For Writers

KN, p. 109 “Murder and Other Crimes at the Racetrack”

 

(Note: From the 2014 archives)

It’s Triple Crown season in the horseracing world.

 

The 140th Kentucky Derby took place on the first weekend in May, the Preakness ran May 17th and the Belmont Stakes (the last of the three races that make up the Triple Crown) will be held this coming weekend. The last horse that won the top prize in horse racing was Affirmed (in 1978) and California Chrome has a shot at the crown this time. There is a stable full of money to be won or lost – the first place purse at the Derby alone was over $1.4 million this year.

 


With stakes this high, tempers are bound to flare, arguments over how to train a horse to win will be frequent, and cheating at all levels in all areas of the sport has been attempted in the past. Unscrupulous trainers or desperate owners may try to dope a horse to enhance its speed or even disguise injuries with drugs so that the horse can race one last time. This is less likely to happen during the big races because of the increased scrutiny from all sides. But, to deal with any abuse of the animals or the betting system and even conditions for the jockeys themselves, each state has a Racing Commission that oversees and regulates the integrity of the sport and hands out penalties to offenders throughout the season if needed.

See www.khrc.ky.gov for information about the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

 

Great jockeys matched with superior horses can be a goldmine for the owner and the jockey percentage of the purse can be substantial. That winning purse at the Derby that brought the owner over a million? The winning jockey made $142,000. that day.  If jockeys finish in one of the top three spots in a big race, they receive 10% of the purse for the day – thousands in most cases. Outside the top three at a smaller track? They might get $100. for the ride. That disparity is the source of intense rivalry for the best rides.

 

 

 

The day after the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby (2012), a trainer’s groom was found dead behind a barn at Churchill Downs. The murder (or possibly reckless homicide) was never solved, so nobody can say for sure whether his death was related to racing or to a nasty argument over something else entirely.

Cathy Scott, a crime writer, covered the original story:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/crime/2012/05/07/murder-at-the-racetrack/

Homicide detectives followed as many leads as they could, but it’s a cold case.

http://www.wdrb.com/story/22112320/kentucky-derby-murder-remains-unsolved-one-year-later

 


People all over the world bet on the outcome of the Triple Crown. Some base their bets on the jockeys, on the stables where the horse comes from, on the horse itself, even on the conditions of the track. Me? If I watch a race on TV, I choose the horse based on its cool name or on the colors of silks the jockey wears. Not a foolproof system, but I’m not a bettor. I just like to watch the horses run.

 

Big money and fierce competition both on and off the track – what could possibly go wrong?

 


*Photos by Patti Phillips – of an unnamed, great looking horse from her files.  🙂

 

 

 

 

KN, p. 103 “Did you clean your gun this week?”

 

 

 

Are you a recreational shooter or do you use your firearm for self-defense? There is some disagreement even among gun enthusiasts about how often a firearm should be cleaned – anywhere from after every single use to only after 1000 rounds. But, the reason for cleaning doesn’t change: the gun should work when we need it to.

 

Every time the gun is fired, a pin (or hammer) strikes the primer in the bullet and causes a spark. This spark ignites the powder in the bullet and causes an explosion, which moves the bullet down the barrel of the gun. Minute bits of gunpowder and lead residue are left behind in and outside the firearm and builds up over time. Gunpowder dust? Bullet dust? A bit of both. If left on and in the firearm and ignored, the handgun will most likely lose efficiency and reliability.

 

Imagine driving your car for a while without getting the plugs replaced, the filters changed or the oil changed. It might still run, but not as well as if you did the regular maintenance. And, it might even stall (or not start at all) for no apparent reason when you need it the most.

 

Cops on TV and in the movies do have occasional scenes where their guns don’t work and a partner has to come to the rescue. There may be lots of reasons for a handgun to misfire – lousy ammo, worn parts, dirty/rusty mechanisms, blocked barrel, cheaply made – but checking the gun on a regular basis can help avoid some of the common malfunctions.

 

There are three basic rules for safe handling of a firearm, whether you are showing it to someone, shooting it, putting it away, or you are about to clean it, and it’s good to practice them even when you think it’s unnecessary. There are too many accidental deaths caused by people cleaning their firearms, so please take note:

1 – always point the gun in a safe direction

2 – keep your finger OFF the trigger until you’re ready to shoot

3 – keep the gun UNLOADED unless and until you’re going to shoot

 

When you buy the gun, pick up a cleaning kit at the same time. Cleaning kits are not expensive – $20.00 will get you a basic kit that includes the metal rods and brushes you need to clean your handgun, along with cleaning patches and patch holders. There are several types of brushes to use, but most gun owners say that a toothbrush will work to do the overall initial cleaning, and twisted bronze brushes will work best for cleaning the bore. The bore brushes come in different sizes to fit the different caliber guns. A bore brush for a .45 won’t fit a .22, etc. Check the manufacturers catalog to see which brushes you need, if you don’t already know.

assorted caliber bronze brushes

 

An interesting tool for cleaning a firearm is a Bore Snake.

Bore Snake   

Because of its construction, it is possible to combine a couple of cleaning steps into one. The two ends (of what is essentially a very fat shoelace) are softer, with bronze bristles in the center. As the Bore Snake is pulled through (from back to front) of the bore, the soft end removes loose residue, the bronze wire on the Bore Snake loosens the more resistant grit, then the softer floss at the end pulls away the rest. It can be used with solvent, or pulled through dry.

 

Glock with Bore Snake

The Bore Snake can also double as a safe storage and transport aid. If the Bore Snake is in the bore, there’s no possibility that a bullet is in the chamber.

 

Steps to cleaning the firearm:

1. Check to make sure that the gun is unloaded.

2. Take apart the gun.

3. Wipe down all the parts to be cleaned, using cloth rags.

4. Apply a solvent recommended by your gun’s manufacturer to the dirty areas and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.

5. Scrub the entire gun, inside and out, with a soft brush to loosen the grime.

6. Wipe the gun clean with a solvent-soaked rag and repeat if necessary.

7. Use a bore brush (or the Bore Snake) to clean the bore, being careful to start at the back and move forward through the bore, without reversing direction while inside the barrel.

8. Use the solvent to clean the bore with a cotton patch or the Bore Snake.

9. After cleaning the gun, lubricate it.

10. Grease the sliding parts of the handgun.

popular cleaning supplies

There are different oils and greases used during extreme weather (hot or cold) as well as in wet, humid conditions, so check with the gun manufacturer to see which product(s) will work best for your firearm.

 

 

Some military rifles are built so that cleaning supplies can be stowed in a special compartment in the stock.

 

We hear every once in a while about people shooting themselves while cleaning their firearms, sometimes with deadly consequences. It would seem impossible for these tragedies to occur if following standard gun safety rules, but sadly, people don’t always do that. 

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/03/10/pennsylvania-trooper-fatally-shoots-pregnant-wife-in-the-head-while-cleaning-his-gun/

 

The best policy is to assume the gun is loaded and check each and every time before you clean it, to make sure you don’t shoot yourself or somebody else.

 

 

*First photo – (disassembled Glock) – from Wikipedia

Other photos by Patti Phillips

 

Photo of Glock with Bore Snake taken at Freedom Firearms Training, in Carthage, NC. Many thanks to Steve Jones and his staff for allowing me to visit during one of his concealed/carry permit classes.

 

Steve Jones is an experienced NRA firearms instructor and is the owner/operator of Freedom Firearms Training.

Steve Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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KN, p. 87 “How many bodies at the scene?”

 

 

(WARNING: Some photos may be disturbing to some viewers)

 

Not long ago, Sheila and I spent a pretty intense afternoon with a group of students and professionals doing a simulation of an explosion and its aftermath at a local campus. Here’s how it played out.

“You have reached 911. What’s the nature of your emergency?”

 

“A bomb just went off at the campus! There must be a dozen people hurt…there’s blood everywhere…”

 

Someone – a fellow student or perhaps a passing motorist – had called 911 and while sobbing or yelling the words into the phone, had begun the process to get help to the scene. The caller was kept on the phone in order to get any “who, what and where” details they might have known.

 

The 911 dispatcher made the appropriate call and told the First Responder, “There’s a possible explosion at the college. There may be multiple injuries.”

 

In general throughout the USA, the groups that respond will be from the Police/Sheriff, Fire, and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Departments in the area. The unit that responds first is the First Responder and it is their responsibility to secure the scene. When the Law Enforcement agency arrives, they will determine if they are looking at a crime scene or whether something has accidentally exploded. In both cases, a perimeter is established.

 

If it is a crime scene, then access inside the perimeter will be limited to essential personnel and a sign in/out log will be used. An officer will guard the access point as long as is needed. This insures that evidence can be preserved as much as possible and that curious onlookers will not get in the way of either treatment of the victims or investigation of the scene.

 

Multiple victims, multiple injuries, an explosion and several agencies involved? How do they keep from tripping over each other? How do they know what to do next?

 

Each of the groups has a Command person in charge of that group. In addition, an Incident Commander is in charge of the entire scene, coordinating the efforts of everybody concerned.

 

 

 

Victims are prioritized by type of wound, and then tagged with a card that identifies the level of injury, before they are eligible for transport. In general, the tag colors indicate:

 

*Black tags – not breathing

*Red tags – will die if not treated immediately, but still breathing on own

*Yellow tags – broken bones, but alert

 

The ones having sustained the most serious injuries and who have the greatest likelihood of survival, are treated and transported first by EMS Transport Command.

Other victims who have superficial cuts and abrasions are treated at the scene and released from care.

 

One of the simulation victims had a piece of glass ‘stuck’ in her arm as a result of being too close to windows that shattered during the explosion. The EMS gal treating her explained that the glass would keep the wound from bleeding until the victim reached the hospital. Basically, it was plugging the hole in her arm. If the police considered the glass a piece of evidence, it would be collected, bagged and tagged at the hospital. The piece of glass would only be removed at the scene if the patient could not breathe or if it got in the way of doing CPR. Since the glass was in her arm, it was left there and bandages were wrapped around it.

 

The Incident Commander explained that the first priority was the treatment of the patients and that all evidence on (or in) the victims would be collected later at the hospital. The EMS does not remove anything from the scene if they can help it.

 

The police began to take statements from the witnesses after treatment was in progress, but prioritized the questioning – least hurt, most alert, were questioned first. The EMS people are under HIIPA rules, so are not allowed to share any information they see or gather from the victims being treated. The police have to get that info on their own. At some point, the law enforcement officers would obtain an order for medical records of the person who caused the explosion.

 

Sadly, one of the victims ‘died’ during the simulation, as would happen in real life. This lady did not make it because her injuries were so severe. (only a simulation – that’s a great makeup job)

If all this were really happening, area airports and highways would be shut down until the threat level was determined. Was it an accident in a lab? Or was it a terrorist action? Unless the investigators get lucky and somebody confesses or does the ‘big reveal’ right at the scene, the truth is, that at an hour after the initial explosion, all that is known for sure is that lots of people have been hurt.

 

Sheila and I were impressed with how well the simulation went and how well organized it was. Great experience for us to see how a well-trained group can bring sanity to a potentially chaotic situation.

 

 

 

*Photos taken by Patti Phillips at a real simulation conducted in Guilford County, NC at the Writers’ Police Academy.

*Sheila and Charlie Kerrian are fictional characters, but the simulation actually took place.

 

 

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