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John M. Wills

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True crime

Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings (book review)

Today’s newscasts and papers are rife with reporting on police involved shootings. Preliminary coverage seems to always be negative, insinuating that police were wrong or perhaps too quick to use deadly force. Even worse, when deadly force is employed the news is quick to opine that it was either not justified or too much force was used. We still see those insane questions from some reporters and journalists—“Why didn’t they shoot him in the arm or leg?” Insanity. Social media is the worst. Monday morning quarterbacks and cop wannabes analyze and criticize decisions that an officer has a split second to make.

In that regard, Joseph K. Loughlin and Kate Clark Flora have authored a book that is long overdue. In Shots Fired: The Misunderstandings, Misconceptions, and Myths about Police Shootings, the authors offer a clear answer as to why cops are forced to respond to situations using deadly force. They illustrate why at times even though an officer’s decision is totally justified and within the parameters of law and department policy, some are pilloried by politicians, the news, and citizens. Recall the Ferguson, Missouri incident involving Michael Brown. Officer Darren Wilson acted within the law, yet calls for his indictment sprang up before many of the facts of the case were even known to those investigating the shooting. The rationale was Brown was unarmed. However, as police officers we know that any altercation is always an armed one by virtue of the fact that we ourselves are armed, and that weapon can fall into the hands of the subject we’re involved with.

In their book, the authors present a lucid view about the reality of police-involved Shots Firedshootings. They break the book down into four sections: Myths and Misconceptions; Training and De-Escalation; Stopping the Threat; and Loss and Redemption. To bolster their claims regarding the misreporting and misconceptions about police shootings, they offer many actual cases and court rulings. One of the most important rulings comes from the Supreme Court of the United States which said, “The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene, rather than with 20/20 hindsight.” And that “allowance must be made for the fact that officers are often forced to make split second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular incident.” (Graham v Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989).

Shots Fired points out a misconception the general public has regarding officers’ use of force training. While training academies offer intensive firearms and judgmental training for their students, once the officer graduates and hits the street the intensity and frequency of training is greatly diminished. Many departments only require a yearly qualification with a firearm. Unless an officer is in a specialized unit like SWAT or a tactical team, enhanced or dynamic training is not available. Thus, the officer is forced to employ deadly force with very little and infrequent training. The public might wonder why this is so, and they’d be surprised to learn that it’s mostly a function of budget constraints. Yes, people, if you want a highly trained department, the only way to get that is through taxes.

It may also be useful for the public to know about fear and perceptual distortions (Chapter 11). Even though people suffer the same effects when they’re scared, e.g., being alone at night and getting lost, an auto accident, a family tragedy, they rarely equate their confused behavior with those an officer faces in a deadly force situation. Fight-or-flight instincts are triggered in everyone who confronts a threat. Cops are no different—except they cannot flee. They must stay and take control of whatever threat faces them. And they must control the situation despite the changes they experience via the autonomic nervous system. Tunnel vision, auditory exclusion, slow motion, etc., all combine to hamper the performance in a potential life and death struggle.

What many don’t realize is that some officers that have been involved in shootings carry some mental baggage with them for years. PTSD is a frequent by-product of officer-involved shootings. Officers may suffer from sleep deprivation, acute anxiety, crying, appetite loss, nightmares, and even thoughts of suicide. They worry about possible future litigation and the moral questions surrounding taking a life. Recent postings on social media allude to officers enjoying shooting people. Nothing could be further from the truth. On the flip side, lately it seems these unsubstantiated accusations have spawned a spate of ambushes on cops resulting in deaths and injuries.

Shots Fired is another of those books I must add to my personal collection. It contains much food for thought, as well as actual cases reinforcing the topics discussed. Moreover, this book is ideal for anyone who has questions about officer-involved shootings and deadly force, particularly the general public.

Go Inside The FBI

Today I’m visiting with William Larsh who has a new book out, The FBI, They Eat Their Young.

Hi, Bill, I’ve read your book and found it interesting and intriguing since it affords readers a glimpse into the FBI most have never seen. Please give my readers a thumbnail sketch of yourself.

Sure, John, and thanks for hosting me on your blog. I was born and raised in Perry Hall, Maryland, graduated from Towson State University, Towson, Maryland, and beganBill Larsh author pic working for the FBI in 1984.  In 1987, I was appointed as a Special Agent and was assigned to several different cities throughout my career.  I retired as a Supervisory Special Agent in 2012.  I currently live in Hanover, Pennsylvania.

How did your writing journey begin?

I honed my writing skills during my long career in the FBI.  I told countless stories of my FBI experiences to other FBI agents, friends, and family, throughout my career.  Nearly everyone seemed interested and amused by more stories.  Many FBI agents said to me, “Bill, you should write a book.  The public would never believe it.”  Following retirement, I wrote the book!

Tell us a bit about your new book, The FBI, They Eat Their Young.

fbi book larshThis book is an honest and detailed memoir of an agent’s career, providing the reader with the unique and amusing story of one agent’s journey from his first day of work until his retirement.  My story, however, exposes a dark side of FBI management in a callous bureaucracy, illustrating their pettiness, vindictiveness, massive egos, and retaliatory nature.

Have you written any other books?

I published my first book in December 2016, a novel entitled “L’Archevêque” based on the true story of my ancestor, Paul L’Archevêque, a French fur trader who traded with the Shawnee Indians in the Ohio Valley in the 1700s.

What are your passions, hobbies, family?

Golfing has always been my passion.  I also enjoy traveling, working out, bicycling, watching old movies, and listening to my favorite music.  My favorite travel destination is the Highlands of Scotland, where my grandmother, Elizabeth Chisholm Larsh, was born.  My family and I enjoy visiting our Chisholm cousins in Scotland, hiking the mountains in the Highlands, and playing golf on Scottish Links courses.  I have been married for over 33 years to my wife, Cindy.  We have two grown children, Ethan, age 27, and Mary, age 26.  We also enjoy visiting our extended families that live mainly in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

What is life after retirement like?

Besides writing two books, I have been able to enjoy all my interests full-time.  I have played approximately 1,500 rounds of golf since retiring, many with my children and wife.  I have traveled to see my Chisholm cousins in Scotland four times (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) for as long as 30 days.

Any new books on the horizon?

My nephew (by marriage) has requested that I write his biography.  He is a full-blooded native Indian from Canada from the Métis Nation.  Following his birth in 1973, Canadian social workers forcibly took him away from his mother.  He has recently learned of the identity of his mother and other relatives in Canada and is participating in a class-action lawsuit filed against the Canadian government for their unconscionable policy of separating indigenous children from their families and then putting them up for adoption to white families.

Bill, thanks for visiting my blog today. I’m sure readers will find your book as fascinating as I did. Best of luck on your future endeavors. Visit Bill’s Amazon author page for more information.

The Real Story About Cops

Today I’m hosting Ben Celano, author of BEAT COP, CHICAGO BLUE, Reflections of a “Street Grunt,” books one and two. As a former Chicago police officer, I enjoy reading books written by my former colleagues. Please join me as we  learn a little bit about Officer Celano and his books.

Ben, please give my readers a thumbnail sketch of yourself.

61dlBaRiisL._SX800_Thanks, John. I’m a 22 year veteran of the Chicago PD. Prior to becoming a cop I had a series of marketing jobs for major corporations. After serving in the Army from 1963 -1966, I set my sights on becoming a Chicago police officer, something that had been a life-long aspiration of mine.

I served the city of Chicago as an officer from 1982 – 2004 in one of the busiest districts in the city, working both a beat car and squadrol (prisoner transport). My entire tenure in the department was spent on the street. Along the way, I met many interesting people, some of whom I had to arrest. My stories, and the stories of the officers I worked with, are the brutal truthful reality of those experiences.

When did you begin writing and why?

My first attempts at writing occurred when I was 16-years-old. I attended a YMCA English class in night school. Our teacher asked us to write a short story, which I did, and that’s when I got the bug. After that, I dipped in and out of writing for personal enjoyment. While a police officer, I wrote articles for a local newspaper, “The Austin Weekly.”

When I retired, I wrote in fits and starts until this past year when I wrote my two books. Because I am an avid reader, I admire James A. Michener, Leon Uris, Ian Fleming, Rod Serling, Ed McBain, and Joseph Wambaugh, to name a few.

Briefly describe your books.

My books illustrate what beat cops do every day. We see a side of society that most will51--L+MvvSL never know. It is the truth of the “street” where mistakes can be deadly. The stories in both books are not sugar coated politically correct versions of the truth. Like it or not, the truth of a police officer’s job is the stark ugly reality of aberrant human behavior. These books rip off the bandage of sanitized news, and give the reader a glimpse of the festering wounds of society’s downtrodden and the police interactions with them.

Besides these books, have you published anything else?

Only the articles I wrote in “The Austin Weekly.”

41wQIfCw5rLDo you write anything besides non-fiction?

Yes, I’m working on a fictional police procedural.

Family, where you live, and any hobbies or passions?

I’ve been happily married for 32 years and live in the western suburbs of Chicago. My hobby, or  obsession  as you might say, is writing.

Any new books on the horizon?

I may possibly write a Book 3 in my Beat Cop series since some of my old comrades want me to tell their stories as well. Right now, that idea is in its embryonic stage, but who knows?

Thanks, Ben, it’s been an interesting interview, and I’m sure those who enjoy true police stories will find your books fascinating. Please let us know when your next book will be published.

Ben’s books are available on Amazon at this link: http://tiny.cc/7neqny

 

Meet Pat McCarthy

 

Hi Pat, I’m honored to host you on my blog today. Having been a Chicago police officer myself, I was anxious to read your book. I found it drew me in immediately with its action and authenticity. The cop jargon, in particular, is spot on and pulls no punches. Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your journey in writing your first book, Chicago Street Cop.

Thanks, John. I’m a lifelong resident of Chicago and a retired Chicago police officer. My great grandfather came from Ireland in the late 1800’s and became a Chicago cop; my father was also a Chicago cop. My son Ryan is the 4th generation Chicago police officer in my family.

Pat_M_author_picI grew up about two miles from Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. From my earliest memories, I always wanted to be a cop like my dad and great grandfather. I remember watching my dad suit up to work the streets, and I’d stare out the front window and watch him drive away in his powder blue 1959 Chevy to police the mean streets of the Windy City.

I admired my father and knew some day, I too, would become a cop. The dream came true when I finally pinned on the star. I truly believed it was my destiny—my calling in life. I enjoyed every day I was a cop-even the bad and sad days I endured. The fact I was paid to live my dream was fantastic. Truth be told, I would have been a cop even if they hadn’t paid me, it meant that much.

In the back of my mind, I always knew someday I’d write about my experiences. Throughout my career, particularly when I worked undercover in the gang unit, people told me I should write a book. I’m glad I took their advice. Chicago Street Cop is about the crazy and often unique incidents I was involved in during my career. My journey involved stints as a uniform patrol officer, gang specialist, undercover in the gang unit for five years, six years on SWAT-three as a sniper, eleven years detailed to the FBI on three separate federal task forces-six years on the Asian Gang and Organized Crime Task Force, two years on the FBI’s I.C.E ( International Criminal Enterprise ) Task Force, and three years on the Violent Gangs and Hispanic Task Force.

Like many first time authors, when I began writing the words flowed easily. Then, they slowly tapered off, and at times I didn’t write for months. Having never before written a book, I found it a bigger challenge than expected. Life and my police training business also got in the way. I was traveling 30 weeks a year across the country presenting my three-day Street Crimes Seminar.

One day I had this crazy idea to travel overseas to concentrate on my writing—no chgo_street_cop_coverdistractions and no excuses. I went to Australia and Thailand twice, then to China, once to Beijing and once to Hong Kong. I went to these countries simply to write—no site seeing, no vacation. I know it probably sounds a bit bazaar, but I totally concentrated on writing my book. I’d write as much as possible on both the flights from Chicago and the return flights home. I’d hunker down in my hotel room and do nothing but write for five days straight.

Finally, when I thought the manuscript was ready, I hired an editor who referred me to content editor, Jill Welsh, to evaluate my book and offer some advice. At first, it was tough to hear, but she told me my manuscript was written like a journal rather than a book. She also said it was much too long.

Additionally, she said I needed to include dialogue. My stories, though interesting, would probably not work well without it. That turned out to be great advice and believe it or not, I read a couple of books to understand the dialogue concept. One of the books was Dialogue for Dummies, and it really did help hone my writing skills. Jill was also helpful in providing advice on what to keep and what to eliminate.

The most exciting experience of the process was when I received my first physical proof. As I leafed through it, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I realized with just a bit more work I would have my first book published and be able to proudly say, “I’m a published author.”

Presently, my book is only available in e-book form, but the hardcover version is in the printing process and will be available soon. Once the hardcover is out, I plan on scheduling signings and events.

I’m working on a second book titled, Chicago Gang Cops. I’ll take what I’ve learned from my first book and make my second one even better.

Thanks, Pat, for sharing your experience about your career and book. I’m certain readers will enjoy your honesty and marvel at your courage as they read Chicago Street Cop. I understand the book is available on Amazon and from your website, streetcrimes.com. Thank you for your service, my friend.

 

 

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