• Working Stiff - Medical Examiners In Action: Information for Writers with Dr. Judy Melinek

    Wide angle shot of hospital morgue
     (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    Today, ThrillWriting welcomes our guest, Dr. Judy Melinek - a medical examiner who is out with her new book Working Stiff.

    Before we get started here are some abbreviations:
    GSW= Gunshot Wound 
    MVA  = Motor Vehicle Accident
    ME = Medical Examiner
    COD = Cause of Death
    OD = Overdose to the abbreviations
    MI = Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack

    Good morning Doctor. I'd shake your hand, but uhm, you just got out of you lab and eww. You have one of those jobs that makes me very much appreciate that we all have different personalities and roles to play in society. Mine is to ask invasive questions and yours is to be invasive - for good reason.

    Can you take through your background a little?





    Dr.  Melinek - 
    Authors Dr. Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

    I got my undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1991, and then I went to Medical School at UCLA. I graduated in 1996, having taken a one year "post-sophomore fellowship" in pathology. Then I did six months of a residency in general surgery before dropping out and switching to pathology. Four years later I was a board-certified pathologist and went to train at the New York City Medical Examiner's Office. Working Stiff: Two years, 262 Bodies & the Making of a Medical Examiner (Scribner) published in August 2014 is my memoir of that training. After that I worked for one year at the Santa Clara Office of the Medical Examiner/Coroner, nine years at the San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and one year at the Alameda County Coroner's Office. As a forensic pathologist, I do autopsies to figure out the cause and manner of death in sudden, unexpected or violent deaths.


    Fiona - 
    Can you walk me through the process? For example: What information are you given along with the body? What is your role

    in the process? How is the body packaged and then what do you do?

    Dr. Melinek - 
    When I come in to work every morning there is a list of cases for me and my colleagues to look at. It is called the "Daily Case List," and it summarizes each death that was brought in over the last 24 hours, or if it is a Monday, over the weekend. Each case typically has a case number (2014-00123) and a name (Last name, First name) and then a brief description of the circumstances surrounding the death. It would say something like this:


     A 53 year old woman found deceased in a neighbor's garage holding a power tool. She was found with the tool still in her hands, prone on the floor. She was found by the neighbor who minutes earlier had given her the drill, which she was borrowing, and then briefly left her in the garage to answer a phone call. When the neighbor returned he found her unresponsive. Paramedics were called and declared death... 

    There usually is some notation about the medical history, the condition and appearance of the body and whether there were drugs present. Every case gets a similar write-up though some are briefer than others, especially if there is no medical history, the body is just "found" by a stranger in the field, or there is a medical chart to go through, and then the investigators will briefly summarize what's in the chart by saying something like "he died of medical complications 3 months after the arrest..."

    We then go through the list and decide which cases to autopsy and which can get an external examination. Then we go into the morgue to take a look at the cases we assigned ourselves and at the bodies. Autopsies start around 9 am and end around 12 noon.

    The body arrives in a "pouch" or "body bag" and is removed by technicians. It is already stripped and naked on the autopsy table when we get in UNLESS the case is a homicide - then the clothing and hand bags and evidence are usually still on the body for us to observe and document.

    Fiona - 
    How long is each autopsy?

    Dr. Melinek - 
    It depends. Average autopsy (natural, OD, MVA) can take about 45 minutes from when I start the external examination to when I leave the table for the techs to close up the body. More complex cases (injured babies, multiple gunshot wound homicides with intersecting paths) can take hours, even be split up over multiple days. My longest one took me 3 days to complete working 3-4 hours each day on the autopsy dissection, X-ray radiography and documentation alone (not including the dictation, which I often do later from my notes).

    Fiona - 
    Not all bodies are referred to you correct? For example a male who takes nitroglycerin and dies of a heart attack would skip you and go right to the funeral home?

    Dr. Melinek - 
    It depends. Cases are referred to the Coroner or Medical Examiner when they are sudden and unexpected. So if the guy who took nitroglycerin and died of a heart attack did so at a bank during a bank robbery, we would be concerned that the MI was a result of the stress of the robbery, and he would come to us. Cases that die in the hospital or natural disease and a doctor from the hospital is willing to sign the death certificate don't get referred to us, unless there was trauma or the family called and had evidence of foul play - e.g. they said the death wasn't natural.

    Fiona - 
    How do you determine what kinds of exams to do? What exams are available to you? Does this depend on location - for example would a small town send a body to a larger city for any reason? And the final question in this stream of thought, how long do the various tests take to get back the needed information for example toxicology reports?

    Dr. Melinek - 
    The examination is dependent on the information we get about a case. So for instance, an MVA, that would be referred to the ME or Coroner. The cases are usually done locally, but it depends on the jurisdiction. So for your authors, they need to decide if the place they are writing about is real or fictional. If it is real, I suggest they Google the Coroner's office for that county and find out from the Coroner's investigator what would happen to the body. I have fielded calls like this from writers before at my jurisdiction. Most folks are happy to help. They want writers to get it right!

    The amount of time it takes to get the results back from an autopsy depends on a lot of factors: the complexity of the case, if there is toxicology, or if there is additional investigation needed. Most cases are closed in 1 -3 months. I've had some take 1 year. Tox results come back in 2-4 weeks in most cases.

    Fiona -
    When you are watching TV/movies or reading books - what about their portrayal of a ME makes you want to pull your hair out - what do you want writers to get right?

    Dr. Melinek - 
    I actually wrote a blog post about this. It's called 7 CSI Fails. Writers often get the details right (because they looked them up in books or journals), but then they put it together all wrong. Let me give you an example. There was an episode of CSI where the pathologist identified that a person was shot with a meat bullet because there are different types of maggots that prey on beef than on humans. Now, I'm not an entomologist. There is *no way* I would be able to distinguish a beef-eating maggot from a human-flesh-eating-maggot. In fact, I believe that you can't tell them apart until they mature past the larval stage - but that is another matter entirely. Writers usually get the details of how a poison works, but then they have the detective doing something dangerous or foolish that is out of proper protocol and would never happen - like break chain of custody, or have it tested by a "friend" instead of the official lab - stuff like that.

    Fiona - 
    When you see a body, can you guess right off the cause of death for example, anaphylaxis when eating shrimp, pink skin tone/ organs with poisoning/ white substance about the nose and signs of respiratory failure. Could you/would you see these things without a toxicology report and give the cops and educated guess to work off of before the official report is out - would it make a difference if they were good friends? (Hypothetically, of course)

    Dr. Melinek - 
    First of all, let me tackle the friends thing. Then I will tackle the knowing the COD (Cause of death) afterwards. 

    You don't get too close to police officers in this field. There are many that I love working with and have years-long collegial relationships with but in general it is professional suicide to date or even fraternize with cops after hours. I have gone to many of their retirement parties and have had lunch with a few of them while we discussed cases (working lunches/coffee) but few ME's (unless in a really rural area, where there is no one to hang out with) will have chummy relationships with cops. There is a simple reason: objectivity. As I discuss in Working Stiff, sometimes my conclusions and the police officers are at cross purposes. I think the case is a homicide, but he thinks it's a simple accident and doesn't want to investigate further. My determination (homicide) complicates his life considerably...

    Now, there are some things you can tell from the outside of the body to give the cops something to work with. Here's an example: 
    The roommate says that he came home from work and found the  guy dead with the crack pipe next to him, but there is a furrow  around the neck and the crack pipe is nestled in the hands with  the guy sitting on the couch, and yet the guy's left hand is  "defying gravity" while all the lividity is on the body's left side,  indicating that the body was moved *after* rigidity ad lividity  developed. The roommate most likely strangled him and then sat him  up to try to make it look like a drug OD. 

    Foam in the mouth is non-specific: it could be heart failure, heroin OD, or drowning... among other things. Usually it's a constellation of findings that make you suspicious something is up - not just one thing.

    As for tox deaths, they usually have no interesting physical findings at all, and there is a dipstick you can use in the morgue on urine or pericardial fluid to see if the tox will be positive, but few morgues use it. It has good sensitivity but poor specificity - if I recall correctly. Usually we have a "negative autopsy" (meaning no significant anatomic cause of death) and we wait 2-4 weeks for the tox to come back.


    Fiona - 
    You've mentioned your book Working Stiff - it's a fascinating subject.
    1) For our squeamish readers - how graphic is it? 
    2) Can you give us a general description 
    3) What could a writer learn from reading your book that would
         make their prose better?





    Dr. Melinek - 

    Working Stiff has a very matter-of-fact description of the autopsy process. I don't paint a pretty picture or use euphemisms. I tell it like it is. I describe how a forensic autopsy is done from the external incisions all the way down to how each organ is examined, but I focus on the interesting details, and it doesn't read like a how-to-manual. It's meant for the lay public - but I wouldn't recommend reading it while you are eating dinner if you are squeamish. 

    General description: You make a Y incision from the shoulders to the pubic bone, then peel back the skin and take out the organs one by one, weight them and slice them in certain ways to look for signs of disease or injury in each one. Some pathologists dictate during this time to overheard microphones. I take notes or have my assistant take notes and I dictate later. 

    Anyone who reads Working Stiff, will get a much better understanding of what a forensic pathologist does, and how we investigate deaths. They will also learn along with me, as I wrote the journal the book was based on while I was training. It's not just about getting the right terminology - it's about understanding the mindset of a doctor/detective.

    In WORKING STIFF, readers learn:

    * Real-life crime solving, and the truth behind shows like CSI and
       Law and Order
    * On-the-job training as a detective-doctor in New York
    * The harrowing process of identifying the victims of 9/11 and
       American Airlines flight 587
    * Judy’s role in grief support, and in providing closure to families
       after unforeseen deaths
    * The quest for a work/life balance, shuttling between the living and
        the dead—conducting an autopsy while pregnant, feeling a new
        human life growing inside you while exploring the body of
        another life just extinguished
    * T.J.’s role of stay-at-home dad—and the sacrifices we make to
       support the ones we love
    * How the suicide of Judy’s father when she was young informs her
       job as a medical examiner
    * True tales—stranger than fiction—from the morgue

    I wrote Working Stiff with my husband. When I was training, I took notes and at the end of my fellowship I structured the book into the case-based structure it has now. I handed the notes off to him, and as an English major, who worked in the film industry as a "script-doctor" for years, he took the notes and structure and created the book. We e-mailed it back and forth between us chapter by chapter for over a year, writing, re-writing and polishing. This was really a combined labor of love. 

    We really enjoy working together as a collaborative team. We are now working on writing a forensic detective fiction/noir series based in San Francisco, and we are having a lot of fun doing it. We both bring our respective skill sets to each project: me as a doctor and researcher, he as a writer. Medical school does horrors for your writing: I tend to write in the passive voice, and ramble on. He writes so much better than I do. We couldn't do what we do without the other.

    Fiona - 
    Here at ThrillWriting we have a traditional question - please tell me the story behind your favorite scar - and barring a scar can you tell us a harrowing story that you survived?

    Dr. Melinek - 
    I have a stigmata: a 1/2 inch scar on my left hand, which I got when I was 10 years old at camp. I was climbing on a rusty windowpane that was discarded in the woods by the campground parking lot. Why anyone would dump and rusty windowpane in a place where children are dropped off is beyond me. The pane was huge: built for an industrial-type window, and it was folded on itself like a jungle gym. Others were climbing on it as well. Well, when the bell rang for the first camp session to start, the other kids ran off and I tried to climb down by myself, and then I fell, impaling my left palm on a rusty spike from the pane. It went in about 1/2 inch. I pulled my hand off, started crying, but then realized that there was no one around to help me. So I stopped crying, walked to the nurses' station, and I realized that things were serious when they let me go ahead of the kid who was bright red, covered head to toe in poison oak. They took me to the hospital where I had to get stitches.

    Fiona - 
    Thank you so much for your time and expertise. You can contact Dr. Melinek at:
     Twitter handles are: @drjudymelinek and @TJMitchellWS 
     They also have the #DrWorkingStiff

    And a big thank you to our reader/writers who stopped by. If you have a question or comment, please leave it below. These are monitored for SPAM, so it may take a day to get up. Also, if you find this resource to be helpful, I'd appreciate your sharing it with your friends. I've put some social buttons below for your convenience. Thank you kindly. Happy plotting.

    Cheers,
    Fiona

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  • I've Got My Eye On You: Surveillance Information for Writers w/ Jay Korza


    A 'nest' of surveillance cameras at the Gillet...
     (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    Today on ThrillWriting we are answering a reader's questions about surveillance. To do this, I have invited our friend Jay Korza back to share his knowledge.



    Fiona - 
    Hi Jay, can you give our readers a little bit of your background? Why do you know how to keep track of people?

    Jay - 
    I've been in law enforcement for fourteen years now. I have worked on SWAT for eight. SWAT doesn't deploy the stuff we're talking about, but we work with the guys who do when we serve their warrants based off the surveillance.

    I've also worked as a detective and in a special operations unit doing stuff with Border Patrol, Customs, 
    ICE, ATF and other federal acronyms. So 
    I've had exposure to what we're talking about.

    Fiona - 
    From an law enforcement point of view, what's allowed without a warrant and how does access increase with a warrant in hand?  I'm trying to set the legal v. illegal perimeters.

    Jay -
    First, we need to clarify electronic surveillance can include GPS, wire taps, cameras, microphones, and other data collection methods. 

    Let's start with the GPS - 
    Garmin eTrex Yellow GPS acquiring satellite signal
     (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Basically, law enforcement uses off-the-shelf products and nothing really fancy. I asked my buddy if there was really high tech stuff out there that we don't use because of cost, and he said no. Even your Fed agencies use the same basic stuff we do.

    There are two basic monitors. One that is hardwired into the car's electrical system and one that isn't and has its own battery. Up until last year, you needed a warrant for the hardwired monitor but not the stand alone unit. Now the Supreme Court says you need a warrant for both types. The warrant must specify a length of time you will be recording data. At the end of that time, you must retrieve or attempt to retrieve the tracker.

    Many of the GPS trackers are magnetic so you just roll under the suspect's car and slap it on to the frame.

    The hardwired kind has more options. It can send a signal to say the vehicle was turned on or off. Both types have options that allow them to automatically turn on or off at certain times or not turn on until the vehicle is in motion. This is important because you can get a cell phone signal detector from radio shack and run it around your car to see if it's being tracked. But if the tracker won't turn on until there is movement, then you would have to do this while moving and that's not feasible.
     
    Fiona -
    Oh! Very interesting.

    Jay - 
    Wire taps need warrants, always.

    Fiona - 
    When you say wire tap - that is a phone line only?

    What about sniffing the airwaves for wifi signal and cell phones?

    Jay
    In some states, to record a conversation, only one party in the conversation needs to be aware of the recording. In other states, both parties need to be aware. This generally only applies to non-law enforcement related stuff. For example if you want to record your neighbor being a jerk to you.

    But for wire-tapping, listening in on hardline or cell phone conversations for law enforcement purposes, this requires a warrant.

    Fiona - 

    Found on my Facebook feed
    That's audio - but video without the sound is legal, yes?

    Jay - 
    Photographing and listening devices can be placed anywhere in public without a warrant. Some states MAY vary with their own more restrictive laws so a writer would need to check their story's state for specific.

    So I, as a cop, want to watch someone's property for drug traffic. I can put a camera up in a neighborhood on a telephone pole and point that camera towards their yard and not need a warrant to do that.

    Warrants boil down to this basic concept: If you want to watch, listen, or search for anything, and what you want to watch, listen, or search for is in an area that ANYONE could access it, you don't need a warrant. If the person or item or whatever is in any location that a person believes is private and/or has an expectation of privacy in that area, you need a warrant.

    There are obviously caveats and details that we can go into more specifics with, but that is the general idea.

    Your backyard, isn't private. Your neighbor can look into it. Someone can stand next to it and listen in on it. So putting up a camera or listening device to do the same thing is okay without a warrant.

    If you choose to conduct your criminal activity in an area where your average mailman, pool guy, weed guy, neighbor - has access to, then we don't need a warrant to watch those areas



    Found in my Facebook feed.

    Fiona - 
    What if my character obtained the information illegally and sent it anonymously to the police - could they use that?

    Jay - 
    Depends.

    Let's say a burglar, acting on his own volition, breaks into someone's house and steals a laptop. He leaves and finds child porn on the laptop. He turns it into the police. We can look at what he has already looked at and use that to get a warrant to search further.

    That actually happened not too long ago.

    Fiona - 
    WOW that's an upstanding burglar with a code of ethics! 


    Say our character "knows" someone is doing something wrong - maybe a wife who thinks her husband is having an affair. What are some techniques your average everyday run of the mill scorned woman might use to catch hubby with his hand in the cookie jar?

    Jay - 
    Facebook!

    Fiona - 
    Ha! I mean in terms of using apparatus.

    Jay - 
    There are programs you
    HTC Aria android 2.2 smart phone review www.li...
     (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    can install on smart phones that will track the phone without the owners knowledge. I don't know any specific names, but they are out there. I'm sure some work better than others.

    You can easily get a GPS tracking device that attaches to the car. There are some that send wireless updates and others that you have to download the information later, and then you can see where it was but not as it is happening.

    There are now a few products out that plug into the computer port on your car, the one they use to check error codes and stuff, and those can be made to do a lot of different things including tracking.

    Fiona - 
    Can she walk into court with that information? "He said he went to Maryland for business, he was actually three blocks over sleeping at my best friends house!"

    Jay - 
    You could call your cell service provider as the account holder and ask them to set up your husband's phone as a child account with tracking (if they provide this option) and then track his phone through the cell service.


    For court use: It depends on the laws of the state. In general, yes.
    There could be civil laws in some states that preclude that information.


    Three blocks?! Stupid guy!

    Fiona - 
    That he's doing her best friend makes him the worst kind of stupid guy. But hey, it's not my plot line.

    Okay what about the computer? She wants to see what hubby is saying to whom - how could she get that information on a PC? What about if it were a laptop and adding any plug ins would be more visible?

    Jay - 
    PC: There are programs that log keystrokes or ones that take video of the screen so you can watch the video later. There are plenty of options out there for that sort of thing. The main thing is the wife would need access to the computer as an admin in order to install the programs. So if the hubby uses a pass code, and she doesn't know it, she's locked out and can't do that. She'd need to set up a nanny cam to view the screen. If you're using Windows 8.1 you can set up accounts to monitored for their web and program history. It won't give you details like what was said in a chat, but you could see the general usage stats. That wouldn't help too much in this situation. It will tell you the site they went to though.

    But when my kid logs into her account, it says "This account is being monitored". So that isn't too helpful.

    Fiona - 
    Well it stops your kid from going somewhere they shouldn't, so that's all good.

    Jay - 
    There are in-line keystroke loggers that plug into USB gadgets. They aren't obvious on an empty port. So you plug it in then plug the printer into it so it isn't an "extra" odd thing plugged in.

    In the end, if you have access to the computer and aren't locked out, there are tons of apps that will watch the computer and report back to you. It's just a matter of finding the one that you like best.

    Fiona - 
    Go back to the key stroke logger. 

    Jay - 
    Keystroke loggers are great for showing one side of the conversation.

    They could get pass codes and access the email, Facebook private messages etc.

    Most people won't see a USB keystroke logger if you plug it into the back of their computer. Who checks the back of their PC??

    But the crux is getting it there and getting it back. Not to mention you don't get real-time data, you have to wait until you retrieve it to get what you need. Unless you find one that sends out info via the computer's Internet connection.

    Fiona - 

    Exactly. But you would see it on a laptop. So is there something that captures keystrokes that have already happened? More importantly - would the police use something like that?

    Jay - 
    You can install software, but the police would need access to the computer AND a warrant.

    We could take a phone or computer, get a warrant to install the software, then return the item under false pretenses. "Sorry we took this, we didn't mean to. Here you go. Have a nice day."

    Fiona - 

    That person would be an idiot to say - oh, okay officer - then I'll just go ahead and use this for my drug deals.

    They are nuts. Sell the darned thing and buy a new one. Don't they read crime novels?

    Jay - 
    No they don't!!!

    Fiona - 
    Tsk tsk - not very competent criminals - hardly gives the police a challenge at that point.

    Jay - 
    I actually have plans to write a satirical book when I retire called "How to be a Criminal." Chapter one, don't steal this f*cking book! You aren't ready yet.

    Fiona - 
    Hahaha! LOVE that!

    So someone with some computer savvy could take another person's laptop surreptitiously and install hardware, slip it back in place, and see live anything happening on the laptop?

    Jay - 
    Yes.

    Fiona - 
    What about if the police want to follow someone's movements within a building - a GPS would not be helpful for that - do you put trackers in people's shoes? Do you put cameras on their buttons so you can see where they've gone and what they've done?

    Jay - 
    GPS would be helpful in a building. We can pinpoint altitude (floor level in the building) and within a meter or two of their location. So we could track someone in a building just fine with GPS. However, unless we're talking CIA level investigation, there isn't a reason to in regular law enforcement to get that level of tracking of done.

    But that's not true if you din't have access to the GPS and were, for example, following the pings from a cell tower to get generalized location.

    Tower pinging is much less accurate. And it requires a subpoena or a warrant. We can ask for emergency pings without either, such as a kidnapping, suicidal subject, or other exigent circumstances.


    Most tower pings are now actually GPS locate, it's just still called pinging the phone. The company knows your GPS location unless you have a really dumb phone with no extras on it. Then they actually use tower triangulation.

    Fiona - 
    What is a tracking issue that has bugged you (giggle) in a book or movie?


    Jay - 
    Movie and book issues: Tracking someone and looking at their tracking screen and somehow, their screen has an exact map of wherever the person happens to be. They ducked into an office building? No problem, my screen automatically downloaded the wire-frame blueprints of that building, and now I can see them walking up the stairs and into room 819. Nope.

    Fiona - 
    Boo! That sounds so awesome!

    Jay -
    One thing they do get right is the lag time. If you have someone tracking a person for you and then relaying the information to you, you are always behind the curve. You may miss the street they took and have to take the next one to catch up.

    Fiona - 
    How long is that seconds? Minutes?

    Jay - 
    Could be either depending on the equipment being used. It's worse when the information is going to a third party, say OnStar, then OnStar is relaying it to a dispatcher who then relays it to you. I had that once for a stolen vehicle that we were tracking. My dispatcher said, "Ok, they're stopped at a street just up the road from you and it dead ends." Nope! They were heading straight for me down that road.

    Fiona - 
    YIPES!

    Can you tell our readers about your books?





    Jay - 
    Plot for Extinction: An ancient race created a species of warriors to conquer other planets/systems for them. A millennium after the conquering, the current Emperor wanted to end the tyranny, but even he couldn't do it. He would be overthrown. So he devised a plan to lead an expansion colony himself to an unexplored part of the galaxy, and then cut himself off from the Empire, letting it wither without him. Then, he would come back and rebuild things the right way. His plan didn't work.

    A thousand years later, humans are exploring the galaxy and come across one of the Emperor's first colony sites in our region of space. The scientists accidentally set off a distress signal to the old empire and the warriors find out that the old Emperor had lied to them, and now they are coming to claim our portion of space. Two special forces teams will embark on separate missions to stop the threat.

    Amazon Link $2.99


    Fiona - 
    Very fun! I have a lot of readers here on ThrillWriting who love to read and write sci-fi. You also wrote a zombie theme?

    Jay -
    My second book is called "This Is Not What I Wished For..." It takes place where the zombie genre is unheard of. A boy on his fourteenth birthday has his family wiped out by what he believes to be demons. He sees his neighbors and family eaten and killed in front of him and then turn into these demons. He flees and ultimately joins with other survivors and leads them to the epicenter of the outbreak, a hospital that is really a covert government lab that accidentally allowed this foreign contagion to escape their labs.

    Fiona - 
    A huge thank you to Jay Korza for all of his excellent insider information.

    And thanks to you for stopping by. Please post any comments or questions below (monitored for SPAM so it will take a bit until you see your post). Also, if you find my blog to be helpful, please share it around. There are some handy buttons below. Happy plotting.

    Cheers,

    Fiona
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  • Transforming Your Beta Heroine into Her Full Alpha Potential w/ Danielle Serpico

    Poor little beta heroine. She looks so sweet in her librarian attire, buttoned up to the very top button, hair swirled into a practical knot on the back of her head. Too bad her caved shoulders, shy gaze, and soft voice make your other characters think they can manipulate and manhandle her. Quite frankly, she's had enough of those shenanigans, and she's hell-bent (in the most demure and ladylike way possible) on finding her inner Xena.

    To help beta heroine along her path to alpha stardom, I have invited Danielle Serpico to chat with us.  


    Hi Danielle, I'm so glad we're talking today. You have an amazing background with martial arts and women's empowerment. Can you tell me about your work?

    Danielle - 
    Hi, sure yes, delighted to. The arts I have trained in are American and Chinese Kenpo and Taiji Chuan. I am a Gold and Silver European Champion. My instructor was Alan Ellis, and
    I also had the privilege of training on many occasions with,  mainly Tommy Jordan, Erle Montague, Larry Tatum.  I teach various classes and self defense seminars in the empowerment aspect of things.


    I am an NLP trainer. I use this technique to help people overcome their limiting beliefs and realize their full potential. I help them take control of their emotions and have confidence and self-belief.

    Obviously, 
    NLP and Martial Arts are interlinked.

    Fiona -
    For some of my readers, NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming, will be a new concept. Can you give us a brief overview? What is the goal of using NLP and how does it work?

    Danielle - 
    Neuro Linguistic Programming - therefore the language that we use to "program" our minds and that of others. We use it every day even if we think we don't. And it is used on us.

    Basically anyone who is suggestible, which is all of us, is influenced by language and uses NLP.

    The term NLP was coined by John Grinder and Richard Bandler
    with whom I have had the honor of training.

    Grinder and Bandler studied people who were successful in their field: coaching, psychology, hypnotherapy, etc. They monitored the result and what they had in common. Their discoveries pertaining to what worked became NLP.

    NLP is a tool to help us regain control over our minds, thoughts, emotions, and ultimately our actions.

    Fiona -
    Can you tell me a bit about your book,The Blackbelt Mastermind? How does that tie together both of your fields of expertise, martial arts and NLP?



    AMAZON LINK


    Danielle - 
    The Blackbelt Mastermind is basically my system. It is the accumulation of my work, and the process I take clients through.


    I use the acronym: MASTER.
    M asterful A ttitude, S trength, and T enacity E quals R esults

    I tell the story of my journey briefly in my book, and how I overcame adversity. The main message in The Blackbelt Mastermind is to never give up, to always keep getting back up,
    no matter what - just like in martial arts training.

    When you get kicked in the gut, remember the pain will pass. It is the same in life. Always fight back. And fight back FULLY.

    I learned through my martial arts journey and through life experience that you can grow from adversity. In fact, you come back stronger.

    In Blackbelt Mastermind, I show you tools and ways to help yourself overcome these obstacles and challenges and how adversity will make you stronger so that you can become the champion in your own life and the Master Blackbelt of your mind.

    Fiona - 
    Let's pretend for a moment that you are a character in a book. The heroine, a beta character approaches you; she's in trouble, life isn't going well. She feels that she needs to empower herself, and she thinks martial arts will help. She has chosen you specifically to bring out her inner warrior goddess because she knows you do NLP as well as fight. Can you walk us through the process of moving our beta character into her true alpha role? And what stages might she experience along the way?

    Danielle - 
    Okay, The first thing I would do is help her become aware. I would do that by using the Empty Cup Theory. The heroine would start by emptying her thoughts of any preconceived ideas that she may have regarding martial training or simply her mindset. She has to let go, and then become open and trusting and aware of a new way of acting, moving, thinking and behaving - knowing that I will guide her as she acquires her new skills.

    This is the most courageous step she will need to take, as it is her first step and that is always the hardest. 
    Everything starts with the first and most important stage, awareness.

    Her awareness will include hearing her sabotaging critic - what she says to herself. She does this by simply listening and maybe meditating, or doing something such as meditating through her forms or kata,  connecting with her primal or reptilian brain.


    Fiona slips in with a quick definition insert: kata is the Japanese word for a series of choreographed movements. In martial arts there are various names, but they all are moving meditations that are memorized and performed in the same way by all of the students.

    (Danielle cont.)
    The primal brain contains the knowledge of her ancestors and is a composite of all their talents and survival mechanisms.

    The simple act 
    Deutsch: Yin Yang
     (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    of being aware of your negative, self sabotaging voice is powerful. Awareness cancels out negative thought controls.

    Once you "remove" yourself from the overwhelming feelings that absorb you, the feelings lose their control.

    Your heroine also needs to balance her internal yin and yang 
    to understand the ebb and flow of her emotions .

    Fiona - 
    Oh, dear - yes, her internal yin-yang is all a kilter - what would she do about that?

    Danielle - 
    Basically, once she understands that there is no light without shade,
    no hard without soft, for every smile there is a tear. In essence, her vulnerability and negativeness vastly contribute to her strength and positivism.

    It is a process to connect the mind and body, and it is accomplished through either form work in a martial term, kata etc.

    She needs to understand the form  which is in essence a moving story poem  or representation of yin and yang. The  various postures are just that.


    Danielle Serpico moving through a kata


    Fiona - 
    So now our heroine has come to the conclusion that in her life she has been overly soft and shed more tears than she has experienced smiles. She's on a mission to balance her masculine and feminine. It helps that she just kicked her first board, and her foot went right through.

    Danielle - 
    She is taking micro-steps to see how that feels in her everyday life.

    Fiona - 
    How long would a determined beta-heroine take to move to a more balanced state - for the sake of plotting the transformation?

    Danielle - 
    In practical terms, in classwork this will involve her training to move forward into the attack. The classroom scenarios, while representing physical assault, also train her to move forward and become assertive in all areas of her life.


    There are two sayings which I love, which relate to this.
    One we all know:  Feel the fear and do it anyway.
    FEAR = often false evidence appearing real

    I also love: He who hesitates, meditates in a horizontal position.

    Fiona - 
    The K'iaps, I think are very good for this as well. A k'iap , for our readers, is the sound that you make when striking or blocking. Doing this powerfully is embarrassing for many - especially girls who have been taught to modulate their tones. Overcoming this block seems to be a big step in empowerment - would you agree?






    This is what a k'iap can sound like. I used a more powerful k'iap for breaking the cement block than I would in a normal sparring round.


    Danielle
    The K'iap or 'Ki-ai' is essential for unifying mind and body at a precise moment in time. S
    o yes, of course, it is an important step.

    The k'iap should be practiced regularly when striking,  but more importantly is the understanding  that it is the expression of primal INTENT  used by all ethnic warrior groups.  Amazonian women screamed when going into battle  the practice is no less relevant for today's woman. 

    The  INTENT behind the k'iap  and accessing this state, of course both are interlinked  learning and realizing that we all have the inalienable right to defend ourselves -  be that on the streets, in the dojo (dojo is one of the names for the martial arts studio) or the workplace -  in anyway we see fit. 

    Self defense is so much more than kicks and punches. It is important for your beta heroine to  access her self-belief and truly understand her right to be safe. She also must  learn to love herself. It is important in order for the beta heroine to transform into an alpha heroine that she  always accesses this state of self-preservation in her practice. She must own that she has the  right to protect herself.

    Fiona - 
    Let's go back to the question of the transformative arc.
    A very mousy heroine comes into your dojo. During the story arc of the book, she transforms into her her potential.


    Can you lay some stages that you might have seen unfold in your students. ex: First she had caved shoulders and small voice then X happened, and the next time she came in she was different in this way.

    Danielle - 
    Okay, absolutely. Let's start with me as an example. The first time I went to the dojo, I sat on my hands with my feet turned inwards. I timidly watched the class in progress, and meekly approached the instructor when called forward. And I was made to face fear. 


    While I knew CONSCIOUSLY, that I would not be really hurt at the dojo, and I trusted my instructor, my primal instinct was still to be afraid of the flailing hands and feet that whizzed inches from my body.

    This first introduction to pairing off or 'one step' technique, is a ground breaking experience for many, and the start of their climb to confidence. (Pairing is when you work with a partner on your skills such as punching, kicking, blocking, or take-downs). From then on, their attitudes and postures change.




    I had faced fear and understood fear. I understood that I would feel afraid, but I could survive that fear. I learned to literally KNOW fear and not that we simply don't have "NO fear."

    This important step will demonstrate to the heroine that through facing the challenges set before her, she can climb to blackbelt or to the life she wants to live.

    She must constantly learn to face fear and to live with it, so that she may use fear as an ally and not an enemy. This is reflected in the progressing belt colors, where we meet stronger and more able fighters.

    The heroine's demeanor will change rapidly through this process of pressure testing; I know mine did.

    In the same way in NLP terms when we constantly stretch our boundaries and our safety net, it will expand. Interestingly, 
    there is very little difference between the manifestation of excitement and fear. Learning to go with the fear and to know it in life, gives us huge control and power.

    In relation to how martial arts and life intertwine -
    In NLP we learn that 93% of our conscious mind does not know the difference between what is real and what is imagined. Hence, when we visualize with INTENT and with EMOTION behind it, we can trick our unconscious. This is hugely powerful and the most important point to remember in training, both in the dojo or out of it. 


    Let's assume for a moment that a heroine has played a scene through her head. Perhaps she visualizes an attack that she successfully fends off or she goes to an interview and she nails the job. O nce she has tricked her mind into thinking that she has seen the threatening situation  through to fruition with a positive outcome, then doing it in real life is easier. H ence, when your heroine is practicing in her mind, she must practice with REAL intent and EMOTION and trick that 93% of her mind. Useful stuff to know.

    Fiona - 
    We are at the last moment of our time together - and I always ask about your favorite scar or harrowing story.

    Danielle - 
    Not exactly a scar but my shins.

    I fought the Spanish Kickboxing champion who had come to train at our dojo and wanted to impress us. If there was ever a time to bring forth the heroine within, it was this occasion.

    This girl was one tough cookie. First, she had intimidated and humiliated many of the junior ranks, and knocked out two of the guys.

    As my turn to face her came round, I felt the eyes of all those around me, I was a newly qualified blackbelt and European champion. 


    Over the years my shins had become 'dented' and if I run my hands along them I can feel the dents. A testament to my training. When she kicked me with the first of her ferocious low kicks,
    it all came back to me - the journey I had made to this point.

    The excruciating pain in my shins reminded me of what I had been through. And soon enough, she felt the brunt of that.

    My shins remind me that just like life there are bumps along the way, but they serve to make us stronger.



    Fiona - 
    Danielle, thank you so much for your insights. 

    If you would like to contact Danielle and
    find out how she could help you with your
    confidence, her link is: www.theblackbeltmastermind.com:


    Writers , thank you for stopping by. I hope you were able to find some wonderful plotting gems. If you have a question or a comment, please leave it below. Note that I moderate for SPAM so you will not see your message up right away. Also, if you find this blog to be a helpful resource, I appreciate the support you show when you pass it around to your friends. I've placed some social media buttons below for your convenience.

    Cheers,
    Fiona
    See original post...
  • The All-important Bathroom Break - How to Get Your Villain to 'Fess Up: Info for Writers with Sgt Pacifico

    A roll of toilet paper attached to the wall of...
    . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    Fiona - 
    Well Sgt Pacifico, are you ready to finish the last in our interrogation series? The last time we chatted you were headed to the bathroom ...

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Yes indeed...the bathroom break! So remember back in the beginning when we talked about the constitution a little?

    Fiona - 
    Yup (Miranda Warnings and the 5th and 6th amendments LINK)


    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    There is another one called the 14th amendment which addresses coercive things cops may do intentionally or unintentionally that can render an interrogation illegal.

    Okay, so here is the scenario. The detectives did a great job building rapport. They conducted a proper interview, learning much from the suspect about his body language and truth-telling style (Those things we spoke about earlier LINK). Now we turn into the interrogation part where we start getting him on the fence, and he exclaims, "I really gotta pee! I gotta go to the bathroom. I can't think anymore, and I can't hold it!" Well, how do we know if this is true or not. And it could be true, we gave him fries and a soda, he may actually have to go.

    Fiona - 
    Some people have small bladders

    Sgt. Pacifico -
    If we don't stop and give him a break, our interrogation afterward could - not automatically and always, but could - be determined to be coercive in nature because the man confessed so he could avoid soiling himself. Some may find this acceptable, while others find it ridiculous. It doesn't ever matter what you think. Remember, it is what the judge will rule.

    But I digress. In order to avoid this issue, we take a bathroom break. We don't even invite him to go; we just shuttle him there. "Well, guys, I think this is a good place to take a break," the detective says. "I gotta use the head. Come on I'll show you where its at," says the detective to the suspect.

    Fiona -
    Wait. They pee side by side - that just seems... wrong.

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    No. Actually, we take the suspect to the secure bathroom, essentially a small observation cell with a toilet, (a small block wall obscures view of the actual commode). Then we go off and use the employee washroom. We leave him in there with his thoughts, and we are free to roam about our office without the fear of him running away because he is locked in the room. Serves those two purposes wonderfully.

    However, if he is a non-custodial interview, we can't lock him in there. We have to walk him back into the interview room and leave a guard nearby to ensure he doesn't wonder about in confidential areas, but not seem like he is under guard. Otherwise, it becomes custodial. Remember that part from earlier?

    Fiona - 
    Yup.   (LINK)

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    What we do once the suspect is settled either in the obs room or back in the interview room is gather together in our sergeant's office and go over what we just learned.

    The sergeant, and really everyone in homicide who isn't critically busy, will be watching the interview and interrogation. Everyone wants the detectives to succeed, and this is game time. There may be some jabs and jokes here and there, but it's usually pretty serious. There will be no messing around that causes any interruption in the flow of the detectives or the case.

    We discuss what we saw and heard. How did he look when he talked about certain aspects of the story? Did he look direct or away? Did his eyes shift differently? Did his body language change dramatically at certain points? How was his tone, tenor, volume and pitch when we changed from topic to topic getting more and more into the story? Did he seem more nervous or more relaxed? What was an obvious lie, what wasn't? What are we going to spend our time on as a theme to get him to give up the like and confess the truth? What roles are we going to play going back into the room?

    Fiona -
    Do you use computer software to track micro-expressions?
    Also, do you use voice analysis to check for pitch?

    Sgt. Pacifico  -
    We didn't use any software for micro-expressions. None existed at the time, or at least not at the level of the local police agency. Maybe some of alphabets were using it but not us locals. Voice stress analysis was not considered all that reliable. Besides, when you are good at this, it's way better to be there in the moment, knowing what you are doing. It's like an artist with a blank canvas. A true artist can paint the picture without using paint-by-numbers.
    You develop a 6th sense

    Fiona - 
    So, you've huddled up...

    Sgt. Pacifico -
    We have all agreed on what we think of this guy and his story. We've also agreed on how we are going to approach him to confront his story. Now its time to head in. For. One. Last. Time. 

    You see, the reason for the bathroom break is coming into focus. We legitimately all probably needed one anyway, but now when we get in there and into the next phase and start making him sweat, and he pulls out the bathroom card, we can say no. We can say right there on the video, which is all time-stamped, "You just went 20 minutes ago. Stop making excuses for not telling the truth and ......" We can say this and not worry about our tactics being considered coercive. 

    In the time we have had him, we fed him, gave him drink, allowed him to smoke, and let him use the facilities, all the while treating him nicely. Kinda hard to call us mean ole' detectives who berated defense counsel clients into submission through our horrible tactics.

    Fiona - 
    I know you're running through a thought process here, but could you take a moment to list the 14th amendment no-nos?

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Sure, I'll list them from some obvious ones to the not so obvious. 
    * Hitting or striking a suspect probably shoots right to the top. 
       (It doesn't work anyway. A detective so unskilled that he resorts
        to hitting a suspect is probably also leading the statement, and
        forcing the suspect to say what he wants anyway. It's just plain
        garbage!) 
    * Sleep deprivation caused by rotating fresh detectives for endless
        hours. 
    * Multiple detectives shouting and crowding like drill instructors in
       the military. 
    * Threats are up pretty high but are the ones the  television writers
       use the most and probably don't know are  coercive and
       ridiculously illegal . It's also where cops learn to say
       these things. For example, "If you don't tell me what I need to
       know, I'll just book you until you can make bail, put you in the
       cell tank with our worst criminals, and see if you want to tell me
       something after they've had a go around with you. How much do
       you weigh? A buck-fifty? Let's see if you can make it through the
       night." Believe it or not, real cops have said these things and
       they're strait from badly written movies and books.
    * Promises is right up there with threats. If I promise leniency or to
       do some favor, then I have entered a quid pro quo that can rule
       the confession illegal. He only confessed for the deal or the
       promise made. This is so prevalent in the movies and
       television. Yet in reality, cops have no authority over charges
       and leniency; that's the prosecutor's office who has that power.
       The suspect in the room ask for deals, thinking the cops
       can make those deals happen like in the movies. It is a real dance
       in there. It's very stressful to essentially tell the guy there are no
       deals. Stop watching television and this is how the real world
       works.  But doing it with care. I have on occasion, said, "Dude,
       you watch way too much TV. That shit only happens in your 
       living room. In here, there are no deals made by cops. That ain't
       the law and this isn't television." Feel free to use that line if you
       want.
    Then there is withholding food, water, bathroom. 

    Fiona - 
    Very interesting.
    Thank you.
    So there's a technique that could be deemed coercive, I guess, where the detective will not allow the suspect to deny the crime...

    Do you know what I'm talking about?

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Yes, but that's not coercive, and that's what we indeed do. let me explain.


    The hardest thing for new detectives to do for some reason is make a direct accusation. I don't know why that is, but even in interrogation class during mock interrogations they skip over this part. 

    What we do when we walk back into the room for the first time after the break is make a strong, affirmative, confrontational accusation. "John, we have completed our investigation. What we have here (pointing to the newly brought in stack of reports and DVDs) is weeks worth of non-stop investigating. Our investigation clearly points to you! You, John, are the one who killed your neighbor!" And then pause....

    Interestingly, that short pause you think would give the suspect the appropriate time to deny. The innocent almost always start denying right away. Wanna know how often, loudly and crazily the guilty suspects deny?

    Fiona - 
    Yup.

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Almost never. Guilty suspects hardly every say anything and make those, "Hmph. Pfft. Sheesh. Yeah right..." 

    That's been my experience most of the time. Or the guilty ones start asking questions like, "Why would I do that? I would never do that!" Now LISTEN to what he ACTUALLY said. "Why WOULD I do that?" Future tense and not a denial of the past act. "I WOULD never do that." Also a future tense and not a denial of the past act. A real denial sounds like this, "I did not kill my neighbor. I didn't do it."

    Fiona - 
    I didn't, I swear!

    The use of the formal "did not" and "neighbor" instead of a name are not distancing (lying) techniques in your experience?

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Oh sure, there is far more to it than what I'm giving you here. In this particular area, we spend several hours if not the better part of an entire day in interrogation school. Actually, this notion of what was said and how it was said is talked about all week.

    So directly on the heels of making a pointed and direct accusation that the person killed the victim, and without saying, "You are the one who shot, strangled and suffocated the victim" because this is leading. We get the hows and whys later.

    Fiona - 
    The fine line of coercion here being - "Our documentation points to you." v. "You stabbed Mrs. Cranach!"

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Well, the point is that we make a specific accusation. 

    "You Dave, killed your wife! There was no mystery intruder. We know exactly what happened now and have ruled out all other suspects other than you!"

    Fiona - 
    Okay - I think I have it. You're still saying that you have drawn a conclusion based on documented findings.

    Wow, you have to be really on your toes about what pops out of your mouth. Being that vigilant must be mentally exhausting.


    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Yes, it can be mentally exhausting, but only afterward. My very last case I ever worked as an active detective was coincidentally one of my most marathon interrogations. I interrogated five equally guilty suspects in a robbery-homicide where they all repeatedly beat their "friend" to death. It took all day from morning until night, one after another. I was never tired during the process. We had already been up two days straight before so with some naps here and there, I was essentially going on 36 hours with little to no sleep. During the interrogations I was wide awake. But after the adrenaline wore off, I couldn't drive home. I had to stop once to sleep for like an hour on the side of the road because I was asleep at the wheel.

    Fiona - 
    They need a recovery room with a cot for the interrogators.

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    We actually have a bunk room. I thought I'd make it home. I was fine until I got into the quiet comfortable car with no more noise, interaction, or need for my brain to function. It turned off like a switch.

    Fiona - 
    I'm glad you took a rest break and got home safe.
    Okay, a while back, I broke into your sequencing for your final brow-beating - er, I mean - stage of the interrogation.

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    (Continuing as the interrogator) "Now Dave, (he not yet having said a word of denial other than to feign some disgust at being accused) what I want to talk to you about is the "why." It seems pretty clear to me, based on what we've talked about, that you are a pretty good guy. But I think something happened that day you wish you could take back. Something snapped maybe? Maybe all the stresses in your life that we talked about (Here SPORTS AND HORSES - LINK) earlier were just too much for you to handle today. You came in and saw you wife with another new expensive item you can't afford. It drove you into a rage you couldn't control. I get it..."


    At this point, or after many attempts at points like this, we call THEMES, the suspect will start to crumble and stop any and all denials - if any existed - and really hone in on what we are saying. Eventually, they will chose a theme. They lie and make some sort of admission.

    Fiona -
    What are some of the typical themes?

    Sgt. Pacifico -
    Well, we can totally lie and bluff! We make accusations to innocent people who wind up being great witnesses because once they think we think they are the suspect - and maybe we had it wrong, they tell us what we need to know. Also, sometimes we are led astray. We make an accusation, and the subject flatly denies it - strongly, assertively, never waivers, and continues down a path of innocent behaviors. We can make the determination they are not our suspect and clear them from the case. I've cleared falsely accused thieves and child molesters who were vindictively accused by friends and ex-lovers of wrong doing. These tactics work to prove innocence as well as determining guilt.

    Fiona - 
    Oh good.

    Can you tell me some innocent behaviors?

    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Innocent people don't make excuses. They don't get nervous, they get angry at false accusations. The anger remains with the continued accusation. Fake anger, put on by guilty people changes to something else because they forget to pretend to be angry.


    Guilty people try to stall and avoid answering questions and find other topics to try and talk about it. They try and create physical space distance to "run away." 

    Innocent people are adamant, clear spoken, forceful in their convictions, look you in the eye. Get loud and may even be somewhat rude when they weren't before hand. Because the continued accusations of the innocent makes you a jerk, the continued accusations of the guilty makes you a guy doing your job. 

    The themes come from the discussions in the interview. The phrase I keep repeating throughout the interrogation school I teach cops is this, "If you don't conduct a proper rapport and interview, how are you going to know what to talk about during the interrogation?" 

    Bottom line, we talk in the interrogation until they decide that they know this is not going away, that they are caught, and the evidence has them boxed in. Then they start making micro-admissions to see how much trouble they are in or how they can minimize the trouble they're in.

    Fiona - 
    Once they admit to a crime, do you make them write it out and sign? Or is it okay just to do it on the video?


    Sgt. Pacifico - 
    Once they confess, the video and audio is all that we need. However, sometimes they want to write an apology letter to the family of the victims, which of course is a written confession. So we let them do that and put a copy on records, of course. 

    Well that's really it, I guess for what we can do in this limited time and space. Remember, this is a 40-hour course for basic interviewing and interrogation with another 40 hours of advanced interviewing, forensic handwriting analysis, polygraph is another 80-hour mini-school, and the list goes on. 

    We have only touched on some of the basic ideas and tactics. If your readers want to learn more, they should really attend my Writers Homicide School. Sadly, we are not having anymore in 2014. From this point forward we are going to only host one annual WHS per year. It will be a big blow out event in Las Vegas June 6-7. 2015. Then there may be another one in Australia. I've been invited there, and we are working out some details now. 

    Also, any writer anytime can sign up for a private consultation to get the specific answers they need regarding interviews and interrogation or ANY aspect of police work they need. They simply go to  www.crimewritersconsultations.com  and sign up for a private consultation.

    Welcome
    www.crimewritersconsultations.com

    Fiona - 

     Sgt. - thank you so much for going the extra mile with me and finishing out the series of interviews. 

    I wish you all the very best. Please don't be a stranger.

    Writers, thank you so much for stopping by to do your research on ThrillWriting. I'm always glad to have you. If you have a question or a comment, please leave it below. I moderate for SPAM so be patient, it won't go up automatically. Also, if you find my blog to be valuable, would you please share this resource with your friends? I've put some social media buttons below for your convenience. Happy plotting.


    Cheers,
    Fiona
    See original post...
  • Terrorism 101: Information for Writers with Corporal Allen Norton

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

    This article is the first article in a planned series on terrorism with ThrillWriting's guest, Corporal Allen Norton. I was so excited to have met the very knowledgeable and entertaining Cpl. Norton at a lecture on terrorism. He had the room transfixed. 

    Fiona - 
    Corporal Allen Norton

    Corporal Allen, thank you so much for sharing your information with us. Can we start with an introduction of your background? How did you come to be an anti-terrorism instructor?

    Cpl. Norton - 
    In 2007, I graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell with a certification in Homeland Security and also graduated from Columbia Southern University with a degree in Criminal Justice. I've attended the National Center for Bio-medical Research and Training through Louisiana State University and recently graduated from the University of St. Andrews, where I obtained a Global Certification as a Terrorism Specialist. In addition, I am a recognized Certified Homeland Protection Professional (C.H.P.P.) I obtained this certification through the National Sheriffs Association and the National Domestic Preparedness Coalition.

    The Commonwealth of Virginia has employed me for 11 years. In my time with the Commonwealth, I served as a Task Force Officer for the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) for 2 years.  I currently teach an Evolution of Terrorism program, other various terrorism classes, that includes Sovereign Citizens, and History of Islam class, at the local and regional police academies. I personally designed all of the classes. In addition, I own GDSI Intelligence and Training.


    GDSI Intelligence and Training - website link
    and on Facebook - click here


    Fiona - 
    You had a very personal brush with terror.

    Cpl. Norton - 
    I was supposed to be in the World Trade Center on 9/11 for a meeting. At the time, I served as Director of Security for three resorts in the Poconos. Fortunately, I overslept that morning.

    Fiona - 
    Very fortunate!

    We met at a lecture, and the very first thing that you pointed out was that every government agency has their own definition of terrorism. Is there a reason that we do not have a national definition? How does this pose problems in working across agencies? 

    Cpl. Norton - 
    I cannot give a 100% definite reason as to why each agency and state has their own definition. My guess would be that each government agency wants to be the one to determine what it is. Like the rivalry between police and fire, each wants to be in control of the scene. 

    The major issue is that working for an agency, you have to be able to enforce the laws of that agency. It is hard for individuals that serve on different task forces. They have to be very mindful of the capacity that they are serving in, and enforce that agencies definition. 

    Fiona - 
    Can you sift the definition down to one so that we can get a basic understanding as it applies to the U.S.?

    Cpl. Norton - 
    My personal favorite is the one offered by the Department of Defense, which states: 
    Terrorism is the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives. 
    This definition is my favorite because it lists religious, something that most of the others fail to list. The significance is that in this day and age, there is probably a 5:1 ratio of religious groups to political groups. 

    Amazingly, there is only one definition for domestic terrorism, which is:
    Extreme force and violence perpetrated by residents of a country, within that country, for the purpose of coercing its government and population into modifying its behavior.

    Fiona
    How do they decide who has control over the case? Who maintains jurisdiction?

    Cpl. Norton - 
    The problem with most terrorist activities here in the U.S. we list the activities as criminal acts. Only once we've established a link between an event and a terrorist organization, are the FBI usually involved. In all terrorism cases here in the U.S., the FBI gets the lead. All terrorism cases that affect U.S. interests overseas the CIA gets the lead. 

    Another issue that makes it difficult to determine who has jurisdiction is that we see gangs using terrorist tactics, and terrorists using gang tactics. The FBI, however, does do a good job serving as a go-to resource to help determine what agencies have jurisdiction.

    Fiona - 
    I was fascinated to learn that terrorism runs on a business plan and provides benefits. I am not talking about the virgins-in-the-sky kind of benefits either, I am talking about vacation pay. Can you talk about terrorism - both domestic and foreign as a business model?

    Cpl. Norton -
    One of the definitions of business is "an occupation, profession or trade." For most terrorist organizations what they are trying to accomplish, whether it be religious or political, they see as an occupation for God or the people. They are doing their work. Therefore, they are working for them. Domestic terrorism is less of a business than the international terrorist groups. Practically all of the domestic terrorists have regular jobs that they do.

    Al-Qaeda, for example, does operate as a business. They, as well as other organizations, still promise 72 virgins, the chance to live in the lands of milk and honey, and they get to touch the face of God. 

    These perks are only for males though; women get family redemption.

    Fiona - 
    Family redemption? I mean that is a nice gesture and everything... but there are other things that might entice me a bit more.

    Cpl. Norton - 
    Understand that family redemption for women is very important in the Islamic religion. 

    Most of these women are raped into the organizations, therefore, making them impure. The only way they can purify themselves, and be right for God, is to do His bidding (as they are told).

    There are many ways to entice women, but the most popular are:
    * They are raped-in 
    * They want family redemption 
    * They have lost family to the enemy and want revenge 
    * Or in many cases, they want to prove that they can fight and die
        just as well as a man can. 
    * Some women are romantically involved with members of the
        organization, and it is just natural that they join.

    Fiona - 
    Let's do a little myth-busting. 

    Cpl. Norton - 
    Myths of Terrorism -

    1. Terrorism is a new tactic.
        Terrorism can be traced to biblical times, but the first time it was
         used in the context we use it today was 1792 during the French
         Revolution. A British scholar said, "What is
         happening in France is terroristic."

    2. One person’s terrorist is another person’s liberator. 
        That statement is in the eye of the beholder. If you ask a terrorist
         group if they are terrorists 9 out of 10 times they will say no.
         They will call themselves Freedom Fighters or Liberators. 
         Therefore the term is very political loaded. 

        Terrorism itself is part of a strategy. No one goes out and says, "I
        am going to terrorize people." It is a tactic that is used to reach
        one's goals .
       
    3. Historically, terrorism has been assumed to be a left
        wing/revolutionary phenomena
        Right wing wants a return to a previous time.
        Left wing wants to  create a new reality.
        The reality is that there is a 5:1 Right wing to left wing terrorist
        ratio right now  

    4. Terrorism is highly effective 
         No, it is part of a strategy. It is also important to realize that
         when terrorists receive what they are asking for, they will not
         stop and be happy. They will continue to do what they do, but
         next time ask for more. 

    5. Terrorists are idealistic – 
        Terrorists use their ideology to gain power.

    6. Humane behavior is sacrificed for revolutionary goals.
        The goal is power. 

    7. Terrorism is for the poor.
        In reality, the people with high status within and organization
        come from very wealthy families.


    Fiona -     
    You have a list of the planning stage steps that all terror acts follow. 

    Cpl. Norton - 
    Yes, every terrorist organization uses this planning cycle:

    Planning cycle  

    • Broad target selection 
    • Intelligence and surveillance 
    • Specific target selection 
    • Pre-attack surveillance and planning 
    • Attack rehearsal  
    • Actions on the objective 
    • Escape and exploitation

    Fiona - 
    What is the point of no return? Where do the good guys usually catch the cell's planning?

    Cpl. Norton - 
    Catching a terrorist event before it happens is the ultimate goal. However, for the good guys to completely disrupt the event, it has to be caught before the attack rehearsal. Once the terrorists have all of the information, it's almost impossible to stop,  If we are able to disrupt the attack during the rehearsal stage, the terrorists already have all the information they need. If we arrest a group, then the terrorist organization simply finds others to train. Anytime you can foil it before then; they have to start all over. They have to be lucky once, we have to be lucky always.

    Fiona - 
    Can we talk about ideology and how they get the message out to possible followers?

    Cpl. Norton -
    Ideology is at the heart of all major decisions and choices the terrorist group makes. The avenues terrorist use to spread their ideology are: 
    * Mass media
    * Internet 
    * Political fronts
    * Literature dissemination 
    One of the biggest recruiting tools is Social Media. Moreover, there are no laws against that.

    Fiona - 
    What are the usual tactics that terrorists use? Also, who are the targets? 

    Cpl. Norton - 

    The 6 Traditional Tactics: 

    * Arson 
    * Assault 
    * Bombing 
    * Hijacking 
    * Hostage taking 
    * Kidnapping 


    Newer Tactics: 

    * Threat-Hoax 
    * Raid or Ambush 
    * Seizure 
    * Assassination 
    * Weapons of Mass Destruction

    Targets: 

    * Governments 
    * People 
    * Other countries and their people


    Fiona - 
    Thank you so much, Cpl. Norton. I am so looking forward to learning more in this series. 

    Also, thanks to you writers who do their research here on ThrillWriting. Hopefully, this has given you some plotting points for your WIP. While this article is only the first in a series, if you have a question or comment, please leave it below. The comments are moderated to block SPAM, so it will go up ASAP. In the meantime, if you find this resource to be helpful, I would appreciate your spreading the word. I've placed some handy-dandy social media buttons below.

    Cheers,
    Fiona
    See original post...
  • TEMS Medics: Information for Writers with Deputy Jay Korza

    Fiona - 
    ThrillWriting is happy to host Deputy Jay Korza who is an author and works as a first responder with fourteen years of experience as a deputy as well as military experience under his belt

    Jay can you give us a glimpse into your 
    professional background 
    and an idea about what you like to write?

    Jay - 

    Sure. Background: I started in EMS when I was 17, going through my first EMT cert class at the local community college. Then I went into the Navy at 18 and became a Hospital Corpsman. Corpsman are the medics in the Navy and for the Marine Corps. The Marines don't have any medical personnel, they are all supplied by the Navy. I worked in Emergency medicine while I was enlisted and afterwards as well.


    Fiona
    Were you  mainly on the boat or out in the field with the marines ?



    Jay - 
    I was shore based at a hospital, The Naval Medical Center San Diego.  I was later in the reserves after active duty and was trained as an 8404 Corpsman. They're the ones who go out with the Marines. I never deployed though. I tried while I was active and couldn't.

    They wanted to send me to a small boat, less than 500 crew, after my first enlistment was up, so I didn't reenlist. I should have. I didn't realize how much I would miss it.



    When I left, I did a few small jobs for about six months until I started managing a private medical practice. I did that for a little over a year and then was a paramedic for a federal prison. I did that for a year and then moved to Massachusetts with my girlfriend, and I worked on ambulances out there. I also started a non-profit organization teaching first aid and CPR to the community.

    You asked what I like to write. I like to go with the idea of writing what you know. My first book was a science fiction space opera that dealt with special forces, Marines, and one of the main characters was a Corpsman. I put a lot of medical and tactical stuff in the book.

    It's hard to find Jay in this picture.

    Fiona - 
    I love that! And that's what we're here to talk about today - you have functioned as a TEMS - can you explain what that job would entail?


    Jay - 
    A TEMS medic is responsible for the medical operational needs of their team. TEMS could be used to describe military medics, but they are more often referred to as combat medics, and they deserve that "combat" rating as opposed to just being tactical.

    TEMS - Tactical Emergency Medical Service

    TEMS are responsible for the medical care of suspects, bystanders, and victims in and around a tactical scene.

    Fiona - 
    So do all SWAT teams go in with a TEMS medic attached or some kind of medic?

    Jay - 
    It is becoming the norm, but it is not universal at this point. There are "teams" out there that aren't really SWAT teams, and they don't fit the national standard definition of one. In line with that, their "TEMS" also aren't really TEMS, just a few EMTs thrown on a mission. Don't get me wrong, these are great guys doing what they can with what they've been given, but it isn't a real TEMS program.





    Jay - 
    But for those teams that do employ TEMS on a regular basis, there are two basic structures.

    The first type, like my team, the medics are fully a part of the team. They come to our training sessions where they do all of the tactical training with us, and they deploy on every single mission. We won't deploy without a minimum of two medics.

    The second type of TEMS element is where the team works closely with the local EMS guys, and when there is a call, they have the local medics respond. But the medics aren't actually on the team.

    Fiona - 
    What are the most prevalent issues faced during a tactical medical emergency?

    Jay - 
    The most prevalent issues are your own guys jacking themselves up during training. 
    We deal with more sports injuries than we do suspect injuries. That is fairly common with all of the teams.

    Fiona - 
    Jacking themselves up during training would result in?

    Jay - 
    Jacking themselves up = twisted ankles, heat injuries, back injuries, burns,

    Fiona -
    So would the EMT have to wait for an "all clear" to respond while a TEMS could run into the fray? Is that the difference?

    Jay -  Not necessarily. Depending on the team structure, the TEMS may be up in the armor right in the hot zone (as is with my team), or they may be back at staging waiting to be called up for a specific issue, and that issue may be when things are in full swing or after the action has ended.

    Ever wonder what a Taser wound looks like?

    Fiona -
    Lots of ice - though now I read that research says ice is bad for injury inflammation...

    Jay - 
    We train harder than our missions will be so that we're ready for whatever happens. And as a result, we tend to get injured in training. Like I said, mostly what would be considered sports injuries. Though we have had a couple of medical issues pop up that were unexpected.




    Practicing TEMS on dog manikins in case one of our working K9s gets hurt

    Fiona -
    You have read a lot of books which include emergency medical intervention. Can you take us through one situation where you see the author consistently misunderstand and write something incorrectly?

    Jay - 
    One major inconsistency is the concept of not moving a patient because they aren't stable. This is not accurate.

    Fiona - 
    So what really should happen?

    (By the way, Readers, if you want to read an OUTSTANDING article Jay wrote about flat-lining and defibrillation go here: (LINK) And you will write that scene accurately.)

    Jay - 
    This is a concept that is, I can only guess, derived from in-hospital care. Where you might have a patient that is very unstable and moving them could cause a recent surgical site to reopen. The patient might have internal injuries that need to self-repair before transfer, or their vital signs are so poor that they are in such a state of shock that moving them would be bad. 

    The type of move we're talking about in the hospital situation is moving to another facility that is more suited to the patient's needs. You have a burn patient that needs a burn center, but their injuries need to stabilize before you can make that kind of transport to another hospital.

    But in TEMS or field medicine, your patient is messed up and needs a hospital. It doesn't matter what their condition is, you will NEVER not move them because they are too unstable.

    Fiona - 
    So what do you do on site prior to moving them v. stabilizing en route v. letting the hospital deal with it?



    GRAPHIC IMAGES WARNING - If graphic images have a negative effect on you, please scroll down past the next three photographs.

    Jay - 
    On site, the only thing we do before transport is fix life-threatening injuries to the best of our ability. And let me clarify, that's for a really messed up patient, medical or trauma. There are a lot of things we can do on scene and en route for a seriously injured patient, but if they need a surgeon then we need to move. 

    So, take for instance a patient I had a few years ago, he was struck by a car when he ran a stop sign on his bicycle. His head and neck went into the windshield and then his body went over the car and his head/neck came out of the windshield. He was unstable with deteriorating vital signs and internal injuries to his head and chest. I did a cricothyrotomy on him (cut into his throat and put a tube in there), and then we put him in the ambulance and did everything else en route.



    Practicing Cricothyrotomy on a pig's throat .




    Performing the Cricothyrotomy in the Field 




    Suturing Up a Wound 



    Fiona - 
    YIPES!

    Jay - 
    We may do other things on scene while we are fixing the major things, but a lot of those things aren't for stabilization, they are ancillary. If we have the time and manpower, we'll do them simultaneously.

    Like IVs, everyone thinks IVs are important. They aren't all that important. They can be helpful, but in general, probably less than 1% of people have been saved because an IV was placed.
    And it wasn't the IV that saved them, it was the venous access that the IV gave us in order to give the patient medication to reverse their condition.

    A major change in IV therapy is that we used to dump lots of fluid into trauma patients because we thought it helped them by increasing their blood pressure. What we have found out is that we are actually making things worse by trying to get their blood pressure to a "normal" level. By doing this, we cause more bleeding because their body can't clot with the increased pressure. So now we go with permissive hypotenstion, we only give them enough fluid to get their blood pressure up to a systolic of 90 (the top number).

    So we aren't taking days at the scene of the injury. We have our responders grab and go. 

    Fiona - 
    So no - "Push an IV STAT!"

    Is it unusual that you were able to do this surgical procedure? Or do EMTs train for that as well?

    Jay - 
    The cric is a paramedic level skill. As TEMS, we can't operate outside of our scope of practice which is determined by the National Registry of EMS. Then, each state can make be more restrictive on the skills they allow their paramedics or EMTs to perform.

    Fiona - 

    Can you do the things that you learned to do on a battle field or do different medical protocol issues mean your constricted as to what you can and cannot do? 

    A nd VERY HYPOTHETICALLY would a character choose to override law and do what he knew how to do to save a life? I f yes, how much trouble would the responder get into (under the law?)  

    Jay - 
    Can I do the stuff I learned in the military? Yes and no. If I do, and it is outside the scope of my paramedic skills, I could lose my certification and possibly be civilly liable.

    However, most states have a good Samaritan law that allows people to act to the level of their training. So if I were at the mall off duty, and not acting under the color of my authority, I could conceivably do more as a good Samaritan than I could as a civilian paramedic. However, realistically, the advanced skills I gained in the military are generally used in a hospital setting. I'm not going to perform minor surgery in the mall.

    Fiona - 
    What an interesting distinction - but if my kid took a bullet and we are hiding from the bad guys - you could help her with a hanger, a bottle of perfume, and a fine silk scarf, right? Meanw hile, SWAT goes in and takes down the terrorists.

    Jay - 
    When I moved to Massachussettes, there was a civilian paramedic in the news because he performed an emergency C-section in the field. This is WAY outside of our scope of practice. However, he had been a surgical tech Corpsman in the Navy and had done surgeries under the guidance of surgeons and of course his job was to assist in surgeries as well. If you're a good Corpsman, your docs will let you do A LOT of stuff you're not allowed to do. Anyway, the mom was full term and involved in a motor vehicle accident. She was dead on scene but the baby was still alive inside. He knew he could do the procedure, mom was dead anyway so he really couldn't mess up, and the baby would never survive the transport to the hospital while still inside. He waited too long to do it, and the baby didn't make it. He hesitated, worried about the civil outcome. He lost his cert because he did the procedure. Even if the baby had survived, he still probably would have lost his cert because he acted outside of his scope of practice.

    Fiona - 
    Oh, dear. That shouldn't be.

    Jay - 
    The other MAJOR wrong thing with medical stuff in stories (movies or books) is putting medication/needles directly into the heart. This is soooooo outdated and useless.

    Fiona - 
    So no Pulp Fiction adrenaline in the heart?

    Jay - 
    They used to think that if the heart wasn't circulating blood that you had to inject the medication directly into the heart to get it to work.

    So during a code event, they would push high dose epinephrine into the heart. This doesn't do anything for several reasons. If your heart isn't moving (naturally or artificially through CPR) then the blood isn't moving. Without blood moving, medication can't go anywhere. Not to mention, without blood moving, you have no blood pressure. Without blood pressure you can't exchange gasses at the cellular level (basic physics). If you can't exchange gasses you can't metabolize medication. So without a high enough pressure, you can't do anything with the medication that is injected into your body. 

    Also, you are putting a hole, albeit a small one, in the heart and that can agitate the pacemaker cells in the heart and cause other issues. And you can create a pericardial tamponade which is fluid between the heart and its protective sac, because of the hole you just put through the sac. 

    NO MEDS IN THE HEART! Simply put the meds in any vein or IV access. 

    No one puts needles through the neck either. 

    And adrenaline is the exact same thing as epinephrine. One name is of Greek origin and the other is of Latin. Same thing. I've read in stories that one is synthetic and the other is the natural form - nope.

    Fiona - 
    Most excellent.

    You were saying you use a lot of this technical information in your book which is very exciting - and I have you queued up as my weekend read.


    Amazon Link $2.99

    Can you tell us a bit about your plots? No spoilers though.

    Jay - 
    Plot for Extinction: An ancient race created a species of warriors to conquer other planets/systems for them. A millennium after the conquering, the current Emperor wanted to end the tyranny, but even he couldn't do it. He would be overthrown. So he devised a plan to lead an expansion colony himself to an unexplored part of the galaxy, and then cut himself off from the Empire, letting it wither without him. Then, he would come back and rebuild things the right way. His plan didn't work.

    A thousand years later, humans are exploring the galaxy and come across one of the Emperor's first colony sites in our region of space. The scientists accidentally set off a distress signal to the old empire and the warriors find out that the old Emperor had lied to them, and now they are coming to claim our portion of space. 
    Two special forces teams will embark on separate missions to stop the threat.


    Amazon Link $2.99


    Fiona - 
    Very fun! I have a lot of readers here on ThrillWriting who love to read and write sci-fi. You also wrote a zombie theme?

    Jay -
    My second book is called "This Is Not What I Wished For..." It t akes place where the zombie genre is unheard of. A boy on his fourteenth birthday has his family wiped out by what he believes to be demons. He sees his neighbors and family eaten and killed in front of him and then turn into these demons. He flees and ultimately joins with other survivors and leads them to the epicenter of the outbreak, a hospital that is really a covert government lab that accidentally allowed this foreign contagion to escape their labs.

    I've only read two zombie books, World War Z and How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse. But I love the genre and wanted to add to it. There are fighting, tactical and medical scenes. It is mostly about the children's journey - their bonding and coming of age together in this new world.

    But it isn't a gore or scare fest. I wanted it to be emotional. And there is a rather large twist at the end.


    Amazon Link $2.99

    Fiona - 
    Very interesting - I just read my first zombie books - and I loved the tactical parts of the books. 

    We are at that part of the interview when I ask you the traditional ThrillWriting question: Will you please tell us the story behind your favorite scar, and if you've managed to make it this far without a scar story - or if it's just too darned embarrassing to share - then a harrowing event you survived.

    Jay - 
    All of my scars are non-work related. However, my most harrowing work story is when I was on patrol about ten years ago. I was behind a Circle K doing my paperwork for the evening.

    A guy went into the Circle K and asked the clerk if there was a cop there. You see, that store let us use their office for doing reports and stuff. The store is in a bad part of town, and they liked our presence there. 

    I usually hid behind the store when I was doing paperwork because I wanted to finish it, not talk with people.

    So the clerk says that he hasn't seen one come in lately, but there might be one out back. Thanks dude.

    So the guy comes around the corner and sees my car, and I see him. There is something definitely off about him. I get out of my car, so he can't approach me while I'm in a position of disadvantage.

    He starts to say something to me then stops, thinks, and says, "Hey, there's something in my car I need you to see."

    Immediately I picture a family chopped up in hefty bags. This guy was not right - and even someone without my experience would've been able to see that. 
    So I ask him, "How about you tell me what you want me to see?"

    Fiona - 
    Good call

    Jay - 
    This goes back and forth for a little bit. I call for backup.
    No one was closer than ten minutes away, Even code three (lights and sirens), which they weren't even using yet.

    We end up walking around to the front of the store, and he is asking me if I'm part of the Mexican Mafia, and if he can trust me.

    He talks about walking his son out to the desert, but it wasn't really his son. Then his son died. So I'm thinking he had a psychotic break and killed his son, who he thought wasn't his son, and that's what was in the car waiting for me. 

    Still no back up, though I've asked them to step it up at this point.

    Ultimately, he decides he's done with me and is going to leave. I can't allow that. Regardless of what's in the car, he is obviously on drugs and/or mentally incapacitated, and I can't allow him to drive and endanger the public or go kill someone after he leaves me.

    Fiona - 
    So what did you do?

    Jay - 
    I step in his way to stop him. He swings and misses. I impact push him. He moves towards a large truck parked on the side of the Circle K. For perspective, I was parked in the rear on the west side, the front is on the east side with some parking, and there is parking on the south side, that's where his truck is.

    He backs towards his truck with his fists up ready to fight. I don't mind getting into a fight, but I'm also aware that no matter how confident I am in my abilities, that doesn't mean the other guy isn't good also. So I'm not ready to get into a clinch with this guy.

    Fiona - 
    Or he's on PCP - so your skills does't matter a fig.

    Jay - 
    As he backs away, he looks over his shoulder and there is a passenger in the truck, a kid about 19 or 20. The kid smiles, and I testified in court that the smile was the most chilling thing I have ever seen. It was demonic; it was pleasure and excitement. This kid was waiting for me. They were working together to lead a cop back to the truck to kill him.


    Fiona - 
    HOLY MOLY!

    WHERE IS BACK UP? How did you get out of there?

    Jay - 
    The kid gets out of the truck, and I thought he was going to join the fray, and I was ready to go to my gun. No cop should ever be okay with fighting two people at the same time. It doesn't matter if they have weapons or not, that is a lethal force situation.

    The kid completely changes his expression. Maybe it was because my hand went to my gun; I don't know. But he turned and took off running. Just gone. We never found him or identified him.

    I then switched to pepper spray and unloaded on the guy. It didn't do anything.

    He kept backing towards his vehicle, and he got in to the drivers seat and closed the door. I smashed the window and kept spraying him. He backed out about three feet then put it into drive and tried to run me over. I dodged and went back to my gun. But then he backed out of the parking lot and took off. I got his plate out over the radio, and he actually went home. 

    Other units went to his house and the guy got dog bit, more pepper spray, and a bunch of other stuff.

    There was a shotgun, and pistol and lots of ammo in the truck.


    Fiona - 
    That's a hell of a harrowing story.

    Jay - 
    He got five years for that, would have got more but the prosecution forgot to file a motion that allows for a greater sentence given the offense was against law enforcement.

    Fiona - 
    I'm glad he's off the streets! 

    Jay, thank you so much for spending the time with us and teaching us so much.

    And a big thank you to you writers too for stopping by. If you have any questions or comments please post them below - they are moderated to protect from SPAM so I'll get them up ASAP. Also, if you find this blog to be helpful, please take a moment to help spread the word. I've put some social media buttons below. Happy plotting.

    Cheers,
    Fiona
    See original post...

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