Abortion Fight 2

In 1973 Roe v. Wade became a landmark case when the Supreme Court ruled that abortion was legal in the first trimester of a pregnancy. Ever since that decision there have been heated debates by the pro choice camp and the pro life camp. Most of us have deep convictions about abortion. Abortion has escalated all the way to partial birth abortions. Some mothers have tried to abort babies that survived. There are many websites and stories where survivors of attempted abortion tell their stories. Here are just a few:

http://www.teenbreaks.com/abortion/abortionsurvivors.cfm , http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/01/27/my-mother-tried-to-abort-me-survived.html theabortionsurvivors.com

Ironically, the mother of  “Jane Roe” in the Roe v. Wade case wanted to abort her. She went so far as to ask a midwife to perform the abortion, but the midwife refused stating that “Roe’s” mother was too far along in her pregnancy.  Also ironic is the fact that while “Jane Roe” was an adamant supporter of abortion and stated she wanted an abortion, she herself never had an abortion under the name of “Jane Roe.”

In the days prior to “legalized” abortion, there were still abortions. They were performed by doctors and midwives. Women also induced their own abortions with medicines and herbs. Unfortunately there were also some crazy people that would use horrendous methods to try to induce abortions which often caused harm or death to both mother and baby. The general guideline was that abortions were never to be done after the “quickening.” “Quickening is a Shaker term and it meant the baby was moving in the mother’s womb on its own and the mother could feel movement (usually at 16-25 weeks gestation). Movement signaled life. With the modern technology of ultra sound we now know that movement happens much sooner than when a mother feels the baby moving (6 to 8 weeks gestation)-often before a woman even realizes she’s pregnant.

I, personally, am pro life. I do not believe in abortion for any reason. I am not heartless and I understand there may be situations where rape was involved. While rape is not a woman’s fault, neither is conception a baby’s fault. I do not believe that a woman’s life is more valuable than a baby’s life. I do believe that life begins at conception and I am a supporter of adoption and other assistance programs to help with unplanned pregnancies. There are numerous options today to help women and babies that didn’t use to exist. Women can speak for themselves, but an unborn baby can’t speak (yet). Being unable to speak in the womb doesn’t make a life less valuable.

Reagon T shirt

While I am in the pro life camp, there are things happening in the name of “pro life” that definitely should not be happening. Blowing up abortion clinics and/or shooting abortionists are just as deadly as the abortions these extremists are trying to prevent. The hatred and callousness of some claiming to be pro life isn’t helpful to anyone. I believe there should be compassion and I would never condemn a person who had already had an abortion, even though I don’t agree with the decision to do so. Condemnation is the last thing these women need and they can’t take back their actions so condemnation serves no useful purpose.

Despite my own position, I’ve tried to be fair to this subject with the library materials available. Interestingly, I started with the book, I Am Roe: My Life, Roe v. Wade, and Freedom of Choice by Norma McCorvey  with Andy Meisler. I judged this book by its cover. I didn’t think I would like it. Parts of it have been very difficult for me to read.

I am Roe

Norma McCorvey is the “Roe” in Roe v. Wade. She tells her own story in her own words. I have to say that this book is a good story and has a conversational feel to it. The story and life of Norma McCorvey is quite interesting.

Norma came from a poor family and suffered abuse at the hands of her alcoholic mother. When home life became too much for her, Norma took things into her own hands and ran away from her family. Norma committed a robbery at a young age to get money to run away. Eventually she was caught and landed in the juvenile justice system.  Later Norma married at the age of 16 and had a child. Norma became an alcoholic herself and was tricked by her own mother into giving her child up for adoption. Norma’s second child was voluntarily given up for adoption and when Norma became pregnant a third time, she sought to have an abortion claiming that she had been raped.  At the time Norma lived in the state of Texas which supposedly had antiabortion laws with an exemption for cases of rape. There was, however,  no evidence of any kind that Norma had been raped. Due to the lack of evidence of rape, Texas denied Norma’s request for an abortion.  At this point, Norma attempted to have an illegal abortion but the state had shut down abortion clinics. It was during this time that Norma was referred to activist attorneys who were wanting to connect with women wishing to have abortions. They took Norma’s case which took three years to make it to the Supreme Court. Norma never attended a single trial and in the meantime the baby she was trying to abort was born and given up for adoption. The attorney’s in the case had Norma sign an affidavit as a pregnant woman seeking an abortion and then never even talked to Norma again until three years later when they called to congratulate her on winning the case. Norma stated that she felt used.

Norma became a somewhat unwilling poster child for the pro abortion movement. She didn’t fit in well with the so called women’s libbers and they didn’t care much for her either. However because her case, the now famous Roe v Wade, became so high profile the pro abortion movement was more or less stuck with Norma. Norma worked for years as a spokesperson for the pro abortion camp and she also was an abortion clinic worker. Over the decades following Norma did abort at least one baby.

Norma knew many of the abortion protesters in her area and actually became friends with some of them even though they didn’t agree on abortion issues. Norma knew all the arguments about abortion both for and against although she was still an avid abortion supporter. Then one day she was sitting in a clinic looking at pictures of the development of a fetus. Suddenly she began to make out features like eyes and tiny little limbs. She kept staring at the pictures and without prompting from anyone, Norma realized she wasn’t just looking at cell clusters, she was actually seeing an unborn baby! In that moment Norma’s life changed for ever.

Norma became a Christian and totally switched camps. Norma became one of the most famous anti abortion protesters in the world. She spent the rest of her life trying to undo Roe v Wade.  In her book Won by Love Norma McCorvery  (with Gary Thomas) explains her reasons for her dramatic about face.

Won by Love

Norma spoke out against the “immoral machinations” of the abortion industry. She tells how she witnessed the destruction of countless human lives through abortion and how she herself felt the misery of grief and despair of so many women who chose to end their pregnancies. Seeing death constantly in abortion clinics, Norma “broke.”

Norma quit work at the abortion clinic and was now the poster child for the anti abortion camp aka the pro life movement. Norma admitted publicly that she did not become pregnant with her third child by rape. She said she had made the story up to try to get around the Texas anti abortion laws. Norma publicly contrasted the hatred and backstabbing she had felt while working for the pro abortion people (who, she said, made her feel “like dirt”) with the positivity and love she felt when she switched sides.  She claimed she felt more acceptance and  love in the first two weeks of reversing her position than she did in all the decades of working with pro abortionists.

There are many, many details of the contrasts between Norma’s initial pro abortion life and her life after she became an advocate for pro life. I urge all of you to at least read both of these books so that you will get a good balance of both sides of the issue.

There were other books I checked out but do not have time to comment on in one post. I ask all of you to look honestly at both sides of the issue. A couple other books I checked out were:

 Pro Reclaiming Abortion Rights   The Hand of God

Do you believe that abortion is something that should–or even can–be legislated? Do you look at abortion more as an individual or a societal issue?



Two fire fighters and flames

Fighting fires is not something that the majority of us are probably thinking about most of the time. However, should we ever have a fire, we would want firefighters to respond quickly and save people, animals, and anything else they can. Fortunately most fire fighters ARE constantly thinking about fire and preparing for fire and other emergencies. These first responders  have my utmost respect.

First responders often run into buildings and emergency situations when everyone else is trying to run out. They are brave, courageous, and often fearless. They show up and get dangerous jobs done while looking out for everyone’s safety. When they aren’t fighting fires they are preparing for them through educational programs for the public as well as going through on the job training.

I can not say enough good about firefighters in general, but especially about our own local fire department here in Fulton County, Indiana. I am very proud to live in a community where emergency services such as firefighting are not taken for granted and where these men and women are highly respected. This community puts their money into maintaining such services. Although I don’t know the exact dates when this all happened,  our firefighters were in need of a larger, more modern fire house. This is what the old fire house looks like:

Old Firehouse Rochester

This building now houses some offices on the lower levels and the top floor is now a dance studio owned by another Fulton County Public Library employee.

The new fire house looks like this:

New Firehouse Rochester

Since the new firehouse was built, the community continues to provide equipment for our local firefighting heroes. A new ladder  truck and a pumper truck have been purchased as well as updated communication devices and masks among other things. This is a service that is important to keep up to date and is fully backed by the community.

This is a picture of just some of the things firefighters need:

Firefighter Priceless

At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I ask all of you to please support you local firefighters.

Here is a picture printed by our local newspaper, The Sentinel, of some of our firefighters at work:

Local Firefighters (Sentinel)

In 3000 Degrees: the True Story of a Deadly Fire and the Men who Fought It by Sean Flynn, the author describes several firefighters in their everyday life and the reasons they had for becoming firefighters. The story describes deadly fires that these brave men have fought. Their bravery and professionalism is truly amazing. These people put their lives on the line every single day for people they don’t even know. Some have paid the ultimate price.  I don’t want to give too much away so I will just say that this book is both entertaining and eye opening. I would recommend it.

3000 degrees

Another interesting book is Firefighters: Their Lives in Their Own Words by Dennis Smith. In this book male and female firefighters tell their own stories and why they chose to do what they do. The book covers various fire fighting scenarios such as building fires, forest fires, and emergency rescues.

Firefighters by Dennis Smith

Though firefighters are obviously very important, the best way to fight fires is to prevent them in the first place. Your family needs to have a fire safety plan.  If you have prepared your family and your pets, this could be as simple as knowing escape routes from all areas of your home and grabbing your Bug Out Bag (BOB). If you are unsure what a BOB is or what should be in it, you can learn about BOBs and pet BOBs in my post about Natural Disasters.  Every member of your family will need to know where to meet after escaping.

As part of your preparation, you can do a home inspection and make changes as necessary. This is an example of a basic checklist to help you get started:

Live Safe

You will need to have some basic safety equipment located strategically in your home. You need to have fire extinguishers and know how to use them. It is possible that you need different types of extinguishers for different areas of your home.

fiire extinguishers

If you have two or more stories in your home, you should have an emergency escape ladder. Your ladder should be stored inside in an accessible place near a window. you may need more than one ladder depending on the size of your home. Practice with your ladder before you need it and teach children how to responsibly use the ladder.

Escape Ladder

You should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors placed strategically throughout your home.

Combination Alarm

In Fulton County you can obtain a free smoke detector from the fire house. Not long ago local fire fighters walked our streets and knocked on doors asking if people needed smoke detectors. If the people said they needed them, the firefighters even installed them for free. I believe there would be a similar type of arrangement in other areas of the country. Even if you have to buy smoke detectors and/or carbon monoxide detectors, this would be money well spent and could save your life and the lives of your family members.

You should also have a first aid kit readily available. It’s not a bad idea to have several first aid kits located in different areas of your home and you will definitely want to have some basic first aid supplies stored in your BOB.  It also might be practical to have some fire blankets.First aid and Fire Blanket Kit

There should be some considerations for the outside of your home as well.  If a fire should start on a neighboring property, you want to try to prevent if from spreading to your own home. There are some simple things you can do to help prevent such a problem as the infographic below shows.

Outside Fire Defense

It is also a good idea to have some sort of a sticker, decal, or static cling notification of pets living in your home. If you are not home and a fire breaks out, firefighters or other emergency personnel would know to look for and try to save your pets. The best decals will tell the number and type of animals in the house, have the pets’ names, your name and contact information for how you can be reached.

Pet Alert

Pet Alert 2

These types of stickers can be ordered or you could easily make your own with your computer and put pictures on them of your actual animals along with the other necessary information.

A few fire related DVDs/BluRays that you may want to check out are:

Backdraft Chicago Fire

Have you ever had a home fire? Do you have an emergency fire plan for your family? Will you be creating a plan?

Natural Disasters

Top Ten Natural Disasters

We live on a volatile planet. The earth’s crust is constantly shifting which changes land formations, forms mountains, volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Additionally the wind may form into cyclones and tornadoes while water sources such as lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, ocean harbors, and rain all may contribute to flooding. Droughts may contribute to wildfires. Heat and erosion may contribute to avalanches and landslides.   When events like these collide with humans, the results can be deadly. Despite it all, we all call planet Earth home.

We are fortunate that in most areas of the US there are weather and disaster warning systems. If we are paying attention, we should at least have some warning and hopefully be able to make wise decisions in precious little time that can save lives and minimize casualties. Beyond this, there are things we can do to prepare for the unexpected. Being prepared is one of the best ways to give yourself peace of mind and buy precious time in the event of an actual emergency.  One thing you will definitely want to have is a back up supply of food, water, pet supplies, necessary pharmaceuticals and toiletry items. You can see a detailed list of things you may need in my post on Terrorism.

Organize for Disaster

In addition to the same type of things needed in the event of a terrorist attack, Organize for Disaster by Judith Kolberg covers most natural disasters (also some man made ones) and gives specific suggestions as to how you can prepare. Of course many of the preparations will work for multiple events. Being well prepared for various disaster scenarios involves more than just stock piling food and personal items. Judith Kolberg suggests that you also have clothing (at least one change of clothing for each member of your household), blankets and/or sleeping bags, a well stocked first aid kit, extra tennis shoes and/or boots (waterproof would be best). It is also recommended that you have both a landline phone and a cell phone. A small portable radio and flashlights should also be readily available.

If you are fortunate enough to have the space (perhaps in a basement or garage) you can set up a disaster provision area. Pet carriers and  emergency pet supplies should also be stored in this area.

Basement prep   Garage prep

If you are not so fortunate to have such space luxury there are still things you can do. Here is an excellent way to pack a lot into a small space. You might consider doing one for each family member.


It would be best if you used a waterproof trashcan on wheels since you may have to leave your home on foot. Wheels would obviously make it easier to transport supplies if needed.

If you are leaving your home to go to an emergency shelter you wouldn’t need to take something the size of a trashcan. A shelter should have its own stock of those sorts of supplies. Judith Kolberg recommends having a prepacked “grab and go bag.” For those of you with military backgrounds, this is basically the same thing as a bug out bag. Judith recommends having these bags stored in an easily accessible place. There should be one bag per family member (including pets) and each bag should be labeled by family member name. Weather appropriate coats, jackets, and sweaters should be stored close to these bags. Judith’s book suggests using backpacks hung on coat hooks with weather gear stored directly below them on another row of coat hooks. Some shelters will not take animals so be sure that you have a previously thought out plan about where your pets will go to get to safety. Other shelters DO allow pets so if a temporary emergency shelter is part of your plan, find out in advance the shelter’s pet policy. If you are going to a hotel, you should also find out the pet policy well in advance. Many hotels are becoming more animal friendly.

If you need to bug out and you will be taking pets with you, here are some examples of what you may need:

cat bug out

Check to see if your cat still fits! You may need to purchase a small soft sided cat carrier that can be worn and then use the carrier at your destination to secure your cat.

Cat wear

If you need to bug out with small pets, birds, fish, snakes, reptiles, etc. think along the guidelines listed above. Birds should have a light cover over their cage during movement. Be sure that the cover allows air and light into the cage.  Small animals will require housing, food, water, toys, bedding, treats, etc. Fish will be more challenging. You may want to have a previously established emergency tank set up within a safe distance (for instance in a friends garage, basement, or shed with access to electricity in a nearby town or another part of the city that doesn’t flood). The emergency tank should be filled from the same water source you use for your tank at home. Be sure to have plenty of food, necessary water conditioners and stress reducing products stored here. If at all possible try to give yourself enough time to acclimate your fish to the emergency tank. If you must keep moving and can’t acclimate the fish yourself, be sure you have previously taught your friend how to acclimate fish–and leave written instructions near the tank as a reminder.  Have emergency transfer nets and carriers available. Fish can be transferred in almost any nonmetal clean container that holds water. Bear in mind that while you want your fish to be able to move freely about, you won’t want to completely fill the container–fish still need oxygen. Also, make sure the container has a lid (fish can jump out) with air holes.

If you must leave your home due to an emergency, no pets should ever be left behind. Having a previously thought out plan will make evacuating much smoother and less stressful.

In addition to all of the above preparations there are also several other things that you should arrange prior to needing them:

Your Family Plan– You should have escape routes well thought out for various scenarios and possibilities. Each family’s plan will be different from another family’s. For instance, I live in Indiana and it is highly unlikely that I would ever need to evacuate due to a tsunami (unless on vacation). However, you may live on the coast and need to plan for that possibility.

Your family needs a communication plan. Phone numbers should be in your phone and also written and stored in your bug out bag for easy access. Cell towers may be down, but if you can make it to a landline you may be able to make any necessary phone calls. Also, if calls are not going through, always check and see if texting will work. If you use a prepaid phone, be sure every member of your family has emergency minute cards (prior to the emergency-these would be packed in your bug out bags.) Taking a tablet or ipad with you for communication is an excellent idea if the internet is functional. Don’t forget chargers and accessories.

Have at least two places to meet each other if you should become separated. You need more than one location. For example if you have left your home due to flooding and your plan was to meet in front of the court house but the court house is also flooded you would have a problem if you became separated and phones are down.  Since you were well prepared though, everyone in your family knows the alternate location is to meet at the library. You can make as many locations as you want. It is a good idea to write this plan down and have it in everyone’s bug out bag. When people are under stress they may not remember even simple plans, but again because you are well prepared everyone knows exactly what to do and where to go.

Your Essential and Important Documents-Organize anything you would need to reestablish services, file insurance claims, prove identity, etc and all irreplaceable items such as treasured family photos, etc. Most survivalists recommend putting these documents in light weight containers such as plastic freezer baggies that will protect them from water. All of your family photos can be taken with you easily by having them scanned onto a flash drive and stored in a freezer baggie  in your bug out bag. If needed, they can be reprinted at a later date. It’s also a good idea to scan in all of your important documents although you may still need some of the originals with you like your driver’s license or ID card and your Social Security card. In most cases, one flash drive can handle all of this–and more.  By scanning in all of your important documents you will have all your account numbers and other important information available to you. Always have your flash drive backed up to a disc or other device.

Insurance-Insurance coverage should be arranged now while there is time to do it correctly. Do you live in a flood zone? Have you checked if your home owner’s policy covers flooding? If a tree falls on your roof during a tornado, will your policy cover it? Don’t forget to check on things like cars, boats, lawn mowers, and basically anything it would be expensive to pay for repairs or to replace. Do not just assume that certain events are covered. Ask specific questions and find out what all is covered.  I once went in for an insurance review on my car. The insurance agent said something like my policy only covered anything that was on wheels. In other words, he said, if a deer jumped out of the woods and hit my car (and that does happen in my area) it wouldn’t be covered because something with wheels didn’t strike me. I asked him about horses (there are a lot in my area) and he told me that horses were not covered. Then I asked him what if the horse was attached to a buggy (There are a lot of Amish horse drawn buggys in my area.) The agent looked puzzled and said, “I don’t know. No one has ever asked me that!” I made some changes to my policy.

Home Furnishings– It is a good idea to do a home inventory documented with photos and/or videos. This can be invaluable in helping you replace items in the event a natural disaster completely destroys everything in your home. (Things can be replaced, but people can’t.) This information can be included on your flash drive, phone, or other device.  Again, always back up your important information.

In the book Disaster Preparedness:Ready Yourself, Your Family, and Your Home-Before Disaster Strikes by Rod Brouhard, EMT-P and Crystal Kline, MEP the authors cover all of the topics listed above but they have also included many helpful checklists to help you prepare. The checklists make this book worth checking out.

Disaster Preparedness





If  you are unsure what to do in a particular weather (or man made) emergency, there are may books that describe weather and natural phenomenon and what to do. It is a good idea to acquaint yourself with these types of books now. Here are a few of the ones I looked at:

Devastation Tsunami

Natural Disasters

The three books above are pretty amazing picture books. There is also great information in all three.

Do you have any experience with natural disasters? Do you have friends and family who have had to deal with severe weather phenomenon? What will you do to prepare for the possibility of extreme weather and natural events?

Self Defense


While self defense takes many forms such as taking common sense measures (see my post on Predators), other forms of self defense may or may not use a weapon. Some examples of self defense are using your telephone to call for help, using a home security system, using a dog (or dogs) as part of a defense system, using your body as a weapon (martial arts, kickboxing, etc), knives, swords, etc. Some ordinary objects may be used to strike an attacker and are referred to as bludgeons. Thus a ball bat could become a deadly weapon. Self defense is a very in depth topic which I could never cover in one post. Since I follow the books through the library, this post will mostly discuss guns used for self defense.

I live in an area of the country where guns are a way of life. They are used by the military, law enforcement, hunters, home owners, and as recreational target shooting just to name a few uses. I’m not particularly uncomfortable around guns because I have a healthy respect for them and know many very responsible gun owners. Although I’ve never personally been trained how to use a gun, my husband is a former soldier and an expert marksman. Being a gun owner does not necessarily mean a person is violent. In the majority of cases, gun owners want guns to prevent violence. In general its the misuse of guns that bothers me and it’s the reason that I believe in the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution which says:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


Many people in Indiana have guns in their homes for protection. If your personal self defense plan involves a gun, then there is also a lot of responsibility to learn about your right to self defense. Whether you currently own a gun or are thinking of purchasing a gun for self defense, I highly recommend that you read Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self Defense by Massad Ayoob.

Deadly Force

Massad Ayoob does a wonderful job of explaining how to properly defend your home and family with a firearm. There are many illustrative photos in his book so that there can be no doubt what he means as well as many very helpful suggested guidelines. One thing he says is a “must” is that if you choose to protect yourself and others as well as your home and property with a gun you should be trained in the proper use of firearms. Should the unthinkable happen and you are forced to fire your weapon, it will help you legally to have had that training. The author walks the reader through critical decision making and legalities of firing a weapon for the purposes of self defense.

Beyond guns, though, Massad Ayoob also talks about other methods of self defense such as reading body language and putting distance between yourself and a potential attacker if at all possible, the use of less than lethal weapons such as pepper spray, and billy clubs.

If you are a person who hasn’t made up your mind about guns for or against, I recommend that you and everyone else read USA Today’s Gun Control: Preventing Violence or Crushing Constitutional Rights? by Matt Doeden.

Gun Control

Gun Control is one book in a series called USA Today’s Debate: Voices and Perspectives. The authors vary according to subject matter. This book is small but packed with information both for and against stricter gun control. Written on about a 7th grade level, I think this would be a useful text for schools and would be great for a debate class or an in depth US Constitutional study. There are 107 pages excluding  a timeline, glossary, source notes, bibliography, organization contact information, further information section, and index. There are many colorful photographs in the book as well as many thought provoking topics; far too much information for me to cover in one post. Regardless of which side of the issue you are on, there is something in this book that would be of interest to you. Also, I think it’s important to discover what “the other side” is saying. By thinking about an issue from all sides we gain reliable information that we may not have had before. More reliable information will either alter your opinion or reinforce it.

Have you made up your mind on the gun issue? Do you know any gun owners? Have you ever been trained in the use of firearms?


The Blog-aholic Award

blog-aholic-award1 (2)

Dewey Hop has been nominated for The Blog-aholic Award! So what exactly is the Blog-aholic? 

The Blog-aholic Award” is an award for bloggers addicted to blogging with creative, ingenious and inspiring posts. They mesmerize their followers with their posts, keep them captivated and riveted to their blog. The Blog-aholic Award is also for bloggers who “Share and Inspire Others!” The Recipe Hunter (Cook & Enjoy) 

After that description, the Dewey Hop blog humbly accepts this award and thanks Melinda at Purple Slob In Recovery for the nomination. In addition I would like to thank the originator of the The Blog-aholic Award, Esme at The Recipe Hunter (Cook and Enjoy).

As part of The Blog-aholic Award I am supposed to share some links to other posts. I am choosing to share a few links to the most popular and most frequently visited posts:

The Lighter Side of Law

Suicide and Survival

Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation

K9 Officers

Lastly I would like to nominate the following blogs:


no face woman

Brother Murf’s Corner


Claudia McGill

Should those nominated choose to accept, here are the rules:

  1. Put the above award logo/image on your blog.
  2. List the rules.
  3. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator, Esme, of this award and please provide a link or pingback as [Esmé of The Recipe Hunter (Cook & Enjoy) ] would love to meet you!
  5. Write a post to show your award.
  6. Share a link to some of your posts.
  7. Share 3 interesting facts about yourself.
  8. Nominate and Notify some blogs/bloggers.

A few facts about myself:

  1. I am writing a book.
  2. I haven’t watched TV in almost 6 years.
  3. I use cinnamon to combat caffeine withdrawl headaches.






Cyber & Financial Warfare


The year was 1983. Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States. Computers were big bulky machines that filled up entire rooms and almost no one knew how to use them. There were a few amateur techno geeks scattered around the country who were beginning to build smaller home computers. A few businesses and schools were just considering using a computer. Most people considered computer geeks to be hobbyists more than anything. The world as we knew it was about to change. Why? Because Ronald Reagan watched a movie.

After watching the movie, WarGames, President Reagan was tormented by the question of “Could this really happen?”


WarGames is a movie about a teenager who thinks he is playing a computer game. Instead he is unknowingly sending war commands to a government computer and nearly starts WW III. Shortly before viewing this movie, President Reagan delivered his famous “Star Wars” speech in which he announced plans to develop laser type weapons (a fantasy weapon at the time) to counter Soviet missiles should the need arise. When the President asked if a real life WarGames scenario could actually happen on the heels of his speech, many of those around him wanted to write him off as a crazy old man. Although those closest to him may have quietly been laughing and thinking he was going off the deep end, he was still the President so his question was actually researched. One week after asking his question, the President received an answer, “Yes, Mr. President. A WarGames scenario is possible and the problem is much worse than you think.” No one was laughing anymore at the President’s question.

The book Dark Territory: the Secret History of Cyber War by Fred Kaplan is a fascinating book that goes on to describe how much worse the computer vulnerability problem was and the many discoveries made in regards to how computers could be used for or against National Security. The United States used computers against the Soviet Union and their allies during the Cold War. The Cold War was also the first known Cyber War. In fact the very idea of what war is had to change.


In many ways, Dark Territory, traces the development of the computer age and the awakening of our nation out of naivety. The US was slowly beginning to realize that whatever we could do to other countries, they could also do to us. The tactical field had been leveled. The National Security Agency (NSA) and computer tech people had to learn to work together. The entire way National Security is handled had to change. A literal military of cyber warriors had to be developed. This book gives many specific examples of how all of these changes developed and how cyber attacks and cyber wars have been going on pretty much since the development of computers and the internet. If you’ve ever seen an incident on the news and thought to yourself, “There has to be more going on than what they’re telling us,” you were probably more correct than you realize. Dark Territory explores some of those types of stories.

Behind the scenes cyber warfare is only one type of modern warfare. In many ways newer warfare tactics are less violent, but equally (if not more) effective than wars with bombs and missiles. One form of warfare is financial. In Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare by Juan C. Zarate these newer tactics are explored.


Although the US and many other countries have enforced or been the target of trade restrictions and economic sanctions over the years, the newer type of financial warfare tactics began after 9-11.  They were developed to fight terrorist regimes. It’s just some common sense–cut off the funding to reduce the ability to fund illegal schemes. Some of this is done through diplomacy. Some financial tools have been developed to function “under the radar.” This type of warfare is hidden and intended to cut the financial throat of our enemies.

This book explains how and why this power has worked and what must be done to maintain it in the future. It also raises a wary eye to competitor states like China, or transnational networks, that might use the lessons of the past ten years to wage financial battles against the United States. (p.xiii)

 The above is an excellent summary of the book. There are many specific examples in the book about financial warfare. The behind the scenes scenarios are quite interesting.

Did you know about these behind the scenes types of warfare? Do you think one is more effective than the other? Do you think this type of warfare is a good thing?

K9 Officers


K9 officers assist humans in a variety of ways. Some of the many ways in which these dogs serve are on police forces, search and rescue missions, they sometimes search for cadavers, explosives, drugs, and missing people. Some are Secret Service Dogs who protect the President of the United States (and family).

The two Belgian Malinois dogs above are real life Secret Service Dogs named Hurricane (left) and Jardan* (right). Jardan is pronounced jar-DAN. These two dogs are being honored in these photos for taking down a White House fence jumper in October 2014. Their story is featured in Secret Service Dogs: the Heroes Who Protect the President of the United States by Maria Goodavage. If you are a dog person, this book is for you!


*Jardan’s name was misspelled in the media as “Jordan.” Once the mistake was made, it was repeated by other reporters both in the press and on television. Jardan was not offended. He’s not in this line of work for the glory.

The fence jumper was charged with multiple counts of felony assault on a police officer. Both Hurricane and Jardan suffered injuries in the line of duty which required medical attention and some rehab time. Both K9 officers were eventually cleared for active duty and currently still protect the President.

Hurricane and Jardan were given the Award for Valor at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s Awards in 2015. No other dogs have ever been honored in this manner.


Dogs are one level of security provided by the Secret Service. Anyone with ill intentions at the White House would have to make it through several layers of K9 security before getting anywhere near the President and/or the First Family. All Secret Service dogs fall in to three broad categories:


Emergency Response Team (ERT) dogs – These dogs are the canine equivalent of a SWAT team. The ERT dogs are highly trained to protect world leaders and are trained in advanced SWAT tactics. Hurricane and Jardan are ERT dogs.


Explosive Detection Team (EDT) dogs – These dogs are stationed at White House entrances and also perform vehicle checks. EDT dogs are able to sniff out all known explosives and may work all over the world preceding the President’s and other important persons arrivals/departures.

Personnel Screening Canines (PSCs) – These dogs check all persons in or in the vicinity of the White House (and all are also EDT dogs).

Secret Service Dogs on Patrol


This group has a subcategory called:

Personnel Screening Canines Open Area (PSCO) aka Friendly Dogs aka Floppy-Eared Dogs – Since all of that is a mouthful to say, most handlers just call them Friendly Dogs.


These dogs take walks for a living and work outside of the fence. Friendly Dogs can track even the vapor of explosives as they are moving. The other EDT dogs that work in and around the White House only do their jobs if a visitor (or an explosive device) has stopped. The floppy eared cuteness of Friendly Dogs is intentional. They must work in close proximity to people and can’t do their jobs if they look scary and cause people to move away from them. Make no mistake though, these are highly trained police officers.

There are all sorts of dogs in the Secret Service.


Some of the dogs are obvious police dogs, others are so covert you probably wouldn’t know they had anything to do with the Secret Service.  Dogs assist with crowd control and they are everywhere. There are also crowd control dogs that work in and around the White House. Some of these dogs are so secret you would never see them. They are hidden behind screens and various other strategic places. Fans blow in the dogs’ directions so they can quickly assess groups. If you have ever been to the White House, you were sniffed whether you knew it or not. There are perimeter dogs who either patrol on foot or work from vans in strategic locations. There are dogs who respond to alarms and other perimeter alerts. There are dogs who protect the Vice President and family, visiting dignitaries and many others. There are dogs with the President where ever he goes domestically or abroad. There are dogs who check transport vehicles such as cars, planes, and helicopters. The dogs work 24/7 year round no matter the weather or circumstances. All of these are just the dogs the Secret Service will tell us about. There are many other levels of dogs that are so secret that they are not acknowledged publicly.

Like people, these K9’s have to continually update their skills. The dogs may go back to school for refresher classes or to learn new skills at various times. Also like people, K9’s need some recreational time and enjoy participating in the K9 Olympics. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many Secret Service dogs participate in the K9 Olympics in Indiana less than a half hour away from where I live! I have seen the outside of the facility and never realized what it was exactly. Dogs from all over the world are sent to this facility to train and participate in K9 games. The Secret Service dogs compete against other teams such as Police or Military Working Dogs (MWDs). In recent years the Secret Service dogs have dominated these K9 Olympics.

I was aware that Vohne Liche  (pronounced Von Lick) Kennels trained police dogs, but I had no idea that they also provide and train Military Working Dogs, Secret Service Dogs and many other dogs for various government agencies. I had to take a field trip to visit the facility (a few times) when I found this out! On my first visit, the facility was just closing but I was told I could take some outside pictures. Here are just a few:


This stone is one of the first things visitors see upon arrival at VLK.


This is a bit hard to see, but I was trying to get the whole obstacle course in the picture.


This picture shows some more of the compound which is spread across 600 acres. I have also learned that there are two other Vohne Liche facilities located in Banning, CA and Yuma, AZ.

On my second visit to VLK, I was granted a brief interview with the owner and founder, Kenneth D Licklider.


Kenneth told me that not only are there 3 facilities in the US, but Vohne Liche owns and operates several similar kennels in several other countries. They literally train dogs all over the world. Due to the secret nature of some of the work occurring at VLK, I asked Kenneth to just tell me what he wanted me to know. Kenneth is a military vet. He learned how to be a trainer/handler  while in the Air  Force. The skills learned in the Air Force transferred nicely to the civilian world where Kenneth began to train police K9s.  Kenneth went on to talk about the origin of the company and how they have grown (which you can read about by following the VLK link below) into handling/training dogs for several government agencies. Although I haven’t read it yet, Kenneth strongly suggested that I read the book From Baghdad With Love by Jay Kopelman.

From Baghdad With Love

 After this, I was asked if I would come back at another time to take my pictures since he had to go to a K9 graduation! I’m guessing that it was a police K9 that was graduating since the parking lot was full of police vehicles and then this morning a new picture appeared on the VLK website:

Another generous contribution made by Dr. & Mrs. Caesar DePaço of Summit Nutritionals International

fargo-handler Congratulations to Peru PD, IN on their new K9 Fargo.

I tied to schedule a third visit to VLK for a few more pictures before this post was published, but we couldn’t seem to find a mutually agreeable time. I’m not sure whether or not it’s still a possibility at this point, but I feel very fortunate to have been able to get an interview with the owner.

If interested, you can watch some short clips of the Vohne Liche dogs at Alpha Dogs  or you can visit the VLK site at Vohne Liche Kennels .

You can also read a little about Military Working Dogs in my post Public Administration & Military Science which features another Maria Goodavage book, Soldier Dogs.

In addition to Police K9’s, Secret Service K9’s, and Military Working Dogs, there are other dogs that work as detectives. The next book The Lost Pet Chronicles:Adventures of a K-9 Cop Turned Pet Detective by Kat Albrecht with Jana Murphy is an interesting story.


Kat Albrecht began her law enforcement career as a police dispatcher. Later, she went through the police academy and became a uniformed police officer. Her ultimate goal, however, was to gain respect as a dog trainer/handler. Kat was underappreciated in her first police force job. She didn’t want to work with the usual K9’s that were usually multipurpose dogs. Kat wanted to work with trailing dogs; specifically Bloodhounds and Weimaraners. The police force where Kat first worked in the late 70’s/early 80’s only wanted to use German Shepards or Malinois. At the time, most police forces did not recognize the value of utilizing other breeds. Undaunted Kat trained her Weimaramer, Rachel, to be a cadaver dog–a brand new concept in the world of law enforcement at that time. Kat also trained her Bloodhound, A.J., to be a scent detection dog. Eventually Kat changed jobs and this time found herself on a police force where she was both respected and taken seriously about her desire to use trailing dogs. After awhile, both Rachel and A.J. proved their value in solving cases, finding hiding suspects, and finding evidence of all kinds. Though skeptical at first, Kat’s fellow officers found a new respect for trailing dogs.

Unfortunately some time later an injury forced Kat to retire from her beloved police force, but she wasn’t ready to quit working. Prior to her injury, Kat identified a need for a service to find lost pets. Pet owners often treat their pets as family and a missing pet often feels like a missing family member. Kat had done some preliminary lost pet searches on her own time while she was still a police officer. After her injury, Kat took on a new challenge of using her dog to track lost pets. Rachel, in particular, did indeed turn out to be a multipurpose dog. Rachel had retired from the police force several years before Kat did. However, Rachel came out of retirement to become a pet detective. Not only did Rachel retain all of her police skills, but she learned to track down specific cats and dogs.(Rachel also tracked an iguana and a ferret!) It was later learned that not all dogs could track both cats and dogs. Some dogs could only track cats, other dogs only tracked dogs. Rachel was even more valuable than she had first appeared.  Because Rachel’s nose was almost 100% accurate, she could track almost anything asked of her.

Since preliminary pet detective work with Rachel was so successful, Kat went on to found the nonprofit group Missing Pet Partnership as well as train many other dogs to do this type of work. Kat has also been successful at profiling missing pet behaviors. Currently there are 30 states that have this service (sadly Indiana is not one of them) and 4 locations in Canada.

Do you know any working dogs? Did you know about the Secret Service dogs? Have you ever heard of pet detectives?




Continuing along in the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services) section of the Fulton County Public Library, I’ve landed in a section on lying. Lying is a huge social problem. There are many reasons people might lie which include (but are not limited to) trying not to hurt someone’s feelings or trying to keep themselves out of trouble.

Dictionary.com defines lying as:

  1. the telling of lies, or false statements; untruthfulness…

     2.telling or containing lies; deliberately untruthful; deceitful; false…

The Bible has this to say about lying:

The LORD detests lying lips, but He delights in people who are trustworthy. (Proverbs 12:22, NIV)

Because, unfortunately, lying is so prevalent in our society and because in many cases people think it is socially acceptable, we need a way to figure out who is telling the truth and who is lying. While character would enter in to this detection process on various levels we also need more scientific methods of proving truth or lies. This is especially true in courts of law as well as in cases where officials need to interview suspected criminals or witnesses. This need gave birth to the invention of the lie detector, circa 1920. A lie detector is a device that is hooked up to a person who is being questioned. The device measures physiological responses such as rate of breathing, blood pressure, pulse, and perspiration. It is believed that a person who is trying to hide something would have involuntary responses while trying to cover up the truth. The machine records an individual’s responses and if they are “out of the ordinary,” the person is assumed to be lying. Lie detectors are known by many different names some of which are polygraph, deception detection (or detector), and truth seekers. The United States is the only country in the world that has made extensive use of this device. While the device itself isn’t fail proof and it’s results have rarely been admissible in a court of law, Americans are still obsessed with the idea that we can scientifically prove when someone is lying. This obsession is at the heart of The Lie Detectors:the History of an American Obsession by Ken Alder.


As you might imagine, The Lie Detectors follows the invention, implications, and applications of a lie detector from its birth to modern day. Along the way, various interesting stories involving lie detectors are told.

The lie detector is an American invention that was initially supposed to be used to stop “third degree” (read hostile and violent) interrogation of suspects in criminal cases. Initially it was hoped that the lie detector would eliminate the need for juries, judges, and the legal system since the truth would be known and there would be no need to weigh evidence and make a decision about guilt or innocence. The first case in which a lie detector was used to solve a crime was at College Hall, a women’s dormitory at Berkley. A woman was robbed of a diamond ring and some cash. The lie detector was brought in to discover the truth of the situation; a real life whodunnit. The robbery victim was used as a control subject since it was known that she actually was robbed. All the other women and the dorm mother were questioned until the culprit was found and charged with the crime. It is important to note that the thief was caught not only by the lie detector results but also because she believed the lie detector would find her guilty.

John Larson, a police officer and the person who is generally credited with the invention of the lie detector, wanted to use his device as an official law enforcement tool.  (Detective Larson had to “interview” the robbery victim mentioned in the above case on multiple occasions. On one of these interview dates, Larsen asked the victim if she loved him. She said no, but the machine said she was lying. Larsen later married her.) Larsen also wanted to clean up police and political corruption using the device. This tool could also be used to identify inmates who were falsely imprisoned. Although the uses just mentioned were Larsen’s primary aspirations for his machine, he inadvertently discovered it could also be used as tool to diagnose mental disorders such as schizophrenia, psychopathology, and medical conditions. Larsen discovered his own irregular heartbeat with his lie detector.

Not surprisingly, Larsen met a lot of resistance from corrupt politicians and police officers when he tried to clean up “dirty” officers and officials who didn’t want to be exposed. Even many inmates (particularly the guilty ones) didn’t like the use of lie detectors since they were able to buy their way out of trouble through the corrupt cops and politicians. Judges were afraid of being replaced by a machine and didn’t like the idea that a machine could decide a man’s fate-something they said that only juries should do. Perhaps more surprising was the reaction of the mental health professionals of the day. They claimed that the lie detector was not based on “real science” since they felt threatened by its existence. When confronted with this reaction from psychiatrists and psychologists, Larsen came to believe that many of these people were frauds and had no qualms about saying so. Being so outspoken didn’t win Larsen any friends.

There were (and still are) other problems with the lie detector. From the very beginning, there were ways to circumvent the results. For instance in the very first case at College Hall, Berkley the thief actually passed the test the first time she took it. It was discovered that she was so nervous having to take the test that she took several drugs to try to calm herself–which influenced the test results. When the thief was retested when not on drugs, she believed she would now be found guilty and when told the machine said she was lying, she became very violent, jumped up and tried to destroy the machine. She eventually confessed believing she had been found out, but ironically the test wasn’t finished and Larsen only told her she was found to be lying (as he did all the other women so he could gauge their reactions). Therefore, the test can be influenced based on what the test subject believes to be true, whether it is or not.

There were times, when the test subjects themselves were able to fool the lie detector by only pretending to do what was asked of them. Another examiner, Leonarde Keeler, made some improvements to the recording instruments on the lie detector machine and then patented the “Keeler Polygraph.” Keeler, who was also an amateur magician, used the farce of trying to help subjects relax before the test by performing a card trick. He actually was trying to establish a baseline pattern on the machine. Keeler would ask subjects to pick a card out of a deck of playing cards and look at it. Then he would ask the subjects to deny every card he showed them was their card as part of the trick. Of course Keeler had marked the cards so he knew exactly which card the subject had seen and when they denied it, he had their baseline. A particularly astute woman picked a card, but only pretended to look at it. So when she denied seeing all of the cards, she beat the test. (Keeler later married the woman.)

Not all of the problems associated with the lie detector test were about the machine itself. Because the questions were subjective and usually written by the examiner, bias could be introduced through the questions. Many questions were found to be prejudicial based on the assumptions of the examiner. For instance, there was a ridiculous assumption in the 1920’s that African Americans were less truthful than whites. Despite the lie detector confirming an African American’s answers, the examiners (who were almost always white men) would make excuses as to why the results couldn’t be correct because everyone “knew” that whites were more truthful. Ironically this said more about the dishonesty of the white officials than anything that was assumed about African Americans.

John Larsen saw the lie detector being used in ways he never intended and compared himself to Dr. Frankenstein who lost control of his monster. Though John Larsen tried, he couldn’t reign in his own monster, the lie detector he had created. During Larsen’s lifetime, the lie detector was being used to advertise everything from cigarettes to razors. A one time friend and late life enemy of Larsen, Leonarde Keeler, used the lie detector to gauge audience responses to movies making him one of the earliest audience pollers of film. The only use John Larsen had in mind for his monster of a machine was law enforcement and criminal justice.

In the area of law enforcement and criminal justice, the lie detector was frequently used to print newspapers stories about high profile criminal cases and court proceedings. The public seemed to have an insatiable need to know who did or did not pass the lie detector test. Newspapers quickly figured out that crime sells and soon had a cult following which has contributed to the book genres, tv shows, movies, and magazine articles of true crime that is so popular today.

Due to the ways in which the lie detector was known to yield imperfect results (drugs, the subject cheating, and prejudicial questioning) and because of other questionable uses, judges insisted that juries be the deciding factor in criminal cases, the lie detector was banned from American courtrooms. It was because of this ban that police officers continued to use lie detectors as an investigatory tool while judges said the results of such investigations are inadmissible in court even to the present day.

Even though Americans still can’t scientifically prove whether someone is lying or not, we still try. The next book, The Truth About Lying: How to Spot a Lie and Protect Yourself from Deception by Stan B. Walters is a book that attempts to teach ways to recognize a liar. Walters has a quite impressive resume which includes such things as teaching his skills to businesses, industries, and law enforcement agencies & academies. In addition to all of this Walters has also taught classes at the US Department of Defense, US Immigration and Naturalization Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. Walters is a member of the American Polygraph Association.


In a nutshell, The Truth About Lying describes ways in which people may get nervous when concocting or telling a lie. The key is to learn to be a great observer. It takes practice, but Stan Walters explains that liars are a bit like poker players and they all have their own “tell.” There is no one formula of behavior that fits all liars. It’s more like figuring out a person’s personal combination of behaviors. I found this book interesting, but not particularly out of the ordinary.

Have you ever taken a lie detector test or known someone who has? Have you ever observed behaviors that you thought indicated lying?


Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation



TV Shows like CSI, Bones, Forensics Investigators, Snapped, and many more have certainly familiarized most of us with the world of Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation. At least we are familiar with the TV depictions of these events.  As the library read through continues I am finding myself immersed with 360’s books about the way in which real life forensics assists and/or solves crime scene investigations, how forensics contributes to the judicial system, and how these relentless investigators deal with the things they see and do in their line of work as well as many other very interesting aspects of an investigator’s job. TV shows often feature one character doing multiple jobs when doing autopsies. In reality forensics investigators are highly specialized. For instance there are pathologists (who work with soft tissue) and anthropologists (who work with bones), and yet others who process the actual crime scenes just to name a few of the jobs that are done. After a body is removed from the crime scene, it will be sent to a pathologist first for examination of the soft tissue and then the body will be sent to an anthropologist for examination of the bones. All of these professionals contribute to the discovery of clues.  This topic is one that has always been of interest to me, but I realize it may not be for everyone.


Teasing Secrets From the Dead  is written by real life forensic anthropologist Emily Craig, Ph.D. Dr.Craig discusses how her career as a medical illustrator and her love for art led her into making clay models of missing persons and then into the fascinating world of forensics. I found it pretty amazing to learn that art and forensics are very good partners-sometimes in unexpected ways. Doctor Craig also shares some of her very interesting cases throughout her career and how they were solved (or not). In addition to single deaths and homicides, the author has worked multiple death events such as Waco, Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center, fires, plane crashes, and natural disasters.  In describing her cases, the author does an amazing job of highlighting various techniques used to gather forensic information. Additionally, Dr. Craig describes her experiences while in school to become an anthropologist. During her school days one of the things required of her was to conduct research at the Body Farm in Tennessee. While I absolutely loved this book, it is definitely not for the squeamish!

Seldom do I ever mention the author who wrote the forward for another author’s book, but in this case I will make an exception. Kathy Reichs, a popular fiction writer and real life anthropologist, says she writes about her true life cases through her fictional character Temperance Brennan. Many of you may know the Temperance Brennan character through the TV series Bones (making many of the plot lines based on true events) as well as in her own books.  Kathy Reichs says that “Emily writes about her true life experiences through Emily.” For those of you who may be a bit too squeamish to read the above book, you may want to check out the Kathy Reichs books and/or the TV series Bones.

In addition to the more well known criminal investigations (by police, private investigators, forensics investigators, crime scene investigators, etc), there are also amateur investigators. True Crime Addict by  James Renner, an investigative journalist, is a book about the true disappearance of Maura Murray. Not only does James Renner write about the disappearance of Maura, he is actually trying to solve the missing persons case.


In the course of his investigation, James has put his research online and has hit upon a hidden resource-armchair sleuths. These internet sleuths are interested in Maura’s disappearance and help to review clues that James posts. James calls this motley crew his “Irregulars” (a throw back to Sherlock Holmes’s “irregular” street kids). The Irregulars form a think tank of sorts and make suggestions to James to consider angles he hasn’t thought of as well as sometimes doing some investigatory work of their own to track down leads. James and the Irregulars have uncovered some rather interesting clues and go down some rabbit holes which lead to no where. To date, this crew has some very plausible theories as to what happened to Maura Murray, but have not solved the case.

As an interesting aside to the above story, James Renner also researched clues while trying to find Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, 2 of the 3 girls kidnapped by Ariel Castro and highlighted in my post on Predators. During the writing of True Crime Addict, Amanda Berry escaped with her child and all of the girls were rescued. Ariel Castro was arrested and James Renner was at the Cleveland hospital where the girls were taken giving the families advice about how to handle the massive press coverage that was about to start. James Renner had to be in court on an unrelated case and seemed to always be in the courtroom a few floors away while Ariel Castro was being tried in another courtroom on the same days at the same times.

Many people who are aware of forensics and crime scene investigation haven’t stopped to think about what happens when investigators leave the scene. On most TV shows  when the body leaves the scene, the plot line usually follows the body itself or some aspect of the investigation. In real life someone has to clean up the death site and/or the crime scene. In the past, grieving families and their friends (who were probably not emotionally up to the task) were left to this grisly task. However, with increasing awareness of how diseases are spread, handling biomatter has become something to take seriously. Aftermath, Inc. : Cleaning Up After CSI Goes Home by Gil Reavill discusses why this task is best left to professionals.


Aftermath, Inc. is a real bioremediation company which you can read about at http://www.aftermath.com/crime-cleanup-services/ . In addition to cleaning up crime scenes, the Aftermath, Inc. company does such things as hoarder cleaning, unattended death clean ups, and industrial accident clean ups among many other services. There are now many such companies, but Aftermath, Inc. is one of the originals and has more experience than most others in the United States.

The book, Aftermath, Inc., is written by true crime writer Gil Reavill and traces this company’s history as well as explains exactly how and why they do the things they do. Even after all the true crime Gil Reavill has written about, he says even he had never stopped to consider what happens once investigators are done gathering their information. When offered an opportunity to job shadow some Aftermath, Inc. employees, Gil jumped right in and learned first hand how to clean up crime scenes. Gil’s first experience was in a hoarder home with a body in a three week decomp state. From there, the author participated in clean ups for mass murders, unattended deaths, and suicides among other situations. According to one of the owners of Aftermath, Inc. if Gil could tolerate a three week decomp and a suicide clean up, he would be able to do anything else required on the job.

I found the book to be very educational and the company to be very respectful to the families they serve. Among the crew members themselves there are sometimes some rather coarse descriptions of things or events, but I believe these are more coping mechanisms to help workers deal with a terrible task-similar to a cop calling a corpse a “stiff.” I was very interested in this subject but again, this book is not for the squeamish!

Have you ever known anyone that needed to use a service similar to Aftermath, Inc? Is this a job you think you could do?

Law Enforcement and Profiling

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There are many varied and important jobs in law enforcement. In this post I will be highlighting only a few of them. Though there are some bad apples, the majority of men and women serving in law enforcement are deeply devoted to protecting and serving the public.

One (now retired) officer/ FBI agent I have the deepest respect for is Roger L. Depue.


In the course of his career he literally changed the field of law enforcement as well as took huge numbers of bad guys off the streets. Roger Depue is a former Viet Nam era Marine who began his career in law enforcement  by following in his father’s footsteps serving as a police officer. By the age of 27 (unheard of at the time), Depue was the youngest police chief in his home state of Michigan. At the same time, Depue was pursuing degrees in Psychology and became deeply interested in criminal behavior. It wasn’t long before Depue began working for the FBI and took over as the head of the newborn Behavioral Science Unit. Using psychology to catch the bad guys was a brand new concept in the 1970’s. Fascinated by similarities in certain types of criminals, Depue had a revolutionary idea. He and his team didn’t consider their job complete just by throwing bad guys in jail. Once they were in jail, criminals themselves were interviewed and studied. Depue felt that if similarities among certain classifications of convicts (rapists, serial murderers, kidnappers, etc) could be found that it may help to identify others with a criminal mind set before a crime was committed or that these patterns of behavior could help identify suspects during an investigation. Today we call this method criminology. Depue’s  ideas panned out. In fact, so successful were Depue’s methods that other law enforcement officials around the county were either taught the methods or assisted by other officers who had studied them. The study of criminals then led into what we would recognize today as modern profiling. Depue and his Behavioral Science Unit more or less invented modern profiling. FBI profilers, who were amazingly accurate in their predictions,  helped to take many criminals off the streets and in the course of doing so changed law enforcement practices forever.

Between Good and Evil by Roger L. Depue is the memoir of his law enforcement career as well as a description of some personal struggles he had in trying not to be overcome by all the pure evil he witnessed on a daily basis. Dealing with violent offenders and serial killers everyday for years takes a toll on those who do it. Depue says he has always been a man of faith and sees no conflict between his faith and the evil he saw each day. However, seeing mostly evil on a daily basis can begin to warp one’s perception. After his retirement from the FBI, Depue started a consulting agency in which he and a team of other retired profilers and law enforcement officers assisted authorities in various ways–by writing profiles, helping with cold cases, writing reports for legal purposes, advising on high profile cases, etc. After doing this type of work for awhile, Depue needed to take some time to get his head straight. He enrolled in a seminary and studied to become a clergyman, trying to bring balance into his life. Depue then went on to work with convicts themselves. He was interested in helping to rehabilitate convicts that could be rehabilitated which he did for awhile. Now, Depue has a private practice and works with at risk kids–kids who can hopefully be turned around before they get into trouble and start on a bad path with the law.

As much good as profiling has done, there has also been some questions about its misuse. For instance are law enforcement agencies using racial profiling? Are white cops targeting black men?  Can black men who feel like they have to constantly look over their shoulders trust white cops?  Are black men targeting white cops? Can police do their jobs if they are constantly second guessed and needing to look over their shoulders? Where do black cops fit into all of this? Is it possible that crime rates are not so much related to race as they are to the disintegrating family unit? This is a very emotional and controversial topic.

The next book, The War On Cops by Heather Mac Donald, is also quite controversial while considering plausible answers to all of the above questions.


Due to the controversial nature of this book, I will simply quote what Perseus Publisher says to describe this book:

Since the summer of 2014, America has been convulsed with a protest movement known as Black Lives Matter. That movement holds that police officers are among the greatest threats if not the greatest threat facing young black males today. Policing and the rest of the criminal justice system from prosecutors to drug laws single out minority communities for gratuitous and heavy-handed enforcement, the charge goes, resulting in an epidemic of mass incarceration that falls most heavily on blacks.

This book challenges that narrative. Through vivid, street-level reporting, it gives voice to the many residents of high-crime neighborhoods, rarely heard in the media, who support proactive policing and want more of it. The book will argue that there is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that Black Lives Matter than today’s data-driven, accountable police department. In New York City alone, over ten thousand minority males are alive who would have been killed had the New York Police Department not brought homicide in the city down 80% from its early 1990’€™s level. The intelligence-led policing revolution that began in New York and spread nationally has transformed urban neighborhoods, freeing their residents from the thrall of daily fear.

Crime and community requests for assistance, not race, determine police deployment and tactics, the book will explain. But given the demographics of crime, the police cannot go where people are most being victimized without operating disproportionately in minority neighborhoods. That disproportionate police presence increases the risk that when a police-civilian encounter goes tragically awry, it will have a minority victim. But the police could end all lethal use of force justified and unjustified tomorrow, and the black death by homicide rate would barely budge. That death rate six times higher than the homicide victimization rate of whites and Hispanics combined is a function of the black homicide commission rate, which is itself nearly eight times higher than the white and Hispanic homicide commission rates combined. It is such elevated rates of crime, the book will demonstrate, that explain why police focus on urban neighborhoods.

Other topics include such contested tactics as stop, question, and frisk and broken windows policing. It will take the reader inside prisons and jails. It will argue that proactive policing has been the greatest public policy success story of the last quarter century, resulting in a record-breaking national crime drop that no criminologist or even police chief foresaw.

That crime drop is now at risk, however, thanks to the nonstop agitation against the police led by the Black Lives Matter movement. The book will refute the argument that racist drug statutes and enforcement lie behind the black incarceration rate and call for a more honest and informed debate about policing, crime, and race, before the public safety gains of the last twenty years are lost.

While Heather Mac Donald clearly feels that race isn’t the prevailing reason behind high black incarceration rates, the next author does believe that race is a factor in some instances.


Suspicion Nation :the Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It  by Lisa Bloom explores the controversial trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman for the death of Trayvon Martin. Bloom believes that race should have been discussed in the Zimmerman trial, but was basically dismissed. Zimmerman, who is a white man, shot and killed an unarmed black teenager who was walking home from the store with candy and a drink. Zimmerman, who was on his way to the grocery store, saw Trayvon walking home and thought he was “suspicious.” There had been some reported break ins to homes in the area. The burglar suspects were reported to be black men. Zimmerman called the police to report a suspicious person and then ignored the dispatcher’s comment that Zimmerman wasn’t needed to follow the person. The author clearly believes that racial profiling was at the heart of the Trayvon Martin murder case. By the time police arrived on scene, it was apparent some sort of scuffle had occurred and Trayvon was dead. Zimmerman was later tried and found not guilty of murder by a six person all female jury with only one minority juror. Lisa Bloom explores all the details of the trial in this book and inserts her opinions about the many mistakes she believes occurred. She tries to explain how a white man can shoot an unarmed black teenager and be found not guilty of a crime. Bloom makes it quite clear she thinks the outcome should have been different and that she believes there is a need for stricter gun control laws.

It appears that there is a deep need in this country to get back to the basics and treat people as people, regardless of race. It is my belief after much reading that blacks, whites, and other minorities want fairness, not necessarily a focus on race (even though in some cases race does need to be discussed). What are your ideas of ways to make this happen? How can we get past the emotionalism and anger (from all sides) and improve our justice system?