What's It Like to be a Homicide Detective?


As a criminal defense attorney, my dealings with homicide detectives are always in opposition. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there's some homicide detectives that hate me. My job is to attack their case, attack their credibility, and their knowledge, in defense of someone that very likely committed the crime in exactly the manner the detective is on the stand describing. So homicide detectives, and FBI agents when I'm in federal court, and I have a complicated relationship.

But, most of the books I write deal with FBI agents and homicide detectives chasing down the most sick and depraved killers I can think of. So it's interesting for me to read how others view the detectives, and to craft an objective view of them.

And I think I do have a more objective view than most, because I've seen both sides of the good and evil perpetrated by the boys in blue.

Most of the detective novels I've read paint homicide detectives (and police in general) as saviors of the human race that can do no wrong. Well, sorry, but that ain't reality. The reality is that I've had detectives and police officers fabricate evidence to get convictions against people that pissed them off, I've seen them abuse inmates and detainees on videos I later obtained, and yes, I've seen them hurt and even kill people. In fact, at a recent preliminary hearing, we asked an officer if he had ever been disciplined.  He stated no, then thought about it a second longer, and then said, "Well, I'm under investigation for rape. I guess that counts."

Seriously? He had to think about it and then said he "guessed" being under investigation for rape qualified as discipline? We sued the department and the county/city to get our hands on the findings of this investigation. Rather than give it to us, the county/city dismissed the case against our client entirely. A scary thought that they let our client go so they wouldn't have to release the results of a rape investigation against one of their officers.

But, some of the best people I know are police officers, too. People that put themselves in danger to help others selflessly.

It's like any other profession: there are good ones, and there are bad ones. And you have to take the good with the bad. Detectives may have a skewed view of us defense attorneys as well, but they have to simply take the same stance. There's good and bad in every profession. And the detectives have to understand that defense attorneys are the common citizen's only defense against an overzealous, powerful government (anyone that's had to deal with the IRS knows how scary government can be).

But what's it like to walk in a homicide detective's shoes? Here's an interview with a nearly thirty year veteran of the LAPD robbery-homicide squad. I would recommend checking out the full film One-Eight-Seven as well.


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  1. That our system is so flawed and buried in bureaucracy adds to all problems involving justice ~ the operative words: SETTLE becomes the rule of thumb - unfortunately, that is to the marked disadvantage of defendants whose only recourse is PLEA BARGAIN, not such a bargain when you're innocent but cannot afford or fear a jury trial - it is still a guilty plea! The corruption on both sides never ceases to amaze me, but it does prove congruent to any BIG BUSINESS in America: The Almighty Buck vs. HOPEFULLY? Courtrooms are probably the home of the most sinful AND prayerful "come to God--pray for miracle" moments of peoples' lives. As your book, The Neon Lawyer" showed, "Innocent until proven guilty" was just a wet dream of Thomas Jefferson's." Best way of putting it, I've heard!
    Wish I'd known you when my sons were in trouble. While we learned ALOT, it was NOT enlightening - as that word implies light, however, I saw barely a glimmer, though I learned that money DOES buy more defense - unfortunately it's a black hole of justice in a cesspool of a system I can only see as pervasive throughout government, business, community. Makes me wonder how we can ever "come together", live in peace, and come to God. Love your NEON LAWYER, so when stupid Amazon kept saying communication error to my review (which I NEVER DO--review, I mean), I googled you. Loved and admired the book so much & RELATED to it TOO much! Nevertheless, the storyline was awesome and kept me reading all the way through. Reading is my all time FAVE, so am checking out ALL YOUR BOOKS. Rarely do I really pay much attention to authors, except to find other books if they're good. You, though, I wish I really knew, besides the fact that I wish I could afford to hire you as a lawyer..... Seriously... you won my admiration because it seems like you really care and try to maybe do something about the wrongs and make people aware. That you're from Afghanistan and Iraq ( was it?) seems kinda courageous of you, too. I suppose your position and money help, (please don't take it as insult).
    I'll someday have a chance to talk with you or something......
    people will be able to right wrongs without fear or hopelessness at the immensity of the task.
    Peace on earth will look like a possibility...
    Did I say YOU ROCK?!
    This 64 year old mom thinks we need more stories like yours to bust myths and force people to face reality, fess-up, and do something better towards HOPEFULLY! I want that for my kids and theirs and theirs --
    So THANKS!
    Sorry about the diarrhea of the mouth, and all.
    I can't write as well as you, so this may have been a difficult read if you did read.

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