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Timothy T. Williams: “You have to be current in your craft”

When I wrote this book, the impact I wanted to make was to bring change to the criminal justice system. The system is flawed and it is my job to let the public know the issues that I had to deal with on a regular basis and some of the concerns that I had during […]

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When I wrote this book, the impact I wanted to make was to bring change to the criminal justice system. The system is flawed and it is my job to let the public know the issues that I had to deal with on a regular basis and some of the concerns that I had during my time in law enforcement. I wanted to bring my narrative, my lived experiences, and my thoughts on this matter to the forefront because I believe that it could open up discussions on how we can change policy in order to build trust in our society.


As part of my series about “How to write a book that sparks a movement” I had the pleasure of interviewing Timothy T. Williams, Jr.

Timothy T. Williams, Jr. is a leading national expert on police procedure, use of force and wrongful convictions. He has over 29 years of active law enforcement experience and over 40 years of experience working in the Criminal Justice System. Mr. Williams proudly served in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as a detective, ultimately ascending to the rank of Senior Detective Supervisor and retiring from the elite Robbery-Homicide Division. Mr. Williams is currently the founder and CEO of T. T. Williams, Jr. Investigations, Inc., a company based in Los Angeles, California, that provides industry-leading expertise in cases throughout the United States related to police procedure, use of force, and wrongful conviction.

Since the launch of his consultancy practice in 2003, he has provided expert testimony in more than 200 cases and analysis of over 1,200 cases, including several landmark cases such as the “Grim Sleeper” death penalty trial in Los Angeles, California, and wrongful conviction cases such as the “Englewood Four” out of Chicago, Illinois. Most notably, Williams’ expert analysis in the wrongful murder conviction of Kash D. Register helped to lead to the largest reported settlement, at that time, in an individual civil rights case in the history of Los Angeles, totaling 16.7 million dollars in restitution. Williams has been hired by some of the most recognizable names in law including The Innocence Project, The Cochran Firm, Carl Douglas, Mark Geragos, and Thomas Mesereau. Mr. Williams consistently appears as an expert and contributor on various network, cable, and radio programs including 2020, Good Morning America, CNN, CBS News, Fox News, and Inside Edition. Mr. Wiliams has numerous accolades and he is a nationally sought after speaker regarding police procedure, use of force, and wrongful conviction cases.

To inquire about interviewing Mr. Williams, booking him for speaking opportunities or to purchase his book A Deep Dive: An Expert Analysis on Police Procedure, Use of Force and Wrongful Convictions visit www.timwilliamsjr.com.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?

I grew up in Oakland, California so I have always been exposed to the topic of policing and police brutality. I was always a curious child and I can remember always feeling like I wanted to do great things in this world. I didn’t really know how, but I always knew that my purpose was to bring change for my community and to be able to teach people. So then a few years later, I completed my undergraduate, criminal justice studies at Cal State, Los Angeles. I also served in the military.

I have had a very diverse experience. I was an inner city kid pursuing a career in law enforcement. But I have always been disciplined and had a lot of drive to accomplish a lot of things in my life. I am happy that my experiences can bridge the gap between where I am from and where I have gone and where I am going. I hope that these experiences can inspire every little kid that is growing up in today’s world.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story?

There was a book I read during my time in the Military Called Seize The Time: The Story of The Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton. It was a book written by political activist Bobby Seale. The book begins with an introduction wherein Seale provides an overview of the Black Panther Party as well as calls for people to become activists in the fight for equality. Because I was in the military at the time and it dealt with some of those issues of the sixties, the book really resonated with me. I wouldn’t say it changed my life, but it spoke to some of the issues that were a part of my lived experience.

The book inspired me to be more conscious of situations that are happening around me. It inspired me to be able to discuss these issues with the public. The influences in my career and life are an amalgamation of my lived experiences, the books that I have read, and the people that inspire me. So, that book that I read so long ago was definitely part of my learning experience.

Later when I became an author myself, having those literary influences throughout have definitely inspired me to become a more conscientious thinker, listener, and writer.

What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?

My book discusses Police Procedure and Use-of-Force, and I have over 29 years of experience in law enforcement plus over 40 years of experience working in the Criminal Justice System as a whole. I have been building up to this moment of delivering my message for a very long time.

In recent years, the discussion on police brutality has been put under a microscope, and rightfully so. I believe that it is important for the world to know about the Criminal Justice System. I believe it is the right of the people to know what is going on.

The highly publicized deaths of people such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have really elevated the discussion of police brutality. Throughout my 40 years, there have always been high profile police brutality cases, so it is a topic that is always on everyone’s mind and in their heart.

The series of events that made me decide to bring my message about Police Procedure to the greater world are all of the stories we hear on the news and from members of our community. It seems like my whole life has prepared me to write this book. I am glad that I can get my message out there to the public.

What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?

When I wrote this book, the impact I wanted to make was to bring change to the criminal justice system. The system is flawed and it is my job to let the public know the issues that I had to deal with on a regular basis and some of the concerns that I had during my time in law enforcement. I wanted to bring my narrative, my lived experiences, and my thoughts on this matter to the forefront because I believe that it could open up discussions on how we can change policy in order to build trust in our society.

Did the actual results align with your expectations? Can you explain?

Yes, I believe the results of the book aligned with my expectations. I’m very happy with the way the book turned out; the message of the book has been embraced by many. I have done many interviews and it seems as though the interest and need for the topic of my book has been very well received.

I expected there to be great interest because of the climate we are living in right now in regards to race and policing. This topic is at the forefront of many people’s minds and it is important that people like me, who know a great deal about the topic, share it with the public. Police procedures and trust from the general public will only get better if the national discourse on the subject is open, honest, and embraces different experiences. Because I have so many years of experience in the criminal justice system, my perspective on this subject is very important. Likewise, we also need to allow for the experiences of the people who have been affected by it to be heard, so we have all perspectives in the forefront. I think that, as a society, we will be in a much better place if we embrace everyone’s experiences, not just our own.

What moment let you know that your book had started a movement? Please share a story.

The movement has always been around. I am just here to tell the story and provide my insight based on my experiences. I have lived through a lot in my life and I have a lot of experience with the Criminal Justice System. The movement of policing the police has always been a major topic of discussion, especially in marginalized communities. The fact that the current movement for justice coincided, unplanned, with the publication of my book shows me that my book was necessary to gain some kind of understanding. With the recent death of George Floyd and the outpouring support for the movement from around the world, I believe the book came out when it needed to come out. The public deserves transparency.

What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?

The readers see it as very relevant to what was going on with issues of social justice. A lot of people felt that it should be a relevant read to those working in and out of the Criminal Justice System. I have also heard that the angle and perspective taken in the book was necessary for the times that we are living in today. I am grateful to be able to provide my entire life’s work into a book that is now being embraced by so many people. This is a very teachable moment in history right now: in order to learn and make things better for all Americans, we need people to speak out as much as possible.

I knew that I had a lot to give to this topic and I knew that my experiences could be a valuable resource to the people. I knew that I had to share it, it was only right.

What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book? Can you share a story?

I think that the most fulfilling experiences I have had as a result of writing this book is that it has motivated others to look at their respective disciplines in a new light. It opened up doors to discuss issues that took place before the tragic events that happened with George Floyd and in Minneapolis. Past colleagues of mine in the Criminal Justice System have called me to discuss the book and have told me that they appreciate what I have written. It allowed them to take a deeper look into the Criminal Justice System from another lens, another perspective. An open mind is what we all really need in situations like this. We are all really only living from the view of our own perspectives and in order to have a greater understanding of anything, we need to take off our blinders and try to see the world from someone else’s perspective.

It was extremely fulfilling to hear that my book had that a profound effect on former colleagues of mine.

Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?

I haven’t received any negative feedback yet, though I am sure there are many negative things out there because of the subject matter of the book. I do think there are drawbacks to writing a book such as mine, one that really sheds light on the subject of police procedure. It is a very controversial issue at this current moment in time but then again, it has always been controversial and it will continue to be controversial. It is a catch 22: yes, there are drawbacks because of the very nature of the conversation that needs to be had but the benefits undoubtedly outweigh the skepticism. Police procedure and policy is a colossal conversation to be had but if we don’t have that conversation openly and honestly, then there will always be mistrust and division in our society. We need transparency and the more we try to cover things up and sweep things under the rug, the more we will see civil unrest and mistrust of the Criminal Justice System.

Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?

If you write the truth, unvarnished truth, you can have discussions that can replicate into change.

A lot of things are emotional. Things are said and done often because of emotion. Factual books, or anything that seeks truth, have the effect of stirring away from people’s emotions, and it allows us to get down to real reform. This is especially true in the Criminal Justice System. Just like in 1992 due to Rodney King, hopefully this time we can generate some needed reform.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?

I am a very disciplined person. It was a difficult task but it was a task that had to be done. I had been wanting to write a book for a very long time and it required a lot of discipline, focus, and a strong desire to have your message heard. I had a strong desire to get this message out to the world. There were times when I had a lot going on in my life, but I was always disciplined to finish what I started. I can remember times where I would stay up all night because I had a new thought, a new idea. I put sleep aside, I put leisure time aside, and I really learned to listen to my drive and passion for this particular subject.

The moment of putting out this book was a culmination of 40 years’ worth of experience. When you have 40 years’ worth of anything, you have a strong sense that it is your duty to share your knowledge and experiences with anyone who is willing to listen.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career? Can you share the lesson(s) that you learned?

A lot of people write things that people want to hear. I wrote what people needed to hear. My book wasn’t a romance novel or a fantasy. My book deals with real life, so it wasn’t really a challenge, it was a mission. A mission that I knew I had to take on. Once it is written, it is there forever. What I wrote was the truth. It might have made people uncomfortable, but the truth will always be uncomfortable.

Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book? (please include a story or example for each)

  1. You have to be current in your craft. If your book is not relevant to issues that are current and ongoing, then it will be harder for people to really relate to the message. For instance, my book is coinciding with a major movement that is going on today, as we speak.
  2. There must have been meaningful changes prior to you even writing your book. If it is a topic that no one is really interested in discussing, then the timing of the publication might not be right or you might just be ahead of the time. If you are ahead of your time, then you might just go down in history. In my case, the conversation of police procedure has always been a relevant topic. Over the years, we have had meaningful changes but clearly, the system is still flawed so it was important for me to offer further insight.
  3. In order to make change you have to have leadership qualities. Someone who sparks a movement is conscious of what needs to be done and they are conscious of what they need to do to get it done. I have deeply focused on being a leader in my discipline and with those roles of leadership, I have always been prepared to be brave enough to be a voice for my craft. If you want to make an impact, you can’t be afraid to be the center of attention. Because it is that attention that will give you a platform to make an impact.
  4. You have to be able to have great moral communication skills. The way we communicate, especially in the literary world, is very important. The message will get lost if strong moral communication is not present. No one will want to listen to a message that does not align with values that are good and morals that are pure. Infamy does not really make an impact. Infamy starts a conversation but in the long run, morals and goodness always win.
  5. Lastly, you have to be a good reader. If you can read well, you can write well.

The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you!) starts next? Can you explain why that is so important?

What the world needs is reform. I would like to see the generation behind me start that process. My generation laid a template out for them to follow. A good leader has to be a good follower. One of my favorite quotes by Colin Powell: “Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.”

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/company/t-t-wiliiams-jr-investigations-inc/

Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.

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