Welcome to my website. Several years ago, I was sitting in a classroom of detectives while a friend of mine spoke about decorum, behavior, and professional expectations of police officers in a court of law. As a district court judge and experienced prosecutor, he commanded everyone’s attention and respect. He led with a simple comment that immediately went to the top of my list of “things to never forget.”
“When you take the witness stand and are asked to identify yourself,” he started, “you need to begin with your name and then your title and not the other way around. Your name is who you are; your title is what you do. I want to know who you are before I care about what you do.”
I honestly can’t think of a simpler life lesson that had a bigger impact or was more important in my career than that down-to-earth comment. It was one of those “Aha” moments of enlightenment that I now follow every day and inject into every class I teach.
I have spent the past fifty years working in one capacity or another in the criminal justice system. I spent thirty-three years as a sworn police officer with a majority of that time working as both an investigator and an academy instructor. I “retired” to take a position as an assistant professor teaching classes on investigation and courtroom testimony to students in a forensic science program at a Boston medical school. Seven years later, I “retired” again to become the Director of Public Safety at a college in the heart of Boston. Now, with decades of experience, an overflowing satchel of institutional knowledge and formal education behind me, I have turned my attention to writing, teaching and hopefully, showing the human side of policing.
Interview with Mark Crosby on Quincy Access Television. Bill talks about his book, When The Smoke Cleared.
Idaho Murder Case: An Interview with Lt. Bill Powers
(Fast forward to 00:43 to skip the commercial)
Books By Bill Powers
MURDEROUS RAGE tells the tale of the largest, single mass murder in the Commonwealth: The execution of seven victims on the morning after Christmas in 2000. The murderous rampage took only a few minutes, but the investigation didn’t end until the last witness testified at a trial almost seventeen months later.
As important as understanding the “how” of the investigation is the recognition of the “why” an investigative the team of police officers, district attorneys, forensic scientists and the medical examiners come together with one goal in mind; an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
When The Smoke Cleared
Homicides are never predictable or routine. They have their own facts and circumstances along with a distinct vibe that sets each apart from every other one. For a homicide investigator, the more complex, challenging and frustrating a case is the greater the reward when it’s resolved and the killer sent off to jail.
In the early morning of a summer day in 2000, a fire in the basement function room of a residential condo complex in Malden Massachusetts, not only brought the town’s fire department to the scene, but police arson investigators as well. When the fire was extinguished, the water pumped out and the smoke cleared, what emerged was both shocking and puzzling. With one look the detectives on-scene realized they needed to sound the alarm for a more intense and wide-ranging investigation.
Television, movies and books project an unrealistic and often tainted image of who we are, what we do and why we do it. I, like most of my peers, pay little attention to those stereotypes, because that is not who we are. We don’t recognize those fictional characters as our contemporaries. We are human beings, not actors following a script.
– bill powers
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