Tag Archives: crime

The Speeding Ticket You Got in Arizona Was Not My Fault – Really!

Being a former police officer and former Secret Service agent, I end up in a lot of conversations with people who want to tell me about some experience he or she has had with law enforcement.  Nine out of ten times, the experience was a somewhat negative one for the individual who was upset about getting a traffic citation, or felt the police did not adequately investigate a crime of which the person was a victim, or the individual was somehow inconvenienced by police activity.

I understand this.  I’ve gotten used to these talks during which I make sure I listen well and do my best to remain objective.  After all, cops aren’t perfect.  There are some patrol officers who are jerks on traffic stops.  There are lazy detectives who fail to follow-up on leads.  There are federal agents who have giant egos.  It happens.  However, most of the frustration that is conveyed in the telling of these stories comes from a misunderstanding of processes, the profession, and what are realistic expectations.  This is something officers experience every day and it happened to me.  I recall a victim of a theft becoming extremely frustrated with me because I didn’t “… force the suspect to take a polygraph.”  Of course, I explained that the police cannot force anybody to take a polygraph test and that the results would be inadmissible in court anyway, but the victim of the crime had already labeled me as inept or apathetic since I hadn’t pursued this unrealistic avenue.

Now while every profession has to endure some level of skepticism and scrutiny, law enforcement is unique in the way many people will attribute the circumstances of a specific officer or incident to any police action.  On the surface, this can make sense to an individual.  However, when one does this with other professions, the exercise becomes a bit silly.  Below, let’s compare some complaints / stories about law enforcement with what would be the equivalent for other professions.

Police story:  “Hey, you were a police officer in Virginia, right?  Well, I was driving in Georgia and this police officer pulled me over and gave me a ticket for going three miles per hour over the speed limit.  Three!  And he completely ignored the cars that were passing me!”

Equivalent in another profession:  “Hey, you work for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, right?  Let me tell you about this time I was driving in Delaware and had to sit in a construction zone for an hour and there was no real construction going on!”

Now, obviously most people would not think to connect a construction zone on a roadway in Delaware to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation employee, but that’s exactly what people do when discussing policing.  Another example:

Police story:  “Oh, you were in the Secret Service?  Did I tell you about the time I was late to work because the Governor’s security people wouldn’t let me use the elevator because she was visiting our building?”

Equivalent in another profession:  “So, you just retired from Xerox?  Man, we had this Konica copier at my old job and that thing always jammed.  What’s up with that?”

I know.  The conversation with the former Xerox employ would be a ridiculous conversation.  The complaint about a different product created by a different company is essentially the comparing of apples and oranges.  Aside from that, in law enforcement discussions, sometimes people try to compare apples and oranges and what people think are oranges are really tangerines.

In law enforcement, there are tens of thousands of employees in hundreds of agencies who are responsible for a variety of jurisdictions.   So, why do people tend to associate what happens with one agent or officer in a particular region or jurisdiction with an entire profession?  We usually don’t do this with construction workers, accountants, museum curators, or lawyers.  Well… maybe lawyers.  The answer is easy.  Because television, movies, and novels have made us a society of EXPERTS in all matters surrounding the administration of justice.

Many people have derived their knowledge of policing from television shows such as Law and Order, Castle, Criminal Minds, NCIS, CSI, or crime novels.  There are far fewer shows and books about construction workers, accountants, and museum curators, so people don’t believe themselves to be experts in those fields.  However, if we see NCIS Special Agent Gibbs do something on NCIS, then we know it must be partially true.  Right?  I mean lots of agencies have a computer wiz on staff who routinely, and illegally, hacks into the Pentagon in order to get classified records.  Right?

It’s natural for people to be apprehensive about law enforcement.  Many of the interactions we have with the police are negative.  Often our contacts with cops involve either being pulled over for a traffic violation or with having been the victim of some sort of crime. The overall experience may not be pleasant, but every encounter with each individual officer or agent should be evaluated independent of each other.  If an officer yelled at you in Pittsburgh, then the retired L.A. cop you are talking to at a picnic had nothing to do with it.  If you felt a detective in Austin, Texas was unfair to you, the investigator from St. Louis really can’t weigh in on the matter.  If you got jammed up in traffic because of a motorcade rolling through Washington, D.C., then don’t complain to me about…  actually, that could have been me.  Sorry about that one.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

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Can a Gun Owner Support Gun Control?

I am a gun owner.
I believe in gun control.

For whatever reason, there is a segment of the population that believes these two facts conflict and that gun owners who believe in gun control are hypocrites. This faulty reasoning often originates from a misguided belief that “abolition” and “control” are the same thing.

They are not.

Some argue we already have effective gun control measures in place in the form of the meager background checks that are conducted on those purchasing a weapon.

We do not.

Others argue gun control cannot be totally effective because criminals often do not purchase weapons through legal means. The argument that criminals will not follow the laws, therefore stricter laws should not exist is, on its face, ludicrous.

If we were to follow that thread of logic, then we should eliminate speed limits because a significant number of drivers exceed the posted limit. Even with speed limits in place, we test new drivers, mandate drivers wear seatbelts, enforce a myriad of traffic laws, and then we STILL have guardrails along the sides of highways because we expect there to be those who will stray off the designated path either by choice or accident.

Our cars are filled with airbags and new safety mechanisms seem to pop up with every new model. We nod with approval as car manufacturers brag about exceeding government safety standards, yet yawn when gun companies advertise extended magazines that will hold more ammunition and silencers that can be purchased online. We accept – and even expect – regulation in nearly every aspect of our lives. It is part of the social contract we have with our government. We surrender some rights in order to live in a society of rules that will protect us, our children, our future.

Limits are good things. I own guns, but I do not need guns that are capable of carrying buckets of ammunition that can be fired at a furious rate. Many argue they need such things for home defense. Let me be clear about something. If you cannot stop a threat with a handgun or two, each capable of holding 10 or 12 rounds, you don’t need more guns. You need more practice.

I am a gun owner.
I believe in gun control.

It’s funny. After you drive down the interstate for a while, we barely notice the guardrails that may keep us from driving off a cliff.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Coming February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

 

When Crime Strikes a Crime Fiction Writer

I usually don’t get too personal with this blog, but it’s confession time.  I’m a victim.

Yesterday, I returned home to discover a grisly scene unlike any I’ve ever witnessed.  As I had a long career in law enforcement, I’m no stranger to the brutalities of life, but never has such a scene played out in my own home.  In the field of law enforcement, you have to disassociate yourself from crime scenes and make an attempt to be objective.  But, how do you do that when your own home has become a battleground?

Returning home from work, I entered the house to hear the sound of water rushing in the basement.  Unfortunately, the sound was not unfamiliar to me as we had had a waterline break five years ago and the result was a flooded basement.  Assuming the same thing had happened, I rushed downstairs to shut off the water.  As I expected, water was shooting out from behind a toilet, so I quickly reached behind the porcelain and grasped the valve to shut off the water flow.  I yanked my hand back in pain and saw blood streaking down my hand.  The valve had been severely damaged and crudely sharpened into a jailhouse weapon.  Bleeding and confused, I managed to shut off the water and then began examining the flooded basement.

Note the metal is completely disfigured and the line above has been shredded.

Note the metal is completely disfigured and the line above has been shredded.

I suddenly realized I was not alone.  In fact, every move I made was being watched.  Behind me, my two dogs were standing by the door leading out to the backyard and were trembling.  In fact, one of the dogs was wet from head to tail and was absolutely frantic.  Assuming they had been spooked by the water spraying, I reached for the sliding glass door to let them out.  That’s when I saw it.  The door was damaged in multiple places, the door handle broken, and blood (not mine) covered much of the glass as well as the door frame.

A portion of the door to the backyard - post blood clean-up.

A portion of the door to the backyard – post blood clean-up.

My senses went on high-alert and I began searching the house for a possible intruder.  Had someone circumvented our alarm and vandalized our home?  Was this the act of teenage vandals hoping to flood basements for no other reason than to cure boredom?  The former Secret Service agent in my was wondering if this was an elaborate diversion, and an intruder was lying in wait.

I searched the house and cleared it of any threats.  During the search, I heard the tell-tale chirp of a smoke detector that had a failing battery.  I thought, Great.  Just one more thing to add to the list.  Upon returning to the basement, I discovered the bottom corners of a door leading to a storage area was also covered with blood.  What the hell happened here?  Two damaged doors.  Blood everywhere.  A vandalized waterline.  My thumb bleeding.  Dogs trembling.  The scene was perplexing.  It was shocking.  It was… our home.  This – whatever THIS was – couldn’t happen here.  Not here.

I breathed deeply and cleared my mind.  It was important for me not to jump to any conclusions and to simply analyze the evidence on hand.  It was Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes who said, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”  I remained still and thought deeply.  I considered every piece of evidence one by one and then searched for links between those item.  Slowly, a picture began to form.  Then… I knew.

The damage that only seemed to be on the inside of the doors.

The twisted metal.

The annoying chirping from upstairs.

Sherlock Holmes was the master of deductive reasoning, but it was the Beastie Boys who said, “I’m telln’ y’all it’s sabotage.”

Here is how the caper went down:

Event 1:  A 9-volt battery in a smoke detector drains to the point the detector repeatedly chirps.

Event 2:  Our beagle-mix (a beagle mixed with something dumber than a beagle) panics, as she does not like beeping noises of any sort.  They are the sounds of Satan’s birds.  Obviously.

Post-arrest mugshot.

Post-arrest mugshot.

Event 3:  The aforementioned dog attempts to exit through the basement door and tears the wooded frame and door handle.

Event 4:  Being unable to escape to the backyard, the beagle-mix does the next logical thing.  She attacks the waterline running into the toilet which is located in an adjacent bathroom.  I mean… what else could she do?  She chews on the metal valve, sharpening it into a blade, and manages to break a tooth in the process.  Next, with her mouth starting to bleed, she attacks the line itself causing water to spray throughout the bathroom.

Event 5:  Having turned into a bloody, soaked mess, the dog then makes another attempt to exit to the backyard, and then turns her attention on a door leading to a storage area.  It happened. Blood doesn’t lie.

Now… I thought I had solved this mystery, but the terror was not over.  Two hours later, after my wife and young daughter had returned home, my daughter went to her upstairs bathroom to get ready to take a bath.  My wife and I heard screams of horror and rushed to her aid.  At some point during the Day of Toilet-Terror, the beagle-mix had jumped into the bathtub and mutilated multiple bath toys and attempted to get to yet another waterline behind a toilet.  Since she already had a broken tooth by this point, the scene in the room was gruesome to say the least.  The photo doesn’t do the justice to the scene, as it appeared someone had attempted to dispose of a body in the tub, but got sidetracked by the Rupunzel shampoo bottle.

The Pennsylvania Chainsaw Massacre.

The Pennsylvania Chainsaw Massacre.

This story (which is 100% true) is intended to serve as a warning.  Anybody can be the victim of a crime.  The world is full of those who will do anything to wreak havoc and disrupt the lives of others.  The trick is to remember that you can never discount the possibility that an attack on your security may be an inside job and the trigger may be the smallest thing.  Such as a poorly charged 9-volt battery.

The trigger to the chaos.

The trigger to the chaos.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Coming February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.