Tag Archives: election

Should Authors, Artists, and Musicians Be Political?

Like many of you, I’ve been struggling to process the results of the recent election.  The nation is divided, the political opinions polarized, and there is a contentious tone coming from all sides.  Throughout what seemed like an endless 2016 campaign, I took note of several high-profile writers and musicians who boldly conveyed their political views.  I say boldly simply because an author, artist, or musician risks alienating a portion of his or her fan base (and future fans) by opining on political matters.  This risk is tenfold for those of us who are significantly less popular than Stephen King or Beyoncé.  It has been my observation that this risk deterred many creative types from speaking out politically, and I think that is a shame.

I remember going to rock concerts in the late 80s and early 90s and hearing bands rail against various political happenings.  It was done without thought to alienating any fans, but rather to express whatever message the performers thought to be important.  Similarly, it seems writers were more willing to be political and less concerned with the possible blowback from the opinions expressed.  I went to several concerts this year and, for the most part, the bands were silent regarding politics.  As part of the writing community, there were certainly many who were vocal, but I got the sense that many authors were hesitant to discuss political views.  So, what changed?

Social media has changed everything.  Whereas a musician or writer in the 80s or 90s might express a strong political opinion, the reach of that individual’s opinion might be limited to the audience on hand and the viewpoint would have a somewhat limited echo.  Today, if a small press author tells a tiny book club that they believe Candidate X is a bigot, then word of this believe may spread to the Internet and even find its way into online book reviews.

For example, a book called Unloaded was published this year.  The anthology consists of a collection of stories that support gun control and the proceeds of the sales go towards a nonprofit that combats gun violence.  When first released, the book was immediately met with several one star reviews on Amazon although it was clear the reviewers had not read the book.  Rather, the negative responses were simply due to the anti-gun viewpoints in the stories and to the association with the nonprofit.  Occurrences like these can persuade those whose works are in the public eye to hold back politically and remain silent on social issues.  Are those who remain silent correct?  Do writers, artists, and musicians have a responsibility to speak up?

img_1595

I don’ t know.

But, I do know this.  This country has just entered into uncharted territory.  For the first time, the U.S. political and social landscape has been completely reshaped by social media, fake news stories, and policy proposals that defy simple tests of logic – yet have gained traction.  While I certainly understand the discontent that has led us to this point, I do not – and will not – accept racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia.  If that refusal costs me a few readers, then so be it.  History has provided us with a blueprint for times like these.

If those of us with a voice do not speak out now, we may not be able to do so later.

Note:  The next election is not in 2020.  It’s in 2018.  Vote!

 

Feel free to comment below! 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist 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.

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

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

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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Worst Presidential Election Ever? Well, Maybe Not

The 2016 Presidential election has defied logic.  Throughout the campaign we’ve had stories regarding lost or deleted emails of a sensitive or classified nature.  A fake university.  Questions regarding speaking fees paid by financial companies.  Non-disclosed tax returns.  Scandalous recordings.  The labeling of opposition followers as “deplorable”.  Accusations of sexual assault.  The discovery of shocking audio recordings.  And a blizzard of information (some of it false) spread around regarding positions on the 2nd Amendment, immigration, race, policing, and ties to the Russian government.  So, obviously 2016 has been the worst election ever.  And I almost forgot to mention the accusation of pimping out an American girl to a Russian Czar.

George Washington had it easy by comparison.

George Washington had it easy by comparison.

Wait… what?

Oh, that’s right.  The pimping scandal was in 1828.  The truth of the matter is that Presidential elections in the U.S. have nearly always been sprinkled with deceit, flat-out lies, disparagement, and dirty tricks.  With twenty-four hour news cycles, the rise of biased media outlets, and the proliferation of social media, it may seem like elections are worse than ever.  But, here are some examples that suggest the run for the big office has never been rosy.

1800 – Thomas Jefferson vs. Aaron Burr

It was a tie.  Of all things, it was a tie.  At the time, states could pretty much hold their elections anytime between April and October and then, to drag this one out even more, the resulting tie stretched the campaign out another seven weeks.  A conclusion was finally achieved when Jefferson won through a vote in the House.  The best part was that the 12th Amendment did not yet exist, so Jefferson then had to work with Burr who had automatically become the Vice-President.  That must have been awkward.  Of course, Burr went on to shoot and kill Alexander Hamilton and planned on raising his own army in order to invade Mexico, so if Burr gave Jefferson an occasional cold looks then Thomas still got off fairly easy.  Jefferson did try to get Burr convicted of treason, but Burr was a slippery sucker.

1828 – Andrew Jackson vs. John Quincy Adams

These two were NOT cozy.  Jackson had suffered a controversial defeat to Adams in 1824 and the old soldier had not taken it well.  By the time the rematch occurred four years later, Adams was being accused of pimping out a girl and Jackson’s wife had been publicly labeled as a bigamist since she had married Jackson before her divorce was final.  Rachel Jackson died right after Jackson’s victory in the election and Jackson blamed Adams and the negative publicity for her demise.

1860 – Abraham Lincoln vs. John Breckinridge

For over a decade, the issue of slavery had been polarizing the nation.   Breckinridge’s Southern Democratic party couldn’t even get out of their own convention before 51 Southern Dems walked out.  Lincoln wasn’t even the front-runner at the Republican Convention, but the other candidates managed to piss-off various factions within the party and Lincoln was viewed as a highly articulate moderate (largely due to the debates against Stephen Douglas in 1858).

Not likely said: "Check out her sex tape!"

Not likely said: “Check out her sex tape!”

Of course, Lincoln went on to win the nomination and ultimately the election.  You might say the result was continuous since seven states declared their succession from the Union before Lincoln was even inaugurated.

1876 – Rutherford B. Hayes vs. Samuel J. Tilden

This one came down to 20 contested electoral votes in four different states, including Florida.  Why is it always Florida?  Anyway, a compromise was reached in which the Democratic candidate Tilden (who had polled better than Hayes leading up to the voting) would acquiesce if the Republicans agreed to withdraw Federal troops from the South, ending Reconstruction.  Although this election is rarely discussed these days, consider this:  It was the first time a candidate won more than half the popular vote but lost due to electoral votes.  Also, it resulted in military forces being withdrawn from a huge portion of the U.S.  And this part should make us feel ashamed.  The voter turnout was over 81% of eligible voters.  81%.

 

So, is the Presidential election of 2016 really the worst?  I’m not so sure.  Andrew Jackson didn’t have access to CNN reporters.  Breckinridge had no access to a private jet he could use to zip around the nation and badmouth Lincoln.  And THANK GOODNESS Aaron Burr didn’t have a Twitter account.  Seriously… that dude was crazy.

Has this election been pleasant?  No.  Has it been scary?  You betcha (apologies to Sarah Palin).  Have we hit rock bottom?  It may be a matter of historical perspective.

Remember "hanging chads"? I miss hanging chads. It was a simpler time.

Remember “hanging chads”? I miss hanging chads. It was a simpler time.

Feel free to comment below!  (but bashing of either of the current candidates will probably be deleted)

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, a Thriller Award finalist 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.

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

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

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

 

Why Does the Secret Service Use Code Names?

Most people are aware that individuals being protected by the U.S. Secret Service are given code names.  This fact is not secret and all it takes is a quick search of the Internet to read a list of code names used by those the agency has protected (protectees).  Recently, a friend asked me why the code names are used if everybody seems to know about them.  The reasons are simple.  Code names were first used before radio communications could be encrypted and during an era when members of the media were less likely to have access to, and subsequently report, such information.  Today, journalists have a great amount of access to political events and will often be standing within earshot of agents who out of necessity are communicating via radio or cell phone.  It does not take a genius to figure out a protectee’s code name when an agent keys up a radio microphones and says the words, “Evergreen is moving to the motorcade” and then Hillary Clinton jumps into a limo.  So, why continue with the use of code names?

Secret Service code names are more than just a tradition

Secret Service code names are more than just a tradition

Tradition is one reason, although not a compelling one by itself.  The more logical reasons involve the need to keep communications clear and concise.  While we tend to think of our own leaders as the focal point of any political event, the fact is the world has many Presidents, Vice Presidents, First Ladies, Secretaries, etc.  There are often events in which world leaders gather and each has his or her own security detail, staff, and motorcade.  Therefore, if a U.S. Secret Service agent working one of these events were to say, “The President is moving to the dining hall” it may not be clear which nation’s President, or perhaps which former President, is in motion.

Now one may think it would be simpler to just say the last name of the protectee, but that’s not the case.  If one says, President Bush, this could be one of two individuals and they both could be attending the same event.  It is also possible a similar situation could occur if Hillary Clinton were to win the general election and become President.  Additionally, the U.S. Secret Service protects visiting Heads-of-State and some last names may be lengthy or difficult to pronounce.  Thus a simple word representing a protectee makes communications simpler for everyone involved.

The White House Communications Agency assigns the code names, but the major protectees get some say in the matter.  Generally, the protectee is asked to choose a code name from a list of unambiguous words that start with a particular letter.  In the case of the President and Vice President, each family member will get a code name that begins with the same letter.  For instance, Ronald Reagan was Rawhide.  Nancy Reagan used the code name Rainbow.  Ron Reagan was Reliant.

Sometimes protectees will choose a code name they feel represents a certain persona.  Rawhide matched up with the image Ronald Reagan wished to convey.  Deacon is certainly appropriate for Jimmy Carter.  While the ultimate purpose of the code name is not affected by the name itself, I have always thought some code names were better than others.  So, it made me think we should have a poll that ranks some of my favorites.  Here you will find a few code names that I always liked.  Put aside any political feelings you may have and let’s see which code name you think is the best!

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.

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

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

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

So, You Want to Go to the GOP Convention…

No.  Don’t.  Stay away.

It’s not that I don’t like Cleveland.  I’m not saying this due to any political feelings.  I’m stating this due to my perspective as a former Secret Service agent who has worked events like the Olympic Games, a couple of inauguration’s, and the 2000 DNC Convention in L.A.  Stay home.  Unless your home is in Cleveland.  Then, you should leave.

Any major political event has challenges and all draw emotionally charged people with conflicting points of view.  Even in election years when our society seems to have become polarized and the Democratic and Republicans have platforms so far apart the Juno spacecraft would have trouble covering the distance, most of the security challenges can be overcome to a reasonable extent.  Normally, there are countermeasures and logistical solutions to potential threats and disturbances.  Normally, manpower can be added and technological tools can be utilized to secure a site.  This is not normally.

This election season, guns and violence are not just part of the rhetoric used by factions of supporters.  Some prominent political personalities have actually encouraged violence while, in the same breath, expressing a love of guns.  The situation in Cleveland is compounded by the fact that Ohio has open carry laws, meaning people will be able to carry guns outside the convention location even in areas where glass bottles and tennis balls are prohibited.  This creates an impossible situation for police officers and security officials who are supposed to be able to determine, in a split second, who might be the “good guy with a gun” as opposed to an aggressor while wading through a panicked crowd.

Ohio is an open carry state.

Ohio is an open carry state.

A few months ago, the Cleveland Police ordered 2,000 sets of riot gear.  My first question was:  Is that gear going to have to be used inside OR outside the convention?  My second question was:  Will that be enough?  Forgetting that multiple police jurisdictions (each with their own concerns) will be assisting the Cleveland Division of Police (the department’s official name), the host department is still under heavy scrutiny after the Tamir Rice shooting and other incidents.  They aren’t alone as police departments all over the country are on edge as anti-law enforcement sentiment is on the rise and there are serious concerns regarding how police treat minorities and use force.   Police officers are already under the microscope.  Now thousands of officers will be gathering in Cleveland in an effort to keep the peace among a public that does not trust them.

This is their nightmare scenario.

The Secret Service can’t do it alone.  The agency depends on local and state support and this is no exception.  As I’ve written previously, the Secret Service has a specific role in these events and have no political agenda.  Earlier in this election year, they received negative media attention when an agent was involved in a scuffle with a photographer, although only half the story was told.  Regardless, they are being faced with a scenario in which some level of violence is almost certain to exist and the agency has to protect not only specific individuals, but also ensure the security of the entire venue.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Those who wish to demonstrate outside the convention location in order to peacefully express an opinion are likely to be caught in between frustrated groups who not only dislike each other, but may be armed.  Many of those in the crowd will be carrying deep feelings regarding racial inequality, economic disparity, and religion.  Many will be carrying deadly weapons.  The peaceful and well-meaning will be right in the mix of things.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Regardless of what happens during the actual GOP Convention, one thing will not happen.  Healing will not be part of this process.  If anything, I expect more cuts to be made and more scar tissue will show after the event.  You can watch.  But, watch it from a distance.

Feel free to comment below!

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

 

Music and Politics: Elections Can Hit Some High Notes

Last year, my wife and I decided we were going to go see the Foo Fighters perform at a concert outside of Pittsburgh.  I’ve been a fan of the band and their lead singer Dave Grohl for many years and I told my wife I was looking forward to finally seeing them live.  But as I was saying this, I realized I actually had seen Dave Grohl perform live once before.

I flashed back to a scene in 2004 and recalled the streets of Madison, Wisconsin being filled with more than 80,000 people, many of whom were college students.  The event was a campaign rally for Presidential hopeful John Kerry, who was battling George W. Bush for the nation’s top office.  The Secret Service had assigned me to a campaign “advance jump team” meaning I bounced around from city to city in advance of a candidate’s visit to help make security preparations, and then assist in coordinating protection during the event.  This particular event was a challenge due to the large crowd and outdoor venue, but the local authorities worked with us to create a safe environment.

This event stands out in my mind, because prior to Senator Kerry taking the stage, two musical acts were going to perform.  The first was an acoustic performance by none other than Dave Grohl, who was supporting Kerry’s run for the White House.

music

I’m not 100% certain, but I believe he played “Times Like These” and “My Hero” before moving aside for the next musician.  Please forgive me for not remembering every detail, but you have to remember I was a little preoccupied with making sure nobody tried to kill John Kerry.  However, I do remember thinking that Grohl sounded great and the crowd certainly loved the performance.

Grohl then stepped aside for some guy named Bruce Springsteen, who was also supporting the John Kerry / John Edwards ticket.  While I can’t remember much about Springsteen’s performance (Hey, I was busy!), I do remember what happened once he left the stage.  The Boss walked down the street and shook hands with the college students as he made he way toward his tour bus.  Some students who were lined up in front of their own fraternity house asked Springsteen if he wanted to come in and have a beer.  He shrugged and proceeded to move past a barricade, entered the frat house, and had a drink with the students.  I’m guessing that’s not a moment those guys will forget.

After the event in Madison, I bounced around to several other locations before ending up in Boston, Massachusetts on election night.  There, I heard Jon Bon Jovi playing an acoustic set for the pro-Kerry / Edwards crowd.  In spite of the musical firepower possessed by the democrats in 2004, George W. Bush won the election which set up an Inauguration celebration in January 2005.  I don’t recall where I was for George W. Bush’s second Inauguration, but I do remember being posted next to the stage during President Bush’s first Inauguration concert in 2001, and I can say it was a little surreal to see Wayne Newton and Ricky Martin perform within minutes of each other.  We were all Livin La Vida Loca that day.  (Sorry, had to work that into the post somehow)

Musicians playing a role in politics is nothing new and Presidents and Presidential candidates continue to recognize the power of music.  Some understand music is a way to connect with younger generations.  Some see the incorporation of musicians into political events as a way to increase attendance.  Some simply want to see Wayne Newton dance.

The moral of this story is simple.  If you ever, EVER have a chance to ask Bruce Springsteen to have a beer with you — ASK HIM!

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.

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

Watch for my new book, BOLT ACTION REMEDY, in 2017!

AVAILABLE NOW!

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

When a Joke is No Laughing Matter to the Secret Service

The story popped up in my news feed sometime last week:  Secret Service shows up at Columbus man’s door after social media comment

It was the type of headline I had read too many times.  As a former Secret Service agent, and one who has worked a lot of threat cases, I recognized it as the type of investigation I had dealt with repeatedly.  In this particular instance, a man had read a social media post regarding a political event involving Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and posted the comment, “Where do we send the bomb.”  Predictably, somebody notified the Secret Service and Special Agents paid him a visit.  Just as predictably, the man claimed the comment was meant to be a joke.

Against my better judgment, I weeded through the readers’ comments attached to the post regarding the incident.  Some of the comments on the Facebook link I pulled up were:

“He was joking.  This country needs to lighten up a little.”

“Wow… this is getting out of control. Our government would just love to control social media.”

“Quite the overreaction.  But then again, it is the PC world.”

And on and on and on…

image

Of course there are always comments addressing an individual’s rights regarding freedom of speech, but that is another topic altogether and too complex to address in this post.

I am going to try to explain why “joking” threats are no joke at all.  I say “try”, because I cannot and will not reveal exactly how the Secret Service investigates threat cases.  Not only did I sign a nondisclosure agreement a long time ago, but it would be irresponsible to reveal more than what can be found through online open source resources (publicly available).  So, I am going to make an attempt at explaining why threats that are meant to be facetious are dangerous and damaging.

Using the recent Columbus, Ohio incident as an example, the man who made the “joke” stated that the agents who appeared at his home already knew a great deal about him.  Of course until the Secret Service interviews someone who makes a threatening comment there is no way to know if the threat has the potential to be real.

The individual making the threat will have to be interviewed and it is always helpful to know the background of the person you are interviewing.  So one may conclude that these agents, who could be spending their time pursuing legitimate threat cases or working various criminal investigations, have already had to spend time preparing to interview the suspect by gathering background information to include any criminal history, previous threats made, affiliations with terrorist groups, etc.  After all, you would not want to be interviewing a suspect without knowing he has a history of reacting violently to law enforcement or is wanted for murder in three states.  Information can be helpful!  With the prep time, drive time, and interviewing time, and report writing time, we are already talking about HOURS spent on this “joke” which is now a Protective Intelligence case.

But, we are not done.

According to this guide for handling threat cases, threat cases involve:

  • Identification
  • Assessment
  • Classification

Simple right?

Not quite.

Just A Few Hours?

Although hours have already been spent on the person who has been identified as having made a threatening comment, this is just the beginning of a threat case.  Now, the individual will have to be assessed.  This could include more electronic checks, calls to other agencies, visits to psychiatrists, interviews with neighbors, family members, and coworkers, and much more.  Some of these checks may be out of the state, or even out of the country, and many will have to be conducted in person.  Suddenly, multiple agents in various locations are being dedicated to this “joke”.   Real funny.

But, we are not done.

A Few Weeks?

The results of all of these checks and interviews will have to be collected by an agency’s central Intelligence entity or Threat Assessment center.  At which point, MORE agents are going to have to pick through the findings, weigh all of the factors, determine the legitimacy of the threat, and classify the case in a manner that will determine what future level of scrutiny it may receive.  Yes.  I said FUTURE.

Because… we are not done.

Months?  Years?

If at any point it is determined that an individual who made a threat will be prosecuted, then an entire chain of events occurs involving the judicial system.  That chain of events will have to be tracked and monitored.

If at any point it is determined that an individual who made a threat needs to be committed for psychiatric evaluation, then an entire of events occurs involving the mental health system.  That chain of events will have to be tracked and monitored.

If it is determined that an individual COULD be a threat, a significant amount of follow-up and monitoring will be conducted.

Even if it is determined that an individual is likely NOT a threat, the follow-up work may be minimal, but look at what has been done already.

Every single threat needs to be investigated.  Every single one.  Aside from the possibility that every threat communicated makes a violent act seem more feasible to those with disturbed minds or evil intent, a simple social media comment intended to be interpreted as a joke can cause an investigative agency to dedicate an incredible amount of resources throughout the world.  This is why making a threat toward an individual protected by the Secret Service is ALWAYS a big deal.  It is not about having a sense of humor (I have one.  I swear!).  It is about respecting the fact that our protectors have enough rough waters to navigate without any more people making waves.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pride and Prejudice and the Constitution and Zombies

“… the Constitution is not a living, breathing document, it is to be interpreted as originally meant.”                     – Marco Rubio

I have an iPhone.  While I’m certainly not a technical wizard, I understand why I get the annoying notifications letting me know the phone is in need of an update.  At some point in the not-so-distant past, an Apple programmer wrote some piece of code that was a really good idea at the time and may have been perfectly suited for the environment at the time it was created.

However, the world changes and the chances are that whatever piece of code that was brilliantly constructed on a Monday has become somewhat obsolete by Tuesday.  That’s the reality of the digital age.  Updates are needed.  Bugs are fixed.  Angry Birds shuts down due to an unexpected error.  That kind of chaos is totally unacceptable.

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On June 21, 1788 the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  This is the most important piece of coding in American history.  The wording and structure were scrutinized, debated, modified, and eventually accepted.  After multiple drafts had been created, the words had been put to paper and accepted as the keystone document for the government of the United States.  The words, like the document’s creators, were flawed.  They are still flawed.  But the brilliance of the document is that those who created it realized this and worked in a way for the operating system to be updated, albeit not easily or often.

Thus, I’m a bit mystified when I hear politicians (or Supreme Court Justices) make statements asserting that the U.S. Constitution is not a living document that can be modified.  Certainly, changes should not be taken lightly, but they can be considered.  The founding fathers worked in some subtle hints as to this ability.  Now, I’m not talking about some hidden Da Vinci Code symbolism or paragraphs penned with invisible ink.  I’m talking about those little things titled AMENDMENTS.  Yeah.  Those.  You see, I’m of the opinion that those modifications have done some good.  The abolition of slavery:  Good.  Women’s suffrage:  Good.  Prohibition:  Not so good.  The end of Prohibition:  I’ll drink to that!

Yet, there are some politicians on both sides of the aisle who pretend Amendments do not exist – until a proposed Amendment is aligned with his or her specific belief.  Regardless, the Constitution IS a living, breathing document.  In fact it’s a zombie.

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It moves forward at a glacial pace and is extremely hard to kill (although many try).  But, even zombies change course every once in a while.  They turn down this street or that.  They adjust their paths and modify their approach.  And, like the topic of the Constitution, zombies tend to devour brains.  I bet the founding fathers didn’t see THAT comparison coming.

Feel free to comment below!

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.

2014

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

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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.

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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