crime

KN, p. 124 “Is there more crime on Halloween?”

 

Halloween Pumpkin

 

Worried about your personal safety on Halloween? Afraid to leave your house unguarded, because of potential break-ins while you’re at the party across town? Think crime spikes on Halloween?

 

Seriously? That may depend on where you live, what day of the week Halloween occurs and whether or not it’s cold that night. Apparently, criminals don’t like to go out on cold and rainy nights any more than we do.

 

A Columbus, Ohio, TV program – Crime Tracker10 – looked into safety on Halloween in 2013, wondering if there were more break-ins while people were out trick-or-treating. And they found nothing remarkable at all, just some underage drinking, and occasional theft. They had to look back at statistics from several years ago to find anything as serious as disorderly conduct on the books. They did find that the area police departments traditionally put on extra patrol officers that night. A visible cop presence may be enough to keep the unfriendlies at home for the night.

http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2013/10/31/crimetracker10-halloween-crimes.html

 

 

Boston area residents don’t seem to have the same experience. The numbers on this chart published by the Boston Globe shows violent crime rates in the city during a four-year period. “The evening violent crime count on October 31 is about 50 percent higher than on any other date during the year, and twice the daily average.” Pretty grim. I would stay home or drive my kids to a party, walk them to the door, and not do any neighborhood trick-or-treating.

 

 

A website devoted to information about forensics colleges found that certain areas of the country focus on prevention of specific Halloween crimes:

 

  • Orlando, Florida – on the alert for adults wearing masks
  • Georgetown, Washington, DC – watching for burglars
  • South L.A. – watching out for children running from between parked cars
  • Lompoc Valley, CA – flamingo flocking (those plastic lawn flamingoes are used as a way to refocus Halloween energy. You can pay to have a bunch of flamingos put on lawns or pay ‘insurance’ to keep from getting ‘flocked.’ (It’s a fundraiser for the PAL)
  • San Luis Obispo – increases the staff for the night and doubles the fine for certain offenses

http://www.forensicscolleges.com/blog/resources/halloween-crime-in-10-cities

 

 

 

 

Halloween is celebrated all over the world, and in 2013, a reporter in the UK looked into Halloween crime in the USA. He found some pretty nasty cases, but I’ll only chat about two. You can read about the rest by clicking on the link.

 

1) A nine-year-old girl dressed in a black costume, complete with black hat and white tassel, was accidentally shot by a relative who thought she was a skunk. She was outside her house in Pennsylvania when he fired a shotgun, hitting her in the shoulder, arm, back and neck.

I don’t know about you, but all the nine-year-olds I ever met were at least four times the size of the biggest skunk I’ve ever seen. The report did not mention whether alcohol was involved.

 

2) When people in Delaware saw a body hanging from a tree in 2005, they assumed it was a Halloween decoration. Nope. By the time anyone realized that it was actually a dead woman, she had been there for three hours.

By Anthony Bond: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/halloween-2013-eight-real-life-2657825

 

I doubt that I will be able to pass an outdoor Halloween display again, without checking to see that the scarecrows really are made of straw.

 

Stay safe everyone and have a Happy Halloween!

 

 

 

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KN, p. 123 “Is that a body in the rug?”

 

The painting is done in the office! Prepping really wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be, mainly because I didn’t have to worry about splatters on the old rug. The result is pretty good if I do say so myself. Sheila just gave me a ‘thumbs up,’ so the job passed inspection.

 

The guys at the paint store really did a nice job of matching colors to the rug. They’ve been in business for a long time and we’re happy to go there rather than to a big box warehouse. It’s easy to give word-of-mouth referrals to such a reliable, helpful operation.

 

We had a local flooring company do the new rug. They pulled out the furniture, tore up the old rug, laid the new rug, and moved the furniture back in – all in about three hours. Great crew, well-organized, nice guys.

 

I hung around most of the time, ‘supervising,’ and told them about ‘Kerrian’s Notebook.’ At first, there were surprised looks when I described some of the pages, but after a while they relaxed and had a few laughs. I even got one of the guys to agree to be rolled up in the old rug so that I could take a picture before it was carted off. Honest – the young man is fine and was only inside the rug for five minutes.

 

Then, the very night that the rug was put in, a TV show aired that had a body in a rug as part of the storyline – “How to Get Away with Murder.” Great cast, fun basic concept so far. I can’t give anything important away, but the rug pops up more than once.

 

I started thinking about all the times that rugs have been used as a way to hide bodies in the movies and on TV. Kidnappers carry the victims out of their homes, murderers dispose of bodies, terrorists get rid of the targets… it seems to be an easy way to dispose of (or hide or move) the evidence without raising suspicion even in broad daylight. Or at least delay discovery of the crime.

 

And, the method is perfectly believable, as long as the deed is carried out correctly.

There are physical realities to be dealt with – rugs are heavy and bulky. There’s a reason that carpeting is sliced up into smaller pieces before the crew carries it out to the curb. It’s more manageable then.

 

After seeing the guys work with the old carpeting in my house, it makes sense that more than one person should carry the body-in-the-rug on TV or in the movies. One guy or gal at either end of the rug and probably one to support the middle. Bodies flop and bend, so somebody needs to hold up the sagging section if a lightweight area rug is being used. And, keep in mind that most adults weigh anywhere from 120 to 220 pounds. No way is anybody except a body builder going to toss a rug and a body over one shoulder. Too bulky. It’s possible for one person to drag a body-in-a-rug to move it within a house, but if any lifting has to be done, the weight will be a factor and that’s where at least a second person is needed.

 

Years ago, I watched an average sized woman in a made-for-TV movie, roll up her tall, dead husband in a rug, lift and carry that body all by herself out to a car and put it in the trunk. At no time did she have help. I wanted to throw popcorn at the screen.

 

The funnier episodes have arms slipping out of a less than well-tied edge, or feet sticking out an end as the partners-in-crime carry the bodies out to the waiting vans – in full view of the neighborhood. What? You think that everybody has a big enough piece of rug to hide a body in, right when they need it?

 

Would you wonder about the neighbors if you saw a rug being carried to the car? Would you start counting family members?

 

 

*I promise, no rugs have been used to hide any actual dead bodies during the writing of this post.

 

*Many thanks to Blake Lee for ‘posing’ inside the rug. He was a great sport!

 

KN, p. 117 “Officer needs assistance!”

 

 

 

 

Arrests are rarely neat and tidy, or take place with little resistance from the suspect(s). If the charge is for a misdemeanor, too many parking tickets, or a problem with overdue child support, the suspect might cooperate. But, hardly anybody actually wants to go to jail.

 

If a car is seen weaving across lanes on a busy road, an officer might have cause to assume that something is wrong. Drunk driver? Distracted driver swatting at a bee in the car? Texting driver? Any of these scenarios require the officer to be on the alert, but might not require an automatic call for backup. He/she is facing what is called an Unknown Risk. The officer will follow protocol and call in the plate number or use his onboard computer to research outstanding warrants and ownership of the car. If flashing the patrol car light bar gets the driver to pull over so that the officer can investigate the reason for the odd behavior, then the stop may just end with a warning or a ticket.

 

Sometimes suspects are caught in the act of a committing a felony and they try to make a run for it (perhaps after a bank robbery or a drug deal goes south) hoping they can lose the cops in traffic or on deserted back roads. “Suspect fleeing the scene,” may be called in if it’s witnessed, and officers in pursuit are facing a Known Risk. It becomes a High Risk situation if guns are involved. The chase can continue beyond city limits, as long as it is an active pursuit.

 

Once the chase ends, the officers need to control the situation as much as possible, keeping their own position and the suspect’s position clearly in mind at all times.

 

Safety procedures the officers might follow if warranted:

If the chase ends during the daytime, the officer will angle the patrol cars to block off streets and people for their own protection, getting as close as possible to the suspects to control the developing situation.

 

You give up cover if you are not positioned behind a door, so the officers will try to stay behind a car door while the scene unfolds. Bullets will pierce doors, but at least a car door will slow the bullet down. Hopefully, the officers will be wearing bulletproof vests, but even a notebook will slow down a bullet, although not by much. There are degrees of cover and there are very few times of absolute cover.

At night, the officers will create a curtain of light – that is, shine lights on the suspect’s face so that he/she can’t see the officers.

Officers in patrol cars generally carry a shotgun because it commands respect. People pretty much stop in their tracks when they hear the sound of a shotgun being racked.

 

It is essential to get as much information about the people inside the car as possible, before any further action is taken. If there are tinted windows in the car, the officer will try to talk the people out. If the officer can’t? Then, officers are trained to wait the suspects out. It’s usually only a matter of time before the occupants of the car will make a move.

 

Officers will risk the K-9s if they need to, in order to encourage the suspects to get out of the car or even to stay put.

 

If the officer feels the trunk needs to be investigated, he/she will have the suspect pop the trunk so that the officer maintains control.

 

 

Once the suspect gets out of the car, the officer will have him/her kneel or lie on the ground to be cuffed.

 

 

 

The suspect needs to be frisked before being placed in the patrol car.

 

The inside of a patrol car is bare bones for a reason. Suspects are often sick inside the patrol car, or even go to the bathroom in there. Yup, right in the back seat. This plain design makes it easier to hose out and also cuts down on places to hide sharp objects, etc.

 

Once the suspects have been cuffed and frisked, the officer places them inside the patrol car.

 

There were no guns in the hands of the suspects in this scenario, so the situation was handled fairly easily and was resolved in about an hour.

 

Please Note: none of the gals in the photos are criminals. They were attendees at the 2013 Writers’ Police Academy and were helping to re-enact a ‘Known Risk’ stop, complete with yelling and back-talk to the officers. Good sports, all!  🙂

 

Many thanks to the instructors at The Writers’ Police Academy (2013) and the volunteers from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department (NC) who gave so generously of their time during their days off.

 

 

*Photos taken by Patti Phillips

 

 

 

The re-enactment was conducted at night and demonstrated how difficult it is for anyone to see what’s happening (officers or suspects) while the action unfolds. After I took the photos, I used a photo correction app to adjust the lighting, so that you could see the positions of the people and the cars.

 

Compare the two versions of the same image below.

#1 (the original image) shows how dark it really was outside.

#2 was adjusted so that you can see the demo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

          #1                                                                                                           #2

 

 

 

 

 

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