ST. SIMONS ISLAND - A deck of cards and well-practiced patter are as essential as Glenn Hester's badge, gun and handcuffs.
Magic has been part of Hester's police work throughout his 27-year law enforcement career. The Glynn County patrol officer
has incorporated magic in crime prevention presentations for young children, physics lessons for middle school students and
used his practiced eye for sleight of hand to expose crooked carnival game operators.
Hester, 56, is sharing his experiences as a police magician and carnival game fraud investigator in two recently published
books: "Police Magician: Law Enforcement Legerdemain for Police Prestidigitators and Conjuring Cops" and "Carnival Cop."
About 80 pages each, the books are highlighted with personal anecdotes amid illustrations and photographs detailing the
tricks of the trade. Both are revised, expanded and updated versions of previous manuals authored by Hester, who has taught
law enforcement officers throughout Georgia and in several other states.
"'Police Magician' is about magic with a message. ... It's geared toward law enforcement officers and fellow magicians,"
Because magic is an effective tool to educate and entertain, it can make be incorporated into crime prevention programs
to hold the audience and get across the message, he said. The book details tricks and routines for crime and drug abuse prevention
and for school safety programs.
"The main thing is, when I teach a course, I want it to be interesting and entertaining because then people will remember
it more," he said.
The book includes instructions about using police puppets to teach children about "stranger danger" and how to deal with
bullying," he said.
"Magic was always fun to watch, and I always wanted to know how things were done," Hester said.
At an early age, Hester began studying sleight of hand, the laws of physics and the art of misdirection, all of which combine
to make magic work.
The carnival book focuses on Hester's experiences investigating carnival game fraud beginning when he was started his law
enforcement career as a Sullivan County, N.Y., sheriff's deputy in 1983.
"I have to admit, I love deception. I have since I was a kid and got involved with magic," he said. "On a certain level,
I admire the ingeniousness in the way the fraud is conducted."
His book explains techniques used to rig carnival games, and instructions on how to detect such fraud. Hester honed those
schools after joining the Glynn County Police Department in 1988. Hester said he wanted officers to have the insight they
need to document crooked games so they can bring charges against the operators for fraud.
"Being a magician and knowing about the principles of deception and misdirection helped me spot the deceptive games when
I inspected them at county fairs," he said. "I want this information out there so people can use it to keep from being cheated."
The books were a labor of love and a source of solace for Hester.
He's dedicated the magician book to his father, Glenn Bertrand Hester Sr., who died at age 75; his son, Glenn Bertrand
Hester III, who was murdered at age 3 in 1976; and to his 17-month-old granddaughter, Brianna Kichelle Hester, who was killed
They "made a difference, not only in my life, but also in the lives of many others who knew and loved them," he wrote in
His son's killer served eight years of a life sentence before being paroled, and has since died. The Brunswick man charged
with murder and cruelty to children in Hester's granddaughter's death is awaiting trial.
In dedicating "Carnival Cop" to Brianna's memory, Hester wrote: "I only wish you had lived long enough to visit the carnival
with me." Hester also dedicated that book to his twin daughters, and two grandchildren, whom he described as "the sweetest
con artists I know."
Hester is dedicating his upcoming book about investigating con games to three fallen colleagues, Glynn County police Lt.
Ed Dixon, Officer Elmer Strickland and Capt. Jack Boyet.
"I loved them like brothers," Hester said.
He said that book, tentatively titled "Deceptive Performances," will focus on "street scams, home scams, retail scams,
paranormal phenomena scams, scams against the elderly and some other flim-flams."
His current books were published by a print on demand company. Copies are available for $14 each online at www.lulu.com. For more information, people also can contact Hester at www.policemagic.com.
firstname.lastname@example.org, (912) 264-0405