Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “Law Enforcement”

Nebraska State Police – Police Dogs

Nebraska State Police – Police Dogs – http://statepatrol.nebraska.gov/vnews/display.v/ART/5638ebb033051?in_archive=1

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How long has Nebraska been using police dogs?
  • What are dual-purpose police dogs?
  • What sorts of tasks can police service dogs do?


This web page provides a nice overview of the types of jobs that police service dogs can accomplish along with a brief description of the selection and training process for dogs and their handlers. The selection of handlers includes a home visit because dogs live with their handlers when off duty. There is also a gallery of police dog photos. The Nebraska program appears to encourage public inquiry and contact information is provided at the bottom of the page.


Law enforcement K-9 dog bites: injuries, complications, and trends (1997)

Law enforcement K-9 dog bites: injuries, complications, and trends (1997)  – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9140249

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What’s the difference between “bite and hold” vs “find and bark”?
  • In Los Angeles, between 1988 and 1995, what percentage of police dog bite victims were black or Hispanic?
  • What sorts of injuries can one receive from a police dog?


Medline is a medical literature database operated by the National Library of Medicine. This particular item is a record for an article from the Annals of Emergency Medicine studying whether the Los Angeles Police Department’s shift from having their dogs “bite and hold” to “find and bark” reduced bite injuries on suspects. Although the full article is not freely available, the abstract is enough to give you information on K9 bites in a large city. It also documents that “find and bark” does seem to easier on suspects and dogs alike.

You’ll hear more about Medline and MedlinePlus, its layman oriented partner in Health Issues and Tragic Complications.

Uniform Crime Statistics (National)

Uniform Crime Statistics (National) – http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find tables of murder by relationship?
  • How many arson cases were there in Pittsburgh in 2012?
  • How has the number of aggravated assaults in Alaska varied from 1960 through 2012?
  • How many police officers did Los Angeles have in 1990?


From the website:

Crime in the U.S. is the most comprehensive analysis of violent crime and property crime in the nation. The annual publication compiles volume and rate of crime offenses for the nation, the states, and many cities and counties. It also includes arrest, clearance, and law enforcement employee data.

This set of reports can be helpful in establishing the level of crime in the local of your story.

Alaska State Troopers Daily Dispatch

Alaska State Troopers Daily Dispatch

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What does a typical day of crime look like in Alaska?
  • What are some true stories of Alaska search and rescue?
  • Where can I find some brief accounts of female perpetrated domestic violence?


This site looks deceptively boring. It’s just a list of dates. But click on any date and you’ll see a set of short reports organized by region. There are shootings, domestic violence, car thefts and more. All are described in a Joe Friday, “Just the Facts” fashion along with a disclaimer that people named in the dispatches are innocent until proven guilty. Perusing a month’s worth of these dispatches will give you an idea of what sorts of Alaskan crimes are prevalent where.

The Dispatch also includes search and rescue efforts. Searching on (rescue inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch/) brought up about  189 results as of this writing. Rescues included two hypothermic teens on 12/23/2013 and an 8/6/2012 rescue of rafters in the wilderness in difficult terrain.

Search Tips/Story Ideas:

Writers and other interested parties can tease out particular types of incidents using Google or another search engine that supports the “inurl” operator. The form of the search is:

[word or phrase] inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch/

For example, searching on (shooting inurl:dps.state.ak.us/PIO/dispatch) brought up 181 results, including a 6/14/2013 incident where someone was shot in the leg while riding in the back of a pickup truck.

This site could be very helpful with giving police characters things to do, criminal characters a back story, or deciding what sorts of crime to burden an Alaskan or rural town with.

Most states have an equivalent of the Alaska State Troopers and many of them produce similar reports. Try searching [your state here] police or troopers in your favorite search engine. Then looks for a press or public affairs page.

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