TDCAA Community
Arson for Prosecutors

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November 20, 2007, 16:13
Stacey L. Brownlee
Arson for Prosecutors
I was teaching at an arson conference and one of the AIs asked me about a book he swore was called "Arson for Prosecutors" that he thought TDCAA or maybe the state bar put out annually or biannually some years ago. Anyone ever seen a copy of this publication or know where it comes from ? Once he asked me about it several other AIs chimed in and claimed to have seen a copy of it too but didn't think it had been updated in the last 10 years or so.
November 20, 2007, 16:25
Ted Wilson
ATF published a book called "Arson for Prosecutors". They also put on an arson for prosecutors school in Glynco, Ga. You can get the book by contacting your closest ATF office. They can also give you information on the school. Our office (Harris County) has sent a couple of prosecutors to it and they found it to be very helpful.

Also, Steve Baldassano, who is a Harris County prosecutor that attended the ATF school wrote an article on Arson prosecution in one of the TDCAA Prosecutor mmagazines a few years ago. He is working on writing a manual for prosecuting arson cases for TDCAA. I have no idea how far along he is on the project.
November 20, 2007, 19:56
Stacey L. Brownlee
Thanks Ted !

They've been trying to get me to go to Glynco for several years now but its two weeks long, hard to get away from a small office that long.

I did manage to get to the NDAA Arson course in S. Carolina, it was fantastic.
November 21, 2007, 11:23
Mike Elliott in Fort Bend County has been to the Arson School as well, and I know he would be happy to assist anyone with questions.
February 11, 2008, 11:04
Diane Beckham
And sorry I didn't see this thread earlier, but Assistant DA Steve Baldassano in Harris County is currently writing a Texas arson book aimed at prosecutors and law enforcement. He's working with people from the Houston Fire Marshal's office, and he's already submitted four wonderful chapters.

We're aiming for publication in another year or so, and in the meantime, please send me all your suggestions for content so I can pass them along to hard-working author Steve.
February 11, 2008, 21:11
Stacey L. Brownlee

1. Administrative warrants vs. search warrants
2. Predicates for specialized arson witnesses, ie cfis, canine handlers, lab techs
February 15, 2008, 15:44
Diane Beckham
Thanks so much, Stacey. I'll pass those along to Steve. And of course post or e-mail if you (or any other forum reader) think of anything else.
April 14, 2008, 16:27
Stacey L. Brownlee
One of the guys brought me the manual he was talking about at the conference. It was produced by the State Fire Marshal's Office with the approval of TDCAA (at least thats what it says in the Foreword). The Foreword also says that it is " update Arson Prosecution, published by 1980".

Diane, any old copies of the 1980 version around ?
April 15, 2008, 15:51
Diane Beckham
How about that!! I couldn't find any copies of the book in the usual places at the office -- I'll check the archives and check with folks who were around back then. I can tell you that when I started in 1996, I never heard any mention of that being a previous TDCAA publication.
April 15, 2008, 21:07
Stacey L. Brownlee
Thanks for taking the time to look for it for me ! The CFI that brought me the manual has been around quite some time but he had never seen the 1980 book either. I'm going to call the State Fire Marshal's Office and see if they have a copy.
April 21, 2008, 19:42
I have just run into this website while looking for information on fire investigation, and see that there is some discussion on a publication called Arson for Prosecution. I looked in my bookshelf and realized I have a looseleaf binder version of this publication. Maybe this is the version you are looking for, it has a 10/05 date on it and it is published and distributed thru TDI State Fire Marshal. I also remember during a training class a state fire marshal said they had copies of this for distribution.
September 23, 2009, 08:08
Stacey L. Brownlee
Any update on the TDCAA Arson book ?

I've got to teach a class at the ETAIA arson seminar in November and could hawk it if its ready !
September 23, 2009, 19:41
Diane Beckham
Stacey, thank you SO much for the offer to plug the book, but I think we'll still be in the production stages in November. If anything changes, I will definitely let you know ASAP. Good luck with your teaching!
September 24, 2009, 08:28
Stacey L. Brownlee
I'll check back when the date gets closer. Even if I just had a slide of the cover, I could put it in my powerpoint. The guys are always asking me about books that would help them put their cases together.
April 20, 2010, 00:43
Matt John
But at least this guy figured out a GREAT use for the Stranger!

Police: Arsonist used Stranger, Weekly to start fires

The suspected Greenwood arsonist appears to be a fan of alternative weeklies, according to court documents released Tuesday.

Police said in one of three lengthy admissions, Kevin Todd Swalwell, 46, told detectives that when he burned a convenience store on Nov. 9, he brought copies of the Stranger, and ignited one with cardboard.

Investigators said that was his third fire in less than 10 hours. It was quickly extinguished after it caused about $500 in damage.

But Swalwell isn't exclusively a Stranger guy.

Police said when he burned a three-story house at 7708 Greenwood Ave. N. – an Aug. 12 fire Swalwell allegedly admitted setting – he ignited the blaze by folding a copy of the Seattle Weekly in the rafters.

That blaze happened about 1:30 p.m. and was extinguished by a woman with a garden hose. It cased about $100 in damage, but a fire about an hour later allegedly started by Swalwell injured a man and caused an estimated $170,000 damage to his home.

The Seattle Weekly detail was included in a police incident report. In court documents, it's described as a wadded-up newspaper.

Swalwell, who has been charged with 11 arsons, most often used materials found at the scene of his fires, according to court documents.

Matt John
cisco exam master!
September 22, 2010, 20:46
Stacey L. Brownlee
Annual Arson Seminar coming up in November. More than willing to hawk the book if it's close to release, just let me know !!