp, who will be telling us about his real-life experiences as an undercover operative working to take down a motorcycle gang.

Rest assured, those of you who have attended the conference before can look forward to enjoying all of fun and informative presentations that you’ve experienced in the past events. In addition to our annual writing contest and dynamic speakers, we also have numerous panels scheduled on writing and public safety topics.

Plus, this year our own Steve Scarborough will be hosting our first CSI Jeopardy games, doing his best Alex Trebek imitation.

Our bookstore will have plenty of good books for sale and the breaks between sessions are a great time to speak with professionals in the fields of public safety and writing. It’s a great place to network, and the atmosphere is always friendly. You’ll also get some great meals, have a chance to stay in a luxurious hotel for very reasonable rates, and have plenty of time to explore one of the most fascinating and energizing cities in the world.

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

Michael A. Black, PSWA Conference Program Chair

Michael A. Black is the author of 21 books and over 100 short stories and articles. He is also a retired police officer. He is currently writing the Executioner series under the name Don Pendleton. His next novel, a political thriller called Chimes at Midnight, will be released June 18th. His novel, Sleeping Dragons, is one of the final nominees for the prestigious Scribe Award by the International Media Tie-In Writers Association.
Author of:

  • Sleeping Dragons, a Mack Bolan Executioner novel. Bolan travels to Hong Kong to try to prevent a deadly nerve gas from falling into the hands of some Libyan terrorists. Nominated for the Best Novel Scribe Award by the International Media Tie-In Writers Association.
  • The Heist , Freeze Me, Tender, and Dead Ringer (with Julie Hyzy). All available on Amazon and from Crossroad Press: Available as an e-books and trade paperbacks and soon to be released as an audio


Michelle-Perin-200Although the deadline to submit an entry into the 2014 PSWA Writing Contest has passed, there are still a lot of exciting things to come. The entries have all been collected and are being sent out to my trusty group of expert judges. I select judges based on their area of expertise and their willingness to be fair, open-minded and provide feedback to our members. This feedback is one of the elements that makes the PSWA contest unique. If you’ve entered in the past and used the feedback to improve your story and/or your writing, I’d love to hear about it.

Once the judges finish their selections, all the judging sheets come back to me and I tally the result, create the “Award-Winning Author” certificates and wait with butterflies for the Awards Banquet which occurs on the last day of the Writing Conference. Right after lunch on Sunday, July 13th I get to announce the winners and I can hardly wait. This is the most exciting time of year for me as a part of the PSWA Board of Directors as I sit surrounded by the work of our members. Amidst the piles of novels, non-fiction books, magazine articles, poetry, flash fiction and screenplays, both published and unpublished, I recognize the hard work and talent that permeates this group. I’m very excited and I hope all of you are too. I also hope I will see each and every one of you at the conference as we honor the award winners among us. I also hope everyone is continuing to write, write, write and I’ll get to see the fruits of your labor in 2015.

–Michelle Perin, PSWA Contest Chairperson

Michelle J.G. Perin, MS, Firefighter/EMT
Board Member, Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA)
Fundraising Coordinator, Lane Area Ferret Shelter & Rescue
2012 Rookie of the Year & 2012 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year, South Lane County Fire & Rescue

…unless you just want to have your identity stolen

Tim Dees, PSWA DirectorThe latest interest security threat, called Heartbleed, has caused some people to reconsider their use of passwords and net security generally. Latest threat or not, that’s never a bad idea.

If you’re a typical internet user, you re-use the same user name and password, or some slight variation of it, on every website and service you visit. This is a very natural, human solution to the problem of having to remember multiple user names and passwords. It’s also several steps removed from never locking the door to your house. It’s more like leaving your door unlocked, putting up a neon sign reading “FREE LOOT,” and then posting the address of your home and your daily itinerary on Craigslist.

Heartbleed exploited a flaw in a piece of software used by millions of websites. It allowed an intruder to retrieve information held in volatile server memory, which changes from one microsecond to the next. Make enough queries, and you’ll eventually get someone’s user name and password information, and maybe even their credit card or bank data. Invaders write “bots” to do this again and again, and then search the plunder for the information they want.

Once that’s in their hands, they start trying some of the larger commercial websites with the same user name and password data. If you were using the same login information on, say, Twitter, that you were using at or, they will be able to order merchandise under your account and even change your password and email address of record to make it more difficult for you to notify the merchant of the intrusion. Your credit card company will most likely eat the fraudulent charges sooner or later, but in the meantime you’re trying to buy gas or check into a hotel, and your card is declined because it’s over the credit limit.

Much of this grief can be remedied by using a password manager. Password managers track your user name and password information, as well as a lot of other data if you choose to trust it, all locked down with a single password.

The obvious first questions are, “So what if I lose that password?” and “What happens if the password manager is compromised?” If you lose the master password and don’t have the data backed up anywhere, you’re pretty much screwed. Sorry about that. Nothing is completely foolproof. However, that problem is solved fairly easily.

As for having the password manager compromised, well, never say never, but it hasn’t happened yet. Because of the importance and the volume of information these services protect, they have multiple layers of encryption and are about as secure as anything you’re going to find. In any event, they’re better than writing down your passwords on a Post-It attached to your monitor (someone just glanced at that Post-It).

Creating a password that you can remember, but is difficult to crack, is not as difficult as you might think. Stringing together three apparently unrelated dictionary words works pretty well, even more so if you separate them with random punctuation or substitute numbers.

For example, say that your high school mascot was the Warriors, your favorite pet’s name was Fluffy, and you lost your virginity in a Camaro. Let’s also assume you haven’t used any of these as the answers to security questions on any website (if you have, pick some other random words or events). From these, we get


Preface, separate and follow up the passphrase with some punctuation, and we have


Now, change the letter i to numeral ones (1) and the letter o to zeroes (0), and we get


Using the calculator at How Secure Is My Password?,I get the following estimates of how long it would take a typical desktop PC to crack each one of these:

  • WarriorsFluffyCamaro: 165 quadrillon years
  • *Warriors%Fluffy&Camaro+: 530 septillon years
  • *Warr10rs%Fluffy&Camar0+: 14 octillion years

Personally, I think the calculator on that website is a little pessimistic, as people are constantly devising better methods to crack passwords. However, I want to make it as difficult as possible, on the theory that if I make it hard enough to crack my password, the intruder will go on to someone who is easier pickings.

Most password managers have an option to use an onscreen keyboard to enter the master password. This is a feature designed to thwart keyloggers. Keyloggers can be hardware or software add-ins (the hardware varieties are usually innocuous-looking devices that install between your keyboard and computer cable) that record every keystroke you enter. A keylogger can obviously steal any password information you type into the keyboard. You circumvent the keylogger by bringing up a graphical keyboard with keys you click on with the mouse to enter your password. This is an important feature to use anytime you’re using a computer you do not control 100% of the time.

Password managers can also store information you key into onscreen forms, such as your home and shipping address, phone numbers, credit card numbers, etc. They save time, all but eliminate errors, and also circumvent keyloggers.

You can also create random, all-but-unbreakable passwords with all these password managers. You set some parameters of length, whether the password should contain uppercase or lowercase letters (or a mix of the two), and numbers and/or punctuation. Click the button, and a new, random password will appear. If you’re using a password manager, there’s no reason not to use long, complex passwords, as you’ll never have to enter them manually.

Here are three password managers I know to be reliable. Each one works in a slightly different way. One is free, no matter what; one is free for basic use and has an annual fee for more advanced features, and one is a subscription service.

KeePass Password Safe

KeePass is an open-source, completely free, standalone password manager. By “standalone,” I mean that it does not reside on the internet. You store the program, and its data files on your computer, or on a flash drive you move between the computers you use. Open source software is created by volunteers who make the source code available to anyone who wants it. The idea is that anyone who is interested can improve it and submit the improved code for new versions. There are lots of very reliable and well-thought-of open source packages.

As with other password managers, when you set up the program, you establish a single master password. This password should be something completely unique, not a word found in any dictionary, and certainly not something you use or have ever used anywhere else. If everything goes right, there is no need for you to remember any other password, ever again, so make this one a good one.

KeePass is activated when you bring it up manually, as with any other program. You enter websites, user names and passwords into forms, which are then encrypted and saved by the software. The next time you want to log into a website you have already saved, you just bring up KeePass, find the entry for the website you want, click on it, and it will open a new browser window, enter your login credentials, and log you in. It does this much faster than you would be able to.

You can install KeePass on any computer you use, but data files residing on more than one machine won’t be synchronized automatically. You can avoid that problem by installing the software on a flash drive, and inserting the flash drive into whatever machine you’re using at the moment. If you lose the flash drive and the data isn’t backed up (easy to do), you’re in a world of hurt, but anyone who finds the flash drive won’t be able to get into your password file without the master password.


LastPass is a web-based password manager that is free to use most commonly-used features. There is a premium version for $12 per year that allows you to use the service on smartphones and other devices.

You start by going to the LastPass website and setting up an account. You then download and install the LastPass plug-in for any web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) you use. Each time you open that browser, LastPass will ask you for your master password.

When the plug-in is active and you’re logged in, LastPass will ask you if you want it to remember each website you log into. If you answer in the affirmative, the login information will be stored along with the site’s URL. For future logins, all you need to do is find that website in LastPass’s list, click on it, and the service will open a new browser window, go to the appropriate site, and log you in.

LastPass can be run from any computer, even if the browser doesn’t have the plug-in installed. You justy go to, log in with your email address and master password, and you’ll see a list of your stored sites. Click on any one of them, and the service will behave as if you had the plug-in installed, opening a new window and entering your login details.

LastPass can also store routine form information, credit card info, and random text information. For example, if you needed to keep a list of your prescription medications, you could open a new “Secure Note,” enter the information, and save it. It is as secure as your passwords.


This is the password manager I use, more out of habit and preference than anything else. RoboForm is free to download and install, but the unlicensed version will store a limited number of passwords. The premium RoboForm Everywhere package is $9.95 for the first year and $19.95 each year thereafter, and works across multiple computers and smartphones.

Installing RoboForm automatically installs a plug-in into any browsers installed on the computer. Periodically during the day, the software will “phone home” and check for any changes between the local database and the one residing on the RoboForm servers. Synchronization is automatic and almost instantaneous. The advantage is that I have the same password and other data files on every computer and smartphone I use. The RoboForm software starts automatically every time I log in to my computer, but it asks for the master password every time, and after an interval I set if I haven’t used it for a while.

As I log into a new website, RoboForm asks me if I want to save that login data. If I answer “yes,” the URL and login data are saved automatically. You can set up multiple nesting folders for logins, what RoboForm calls “SafeNotes,” and other information, so that you see only the lists you want to see. For example, I keep the logins and notes for my employer in a separate folder from my own. If I have multiple logins for the same website stored (as with different accounts for Google, Facebook, etc.), when I go to that site’s login page, RoboForm gives me a list of the stored logins and asks me which I want to use.

I can store multiple credit cards, shipping addresses, and even personal data like driver’s license and passport number, and keep separate sets of these under different “identities,” if desired. I just counted, and saw I have 920 website logins stored in RoboForm, so obviously keeping all of this straight is kind of important for me.

RoboForm is updated constantly—as often as every week. When I new update is available (usually to deter a new intrusion scheme), I get a notice that I’m using an outdated version. Downloading and installing the latest version seldom takes more than a minute.

Tim Dees is a retired police officer and the former editor of two major law enforcement websites who writes and consults on technology applications in criminal justice. He can be reached at


Ron-Corbin-real-200Q. -What’s a good, cheap home burglary deterrent for people who don’t have or want dogs?

  1. – A crime deterrent is anything that
    (1) causes a person to hesitate in the act of committing a crime, or
    (2) causes the act to be delayed.

For several reasons, dogs are a good deterrent for the general type of residential burglar. It’s not so much that burglars are afraid of being bitten, because if necessary, the “bad guys” will probably kill or hurt any dog that becomes a physical threat. The biggest factor that burglars hate is the barking. The noise that a dog will make for a stranger will alert any person in the house or cause neighbors to look out their adjoining house windows to see what is causing the racket.

What about those “Beware of Dog” signs placed on gates? Are they a deterrent? Basically yes, because (by definition) they will generally cause a burglar to hesitate before going onto your property or back yard. They will rattle the gate and wait a few moments to see if a dog barks or appears. If not, then the burglar will often proceed.

But what about people who don’t have dogs that will bark or present a threat to any intruder attempting to break into your house? Here is a cheap and effective deterrent…maybe even more effective than a window sticker or sign that indicates you have a home security alarm system installed.

Go to the pet store and buy a large dog feeding bowl and a rawhide chew bone. Using a marker, write “Brutus” or Killer” on the bowl…these names are more of a deterrent than “Puddles” or “Baby.” Then place the bowl and chew bone on your back patio. Anyone coming into your back yard with intentions of breaking into your house will see these two items and wonder if a dog is nearby. This will make them think twice about trying to break into your home. And this hesitation then becomes a crime deterrent.

But if you really want to go “all out” in creating an illusion that a dog is present in your home, here is another idea. If your neighbor has a dog, then that neighbor has a disposal problem of “doggie doo-doo.” Tell your neighbor that when he does some clean-up, to throw some of the dog’s waste matter over into your yard. What better indication to a burglar that a real, live dog lives at your house than dog fecal matter.

Okay, you’re probably smiling right now and thinking that my last tip is a little over the edge. But if you do choose to try this, then just make sure that you direct your neighbor not to toss his “burglary deterrents” toward your swimming pool.

Stay Safe!
Ron Corbin


Tim Dees, PSWA DirectorOur secretary, Nancy Farrar, has been getting a few inquiries from PSWA members wanting to create a personal website. I used to make up personalized pages for members (I think the only one still running is here [], but other duties have caused me to put that aside. I thought this might be a good topic for a newsletter article.

It’s probably never been easier to create a personal website. Using free tools like Blogger or WordPress, you can register a free account, make a few design/appearance choices, and be up and running in under an hour. There are online tutorials that lead you through the process.

The free services provide you with a less-than-intuitive web address (called a URL, for Uniform Resource Locator), like If you want something more personalized and easy to remember, you’ll have to register your own domain name.

Registering a domain name is not difficult; finding one that isn’t already taken is. You might notice that most of the popular new websites that emerge from time to time use made-up words for their domains:,,, This is because most dictionary words have been taken.

Registering a domain name that you don’t intend to use is called cybersquatting. In the early days of the internet, crafty cybersquatters registered names like and in anticipation of these companies wanting to establish a web presence. When the corporate outfits realized that the internet wasn’t a passing fad, they tried to register their corporate trademarks as domains, and found they were taken. There were a few lawsuits, but mostly it was cheaper to just pay the ransom to the cybersquatter who got there first. The return on the investment of $20 or so to register the domain often paid well into six figures. The current record-holder is, for which someone paid $35 million in 2007.

Since then, entrepreneurs have registered dictionary words and combinations of words speculatively, hoping they will be sufficiently valuable to someone in the future. Because of the type of writing I do, I looked into registering, but found a cybersquatter had beaten me to it. I also tried, but that was taken by a legit Canadian communications company. I was the first to get to, and I’ve owned that one for almost 20 years now.

If you have a relatively common name, you might be out of luck in trying to register it as a domain name. The more unique your name, the more likely it won’t have been claimed yet. To find out if a domain is claimed yet, just enter it into the address bar of your web browser, e.g. If it comes back to anything but a “page not found” message, it’s probably already registered. If that’s the case, try variations on your name, like,,, and so on. You can use hyphens in a web address (so and are not the same URL), but most other punctuation characters, including spaces, are forbidden.

Once your have found an available domain name you want to use, you need to register it. I use for the domains I manage because they’re competitive in pricing, have 24 hour tech support, and their user interface is fairly easy to navigate. Your mileage may vary. You can look for domain name registries by putting that phrase into a Google search.

Registering a domain name will cost you $20-$30 per year, although there are always deals to be found, and you get a price break for paying for several years in advance. Most of the registries can also host your website, and keeping the domain registry and web hosting with the same provider streamlines the process somewhat.

Web hosts maintain the files that populate your website. When a user navigates to your website, the files they see or hear are downloaded to their computer. The space those files occupy on the host’s servers are counted toward your online storage space; the files that are downloaded, cumulatively, account for your bandwidth allocation.

A typical bargain-rate hosting plan might include 1 gigabyte (GB) of storage space and 2 GB per month of bandwidth. If you are intending to populate your website with mostly text, then that 1 GB will go a long way. To illustrate, I have been writing for publication for over 25 years. That oeuvre includes two and a half books (the “half” is in progress) and hundreds of columns and articles. All of that put together comes in well under 1.5 GB. Text takes up very little space.

Photos, videos, and sound files, by comparison, take up a lot of space. If you’re intending to post a lot of these, you might need more online storage. Photos can be optimized to take up only a few kilobytes (KB) each, but videos and sound files seldom come in under a megabyte (MB). A byte is one character, a kilobyte=1024 bytes, a megabyte=1024 kilobytes, a gigabyte=1024 megabytes. Every time someone views or reloads a file on your website, it will count toward your bandwidth allocation.

If you’re a very popular person, you might exceed your website. If you do, it will probably be shut down temporarily while your web host contacts you to ask for more money to pay for the excess bandwidth. This is seldom a problem unless a page on your site gets mentioned on a popular website like Reddit, Digg, or StumbleUpon. To illustrate, when I worked for, one of our news stories was “favorited” on, so that Digg users clicked on the link. A typical news story would get maybe 5000 page views. That one got over 300,000 in a couple of days.

The same outfits that register and host your domain often have do-it-yourself page/site design services that will allow you to create a no-frills website in an hour or two. If you want something more appealing, check out Squarespace, which is also a do-it-yourself site, but offers some fancier options.

For a truly original design that won’t break the bank, try Fiverr. Fiverr is a marketplace where people offer services they will perform for five dollars (get your mind out of the gutter, now). Many of these include aspects of webpage design. Fiverr also has people who will tweak your WordPress or Blogger site for $5. Turnaround time is typically 3-5 days.

Once you have a domain name registered, you can also have your email keyed to it, the way I do for is my standard address, but that is also a “catchall” account. If you enter an email address as (e.g.,,, etc.), it still comes to me. Email like this comes at an extra charge; mine costs about $84 per year.

Finally, once you have your website, blog, author’s page, or whatever set up, contact me at to have that page linked to your listing on our Members’ Pagespage. It’s one listing per member, so if you have separate blogs, websites, author’s pages, etc., you’ll have to decide which you want to have listed.

Tim Dees


Pete-Klismet-200Part II

In Part I of this article, I explained how important a person’s writing ability is to the eventual solution and prosecution of crimes. Having seen a lack of this over the course of many years, I decided to explore it in a more systematic manner.

Since research on the ability to write would be helpful, I decided to start mine by asking my wife a simple question. “Was your mother a good writer?” My wife and her sister both are excellent writers, more than able to convey their thoughts, whether in an email or some other form of written communication. For the record, my wife’s answer was “Yes.” I thought that was an excellent start to proving my theory that the ability to write is inherited, thus genetic.

Believing this topic deserved more extensive research, I asked myself, “Was my mom a good writer? How about my dad?” And the answer to both questions was an unequivocal “yes” for both, despite the fact that my dad had only an eighth grade education (the required standard for the time he was in school). Then I asked myself, “Are your kids good writers?” Again the answer was yes. So I quickly advanced my theory ahead a few more spaces on the board.

Then I asked myself, “Am I a good writer?” And the answer was “I think so.” I know when I was a police officer in California, some of my reports were deemed to be “legendary.” And I always enjoyed writing them. I enjoyed doing research papers in college and graduate school, seeing these as an opportunity to think outside the box. In the FBI it is said that only about ten percent of all agents can put together a complex investigation, explain it in reports, and then write a wiretap affidavit (which is basically longer than the worst term paper you ever did, and has to be reviewed by tons of lawyers). In twenty years, I wrote about ten of them. So apparently I was capable of writing at a high level while in the FBI.

But, did being able to write good reports, search warrant and wiretap affidavits predict a good writing career? Those reports are generally narrative, and that type of writing doesn’t necessarily translate directly to an ability to write a novel. I found that out with the first book I wrote, which was deemed “horrible” by a literary agent after she read only part of one chapter. I was floored. Result: Writer’s block for about five years. I was a hopeless case. My self-esteem plummeted. My hopes and dreams of someday becoming a best-selling author were dashed.

Or so I thought. I was living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa at the time, and about twenty miles down the highway was the University of Iowa. Somehow, I found out about their famed Writer’s Workshop, and decided to see if I could attend. No problem. Pay the tuition, attend for two full weeks, and hopefully come out a better writer on the other end. And so I paid and attended. We did a lot of evaluating of each other’s work. When my chapter came up for review, it prompted an extensive lecture by our instructor. And finally the light bulb went on and glared brightly. I remember him saying, “You build a story by using action and dialogue.” You mean narrating won’t work? Nope. But I was really good at writing police reports and stuff like that. Doesn’t matter, that was narrating, and it doesn’t work if you’re trying to advance a story in a novel. Oh, now I understood why I got that scathing rejection – I can write great police reports, but that doesn’t translate to writing a book someone will want to read and which will hold their interest.

It was just the jolt I needed, but then came the problem of adapting my writing style to my newly-learned knowledge. You can’t tell a story with dialogue only, and if you revert to action, you’re back to narrating. This caused a significant paradigm shift for me. I had to see if I had the ability to blend both of these concepts together. And quickly learned it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be. There was going to be some work involved. I had to ask myself if I had the commitment. The only way to find out was to start writing again. But, don’t write fiction. I didn’t need to do that. All of my years in law enforcement, about fifteen by that time, gave me enough experiences to write more than one book. In fact, I now have about eight in my head. It’s a tight fit, in case you were wondering.

I continued my research on the Internet and found there was no shortage of information about the ability to acquire language as an innate ability. But what most of that referred to was people being more able than others to learn new and different languages. I knew that didn’t apply to me and was not what I was trying to discover. I did, however, find some short articles about the ability to write being an inherited trait. Which I was very excited about, except that the answers were clearly maybe or maybe not. That didn’t advance my theory a whole lot, either.

I found a somewhat compelling blog by someone who calls himself “Rodismay.” The blog had a ton of advertising links, so his goal is apparently to teach people to be better writers and make money in the process. There were a number of comments by various people who said they felt their ability to write was “God-given.” Mr. Rodismay also commented, “When I am in the mood, one word heard or read can be expanded into more than 1000 words.” Hmmm, I thought, that sounds a lot like me (and surely some of you). It’s almost like being an alcoholic, by way of analogy: Once you start, you can’t stop. Maybe that’s not the best analogy. A better one might be getting the so-called “Runner’s High.” I’ve had all of these things happen, so maybe writing is akin to an addiction? And maybe, just maybe, I’m onto something here. Research on addictions shows a high degree of predisposition, such that if one is an alcoholic, someone above you on the food chain, whether mom, dad, grandpa, etc., was or is an alcoholic as well. So maybe this guy Rodismay has me headed in the right direction. And maybe I was starting to think outside the box as I wanted to be.

And I continued my research. I’ll explain that and how I tried to connect the dots in the third part of this article.

–Pete Klismet:
Please check my website
I would appreciate having you ‘like’ my Facebook page
I am a co-founder of Preventing School Shootings. Please support us.
Amazon author’s page


Rayne-Golay-200Do you suspect alcohol is getting the better of you? Consider these questions:

  • Have you had the morning after drink?
  • Do you envy people who can drink without getting into trouble?
  • Does your drinking cause problems at home?
  • Do you tell yourself you can stop any time you want although you keep getting drunk?
  • Have you neglected your duties because of drinking?
  • Has anybody suggested you should stop drinking?

If you answer Yes to any of these questions, alcohol may be a problem in your life.

During my many years as an addictions counselor, I’ve worked with a large number of alcoholics. They all have one misconception in common; they have the firm belief their drinking doesn’t affect anybody else. Countless times, I heard them say, “I only hurt myself.” There is a great deal of research to prove that this is not true. Alcoholism is said to be a family disease because everybody in the family system is as sick as the alcoholic. The alcoholic’s behavior and mood affect every family member as well as coworkers and friends. As alcoholism is a chronic, progressive and fatal if left untreated, it is not to be taken lightly.

The most vulnerable to the effects of an alcoholic parent are the children. The parent is the child’s first and foremost role model. When this role model dysfunctions, the effects on the child are painful to experience, heartbreaking to witness, and have far-reaching consequences. These effects may last a lifetime. The child ends up having deep-seated psychological and emotional problems. The hazardous consequences of parental alcoholism are very similar to the effects of child abuse and neglect, which are evident in my award winning novel “The Wooden Chair.” In this book, my protagonist, Leini struggles as a victim of her mother Mira’s abuse and neglect while she also suffers from Mira’s alcoholic drinking.

Not all children react to parental alcoholism in the same way. Most of them don’t know what   “normal” is. They live in an insecure and unstable environment, and don’t experience a normal family relationship. Because the alcoholic parent’s behavior is unpredictable, terrifying, destabilizing, the child learns to avoid bringing friends home, not knowing if they will be met with a welcoming smile, harsh words or worse.

In my novel “The Wooden Chair,” Leini, typical of the child of an alcoholic, hasn’t learned how to have fun. In the alcoholic home, so many birthdays, holidays and family events have been ruined because the drinking parent got drunk, became argumentative, querulous and outright mean. The child is filled with shame of the parent who passes out at the dinner table, and soon learns it’s safer not to bring friends home. The family’s dysfunction becomes the heavy secret the child carries.

Most likely the child didn’t see expressions of tenderness and affection between the parents, didn’t experience it for him- or herself. Consequently, this child has trouble with intimate relationships as an adult.

Like Leini in “The Wooden Chair,” children growing up with an alcoholic parent have huge trust issues. Parents are the individuals who normally would not lie, break promises, keep secrets, but when they do, the child soon learns to be distrustful. If they cannot trust the most significant persons in their lives, how can they trust anybody going forward?

In the home with an alcoholic parent, a lot of arguing, shouting, fighting is going on in part because the parents are very angry. The child becomes skilled in recognizing an angry person, is afraid of angry people because the anger may turn on the child, resulting in both emotional and physical hurt and suffering. Having experienced disruption, arguments and fights growing up, as an adult, the child gravitates toward partners with similar behavior as the parent. The adult child of an alcoholic stays in this toxic relationship in which more suffering is the daily fare.

From avery young age, the child is guilt-ridden. It’s very obvious that something is wrong with mother or father. Because of mood swings, crying, and staying in bed because the parent isn’t feeling well, the child carries a heavy sense of responsibility that the child should be able to fix what’s wrong, to make the parent well. The child also has the misguided belief that if the parent loved the child, the parent would be healthier and happier. Many children who grow up in an alcoholic home believe they are different from their peers, that they are not good enough. As a consequence, they tend to avoid social situations and are inclined to isolate.

Because the alcoholic parent is absent most of the time, both physically and emotionally, the child feels ignored and becomes terrified of being abandoned. When Leini was four years old in my award winning novel “The Wooden Chair,” her mother, Mira, left her alone at a busy marketplace. Leini was lucky in that a police officer came to her rescue, but not all children are this fortunate. Alone and defenseless, the child might be abducted, kidnapped, trampled by the crowd, sexually molested.

The big and so far unresolved question is whether alcoholism is a genetically predisposed disease or an acquired way of coping with stress and difficulties because that’s what the parents did. I have encountered adult children of alcoholics who are normal social drinkers. Then there are those who started drinking in their pre-teens, following a pattern of alcoholic drinking established by their grandparents and parents.

It may seem that the outlook is very bleak for the child of an alcoholic, that he or she is doomed to an unhappy, dysfunctional, miserable life. My motto as an addictions counselor is, “I alone have to do it, but I cannot do it alone.” In “The Wooden Chair,” Leini has the option of living with the emotional and psychological scars inflicted by Mira’s neglect and alcoholism. Fortunately for herself, her future husband and children, Leini decided to heal and recover through psychotherapy. There are competent counseling therapists and psychiatrists with loads of experience who can help the adult child of an alcoholic. Self-help groups like Al-Anon for the adults and Alateen for teenagers are non profit groups whose support, love and understanding are invaluable tools to the person looking to turn his or her life around.

–Rayne E. Golay
“The Wooden Chair” is available at,
Rayne E. Golay is a certified drug and alcohol counselor whose work with addicts informs her understanding and insights into the consequences of child abuse. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is a lifelong reader and writer. The Wooden Chair, published in 2013 by Untreed Reads, won the Royal Palm Literary Award for mainstream literature in Florida Writers Association’s competition.


Diane-Kratz-200I recently completed a required course called, “Everyday Safety Self Defense For Social Workers,” taught by Janet Nelson, MSW. Not only did I learn valuable safety precautions, but also it brought up the disturbing case of Teri Zenner, a social worker who was killed by her client when I was in grad school.

I will get to the safety tips, but first I want tell you the backstory of how this became a requirement by the BSRB in Kansas for all new social workers.


Like me, Teri Lea Zenner was a mental health social worker. She was 26 years old, a Kansas University graduate student who worked for the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

In August 2004 Teri went on a routine visit to Andrew Ramey Ellmaker, a seventeen year old, mentally unstable client, diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder. Teri was there to make sure that he was taking his medication.

Zenner’s visit with Ellmaker seemed routine at first, but at some point Ellmaker lured a reluctant Zenner to his bedroom. The social worker begged to be released, but Ellmaker had a weapon, a knife. His mother, Sue Ellmaker, returned from the store, heard Teri crying and threatened to call police if her son didn’t release Teri by the count of three.

At the end of the count, Teri rushed down the stairs with blood spurting from the neck wound and Ellmaker following behind her, stabbing her all the way.

Sue Ellmaker threw herself between her son and Teri, yelling for him to stop, but he stabbed his mother in the back multiple times. All three tumbled to the floor, and Sue rolled onto Teri to protect her. Andrew stabbed Sue four times in the back, once in the chest, and once in the right arm then slashed her ear. If the knife hadn’t bent in her back, giving her a chance to flee to a neighbor’s house and call 911, Sue Ellmaker might have died too.

With his mother gone, Andrew went to his bedroom, turned on loud music, grabbed his chain saw from his closet and began cutting into Teri Zenner, almost severing her left forearm and her neck. He also slashed her head, back, and right hip. At this point, the chain broke which caused Andrew to be “pissed off” because he had recently bought the chainsaw.

After mutilating Teri’s body with the chainsaw, Andrew tried to commit suicide by ingesting a variety of pills. He then left the house with two pellet guns and got in Teri’s vehicle. However, the car wouldn’t start so he took gasoline from the garage, poured it on the vehicle, and set it on fire. Andrew ran into the street just as police arrived. The officers ordered him to drop his weapons, and he complied. As Ellmaker was being handcuffed, he spontaneously stated, “I just killed my therapist with a chainsaw.”

I met Teri Zenner’s widower, Matt, in grad school. He came and spoke to us about Teri’s story and pleaded with us to contact our state representatives to pass help a Kansas law in her honor that required safety training for all new social workers. Most murders of social workers occur within the first five years of employment.

As part of the Social Workers Code of Ethics, standards set forth by NASW- National Association of Social Workers, we are required to take Social and Political Action for our clients.

Article 6.04 (a) reads:

(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.

Everyone who heard Matt Zenner speak at Washburn University marched over to the Topeka Capital building and spoke to their representatives, me included. Only this time it wasn’t for our clients; it was for social workers everywhere. It was passed and signed on April 8, 2010, for the state of Kansas.

Matt was also lobbying for a national act called the Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act H.R. 1490 (111th Congress), which would have established a grant program to assist in the provision of safety measures to protect social workers and other professionals who work with at-risk populations. He wanted social workers to have the same publically viewed protections as police officers do. As of right now H.R. 1490 is dead and has been submitted to the House Education and Workforce Community for review.

Social work is a helping profession. Teri died because she was trying to make sure that her attacker had been taking care of himself. We see clients at their most vulnerable and often the worst times of their lives.   Clients are often mentally unstable, accused of abuse of their children, spouse or intimate partners, or just released from prison. Our cases are emotionally charged and can become dangerous in the blink of the eye.

Social workers are the second highest at-risk group for violence of professionals in our society. The first is police officers. The main differences between these two professions are that police officers carry weapons and they receive intensive training to protect themselves.

Something needs to change.

Now on to Janet’s safety tips…

Above all, STAY CALM!

BREATHE and CENTER yourself to stay in CONTROL and to regain balance in emotionally charged situations.

Client known factors contributing to assault behavior:

  • Violence in client’s history or a criminal record
  • A diagnosis of dementia or low mental functioning
  • Intoxication from alcohol, drugs or medications
  • Low impulse control and high frustration level
  • Mania, paranoia and antisocial personality disorder
  • Law enforcement or military training/combat experience
  • Knowledge of weapons
  • Authoritative or confrontational counseling approaches
  • Client’s feeling powerless
  • The treatment environment itself

In Your Client’s Home and Neighborhood

  • Make sure you understand that you are on their turf. This is a natural safety dilemma.
  • When you schedule a visit, let them know when to expect you. Let them advise you about any safety concerns in their area.
  • Drive by first to check out the dwelling, the atmosphere and the surrounding area. Notice what’s happening on the streets and who is present.
  • Ask your client to watch for you as you leave your car upon arrival. Have them watch you go to your car as you leave.
  • Observe the home—both inside and outside. Notice its hiding places, vulnerable points, blocked exits, and escape routes.
  • If anything looks out of the ordinary in or around the dwelling or you feel uneasy about the situation you are in, leave and call for back up.
  • Listen while outside the door for any disturbances. After knocking, stand off to the side.
  • As you enter the home, notice the general interior layout, exits, and phones.
  • Position yourself for an easy exit, if necessary.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement. Do NOT wear anything that can be used as a weapon against you. This includes jewelry, scarfs, belts, etc.
  • Carry a cell phone with you. Keep it on and preprogrammed to call 911 for assistance in any emergency.
  • Keep purses locked in the trunk. Keep keys, a little money, and a cell phone in pockets or a waist pack (on your person).
  • Look around and think of what objects could be used as weapons, if needed.
  • Most importantly, know your client. Be aware of what they may be capable of based on size, gender, mental health status, medications, legal status, and history.
  • Whenever possible, travel with a co-worker or law enforcement if uncertain about safety.
  • Stay out of the kitchen! The kitchen is the most dangerous place in the home.

In the Car

  • Make certain your car has gas, water, and a spare with jack, a working horn, spare change, a flashlight, jumper cables, and a first aid kit.
  • Travel with a cell phone. Keep it on and preprogrammed to call 911 for assistance in any emergency or threatening situation.
  • Have understandable directions and maps available.
  • If you have a flat tire at night, try to keep going along the shoulder to a gas station.
  • Use extra caution in parking garages. Scan the garage as you enter it.
  • Have your car keys in your hand as you approach your car in a self-assured manner.
  • Scan the area as you approach the car and check the floor/back seat and under the car.
  • If stranded and you accept assistance, pretend that someone else will soon be arriving. Stay on guard so that you do not become a victim of a “Good Samaritan” ploy in which your helper becomes an attacker.
  • Ask to see the identification of anyone stopping to assist you (police too!).
  • If someone approaches your car to force entry, lay on the horn and drive off.
  • If someone is in your car forcing you to drive, turn on the flashers, press the horn, stop suddenly, get out and run or cause an accident with other cars (with your seat belt on).
  • If you have your windows open be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Keep car doors locked while in or away from your vehicle.
  • If you are being forced into your car, throw away the keys (distracting the attacker) and run.
  • During home visits park your car in position for a quick and easy departure.
  • Be careful about what you leave on your seats or dashboard — valuables and items with your name, address, phone number, or e-mail address on them (e.g., mail, cell phone).

Thank you, Janet Nelson, for your input on this post and for giving social workers everywhere the tools they need to protect themselves. To find out more on Janet’s self defense courses, visit her website at:


–Diane Kratz
Diane Kratz is a crime fiction writer who holds three degrees, associates of science, bachelors in sociology and masters in social work. She has worked in domestic violence shelters, hospice, and in mental health.
Diane serves on the publicity committee of the on-line writing group Kiss of Death. She also belongs to a local writing group, Midwest Romance Writers of America where she writes a monthly column called, “Writing is Murder.”
She has been married to her husband Tom, for twenty-eight years. They live on a small farm in Kansas and have three children, eight grandchildren, and one great grandchild.
She is currently unpublished but is working on a five book series called Victims of Love. The first called, Genesis is the prequel to The Dear John Letters with Resurrection, Contrition, and Retribution to follow.
You can find Diane at her blog


FireStormCover-200Fire Storm, by Mike Worley, is the fifth in the Angela Masters series.  It was released to paperback and Kindle in April

Late one night, a resident of Santa Rosa reports that someone was banging on his front door and screaming for help.  A raging fire which threatens homes and an armed robbery stretch police resources.  Officers do not respond to the neighborhood until the following morning, when the resident calls again to report a horrific discovery.  In the neighborhood, police find blood in several locations and what appears to be a gruesome crime scene.  But there is no body and no evidence of the means of injury.

When the victim’s body is located a few days later, identification is hampered.   Angela Masters must sort out a mound of conflicting information to determine who the victim was and to identify her killer.  By the time the victim is identified, evidence points to a serial killer preying on young girls.  Will Angi be able to sort out the puzzle and, even then, will it lead her to the killer before he can strike again?

Explosions-200The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) benefit anthology, Explosions: Stories of Our Landmined World, edited by Scott Bradley, is now available in paperback. It features brand new stories by 25 acclaimed authors including Jeffery Deaver, James Grady, David Morrell, Yvonne Prinz, Yvonne Seng, Peter Straub, and Quintin Peterson, and sports a cover by Pulitzer Prize-winning Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to MAG.

The dark stories collected here have one thing in common: they all concern the curse of landmines. Peterson’s new character Private Eye Luther Kane explodes on the scene in his contribution to the book, Damaged Goods.

Buy a great book and support a great cause.

Mines Advisory Group


The-Attack-200The Attack, by Bob Doerr, is an international thriller that begins when a terrorist team sets off four explosive devices in an international airport close to New York City. The leader of the terrorists, Ahmad Khalin, survives the attack and plans to attack a second U.S. airport within the month. As Khalin makes his escape from the New York area, he is involved in a shooting in Connecticut. Clint Smith, a U.S. government agent assigned to an ultra-secret agency, is at a restaurant across the street when the shooting occurs. He responds to the scene to see if he can help, but Khalin is gone.

On a hunch, Teresa Deer, Smith’s boss, sends Smith after Khalin. Smith’s pursuit takes him to Bar Harbor, Maine; Wiesbaden, Germany; the Costa Brava, Spain; Northern Scotland; Lake of the Woods, Ontario, Canada; and finally into Saskatchewan, Canada, where the final confrontation takes place. Throughout the pursuit, a number of interesting characters add to the subplots and try to survive their involvement in the chase.

Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other bookstores.

Congratulations to PSWA Member George Cramer who, within the past year, has had several pieces of his work published in three anthologies; two short stories in Voices of the Valley Encore; an excerpt from a novel in Written Across the Genres, and a short story in Between Pages.

Merging the Heart of a Writer with the Soul of a Biker


Newsletter Editor: Marilyn Meredith

PSWA Newsletter–March 2014

PSWA Newsletter

March 2014




Publishing is investing

Marilyn Olsen, PSWA President, aka "The Queen"I live in a small (population 70,000) college town on North Puget Sound in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains about 20 miles south of the Canadian border.  It’s the kind of place where people like to live and run a small business.  Luckily for them, on a regular basis my friend Tyler hosts an event that brings together people who want a start small business with people who want to invest in one.

At Tyler’s event each person looking for an investor has a five minute chance to pitch his or her business idea to several venture capitalists.  If one of them is interested, a deal can be struck and the investor and the business owner become partners in the enterprise.

The business gets the upfront capital and professional help in getting the business up and running and the investor recoups his or her money when the business makes a profit.

Most of publishing today works pretty much like this. The publisher basically fronts the money to the author to print the book and provide guidance in how to market it.  And, as with venture capitalists, the job of running the business or selling the book is ultimately the responsibility of the business owner or author.  The publisher or business investor only recoups his or her investment if the author or business owner is successful in selling the product.

Thus, it’s not surprising that venture capitalists and publishers are very selective.  Both are taking a chance (and are willing to make a financial commitment) that the business owner or the author has what it takes to be successful.

So, what do you need to do to attract an investor?

  1. Understand that first impressions are vitally important.  Whether you’re making your pitch in a query letter or in person, it needs to be error-free and well organized. No one wants to take a chance on someone who doesn’t show attention to detail or wastes their time with extraneous information. No typos, no wandering off the subject, just the facts. The investor wants to know
  • who you are
  • what you are asking them to do
  • where you live
  • what exactly your product is
  • why you are doing this
  • when you will have a product ready to go
  • how you expect to operate your business
  • What, in other words do your bring to the table that will make the investor want to give you money?
  1. Make it immediately obvious what your product is.  The hopeful business owner must be able to make it clear in just a few sentences what the business will actually be.  The author must submit well-crafted one-page synopsis.
  2. Create a well thought out biography.  This document makes clear who you are and why you think you’re qualified to run this business or write this book. The primarily focus should be on relevant experience.  No investor really cares where you went to grade school, but all of them want to know if you know your product well enough to be able to convince others to buy it.
  3. A clever prospective business owner will always show a sample product to a prospective investor.  No verbal description beats the opportunity for the investor to actually see in what they are being asked to invest.  A publisher, likewise, will always expect 20 or so sample pages.  Publishers, like business investors know that customers will quickly make up their mind whether or not to buy a product.  If the publisher knows that after reading the first few pages he or she doesn’t find the book interesting, neither will a prospective reader.
  4. Impress your prospective investor with the fact that you have done your homework.  If you are an author, ALWAYS visit the website of the publisher and make sure your query matches their query guidelines.  If possible, find out the name of the acquisitions editor and direct your letter to him or her.    If you’re a prospective business owner, do likewise
  5. Even if your business proposal or query is turned down by the investor, it is still a good idea to thank them for their time in considering your offer.  The person who has turned you down may or may not even be willing to explain to you why they made the decision they did.
  6. Publishers, like venture capitalists are investors. When you ask for their acceptance and support, you are asking them to provide the upfront money to start your book selling business.  The better the first impression you make, the more likely they are to consider funding you.  Your responsibility then becomes to generate the profit to both make money for you and to repay the publisher for their faith in you and financial support that got you started.

–Marilyn Olsen, PSWA President


200W-Mike-Black-newThe PSWA Conference is scheduled for July 10th through the 14th this year. Once again, it will be held at the fabulous Orleans Hotel and Casino in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. I first heard about it five years ago and contacted Marilyn Meredith for more information. She advised me that it was a both an informative and friendly affair. I decided to go and check it out. I’d been to countless such events over the years, and found it one of the most enjoyable that I’d ever attended. Devoid of pretension and full of nice people, this conference was a head and shoulders above all the others. I’ve attended each year since, and learned something new every time. I can honestly say it has gotten better each year.

I was chosen by Marilyn and the rest of the board members to organize the conference this time. While I’d been of token assistance to her in the past, this time I got a complete glimpse of the enormous amount of planning and work that goes into making the PSWA conference the preeminent event of the year. We’ve got a lot of new things planned for this upcoming conference, but rest assured those of you who have attended before can look forward to enjoying all of the fun things you liked at the last one.

In addition to our annual writing contest, we have some dynamic speakers lined up. We also have numerous panels scheduled, including some informative sessions on writing and public safety topics. Those seeking to learn more about topical subjects and wanting to speak with professionals in the fields of public safety and writing will not be disappointed. It’s a great place to network, and the atmosphere is always friendly. You’ll be able to meet writers and publishers who can give you advice based on the benefit of their experience. You’ll also get some great meals, have a chance to stay in a luxurious hotel for very reasonable rates, and have plenty of time to explore one of the most fascinating and energizing cities in the world.

Each year the PSWA does something to put a unique spin on the conference, and this time we’ve got a special treat: CSI Jeopardy. Whether you’re a fan of the game show or just a mystery and crime scene buff, I guarantee that you’ll enjoy seeing this one play out. Slots are still open at this time, so if you’re interested in trying your hand at the game, let me know. There’s a lot more planned and, if you attend, I know you won’t be disappointed. So if you haven’t done so yet, I urge you to register for the conference today. You won’t be disappointed. It may not be the biggest conference of the year, but it’ll certainly be the best. I look forward to seeing you at the Orleans in July.

–Michael A. Black, PSWA Conference Program Chair

Michael A. Black is the author of 20 books and over 100 short stories and articles. He is also a retired police officer. He is currently writing the Executioner series under the name Don Pendleton. His next novel, a political thriller called Chimes at Midnight, will be released in May.

Author of:

  • Sleeping Dragons, a Mack Bolan Executioner novel. Bolan travels to Hong Kong to try to prevent a deadly nerve gas from falling into the hands of some Libyan terrorists. Nominated for the Best Novel Scribe Award by the International Media Tie-In Writers Association.
  • The Heist , Freeze Me, Tender, and Dead Ringer (with Julie Hyzy). All available on Amazon and from Crossroad Press: Available as an e-books and trade paperbacks and soon to be released as an audio.


Keith Bettinger, PSWA SecretaryTime to start thinking about attending the 2014 PSWA conference being held July  10 -13 at the Orleans Hotel and Casino here in Las Vegas, NV.  We have already started collecting the early bird special pricing, so get your money in and save on the price of admission.

The hotel has discounted room prices for our conference; approximately $35 weekdays and $89 for Friday and Saturday.  They also keep that price available to our members a week on either side of our conference if you would like to make an extended vacation out of your conference visit and visit and sight see southern Nevada.  The hotel has 64 bowling alleys, 18 movie theaters, a showroom, a comedy club and restaurants to satisfy your gastronomical desires.

If you plan to sell your books at our conference you ship them to me at my home.  That will save you the added expense of the hotel business office.  Since we have prolific authors in the PSWA, I would suggest you supply no more than 5 books for the book sale.  I may be willing to get them to the hotel for you, but you will be returning the remainders either via the business office in the hotel or in your luggage and the airlines charge for overweight luggage.

On Thursday evening after registration, you and a guest are invited to attend our cash bar meet and greet reception for a light repast. You will have the opportunity to make new friends and visit with returning friends.   If an organization or business would like to help by sponsoring the room, or the bartender or the food, the PSWA would gratefully accept your assistance and make the attendees aware of your generous sponsorship.

Meals for Friday Saturday and Sunday have already been decided for the conference luncheons which are part of your conference fee.  One day will be pork, another will be chicken and the awards ceremony luncheon on Sunday will be beef.  If you have special dietary needs, please make it known to us on the conference application.  We will work to try and satisfy your needs and request.  If you bring a guest with you, they can attend the luncheons each day for the prices listed on the conference.  The more the merrier at lunch where you will get to meet your fellow writers and brainstorm.

There will be coffee each morning for the conference attendees.  In the past we have had coffee sponsors and we would appreciate the help of sponsors once again.   Members, please support the sponsors in any way you can.  They are one of the reasons that this conference is so reasonably priced.

The Orleans provides a shuttle service to the Las Vegas Strip as well as their other properties.  They do not provide shuttle service to and from the airport.  However, taxis are plentiful and it is about a $20 ride from the airport to the hotel.  There are also shuttle services from the airport to hotel.  They are less expensive, but you stop at all the hotels on their route.

There is plenty to see that won’t cost you money.  See the Bellagio water show set to music or the Mirage’s volcano eruptions. Visit the gardens and displays in the mega resorts.  Sit at a table at one of the outside venues and pick out characters for your next book.

Las Vegas isn’t all slot machines, we have culture as well – surprise, surprise! Visit the Atomic Energy Museum on East Flamingo by UNLV.  Member Jack Miller has his spy novels on sale there.  Visit the Mob Experience at the Tropicana and the Mob Museum downtown off the old strip.  Cashman Field has our Triple A New York Mets farm team.  There is the shark reef at Mandalay Bay and the light show and zip lines on Freemont Street are a great way to spend an evening, and for outstanding cultural events there is the Smith Center.  If you want to see a show, see if the tickets are available at the half price ticket booths located along the strip.  There is also Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire, Hoover Dam and Mt Charleston.   Bring your bathing suit with you and enjoy some time at the Orleans’ large pool.  You will drip dry fast in our 100+ degrees and zero percent humidity, but remember your sunscreen.

The days of tuxedos and gowns and furs are gone.  Life is casual in Las Vegas.  Dress comfortably.  Drink lots of water.  Remain hydrated and have a good time.

–Keith Bettinger
Secretary – Shields of Long Island, Secretary – Public Safety Writers Association
Author of: Fighting Crime With “Some” Day and Lenny, End Of Watch, Murder In McHenry
Winner of 19 writing awards


200W-Michelle-Perin-fireThis is your chance to become an award winning author in the PSWA 2014 Writing Contest. The contest is open to all members in good standing and has a plethora of categories you can enter. The only content requirement is that the work be somehow related to public safety. That means it can be a mystery, non-fiction magazine article about law enforcement, fire or emergency services and/or poetry and flash fiction. It just needs to touch on public safety somehow. Categories are split between published and non-published as we want to make the contest as inclusive as possible. Awards for First, Second, Third and Honorable Mention can be given in each category. There’s also a People’s Choice Award given to the person with the most entries in different categories encouraging members to try something new. This year we’re also offering the chance to win another manuscript review. Be one of the first 25 entrants and you’ll be entered to win. The PSWA Writing Contest is a great avenue to become an award-winning author and get the recognition you deserve. Information about the categories and how to enter are on our website. Enter Now and Good Luck!

–Michelle J.G. Perin, MS
Board Member, Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA)
2012 Rookie of the Year & 2012 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year, South Lane County Fire & Rescue

Ron Corbin is going to be doing an article for each newsletter about ways we can protect ourselves. Here is the first one:


Ron-Corbin-real-200Q. What are some ways to prevent credit card fraud?

A. – After the past couple months of holiday shopping, the chances of you having used debit and credit cards are probably higher than at any other time of the year. That means you are also the most likely to become a victim of “Card Fraud.”

Although self-service gas stations are one of the more popular places for fraud to occur, the addition of Holiday Temp Employees in the retail outlets can also be a place for unauthorized use of your card. I’m not saying that “Temp” employees are thieves, but they usually have the least amount of any background checks. They are also inexperienced with the use of cash registers and credit card machines. Therefore, it is easy for accidental “double swipes” or inaccurate procedures to be used when ringing-up your purchases. So, when the January statements come for your credit accounts, be sure to inspect them closely for errors.

Here are a couple techniques that will help you resolve billing disputes with your accounts:

  1. Make sure that all your credit cards are signed on the back. Use your formal signature that matches the embossed name on the front of the card. However, simply sign the sales’ receipts with your first initial and last name. If the clerk wants to verify the signature on the sales slip, they can do so by matching your last name’s signature on the back of the card.
    Here’s why you should do it this way. Should your card be stolen or compromised, the thief will most likely try to forge the signature on the back of your card for their fraudulent use, which will be your formal first and last name. However, by getting into the habit of signing only your first initial and last name on all sales receipts, a historical pattern of your valid use with the card company can be established. Thereby, all questionable debts can be something you can validate because of the different way and common practice of how you normally sign.
  2. A good practice for using a credit card when filling-up your vehicle at a self-service gas pump is to do this. Always try to stop the fill-up on a certain last digit in the price amount displayed on the pump. For example, if your favorite number is “3”, then stop your tank’s fill-up with the cents on the “3”… $48.03; $48.13; $48.23; etc.
    Thus, if your card ever gets stolen and used for gasoline, chances of the thief using the card at a gas station and ending the fraudulent sales amount on your “secret number” will be remote. And again, you can demonstrate to the card company a pattern you have used that will invalidate purchases that don’t belong to you.

Stay Safe!

–Ron Corbin, PhD



200W-Pete-Klismet-newAt my core, I suppose I am and always will be a criminologist.  So, you might ask, what on earth does that have to do with the topic of writing?  In truth, it has everything to do with writing.  Compiling a set of facts through investigation does no one any good unless those facts can be transmitted to others in some meaningful way.  In law enforcement, that means constructing a report which explains not only what happened, but more importantly how it happened.  These two concepts are far more different than one would think, and the ability to think outside the box and write a report which tells the story is much more difficult for some than others.  It turns out to be a process of connecting the dots, telling the story, and as the complexity of a crime becomes more involved, so does the ability to explain a set of facts in a report that makes sense to other people.

Over 45 years of involvement with law enforcement can make you think a little differently, particularly if you have an inquisitive mind.  I always seemed to have one of those.  I can remember back in the 1970’s, when I was a young and impressionable police officer in Ventura, California, I would often wonder why people who committed crimes did what they did.  Was it an irresistible impulse, lack of control, a reaction, anger, greed, or what?  While other officers would be busily examining and collecting evidence at a crime scene, I remember just looking and wondering why the woman plunged a huge knife into her boyfriend’s sternum.  Or why a man chose to shoot and kill his ex-wife, her new boyfriend, and then himself.  Or why a 19-year-old man would sneak across an alley, enter a woman’s house, and rape her, but worse yet, cut her throat to the point where her head was nearly severed from her body.  Why, why, why?  It’s just not ‘normal’ behavior.  But what defines normal, and how do we go about explaining it?

Theories of criminality generally break down into three relatively simple explanations:

  1. There is a psychological cause, meaning a person had or has deep-seated issues from life experiences that cause them to act out later in their lives.  These experiences are deeply imbedded and will never go away, although they may be repressed for many years.  For example: There appears to be a relationship between having been molested as a child, and later going on to become a molester.  At least, this is true with boys.  Abuse as a child causes anger, even rage, to build.  About 75% of murderers claim to have been abused as children.  Thus, this theory would hold that past events may predict future behavior, particularly violence.  Having a diagnosed mental illness also plays into this equation.
  2. Sociologists would contend the cause is more about where one grew up, or perhaps with whom the person grew up.  This can include family, friends, and the area that influenced a person’s later life.  Theories abound on this as a causal factor, and many people ascribe to this approach as more meaningful, as we did years ago.  We’d generally call this the Sociological Theory.  But then, how do we explain a Jeffrey Dahmer, who grew up in an upper-middle class home, with a dad who was a Ph.D. chemist, and a family that was probably a whole lot better than most of ours?  Or how do we explain a Dr. Ben Carson, who grew up in an ultra-tough, Chicago ghetto, yet went on to become the most eminent pediatric brain surgeon in the world?
  3. And then comes the most controversial of them all, what we’ll call Biological Theory, namely the belief that we were born with a genetic predisposition to commit crime and violent acts.  In other words, were some born to be criminals?  As an undergraduate over forty years ago, I remember this theory being posed in a criminology class, and thinking, “That’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”  Since then, with discoveries in genetics, DNA and other research, I’ve made a significant turnaround.  Consider this:  Virtually everything about us is determined at the time of conception.  For example, will we have asthma?  Will we become schizophrenic, or have Down’s Syndrome?  And thus I wondered, since some criminal acts are quite impulsive, is impulsiveness an inherited trait?  Seems possible to me.

Congratulations!  You’ve just completed Criminology 401.  While you may understand these concepts, can you relate one or more of them to a particular crime, then explain it?  Or do you need to do anything more than collect the facts, establish probable cause of who committed the crime, and thoroughly explain it?  That’s exactly where the importance of being able to write becomes critical to both identifying and prosecuting the offender. But, before I confer a degree upon you, let’s go back to the comment I made in the first paragraph: “Think outside the box.”  As a full-time college professor, I used to tell my students that if I accomplished nothing more in my classes, I wanted them to be able to both think and think critically.  To take some information, put it together with something else, and see how it matches up.  Or maybe to find a way to make it match up.  Thus, thinking outside the box.  Let’s try these on for size:

What do we see here?  A ravaged tree?  A man and a woman?  Or a lot more than that?


How about this?  A deer looking at us?  Or more than that?


To conclude, what I would like you to understand is that some people can see a set of facts, gather information, and form a theory of what happened. But then comes the true litmus test:  Can you explain them so others can understand and make use of what you’ve written?  In my years of law enforcement experience, I’ve discovered many times that some can, and some can’t.  And the theory I formed was that the ability to do all of these things and then record it is genetically-based.  Thus, it’s all about nature and not nurture.  We’ll explore that concept in Part II of this article.

(This article was originally published in the Pikes Peak Writers Association newsletter)

–Pete Klismet
About the Author:  About thirty years ago, a small cadre of FBI agents were selected by the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) to receive training in what was then a highly-controversial and ground breaking concept: Psychological Profiling.  Pete Klismet was fortunate enough to have been chosen to become one of the original FBI “profilers.” He received additional training, was temporarily assigned to work with the BSU in Quantico, Virginia, and put that training and experience to work in assisting state, federal and local law enforcement agencies in investigating violent crimes.  Pete retired from the FBI in 1999.

Pete’s award-winning book FBI Diary:  Profiles of Evil is available at and  He plans to release ‘a couple more books’ in 2014.


Promoting prostitution, human trafficking or just living off the proceeds of prostitution are difficult cases to make, mainly because you need one or more of his victims to testify.  Sometimes just convincing his victims that they are victims is difficult.  I have found an almost surefire way to convince a pimp that maybe your jurisdiction would not be favorable to him.  Find out everything you can about him and the women with him.  Use your resources to obtain his FBI record.  It contains most of his arrests, the names he used and sometimes his nickname, although that isn’t hard to discover.  His FBI record will also reflect where he has been arrested. Contact that jurisdiction to see what they know about him and where he lived before. You should have his local arrest record, if any, but don’t overlook his traffic history including parking tickets.

Who are his family members and where do they live.  Where does he live, not necessarily the address he gives, but where he really hangs his hat.  Many pimps when not on the prostitution stroll are in a favorite bar or strip club.  Many pimps like to gamble or will visit arcades or shopping malls in the hopes of picking up prospective victims or even square women for sex.

I would frequently check out the motels in the area for expensive cars with out of state tags.  On many occasions I would see one of the vehicles on the street.  Generally you can tell if the vehicle’s occupants are working the street. If you know your traffic regulations there is always a good reason to stop the vehicle. In the course of getting the driver’s license, I’ll asked some simple questions like how long have you been in the area, where are you staying.  If he gives me an answer I know is false, I will asked when he moved out of the motel where I saw his vehicle.  That alone has gotten some pimps to leave town.

What kind of car does he drive?  Where did he buy it?  How much does he owe on it? Where does he take it for repairs?  What about jewelry? A lot of pimps pride themselves on having expensive or at least expensive looking jewelry. Some pimps have jewelry specifically made for them, initials, medallions or rings. These can be significant items to be aware of.  Women have a good memory for jewelry.

A lot of this information can be obtained just through observation. Record who he associates with and if prior arrests show any co-defendants or list references or family. Determine if he has a work history.

One evening, my partner I were in the same restaurant where a couple of pimps were eating.  They didn’t know we were there.  Later that night we saw them on the street.  One we knew, so we introduced ourselves to the other.  In the brief conversation we had with them my partner asked how he liked his steak and was his baked potato cooked enough.  The look on that pimp’s face told it all.  He left town that night and did not return, at least not while we were working.

Pimps consider this personal information their business and they don’t like people knowing their business, especially law enforcement.  To convince him to leave town just let him know that you know his business.  Some figure you wouldn’t know this information unless you had them under investigation. The more you know about him the more likely he is to leave town.  There is a big plus to this as well.  If you are fortunate enough to develop a case on him you’ll already have most of the information about him.

Pimps network with each other and the more uncomfortable you can make them in your jurisdiction by knowing their business the less likely they will stay in the jurisdiction or return.  This will encourage other pimps to avoid your jurisdiction as well.

–This article is by PSWA member Joe Haggerty Sr, the author of the fictional novel Shame: The Story of a Pimp, and the soon to be released novel An Ocean in the Desert.


200W-John-EldridgeThis is a synopsis of policing in Canada that may be helpful if you plan to include any Canadian police content in your writing.  It’s a snap shot for writers, not a heavily researched, academic, paper about policing in Canada. They’re my observations from having lived in Canada all my life and being a member of the Vancouver Police Department for 26 years.

The Law: First, a little background about the law in Canada. Canadian criminal law is national in scope. The Criminal Code of Canada defines crime the same way right across the country. Individual provinces or territories don’t have the option of legislating their own criminal law. A police officer enforcing criminal law in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada, deals with the same Criminal Code as a police officer on the other side of the country in Nova Scotia.

The same goes for the drug laws. They’re federal statutes. Individual provinces can’t legalize a particular drug, such as marijuana or heroin.

The provinces do, on the other hand, make laws such as the Motor Vehicle Act. Highway speed limits are provincial laws, which the police enforce.

In order to charge someone in Canada, the police must have “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe the person has committed an offence. The standard of proof required for a conviction in court is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Police procedures include formal cautions to suspects, similar to the Miranda warning.

There is no death penalty in Canada. Those convicted of the most serious crimes, such as murder, are sentenced to life imprisonment. Possibilities for parole vary, depending on whether the conviction is for first degree or second degree murder. A conviction for first degree murder results in no chance of parole for 25 years. A conviction for second degree murder means no chance of parole for 15 years. The timelines only indicate when they may be considered for parole, not necessarily released. A life sentence means just that at the time of sentencing.

Most provinces have a Police Act in some form which defines a code of conduct for police officers, civilian oversight of police, and, in some provinces, investigation of police-involved deaths. Depending on the province and the circumstances, police officers in Canada are subjected to a variety of internal investigations, civilian review boards, coroner’s inquests, special inquiries, and court proceedings.

There are three main levels of police in Canada: federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal. Also, First Nations police forces operate in some aboriginal communities.

Federal: The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is the national police force of Canada, and also the largest. The RCMP has a broad mandate, dealing with everything from international terrorism to small police detachments throughout the country. There are some similarities to the structure of policing in the U.S. where the FBI has more of a federal mandate than local police.

The “mounted” police are not really mounted anymore. Horses are reserved for the ceremonial Musical Ride, which performs all over the world. It’s well worth seeing if you get the opportunity. Google RCMP Musical Ride for great pictures.

Provincial/Territorial: Most provinces and the northern territories use the RCMP as their provincial police. Quebec, Ontario, and Newfoundland & Labrador have their own provincial police forces. Provincial police operate similar to state police. Typically, throughout a province, you find RCMP or provincial police detachments responsible for policing in the smaller centers and on the highways. For example, in Alberta, the larger cities of Calgary and Edmonton have their own municipal police departments and the RCMP police the smaller places.

The RCMP is the only police force in Canada’s far north. The officers there face many challenges due to the harsh weather and isolation of the small settlements. When things go wrong back-up isn’t just a few blocks away either. The RCMP officers in the north develop great negotiation and mediation skills. They know it’s better to talk your way out than fight your way out. Think policing in Alaska. Fertile ground for a good story.

Municipal Police: Most cities in Canada have their own police department. Some, like Toronto and Montreal, are regional police forces, the smaller municipal police forces around the big city having been swallowed up by the larger force.

Policing in French: Canada is officially a bilingual country. Most people in the country outside the province of Quebec work in English. Most French-speaking Canadians live in the province of Quebec. If you ever consider setting a novel in Quebec you would want some element of the French language included. By the way, Quebec has a rich and deep culture. More fertile ground for a good story.

Training: Police training in Canada starts with a police academy or police college. This is usually followed by a period of close supervision. Typically, it takes three years for a junior officer to reach the rank of First Class Constable. Advanced training follows as the officer gains experience.  I remember attending an excellent Field Commander seminar taught by two FBI agents from Seattle. I really do still have the T-shirt.

Career Path: There are differences between police agencies in Canada, but generally a police officer’s career path looks something like this: Probationary Constable, Second Class Constable, First Class Constable, Corporal/Detective, Sergeant, Staff-sergeant, Inspector, Superintendent, Deputy Chief of Police, Chief of Police. Of course, not everyone gets to be Chief.

On Patrol: Canadian police deal with a lot of the same problems American police deal with: drunks, drugs, and disorderly people. A bar fight looks the same whether it’s in Toronto or Tampa. Also, like the United States, Canada has its share of organized crime, gangs, serial killers, and terrorist threats. There are many types of specialized units and squads to deal with these types of crimes, such as gang squads and major crime sections.

As for equipment, a patrol officer’s duty belt is fully loaded with a radio, flashlight, handcuffs, expandable baton, pepper spray, a gun, and extra ammo. That probably isn’t much different from equipment carried by an officer in the U.S. In the background are the Emergency Response Teams, Forensics Units, Dog Squads, armored vehicles, helicopters, and other paraphernalia found in modern police forces. Some officers carry Tasers.

Canadian police are armed but their guns stay at the police station when the officer is not on duty. At the end of a shift, an officer leaves the gun at work. Most officers do not have off-duty guns and a special permit is required to own a handgun, even for police officers. The permit usually only allows the gun owner to travel back and forth to a range with the gun.

Cell phone video cameras are an issue for Canadian police. Police departments are experimenting with dashboard and body-worn video cameras. When the conduct of officers is called into question by a citizen’s video recording, the police hope to have their own full recording of the incident.

Police Unions: Most police departments in Canada are unionized but the RCMP is not. When I was a member of the Vancouver PD, a typical issue that was often discussed between management and union was the matter of two-person cars. At the time, the collective agreement called for 60 per cent of the patrol units to be staffed by two officers. That sometimes was difficult to meet when officers were away on training, off sick, etc. The sergeants were often scrambling to staff the cars properly. Sometimes it just wasn’t possible.

Police Executives:  A typical police department senior management structure consists of a Chief of Police or Chief Constable as well as a number of Deputy Chiefs, depending on the size of the department. Canadian police chiefs are members of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and The International Association of Chiefs of Police. Chiefs from the larger cities also belong to the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

There’s a lot more to policing in Canada. If you plan to set any of your novels in Canada there is a great deal of information available through Canadian police websites or libraries specializing in police matters.

–by John Eldridge
John Eldridge was a member of the Vancouver Police Department for 26 years. He followed that with a second career as the Manager of Fatal and Serious Injury Investigations at WorkSafeBC, the Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia. John is now working on his first book, Second Careers for Street Cops. He is a licensed private investigator in British Columbia.


200W-Beyond-RecognitionBeyond Recognition by Ron Corbin

BEYOND RECOGNITION is the true story of Ron Corbin, a Vietnam combat helicopter pilot who becomes an LAPD pilot after the war. When a crash occurs that gravely injures Ron and takes the life of his trainee, the chief pilot and LAPD accident investigation board manipulate the post-accident findings to create a cover-up, which is ultimately exposed by Ron.

Available from and direct from Publisher.
Publisher: Oak Tree Press (2013)
ISBN 978-1-61009-070-4 ~~
Trade Paperback
Ron Corbin served two tours in Vietnam as an Army helicopter and instructor pilot.  He received numerous unit and individual ribbons for combat action, to include being awarded the Air Medal 31 times, once with a “V” device for valor.  Honorably discharged in 1969, he joined the LAPD as a policeman and pilot/instructor pilot for the Air Support Division.  Retiring from LAPD after an on-duty helicopter accident, he finished his college and graduate education.  He holds a Masters in elementary education and a Ph.D. in security administration with an emphasis in terrorism threats to America’s nuclear resources.  Joining the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in 1993 as a crime prevention specialist, his specialty was Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED).  He attended training in this discipline at the National Crime Prevention Institute, University of Louisville.  His CPTED subject matter expertise led him to be interviewed in Reader’s Digest, Sunset Magazine, PetroMart Business and Las Vegas Life magazines.  He also was responsible for publishing Metro’s in-house training journal, the Training Wheel.  Ron has been a contributing columnist to Las Vegas Now magazine as well as a guest lecturer on Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines, addressing citizens’ personal safety issues.  Ron retired as LVMPD’s academy training manager in 2011.  He and his wife Kathy have three children, six grandchildren, and live in Las Vegas.

Michael Lazarus reports on his three published book.

200W-Goodbye-my-DarlingGoodbye, My Darling, Hello, Vietnam!

This is the story of a young kid who became a man while serving two tours as a combat helicopter pilot in Vietnam. The story takes the reader from a less than ideal childhood, through flight school, and into the cockpit of a Huey gunship, an OH-13 Scout, and the CH-47 Chinook.

Tacoma Blue

Tacoma Blue is a memoir by the author who went from the jungles of Vietnam to a career in Law Enforcement. After surviving two tours in S.E Asia as a combat helicopter pilot he decided to continue with the adrenaline rush as a cop. His problems with authority and the rules kept him in front of the chief’s desk where he was ei­ther given a commendation for investigations and arrests, or written reprimands for various infrac­tions. Sometimes he received both at the same time.

200W-We-Gotta-Get-OutWe Gotta Get Out of this Place

These are the true stories of pilots, crew chiefs and gunners who risked their lives over the jungles of Vietnam. It is also the stories of those who gave their all while doing the combat missions assigned to the helicopter units.

Michael Lazarus Bio:
Served in Vietnam as a pilot and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, 2 Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, and 17 Air Medals. He became a police officer in Feb. 1970 and spent 18 years with the Tacoma Police Department.  He retired as a homicide detective after spending time in street crimes and as an undercover officer in narcotics. He continued in law enforcement as a fraud investigator for the State of Washington and retired from that position in 2006. He continued his military career in the Army Reserves and was recalled to active duty for Desert Storm in 1990.  Spent over 15 years as a Special Agent and his primary function was in Protective Services. He retired in 1994 with 28 years active and reserve duty. He’s married with 3 children and 2 grandchildren.

200W-FBI-DiaryFBI Diary: Profiles of Evil by Pete Klismet

Experience the controversial and ground-breaking training of the original group of FBI Profilers, then work alongside as several high-profile murder cases are solved.

Pete Klismet served as a police officer in Ventura, California for nine years, then served 20 years in the FBI.  He was selected as one of the original profilers in the FBI, and retired in 1999.





Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith announces her two latest books:

200W-Spirit-Shapes-CoverIn the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series is Spirit Shapes by Marilyn Meredith.

Ghost hunters stumble upon a murdered teen in a haunted house. Deputy Tempe Crabtree’s investigation pulls her into a whirlwind of restless spirits, good and evil, intertwined with the past and the present, and demons and angels at war.




200W-Murder-in-the-Worst-DeMurder in the Worst Degree by F. M. Meredith

The latest Rocky Bluff PD mystery is Murder in the Worst Degree: The body that washes up on the beach leads Detectives Milligan and Zachary on a murder investigation that includes the victim’s family members, his housekeeper, three long-time friends, and a mystery woman.

Bio: F. M. Meredith aka Marilyn Meredith is the author of over 35 published books. She enjoys writing about police officers and their families and how what happens on the job affects the family and vice versa. Having several members of her own family involved in law enforcement, as well as many friends, she’s witnessed some of this first-hand.


Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides

Felons, Flames & Ambulance RidesFelons Flames Ambulance cover

Stories by and about America’s public safety heroes

Written by members of the Public Safety Writers Association

Edited by Marilyn Olsen

In 1995, New York State Police Captain Roger Fulton had an idea. He knew from personal experience that police officers really liked telling stories. He also knew that a lot of civilians really liked writing about what police officers did. So, why not get them together? The result was the Police Writers Club that included both officers and writers and offered an annual conference and writing competition.

Five years later, a group of the club’s members published CopTales 2000, an anthology that included the works of contest winners and submissions by other members. Soon, the club began to attract not just police officers but aspiring writers from a wide variety of public safety affiliations, as well as civilians who wrote in a wide variety of genres.

In 2007, to better reflect the composition of its membership, the club changed its name to the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA), and is now a national organization providing its membership with an annual writing conference, a writing competition and multiple opportunities to collaborate, creating the stories all love to tell. Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides: Stories by and about America’s Public Safety Heroes is an anthology containing the works of members of PSWA.

Table of Contents


  • Tear Down these Walls–Ron Leonard
  • Tears on the Wall–Joseph B. Haggerty, Sr.
  • Wolf Warriors–Bob Haig


  • Bullfrog Lake–John M. Wills
  • Deceived–Dave Cropp
  • Johnny Walker–Thonie Hevron
  • Loved to Death–Jackie Taylor Zortman
  • Missing on the Beach–Joseph B. Haggerty, Sr.
  • One Foot in the Black–Kurt Kamm
  • Quake Prince–Steve Scarborough
  • The Confessor–Lonni Lees
  • The Detective–Ken Decker
  • The Divorce–Bob Doerr
  • The Donation–Wendy Gager
  • The Guns of Pierre–Joseph B. Haggerty, Sr.
  • The Heavy Silver Star–John H. Morgan
  • The Perfect Crime–Jack Miller
  • The Runaway–Volitta Fritsche
  • Thug’s Brew–Quintin Peterson
  • Seattle Mourn–Lisa Swenson
  • We Hardly Knew Ye–Emily Simerly


  • A Hobo Buys a Hospital–H. M. Trebor
  • Beeler’s Fog Monster–Bob Haig
  • Close Encounters of the Cop Kind–Ron Corbin
  • Dinner Service Murder–Duane Preimsberger
  • Scuba King–Duane Preimsberger
  • Sheriff’s Sergeant Grandpa Herb–Duane Preimsberger
  • Should Have Kept the Front Door Locked–H. M. Trebor
  • Space Aliens–Duane Preimsberger
  • Murphy’s Law–Volitta Fritsche
  • Waldo the Talking Duck–Duane Preimsberger

Life on the Job

  • Divine Intervention–Joseph B. Haggerty, Sr.
  • Gray Mail–John Bray
  • Life on Two Tracks–Michael Black
  • Making Tracks–Honora Finkelstein and Susan Smily

Not from Around Here

  • Is Heaven in Cyberspace?–Keith Bettinger
  • Tiger Stadium Fire–Bob Haig
  • The Journey Home–Marti Colvin
  • With a Little Help from my Friend–Barbara Hodges

Personality Profile

  • Burning Desire–Gavin Keenan
  • Dying with Honor–Volitta Fritsche
  • It’s Another Day that God Cried–Joseph B. Haggerty, Sr.
  • It’s Nice to Come Home–Ron Leonard
  • Memoriam–Jackie Taylor Zortman
  • Nightlights–Gavin Keenan
  • Scars of the Heart–Keith Bettinger
  • Shoes–J.L. Greger
  • Sick Kids and Carson Cops–Duane Preimsberger
  • Something Shiny–Mysti Berry
  • Thank you, Teresa–Bob Cohen
  • The Last Run of Psychodog–Tim Dees
  • The Majestic Ballroom–Ellen Kirschman
  • The Nightstand–John M. Wills
  • Trapped–John M. Wills
  • Unspoken Promises–Glenn French
  • Where the Devil Dances–Michelle Perin

Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides is available for purchase from

2013 PSWA Writing Competition Results

Fiction Book Non-Published
First Kurt Kamm Hazardous Material
Second John Wills The Year Without Christmas: A Novel
Third Patrick Linder Ghost Music
Honorable Mention Gloria Casale Pandemic
Fiction Book Published
First Honora Finkelstein and Susan Smily The Reporter Who Died Probing
First Ilene Schneider Unleavened Dead
Second Bill Chipman Last Seen in the Caribbean
Third David Knop Mining Sacred Ground
Honorable Mention Maria Larsen Protect & Serve: K-9 Policewoman
Honorable Mention Jim Guigli Bad News for a Ghost
Fiction Flash Non-Published
First John Wills “The Van”
Second John Wills “Black Mask”
Honorable Mention LR Swenson “The Firefighter and the Princess”
Fiction Flash Published
First Kathleen Ryan “Ten Cents”
Fiction Short Story Non-Published
First Gavin Keenan “An Unsheltered Life”
Second J.L. Greger “Shoes”
Third David Cropp “The Gunman”
Honorable Mention Henry Hack “Larry Beers”
Fiction Short Story Published
First Quintin Peterson “Rock Bottom”
Second Lonni Lees “Dementia Pubilistica”
Third Quintin Peterson “Guarding Shakespeare”
Non-Fiction Book Non-Published
Second Pete Klismet FBI Diary: Field Profiler
Non-Fiction Book Published
First Ronald D. Corbin Beyond Recognition
Second Andrew Borrello Police Promotion Super Course
Third Maria Larsen When It Reigns, It Pours: Dog Tales
Honorable Mention Keith Bettinger Murders In McHenry
Non-Fiction Creative Non-Technical Non-Published
First Ronald D. Corbin “Shadows of the Heart”
Second Honora Finkelstein and Susan Smily “Angel Flights and Female Firefighters”
Third Jackie Taylor Zortman “Amache”
Honorable Mention Joseph Haggerty Sr. “On the Job Training”
Non-Fiction Creative Non-Technical Published
First John Wills “Why I Became a Cop”
Second Andrew Borrello “The Power of Police Civility”
Third Jackie Taylor Zortman “Siege at Cortez”
Non-Fiction Creative Technical Published
First John Bellah “Investigation Un-Intended Acceleration Issues”
Second John Bellah “Los Angeles Sheriff Tests 2012 Police Vehicles”
Third John Bellah “LAPD Upfits Tahoe”
Poetry Non-Published
First John Wills Blue Pride
Second John Wills Why
Third Joseph Haggerty Sr. Night Patrol
Poetry Published
First Joseph Haggerty Sr. Why Wasn’t I There?