Posts tagged “Psychic Reprieve

The Winner of the Spingola Files’ 1st Annual LEBOY Awards are…

No doubt, 2013 has been an interesting year for law enforcement. The Boston Marathon bombings, increased surveillance, drones, the NSA scandal, and police militarization, have all been hot topics.  As the calendar prepares to turn and usher in 2014, the staff at Spingola Files’ HQ spent the better part of a week sifting through books that represented the best in 2013 police related fiction and non-fiction.

So today, after considerable debate, SF has announced the winners of its first annual LEBOY (Law Enforcement Books of the Year) Awards.

Winner:               Non-Fiction

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

Author:                Radley Balko

Publisher:            Public Affairs

The brave new world of American policing is something that often divides old school cops from their contemporaries. The belief amongst the officers of yore is that the feds look down their noses at local law enforcement.  Since the attacks of 9/11, however, the federal government has spent billions of dollars constructing a national surveillance state.  To accomplish this goal, Uncle Sam has funneled grant money to local law enforcement in the hopes of purchasing Big Brother buy-in.

Journalist Radley Balko’s book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, spotlights how federal grant money and fear of terrorists lurking behind every corner has transformed the local police into virtual storm troopers.  Personally, as a critic of government spying absent a reasonable suspicion of wrong doing, I agree with about two-thirds of this book. I am, however, aware that many tactical enforcement officers view Balko’s assertions of the coming (if not already present) police state as “bunk.”

Nonetheless, Rise of the Warrior Cop is a book that judges, cops, journalists, attorneys, and policy makers should read.

Winner:                 Fiction

Psychic Reprieve: Deception & Reality

Author:                 Mitchell Nevin

Publisher:            Lemon Press

With the exceptions of Tom Clancy and Vince Flynn (both of whom passed away this year), few can weave a fictional story with non-fictional topics like Mitchell Nevin.   His first novel, The Cozen Protocol, is a Milwaukee law enforcement classic. As such, the crew at SF thought Psychic Reprieve might not rise to the same level, but it clearly did.

Psychic Reprieve takes a look at the criminal justice system from the eyes of three offenders, one of which is a former Chicago police sergeant brought down by a corruption scandal. The novel explores some serious issues, like serial murders and terrorism, but also depicts the resiliency of the human psyche.  After all, nothing is more American than perseverance, self-deprecating humor, and a few good laughs that reflect back on society.

If you’re a casual fan of baseball, a person interested in psychics, are concerned about surveillance, or just enjoy one-liners, Nevin’s latest novel will not disappoint.

Congratulations to the winners of the Spingola Files’ LEBOY Awards.  Hopefully, 2014 will bring more than a few interesting LE reads our way.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit  and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Spingola Files, the Local News & Stocking Stuffers

Over the course of the past month, I have appeared on two Milwaukee news broadcasts to address a couple issues that I feel passionate about: homicide investigations and the vast overreach of government surveillance.

On November visit to to Milwaukee’s CBS 58 news, I spoke about the issue of biometrics.

On December 2, reporter Myra Sanchick, of Fox News 6 in Milwaukee, conducted an interview with me regarding the death of Walter Ellis, Milwaukee’s infamous north side strangler.

In Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I & II, I discussed the complicated deaths associated with Ellis and other suspects in a four part series entitled “The Detectives in the Rye.”

Christmas/Hanukkah Stocking Stuffers

When shopping for the holidays, please consider giving the gift of books.  My latest, Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I & II, is now available in print and audiobook format.

Mitchell Nevin’s first novel, The Cozen Protocol, is also available in audiobook format.  For a limited time, the e-book version of the novel is available for just 99 cents.

Nevin’s latest novel, Psychic Reprieve, is currently in the process of being formatted into a screen play.  The e-book version of this outstanding book has been discounted to $3.99 for the holidays.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

The President’s Ignoble Lie


Only a politician who knows that the mainstream media is in the tank for him would appear on national television and—with a straight face—tell such a whopper.

In early August, President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and told the host, “We [the United States government] don’t have a domestic spying program,” even though media reports abound that contradict this statement.

“Everybody knows I love this president, but this is ridiculous,” said Van Jones, a far-left former Obama administration advisor, while appearing on CNN. “First of all, we do have a domestic spying program, and what we need to be able to do is figure out how to balance these things, not pretend like there’s no balancing to be done.”

Splitting hairs like virtually every politician does, President Obama’s answer is, of course, predicated on what is considered “a domestic spying program.”  The reality is that the federal government, as well as state and local law enforcement (funded, in part, by the federal government), is up to their ears in  spying on Americans.

The most visible sign of domestic spying initiatives are the millions of cameras posted along interstate highways, mounted on poles at key intersections, or those little white boxes containing cameras found, in some instances, every mile on stretches of southeastern Wisconsin freeways.  This data is recorded and archived by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s State Traffic Operations Center in Milwaukee—an Orwellian facility funded, in part, with federal grant money.

At the national level, the National Security Administration (NSA) operates programs, described in detail by fugitive Edward Snowden, which can watch Americans type instant messages and e-mails in real time.  The NSA is set to open its Utah Data Center this month.  This 1,000,000 square foot facility will house trillions of Americans’ telephone conversations and e-mails. Once a user of telephone and/or an electronic device utters or types one of over 1,000 keywords, every conversation or message to-and-from that device is recorded and stored by the NSA.  Under the auspices of the USA Patriot Act, this type of wiretapping is no longer concerned eavesdropping, unless the government chooses to open an individual’s electronic dossier and listen to the recordings.

“A requirement of the 2008 law is that the NSA “may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States.” A possible interpretation of that language, some legal experts said, is that the agency may vacuum up everything it can domestically — on the theory that indiscriminate data acquisition was not intended to “target” a specific American citizen,” wrote CNet’s Declan McCullagh.

And that is precisely what the NSA does and what the Utah Data Center was built to store.

If the NSA and Wisconsin’s DOT’s spy center still doesn’t have one convinced that President Obama was either lying to Jay Leno or is simply inept, consider the 77 intelligence fusion centers spread across the United States.  Wisconsin has two such centers: one operated by the Milwaukee Police Department and the other housed in a benign office park on Madison’s north side.  The equipment used by these centers was purchased with Department of Homeland Security grant money.  Moreover, federal funds underwrite about 20 percent of the Milwaukee fusion center’s budget.

These high-tech fusion centers can access one’s personal information from private sector data mining companies, such as ChoicePoint, in order to ascertain an individual’s financial transactions, book purchases, vehicles and properties owned, credit information, as well as names and addresses of relatives and neighbors.  Fusion centers also use software to track cellular telephones absent judicial oversight.  This technology enables an agent of the government to follow a cell phone from room-to-room within a particular building or structure.

If recording electronic communications, obtaining personal data from private sector companies, and following cellular telephone users in real time, still doesn’t have one convinced the government is spying on virtually all of us on a daily basis, automated license plate readers—considered by some the crown jewel of state and local government surveillance—should.

In Wisconsin, over 37 law enforcement agencies use automated license plate readers (ALPR), which are generally mounted on patrol vehicles, although some are placed at fixed locations.  These devices scan hundreds of license plates of passing vehicles each minute to check on the driver’s license status, possible warrants, or other fugitive data.  These devices also record the date, time, and location that the vehicle was scanned.  This information is then stored in various databases.  Most of these automated license plate readers are purchased, in part, with federal grant money.

Fox News 6 in Milwaukee ran an excellent segment on ALPRs last November (see the below link):

But what about surveillance from the air?  By 2017, some experts believe law enforcement agencies will have access to over 33,000 Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAVs), also known as drones.  The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs Enforcement Division currently uses Predator drones with very intrusive surveillance equipment, including infrared that can see through the walls of homes.

A little over a week ago, I communicated with a former secret squirrel (law enforcement terminology for an agent or an officer who worked in the area of intelligence gathering), who, having observed my name on the dedication page of Mitchell Nevin’s new novel, “Psychic Reprieve,” seemed perturbed by the book’s detailed descriptions of the drone surveillance of a terror suspect and a sneak-and-peek search of the target’s home near San Diego.  He was not complaining about the novel’s factual description of the events, but that the author provided too vivid of a portrait of government operations.

So, President Obama, don’t lie to the American people. The government is spying on Americans 24 x 7 and federal money is paying for most of the gadgets as well as some of the manpower. Granted, the President knew Jay Leno wouldn’t call him out on domestic spying, which is precisely why he uttered his ignoble lie on The Tonight Show and not in front of knowledgeable journalists.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Retired Police Captain Reviews “Psychic Reprieve” — Mitchell Nevin’s Wisconsin-Based Crime Novel

psy cover

Mitchell Nevin’s new novel, Psychic Reprieve: Deception & Reality, weaves a story of three men who had the misfortune of being convicted of felony crimes, but the good fortune of ending up as cellmates in a federal minimum security prison camp, where they became close friends.  One was Raunold Choquet, aka: “R.C.,” who had lived with his grandparents in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, after his mother’s murder. R.C. had a promising future as the closer for the Milwaukee State college baseball team.  His other cellmates included a former Chicago police sergeant (Gannon Burke) and a small-time identity thief (Luigi Fabriano), who forged identification papers in St Paul.

A college baseball team hazing prank goes bad, which results with R.C. being charged with a federal offense and imprisoned because of the political nature of the crime.  After a beating by a group of other inmates, R.C. develops that ability to see into the future, which leads to the successful clearances of several major crimes, including the arrest of a serial killer.  The manner in which Mitchell Nevin injects these “visions” reminds me of the old television series from the late 50s/early 60s—The Twilight Zone and One Step Beyond.

Gannon Burke, having been convicted of a public corruption charges, and Luigi befriend R.C.  After their release from prison, the trio develops a scheme to profit from R.C.’s clairvoyant powers while working in at Drina’s Pasta Palace, an Italian restaurant in downtown Eau Claire.

As in his first book, The Cozen Protocol, Mitchell Nevin worked his knowledge of internal police operations; criminal investigations, high-tech government surveillance, and the politics of a prosecution into the story in a way that is informative as well as entertaining.  In Psychic Reprieve: Deception & Reality, Nevin again melds his familiarity of law enforcement procedures into a fictional story, which makes it easy for the reader to form a mental picture and enjoy the plot. The perspectives of each of the main characters, as well as the way in which the author sets-up their encounters with law enforcement and other antagonists, is interesting to say the least.

Psychic Reprieve has several scenes that occur in Milwaukee.  A few of the hazing pranks initiated by the players on the Milwaukee State baseball team are good for a few laughs.  Some of those who have served on the MPD in the past might recognize these events.  Other major portions of the novel occur in Eau Claire, including one scene where a mano-a-mano showdown takes place during a gentlemen’s bet between R.C. and the power hitting first basemen of the Eau Claire Rail Splitters.  The bet, set-up by the crew at the Pasta Palace,  is to determine if the stellar pitcher can get the college conference player out in one at bat.

On a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, I would give Psychic Reprieve and “8” for the following reasons:  perhaps the best fictional books I have ever read were those by the late Vince Flynn. Hence, his work product is the standard by which I compare other novels when rendering an opinion.  Psychic Reprieve—filled with witty one-liners—had a different type of plot and focus than I expected, and that gave the novel a twist that I found very interesting.

Checkout Psychic Reprieve at


Glenn D. Frankovis, a retired Milwaukee Police Department captain and district commander (1975-2004), is the author of a soon-to-be released book involving urban policing strategies.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

DWD Strikes Again; an FBI Official’s Parchment Shredder; the Police and the Paranormal

Sadly and yet predictably, the body of 24-year-old Nick Wilcox—a Milwaukee resident last seen alive celebrating New Year’s at a pub on Old World Third Street—came to the surface of the Milwaukee River on Thursday.  Two Milwaukee police officers observed the young man’s body floating in the river adjacent to Pierre Marquette Park.

In my new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I spent a chapter, entitled “Leaving for College? Take Some Common Sense Along, too,” discussing the risks involved with binge drinking from the standpoint of personal protection. I understand that the last people a teenager or someone in their early 20s wants to listen to is their parents. As such, encourage your child to take the advice of a former homicide detective—one who has scraped human remains off of sidewalks and tavern floors.

In Oshkosh, La Crosse, and Milwaukee, highly intoxicated men, for whatever reason, are drawn to bodies of water like aluminum to magnets.  There are three easy steps young people can take to make sure that, after a rough night on the town, they wake-up in a safe environment.

Although DWD (drowning while drunk) tends of be a male phenomenon, women, if over served, sometimes become sexual victims.  Having had candid conversations with a handful of coppers who routinely patrol Milwaukee’s Water Street, sober men—too cheap to pay a cover or buy a drink—often stand outside nightclubs at bar time waiting to take advantage of the alcohol-fueled inhibitions of inebriated women.

When planning a night out, it is important to come-up with a plan to ensure the safety of those you care about. This is serious business, so take my advice, and read the tips I provide in Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & 2, available now at

Is the FBI Being Wronged by the Bill of Rights?

In a free society, judicial oversight ensures that government agents have a legitimate basis to believe criminal activity is occurring before seizing personal papers, eavesdropping on private communications, or intruding in private domiciles. Probable cause—the quantum of evidence that would lead a reasonable peace officer to believe that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or might be committed—is a relatively low burden to meet.

This burden of proof, however, is apparently not low enough for the FBI.  At an American Bar Association luncheon, the FBI’s general counsel, Andrew Weissman, told those in attendance that the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) limits agents’ abilities to conduct surveillance of some Web-based communications, such as Google’s g-mail.

“We’re making the ability to intercept communications with a court order increasingly obsolete,” Weissman said, while lamenting that “criminals” make use of some Internet applications to communicate. He noted that a “top priority this year” for the FBI is congressional approval or an executive action that permits federal law enforcement to conduct surveillance of World-Wide Web password accessible accounts without a court order.

No doubt, Constitutional protections sometimes make gathering evidence more difficult, which is precisely why the founding father’s ratified the Fourth Amendment. If the FBI believes that the activities of those involved in criminal activity merit a significant threat to public safety, then its agents should conduct the necessary due diligence and seek judicial orders.

In 2008, congress approved several amendments to the 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“Specifically, the new legislation dramatically expands the government’s ability to wiretap without meaningful judicial oversight, by redefining “oversight” so that the feds can drag their feet on getting authorization almost indefinitely,” noted ARS Technica reporter Timothy Lee. “It also gives the feds unprecedented new latitude in selecting eavesdropping targets, latitude that could be used to collect information on non-terrorist-related activities like P2P copyright infringement and online gambling. In short, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 opens up loopholes so large that the feds could drive a truck loaded down with purloined civil liberties through it.”

And what would discourage federal law enforcement from continually asking congress and/or the President to incrementally chip away at the privacy protections of Americans, since lawmakers have winked-and-nodded at virtually every request to marginalize the Fourth Amendment since 2001?

‘Gimme, gimme, gimme,’ continues to be the mantra of law enforcement officials as they seek to curtail the civil liberties of Americans in the name of public safety.  It is time for an adult in the room to stand-up, draw a line in the sand, and tell these officials that, if they can’t get the job done the way others have managed to do so since 1791 (the year the Bill of Rights were ratified), then it is time to step aside.

Soon-to-be Released Novel Focuses on the Paranormal and the Police

Recently, I was asked to review a substantial portion of the manuscript for Mitchell Nevin’s soon-to-be released novel, which explores the intersection where law enforcement and the paranormal meet.  Most detectives are extremely skeptical of psychics, although a handful insist that those with ‘special abilities’ have proved helpful. Nevin’s new novel is based primarily in Milwaukee, Chicago, Eau Claire and the Twin Cities, although several other towns gain mention. The plot is concise, free-flowing, and well researched.

According to my publisher, the new novel is still a work in progress.  If readers have had any experiences with psychics—good, bad or indifferent—please visit and feel free to comment, as the author is still interested in gathering input.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013