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



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

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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

Subculture of Violence

The Subculture of Violence is a criminological term normally reserved to explain crimes committed in poor, urban communities but today’s on air killing of WDBJ Reporter Allison Parker and Cameraman Adam Ward show us that these behaviors have not been confined within neatly drawn boundaries around disadvantaged neighborhoods.  This violence has oozed out of areas where it normally occurs and is now everywhere.  Rudeness, dismissiveness, and a sense of entitlement lead to poor and sometimes heated interactions which are precursors to violence. We as a community have got to do better.  And, we have to treat each other better. It is no secret that those involved in these violent incidents are trouble souls.  They feel invisible because society does not care about them.  Or at least that is the perception.  They have been cast aside by family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  This does not excuse this behavior.  Violence is NEVER the answer! What it means is that we need to wake up.  We have a responsibility.  If something is out of the ordinary, say something.  If something does not seem right, do something.  Ignorance is not acceptable.  We can no longer be complacent spectators going through the motions of life.  We all play a vital role in this script. Now is the time to start caring.  Wave at a neighbor.  Smile at someone coming down the street.  Help an elderly person across the road.  Stop at stop signs and let pedestrians cross safely before you gun the engine to move quickly through the intersection.  Ask someone how they are doing and have the compassion to wait for the answer to ensure they are truly okay.  Slow down.  The world does not revolve around you or me.  The only way we are going to survive is if we go back to basics and start treating people kindly, gently, and humanely.  Hatred has crept into places that used to be off limits: our schools, playgrounds, churches, and workplaces.  We need balance.  We live in this world together and thus must be accountable to one another.  Recognize the warning signs and act on them.

Hurting people hurt, and in this case kill.  Let’s do better.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#subculture #violence #killing #crime #RoanokeVA #RIP #WDBJ #allisonparker #adamward #prayer #community #neighborhood #togetherness #kindness #responsibility #accountability #justice #peace

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

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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

Humanity Lost

praying What a week.  So much violence, sadness, and turmoil.  Escaped murderers and cop killers.  Rape and murder of a 16 year-old innocent.  And the unthinkable tragedy of the brutal, senseless killing of nine souls praying in a house of worship. The world has a gaping wound and oozing out is hurt and pain.

Whenever there is a tragedy, the media highlights the name and handiwork of the evil doer a million times.  The victims are often the secondary story.  There are even times that stories are slanted to suggest victims of violent, unspeakable crimes are not innocent and blameless.  Let’s not demonize victims.  It disrespects their memory, diminishes the agony families are facing, and presents an excuse or defense for the perpetrator of the crime.

I cannot fathom what goes through a person’s mind when they are planning murder.  Where is the sense of conscience?  Where is the respect for life?  Where is the deference to that which is holy and sacred?  And how is it that once again we are at a point in history where the issues of race are sparking such venom and hatred to lead one to murder nine people in cold blood?  Where does that come from?  How does an innocent child brought into this world grow up to hate a group of people so much because of the color of their skin that he wants to annihilate them?  There is an indoctrination which most certainly began in the home.  These thoughts, feelings, and actions were encouraged.  And sadly since symbols of hate fly on flag posts outside state government buildings, then there is an unspoken acceptance of these ideals.

We have to do better.  We’re destroying each other- in the name of race, gender, or political affiliation.  This cannot go on.  Now, more than ever, we need to come together.  In honor of the nine brave people that lost their lives on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 as they sat in their church for bible study, we have to root out this hate.  And let’s not forget their names and the good they did while here on Earth doing God’s work.

The Emanuel 9

  1. The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, 41 years old
  2. Ms. Cynthia Hurd, 54 years old
  3. Ms. Susie Jackson, 87 years old
  4. Ms. Ethel Lance, 70 years old
  5. Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, 49 years old
  6. Mr. Tywanza Sanders, 26 years old
  7. Rev. Daniel Simmons, Sr., 74 years old
  8. Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45 years old
  9. Ms. Myra Thompson, 59 years old

We cannot go on like this.  Be kind to one another.  Love.  Love one another.  Love. Love one another whether black or white, male or female.  Just love.

God bless the souls of the Emanuel 9, Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#Emanuel9 #IAmAME #Charleston #humanity #peace #love #blessings #prayer #black #white #justice #fairness #crime #violence #BlackLivesMatter #respect

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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

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

Incarcerated Fathers

Prison Bars Children who have parents that have been incarcerated are five times more likely to spend time in prison when they become adults compared to children who have never had an incarcerated parent (Urban Institute, 2003).

Crime is leveling out in the United States yet there are scores of people still being warehoused in prisons across the country.  The majority of these prisoners are parents.  The incarceration of a father has a devastating impact on the family unit, namely because of the huge financial loss.  Furthermore, when daddies are locked up, there is a strain on spousal relationships, a disruption in the parent-child relationship, and the loss of a ‘father figure.’  Using an excerpt from an interview of a father returning from prison, this post looks at the impact of incarceration on the family unit and its resulting financial, emotional, psychological, social, and community costs.

The subject of this interview was imprisoned for armed robbery.  When he entered prison, he had two young boys, aged 3 and 5 and spent a total of 10 years in prison for his crime.  The following is an excerpt from the interview:

Samuel: What were your experiences and those of your family?

Subject Father: “I was more distant from my family. As time went on, there was less communication with me and more negative thoughts placed in my kids’ heads.”

Samuel: What changes did your family go through?

Subject Father: “They found themselves going to foreclosure and eventually lost the house.  From that point they wandered from family and friends and in and out of different apartments.  My kids developed discipline problems at home and at school.  When I came home, they were more belligerent and they would not listen to me.  I found the relationship with my kids to be distant.  Not what it was before I left.  My wife caught the attention of other men while I was locked up and we eventually separated and divorced.”

Samuel: Did you maintain ties with your family while you were locked up?

Subject Father: “Yes, mainly through letters and phone calls.  The kids were too young to read.  I had three visits from my family while I was in prison.  My kids’ mother was more supportive in the beginning but as time went on, we became more distant.

Samuel: What other changes did you experience?

Subject Father: “When I came home, there were a lot of changes.  I had to re-adapt to society and find other support through friends to help financially and mentally to make change.  I had to re-invent myself.  I got my CDL license in order to find another job and get in the workforce.  On prison, you don’t want to be there because a lot of things that happen in prison stay in prison.  You have to re-adapt to a whole other type of society in prison.  There are things you should do and not do and I would never want my kids to experience that.  Never!”

While this is only one illustration of what happens to a family unit when a father is locked up for several years, our subject father’s story is commonplace among communities and cities in this country.  There is no arguing the fact that if someone commits a crime they should be held accountable but the resulting impacting on children and families cannot be ignored.  And the sad fact is that one’s criminal act is often the spark that ignites the never-ending cycle of poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, and crime.  I just hope the future is brighter than the past and present situation.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213

#incarceratedfathers #incarceration #prison #crime #justice #cycle #poverty #delinquency #family #fatherfigure #future #hope


Samuel, L. (2004). Family issues: The impact of an incarcerated father on the family unit (Unpublished paper). Howard University, Washington, DC.

Travis, J., McBride, E., & Solomon, A. (2003). Families left behind: The hidden costs of incarceration and reentry. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

Image source:

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.


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

Work Out Like Your Life Depends on It

In the continuing theme in looking at ways to reduce our overall personal victimization, today’s post looks at the interaction between exercise and self-defense. There is some research that suggests that females who play sports are less likely to be victims of crime (Harder, 2007; Taylor et al, 2012). Those women that were victimized as a child (ex. physical or sexual abuse) are more likely to enroll in self-defense classes (Brecklin, 2004). Furthermore, females that exercise more frequently tend to have higher self-esteem, are more assertive, and are more self-confident (Harder, 2007). A study of female students from a western university found that those that played on a varsity sports team were “three times less likely to report victimization than non-varsity athletes” (Harder, 2007). As I highlighted in the Personal Safety Tips in my December 16, 2014 blog post, there are practices we can all engage in to reduce our chances of becoming victims. Self-defense classes teach women (and men) techniques to protect themselves against violence or some other harm or injury. Reputable classes are taught by a law enforcement and/or martial arts expert. After taking a self-defense class, one must not be reckless. I am in no way suggesting that a woman can beat up a male attacker after taking a class, so please do not get over-confident!  These classes do however give you more awareness of your environment and different situations you may be placed in when you are alone. The key is to be alert, know your surroundings, and to recognize warning signs to avoid danger.

So, the next time you hit the gym, work out like your life depends on it.

Be safe,

L.J. Follow me on Twitter: @CrimeDoc1213 #selfdefense #workout #crime #victim #violenceagainstwomen #ljsamuel #deardiary

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


                                                                Works Cited

Brecklin, L. (2004). Self-defense/Assertiveness training, women’s victimization history, and psychological characteristics. Violence Against Women, 10 (5), 479-497.

Harder, N.R. (2007). The roles of exercise habits, gender stereotype of exercise, and self-esteem in sexual victimization (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest. (3380304).

Taylor, M., Matthew, J., Wamser, R., Welch, D., & Nanney, J. (2012). Multidimensional self-esteem as a mediator of the relationship between sports participation and victimization: A study of African American girls. Violence and Victims, 27 (3), 434-452.