Archive | March 2015

Citizen Police Academy – Week 9

Carol Stream CPA3

Yesterday’s class was the most sobering, horrifying and exciting CPA that we’ve had.

Last night’s topic was Traffic Stops, led by Sgt. Incrocci and Sgt. Steffie.

Traffic stops are the single most dangerous thing an officer does. Over 160 officers were killed in one year due to traffic stops. They are the most unpredictable event and one that happens most often to an officer on a daily basis. You could be a little old lady on her way to Bingo or you could be a hardened criminal who just robbed a bank. An officer never knows until he walks up to your car door.

Most of the first hour and a half of class was watching the worst dash-cam videos possible of officers being murdered in cold blood. It was horrifying. People jumping out of their cars, running to the squad car and shooting and killing the officer before they could even open their doors. One of them was a 72 year old man. SEVENTY-TWO. Jumped out with a rifle and shot right through the windshield several times. Some the officers were searching and the person had a gun. A struggle ensued and the officer was shot and killed. Some were actually beaten to death with bare hands and kicks to the head. Even an unarmed person is capable of murder.

We were all really shaken by these videos (which also had sound, so you could hear the yells and screams). How could you not be, watching people being killed?

The point of it all was to make us realize that there is a reason for everything an officer does when they approach your car, how they approach your car, how they interact with you. They have NO IDEA what you’re thinking or planning. They’re not being assholes. They’re trying to protect themselves.

To really hammer this point home, for the next hour we went outside (in the freezing cold!) and we did mock traffic stops where WE were the police officers. This is where the exciting part of the night came in.

We were split into two groups of 8 each (some members of class opted not to do this exercise and just watched) with a squad car and a regular vehicle with three Volunteers in it (I can’t wait until I can do this with the next class!). Sergeant Incrocci asked who wanted to go first. We all stood there and looked at one another! LOL! Then suddenly the guy next to me, John (who I’ve become friends with) grabbed my arm and raised MY hand! Sgt. Incrocci’s like, “Okay, let’s go!” while everyone else laughed and I stood there with my mouth open shooting a mock death stare at John. I can’t believe he did that! LOL!

Next thing I know I’ve got a very realistic hard plastic gun in my pocket and I’m in the front seat of the squad. Sergeant Incrocci ran me through how to use the radio to call in, how to turn the red and blue lights on and the spotlight. Then I was on my own. I should’ve known, being the first, that this was going to be trial by fire. Sure enough, I had no more than stepped out of the squad, didn’t even have a chance to close the door and the driver jumped out and charged me. He was on me in less than four seconds. But I’m damn quick myself and had my gun drawn and shot him when he was about a foot away from me. That was close! And damn scary. Like I said, they were driving a point home to us. I got a round of applause as I rejoined my group. 🙂

I then watched as the rest of my classmates were each put through a different scenario. Everything from complacent drivers to one that jumped out and put a gun to his own head, to two passengers arguing with each other and not complying to them smoking weed in the backseat to one driver that drew a gun. I was then picked to be “backup” for a classmate when all three Volunteers jumped out of the car and were walking around yelling, refusing commands. Then because Sergeant Incrocci felt bad that my scenario only lasted five seconds I got to go a second time. Then myself and two others got to be the suspects in the car while Sergeant Incrocci and Sergeant Staffie showed the class how do do a felony stop, how to get us out of the car, search and handcuff us.

While the night started off very disturbing it ended up being one of the best nights. We were all so pumped up with adrenaline we didn’t even remember it was so cold out! In the end it was lesson learned – traffic stops are the most dangerous, unpredictable events a cop ever experiences.

Next week is DUI Enforcement where we get to wear the drunk goggles and drive a golf cart through an obstacle course!

Citizen Police Academy – Week 8

Carol Stream CPA3

It was Drugs and Gangs at last night’s CPA class. We had Corporal Cummings from DuMEG and Detectives Grey and Dunteman from our Special Operations Unit.

DuMEG stands for DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group. There are 33 different towns in the county that take part, either by contributing financially or by offering up manpower. My town has had an officer in DuMEG for the past 4 years. The main objective for DuMEG is undercover narcotics investigation.

Heroin is the number one drug now, surpassing cocaine, crack and meth. It’s readily available, cheaper than any other drug and extremely potent. Heroine is the most abused of all narcotics. It’s derived from morphine. It has an unpredictable purity level and an extremely high addiction rate. The most well-known types are China White and Mexican Brown.

The stories that Cummings told about dealing with heroine addicts both turned your stomach and broke your heart. The DuMEG officers feel for these people. They don’t want to be hooked on drugs but it’s a physical sickness and they just can’t stop. Because your body builds up a tolerance to heroine you constantly need more and more. Not even to get high, just to function. One of their informants shoots up TWLEVE times a DAY.

In 2013 there were 64 heroine deaths in our county. In 2014 there were 33.

Most bags of heroine are $10. A “dime bag” but you can buy a “jab”, which is 15 bags for around $100. Possession of heroine is an immediate class four felony and a three year prison term.

Cummings talked about this huge case that just happened a little over a year ago. They busted a guy for dealing heroine. He was looking at a minimum of 15 years. He said he had information on a massive cannabis ring and wanted to make a deal. Turns out that several times a month this guy in the county was having huge quantities of cannabis driven from Arizona here. His information was amazingly accurate and about a month later they stopped the 4-car convoy and seized over 600 POUNDS of cannabis. We saw the photos of the cars packed with the drug. It was somewhere close to a million dollars street value. Yikes!

Next up Detectives Grey and Dunteman talked about the Special Ops unit and their main mission is gang suppression. With a focus on drugs as well.

There are 150,000 gang members in the greater Chicago metropolitan area. My town has approximately 125 members. What I found interesting is that they’re not really active in town. They go into Chicago or the neighborhoods close to the city to gang bang. Then they come out here to the suburbs to “lay their heads”. We’re a “bedroom community for gang members”. While I certainly don’t want gang members in my town I’m glad that at least they’re not terrorizing the citizens.

Many years ago gang members were out and proud. They wore their colors and flashed their gang signs and when asked they readily admitted what gang they were in. Things have changed now. They don’t display colors or get tattoos and deny being part of a gang, trying to fly under the radar nowadays.

The special ops unit is also in charge of keeping tabs on parolees who move into town. Right now we have 26 people in town on parole. For anything from robbery all the way to murder. Yikes! Parolees have no expectation of privacy. They can be stopped simply just walking down the street and searched. Same goes for their homes or vehicles.

They also are in charge of sex offenders in town. We have such strict rules for where these people can live that it’s nearly impossible for them to find housing.

It was a really informative night. You don’t want to think about drugs or gangs in the town you live in, but it’s reality. And the more informed you are the safer you’ll be. The stories that all of the officers told about cases they’ve worked on were really fascinating.

Next week is the Traffic Unit. We get to go outside and simulate traffic stops, taking turns being the driver and the police officer. Cool! I’ve done these simulations before and they’re always fun and interesting.

An award winning cover!

memorys-prisoner-final big

BIG congratulations to my amazingly talented cover artist L.C. Chase for her 2015 Ariana Award for the cover she did for my ebook, MEMORY’S PRISONER! She took every element I requested and turned them into a simple, yet striking cover that I adore. So happy she was recognized for her great work!

If you’d like to read the story that goes along with the award winning cover, here are the buy links:

BUY LINKS:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/ng25ocw

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/nvj3toh

Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/ow92qj2

Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4414

Also available at the iBookstore

MEMORY’S PRISONER

Detectives Mitchell Reid and Joseph Valentino of the Chicago Police Department have finally moved from friends to lovers, partners on the job and off. Then an escaped bank robber with a thirst for vengeance shatters their world. The police tactical raid to recapture the convict goes horribly wrong, leaving Mitch severely wounded and Joey with a devastating head injury. They both survive, but Joey’s long-term coma and memory loss will change their lives – and love – forever.

SUCKS & BLOWS–NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON & KINDLE UNLIMITED–99¢ or FREE!!!

What a deal for my good friend Gina Grant’s book! Check it out!

Gina X. Grant

NOW AVAILABLE!

Buy it here: Amazon.com / Amazon.ca *includes KINDLE UNLIMITED*

SUMMARY:SuS&B website frame~right and bottomcks and Blows: No greater love has a vampire than for his dentist

REVIEWS:

Sucks and Blows is an absolute riot!  Totally unique and undeniably witty, Sucks and Blows is something else.  Take a step away from reality to enjoy this one of a kind story, a basic plot with characters and dialogue that has run amok.  If you need a good chuckle, check out Sucks and Blows. You won’t be disappointed.
Joyfully Reviewed by Lisa

Great story if you need a laugh, but not if you’ve been putting off a visit to the dentist. Horny dentist meets vamp with a fang-ache and pun-fest ensues. Yes, the tooth is out there! Clever and fun, and I enjoyed the unique characters.
EM Lynley on Goodreads

This is too funny. Full of (bad) puns, unlikely events and a dentists…

View original post 563 more words

Citizen Police Academy – Week 7

CSI shirt

It was CSI night at class yesterday! So for shits and giggles I had to bust out the appropriate shirt. Heh.

Needless to say, it was a hit with both my classmates and our instructors. One of the Evidence guys saw me and said “The CSI tech is here! The class is yours!” 🙂  Gotta love these guys.

So yes, last night’s topic was Crime Scene Investigations and Fingerprinting. Officer Cluever was back (this guy is a riot!) so it was a very entertaining evening. He tells the best stories!

I didn’t take a lot of notes last night, mainly because since forensics is a passion of mine, I already knew 90% of what he was talking about. But here are a few of the things he went over:

• 3 kinds of evidence – Physical, Testimonial (least reliable) and Documentary

• First officer on scene gives aid to victim, preserves the scene/evidence and obtains info from the victim/witnesses

• Number one thing that destroys evidence – the fire department/paramedics! They are rather destructive, but their job is to save lives, not evidence. Second thing that destroys evidence – other police officers walking through the scene.

• A good Evidence Tech can figure out what happened before talking to the first officer on scene.

• Never package any liquids or anything wet (like clothing) in a plastic evidence bag. It can mold. Use paper bags.

Then we got to the hands-on portion of the evening, which I’d been waiting for. We were split into two groups (thankfully my group was smaller). First group would be presented with a scenario and then have to collect evidence from a car. Second group would be doing fingerprinting, then we would switch.

We got the vehicle search first. We were told that there was a woman missing, she worked at Starbucks, last seen arguing with her boyfriend outside of the coffee shop. Boyfriend’s car was impounded, but he said he hadn’t driven it in over a week. Then we were set loose on the car like a swarm of ants. 🙂  This is why I’m glad we had the smaller group because the other group must’ve been falling over each other.

I thought it was funny that when we were turned loose, everyone went for the four doors of the car. Me? I went for the trunk! And gosh, what did I find? Plastic gloves, rope, duct tape and a shoe. Bingo! When I did get into the front seat of the car (that 5 other people had already been in) I also looked UP and saw papers in the visor. Turns out they were MapQuest directions, which led to the discovery of the girlfriend’s body. Double bingo! (Officer Cleuver remarked he thought we were all going to miss the papers) But my classmates did find other evidence, too, like a newspaper dated just a couple days earlier (but no one had been in the car, eh?) a cell phone and a Starbucks cup. All in all it was a really fun exercise.

We did the fingerprinting next, which is always fun. For the first time I got to use the magnetic dust. It was very cool (and much less messy!) but I didn’t feel that it gave better lifts. I’ve had much more success with the traditional black dust. At one point the Evidence tech came by and looked over my shoulder and said “How’s the CSI gal doing? I expect you to have the best lifts in the class since you’re already trained!” LOL! But I will admit the gal next to me did get a better one than I did. 🙂

At the end of the night I finally got my official Volunteer clothes! Holy cow is this stuff nice! It’s a heavy jacket, a hoodie and a polo shirt. All three have VOLUNTEER written in white letters on the back and on the front is the police logo. I’m definitely ready for my first assignment now!

Volunteer logo   Volunteer clothes

Citizen Police Academy – Week 6

Carol Stream CPA3

Last night’s class was held at DuComm – our consolidated 911 center for our county. I live only 10  minutes away from it and didn’t even know it was there, right behind the Target store!

DuComm stands for DuPage Public Safety Communications. It’s the largest consolidated 911 center in the entire state of Illinois. It serves 17 police departments and 22 fire departments which spans over 800,000 citizens in total.

There are a total of 9 police dispatchers, 4 fire dispatchers and 1 alarm board operator per shift. Each station has six computer monitors: the live incoming 911 call, a mapping system showing where the call is originating from and where all of the available police units are, what police units are currently on call/available, police and fire radio traffic and the LEADS system which runs driver’s license number and license plate numbers. Having seen the inside of the call center it’s an impressive set up!

All landline 911 calls go directly to DuComm. All 911 calls from cell phones first go to our county Sheriff’s department and they route the calls to either DuComm or another police or fire station. 70% of all 911 calls are from cell phones.

If you call 911 from a cell phone, this is what is transmitted to the call center – the address of the closest cell tower to you, your cell phone number, your cell phone carrier and a general latitude and longitude. It’s not an exact science for pinpointing your location which is why the dispatchers may ask you many questions to figure out exactly where you are.

DuComm takes approximately 1500 calls in just 8 hours. 1000 of which are 911 calls. Yeah, it’s a busy place when you’re taking care of 39 different police and fire districts.

For fire alarm calls that come into DuComm, the dispatchers have the capability to not only sound the appropriate alarm tone at the station, but if it’s at night they can also turn on the lights at the station so the firemen aren’t stumbling around in the dark, they can open the bay doors remotely and even turn off the gas on the stove. I thought all of that was way cool!

Training wise, a fire dispatcher is much harder than a police dispatcher. It’s 13 weeks for fire and 9 weeks for police.

This job is so stressful that it weighs on you, messes with your head, gives you nightmares and will send you to counseling. If you make it past two years (which is the average drop out rate) then this will become your career because you have what it takes.

After the presentation we got to go out into the call center itself. It’s a beehive of constant activity and voices. All the dispatchers work as a team. One will take a call and start getting information and entering it into the computer, while another dispatcher is reading it and sending out calls to either the police or fire departments. They’re like a well-oiled machine. And they need to be. We got to listen in on three 911 calls while we were standing there, all within ten minutes.

All in all a fascinating night! Next week is Crime Scene Processing. YES!! Can’t wait for that one!

And last but not least, I’m finally an official Volunteer! Got my credentials last night. Woot! Bring on my first assignment!

FB volunteer badge

FIVE STAR review for Memory’s Prisoner

20140725-091103.jpg
After years of working together as part of Chicago’s S.W.A.T. team, Mitch and Joey finally acknowledge their mutual attraction and make their partnership as perfect at home as it is on the job. Together they are able to fill their down time with much needed love an laughter, but their happiness doesn’t last long.

Mitch is able to adapt to his own injuries after a bust goes bad, but Joey’s memory loss is heart-breakingly traumatic for him to bear. Unwilling to leave his partner alone, Mitch is determined to stay by Joey’s side for as long as it takes. For him, their love is unforgettable and it is enough to just be close to the beautiful man who holds his heart. After years of waiting for Joey’s memories to return, Mitch’s love is stronger than ever but his hope is almost gone.

MEMORY’S PRISONER is a well written combination of action, suspense, drama and romance. The chemistry between Joey and Mitch is undeniable, but the challenges their relationship faces are enough to break my heart. I read MEMORY’S PRISONER in a single sitting. Jaime’s deeply moving characters and detailed story development simply captured my heart.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00H3612OW