KN, p. 189 “Fifth Anniversary Thank You from the Kerrians”


Kerriansnotebook_FINAL copy

It’s with great pleasure that we thank you, the readers, for hanging out with us for five years.


We’ve taken some really amazing trips to American Civil War battlefields, endured fog and pouring rain on both American and international golf courses, been trapped in elevators, survived bomb scares, witnessed bloody crime scenes, and lived to tell the tales.


Some intriguing people have agreed to do interviews about their jobs and in the process, have opened the eyes of our readers far and wide about the rigors of law enforcement in its many forms.


Police Academies, Fire Fighter Academies, Emergency Medical Training Schools, Firearms Training sites, Criminal Investigation Facilities –  have all generously allowed us to take photos and chat with the instructors at length. Fascinating stuff.


We’ve met with Visiting Detectives – an assortment that included a psychic detective, a vegetarian detective, and a time-traveling detective from the 1800s. Sheila chimed in while they worked on puzzling cases with me. The Vegetarian Detective brought brownies. Yum.


Kerrian’s Notebook, Volume 1, which included stories from 2011 and 2012 no longer available on the website, was published in response to the readership that wanted the (over 50) stories from the first year collected into one ebook. Don’t have your copy yet? Click on the link and find it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HI6YBDG


You’ve made the journey fun. And then some.  🙂

During the years, we kept track of which posts were the most popular, which ones you kept visiting over and over again. For research? For another laugh? To prove a point? For some of you, all three. Here is the result.


Click on the links and take a look at your Top 10 Favorite Kerrian’s Notebook posts in reverse order thru 2016:


  1. Who are the Texas Rangers?” (p.144)


  1. Are all handcuffs yellow?” (p.68)


  1. What does a Texas Ranger do?” (p.145)


  1. How big is that jail cell?” (p.51)


  1. Kerrian’s Favorite Chocolate Cheesecake.” (p.45)


  1. 100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death.” (p.100)


  1. What does a firefighter wear?” (p.119)


  1. I Like Pie.” (p.67)


  1. How many bodies at the scene?” (p.87)


And the most popular post?

  1. How to become a Texas Ranger.” (p.146)


Thank you, one and all!  🙂
Next time you’re in town, give us a call. We’re always happy to chat about the latest trip or the trickiest case. If you’re lucky, you might even meet one of the Visiting Detectives. There’s always a pot of coffee on and a piece of pie just begging to be eaten.


*Fingerprint photo taken by Patti Phillips at SIRCHIE, in Youngsville, North Carolina.












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KN, p. 168 “How do you become a US Marshal?”



In the last post, “What does a U.S. Marshal do?” I listed quite a few of the duties that occupy the days of U.S. Marshals working in the various sections of the U.S. Marshal Service.


Part 2 of the series deals with qualifications needed to become a member of the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States.


First and foremost, potential candidates must be U.S. citizens and must be between the ages of 21 and 36. There are exceptions to the upper limit, but they are addressed at the time of application.


Before attending academy training, candidates must:


  • Have a bachelor’s degree, plus a year of grad school, preferably in an area of criminal justice – with at least a B average in all coursework.
  • Pass a background check – assume that it will be thorough
  • Complete interviews and various screenings – assume they will be intense
  • Be in top physical shape – not just a gym rat
  • Have at least normal vision and hearing
  • Pass the Fitness Test – see below and decide whether you could qualify to be part of the next Academy class


Minimum Fitness Standards for Men (30-39) in order to pass:


Complete 27 pushups, followed by 36 sit-ups, immediately followed by a 1.5 mile run in less than 13 minutes.

The Superior level is pegged at 51 pushups, 50 sit-ups and that same 1.5 mile completed in less than 9 minutes.


Minimum Fitness Standards for Women (30-39) in order to pass:


Complete 14 pushups, followed by 27 sit-ups, with the 1.5 miles finished in less than 16 minutes.

Reaching the Superior level requires more than 22 pushups, more than 41 sit-ups and the 1.5 mile run to be completed in less than 12 minutes.


The other age charts don’t differ all that much. Let’s face it, if 2-3 pushups more or less would make the difference in your candidacy, you probably aren’t ready yet.

If you are at the minimums when passing the Fitness Test, keep in mind that as an overall candidate, the other parts of your resume will need to be much stronger than at the minimum.


Why is it necessary to be in such good shape? The U.S. Marshals in charge of transporting prisoners or apprehending fugitives will need to work in all kinds of extreme weather conditions. The USA has both Alaska and Florida within its borders, with snowstorms, hurricanes, freezing temps as well as sweltering heat to contend with. At times, Marshals may have to wear Kevlar vests in the heat or resist an assault or run for blocks or be in confined spaces with dangerous criminals…you get the idea.



You’ve passed the initial screening and now it’s time for you to:


  • Pass the 21 ½ week basic training program at the United States Marshals Service Training Academy.


United States Marshals Service Basic Training Academy is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), in Glynco, GA. The training is tough and since it is experienced in the intense heat and humidity of the world that is Georgia (USA), potential candidates are warned that top physical condition means just that. To prepare for the intensity of the Academy training, potential candidates are warned to start hydrating weeks before setting one foot at the Center. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, just to stay alive in the brutal summers of the South – forget about all the intense 1 to 10 mile runs combined with workouts, climbing, obstacle courses, and sprints that are coming at unscheduled times during training.


Some of the subjects covered during training include:

  • Building entry and search
  • Computer training
  • Court security
  • Defensive tactics
  • Driver training
  • Firearms training
  • High profile trials
  • Officer survival
  • Physical conditioning
  • Prisoner search and restraint
  • Search and seizure
  • Surveillance


There are seven exams given during the 21+ weeks. Each test must be passed with a score of at least 70%. There are additional practical exams scored with a pass/fail.


The subjects covered during training are necessary knowledge that a U.S. Marshal must internalize in order to do his/her job well. Lives depend on doing that job well.

Post Academy

 After successfully completing the training program and getting out into the field, U.S. Marshals are required to attend annual training sessions to maintain proficiency in certain areas or to learn new forensic techniques available.


Every six months, re-qualification is required for primary and off-duty handguns, rifles, shotguns, and perhaps submachine or semi-automatic guns if needed.


Once a year, re-qualification is required for batons and stunguns, as well as other non-lethal devices.


After seven years, the Deputy U.S. Marshals attend an advanced basic training session.


Think the training and ongoing retraining is something you could handle? From all reports, the job is an interesting one most of the time. There are reports to file, stake-outs to sit through and occasional boring parts of the work, but although sometimes dangerous, the job of a US Marshal is  essential to keep our court and judicial system running smoothly.


For more information, please visit www.usmarshals.gov

Photo credits:

Collage of badges edited from the US Marshal website
Middle and bottom badge photos – Wikipedia




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Kerrian’s Notebook, p. 104 “Sheila Goes to the Firing Range”



The last two posts dealt with the need for firearms training and gun maintenance. My wife, Sheila, has a healthy respect for handguns – firearms of any kind – but has never wanted primary responsibility for taking care of our own equipment.


After all, I’m here, so why would she need to?  HA!


That’s a common mistake that many firearms owners make. If there are firearms in the house, whether they are intended for self-defense or recreational use, all the people who will be using them should trade off on taking care of them. It stands to reason that the more familiar people are with the guns in their possession, the better prepared they will be when the firearms are used. That refers to not only cleaning the firearms, but also staying proficient with them. Remember what I said about not leaving the handguns in the drawer?


One of the bits of research that convinced Sheila to get back to the firing range was something I told her about the Tueller Drill. There’s a police officer in Utah who discovered that it only takes 1.5 seconds for an attacker to reach you from 20 feet away. Measure it out in your house. 20 feet is about the width of a small house, or the width of somebody’s living room in an average home.


The stat came up when we were chatting about lethal force and when it was okay to use it, but the discussion got serious when she realized that in the Tueller scenario, the attacker was running. During the time it took someone (who was a deadly threat) to run the 20 feet toward Sheila, she would need to get her gun (if she was home), take aim, and shoot accurately. The average person takes about 1.5 seconds to get off a shot, but all she has to do is beat the runner…


Sounds easy enough, right? Nope.


If the gun is not with her (it’s in a drawer or in her pocketbook) she has to throw things in the way to slow the attacker down as she runs to get it. If the attacker is faster than she is, Sheila loses.

If the gun gets snagged in a drawer, Sheila loses.

If the gun misfires, Sheila loses.

If the gun is too heavy and she has trouble lifting it before firing, Sheila loses.

If her aim is bad, Sheila loses.


In any of those possibilities, that 1.5 seconds will have evaporated and the firearm will be useless, perhaps even become a weapon that can be used against her.


So, Sheila and I went to the firing range so she could get some time in with my backup Glock.


Sheila did some dry firing – getting into a stable position, drawing the gun, aligning the sights and then pulling the trigger – all without the gun being loaded. Getting the muscle memory down can be as important as actually firing live rounds.

Here are some marksmanship fundamentals to check each and every time practicing shooting until they become second nature and are done automatically:


1. Grip – one or two-handed

2. Stance – feet shoulder width apart (isosceles) or one slightly in front of the other (weaver)

3. Sight alignment

4. Trigger control

5. Checking success of the shot

5. Breath control

6. Rhythm


Sheila worked on stance, on timing, on a smooth draw, on focus, on breathing. She worked on getting the front and back sights in perfect alignment. She worked on keeping her grip strong and firm. She used a two-handed grip and muscle tension to control the recoil. She worked on keeping her weight on the balls of her feet.


 After she was comfortable again with the weight and physical handling of the Glock, she fired a few rounds at a paper target, about the size of an average man.


When our time at the range was up, we hung around to watch a proficiency training class. The shooters were reminded of the safety rules:


Always keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction.

Keep the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

Keep the gun unloaded until ready to shoot.


 The instructors helped the attendees with details of handling the firearms.


Before each section of firing, the head instructor would command the shooters to:

“Load and make ready!

Shooters ready!

Stand by!


in order to maintain the safety of the area.


If the shooters aimed too high or too far in any direction, the instructor advised them about body position and arm extension, among other tips.


Proficiency tests are conducted during some of the classes. We watched one that required the shooters to hit the target 21 out of 30 times at various distances, within a limited amount of time. The shooters only had 30 rounds (bullets) available, so being comfortable with the firearm was essential.


They were given 10 rounds at the three yard line,

                         10 rounds at the five yard line,

                         10 rounds at the seven yard line.


It seemed as if less than two minutes was given to shoot the ten rounds at each distance, so nerves couldn’t come into play.


My advice: If you buy a handgun, don’t leave it in the drawer.

Take a training class if you don’t know how to shoot or if you don’t know how to handle it safely.

Clean it.

Stay proficient by practicing at a licensed firing range.


And, please don’t believe what you see on the TV shows and in the movies about people being expert shots the first time they pick up a firearm. Not gonna happen. Ever.




*Photos 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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