Evidence 101

EVIDENCE 101...Wherever you go, there you are...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Bomb Nation

Reading is a passion of mine. I am also addicted to book stores. I have not sought any therapy, really, but I constantly feed the need for a good read.
That's my new slogan. I also recently read an excellent book by J.E. Fishman, A Danger To Himself And Others.

Right now, it is featured as a free book on Kindle. What a great offer! It is also available in paperback if you are like me and you like the feel of a book in hand. Pictured above is my tablet, but for some reason, it stopped working with the Kindle app, so no more e-books unless I want to read on my desktop. I was lucky to have a paperback copy.

When I started A Danger To Himself And Others, I have to admit the "voice over" cop humor struck me as a corny beginning introduction to the book. I actually had a flashback of picturing one of my male (yes, male) former military rookies thinking exactly like that (shaking my head). So with that aside, Fishman did capture the male-ego-cop thought process in a sports sense. Yes, being a girl...I rolled my eyes and Fargo smirked right there during the onset. Maybe it's just a girl thing.

The book overall was excellent, filled with suspense and details so descript you felt you were right in each moment, adrenaline pumping alongside the characters. It is full of testosterone and fast paced action. Kudos to Fishman for his writing capabilities and details.

In fact, if you aren't familiar with the inside of a bomb squad, you will be when you have finished reading A Danger to Himself and Others. Fishman has a true talent for capturing moments, especially during a "heat of the moment." The main character, Manny Diaz, is a complex person with years of experience and a personal life that mimics one that goes on behind the shield. It's plausible for sure.

Inside the storyline, you also find attention to technical detail where Fishman's research and the care he gave to writing in proper procedures served well in preserving the importance of capturing all the components. I liked the twists and turns and the villains were not simplified, but also just as complex as the good guys. A nice touch was the characters had surprise moments and everything was not predictable. The emotion of police and military veterans was also believable in the story, which is often left out of or only glanced upon by other authors. A Danger To Himself And Others has action packed depth and I would highly recommend it. Get it on Amazon! You won't be disappointed!

I look forward to the next book in the Bomb Squad NYC series.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sleep Deprivation Experiment #1

I am interrupting the general program about frisks and searches to bring you the latest kid experiment at the Harry Potter house. Bug had a 9 week science essay/book project that she began at the last minute. Mind you, I didn't know about it being due until Monday of this week. Needless to point out or emphasize, I was not happy about her procrastination. During the week, I told her once to get to working on it. She piddle diddled.

Enter-a back story on Bug as an academic child. She can't have bad grades. Why? Because she is an over-achiever and melts down. I do not put that much pressure on her, but I am somewhat glad she strives for A's and B's. Now, should she ever have gotten D's and F's, I would have a lot to say about that and not keen about being average either. Her dad and me have never had to crack down about how important school is and she naturally has become proud of her work on her own. Maybe it was osmosis. Anymethodofmadness, it's a no brainer for me, so score one for the parents.

Last night about 8:45 pm, I finished my trap shooting and came home to a child whom had stayed home to complete her homework project. I was talking to my mother on the phone when I heard Bug crying and as a somewhat concerned mother, I went downstairs. It was not the bantering scream of pain with drama coiling so I knew she was not injured. It was the drama shaking and kicking on the floor with sobbing type of crying. After asking her several times if she was alright, I had to disconnect early with my mother and tend to my child who needed drama mama love.

I immediately recognized it was a meltdown from the pressure of spinning her wheels on her project, but my mom was on the phone. I had to act like a concerned parent, not a laid back detective type who doesn't get excited much and rolls her eyes at kid drama or grits her teeth through it to prevent from going to jail. It must be hell to be my kid. Perhaps that is a drawback of being a cop parent.

So, after telling her to put her big girl panties on and tell me her issues, she got up and said she just needed a hug. She proceeded to say she could not do her project and was tired and wanted to go to bed, but she was far from being finished. Oh hell to the NO!

Yes, I mean, I gave her a good hug. Bed...no way.

Enter...the mother from hell.

ME: You are going to learn a lesson. You will stay up until this is completed. Sleep deprivation lesson.
BUG: I can't!
ME: You will! I will be on you like stink on skunk. You will know what it is really like to have a mental meltdown. I don't care if we are still up by 3 am.
ME: YES! Now get your big girl panties on and let's move it. If I type up your stuff, you will fold laundry, wash dishes, dust, vacuum, or something productive.
BUG: I am not going to make it! (stomp, whine, cry, ) I have to get a good grade!

Soon, it was all drama. At one point she started to constantly say she was tired and she couldn't do it.

ME: Suck it up. You are going to stay awake. Now glue these into your book. Let's go! This is a lesson to you. Maybe you won't wait until the last minute next time. I don't feel sorry for you. NOW MOVE IT!
BUG: I can't do this! I'm tired! I'm tired!

Yes, at 2:30 am, I lost it with the I'm tired and Fargo flicked her on the head and threw water in her face. I was on my best Army drill sergeant game. At least at that point of getting flicked on the forehead to stop her ranting of nonsense, she laughed. We continued.

It was short lived.

More tantrums. She fell asleep. I poked her. I poked her awake again. And again. She would just plop in the middle of gluing something and putting her book together. Then she said something really STUPID. Yes, STUPID. I was devastated.

In this book, she took time to draw very detailed and beautiful pencil sketches of each animal. I mean, I was very impressed. They are amazing. So here we get to stupid nonsense.

BUG: Mom, do you think my teacher will give me a bad grade and call me lazy because these animals are not in color? I didn't color them.

I can't begin to say what rattled in my head.

ME: Do not even utter those words. Your drawings are art and intricate. You took a lot of care to make those magnificent creatures come alive in your book.
BUG: But what if she does?
ME: Then your teacher is stupid and I will come unglued if that is a reason to mark down your work.
BUG: I just really think she might think I was lazy.
ME: GRRR. Stop it.

Ok. So no profound words of wisdom. Come on, it was almost 3 am. However, I did get my ways included in the book. Bug was too tired and laughed, but this morning she might be worried about what is in the narrative. I may have modified a sentence or two while typing into the early morning hours. Such sentences included inside:

"Rabbits live from 9-12 years old unless they are hit by a bus."

"Although, I have never seen a mountain lion other than in a zoo, my mom has seen several in Wyoming. One time, she watched one make off with her prized chicken."

"Possums have a unique defense of "playing dead" to protect them when they feel threatened. A local possum was especially realistic with this trick after my mom hit it with a shovel in our barn."

"Owls are very watchful and have a keen sense of vision and audio senses even when you think they are resting. They can turn their heads 270 degrees which is almost full circle just as my mom can when she is mad."

Yes, my child's homework got Fargoed.

She did stay up. AND I woke her up 3 hours later, me only getting 2.5 hours of sleep. She was thankful but very tired this morning. Mission accomplished.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Skunked Searches

Hello? (knock, knock) Anyone out there? (tap, tap) Is this thing on?

Fargo here!

The last post on frisks and searches didn't have a rally of words or heated discussion as I had hoped. Don't tell me you are all trading in your intellect (means "mental ability" for you non-academia and "smarts" for you redneck varieties) for knowledge in lieu of squirrel jokes and squirrel sex? Do I need to include cursing?

Maybe we need to bring Dana Carvey back as The Church Lady...one of my favorites:
Or how about The Fruitcake Lady? I have all her episodes, commercial free, on my iPod. Scary, right? Is humor the only thing that stimulates our brain these days?

Well, anyboringtopictime, I guess I will have a chat with myself to keep myself updated on the goings ons with the law. I find laws, procedures, rules...all fascinating. Scary.

Have in mind you only need to keep this knowledge in your memory for about a month before case law or some other court decision changes things up again. In fact, the original documents set down by our founding fathers are getting so diluted today, I get confused. Is the 2nd Amendment abolished yet? Geesh.

A frisk is NOT when the police do away with someone in the car whilst never really stopping-called the snag and drag or the snatch and grab. The Mafia frisked people away, not the PoPo. A police frisk is warranted when there is a safety concern for weapons only. It is not a search for drugs, contraband, or grandma's panties. It is for weapons only. It is done when police detain someone based upon reasonable suspicion. What is reasonable suspicion? The old police academy answer-less than 20%. Hahaha. Police nostalgia makes me laugh. The real answer? Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard of proof which is beneath the standard of proof needed for probable cause. Swallow that as a vitamin. What does that mean? Articulation. What? We bring art into police work?

Now, then enter the "Plain Feel" verbage our justice system has come up with. So, if you feel a bong in the da pants whilst frisking someone, i.e.-checking for a gun, you may retrieve such bong as long as you can articulate from start to finish a detention going into an arrest mode. Articulation has lost many good and proper arrests than anything else, turning them into Supreme Court cases, or offering them up to the Supreme Court for clarification. We, as cops, had to learn how to AR-TICK-U-LATE what we were doing on the street, what we observed, body language, etc. and hone in on our skills. We had to 'splain ourselves a lot better.

(this next paragraph is where I digress into the glory days of cophood)

[i.e. Wilson v. State of Wyoming. Now. I was there during all this. I grew up in law enforcement with this case. Kam was great to work with and shook up the streets. After all, one night in Valley Hills in 1998, when I was chasing a suspect (called for assistance) and got into a fight (rookie mistake not giving out the proper address) all by myself-Officer Ritter came to my assistance and fast. He knew the general residential area I was in because he had just passed me on the street and chatted for about a minute. We were all blacked out that night trying to catch a burglar. All he had to do was stop and listen for the fight and that night you could have heard a pin drop in the neighborhood. And soon enough-there he was. He and I worked on some fun cases and had some fun street stories (those to come another day.) Anydigression, Wilson was his case of a good arsonist snag. He did great. He just didn't articulate as best he usually does and so thus, it went to the Supreme Court. DA Blonigen will even say Officer Ritter did a fine job that night. This might be one of those cases where a detention turned into a seizure and Miranda should have entered the room and other procedures and so forth. ]

Don't get all bad crazy with that court case, it was a defining moment in history where an officer the right thing but it didn't turn out a win for the State.  Read the court definitions and judges' opinions. This case hit home for me how I dealt with people, detained people, and the true visual of "seizure" came into play. It defined things. It is now historical in police case law.

So-back to frisk and search. A search is thorough and systematic. It is a seizure.  Isn't a frisk a search as well? Is a frisk just a speedy search? Is a frisk a seizure?

Get your brain juices flowing. What do you think?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Frisky Business

Frisks and searches. People hate 'em. They are unique to each other, not the same.

Unless you are a criminal, then you are used to the processes. Perps sometimes make a game of it, their lifestyle leads to hide and seek. We are not talking about the salami. Items. Items get hidden.

It is important for one to know Terry v. Ohio in which the term, "stop and frisk" first became coined. These parameters have evolved over time, however, and the standard answer to a rookie answering to what the basis of Terry v. Ohio is a little more detailed than the coin phrase. In fact, common phrase that came from this case was "the Terry stop." Oiks. The sound of "a Terry stop" just sounds like bad policing which stemmed from initially a good case decision. I never used the term. It was bad to do so because it led some to believe cops were profiling, stereotyping.

Then there is the "exclusionary rule". All these coined terms. Coins, coins, coins! Not really making any cents. (Yes, I am being funny. Why? Because I am. However, this is a serious topic).

Case laws, procedures, coined phrases, terms. Cops have to know them on point-impromptu-memorize, memorize.

Terry v. Ohio fascinates me and so have the case laws following thereafter. Like Miranda which has nothing to do with a frisk, but does include freedom to move or arrest and other terms like that, you might be familiar with and hear all the time. But who is Miranda?

Search and seizure and police procedures over the last 15 years, in fact, have grown into a professional and political monster, causing law enforcement to move into a career driven professional realm with certifications, intense training, and continuing education.

So, I'm not going to go into detail yet. What do you think is a proper way for a police officer to search a person during a frisk moment and after arrest? Those are two different points. Think about. I will get back to you.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

You Are Clamping My Style

Nothing irritates me worse than a terrible handshake. Let me tell you, professors and other academia do not know a proper handshake if it were to be demonstrated in a thesis project. What is up with that? I want to Fargo Flip anyone that gives me the wet noodle shake, the clammy fish shake, the finger clamp and go, or the slight of hand. WTF is that anyway? And who teaches someone those bad handshake habits? Do they pull it out of their ass?

When I was a cop, by gum, you got a nice firm handshake and a look in the eye-IF and only IF I chose to shake your hand and did not believe it was unsafe to do so. I did shake people's hands at appropriate times and looked them in the eye, then dropped the eye to the torso. Why? Because it's like basketball. You guard someone on defense by watching the torso in order to anticipate every move prior to the body making it. 

Most times I shook hands, you ask? Yep.  How do I know what qualifies as a "most times"? It's instinct. Believe it or not, I did refuse to shake someone's hand many, many times. It is a safety thing. Cops are often leery about shaking hands in certain instances because it could compromise their safety and puts them in a position for someone to grab their weapon (worst case scenario) or attack them, gain an advantage over the officer.

Cops do not refuse handshakes because they are rude.

So this is all I have to say about handshakes: GET A GRIP.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cops and Organizational Dogs

When does an internal war signify the failure of an organization, or the deterioration of a management system and justify a new beginning? The answer: It depends. Another answer: Sometimes during the changing of the guard when there is opposition or resistance to the new change. Most of the time it is a rough transition which smooths out later.

Wars occur for many reasons, usually over religion and land, and in law enforcement organizations.  Yes, wars inside law enforcement. Now, mind you, they don't bring the swords out of the scabbards as was done in ancient Roman times, but modern day closeness to the idea.

Maybe when wars occur within an organization like a police department, union, or similar organism, it shows the structure was on a weak foundation or the exact opposite and those within are trying to hold on. It could also be a mixture of both coming from two groups of thought amongst the employees: those that are unhappy, unsatisfied with leadership and those that are more afraid of what is to come, but not totally satisfied with everything from the previous reign. I guess you could also add a small portion of those that were happy with things the way they were, so make it three points of view.  All of that is up to interpretation of those within and the interpretation could be varying.

Great leaders carry a nation, an army,  or an organization into FORWARD motion with vision. Ineffective leaders stagnate a band of people which often leads to upheaval, discord, and ultimately failure. Failures derive from a leader who over manages, under leads, or displays both, and that is only touching the surface of their ineffective leadership style or methods. Degrees and intelligence do not make a leader smart nor effective.

Daniel Goleman coined the term "emotional intelligence" in his book which became a study guide in the business world read by many in management striving to attain the book's very ingenious points. They really were revolutionary at the time and became reference material. They were revolutionary because they were kind of warm and fuzzy, directing those leading their employees to take a softer approach and have some empathy, social skills. What? You don't need to graduate from an Ivy League school to get to the top? You have to be a person with "emotional intelligence"? You don't have to have the best technical skills to run the place?

Goleman defined emotional intelligence into 5 subgroups: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. If you want more, you should read the book. Wrapping all these components up, an effective leader would have all of them and would also not be afraid to motivate his/her people to be greater in their line of work than he/she is themselves. I believe they also have to be visionaries and be able to carry out the process of moving forward in POSITIVE motion.

In law enforcement, one of our greatest motivational speakers is Lt. Col. Dave Grossman (retired) and his reinforcement of the sheepdog and it's selflessness but alert nature. This applies to street survival. Add all that into law enforcement and try to effectively manage a bunch of egos toting guns. Yep. It's like having kidney stones.

I have seen my share of great leaders and very bad. I have also seen some good things willy-nilly in all of them, but the entire package was not desirable as a whole. Finding a perfect leader really is like finding a needle in the haystack. It is rare. Not all will ever be happy with one leader as a whole, but some parts may feel positive for the most part about certain leaders. It is subjective. If the majority are satisfied with a leader and suffer no major discord, you may move forward with some successes. Divided, you will fall. It's a lot like Humpty Dumpty.

The beauty of democracy is the voice of people. Sometimes it doesn't matter if employees agree with management, it is the fact they have positive productivity and respect for their leader. They will work for the person in charge despite their personal feelings toward him or her. Law enforcement is supposed to work for the greater good. How many of us in law enforcement didn't like our chief, but worked hard anyway? A leader doesn't have to be liked.

Pride and a hard work ethic are also paramount. Great leaders will clean up the messes and take care of the problems, but maybe not in the way we on the underneath would like to see or believe it should happen. Perhaps some will slide through and others will be hit hard. It really isn't about fairness either. Life isn't fair, for Pete's sake.

Lao Tzu said, "Be the chief, but never the lord." This statement echoes in law enforcement and truly is the heart of a chief's position. It's my blog. It's my opinion.

Why are there uprising in departments? Corruption? Discord? Morale problems? Why are the nonconforming picked on, pushed out? Is it always the bad egg? Is it the one that doesn't fit in? Is the one that refused to be bullied and is selfless?

What hurts any organization is leaving the poison there to fester,  promoting incompetence, or promoting a poisonous leader. We all have different viewpoints of what poison is and incompetence, for that matter. Incompetence doesn't mean they are a bad cop, it means they can't lead.

Lead. That doesn't means control anymore. It has a different tone. It has depth.

What defines a great leader to you? What qualities do you admire in a great leader?