Christmas Safety Tips

Christmas Picture The holiday season brings a lot of excitement.  Between the shopping, Christmas parties, and family gatherings, it is easy to get distracted. Throw alcohol into the mix and it is easy to see how one may let their guard down as they are out and about.  Slow down and pay attention to what is going on around you.  We can all play a bigger part in reducing victimization and looking less attractive to criminals on the street.

Holiday personal safety tips:

  1. Pay attention to your surroundings.
  2. Walk in well-lit areas.
  3. Scan the street and make a mental note of what and who you see.
  4. Stick to familiar areas.
  5. NEVER walk down the street talking on your cell phone (or listening to music on headphones).
  6. Try to walk with others as there is strength in numbers.
  7. Let friends and loved ones know where you will be.
  8. If you are drinking, ensure that you have a sober friend with you.
  9. If you’re out shopping, try to carry packages in one hand so you have a free hand.
  10. If you’re scared, ask a security officer to walk you to your car. It is ok to ask for help and to put authorities on alert.

Criminals are looking for vulnerabilities. The minute you let your guard down they will pounce.  Pay attention and reduce the distractions so that you can get home safe and enjoy all the fun the holidays have to offer.

As always, be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#personalsafety #safetytips #victimization #victim #crimeprevention #selfdefense #Christmas #ChristmasShopping #holidays #ljsamuel #deardiary



Black and Gold in a Post-Racial Discussion

"They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression." Psalm 73:8

A few years ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Multicultural Teaching Scholars Program while I was in graduate school.  I had the distinct pleasure of being assigned to the University of Missouri.  My experience was wonderful.  There were great students, great faculty, and a great campus.  The lack of diversity was not so great but not unexpected at large, traditional campus.  Imagine my disappointment when Mizzou dominated the news for their handling of racial issues a few weeks ago.  There were stories of white students taunting black students and using ugly racial slurs.  A report surfaced about the use of racial images including a swastika outlined in feces in a student dorm.  These recent incidents brought Mizzou’s problem with race to a boiling point. Black students argued they raised these issues with the administration for years and nothing had been done.  There were calls for the resignation of the president and provost and still nothing.  Missouri’s own Lieutenant Governor argued that there was little evidence of racism when asked about the issue (Graves & Knott, 2015).  The university's defense was that they didn't know these issues were occurring on campus.  It was not until the predominantly black football team took a stand and refused to practice or play that the university started to pay attention.  The Twitter pictures showing solidarity among black players and white players and coaches were telling.

According to the University of Missouri website, “Mizzou has a diverse enrollment with 35,000 students.”  At the University of Missouri, diversity equates to a student population that is 9% black and nearly 73% white.  In addition, of the nearly 1,600 faculty that are tenured or on the tenure track, only 302 are black.  (These figures do not include part-time or non-tenure track faculty).  How does one truly learn, appreciate, and understand different kinds of people, cultures, backgrounds, and viewpoints in such a sanitized environment?

The threat of the school losing money if the football program halted made the board take real notice.  College football is a multi-million dollar industry and a life line to these schools.  It was the economic threat and not the desire to truly do what is right in the face of racism, oppression, and discrimination that prompted closed door meetings, national discussion and ultimately the loss of jobs and the penning of new policy. In 2015.  Curious.  And the hiring of a diversity officer.  I wonder why such a position did not exist before?  Furthermore, Mizzou's exposure led other schools to re-evaluate the complaints they received from minority students.  In 2015. Other schools are now patting themselves on the back for being innovative in the area of diversity and inclusion because they have crafted new diversity policies.  In 2015.

So I leave you with this.  If we as some argue live in a post-racial society, then why are we so uncomfortable discussing race??

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#Mizzou #UniversityofMissouri #racism #racialissues #racismoncampus #swastika #2015 #discrimination #oppression #football #footballplayers #diversity #inclusion #rights #bravery #change #ljsamuel #deardiary #justice


Ballentine, S. (2015, November, 21). Mizzou facing image crisis after racial issues upheaval. Yahoo! News. Retrieved from

Graves, A. & Knott, K. (2015, November, 22). Missouri politician wrongly claims 'zero' evidence of swastika incident on Missouri campus. Political Fact Missouri. Retrieved from

University of Missouri. (2015). Demographics. University of Missouri website. Retrieved from


Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween It’s that time of year again.  The days are shorter, the leaves are turning brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow and the mornings are crisp and cool.  As fall begins so too does the holiday season.  For those that participate, Halloween is a time for fun and games and to perhaps live out a childhood fantasy through dress and play.  (I still secretly think I’m Wonder Woman, but aren’t all women???)  This week’s post is a quick safety reminder as you prepare for parties, to take the kids out trick-or-treating, and engage in other fun activities.


  1. Small children should always be accompanied by a parent or other trusted adult guardian while trick-or-treating.
  2. Older children should travel in a group and should never be out on the street alone.
  3. Avoid placing children in long costumes that may drag on the ground as they may trip and fall.  The costume may also get caught on a curb causing injury.
  4. For costumes that incorporate make-up or a mask, ensure that the eyes are not obstructed.
  5. If possible, wear light colored costumes so that you are easily visible.  Consider placing a light or reflective material on children wearing dark colored costumes so that drivers can see them as they navigate area neighborhoods.
  6. Stay in well-lit areas and on familiar streets.
  7. Let people know where you will be and always carry a cell phone.
  8. Parents and guardians should always inspect their children’s candy before it is consumed and it is best not to eat homemade treats.  Throw away any candy that has been opened, has a hole in it or appears to be tampered with.  If you have any doubts, err on the side of caution and throw it away.  (There have been police reports across the country of authorities uncovering candy laced with ecstasy so you can never be too careful).
  9. For those adults participating in Halloween parties, be mindful of your alcohol consumption.  If you know you’re going to be drinking, use Uber or have a designated driver.
  10. If you’re at a private home, club or other venue, never leave your drink unattended or consume a beverage you are unsure of.  Unfortunately, predators still try to entice victims by placing harmful substances in their drinks.

People tend to let their guard down when they are excited or distracted.  These reminders are simple tips for preventing harm, injury, and victimization.  Have a great time this weekend and as always, be safe!

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#Halloween #October31st #safetytips #tips #crimeprevention #victimization #costume #safety #trickortreat #candy #alcohol #drugs #ecstasy #crime #justice #fall #autumn #ljsamuel #deardiary #DMV #WashingtonDC


Centers for Disease Control. (2015). Halloween health & safety tips. Washington, DC: CDC. Retrieved from

Cohen, P. (2015, October, 23). Is that candy or Ecstasy? Halloween warnings spook parents. CBS News. Retrieved from

Photo source:

The Papal Effect

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis after this welcoming speech during the state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) Last week the Pope was in town.  It was sheer Pope Pandemonium.  People adjusted their schedules and lives in the hope of just catching a glimpse of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.  I had the honor and pleasure of seeing Pope Francis’ Pope-mobile and seeing him address the US Congress.  It was truly a blessing. From his arrival on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 to his departure on Thursday, September 24, 2015, a spirit of love had set over the city of Washington.  The City was calm and peaceful.  Everywhere you went people smiled and discussed in excitement their experience of the Papal visit.  There was so much optimism in the air that it felt like there was a shift.  A shift in the way we view each other, a shift in the way we treat each other.  The happiness was infectious.  I thought that perhaps this was the change we needed and the examples provided would lead to healing of some societal hurts such as discrimination, hate, lack of respect, rudeness, and violence.  Unfortunately, that was a utopian desire as once Pope Francis left the United States, the calm dissipated and we all went back to our normal habits. Wouldn’t it be a better and more enjoyable life if we all had mutual respect for one another regardless of religious background, political affiliation, skin color, gender, sexual orientation, whether you like cats or dogs, or sleep upside down?  It should not be that hard. Really.

I wish there was a way to recapture the feeling of last week…

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#PopeInDC #PapalVisit #WashingtonDC #DC #GoldenRule #peace #calm #respect #kindness #change #reform

What to do when stopped by the police With the highly publicized incidents of police shootings over the past couple of years, many people have questions about exactly they must act when they encounter the police.  There are basic rights everyone has, however it must be recognized that each interaction may unfold differently.

The general rule of thumb is to keep calm and obey the directions of the police. Bad feelings and issues may be sorted out later but you cannot take back a life if an interaction with the police escalates to the point of deadly force.

Common questions:

Q1: Can a police officer stop me if I’m walking down the street?

A1: It is within your right to refuse to speak to or stop for the police. However, if an officer believes that you are behaving suspiciously, they have the authority to detain you for the purposes of an investigation.

Q2: If I am stopped by the police, do they have to read me my rights before I answer any questions?

A2: No.  If you are being placed under arrest, the police are required to read you your Miranda Rights.  They are not required to read you your rights during traffic stops or encounters on the street.

Q3: Do the police have the right to search me?

A3: It depends on the circumstances.  If the police reasonably believe that you may have been involved in a crime, this gives them probable cause to legally search you.  If a police officer asks permission to search you or your property (ex. a vehicle) and you give permission, then that is considered voluntary consent to search.  The police may also search you or your property if they have a warrant.

Q4: May I record a police encounter?

A4: This varies by jurisdiction. In the District of Columbia, it is legal to record police officers carrying out their duties in public as long as it does not interfere with official police business.

Q5: If a police officer orders me to get out of my vehicle, do I have to comply?

A5: Yes.  The police have the right to ask you and any passengers to get out of your vehicle. If you believe they violated your rights, remain calm during the interaction and follow-up later at the closest police station and file a formal complaint with a police supervisor.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213


Flyouth.  (2005).  SE youth and the police [Pamphlet]. Washington, DC: Facilitating Leadership in Youth.

Grisham, L. & Hargro, T.  (2015, July 24).  Your rights during police encounters. USA Today. Retrieved from

I'm in Love with a Black Man

Hands United I’m in love with a black man and he loves me.  What affects him, affects me and what affects me, affects him.  So here I am at the annual American Society of Criminology (ASC) meeting presenting the findings of my study on racial profiling in America.  Why is there this constant debate over what it is?  How do you define it?  Quantitatively?  Qualitatively?  Both?  What data is the standard?  The police don’t want to collect race statistics because they don’t want to be called racists. And the community complains to news reporters and their stories are called ‘anecdotes.’  So how do you tame this beast?

I stand in front of the brightest minds in my field, the country’s top scholars waiting to hear what I found.  So with a big breath, I start…

How can scores of black people be wrong?  Why are they discounted so?  If the tables were reversed and black cops were stopping white citizens, surely there would be no debate.  Listen to me carefully.  I documented the lives and stories of 20 black men living in Washington, DC for six months.  They kept a journal of the times they had been stopped and the average was five times a week.  Let me say that again, the average was five times a week.  Some will say that I have limitations in my research and that my case study was not scientific enough.  Do I know they weren’t speeding?  I guess not.  Were they transporting drugs?  I hope not. Drugs were never found in any of the so-called ‘consent searches.’

My conclusion is that the black man is under siege.  He followed doctor’s orders and got a good education from a good school, got a good job, and bought a nice house in the ‘right’ neighborhood.  He doesn’t beat his wife, is a good father to his children, but to no avail.  He is still oppressed, disrespected, and harassed.  I guess someone forgot to tell him: You’re still black.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter:

#love #black #man #race #police #racialprofiling #RaceinAmerica #racematters #dialogue #discourse #truth #respect #change #ASC #criminology #crime #justice #deardiary #ljsamuel

Image source:

Dear Diary

Dear Diary Today I'm sharing a chapter from my crime novel, Dear Diary.  It is a murder mystery set in the Nation's Capitol and highlights the length one will go for lust, greed, and jealousy.  Enjoy!


The Murder Case

     My name is Samantha Harris. I am 30 years old and I head up the Homicide Branch, a premier homicide squad with the DC Police Department. I am tough, tenacious, smart, and I am good at what I do. I have been assigned to Homicide for just over a year, but have proven useful to my superiors as I have “the gift.”  When it comes to solving homicides, I am able to see the full picture and drill down to minute details -details often missed by others- that help me solve some of the most difficult murder cases. I am easy on the eyes, as they say, well educated, and well-spoken so I am often thrust in front of the camera to give statements on behalf of the department. I get along with families of murder victims no matter how rich or poor and I am able to put together the puzzle pieces that lead me to the murder suspect. It’s rare that I don’t get my man.

I just arrived on the scene of a brutal murder in Crestwood, a small area within the 16th Street Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  Crestwood is one of the few neighborhoods that make up the Gold Coast, an affluent area in the northwest section of the city known for its educated, connected, and well-off residents. Massive million dollar homes, perfect lawns, expensive cars, and toy dogs are a permanent part of the neighborhood landscape. The latest census figures show that nearly 40% of Crestwood residents possess a law degree, medical degree, doctorate, or Master’s degree with the neighborhood ranking among the top 15% of the wealthiest residents in the entire country. As such judges, top hospital officials, and university presidents call this home.

It is an early evening in September. It has been unseasonably warm so people are milling around and neighbors are hanging out trying to get a look at what is going on. Range Rovers, Porches, and Benzes occupy residence in every other driveway. Au pairs push strollers up and down the street while personal drivers patiently wait in black Lincoln Town Cars waiting for their next assignment. Every now and then, a soccer mom drives up and hops out of a Volvo SUV sporting Lululemon yoga pants, Gucci sunglasses, and diamonds so large you could see them from down the street. I side step and maneuver around the privileged Crestwood residents who fire questions at the officers guarding the perimeter of the crime scene demanding to know what is going on.

The victim is a 30-year-old female lawyer, a rising star at a swanky downtown corporate law firm. Megan Smith. She was a tall, beautiful woman with fiery red hair and an athletic body. She played varsity volleyball at Stanford University, where she attended for both undergrad and law school. But, unfortunately, none of that matters because Megan is dead.

“What do we have, Jay?” I say to my sergeant as I slip on a pair of blue latex gloves. Sergeant James Thomas, affectionately known as “Jay,” is a big, burly, black teddy bear who can crack a skull or coo at a baby. I bend down to put shoe covers on over my boots and slowly survey the room. It is what you would expect in a neighborhood like this. Brazilian cherry hardwood floors gleam under antique furniture and strategically placed oriental rugs. Someone had great taste. Expensive paintings line the walls in the hallway. I am no art expert but there was a Norman Rockwell painting on the wall near the front door that I was certain was authentic.

“What’s that sound?” I ask Jay, my attention on the kitchen in the back.

“Water,” Jay says.

I walk slowly into the gourmet kitchen where the body was found. I take in every detail from the scuffs on the floor, to the smell of men’s cologne, to the faint sound of a television in the background.

“Looks like she was washing some vegetables for dinner when she was interrupted,” I surmise, as I look up and down the kitchen countertop.

I step over pieces of glass.

“Glen?” My forensics guy pokes his head around the corner.

“Did you get pictures of this?”

“Yes ma’am,” he says, “but I left everything in place without moving items just the way you like it.”

“Good,” I say and I look up at the ceiling trying to digest what happened here, my mind racing.

“Where’s the husband? I thought someone said she was married.”

“She is, Doc, but we haven’t gotten a hold of him yet,” answers Jay.

     Hmmm. When I reach the body, I see Megan Smith, Esq. lying in a pool of her own dry blood. I reflect on the irony of this type of violent death hitting the likes of this neighborhood as the sound of my booties shuffle across the pristine marble floors.  Residents from this neighborhood believed they were immune from the crime and violence that touched other parts of the city, but clearly, this was not the case.

I examine the body. The bruises on her face are blistering, signifying that she has been dead a few hours. Rigor mortis has begun to set in. I lift her arms and move the fingers on her hands to look for evidence of skin, fibers, or anything else that may add a piece to her puzzling murder. Her hair, which looked to have been pinned up in a neat bun, is pulled out of its clip. Tears have dried on her now lifeless face. She lies awkwardly on the kitchen floor, her right knee bent underneath her – the position she fell in as her attacker punched, hit, and pushed her around in his rage. Yes, his. I am almost certain she died at the hands of a man. There is so much trauma to her face. Someone was very angry.

I move away from her body as something catches my attention. Papers and files lie in a heap on the floor over near the massive kitchen table. They’re covered in a red stain that looks like wine. Odd.

“Jay?” I look up at him. “Exactly what did our victim do?”

“She was a lawyer,” he says, glancing at his notebook. “Corporate law. Commercial real estate deals, represented big corporations, that sort of stuff.”

“Okay, find out what cases she was working on. Maybe she had an enemy.”

“Doc?” I turn at the sound of Detective Gregory’s voice.

Trailing behind him is a middle-aged female officer in uniform. “This is Officer Loftus,” Gregory says, pointing a thumb at the officer. “She was the first officer on the scene and did a good job cordoning off the area and keeping the other uniforms out before we got here.”

“Officer Loftus,” I nod at her and she returns my greeting with a stiff nod of her own.

“Ma’am, I am very familiar with this house,” she begins without prompting. “I have been working this beat for 13 years and in the last four years, I have been called to this address at least a dozen times. The victim was a pretty sharp woman. She was really professional and about her business.”

“What about the husband?” I ask standing up so I could speak to her on eye level.

“Her husband was a piece of work. He was older than her by at least…15 years. I don’t know, ma’am, but he had some hold on her. He’s some real estate bigwig. Travels a lot but drinks more. He was always hitting her. Intimidating her.” I nod at her letting her know that she could continue.

“Now, I know she was real athletic herself, but this guy was a beast,” she states emphatically. “I know she was embarrassed and never wanted to press charges but it just wasn’t right!”

I take in what Loftus just shared and tell her, “I’m going to have one of my detectives sit with you to get copies of your notes and we need to track down the incident reports.”

“Whatever you need,” she says.  I can see the quiet sadness in her eyes as she turns to leave; I know the look well. She’s thinking that maybe she failed the victim somehow. If we could work every block and be in every house at all times, there would be no crime. But, we can’t. That is the thankless job of the police.

I sigh and get back to what I’m doing. “Ok, Jay, let’s walk through this.” Like any other crime scene, we try to re-create what may have happened to get a better idea of the details, a possible suspect, the motive, and a resolution.

I turn on the voice recorder on my department-issued iPhone, and slowly and methodically walk through the crime scene starting at the front door.  “After a long day of work, Megan comes home. She kicks off her shoes.” I point to her heels neatly lined up by the door. “She lays her keys on the table and throws her coat over the chair.” I point to a side table and Queen Anne chair in the sitting room adjoining the kitchen.

“With dinner on her mind, she moves into the kitchen, but not before she takes some paperwork out of her leather portfolio. She takes a bottle of wine out of the dining room banquet, along with a wine glass and pours some into it.” I turn back to the kitchen. “She moves into the kitchen, takes some ingredients out of the fridge, and turns on the water in the sink when she is surprised by her attacker. They argue? She turns her back and that’s when he strikes her the first time. She stumbles but doesn’t go down. She turns to get away and he grabs her hair pulling it out of the bun clipped on her head. She struggles to get away but he is too strong. He strikes her across the face. Her stomach must have been in knots, fear overtaking her.” My stomach drops, a lead weight pushing at my kidneys. “Hands grip her throat, squeezing the life out of her and she is down. Before the killer leaves, he rifles through the papers Megan left on the table looking for something. He does not find what he is looking for and crumbles the papers tearing some in the process. He spills red wine over the papers and knocks the wine glass to the floor shattering it. There are no signs of forced entry. Everything is pretty neat except for the kitchen area, so it has to be someone she knew, someone with a key. The husband….”

Jay clears his throat when my voice trails off.  I look in his direction. I have butterflies in my stomach. I blink my eyes quickly and refocus. These homicide cases were routine to me but for some reason this case was really bothering me.

“Um, I think that’s all we’re going to get right now,” I say quietly. “Let’s let mobile crime finish their scene documentation and head downtown and meet with the rest of the squad.”

We walk towards the front door when someone calls my name. I turn to see Glen holding a plastic evidence bag.

“What’s this?” I ask.

“I’m not sure but it may be something useful to the case.”

He hands me the bag, which contains what looks like a planner or journal. I smooth the plastic to get a better look and embossed in gold letters on the front cover is the word Diary.

Copyright © 2013 by L.J. Samuel All rights reserved.

Dear Diary is a perfect summer read and may be found online (paperback and Kindle) at:

*all reviews of the book are truly appreciated

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#deardiary #ljsamuel #crimefiction #Washington #DC #crime #justice #murder #mystery #spousalabuse #domesticviolence #amwriting #amreading #summerreading #beachreading #Amazon #Kindle

Police Brutality in the United States: The Past is Prologue

Past is Prologue Image                                            (What is Past is Prologue, Archives) McKinney Police Incident In 1951, a Florida Sheriff shot two black men he was transporting in his police vehicle. The two men had been wrongly convicted of a crime. The victims, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin were spared the death penalty after the US Supreme Court overturned their convictions (Equal Justice Initiative, 2014).  The Sheriff shot them shortly after the Supreme Court's decision was made. The past is prologue.

In 1963, 700 black teenagers were arrested by the Birmingham Police Department in the State of Alabama. The police clubbed them with their Billy sticks, turned fire hoses on them, and attacked them with their police canines (Equal Justice Initiative, 2014). Their crime? Protesting racial segregation in the South. The past is prologue.

In 1979, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) shot and killed Ms. Eula Love in her front yard.  Ms. Love was shot eight times by two LAPD officers who were called to the scene by the gas company seeking assistance in shutting off her service (La Ganga & Susman, 2014).  The past is prologue.

In 1980, white officers tied bags over the heads of some black males they were interrogating in the shooting death of a New Orleans police officer.  This came after four blacks were shot and killed by police in response to the slain officer’s death. The interrogation tactics violated police policy, federal law, and basic human rights.  Their actions led to a 1981 indictment (NY Times). The past is prologue.

In 1991, Rodney King was savagely beaten by 20 LAPD officers after a car chase.  Rodney King sustained 11 fractures after officers struck him over and over with their police batons and kicked him while he was on the ground.  Mr. King was unarmed.  The incident was caught on tape and sparked world-wide attention. The City of Los Angeles exploded and citizens rioted for five days (CNN Library, 2015). The past is prologue.

In 2015, a young, black 14 year-old girl wearing a two-piece bikini was forcefully thrown to the ground by an out of control police supervisor in McKinney, TX who was responding to a call about a pool party that had gotten out of control.  The white officer sat on the young girl’s back screaming obscenities at her and bystanders who yelled and cried for him to stop. The past is…wait, this just happened last week.

Police interactions with black citizens continue to be marred by fear, suspicion, and violence.  There is distrust between both groups that is based in history and experience.  But this incident in particular gives great pause as the victim in this case is a young female.  The officer was in full uniform with all his equipment, including his police issued firearm.  Where was the threat?  Sure, the teenagers outnumbered the officers but when you view the video, the kids showed deference and in fact were fearful and sat down and lay down on the ground when told.  This officer arrived on the scene angry.  Therefore, anything that was said to him was filtered through his blue colander.  There were other officers on the scene that were calm and spoke to the teens in a respectful manner but this one rogue officer was out of control.

As a trained Criminologist, if his case came across my desk, I would have recommended some extensive counseling beyond termination.  This officer was clearly out of control.  When he did a barrel roll across the grass and ran down the street, he appeared like a rabid animal.  When he pulled his gun out and pointed it at the group of teens, the incident turned the corner.  He had a clearly snapped. Even other officers on the scene tried to push him back and they should be applauded for that.  This was clearly a rotten apple.  Although this McKinney police officer acted individually, his position affords him such great power that these interactions are devastatingly dangerous.  Sadly, racism, oppression, and discrimination still exist.  They exist in all major systems such as education, health care, and the criminal justice system.  Perhaps this officer just snapped?  I doubt it.  I am certain that if you look back in his record, there was be a telling pattern of problematic behavior.  That being sad, he should never have been allowed to work out his problems on the young citizens of McKinney.  This is never a fun discussion but we need to set aside our feelings of discomfort and begin some real discussions on the issue of race in policing and how some are abusing their power and hurting people and communities in the aftermath.

There was once a time that when a ship was sinking attempts for rescue started with the most vulnerable victims: women and children.  Women and children have always been treated differently and at times, more gently.  For example, female officers are always (or should be) used to pat down females.  There is a societal rule in terms of how men versus women should be handled.  Thus, the outrage in social media after this case is warranted.  Certain behaviors and actions should be off limits and this McKinney officer went too far. Let’s do better.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#BlackLivesMatter #protectourgirls #McKinney #poolofoppression #policebrutality #police #accountability #pastispresent #socialjustice #criminaljustice #crime #justice #peace #compassion #dialogue #ljsamuel


CNN Library. (2015). Los Angeles riot fast facts. Retrieved from

Equal Justice Initiative. (2014). A history of racial injustice. Retrieved from

La Ganga, M. & Susman, T. (2014). Controversial police use-of-force cases. LA Times. Retrieved from

New York Times. (1981, October 10). 7 officers indicted in New Orleans. Retrieved from

Image Sources

National Archives, picture taken by L.J. Samuel McKinney Incident, dallasmorningviewsblog

Confidence or Compromise? Love, Dating, and HIV/AIDS

loneliness I attend a weekly women’s bible study at my church where we are currently studying Joyce Meyer’s book Confident Woman. Each week our bible study leader Reverend Adriane Blair Wise dissects this text as she teaches and reveals that God did not intend for women to live in fear and self-doubt but to be bold and confident as we navigate this thing we call life (Meyer, 2006).

Unfortunately for some, the message does not resonate and they end up making bad decisions that impact and change their lives forever.  In this blog post I want to touch briefly on the dangerous compromise some women make in the name of loneliness.  This discussion surrounds the high incidence of AIDS cases among Black women in the United States.

Here are the staggering facts:

  • Black women account for 66% of new HIV infections among women
  • 84% of all HIV/AIDS infections among Black women come from heterosexual contact
  • HIV/AIDS is the third leading cause of death among Black women ages 25-44
  • Black women are over 20 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS than their White counterparts

I can barely wrap my head around these figures.  In the past several decades, we have learned so much about this deadly disease and know that contraction is preventable.  So, what is going on to explain these rates?  Research points to poverty, feelings of denial in the Black community, the Down Low phenomenon, and loneliness.  In the Black community, there appears to be a shortage of mates for Black women due to a lack of availability of Black male counterparts.  Incarceration and perhaps lack of interest in pairing up with Black women are other reasons Black women may find themselves alone. Whatever the reason for the lack of Black female to male pairings, it has created a situation where some are engaging in dangerous sexual behaviors.  There are some Black men leading double lives and are sleeping with both men and women.  Or men incarcerated for long periods of time are engaging in same sex encounters and introduce HIV to their partners upon their return from prison.  Due to the belief among these men that they are straight despite having intercourse with other men, they are playing Russian roulette and are having unprotected sex.  Their female partners are oblivious and many have contracted the disease as a result.

The loneliness factor is an even more compelling reason as to why there is such a high incidence of HIV/AIDS among black women.  Instead of being alone, some women are willing to share their men, which increase their risk of contracting the AIDS virus.  What is so sad and disheartening is the fact that many Black women define their self-worth based on having a man.  I know this to be true based on the bemoaning of friends, acquaintances, and co-workers.  When you look at these women from the outside, you would want to be them.  They are beautiful, attractive, highly educated, have great careers, and have everything money can buy.  But their confidence is masked by these things because all they really want is someone to curl up beside them at night, to be loved, and to feel safe.  In this powerful desire to be a part of ‘something,’ they compromise their values and forget or push aside what they have learned for a brief moment of passion so they feel important, however brief that time is.  They forget that God created her in His image and they forget that they should never compromise the wonderful gift that they truly are.

When talking about HIV/AIDS, compromise simply is not an option.  This is a terrible, ugly, painful, and deadly disease.  Women must learn to love themselves first.  If God has a man for you, then one day he will find you. In the meantime, we need to learn how to enjoy ourselves, our families, and life until that time comes~ boldly, assuredly, and confidently.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#love #dating #HIV #AIDS #confidence #compromise #ConfidentWoman #loneliness #death #disease #blackwomen #rates #selflove #female #empowerment #ljsamuel #deardiary


Black Women’s Health Imperative (2013). Black women and HIV/AIDS. Retrieved from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). HIV Among Women. Retrieved from

Cohen, J. (2004, October 27). A silent epidemic? Why is there such a high percentage of HIV and AIDS among black women? Slate. Retrieved from

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (2014). Black Americans & HIVAIDS. Retrieved from

Meyer, J. (2006). The confident woman. New York: Faith Words.

Weathersbee, T. (2004). Commentary: More afraid of loneliness than AIDS Deaths. Retrieved from DCSistagirlslistserv.


Shades of Gray

Freddie Gray Yesterday Freddie Gray, age 25, was buried after succumbing to injuries he sustained at the hands of several Baltimore Police Department officers. No one knows exactly what happened that terrible day on April 12, 2015 and perhaps no one ever will. But one thing is for certain- Mr. Freddie Gray is dead. His twin sister has lost her brother, his parents have lost their son, and the world has lost another young black man to police brutality. The media consistently reports that Freddie died of a spinal injury but official reports state that his spine was severed, an injury so severe that it took his life. Semantics? I think not. If we are going to have a real discussion on the issue of police brutality, accountability, police-community relations, and steps towards healing then we must not sugarcoat the issue. 25 year-old Freddie Gray died after officers stomped on his back and severed his spine ending his short life. They gave Freddie Gray a life sentence for allegedly having guns in his possession. These officers acted as the judge and jury and unfortunately Mr. Gray did not have a chance.

Police Vehicle Burning    CVS Burning

The match was lit and Baltimore burned for the better part of the afternoon and night of April 27th. While many protested peacefully in the street, others used it as an opportunity to engage in lawlessness. Baltimore residents are angry. Those watching around the country and world are angry. We are all angry. But how does breaking into a liquor store or destroying a CVS Drug Store further the cause in a positive manner? How does bad behavior honor the spirit of Freddie Gray or comfort his family? It doesn’t. It is an unnecessary distraction and confuses the agenda. For those rioting in Baltimore, they are in the minority and they are punishing no one but themselves. They open themselves up to arrest, prosecution, jail time, and have physically destroyed segments of their own communities.

The Governor blamed the mayor for not acting soon enough and the National Guard was called in to occupy another city exploding from the frustration and anger of police brutality and unnecessary force. Not acknowledging the real problem feeds into the Us versus Them mentality between the police and the black community and broadens the divide between these two groups. It is absolutely mind-boggling that in 2015 we as a society are here again. With all that occurred in Stamford, Florida, Staten Island, NY, Ferguson, MO, Tulsa, OK, and many other cities, you would think that we would have learned. Leaders need to truly step up and take action that will be lasting and leave the recycled rhetoric in the past.

Community Clean Up

The good news is that every day we are provided with a new opportunity to start over and get it right. And this morning, residents of Baltimore let the rioters in the community, their fellow neighbors, and the country know that they were not going stand by and let their city be destroyed. So people pulled out their brooms and got out trash bags and started the slow process of cleaning up. This gesture is creating an atmosphere of solidarity and perhaps the healing has begun. The world is still young and we all must live in it together so why not do that from a place of love and respect? Surely that’s better than putting fires out.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#FreddieGray #policebrutality #policeabuse #Baltimore #BaltimoreUprising #policeaccountability #blacklivesmatter #crime #justice #peace #healing #death #future #hope

Images courtesy of:

Women's Self-Defense

IMG_4505  IMG_4483 Oftentimes, we are so busy taking care of others that we neglect ourselves.  Between work, family, grocery shopping, homework, and little sleep, we run ourselves into the ground.  A tired and distracted person is the perfect mark for a criminal.  Reclaim your power by learning how to defend yourself against an attack!

If you live in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area, please join me on May 2nd, 2015 from 4-6 pm for a Women's Self-Defense class. The class will be held at Results Gym, 315 G Street, SE.  There is plenty of free parking and it is Metro accessible.

Workout like your life depends on it!

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#womensselfdefense #selfdefense #victimization #safety #defense #crime #justice #care #strength #courage #Results #dontbeavictim #ljsamuel #deardiary

Long Hair, Fair Skin: The Depiction of Beauty in Hip Hop

*After a brief hiatus, I am back with another blog post. I hope you enjoy it! Long Hair Fair Skin

The Hip Hop Industry is a multi-billion dollar platform with wide-range appeal across all sexes and races. Unfortunately, the representation of black women in hip hop along with its accompanying videos is skewed, leaving the viewer with the concluding thought that “beauty” means long hair and fair skin.  Thus, in order to make it to the video screen, the attractive female lead must meet these criteria.

Not only do these images shape perceptions of the black community as a whole in terms of speech, dress, and actions.  But, according to the Cultivation Hypothesis, when people are exposed to “homogeneous representations of social relations” they begin to believe these limited images are reality (Gandy & Baron, 1998: 513). But whose ideals are these images truly based on?  Are they a true representation of the people on display or are mainstream ideals pushing these labels?

What is the common image of a beautiful “video chick?”  Normally she is petite, has a light complexion, long flowing hair (that may or may not be hers), light eyes, and a curvaceous body (Samuel & Brailey, 2004).  There are scores of people consuming these images.  Images that make judgments about beauty and attractiveness and if Drake or L’il Wayne say so, then it must be true.  These images however are but a subset and leave out a majority of beautiful black women who are not and should not be defined solely by their bodies.  So, if you don’t pass the brown paper bag test, then you’re not beautiful? We have to be better than that.

A 2004 Howard University study of black music videos found that the female lead in hip hop and R & B videos was overwhelming a young, attractive, fair skinned woman with long hair.  Many of the women featured were mixed race and played a subservient role to the featured male artist and his entourage (Samuel & Brailey, 2004).  The subservient video girl is your atypical ‘hoochie’ who is almost always scantily clad, placed in sexually inviting positions, and is always willing to please. The beautiful video girl thus is transformed into a sex object whose body serves as the landscape for mainstream ideals, politics, and cultural objectives.  When definitions of black beauty and black female sexuality are defined using this one narrow construct, which is false, based on mainstream ideals, and designed to keep black women in subservient positions, the video girl (i.e. black woman) is reduced to her body parts and her value diminished.

Beyoncé is not the only barometer of what is beautiful.  I mean seriously, do you think she woke up like that???  Let’s start to shed these images and ideals and become more accepting of the unique, diverse, magnificent rainbow of beauty as all women should not be painted with the same make-up brush.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#LongHair #FairSkin #hiphop #music #videos #beauty #beautiful #hoochie #blacksexuality #consumption #female #empowerment


Gandy, O. & Baron, J. (1998). It’s all in the way you look at it. Communication Research, 25 (5), 505-527.

Ogunnaike, L. (2004, January 12). Sweeten the image, hold the bling-bling. New York Times. Retrieved from

Robinson, M. (2000). The construction and reinforcement of myths of race and crime. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 16 (2), 133-156.

Rhym, D. (1997). “Here’s for the bitches: An analysis of gangsta rap and misogyny. Womanist Theory and Research, 1(2), 63-68.

Samuel, L. & Brailey, C. (2004). Long hair, fair skin: The depiction of “beauty” in black urban music.   Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Southern Sociological Society Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Photo Source: Google Images ( Forum)

System Failure

What do you do when the system fails a young, poor girl? Who is to blame? What is the remedy for the cycle of poverty? Meet Jordan.  She is 15 years old and in the seventh grade.  From the start of her life, Jordan was doomed.  When Jordan’s mom was pregnant with her, she smoke and drank almost every day.  In an interview, Jordan’s mom admitted to a daily consumption of 14 beers and at least one pack of cigarettes.  Jordan was the sixth child born to her 31-year-old mother.

Jordan came from meager beginnings. Both her mother and father have criminal records and her two older brothers are in prison for murder. Jordan grew up in a one bedroom apartment with eight other people in a rough neighborhood in Washington, DC. As the only girl, she really had to fend for herself. She started getting into trouble in kindergarten where she was suspended several times for fighting. She had a hard time paying attention at school and grasping simple concepts so she lashed out as a way of coping. Perhaps the substances her mother consumed while she was in the womb coupled with the social environment she was being reared in contributed to this behavior? When she came home from school, no one was there to read to her, go over her colors, or teach her to count.

Jordan survived off of potato chips, cereal, and orange soda.  When she went to middle school, she was held back- twice.  She fought any and every one because that’s all she was good at.  When she was 13 years old, she took money out of her teacher’s purse because her mom never gave her money for bus fare.  But she got caught and was arrested and so began her life of crime.  Her older brother accompanied her to court and told her what to say to her public defender.  And even though this was her first offense, she received three months’ probation.  She had to comply with the conditions such as staying out of trouble, going to school, getting good grades, and meeting with her probation officer but she did none of that because she was accountable to no one and no one was accountable to her.

So, here we have Jordan.  She was forced to grow up too soon.  She hangs out with the guys in the neighborhood during school hours because they take care of her. Besides, she doesn’t have time for school because soon Jordan is going to be a mother.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#systemfailure #cycleofpoverty #crime #justice

Note: names changed to protect identity of subjects.

You Have to Wait Your Turn

When I was 14, I wanted to be a rapper. I would write rhymes in my spare time perfecting my craft. I was recently cleaning out some boxes and found a folder containing my precious teenage writings. I sat down and read through the pages and chuckled at the fact that even at that age, I was trying to understand the world, people, and relationships. And now with age and wisdom, I understand a little more but believe that something can be learned from a young lady, full of life and innocence. So, here goes… You Have to Wait Your Turn

They were dashed to the floor. Your love letters are no more. I heard what you did and what you did was bad. But I’ll pick up the pieces of the puzzle. No guy is going to give me trouble. I kept up my guard for weeks and weeks. Companionship I did not seek. Dependent on a man, I am not. Anything he can do, I can top. The men of today will have to learn. You just have to wait your turn.

Loving relationships are about caring and reciprocation. For relationships to thrive, trust is paramount. We all need to be honest. If you cannot be true to your husband, wife, or partner, then be mature enough to walk away before someone gets hurt. Sneaking around, lying, cheating, it is all very messy. When it is finally your turn, and you find the person that you cannot imagine living without, treasure them as the grass isn’t always sweeter on the other side.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#real #love #wisdom #honesty #truth #ljsamuel #deardiary


VD Heart Happy Valentine's Day!  Hopefully someone shows you love and appreciation every day.  Remember love should not hurt.  If it doesn't feel right, it is ok to walk away.  Love should be kind.  Love should make you happy.  Love is not perfect but your smiles, laughter, and good times should outweigh the tears and pain.  God has shown true love and He would never want you to be beat, battered, and abused.  Quite the opposite.  You should be placed on a pedestal for as women, we are love, birth love, and nurture love throughout time.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#love #female #empowerment #crime #justice #ljsamuel #deardiary



Like a Girl

Always debuted their #LIKEAGIRL campaign during Super Bowl XLIX February 1st, 2015 by airing an ad featuring young girls, women, boys, and men performing various tasks when prompted by the off screen interviewer.  For example, they were asked to run like a girl or to fight like a girl.  I find it interesting that Always chose to introduce this campaign during one of the biggest and most popular sporting events.  Football is a hyper-masculine sport where no player ‘runs’ or ‘hits’ like a girl. Unfortunately, sometimes what players are taught on the field carries over into their daily life.  Given the tumultuous year the National Football League (NFL) has had with domestic violence, perhaps Always wanted to remind viewers and consumers that women still matter. What you were left with at the end of the commercial was a well-played dichotomy. But I shall take it a step further. Men don’t hit like a girl, so they should never hit a girl, young lady, or woman. We all need to find other ways to deal with conflict. Let’s use our words and not our fists. It is a known fact that modern women are more educated, they are strong, independent, and they make their own money.  But they are still women.  So if a man is not secure enough to handle a strong woman, then leave her alone.  Do not take your insecurities out on her.  Do not belittle her because you don’t have a university degree.  Don’t make negative comments about items she buys just because you may not be able to afford the same luxuries.  Bottom line: don’t mishandle her because she feels like a girl, bruises like a girl, and bleeds like a girl.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#LIKEAGIRL #Always #SuperBowl #NFL #strength #peace #love #female #empowerment #personalsafety #domesticviolence #spousalabuse #crime #justice #ljsamuel #deardiary


I was in the women's locker room at my gym this past Saturday talking to a friend about my book.  I was describing the storyline, a domestic violence homicide, when something interesting happened.  Several other women in the locker room started listening and actually came over to hear what we were talking about.  As my friend and I chatted they started sharing their own experiences.  It was completely organic and unscripted.  I was floored that these women, who were strangers to me, were so willing to discuss such a personal part of their life with me.  There is something therapeutic about disclosure.  It truly is a part of the healing process.  Some of the women were able to speak candidly as the abuse occurred decades ago while others still had raw, fresh emotions.  Wherever they were in their lives, there seemed to be a common bond that created a small community right there in the locker room.  It became a safe place fueled by strength as they were able to break free from their abusers and are now living fulfilling lives filled with peace instead of violence. So I leave you with this- forgiveness is bliss so forgive yourself first.  This experience does not make you you a bad person nor does it define you. You got out because you are courageous. Remember, God does not make mistakes. You are beautiful through and through. So let that light shine for someone who is truly deserving of your love and who recognizes what a treasure you are. Teach your sons, daughters, friends, and neighbors what self-worth really is so that we can break this cycle of violence and everyone regardless of space or place can be safe in their homes.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#strength #courage #peace #love #female #empowerment #community #forgiveness #personalsafety #domesticviolence #spousalabuse #crime #justice #ljsamuel #deardiary

Gun Play

Badazzled gun I am a regular attendee at my local gun range as I believe that if one owns, possesses, or carries a firearm for their job, they need to be proficient and safe in the handling and use of it.  I always marvel when I see a group of people at the range as part of a social outing.  From time to time some of the online organizations that offer e-coupons and deals will run a group special for the gun range for birthday parties, male bonding outings, bachelorette parties and the like. I am always left wondering- why?  Guns are not to be played with.  Time on the range using real guns and real ammunition is serious business.  It is not a game. Yet, you see groups of men laughing it up in shorts and sandals or groups of females in tight jeans, heavy make-up, and stilettos coming to the range to play.

I understand that gun ranges are a business and owners have to find creative ways to bring in new customers but it should be with an understanding that time at the range is serious.  Safety should always be the emphasis.  Whether the gun is pink, blue, or black, it fires real bullets.  Now, I am all about people experiencing new things however it should be couched in a safe manner.

Some key areas that should be considered when coming to the gun range are:

• Proper instruction; • Gun safety; and • Minimizing distractions and impediments (i.e. open toe shoes, high heels, tight clothing, etc.).

A gun range is a controlled environment for instruction, practice, and leisure. However, it is still a dangerous setting.  So always remember- safety first, play later.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#gunsafety #personalsafety #crimeprevention #crime #justice #ljsamuel #deardiary

Google Him

painted-heartThe last couple of weeks I have been debating with my male friends about my girlfriends and I ‘checking out’ guys we meet. After all, when you first meet someone, they always send their representative who is on their best behavior. They always present a perfectly wrapped package that smells good, looks good, speaks eloquently, and really seems to be into you. But how does one really know who a new love interest really is???

Dating has become serious business in the 2000’s. No longer do you solely meet your potential mate in high school, college, law school, church, or through a friend. Technology now plays a major role. First, in how we meet people. And second, in how we learn about the people we meet. Over 41 million people have dabbled in online dating (at least those that will admit it so this number is probably higher). Whether or not this form of dating is successful is debatable. Can one truly go online and find the love of their life, marriage, and the baby carriage? Who knows? But one thing is certain, there are measures one can put in place to protect their safety regardless of how they met someone.

Online dating is a billion dollar industry with over 2500 dating sites in the U.S. alone! You fill out a questionnaire, list your likes, post a picture, and then what? What, if anything, do these sites do to account for the safety of the consumers using their products? Use at your own risk. All I am saying is: be cautious. Whether you meet someone online, at the supermarket, or he helps you pump your gas, be cautious. Your safety is paramount. Love is great, but life is better.

It is interesting, we prepare for everything in our lives but sometimes we neglect the most important areas. We study for a test, practice before a big presentation, exercise before going on a beach vacation, and even floss in preparation for a dental appointment. So, why not in this area too? Information is power. Information is protection. Information is priceless. Google him. When you meet someone, it is ok to Google them. Do a little background first. Find the information that is legally in the public domain. You will be surprised what you find. Look at the pictures, articles, postings, and write-ups. It may not tell you everything but it will give you some insight into the character of the person that could potentially become your husband. Does he take care of his children? Does he really work where he says he told you? Did he go to that Ivy League school he bragged about? Has he ever been arrested for domestic violence? These are important questions and good information to have as unfortunately, love is not blind.

As always~ Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#googlehim #love #dating #onlinedating #personalsafety #crime #justice #crimeprevention #empowerment #ljsamuel #deardiary

Note: Stay tuned for details on Self-Defense Workshop tentatively scheduled for the end of January 2015.


Dewey, C. (2014, September 30). Does online dating work? Let’s be honest: We have no idea. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Online Dating Magazine. (2012, March 22). How many online dating sites are there? Retrieved from

StatisticBrain.Com. (2013). Online dating statistics. Retrieved from

Safety at the Pump

 Gas station

 You have heard the story before. A woman pulls up to a gas pump and hops out of her car to quickly fill up her gas tank on her way home from work. While pumping her gas, she pulls out her cell phone and sends a quick text to a friend. Then she hops back in her car and reaches for her purse to put her credit card back and notices that it is gone! How could this have happened?

Let’s analyze the scene. The victim in this fictitious scenario made herself an easy target for any thief lurking nearby. To start with, she left the driver’s side window of her car down. Never leave any windows down or unlocked when pumping gas and always take your keys with you. Next, our victim left her purse and valuables on the front passenger seat in plain view. Never leave your wallet, purse, or other items of value in an unlocked car. Lastly, the victim used her cell phone while pumping gas which meant that she was not paying full attention to her surroundings. Limit distractions when at the gas station. You are only there for a few minutes. Minutes that can make the difference between you leaving with everything you came with, or perhaps having to call the police to report stolen valuables, a stolen automobile, or worse an assault on your person.

Online searches reveal countless stories of this offense across the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. It is a common occurrence locally and across the country. But this type of crime is preventable. The next time you get gas, there is one simple thing you can do to protect your valuables and life so that you are not the next victim. Lock your doors!

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#gaspumpsafety #personalsafety #crimeprevention #crime #ljsamuel #deardiary

Note: Stay tuned for details on Self-Defense Workshop tentatively scheduled for the end of January 2015.


American Petroleum Institute. (2014). Staying safe at the pump. American Petroleum Institute. Retrieved from

National Crime Prevention Council. (2014). Gas station theft prevention. Retrieved from

Zurko, R. (2013, August 8). Sliders at gas stations: Women targeted by sliders while pumping gas. The Examiner. Retrieved from