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Archive for August 21st, 2013

Author Elmore Leonard Created a U.S. Marshal Who Will Live On

 

Elmore Leonard signing 'Raylan' book, Jan. 2012/Photo by Alan Stamm

Alan Stamm
ticklethewire.com

 BIRMINGHAM, Mich. — Elmore Leonard, the acclaimed crime novelist who died Tuesday morning, imagined characters who behave and sound like believable law breakers and law enforcers.

His best-known plot stars include Raylan Givens, a deputy U.S. marshal on page and screen.

Leonard, who died at 87 in his suburban Detroit home from complications of a stroke he suffered a few weeks back,  was working on a book called “Blue Dreams” that would have been his 46th. “He was going to bring the character Raylan Givens into it,” son Peter Leonard tells Susan Whitall of The Detroit News.

Leonard introduced that federal marshal in “Pronto,” a 1993 book, and brought him back two years later in “Riding the Rap” and in a 60-page novella issued in 2011 as “Fire in the Hole.”

In “Justified,” a FX cable series that began in 2010 and returns next January, Timothy Olyphant portrays the tough lawman enforcing a beyond-regulations style of justice in eastern Kentucky’s hill country around Harlan.

When a real-life parole violator was arrested there last March, one headline said: Life Imitates Art, ‘Justified’ Edition: U.S. Marshals Hunt Down Fugitive in Harlan County.

But how closely does Leonard’s fictional marshal resemble the real deal?

In an effort to find out, a Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter last year watched the show’s pilot episode with second-generation Deputy U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott, who joined the service in 1987 and has been U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Ohio since 2003.

Until local journalist Mark Dawidziak popped in a DVD at Elliott’s federal courthouse office, he hadn’t seen “the heroic deputy marshal created by esteemed novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard.”

The actual badge-wearer admired the pilot’s realistic setup, which had Given assigned to Lexington, Ky., and being told he’d take on all kinds of assignments.

“Small offices tend to have less manpower, so that would be the case,” he says. “In a smaller office, a deputy marshal could be asked to do a little bit of everything: working warrants, prisoner transportation, witness relocation, fugitive task force. And it’s not uncommon for someone to be assigned to an area where they grew up. We’re one of the law enforcement agencies that will do that. And I think that’s a good thing.”

Elliott also was impressed by an offhand mention of Glynco, commenting: “That’s our training academy in Georgia. That’s right. Somebody did some research.”

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens in "Justified"

Similarly, he gave a thumb-up to actor Olyphant’s generally casual wardrobe:

“You dress appropriately for court, but, if you’re apprehending fugitives and jumping fences, you’re in jeans.”

But overall, the Cleveland marshal found more unrealistic touches than accurate ones – starting with Givens’ frequent weapon use.

“I’ve never had to fire my gun in the line of duty. It does happen, of course, but every time a weapon is discharged, reports need to be filled out. With the amount of gunfire in this show, Raylan would be up to his ying-yang in paperwork. That’s all he’d be doing. . . .

“I know they want him to be a Lone Ranger type of hero with a lot of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne stuff. It’s not a bad show. It’s just not very representative of what we do.”

Raylan Givens’ creator was a show consultant, though dramatic script flourishes aren’t his.

The vivid characters and crackling dialogue Elmore Leonard put between book covers seemed so real that criminals “write to me and want to know if I’ve done time,” the author told Vice magazine in 2009.

That level of realism flowed partly from reading and other research, and mainly from an imaginative talent that assures his work will endure.

 

Facial Scanning Is Making Gains in Surveillance

By CHARLIE SAVAGE
New York Times

WASHINGTON — The federal government is making progress on developing a surveillance system that would pair computers with video cameras to scan crowds and automatically identify people by their faces, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with researchers working on the project.

The Department of Homeland Security tested a crowd-scanning project called the Biometric Optical Surveillance System — or BOSS — last fall after two years of government-financed development.

Although the system is not ready for use, researchers say they are making significant advances. That alarms privacy advocates, who say that now is the time for the government to establish oversight rules and limits on how it will someday be used.

To read more click here.

Father of Man Killed by FBI to Meet with Florida Prosecutor

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

All Abdulbaki Todashev wants to know is what prompted an FBI agent to fatally shoot his son.

The FBI won’t say what happened when an agent killed Ibragim Todashev, a companion of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, at his Orlando apartment earlier this year.

The Associated Press reports that the father is meeting with a Florida a prosecutor who will review the case.

The FBI originally said Ibragim Todashev lunged at an agent but has since backed down from that statement.

Top FBI Agent in Washington State Claims She Was Discriminated Against for Job Promotions

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Laura M.  Laughlin, the top FBI agent in Washington state, says she continues to be discriminated against nearly two years after filing a gender discrimination suit against the bureau, McClatchy reports.

Special agent-in-charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office, Laughlin contends in an updated legal filing that her gender has cost her jobs in other cities, including Washington, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

“The FBI has consistently and intentionally refused to promote (Laughlin) because of her gender,” Laughlin’s attorney, David Wachtel, wrote in an Aug. 15 court filing.

Wachtel added that Laughlin was targeted “because she has opposed the FBI’s gender-based and race-based discrimination against herself and others.”

Whatever the case, Laughlin’s job puts her at the head the Seattle Office and nine satellite locations. She leads a team of 300 agents and support personnel, McClatchy wrote.

Serial Killer Toys with FBI in Newly Released Video of Interrogations

Alaska-based serial killer Israel Keyes, who took his own life last year, is shown in a new video toying with the FBI about his alleged victims, Slate reports.

At one point, Keyes says he’s unwilling to discuss details of the victims because he doesn’t want his mom to find out. Then he jokes with agents that he’s wasting tax dollars with digs for his victims.

When an agent expressed impatience with Keyes for not releasing some information, Keyes responds: “There’s gonna be a lot of frustration before this is all over but I mean there—it’s already been years of frustration for a lot of people. So they’re gonna have to learn to live with it for a little bit longer.”

The investigation and search continues.

“That fact that Keyes is dead makes it more difficult for us,” an Anchorage FBI agent said, “but the investigation absolutely continues.”

Canadian Scuba Diver Busted Trying to Smuggle Marijuana into U.S. Via Waterway

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Drug smugglers have shown no end to new ways to bring drugs into the U.S.

On Tuesday, authorities said a Canadian scuba diver tried to smuggle $40,000 worth marijuana into the U.S. by swimming across St. Clair River in Michigan, the Lansing State Journal reports.

The scuba diver, who has not yet been identified, was spotted around 1 a.m. towing a big bag in the river.

When the man emerged from the water near Marine City, he was arrested by Border Patrol agents, the Journal reported.

He was found with a large, watertight PVC cylinder full of more than 8 pounds of high-quality pot.

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