Shakespeare for Cops

March 3, 2018

Harvard Professor Jeffrey R. Wilson and I recently conducted a series of Q&A via email regarding an educational program he’s developing called, “Shakespeare for Cops.” The first question and answer comprise the bulk of this post.

Professor Wilson has also posted a video on YouTube depicting his presentation on the topic at the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies at the University of Alabama. Links to his video and website can be found at the bottom.

Police and the Humanities

  1. In general, how would you describe the relationship between the police and the arts and humanities?

I’m not aware of any formalized relationships. I’m trying to partially address that through CopWorld Press. There are, however, several successful police writers. Chief among them over the decades has been Joe Wambaugh who’s in his 80s now and not writing a lot but was one of the most powerful figures in the publishing industry for several decades. There’s also Dallas Barnes who has published six novels and sold more than a million copies in numerous languages and written for television and the movies. I’m happy to say that CopWorld Press will be publishing his seventh novel, “A Man in Heat” in April of this year. Paul Bishop is also successful in much the same way as Dallas Barnes. What they all have in common in addition to their literary chops is having worked for the LAPD.

I’ve attended an event in Newport Beach, Ca several times called “Men of Mystery” and met a Chicago police officer there who has also done well but I don’t remember his name. Ed Conlon, a Harvard grad had a big success with “Blue Blood,” a memoir of his first couple years as a patrol officer with the NYPD. In my opinion, much of his success stemmed from his college bio. It’s probably not a coincidence that the TV series, “Blue Bloods” features Jamie Reagan who graduated from Harvard Law School before joining the “family business” on the NYPD. While the series has little similarity to Conlon’s book, he was probably remunerated in some way for the title and for Jamie’s character.

Over the years, I’ve had numerous current and retired police officers ask me to help them write their stories, which is one of the reasons I’ve formed CopWorld Press. It provides a venue for police officers who might not otherwise break into the marketplace. In addition to the traditional model, we’re striving to create a social network of people who will participate in creating and disseminating the work of police writers.  I’ve recently  begun a correspondence with an author who’s asked for help in developing a nascent project into a book about a legendary San Diego police officer who died a few years ago.

As a publisher, I’m striving to strengthen the relationship between police authors and arts and humanities by providing an outlet for their creativity. Cops have great stories and they’re great story tellers. Joe Wambaugh is famous for taking groups of cops out for dinner and plying them with booze to loosen their tongues. Many stories told on those occasions have worked their way into his books.

Shakespeare for Cop


Wes Albers “Black and White”

February 2, 2018

CopWorld Press has acquired the rights to “Black and White,” a police procedural by Sgt. Wes Albers of the San Diego Police Department.

In addition to his work with the SDPD, Wes teaches at Alliant International University and his book has been taught at Cal State San Marcos for it’s accurate depiction of police work. It’s also been discussed in Law Enforcement publications like “Force Science News” and “Police One” as detailed by Chuck Remsburg, the author of “Street Survival and The Tactical Edge.”

“Black and White” has been reviewed for the International Law Enforcement Educators and Teachers Association and has spent thirty months among the Top Paid Police Procedurals list on iTunes.

Wes Albers’ work completely represents the values of CopWorld Press as it strives to give voice to important law enforcement authors .


Dallas Barnes Collaborates with CopWorld Press

December 22, 2017

Why do cops write? Because everything a cop does requires writing. Daily Logs, arrests reports, crime reports, incident reports and on and on. As part of their duties cops write about a myriad of things most of the world never sees. Murder, rape, assault, child abuse, accidents, drugs, bloody bodies, alive and dead, emotional victims, combative arrestee’s, altercations, pursuits and more. Cops see it and cops write about it, again and again. It is not unusual for a cop’s report to be read by thousands, and many become records that last decades.

Some cops, and I’m one of them, are compelled to write. I’ve been fortunate to have seven novels published. All based on my police experiences. I’ve sold over a million copies in seven different countries. My novels became a bridge to primetime where I wrote for twenty-three different series and several motion pictures for television. Why tell you this? Because on a regular basis I see cops writing about their experiences on line. Many of these stories are compelling reads, and many could be novels that have never found print.

My point is, if you’re a cop, and like me, you write because you have, and you’ve written a novel and don’t know what to do next, join the club, I’ve been there. My first trek to becoming a novelist was all up hill. That was then. Fortunately, with the dawn of the internet, it has all changed.

Forget about just dreaming about your book. Forget about sending it to someone you don’t know. Forget about worrying about scams and rip offs. Now there is a Cop who has created a publishing company dedicated to Law Enforcement. The company is CopWorld Press. The cop who created it is TB Smith. TB is a kindred spirit, a retired San Diego Cop who knows what its like to carry a badge and gun. More importantly he knows how to turn dreams into a book.

Not only did I congratulate TB on the opportunity he has created for cops who write I signed with him to publish my seventh novel. I’m not exactly new to writing and publishing, but after learning of TB’s vision I signed with CopWorld for my seventh novel. The title is A Man in Heat and it’s scheduled for release in April 2018. So, if you’re a cop, a former cop or a retired cop and you’re determined to get published find CopWorld on the internet or TB Smith on face book. No, I haven’t been paid or solicited to do this. I’m like Smith. I just like cop stories.

Hard time for publishers and authors

November 27, 2017

Let there be no doubt about it, a writer’s worth in the marketplace is quickly diminishing. Google, Amazon and other giants of the free media age have created a feeding frenzy that’s eating away at an author’s ability to gain just compensation for their work, and larger publishers have moved to a greater emphasis on current best sellers and celebrities.

Smaller publishers are trying to fill the breach and CopWorld Press is in that mix. We want to find and publish law enforcement authors in this increasingly difficult environment, but that doesn’t mean we have lower standards, just a willingness to work with and help authors who have the goods. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to approach any publisher. What follows is a true-life example of exactly the wrong way to do it.

I recently met with an author who’d submitted a manuscript for consideration because we live in the same town and I wanted to help her along her journey. The tag line on the email with her attached manuscript had included the title and the words “a fiction novel.”  I asked her to define a novel. She had no idea that, by definition, it is fiction. She went on to say that she was somewhat confused because her story was partly made up and partly true, and, therefore, the term novel might not apply.

I spent about 40 minutes with her, during which time she twice upbraided me for not having taken the time to read beyond the prologue and initial chapter. I responded that one problem with her manuscript is the too lengthy chapters but gave her an opportunity to provide a verbal synopsis. She did so, without including anything approaching a plot. I asked her what genre her book is. When she acknowledged that she had no idea, I told her that my brief read and her synopsis indicated that it’s a police procedural. When I defined the term at her request, she declared that I was wrong.

I provided a brief history of my four decade journey as a writer, mostly focusing on the lows, and she assured me that her story depicted a female’s experiences in law enforcement which should give her an edge. I agreed that it’s important to get more police books out from the female perspective but went on to tell her some of the many weaknesses her manuscript displayed, including misspellings, tense changes and poor syntax. I urged her to read several police procedurals and books on writing whose titles I provided and recommended that she carefully consider my feedback. Part of that feedback was that the road leading to the professional writing level is a long and arduous one that requires research and a willingness to learn from mistakes. She responded by reminding me that she’d had a couple female friends read her book who “really loved it”– but she would consider my point of view too.

As I stood to leave, I resisted the temptation to expand on or reiterate some of her writing’s failings, instead simply saying something very close to–Just remember, I’m a professional writer and a publisher and they’re not. She responded by assuring me that she intended to pursue other opportunities?

As I descended the few steps to the street, I wondered which aphorism was more applicable, the one from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to not “cast pearls before swine” or the one that guarantees that no good deed goes unpunished….”



The Tales Cops Could Tell

April 12, 2017

My new publishing company, CopWorld Press, just got a great article in the Medford Mail Tribune in Oregon. Here is the link. news/20170410/tales-cops- could-tell.

SDPD Sergeant Wes Albers Authors “Black and White” a police procedural novel.

March 31, 2017

[Ashland, Or] Sergeant Wes Albers of the San Diego Police Department, and author of the novel Black & White, has just signed with CopWorld Press— a new, independent publishing company dedicated to helping authors with a connection to law enforcement tell their stories.

Sergeant Albers has served in a number of different communities throughout San Diego and has extensive field experience as a training officer, evidence technician, border team supervisor and emergency negotiator. He presently serves as Director of the Southern California Writers’ Conferences in San Diego, Los Angeles and Palm Springs where he has spent many years in the writing community helping new and aspiring authors
realize their dreams of publication. When not writing, Wes teaches at Alliant International University.

CopWorld Press, located in Ashland, Or., publishes true crime, mystery fiction, police procedurals, personal memoirs and other genres dealing with cops, crime and/or the “day-to-day experiences of the men and women who so bravely serve our communities and citizens.”

New Publishing Company for Law Enforcement Authors

March 23, 2017

For Immediate Release
Contact: Timothy B. Smith—Email:; Phone: 541-887-9421

**New Oregon Publishing House to Feature Law Enforcement Authors**

[Ashland, Or] CopWorld Press is a new, independent publishing company dedicated to helping authors with a connection to law enforcement tell their stories. Its books will feature true crime, mystery fiction, police procedurals, personal memoirs and other genres dealing with cops, crime and/or the “day-to-day experiences of the men and women who so bravely serve our communities and citizens.”

Company founder Tim Smith (who writes under the name of T.B. Smith) is a retired police lieutenant from San Diego, Ca, with 27 years of policing experience. In 1984, Pantheon Press published a non-fiction book by British author James McClure called “Cop World: Inside an American Police Force.” McClure utilized the ride-along format to chronicle the  experiences of the San Diego Police Department’s Central Division officers as
part of a broader look at American policing. Smith was one of the officers chronicled under the pseudonym of Luke Jones. Mr. Smith has since written two police procedural novels (The Sticking Place and A Fellow of Infinite Jest, published by Hellgate Press) that feature a Shakespeare quoting cop who uses the name Luke Jones, the name that James McClure gave Smith.”

“Cop World was a look at stories about police as witnessed by and told to an expert author,” says Smith. “But spend an hour or two at the corner bar with a few cops and you’ll soon find they’re the best story tellers on the planet. With that in mind, I formed CopWorld Press, which will work exclusively with law enforcement authors in partnership with my former publisher at Hellgate Press.”

Joining T.B. Smith in the venture is Harley Patrick, owner of L&R Publishing, an Ashland-based company that published Mr. Smith’s first two books under its Hellgate Press imprint ( Hellgate Press was founded in 1997 and publishes books on military and regional history, veteran memoirs, travel adventure and
historical/adventure fiction. L&R Publishing also publishes children’s books under its Paloma Books imprint ( After receiving a master’s degree in 2000 from the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Patrick went to work as an editor at Hellgate Press. In 2007 he purchased the Medford-based company and moved it to Ashland where it has grown to become one of the leading publishers of military history books in the country.

“Law enforcement professionals have such amazing stories to tell,” says Patrick, “and Tim and I are committed to helping them do just that, as well as assisting them in navigating the sometimes complex world of mainstream publishing and distribution.”
For more information, or to submit an author query, visit the CopWorld Press website at

Advice on Writing about Cops

March 22, 2017

Several months ago I spoke to a meeting of Partners In Crime in San Diego and offered to be a resource for any police related questions. Below is a question and answer session with one of the participants.

1) Question: Do police customarily use the 24 hour clock in their verbal discussions of a case, or just say 8:00 pm (as opposed to 20:00)?

1) Answer: Yes, cops use the 24 hour military clock in all things. In my case, it was one of the first things taught in the academy.

2) Question: Is it likely that a police officer, interviewing a witness in their own home, seeing the witness was in distress, would offer to make the witness a warm drink (in the witness’ home)?

2) Answer: It is possible that police officers could offer to make a warm drink. However, it’s much more likely that the officers would ask the victim/witness to make them a drink. This would potentially accomplish several things. It would likely get the witness “out of their head” a little bit as they attended to routine things around the home. It would also establish some rapport as the officers and witness engage in a little domestic ritual that could break down barriers, and it might give the cops an opportunity to casually look around a bit as the witness is busy performing the task. Every bit of information officers can gather about the environment could prove useful.

3) Question: Would a police officer go with a family member (or meet a family member) to the morgue to view their next-of-kin or relative who is deceased? And if the officer needed to question the family member would they do it right then, at the morgue, if the family member was not in too much distress? Or would they go to the police station or another location?

3) Answer: The answer to your question about the morgue requires more clarification. Is this a patrol officer or a homicide investigator? What’s the size of the department? This information is necessary for me to understand the potential resources available. What type of rapport has the officer established with the victim?

It’s highly unlikely that any officer would accompany the victim to the morgue. However, this is your world that you’re creating. Is there a strong connection established that would compel the victim/family member to ask the officer to go with them in a support role. If so, find a way to make it happen through character development and interaction.

As far as the questioning goes, the officer would not engage in any sort of formal interrogation under the circumstances but could certainly utilize the the opportunity for casual and useful conversation. There’s one important point to remember here, there is no need to provide the person with their constitutional rights unless they’re in a custodial situation, meaning that the victim/witness is not free to leave. If the officer ever does develop enough information to lawfully detain that person, that is the time for the admonishment. Open ended conversation that could develop new information or line of inquiry is an open possibility until that time. If the officer wants a more formal discussion, that could happen at the police station, the home of the witness or any other place that would be suitable to the situation. If you want the victim/witness to feel intimidated, the police station is the place. If you want them to feel comfortable or safe, use your imagination for the right place.

4) Question: Is it possible to recover fingerprints from a rope?

4) Answer: Uncovering prints from a rope is problematic. The surface is likely slick and there’s even a good chance that a suspect could clutch the rope with their palm without ever touching it with their fingers. However, if you want the rope to be part of the solution, there are several ways to accomplish this. Are there remnants of the victim’s blood present? If so, have the suspect unwittingly grasp the rope where the blood is. Is the rope stored in a garage or some other place that might cause grease to be present? If so, there’s your solution. Prints could be found in the grease. Depending on the situation, it’s also possible for trace evidence to be present. Has the suspect lost a hair in a struggle that can be recovered? How about a little fleck off of the victim’s shirt or jacket or a button being left behind? This is where the author creates a situation that occurs to their benefit as the creator of their own world. If one of these things occurs, find a way to weave it in and make it part of the case solving narrative.

More Police Procedural Writer’s Questions Answered

August 13, 2016

Here’s a second round of questions from a writer seeking advice about police policies and procedures for a book she’s writing. I’m including the Q&A in a blog so that other writers tackling police issues can benefit from the information. My answers are in bold.

Q.  I have a couple more questions. Can my rookie cop have the same partner after she completes her probation period?

A.  Here’s where things get a little complicated. This may depend upon the size, and or, policies of the department. First, it’s important to point out that there’s a difference between a rookie and a trainee. If she’s a trainee, it’s likely the department would like her to work alone or with a different partner than her training officer upon graduating from the training program. However, that’s not set in stone. If she’s a rookie who’s on probation, then it’s probable there wouldn’t be any problem with her continuing to work with the same partner when her probationary period ends.

Q.  And what is the chain of command? I have her having a Sergeant as well as the Captain. But I watched Southland and they referred to the Watch Commander as the boss, and the rookie had to be assigned a different partner after graduation.

A. This situation is also more complicated than it appears at first glance. The chain of command is likely to differ depending upon the size of the department. If it’s a large department, then the rank structure is likely to be officer, sergeant, lieutenant, then captain. Ranks above captain are likely to vary depending upon the individual policies of the department.

The watch commander position is actually outside of the normal chain of command. He or she is likely to be the ranking officer in charge of the patrol functions of a specific shift. They may also be responsible for approving bookings to verify that the arresting officer has met all of the standards of probable cause, department policy etc.

If you’re a writer with questions regarding police issues, feel free to send them along. I’ll respond and turn the exchange into a blog for the benefit of others.                                                     ~T.B.  Smith 


Answers to Reader’s Questions: Getting it “right” when writing police procedural crime fiction

August 7, 2016

Not long ago, I spoke to a group in San Diego and made an ongoing offer to field email questions from participants regarding police issues as they relate to their writing. I recently received my first question. What follows is a slightly edited version of our email exchange.


Q-Thank you for speaking at the Partners in Crime meeting a couple of months ago. I enjoyed your presentation, and so appreciate your willingness to help us writers get it right when writing about police.

I’m hoping you can answer a question for me. I have a character who has been on the job less than a year, is (with her cop partner) first on the scene of a murder, and it turns out she was best friends with the granddaughter of the woman who lives in the house. The victim was her best friend’s uncle.

She doesn’t realize at first that she knows the family. Then when she does, she keeps thinking she’ll tell her partner, but doesn’t want to until she talks to her old (estranged) friend. Then after she sees the friend, she realizes she doesn’t know as much as she thought she did, or the friend is lying to her, and she makes up her mind to tell her partner.


As she’s about to do so, he goes off on how he hates people who can’t keep secrets.

Finally she makes a list of pros and cons to help her decide what to do.

Here’s the question: What kind of trouble could she potentially be in for not saying she knew a member of the victim’s family? (the murder investigation is ongoing)


A-As stated, your character’s situation doesn’t sound too tenuous. But I need to know the role she and her partner play in the investigation. If they’re patrol officers who are dispatched to the murder scene, their main and perhaps sole functions are to secure the scene for homicide investigators and perhaps do some witness canvassing. If they’re investigators, then there needs to be a clear explanation of why an officer with so little experience would be placed in that position. If your character obtains some information through her previous friendships then fails to disclose to her superiors, that could be cause for serious discipline up to and including termination. That may be more trouble than you want to deal with, but it could also be the source of a lot of conflict that could propel the plot in interesting ways. I guess what I’m saying is, I need to know more to fully answer the question but I’m happy to engage in ongoing discussion if you’d find that helpful.


Q-My character and her partner were first on the scene at the murder. They secured the scene, and she was allowed to do a first interview of the mother of the victim, as well as one of the sisters of the victim. My character (Regan) was friends with a granddaughter/niece when they were both in 8th grade. They’ve been estranged since junior year of high school. Regan doesn’t tell her partner (or anyone) that she realizes she knows the family, was friends with Beth. Regan contacts Beth, talks to her about why they’re not still close, then tries to question her re the murder victim.


A-That all sounds reasonable. I’d add some little explanation about why she did the initial interview. Something like her partner wanted to give her the experience. If that’s the case, he could monitor the interview which would ratchet up the conflict a bit when she tells him of the deception by omission 


Q=As I’ve written it, Nick dresses her down, tells her she could lose her job, etc., but in the end, he says she just needs to let the detectives on the case know what she knows, and not to withhold information in the future.

The thing they don’t know yet is Beth is the killer.
While I didn’t include this in the email exchange. There wouldn’t be much point in including this episode unless her friend did turn out to be the killer. The sole exception that I can think of is if it were necessary for some deep character development for the young officer.