Hands up all of you who have ever watched an episode of NCIS – either franchise?
Now how many of you watched an episode of JAG (yes, I know that’s a stretch for some of you young’uns)?
For those who don’t know, JAG stands for Judge Advocate General and NCIS for Navy Criminal Investigative Service.
I loved both of the shows. Watching Harm and his crew solve crimes in JAG, and Jethro and team, or G, in NCIS was always a viewing highlight.
Then I had to write about them. Hmm. We all know how TV likes to apply artistic license to things, so how to find out more?
The internet, of course!
Both organisations have extensive websites with links to all sorts of fantastic information. From the Navy JAG (each branch of the military has one) I was able to gain access to JAGMAN – JAG Manual – plus the Uniformed Code of Justice. Links to courts, trial information, and the like, also helped. The NCIS site has information on roles, cases, and jurisdiction.
I looked into NCIS when I was writing Seeing Red and at one point I wanted to know how agents address each other. NCIS has a similar organisational structure as the FBI (special agents, Assistant Directors, Special Agents in Charge), and like the FBI they are a civilian organisation. So I took a deep breath and emailed their PR people (some of you already know this). Who responded. Quickly. And with an offer to help if I needed further information. I had the information I needed, and I can also say NCIS emailed me (I know, small things). It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to find information, and how helpful people are.
So what exactly are they?
JAG is the legal branch of the Navy. They do everything from drafting wills and giving advice on home purchases, to prosecuting and defending Navy personnel for a range of charges, right up to murder and treason. They are located on most US Navy bases, including those overseas, plus on board the larger ships.
NCIS are responsible for investigating felonies. These are defined as crimes that have a penalty of over one year’s jail. Many cases are drug and theft related, but they too are responsible for anything up to murder and treason. Like the Navy JAG, NCIS agents are found on the most bases and agents can serve on the larger ships, but must be ready to deploy anywhere around the world when required.
I enjoy writing about these two organisations and they have become special to me. I didn’t expect that kind of bond to happen, but I love keeping up with what goes on in both groups, and no doubt I will do so in the future.
If you’re curious about either of these organisations, below are the links to their websites. Don’t forget to check out the NCIS magazine, and the JAG blog.
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My thoughts on writing, the research I do, and what interests and inspires me as a writer.
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