Wednesday, March 30, 2011

War Story Wednesday: Cops by Mark Baker

Cops: Their Lives in Their Own Words by Mark Baker is a book of police war stories, first published in 1985. The stories are wild. Police work has changed quite a bit since then, but it remains an eye-opening collection.

Here's a 2002 review which captures the content quite well.

A preview is available online via Google Books.

Page 28 contains a harrowing story of a rookie handling an accident with multiple fatalities; a warning, however: the tragedy involves young children. It certainly predates mandatory infant car seats and seatbelt laws, although in this head-on collision, a seat belt might not have saved anyone. It's a shocker.

The cover contains a blurb from Elmore Leonard: "As authentic as you can get...that's the way it is."

If you have any war stories you'd like to share, post them in the comments section, or write your own blog post and send the link ~ I'll update this page. If you're interested in writing a guest post here on War Story Wednesday, give me a shout @ katcop13 at gmail dot com.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cold Case Twitter Chats

Another cold case Twitter chat just ended ~ and it was fabulous!

Chats are hosted by @Vidocq_CC (of "Defrosting Cold Cases" blog) and @ColdCaseSquad ("The Cold Case Squad" blog) on Fridays, between 12 noon - 1 p.m. EST. They began on February 25; this was our fourth chat.

This is a wonderful opportunity for cold case bloggers, cops, media, the families of victims, lawyers, and many other like-minded folks to converse. It's beneficial to writers, also, who can pose questions.

The hope we have for cold cases is that someone with information becomes willing to come forward. The incentive varies, of course, but a person may be persuaded to come forward if certain relationships change; it might be for reward money; a promise of anonymity; the person has matured or his/her conscience is getting the better of him/her. It might very well be to simply "do the right thing." If a shift in a relationship occurs -- which might include divorce, death, a break-up, a renewed friendship -- police usually benefit when it comes to solving cold cases. It is important to keep the dialogue open. The families of the victims should know that the police don't forget; the memory of their loved ones live on as we promote awareness of his/her case.

The hashtag is #cclivechat (short for cold case live chat). If you're not familiar with, now's the perfect time to get to know it. You enter a hashtag, and it's the only Twitter stream you see -- and another bonus, it automatically adds the hashtag for you ~ no need to retype it!

@Vidocq_CC has been recapping the chats if you'd like to scroll through the old ones.

Joe Giacalone has recently published The Criminal Investigative Function: A Guide for New Investigators. I ordered a Kindle edition through Amazon for my Mac, and I'm enjoying it tremendously.

If I'm near a computer at 12 noon EST on Fridays, I will join in. Hope to see you there -- and bring questions or certain cases you'd like to discuss. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

War Story Wednesday: The Battery

 "The Battery"

One of my co-workers, a car buff who enjoyed restoring vehicles, banged in [cop talk for calling in sick] because he dropped a battery on his foot. (To appreciate this story, you should know that he was a bit of a whiner.)

Upon hearing this, my salty supervisor said, 

"It was probably a double A."

Got a war story to share? Enter it in the comments, or send me a link to your post and I'll update this page. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monkeybicycle at The Cake Shop in NYC

On Wednesday, March 16, I will proudly participate in the Monkeybicycle Lightning Round! Reading Series, along with 19 other writers. This free event will be held at The Cake Shop, 152 Ludlow Street (between Stanton and Rivington - J, M, Z or F trains to Delancey) New York City, from 7-9 p.m.

The reading series, as described by Monkeybicycle:

This new quarterly reading series fuses quick, high energy readings with a broad range of voices--both established and emerging--into a seamless hour of literary brilliance. Each event will feature 20 readers, each of whom will read no longer than three minutes before introducing the next reader. No interruption from the host means a continuous listening experience. No guidelines other than length means maximum variety of form and content. Monkeybicycle's Lightning Round!Reading Series: a cure for the common reading.

This event will double as the launch party to celebrate Monkeybicycle's eighth print issue. 

Check out "Point Pleasant Poet Performs in New York City" on, about one of the readers, Steve Peacock. The NY Daily News lists it on their event calendaras does Slice Magazine.

I'd like to thank Monkeybicycle editors Steven Seighman and Shya Scanlon for this amazing opportunity.
Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

War Story Wednesday: Halloween Tragedy

My first night in the Public Information Bureau (a unit located at the front desk of Headquarters; liaison between the department and the media, among many other functions) was October 31, 1989. Even if it hadn't been Halloween night, I would always remember my first tour after transferring from patrol.

This four-to-twelve tour remains memorable for two particular reasons.

It rained something awful -- which cut down on the 911 calls as far the "usual" Halloween pranks, such as egg-throwing, shaving cream spraying, and toilet-papering. I was answering the media phone calls, which was every hour on the hour as they prepared their Halloween stories for the evening news and the following day's papers. The officers training me that night said I should respond, "Nothing's going on" when asked by reporters, since nothing was going on. One particular reporter kept pushing, though. After he asked several times, I said something like "the weather must be doing it in" as the reason for such a quiet Halloween night.

It appeared in the paper the next day. I learned my very first lesson in PIB (although Public Info is widely known in agencies as PIO, Public Information Office or Officer): whatever I say better be printable. I certainly would have said something more intelligent had I known he was going to QUOTE me. Can you imagine, I actually expected the reporter to warn me? (Lesson #2).

Back to Halloween night:

Anyway, before the tour was over, something DID happen.

I responded with Officer Randy Jaret to my first scene while assigned to PIB -- and it was tragic.

I listened as Randy gave interviews to reporters near the train tracks in Shirley as we all stood in the rain with our umbrellas.

When the railroad crossing gate had lowered, a 20-year-old male driver stopped to wait for the train to pass.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old driver, speeding on the wet pavement, couldn't stop his car in time. He plowed into the back of that waiting car and pushed it right into the path of the oncoming train.

The driver of the crushed vehicle was injured, but survived.

His passenger, however, was killed.

His 61-year-old mother.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Twosome

It's time for "Tuesday Twosome" at Women of Mystery.

If you're game, post two sentences you've read recently, and two that you've written, and notify Clare, my blogmate at Women of Mystery. She'll update her post to include a link to yours -- or you can join in here, if you like!

Or, simply add it in the comments.

Two from "The Story of the Stabbing" by Joyce Carol Oates, from The Dark End of the Street: New Stories of Sex and Crime by Today's Top Authors, edited by Jonathan Santlofer and S. J. Rozan:

Rhonda knew better than to draw attention to herself, however -- though Daddy loved his sweet little pretty girl Daddy could be harsh and hurtful if Daddy was displeased with his sweet little pretty girl so Rhonda fixed for herself a very thick sandwich of Swedish rye crisp crackers and French goat cheese to devour in a corner of the room looking out onto a bleak rain-streaked street not wanting to think how Daddy knew, yes Daddy knew but did not care.

That was the terrible fact about Daddy -- he knew, and did not care.


Two from my WIP, a true crime memoir:

When I tell the Reach to Recovery volunteer from the American Cancer Society that we intend to talk with our children about my breast cancer, she suggests discussing the subject of death, for this particular reason: if a child tells a classmate that his or her mom has breast cancer, the classmate may reply: "My mom had it, too, but she died."

Her point is well-taken; one of my son's first-grade classmates had already lost her mother to breast cancer -- and three years from now, the disease will claim yet another classmate's mother.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fallen Officer: P.O. John Falcone: Update

I recently posted about fallen officer John Falcone of the Poughkeepsie City PD -- the hero cop who saved a three year old child before making the ultimate sacrifice. I just read a beautiful tribute post on, "Mourning Our Slain LEOs" by Terrence P. Dwyer, a retired 22-year-veteran of the New York State Police. His post reminded me of standing alongside thousands of brother and sister officers at the funeral of P.O. Glen Ciano in February 2009. I had the privilege of working with Glen in the Second Precinct in Huntington for several years.

In Dwyer's post, I learned that Officer Falcone was posthumously promoted to Detective and awarded a department Medal of Honor. According to Stephen, who blogs at EMT to Physican Assistant, it was the first time ever in the history of the Poughkeepsie City PD a Medal of Honor was bestowed.
This information warranted a new post and a tremendous "thank you" to Detective Falcone for his service and sacrifice on this "Thank-a-Cop-Thursday," that is celebrated on Twitter each Thursday. I am so grateful that the Poughkeepsie City PD honored Detective Falcone in this appropriate manner.

Thanks also to retired officer Terrence P. Dwyer, for his years of service, and for this graceful post honoring our slain LEOs. Thirty-two officers have died in the line of duty in the U.S. in 2011 so far -- that's thirty-two too many. I pray there will be no more.

Read more on the origin of "Thank-a-Cop-Thursday." On Twitter, use the hashtag: #tacop.

On Twitter, follow @PoliceOne and Stephen @emttopa.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Two Sentence Tuesday

Today is Two Sentence Tuesday at Women of Mystery -- if you're unfamiliar with this weekly event, here's how it works: Either on your own blog or in the comment section at WoM, post two sentences you've read, and two sentences you've written. It's that easy!

Two from the 2010 Best Mystery Novel Macavity Award winner, TOWER by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman:

Grayness burned away by the sun like a match through dark acetate. Still cold as an icehouse, but to feel the sun on my face was redemption, if only temporary.
Two from my true crime memoir, A Perfect Night for Murder -- still a W-I-P!

Throughout dozens of interviews, a single thread pierced the fabric of every conversation concerning communication between family members, spouses, children, friends, and neighbors of the historic harbor enclave in the 1950s: residents simply avoided talking about unpleasant or uncomfortable things — as if they didn’t exist.

I also learned that infidelity, spousal and child abuse, and alcoholism was rampant; these painful experiences created silent suffering for its victims.

Join us ~ share 2 + 2, this and every Tuesday. If you've been been meaning to write, this gives you a great excuse to get to it -- at the very least, two sentences -- and you never know where that might lead!