Adam complains about his least favorite bureaucratic paperwork and then talks about fatal hit & run investigations and suspect extraditions.
Adam complains about his least favorite bureaucratic paperwork and then talks about fatal hit & run investigations and suspect extraditions.
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This week on the writer's detective bureau, paperwork, pet peeves, fatal hit and run investigations and suspect extraditions I'm Adam Richardson. And this is the writer's detective bureau. Welcome to episode 120, 1 of the writer's detective bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality crime related fiction. And today, as I record this April 22nd, 2022 is the seventh birthday for writer's detective it's the day I registered the writers,
detective.com domain name, which some of you may remember as a blog. And it's the day I started answering writer's questions on Twitter, which seems like a lifetime ago. But so many of you have stuck with me since then. So thanks for joining me at some point over the last seven years, I'm still having so much fun with this, and can't wait to see what the next seven years bring.
Then this week I'm complaining about my least favorite bureaucratic paperwork, and then also talking about fatal hit and run investigations and suspect extraditions. Now, let me see if this rings a bell you're dedicated to mastering the craft of storytelling, you research police procedures, like you're a doctoral student about to defend a thesis. You've put it all into a compelling story and finally took the scary leap of putting it out to the world.
Only to get a one-star review from some reader complaining about the scene, where your heroine cocks back the hammer on her Glock. If you didn't know that Glocks don't have hammers and pay attention to me for just a second, because I've got you. If guns are not your thing, but one makes an appearance in your story. My crime fiction guns course is for you.
If you have never held a gun in your life or the thought of walking into a gun store or gun range causes your heart to race. I have the solution. I created the crime fiction guns online course, as a safe place for crime fiction writers, to learn everything you need to know about writing guns and ammunition into your stories, without the politics or bravado of a wannabe middle-aged Mutan and just seal the crime fiction guns course is designed to really be a reference source that you can work through at your own pace,
and you will easily find whatever it is you're writing about time and time again, to learn more, visit crime fiction, guns.com. This week's first question comes from Claire wake who writes hi Adam, thanks for all your work on the podcast. One of the things I find most interesting and crime fiction is the contrast between the excitement of investigation, crime scenes and evidence and interviews,
and the sheer frustration of bureaucracy. I love to write about cops who hate paperwork and office tasks, but having never been a cop, I don't know what those jobs are. What are some of the mundane tasks that cops have to do on a daily to weekly basis that I could drop into my novels as background information or things my characters complain about, oh,
what do cops complain about everything? If we aren't busy, we are bitching about something. So it is best to keep us busy. Oh man, like any bureaucracy, we are certainly not lacking paperwork. And a lot of times it feels awfully redundant. If I arrest someone, you'd think there would be a single report that details everything. And that's that right by arrestee's name,
date of birth, phone number driver's license, number, address, place of birth and so on. And where I work, we refer to that as their horsepower, right? So if I roll up to help another officer on a call, for instance, like to help identify which bystanders or witnesses to the incident, the officer handling that call might say to me,
Hey, can you help me by getting everyone's horsepower for me, that's going to be location specific lingo, but you get the idea anyway, already off topic. And we're only a few minutes into the podcast, but you would think that a single report of the arrestees horsepower and the particulars of what happened would suffice for pretty much everything. Right? But no,
of course not. As you likely know, my department obviously needs that report, but the jail needs me to fill out their booking form with his name and horsepower and the charges, those crimes he's being booked for. Then I need to fill out the PC form, a probable cause form, which is the, you guessed it name and horsepower of my arrestee and the particulars of what happened specifically my legal justification for arresting him in which crimes he's being charged with.
And then that PC form goes to a judge to review, to make sure this guy gets to stay in jail until court. And then if the guy's on probation or parole, I have a probation form or parole form to fill out every agency involved in this process, my department, the jail, the DA's office, the courts, probation, parole, they all have their own forms that I need to complete.
Usually with the same information on all of them here in Southern California, the bad guy will absolutely be back out on the streets long before I get my paperwork finished. That is not an exaggeration unless we're talking about murder, but pretty much everything else they're getting out before I finish all of those forms, but that heap of paperwork, I at least get the reasoning for my personal pet peeve.
However, is it's not necessarily well, it is paperwork, but it's really a task, a mundane task that frustrates me like to no end. And that is the recap. Not only do we have a train load of paperwork for basic tasks and case management software that we need to update in order to show the progress and status of every case that we as detectives have assigned to us on top of all of that,
we have the recap which exists solely to keep the middle managers up to date on what we've been doing. So that way they can tell their bosses what we've been doing rather than read the reports, rewrite, or look at the case management software that we paid to have that tracks our case updates in case anyone wants to look or even go so far as to just ask the detective sergeants,
our bosses, what we're working on, like our immediate supervisors, they make us take time away from our investigations to write up our own updates on a recap. That way the Lieutenant, basically our detective Sergeant boss knows what to say at the weekly management meeting. But here's the reason why I hate the recap so much. It's not because it's a waste of my time.
It's not because I think the bosses are lazy it's because they don't read it. It's my ass. If I didn't do the damn recap every week, but I know for a fact that they don't read it, how do I know? Because once upon a time I put a very, not safe for work description of the casework I did in the recap to see if anyone would actually catch it.
The kind of thing that would prompt an immediate phone call to say, don't do that again, but no phone call ever came. So if you want your cops bitching about paperwork, Claire, make it mandated paperwork. If that is utterly useless, like the damn recap Before we get to our next question, I just need to quickly thank my Patrion patrons for supporting the show,
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This week's. Next question comes from Simone backer who writes hi there. I love your podcast. Thank you very much. Thank you for producing it. I'm a writer currently drafting a novel we're a fatal hit and run accident is the primary subplot. So I'm researching the technicalities of fatal hit and run accidents right now. I browsed all your titles, but didn't see any episodes related to hit and runs upon first glance.
Any episodes you recommend or any chance of producing an episode with hit and run information in the future. Thanks again, Simone. Thanks for the topic suggestions Simone. So here we go. Hidden on accidents. Typically fall under traffic investigations. And if your city has motor officers, meaning officers on motorcycles that primarily enforce traffic laws, that they are most likely also going to be your traffic accident.
Investigators. If someone hits your car and flees the scene, that is a misdemeanor hit and run. When someone is injured in a hit and run accident, it becomes a felony. When it's a fatal hit and run, it's also most likely going to be charged as a vehicular manslaughter. Most departments will have some sort of accident reconstruction team, the California highway patrol calls.
There's mate M a I T major accident investigation team LAPD has detectives assigned to traffic related investigations like LAPD's west traffic division detectives. These teams are staffed with accident, reconstruction experts. Usually those motor officers or detectives that have been specifically trained to map out the crash scene and reconstruct exactly what happened. They will take measurements of everything where the vehicle or vehicles were found,
the length and location of any tire skid marks, which they can use to determine the speed of the vehicles as well as photographs of the entire scene. Modern major accident investigation, best practices include using LIDAR to precisely map the scene and even use drones or helicopter. If they have one to capture aerial photos of the scene, these folks will look at everything.
They'll look at injuries on the decedent to determine if the seatbelt was being worn. If the impact was so severe that it caused internal injuries, they will look at any computer data recorded by the car itself, which is a whole nother topic in and of itself. Modern cars do have data recorders, not exactly a black box like on an airplane, but to my basic understanding,
keep in mind that I do not work traffic investigations, which is why we haven't talked about it on the podcast before. But to my basic understanding, these data recorders came about with traction control in cars, where the car had to compute where the drive train was losing traction and where the inertia might tend to spin car. So if the car is equipped with any kind of data recorder,
they, the investigators will certainly look at that as well. Of course, this is assuming the hit and run was one car versus another car rather than car versus pedestrian or bicyclist. Anyway, the accident investigation team may use the detective bureau to help with any search or arrest warrants. And they may use CSI to collect evidence from the scene, but the science of determining exactly what happened will likely come from that major accident investigation team to do more research on this Simone,
you might look for old news headlines about an actual fatal hit and run. And then see if you can find followup stories about the police catching the suspect. You may have to go back several years to find a story like this. And then you might be able to search by the suspect's name for any criminal or more importantly, civil lawsuits, like a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family,
which might offer a lot more insight into the actual steps. The investigators took to solve the case because you may be able to see the evidence or the testimony associated with those lawsuits. If you do a Google search for it. So I hope this helps Our next question comes from Jean Dever, Shea of Jean Day, rache.com who writes hi Adam, if someone flees a jurisdiction before a murder trial and goes elsewhere to testify as a witness in another trial,
but there's a conflict with the trial dates. What will happen? In my case, a man is accused of triple homicide. He gets out, but is not allowed to leave. The jurisdiction then goes far away without permission gets pulled into another case and is expected to testify, but has to go back for his trial before he can be a witness in the trial where he went,
would he not be able to testify who would go bring him back a cop from that jurisdiction, marshals who, well, I can tell you that taking a triple homicide suspect that fled the jurisdiction, especially if he is out on what is likely a $3 million bail is definitely going to supersede the importance of being a witness. In another case, the attorney that is calling this guy to testify as a witness may have second thoughts on that.
Even as soon as they find out that this witness is now likely a triple murder suspect, that kind of thing would certainly bring his credibility as a witness into question. So they might decide not to call them as a witness. As for the transportation question, it would likely be a detective from the Sheriff's department in the county where the triple homicide occurred. One of the many functions of a Sheriff's department is their warrants bureau or warrants division or whatever they call it.
Essentially this warrant's bureau maintains a record of all of the arrest warrants issued by the superior court in that county. Even if the case is from another police department within the county, the Sheriff's department will usually have a detective or detectives assigned to work felony fugitive cases, which is exactly what this case sounds like. Where it can get tricky is when that person is arrested in another state,
the felony fugitive detective or someone else in that warrant's bureau has to obtain a governor's warrant. Basically the governor of our state arranges with the governor of the state, where the suspect was arrested to have the suspect legally transported from one state to another. It's more of a paperwork thing than anything else, but it has to do with the suspect's due process rights.
Another possibility for transportation is that it could be some detectives involved in the actual triple homicide investigation itself that do the extradition. It doesn't necessarily have to be the Sheriff's felony fugitive detective. I just kind of used your question as a leaping off point to explain the function and that there's actually, that job actually exists out there, but it could very well be one of the detectives or a pair of detectives involved in that triple homicide investigation that do that extradition.
And lastly, it may be a contracted prisoner transportation service that drives them in a van back to the original jurisdiction. I've personally done a number of these extraditions in my career where we flew to another state to bring our bad guy back on a plane. And the discussion we normally have is you can either be cool and fly back with us and we'll even get you a burger and a Coke at the airport.
Or if you don't want to go with the program, you can ride back in the back of a transport van, across five states, it's up to you. And they always took the flight and burger option. Now, if there's any kind of officer safety or flight risk concern that guy's getting driven back by a transport service, they're not being flown as for the us marshals and,
and con air, which is their air program that they run that's specifically for federal prisoners as a local detective. I'm not working federal cases. Oh, and you probably now have questions about how the flying back thing works, right, without going into too much operational detail. I don't want to give away anything that I shouldn't, but I will say that there are always more plain clothes detectives than there are suspects when we travel and you know,
none of those leaving him unattended while I go to the bathroom kind of shenanigans that you see in the TV show and movies stuff, right? And the suspect is always handcuffed. If we end up having like some sort of layover where a connecting flight gets canceled or something where we need to get a hotel for the night, the suspect is not staying with us.
We will book him into the nearest jail for the night, and then we go to the hotel and then in the morning we leave the hotel, grab him and then go back to the airport. So I hope this helps answer your question, Jean and I hope I helped with you as well. Claire and Simone, thanks so much for submitting your questions before we go.
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