For years, comic book fans scanned the back pages to view ads telling them how they could, for a single dollar, receive a 7-foot-tall Frakenstein’s Monster with glowing eyes, or a genuine invisible space helmet for the low, low cost of $2.98. And then there were the ads for 32-page books on how to achieve a “He-Man Body” for only $1.00. A bowl full of amazing Sea Monkeys—instant pets—for $1.25. A 7-foot nuclear submarine big enough for two people, a steal for only $6.98. Readers could even enter a contest to win a live miniature monkey.

But a favorite ad that captured the imaginations of many youngsters was the one for X-Ray Spex. Why, with a pair of those it was promised that we, like Superman, could amaze our friends with our newfound ability to see through walls, skin, and clothing. That’s right, for the low, low sum of just $1.00 (plus $.25 for shipping and handling), anyone and everyone could see the goings-on beneath the clothing of, well, anyone. This was huge! There were to be no more secrets. And the coolness didn’t stop with a peek at Sally Sue’s knickers and Billy Bob’s Fruit of the Looms. With these high-tech glasses, kids everywhere had an inside track to the bones and organs inside the human body.

Okay, these were obvious scams. The life-size monster was a large poster. Sea monkeys were miniature shrimp that only lived for a brief time. The submarine was a cardboard contraption that would dissolve if immersed in water. And the X-ray glasses … nothing more than plastic glasses filled with cardboard inserts with a picture of the things you could see if you had X-ray vision.

Things have changed, though, thanks to a company called MaXentric Technologies and their device, DepLife™, which provides first responders with the Supermanish capability of seeing through walls at distances of up to 30 feet.

This truly is an amazing bit of technology that uses radar to detect movement through solid structures, including drywall, siding, and stucco. DepLife can clearly distinguish between living things (people, etc.) and inanimate objects such as ceiling fans and robotic vacuums.

Law enforcement finds the device particularly useful when confronted with suspects who have barricaded themselves inside buildings during hostage and other incidents where situational awareness is key to saving lives. DepLife also provides crucial real-time information while investigating human trafficking cases.

The device works by transmitting radio wave pulses to hit objects inside structures. Those waves then return (reflect) back to the radar unit. The series of pulses occurs numerous times per second, enabling it to detect the smallest of movements, including human breathing. The capturing of these specific movements tells the device that it has indeed detected life.

The images captured by DepLife are streamed from the radar unit to a user interface that’s similar to the tablets we all use. Signals are transmitted by locally generated WiFi. The image seen by officers is a crossrange birds-eye view of the interior of the building. The software uses icons to depict the presence of life.

DepLife software uses icons to depict the presence of life. This is NOT an actual DepLife image. However, it is similar in style to what’s seen on the monitor.

To learn more about DepLife and MaXentric Technologies, click here.

If you’d rather stick to the old-style comic book X-Ray Spex, click the image below.


2024 Killer Con registration opens in January 2024.

Be ready to sign up because this is a KILLER event that’s not to be missed!

Visit a homicide scene and solve the case using tactics, tools, and techniques learned throughout the event.

2024 Killer Con Guest of Honor is internally bestselling author Charlaine Harris.

Click the link below to visit the Killer Con (Writers’ Police Academy) website to view the schedule of events, classes, instructors, and special guest presenters.

2024 Killer Con

Fictional characters aren’t always as savvy as they’d like us to believe. They’re not human. They make mistakes. And some of those errors, especially those made by characters in crime fiction, involve guns. For example, I’ve known a handful of make-believe cops and criminals who didn’t know the difference between smokeless powder and cordite, and that cordite use in ammunition ceased at the end of WWII.

And there’s this, the differences between revolvers and pistols.


The term “Pistol” means a weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having:

  • a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s);
  • and a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Pistol nomenclature (below).



The term “Revolver” means a projectile weapon of the pistol type, having a breechloading chambered cylinder so arranged that the cocking of the hammer or movement of the trigger rotates it and brings the next cartridge in line with the barrel for firing.

Revolver nomenclature (below).


Semi-autos and fully automatic (machine guns) automatically eject spent cartridges. Revolvers DO NOT. Therefore, writers, chances are slim and mostly none of finding empty revolver cartridges at a crime scene. Please remember this when writing the “aha” moment in your WIP.

Fun Stuff

Can you spot the errors in the text below? Hint – there are more than five, and each is something I’ve read in a book or manuscript.

Mr. Heeza Dilly, a former police captain, was a fire arms instructor back in the day. His specialty was handguns and he taught recruits how to shoot them safely and efficiently. He also showed them how to properly fit revolvers with silencers, and how to avoid being hit with hot brass at it’s automatically ejected from the chamber of a revolver.

Of course, he made it a point to highlight the importance of always keeping safeties switched to the ON position on both Glock and SIG Sauer semi-automatic pistols. After all, all cops are always trained to carry weapons with the safeties on, and without a round in the chamber. These rules are no-brainers according to Dilly, because they 100% prevent the accidental discharge of the officer’s fire arm.

Other tips shared by Dilly were:

  • Always surrender your weapon to a bad guy if he demands that you do so while aiming his gun at you or a hostage.
  • Never use two hands when firing a handgun, because you need a free hand to: operate your portable radio to call for backup, gesture to a suspect and/or fellow officers, stop traffic, or hold handcuffs in preparation of the arrest.
  • When working in plainclothes, always store your handgun tucked inside your belt and pants at the small of your back.
  • Keep in mind that all revolver cylinders rotate clockwise, never counterclockwise.
  • It’s quite easy to tell the caliber of bullet used in a homicide merely by looking at the size of an entrance or exit wound.
  • A semi-automatic weapon, such as a Glock 9mm pistol or AR-15 rifle, fires only once per pull of the trigger (only one round fired each time the trigger is pulled).
  • Machine guns (mega-expensive, fully-automatic weapons that require special, federally mandated licenses to own) fire multiple rounds with a single, continuous pull of the trigger. As long as the trigger remains depressed, a fully automatic weapon will continue to fire until ammunition is depleted.

May you legally own a machine gun (a fully-automatic weapon)? Click here to find out.

*The above pistol and revolver graphics, nomenclature, and accompanying text are from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). Thanks to the folks at ATF for allowing the reproduction and use.

The information in the article above is factual. It’s up to writers to incorporate it into fiction as they see fit, if at all. Keep in mind that, while factually incorrect, many people refer to all handguns as pistols. Therefore, when writing dialog your characters should say things and use terminology readers expect to hear/read. Of course, if the character is a firearms expert …

Short of stationing armed guards at each entrance and surrounding properties with moats stocked with aggressive crocodiles, protecting public buildings, such as shopping malls, schools, and churches, against attackers and mass shooters has become extremely challenging.

In all fairness to the folks in charge of security in venues and buildings designed for gatherings of large numbers of people, screening every single person who enters a crowded shopping mall and its adjacent parking lots and garages would be nearly impossible. They face a huge problem that comes without a single, solid solution.

The responsibility of keeping the public safe from the harm caused by a shooter is a daunting task, as is detecting that lone person among hundreds or even thousands of people who’re focused on shopping. Then there’s the job of protecting the innocent kids who’re seated in classrooms while learning the lessons of the day. And there’s the store clerk who’s at risk of being robbed by an armed suspect. The list of potential targets and victims and why they are targets and victims is long and grows longer.

Better proactive approaches to the problem of mass shooters are needed in addition to the typical reactive responses. Stop the threat BEFORE the damage is done.

Sure, digging moats around schools and adding several dozen angry and hungry crocs to the water is indeed a proactive option that would certainly deter an evil person from carrying out their plan to hurt innocent people. However, it goes without saying that the croc/moat idea is not feasible.

Realistic plans that work and work well are greatly needed. After all, we’ve seen horrific mass shootings occur within the past few days and we simply do not know when or where the next will happen. Sadly, it’s not a question of “if” another shooting will takes place. The question is “when.”

So, a University of Miami School of Education and Human Development associate clinical professor called Brian Arwari decided he’d take matters into his own hands. He devised a plan that could stop would-be shooters in their tracks, preventing a deadly scenario without firing a single shot, and without crocodiles, razor wire, or dozens of heavily armed officers positioned throughout school corridors and cafeterias.

Specifically, Arwari is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Sciences at the university. To assist him with the project, he called upon graduate engineering student Luis Carlos Diaz to help him bring his idea to fruition. It was a three-year process.

Together, professor and student developed what they named Lightguard, or The Lightguard Security System, devices working on the theory that a person’s nervous system seesaws between relaxed and steady and fight or flight mode.

When activated by a quick push of a button, Lightguard produces thousands of lumens of flashing light in random patterns. The intensity of the flashing lights temporarily impairs an attacker’s vision to the point that they’re basically blind for up to 20 seconds.

Partial visual impairment could last even longer. The process can be repeated as long as necessary to allow the assailant’s targets to escape the danger, or until rapidly responding law enforcement arrives to take over.

These extremely brilliant, strong lights that flash in random patterns instantly send the attacker into flight mode, switching off their desire to attack and making them desire to flee as quickly as possible.

Assailants loose control after a sudden and unexpected event. In this circumstance, pre-planned behavior immediately stops ~

Lightguard mechanisms are installed in “choke points,” areas of a building where the attacker is forced to walk through, such as a narrowed section of a foyer or corridor in a location prior to contacting students, customers, etc.

Not only is Lightguaurd an option for public facilities, they can also be be used in private homes, stores, gas stations, and other businesses.

Multiple devices may be installed in as many locations as needed and, when activated, they automatically alert law enforcement and others who are considered crucial to the required emergency response.

The flashing pattern causes disorientation and nausea, which helps disable the aggressor ~


“Oh, cut loose like a deuce, another runner in the night
Blinded by the light”

~ Bruce Springsteen

Cops and bad guys often speak in unique language, and without a translator citizens sometimes feel left out of the conversation. To help you understand and to incorporate that special language into works of fiction, here are a few terms worth remembering and maybe inserting into a tale or two.

AB: Member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang.

ALPR: Automated license plate recognition system.


*Credit – U.S. Department of Homeland Security


ASP: Trade name for an expandable baton used by law enforcement officers. See ASP.

ATL: Attempt to locate – a directive to find a missing or wanted person.

BAC: The blood alcohol content of a person. Had a couple of drinks? Click here to check your BAC.

Basketweave: An embossed design stamped into leather duty belts, handcuff cases, etc.

Beater: Vehicle in less than desirable condition. “Is Warren still driving that same old beater?”

Big Key: Battering ram used to break down doors.

2023 Writers’ Police Academy attendees have the opportunity to use a battering ram during the class “Forced Entry – The Search For, And Capture, Of An Armed Suspect.” As an added bonus, explosive devices are used during this  exciting session; therefore, participants may be required to wear protective gear during this thrilling hands-on exercise.

BOLO: Be on the look out. (NOT APB!). “I’ve issued a BOLO for the missing person/stolen vehicle/suspect.”

Bronx Roll/California Stop: Failure to stop completely at a stop sign. Driver slowly rolls past a stop sign into an intersection to continue traveling.

CompStat: A numbers-driven management tool to track crimes and police activity. Wilmington Delaware Comsat Reports and Mapping (includes data from 2023).

Dog Worthy: K-9 officer’s assessment of a scene as to whether they believe it would be worthwhile to have their dog to conduct a search, or not. “I’m sorry Sergeant, but with the presence of the enormous amount of spilled diesel fuel on the ground, I don’t believe the area is dog worthy.”

DV: Domestic violence.

Dusted: Under the influence of PCP.

Street names for PCP include Angel Dust, Boat, Crystal, Embalming Fluid, Hog, Ozone, Rocket Fuel, Shermans, Supergrass, Tic Tac, Wack, Zoom. To learn more about PCP, click here.

EDP: Emotionally disturbed person.

Eyeball: to view or observe something/someone.

Flip a Sign: Hand signs used as a means of communication between criminals.

FOP: Fraternal Order of Police. The learn about the FOP, click here.

Get Small: To get away/escape/disappear.

Good For It: Have sufficient probable cause for arrest. “Yeah, Fred, with the DNA, fingerprints, and that he had the murder weapon in his pocket, I think he’s good for it.”

HGN: Horizontal gaze nystagmus, a physiological sign intoxication.

Hit & Split: Leave the scene of a vehicle crash.

Hit the Bricks: To begin a patrol shift/depart the police station. “Okay, folks, it’s time to hit the bricks,” said Sergeant Ima N. Charge at the conclusion of the evening briefing.

Hobble: A nylon cord with snap hooks on one or both ends, used to secure the feet and legs of a combative suspect. Click here to see the RIPP™ HOBBLE device.

In the Wind: Flee on foot, escape custody, disappear. “We lost him, Lieutenant. He’s in the wind.”

OIC: Officer in Charge.

OIS: Officer-involved shooting.

Overheads: Emergency lights on the roof of a police car/vehicle. “Jenkins, you forgot to switch off your overheads after your last traffic stop. Weren’t you suspicious when everyone pulled over when you got behind them?” 

PC: The minimum standard of evidence required to make an arrest.

Peerless: A popular brand of handcuffs used by law enforcement, manufactured and sold by the Peerless Handcuff Company.

Player: Suspect.

Rabbit: To run from police/the act of running. “Watch him, Sally. He’ll rabbit at the drop of hat.”

Run Code: Responding to a location with emergency lights and siren activated. “Unit 4561, robbery in progress at 666 Manson Lane. Run code.”

Sam Browne Belt: Law enforcement officer’s equipment/duty belt that holds holster, handcuffs, radio/ pepper spray, baton, and other equipment. Click here to view the Sam Browne Belt.

Slim Jim: A blade-like tool used to open vehicle doors without a key.


Slim Jim



Notches used for “hooking” the lock rod and other mechanisms

Tw read more about Slim Jims, here’s a link to a previous blog article:


SO: Sheriff’s office.

Did You Know?

Sheriffs and sheriff’s deputies in the state of Delaware are NOT authorized to make arrests in criminal cases. They do not have police powers.

SRO: School resource officer

Tweaker: Habitual user of methamphetamine

VICAP: Violent Criminal Apprehension Program

Click the links below to learn more about VICAP.

FBI Violent Criminal Apprehension Program Career Information

FBI Most Wanted – VICAP

2023 Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) registration is scheduled to open February 1, 2023. In the meantime, please visit us at to view the schedule of events, a complete list of classes and instructor bios and photos, hotel information, the special Thursday afternoon session—Touch a Truck and Ask the Experts, and other details.

Reserve Your Room Early!

Hilton Appleton Hotel Paper Valley
333 W College Ave, Appleton, Wi. 54911

For reservations, call 1-800-774-1500 and Ask for the Hilton Appleton Paper Valley Hotel and the Writers Police Academy Block.

Click here for Online Reservations

The event begins at noon on Thursday June 8, 2023. It is highly recommended that you reserve your room from Wednesday June 7 – Sunday June 11 to take full advantage of the exciting activities.

Questions? Please contact Lee Lofland at

Experts are often asked what kinds of entrance and exit wounds are produced by various types of ammunition. The answers to those questions are simple … it depends.

The rounds in the photograph below feature hollow point bullets similar to the rounds fired from the Thompson sub-machine gun I’m holding in the top and quite ancient photo. I pulled the picture from the buried crypt where I keep my old cop stuff.


.45 rounds and magazine

The .45 caliber rounds above are approximately the diameter of the Sharpie pens many authors use to sign books. That’s pretty close to the size of most entrance wounds inflicted when .45 caliber rounds pierce the flesh.

Pictured below is an entrance wound caused by 9mm round at point blank range, a close contact gunshot wound. Obviously, this was a fatal wound since I took this picture during the autopsy of the victim. Note the post-autopsy stitching of the “Y” incision (above right of the photo).

Also notice the charred flesh around the wound. This was caused by the heat of the round and burning powder as it contacted the victim’s skin. The bruising around the wound was, of course, caused by the impact.


9mm bullet wound to the chest—close range.

Next is one of the .45  rounds after it was fired from a Thompson machine gun.

Firing the Thompson at a sheriff’s office indoor range in Ohio. Notice the piece of ejected brass to the right of the major’s arm. I took the photo and was lucky enough to capture the shot of the brass casing during its fall to the floor.

The round passed through the paper target, through several feet of thick foam rubber, through the self-healing wall tiles of the firing range, and then struck the concrete and steel wall behind the foam. The deformed bullet finally came to rest on the floor. Keep in mind, though, that this all occurred in the blink of an eye, or quicker.

The above image shows a .45 round (above left between the 3″ and 4″ mark on the ruler) after a head-on strike with concrete and steel. The other distorting of bullets occurred when striking various surfaces from a variety of angles—ricochet rounds.

Bullet or Cartridge? Are You Writing it Wrong?

A bullet is the projectile portion of a cartridge, not the entire round.

4 components of a cartridge are the casing, primer, powder, and bullet

Casing: The container, such as brass, steel, or copper (pistol and rifle ammunition). Shotgun shell casings are typically made of plastic.

Primer: The primer is an explosive material that ignites the gunpowder when struck by a firing pin. Primers are located either in the center of of the base of the casing (centerfire), or in the rim of the base (rimfire).

Powder: The powder used in modern ammunition is smokeless powder, an explosive consisting either of nitrocellulose alone (single-base), or double-base, a combination of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin).

Bullet: The cylindrical and pointed projectile that is expelled from the gun barrel.


A round is a single cartridge – “The magazine holds 15 rounds.”

Hitting the hard solid surface head-on caused the .45 bullet to expand and fracture which creates the often larger exit wounds we see in shooting victims.

Many times, those bullet slivers break off inside the body causing further internal damage.

The size of an exit wound also depends on what the bullet hits inside the body. If the bullet only hits soft tissue the wound will be less traumatic. If it hits bone, expect much more damage. Easy rule of thumb—the larger the caliber (bullet size), the bigger the hole.

Bullets that hit something other than their intended target, such as a brick wall or metal lamp post, can break apart sending pieces of flying copper and lead fragments (shrapnel) into crowds of innocent bystanders. Those flying ricochet fragments are just as lethal as as any intact, full-sized bullet.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Bullets don’t always stop people. I’ve seen shooting victims get up and run after they’ve been shot several times. And for goodness sake, people don’t fly twenty feet backward after they’ve been struck by a bullet. They just fall down and bleed. They may even moan a lot, or curse. That’s if they don’t get back up and start shooting again. Simply because a suspect has been shot once or twice does not mean his ability, or desire, to kill someone is over, and that, writers, is why police officers are taught to shoot until the threat is over.

The bank robber I shot and killed during a shootout fell after each of the five rounds hit him. But he also stood and began firing again after each of my bullets struck—one to the head and four to the center of his chest area. After the fifth round he stood and charged officers. Four of the five rounds caused fatal wounds. Yet, he still stood and ran toward officers. I and a sheriff’s captain tackled and cuffed him. In another instance, a man engaged in a gun battle with several officers. He was shot 33 times and still continued walking toward officers.

Always keep Sir Isaac Newton and his Third Law of Motion in mind when writing shooting scenes. The size of the force on the first object must equal the size of the force on the second object—force always comes in pairs.

Here’s Professor Dave to explain …


So, if your scene shows the shooting victim flying that twenty feet away from the person firing the rounds, the shooter would also fly twenty feet in the opposite direction. Ah, sounds silly, right? So toss this one in the trash can along with the use of cordite. No, no, and NO!

Equal and Opposite Reaction—Newton’s Cradle

Writers of various genres are forever devising clever ways to send murder victims to their graves with undetected causes of death. One such favored method, poisoning, has proven quite reliable on the written page.

Here are a few of the deadly toxins that thrive naturally. Why, even your spouses could get their hands on them. Yeah, keep that in mind the next time you decide to argue when you know you’re absolutely wrong.



Belladonna, often called nightshade, is a popular ornamental plant. It’s name means “beautiful woman” in Italian. A single six or seven drop dose derived from the plant’s toxic parts (roots, leaves, and berries) can cause death within a few hours. Victims could also suffer miserably for a few days before succumbing to the plant.

Symptoms include increased heart rate, rapid pulse and respiration, fever, convulsions, and coma. Some have said belladonna poisoning even causes a loud heartbeat that can be heard from several feet away.


Belladonna is also known as Belle-Dame, Belle-Galante, Bouton Noir, Deadly Nightshade, Devil’s Cherries, Devil’s Herb, Dwale, Dwayberry, Grande Morelle, Guigne de la Côte, Herbe à la Mort, Herbe du Diable, Naughty Man’s Cherries, and Poison Black Cherries, and more.

Jimson weed

Jimson weed

Jimson weed is a potentially deadly plant that’s sometimes abused as a hallucinogen. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the leaves and seeds contain the highest concentration of atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine.

Street Names for Jimson Weed: Thornapple, stinkweed, locoweed, augushka, ditch weed, devil’s snare, devil’s seed, devil’s trumpet, Korean morning glory, Jamestown weed, angel’s trumpet, beelzebub’s twinkie, madhatter, and crazy tea ~ DEA

A single jimson weed seed pod can contain as many as 100 individual seeds. One hundred jimson weed seeds contain approximately 6 mg of atropine. A dose of atropine exceeding 10 mg is regarded as potentially lethal.

Ingestion of jimson weed produces the toxidrome—a group of symptoms associated with exposure to a particular poison—of anticholinergic intoxication. The classic signs and symptoms of anticholinergic intoxication include “dry, flushed skin; hallucinations; agitation; hyperthermia; urinary retention; delayed intestinal motility; tachycardia; and episodes of seizure. The mnemonic for anticholinergic symptoms—“’blind as a bat, dry as a bone, red as a beet, mad as a hatter, and hot as a hare.'” ~ National Library of Medicine.

Prison inmates working on roadside cleanup crews often harvest the plant’s tiny black seeds that, when consumed, produce the unusual high that’s associated with this prickly plant.

Jimsonweed seed pod containing dozens of tiny, black seeds

Jimsonweed seed pods contain as many as 100 tiny, black seeds

For example …

Once, while working as a corrections officer inside a maximum security facility, I overheard a young inmate who was straining his vocal chords to loudly imitate the sounds of a motorcycle engine. And, amid the vrooms, zooms, growls, roars, and revving and snarling motor noises, were brief chuckles, giggles, and an imaginary argument with an imaginary fellow biker the man referred to as Buck. Buck was, as I later understood, fully-clothed in biker attire, including  a helmet. Buck’s imaginary appearance was in sharp contrast to the the very real and absolutely naked faux-biker inmate. Buck, as explained to me, was quite the acrobat and trick-rider.

Obviously, one of the major side effects of Jimsonweed consumption is delirium, and this guy’s hallucinations were working overtime as I rounded the corner of the open-stalled bathroom area.

Yes, the incarcerated man was totally nude and seated (you know where), as the seed-induced trip caused him to perch his bare bottom atop an imaginary big old flush-capable Harley,. He held his hands as if they were gripping handlebars, throttle, and brake controls, and he was pushing his fictitious bike to its limits. His body leaned forward over “the handlebars” to reduce wind friction, I supposed, and he did so while laughing like a madman, in short bursts of chimp-like squeals and screeches.

When he saw me his lips split into a tight grin as he wiggled his stubby and grubby fingers in my direction. The gesture was a childlike bye-bye wave aimed at me just before throttling the steel toilet into high gear. He shouted a few words to Buck (above the engine sounds) and he leaned further toward the front tire, crouching low while turning the throttle as far as mechanically possible. I assumed that he and Buck were riding off toward the horizon to avoid capture. They were doing 180 mph, or more. A guess, of course, because I didn’t have a radar unit handy. Not much need for one inside a prison bathroom, you know.

Their high rate of speed didn’t work, though. No match for my shiny and black fake leather shoes. Yes, miraculously, I was able to effectively pursue and catch up to the pair—the inmate and Buck—on foot.

I easily apprehended the desperados and carted both to the medical department. Buck was released and soon disappeared. The prisoner, after a short stay in the infirmary because of his consumption of homemade jimson weed tea, spent a few weeks in “the hole.”

In addition to delirium, other jimsonweed side effects are blurred vision vertigo, blindness, involuntary movements, convulsions, coma, and sometimes death.

At the opposite end of its risky use, jimson weed has been used in traditional medicine to treat madness, epilepsy, and depression. Its extracts are still used today for the treatment of asthma, intestinal cramps, diarrhea and even bed-wetting. In the U.S., over the counter drugs containing jimpson weed are banned by the FDA.

Jimson weed is not a scheduled drug (in the U.S.); however, some states have banned its possession and/or distribution.

*The largest single outbreak of jimson weed poisoning—293 suspected cases—occurred in 2019, in Uganda, where villagers consumed contaminated corn-soy relief food sourced from Turkey, by way of Mombasa, Kenya. Five deaths were reported.

*Jimsonweed has a shallow root system and is easily eradicated by hand-weeding, especially as a young plant. Contact with plant parts is of no danger. Broadleaf herbicides such as 2,4-D, a broadleaf weed killer I use in our yard to control weeds such as pesky plantain, and to prevent the growth and spreading of unwanted ground cover such as pachysandra, provides good control of jimson weed.

Plantain - weed

Plantain – weed

Lilly of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley

Lilly of the Valley, aka Our Lady’s Tears, is found throughout the United States and Canada. The plants toxicity level is quite high, a level six, and causes an immediate reaction to the unsuspecting victim. Even the water in which the plant’s cut flowers are kept is deadly. Symptoms include, hallucinations, vomiting, clammy skin, hot flashes, coma, and death.

With the current situation involving the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and with Russia’s cyberattacks on other countries, it should not be surprising to anyone that Russian spies live and work within the U.S.

Elena Branson, also known as Elena Chernykh, is one of those Russian spies.

Branson was born in the Soviet Union, emigrated to the U.S. at 30, and less than a decade later became an American citizen. Then, ten years later, or so, she began her work as a spy for the Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin.

Some of Branson’s duties as a spy included spreading and promoting pro-Kremlin propaganda for the purpose of networking Russian citizens with prominent Americans, arrange meetings between Moscow officials and U.S. politicians, help Russian nationals apply for visas to enter the United States under false pretenses. She even founded and operated a Russian propaganda center in New York City, called the Russian Center New York.

Elena Branson/Elena Chernykh corresponded directly with Putin and other Kremlin officials. In 2020, she was questioned by the FBI, and shortly after meeting with federal law enforcement she fled the U.S. and is currently hiding somewhere in Russia. The U.S. filed numerous federal charges against her, and if she’s found, tried, and convicted, she faces up to 35 years in prison.

Read the criminal complaint below. Click the arrows at the lower left of the document to advance to the next page, or to go to previous pages.


Spy v. Spy

The spy business has been around for a long time, thousands of years. Egyptian surveillance operations sought foreign intelligence about the political and military strength and weaknesses of Greece and Rome.  Early Greeks used deception and spying to help formulate surprise attacks on their enemies. Sun Tzu of China wrote The Art of War, which contained text dedicated to the use of spies on the battlefield and for private assignments.

The Roman Empire engaged in espionage, as did the Catholic Church and the Crusades, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Cold War and WWII atomic spies, the Verona Project, undercover police, police informants, labor spies, covert agents, double agents, corporate espionage, wiretaps, Amazon Alexa, social media data mining, and the list goes on and on.

Spies, spies, everywhere you look … spies, and things were no different in 1863 when a tough, determined woman who stood barely of five-feet-tall became a spy for the Union Army. This courageous woman was, of course, Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman.

Harriet Tubman was born as Araminta Ross, around 1822, at the Anthony Thompson plantation on Harrisville Road in Dorchester County, Maryland. Harrisville Road, little more than a good stone’s throw from Cambridge, Maryland, is nestled between the waterways of Church Creek, Blackwater River, Little Choptank River, Fishing Creek, and the larger Choptank River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay.

Araminta, called “Minty by her parents, was one of about 40 people enslaved by Anthony Thompson. Araminta’s mother, Harriet (“Rit”) Green, worked as a cook in the Thompson plantation’s main house. Her father, Benjamin Ross, served as a timber worker. At the age of five, Araminta was rented out as a nursemaid. At seven she was again rented out, this time as a muskrat trapper. Later, while she toiled as a field hand, she changed her name to from Araminta to Harriet to honor her mother.

In 1840 Harriet’s father was set free; however, she and her mother and siblings were to remain as slaves. In that same year, Harriet married John Tubman, a free Black man. Their marriage, though, was troublesome. That, and learning her two brothers were about to be sold, gave Harriet cause to plan an escape to Pennsylvania by way of the Underground Railroad, and to take her siblings with her. This, helping slaves reach their freedom, was a role Harriet Tubman would repeat many times.

Harriot (far left) with family and friends

Harriet: Spy and Cunning Military Leader

In 1861, in the early stages of the Civil War, Harriet was recruited to help fugitive slaves at Fort Monroe, a Union military installation where she served in a variety of roles, such as cooking, and as a nurse, using her vast knowledge of herbal remedies to heal both slaves and soldiers. She also assisted with laundry duties.

Two years later, in 1863, Harriet, a woman who could not read nor write, took charge of a highly dangerous spying and scouting network for the Union Army, providing vital information to Union leaders about Confederate Army troops and troop movements.

She partnered with Colonel James Montgomery, the commander of the Second South Carolina Volunteers, a Black regiment, to plan a raid along the Combahee River. Their mission was to rescue enslaved people and recruit the freed men into the Union Army. Then they’d demolish some of the flushest rice plantations in the area.

Montgomery and Tubman, on the federal ship the John Adams, led two other gunboats out of the St. Helena Sound in South Carolina towards the Combahee River. To safely navigate the waters and to avoid being blown to bits by enemy cannon fire, the ship captains and their crews relied on the intelligence gathered by Tubman and her eight top scouts.

Tubman led a charge of 150 men in a raid that freed 700 slaves from the grasp of rebel soldiers. Soldiers from both Montgomery’s gunboat and Tubman’s then went to work burning plantations, fields and crops, mills, granaries and manors, and they used gunfire from their boats to demolish a vital pontoon bridge used by the Confederacy.

As a direct result of Tubman’s skill and bravery, the mission was a success.

Harriet Tubman was never paid for her services.

Long Wharf’s History of Slavery, and Freedom

  • Some members of my family made their living fishing and crabbing in the waters around where Harriet Tubman was born and lived.
  • One of my uncles owned a house that Harriet Tubman used as part of her Underground Railroad.
  • When times were hard, like Harriet Tubman, my grandfather and great-grandfather trapped and cooked muskrats. Not a pleasant sight to see in a pot on the stove.
  • The Choptank River was a commercial artery used to ship timber, tobacco, and farm products. It was also a route used to transport captive Africans who were unloaded at Long Wharf, in Cambridge. From there the slaves were shipped to southern plantations. On the other hand, the Choptank River, as part of the Underground Railroad, was used by escaping slaves who  followed it northward into Delaware, and freedom.
  • Long Wharf Park is located at the end of High Street, a historic brick-paved street lined with magnificent homes from back “in the day.” Today, the street ends at a large picturesque marina for boats of any size, including naval vessels.
Long Wharf was used both by slave traders and by slaves who followed the Choptank River to their freedom

Long Wharf, Cambridge, Md.

  • Many of my fondest memories are of the summers I spent with with my grandparents who lived in the area. Nearly every day we were out on the Choptank’s salty water, fishing and crabbing ,or swimming. We’d also try our luck at catching fish in Church Creek, Blackwater River, Little Choptank River, and Fishing Creek, near Harriet Tubman’s birthplace. I carried on the tradition by taking our daughter there, starting when she was quite young. One day, as we stood on Long Wharf, taking in the sights and smells of the Choptank, a large group of seagulls flew in and landed near Ellen’s tiny little girl feet. She quickly turned toward me with excitement in her eyes and exclaimed, “Look at all the penguins, Daddy!” I never forget that as long as I live, and will always smile at her sweet innocense when I do.

Still, you can’t take a step around there without sensing the presence of Harriet Tubman and her story. And what a story it is.

This week, The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center in Church Creek, Maryland (Stop #13 on the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway) launches the “Tubman 200 Celebration.”

The celebration includes a livestream video on Friday, March 11, 2022, that’s open to all:


7 p.m. – Virtual Premier of “Rooted Wisdom: Nature’s Role in the Underground Railroad”
This film chronicles the experiences of freedom seekers’ journeys through the wilderness. The documentary film will stream live on Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m at The virtual event is free and open to all, though registration is encouraged at A panel discussion with historians and filmmakers will follow. Register online to attend on the website at

I’ve already reserved our spot for the livestream.

And, if you’re in the area, the other weekend events are:


10 a.m. – Opening ceremony featuring a living history interpretation by Millicent Sparks

11 a.m. – “The Discovery of the Ben Ross Homesite”
Hear from Dr. Julie Schablitsky of the Maryland Department of Transportation about the successful effort to locate and excavate the homesite of Ben Ross. The artifacts are on display for the first time at the Visitor Center for the entire month of March.

12 p.m. – “Foraging Freedom: Experiencing the Natural World of the Underground Railroad”
Join an interactive walking tour with historian Anthony Cohen through the Legacy Garden and adjacent Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Participants should expect to be on their feet and are encouraged to wear comfortable all-weather shoes.

1 p.m. – “Jubilee Voices at Harriet’s House”
Hear the Washington Revels Jubilee Voices during the Tubman 200th festivities. Jubilee Voices is an ensemble that is committed to the preservation of African American history and traditions through songs and storytelling.

2 p.m. – “The Education of Harriet Ross Tubman”
Kate Clifford Larson, a Tubman biographer, discusses the free and enslaved people who helped raise, protect, nurture, and educate Minty to become the woman we know as Harriet Tubman.

3 p.m. – “‘Designing a New Place to Experience History: An Exploration of the Architects”
Listen to Chris Elcock, associate principal of the architecture firm GWWO Inc., as he explains the design process behind creating the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center


10 a.m. – “Meet Harriet Tubman”
Living history interpreter Millicent Sparks performs as Tubman and shares her monumental life with audience members.

11 a.m. – “The Hidden Chesapeake Through Harriet Tubman’s Eyes”
Kate Clifford Larson, a Tubman biographer, shares about some of the places around the Chesapeake Bay that bear witness to the histories, memories, and legacies of the Underground Railroad and its most famous conductor.

12 p.m. – “The Chronicles of Adam”
A powerful and inspirational first-person historical interpretation of an enslaved man by the name of Adam.

1 p.m. – “The Legacy Hour”
Hear from community members and enjoy musical selections from Renna McKinney as we honor the lives of Donald Pinder and Herschel Johnson. During the second half hour, become inspired by Tina Wyatt, great, great, great grandniece of Harriet Tubman as she shares “A Letter to Soph.”

2 p.m. – “The Legacy of Slavery in Maryland”
Chris Haley of the Maryland State Archives presents a general overview of slavery in Maryland, which will include examples of records specifically related to the state and to counties of the Eastern Shore and how both the enslaved and free were affected by the ‘peculiar institution.’

3 p.m. – “Freedom Bound”
Join public historian and historical interpreter Marvin-Alonzo Greer in this family-friendly program with interactive songs and stories.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of Commerce, National Park Service, and other federal, state, and local partners will continue to celebrate and highlight aspects of Tubman’s story throughout the year.

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center, which has just reached its 5th year of operation, has hosted hundreds of thousands of visitors from 70 countries and territories and all 50 states. This state-of-the-art, green facility is managed in partnership with the National Park Service.

*Event schedule above – The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Visitor Center




Writers’ Police Academy
June 2-5, 2022
Green Bay, WI



Would you like to receive a $50 bonus from Writers’ Police Academy, AND free registration to a special WPA Online seminar?
The seminar, taught by Dr. Katherine Ramsland, is “Behavioral Clues at Crime Scenes,” and covers staging, profiling, character development, and more!
Details about this incredible opportunity to be announced very soon.

Last week I wrote about twenty-two-year-old Justine Johnson of Iosco County, Michigan, who told police investigators the fictional cartoon character SpongeBob ordered her to kill her daughter Sutton Mosser. Police did indeed find the remains of almost-two-year-old Sutton.

This week, on February 15, 2022, it was Satan himself—the grand adversary of man, the prince of darkness, the head of the fallen angels—who Tasha L. Haefs, according to a Kansas City police dispatcher, claimed was trying to attack her.

As they approached the front of Haefs’ home, responding officers heard a woman’s voice coming from inside. She was singing. They also witnessed a blood trail leading from the sidewalk to the front door. When they knocked the singing grew louder.

One officer managed to get a peek inside the home and what he observed was nothing short of scene in a horror film—a child’s severed head near the threshold. Fearing that other children may be in imminent danger, officers forced their way inside, where they found Tasha Haefs in the kitchen, with what appeared to be blood on her hands and feet. They also saw, in plain view, two knives, also with apparent blood on them. The woman, who had cuts and scratches on her hands and a puncture wound to her right thigh, was immediately taken into custody.

As is standard practice, officers conducted a sweep of the home, looking for other victims and/or potential suspects. During the sweep they witnessed the knives, a bloody screwdriver, and the body and severed head of Haefs’ six-year-old son. A decapitated dog was found in the basement, as was a knife covered with possible blood and tissue.

When they were certain the house was clear, officers backed out and secured the home while investigators completed the process of obtaining a search warrant.

Haefs admitted to police that she’d killed and decapitated her son in the bathtub.

I wish I could say with confidence that this will be the last unthinkable and horrendous crime committed by a parent against a child; however and unfortunately, we all know better. Sigh …

Click to read more about familicide and attempted familicide

I’ve included a copy of the completed Complaint Warrant Requested form pertaining to this case. Within the document you’ll read the officer’s actual description of details that support the probable cause needed to obtain warrants. I think you may find this information helpful at some point during your future writing. I’ve hidden or deleted contact information and a few other details.



Count I. Murder 1st Degree (565.020-001Y20200902.0)

The Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Jackson, State of Missouri, upon information and belief, charges that the defendant, in violation of Section 565.020, RSMo, committed the class A felony of murder in the first degree punishable upon conviction under Section 565.020, RSMo, in that on or about February 15, 2022, in the County of Jackson, State of Missouri, the defendant after deliberation, knowingly caused the death of  ******* by unknown means, and that the defendant was eighteen years of age or older at the time of the offense.

Count II. Armed Criminal Action (571.015-001Y20205299.)

The Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Jackson, State of Missouri, upon information and belief, charges that the defendant, in violation of Section 571.015, RSMo, committed the felony of armed criminal action, punishable upon conviction under Section 571.015.1, RSMo, in that on or about February 15, 2022, in the County of Jackson, State of Missouri, the defendant committed the felony of murder in the first degree charged in Count I, all allegations of which are incorporated herein by reference, and the defendant committed the foregoing felony of murder in the first degree by, with and through, the knowing use, assistance and aid of a dangerous instrument.page1image1228588384 page1image1228588672

State vs. Tasha Haefs

The facts that form the basis for this information and belief are contained in the statement(s) of facts filed contemporaneously herewith, made a part hereof, and submitted as a basis upon which this court may find the existence of probable cause.

Wherefore, the Prosecuting Attorney prays that an arrest warrant be issued as provided by law.


Prosecuting Attorney Jackson County, Missouri by,

/s/ John G. Gromowsky

John G. Gromowsky (#50700) Assistant Prosecuting Attorney 415 East 12th Street
Floor 7M

Kansas City, MO 64106



  1. DET Bonita Y. Cannon, 1125 Locust, Kansas City, MO 64106
  2. DET Zakary K. Glidewell, 1125 Locust, Kansas City, MO 64106
  3. DET Sean P. Martin, 1125 Locust, Kansas City, MO 64106
  4. DET James H. Price, 1125 Locust, Kansas City, MO 64106
  5. DET Ilinca E. Rusnac, 1125 Locust, Kansas City, MO 64106


7. *XXXX Derek M. Sanders, 1125 Locust, Kansas City, MO 64106

8. DET Nathan S. VanVickle, 1125 Locust, Kansas City, MO 64106


Date: 02/16/2022



page3image1231501280 page3image1231501568

I, Detective Zakary Glidewell, #5549, Kansas City Missouri Police Department (Name and identify law enforcement officer, or person having information as probable cause.)

knowing that false statements on this form are punishable by law, state that the facts contained herein are true.page3image1231533936

I have probable cause to believe that on 02/15/2022 at 7312 Indiana Avenue in Kansas City, (Jackson County) Missouri Haefs, Tasha L. (W/F XXXXXX) committed one or more criminal offense(s).

The facts supporting this belief are as follows:

On 02-15-2022 at 2345 hours, uniformed officers of the Kansas City Missouri Police department were dispatched to 7312 Indiana Ave, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri on a reported disturbance.

Upon arrival officers observed apparent blood on the front steps of the residence as well as apparent blood and hair on the front door of the aforementioned residence. Officers were able to determine the residence was occupied by a female however, she refused to answer the door. During the course of the contact officers learned that multiple children were known to reside in the residence and had not been seen for a few days. Officers while attempting to make contact with the female occupant observed what appeared to be the severed head of a deceased person near the threshold of the residence.

Officers fearing for the safety of any children remaining inside the residence forced entry under exigent circumstances and took the female occupant (Suspect) into custody without incident. A protective sweep of the residence was conducted. During the course of the protective sweep officers located the decapitated body of a young child near the front door of the residence. The female suspect had apparent blood on her person and two knives with apparent blood on them were observed in plain view throughout the residence. No other children were located in the residence. Officers then exited and secured the residence. Detectives from the Kansas City Homicide Unit were notified from the scene.

Detectives applied for and obtained a search warrant for 7312 Indiana Ave Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri 64132 in regard. During the execution of the search warrant detectives located the decapitated body of a young child near the interior threshold of the residence. A knife, knife handle, and a screwdriver with apparent blood and tissue were located on the dining room table. An additional knife with apparent blood and tissue was located in the basement of the residence. The Kansas City Missouri Crime Scene Unit was notified and responded to the scene.

Form 50 P.D. (Rev. 9-2008)

Page 1 of 2


The female suspect who was ultimately identified as Tasha Haefs (W/F XXXXXXX) was transported to police headquarters. Haefs was contacted by detectives on the 7th floor of police headquarters. Haefs was offered food and water and allowed access to restroom facilities. Haefs was advised of her Miranda Rights which she waived and agreed to speak with detectives about the incident.

Haefs provided a detailed formal statement to detectives. Haefs identified the victim as B/M XXXXX her biological child. During the course of the interview Haefs admitted to killing the victim in the bathtub and decapitating the victim.

The Jackson County Medical Examiner has ruled the “Manner of Death” to be Homicide. Haefs was placed on a 24 hour investigative hold and transported to a KCPD Detention facility.

Printed Name Detective Zakary Glidewell #5549 Signature /s/Detective Zakary Glidewell #5549


If only the title of this blog piece were as ridiculous as it sounds. Unfortunately, it is not.

Twenty-two-year-old Justine Johnson of Iosco County, Michigan told police investigators she had received and carried out orders from the fictional cartoon character SpongeBob, who commanded her to kill her daughter Sutton Mosser.

SpongeBob, according to Johnson, said she would die if she didn’t obey his demand. Sutton Mosser, the child, would have turned three just two days after her mother brutally stabbed her to death.

During an interview, Johnson told investigators that she didn’t remember exactly what happened to her daughter Sutton. But she did recall experiencing hallucinations due to a lack of sleep combined with heroin withdrawal. She told police that she’d not been sleeping well for approximately two weeks, and a few days prior to the murder she’d left her mother’s house walking and passed out in a graveyard.

Child Protective Services investigator Ryan Eberline interviewed Justine Johnson in jail after her arrest. He later testified that it was Johnson’s belief, through the TV, that she’d received specific instructions from SpongeBob to take her daughter’s life or “they” would kill her. SpongeBob, she said, was saying those things directly to her. At the time, Johnson said “she was hallucinating, was afraid for her life, and that she’d lost her mind.”

The child’s body was discovered when Johnson’s brother arrived home from work and saw a small foot protruding from a garbage bag outside the home. He reported his finding to police who found the remains of Sutton Mosser. Her body, dressed only in a pink and white disposable diaper, was wrapped in bedding and then placed inside the garbage bag.

Johnson was later located by police and arrested.

Justine Johnson is currently being held in jail without bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 28, 2022.

Since most of you are accomplished writers of crime fiction in some form or another, and many of you have backgrounds in journalism, I’d like to offer the follow paragraph for your review.  Not to take away from the extreme horror of this case, but as a learning tool. It’s from a news source reporting the SpongeBob murder.

Please, read it carefully. I did not make this up. I copied and pasted directly from the article. Yes, this was in a national well-known news publication and was written by someone who actually received money for writing it, a journalist whose credentials read – “a multimedia journalist with more than 10 years of experience in broadcast, digital and print production.”

From the article written by the veteran journalist …

“Officers found Johnson hours after the discovery of her daughter’s body walking along railroad tracks. She told officers she did not want to talk about her child’s death, the affidavit states.”

That’s a line for a novel written by Stephen King or Dean Koontz, not one for real news.

I’m still shaking my head.

Writers’ Police Academy Registration to Reopen Very Soon!

After a week off to repair a severe break in our registration system, we’re pleased to say those fixes are nearly complete and the sign-up process will be back online in a couple of days—hopefully, Thursday or Friday. So stay tuned. We’ve also planned a nice bonus as our way of saying thanks for your patience and understanding during this situation, a first in the 14 years the WPA has been in operation.

Bonus details TBA soon!

Please tell all your friends and ask them to tell their friends!

A well-written book engages a reader’s emotions, as well as each of their five senses—touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste. To do so, writers must call upon their own experiences to breathe life into their characters, setting, and actions.

Crime writers, the folks who take their fans into shootouts, car crashes, explosions, police pursuits, fights, courtroom trials, homicide investigations and crime scenes, and other situations that are highly atypical for the average person, face the reality of not having the background and know-how to draw upon as a resource.

Therefore, because they have no personal experience, writers of crime fiction have only a small handful of “so-so” available options to help with crafting those scenes. And, typically, their research tools are limited to relying on the word of another, read about it, or watch a video.

The results of this type of research often comes across on the page as being “flat,” as if something important is missing. For example, characters lack the knowledge of living cops and robbers, making them not quite up to par with their multi-layered real-life counterparts. Scenes are unbelievable and lack the depth that comes with having “been there, done that.” Dialog suffers because the author doesn’t quite understand the lingo and how and when to use it, other than hearing a television character speak.

The list of potential pitfalls is far too long for the writers who’ve never been involved in a shootout with an armed robber, or investigated a string of murders committed by a serial killer, applied handcuffs to the wrists of a criminal suspect, booked a subject into jail, driven a patrol car on an emergency vehicle training course, been in a deadly force situation where they had to decide whether to shoot someone, or not, fired a gun, tossed a flash-bang into an armed suspect’s home before “going in,” or ripped apart a vehicle using special power equipment.

Each of the above actions invoke the senses of anyone who’s present when they occur. If you’re not a law enforcement officer or other first responder whose job regularly requires involvement in those activities, it’s simply not possible to properly and accurately write those types of scenes in a manner that activates each of the senses.

How could a writer possibly describe the scent of gunpowder if they’ve not smelled it in person. Sure, they could read about it and then use someone else’s words in their work. But if that person’s description was inaccurate, then the story of the writer who used the secondhand information will also suffer the wrath of readers who know better.

A great example is the writer who describes detecting the scent of gunpowder in this way. “The detective knew the murder occurred recently because the odor of cordite lingered in the air.” 

We’ve all read this description time and time again, right? The author who writes this, I’m sad to say, doesn’t have a clue what they’re talking about because cordite hasn’t been used in ammunition since its production ceased in England at the end of World War II, nearly 80-years ago.

No one will smell cordite at a crime scene or anywhere else unless, of course, the 100-year-old shooter used ammo he had leftover from his service during the Battle of Nuremberg in February of 1945.

So what’s a writers to do to solve this dilemma, you ask? Easy, no-brainer answer—attend the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy.

Attending the hands-on sessions at the Writers’ Police Academy is the best and ONLY means you have to experience those things in real-life, in real time, short of signing up to work as a law enforcement officer. There is no substitute for this one of a kind event, anywhere on our planet.

Here’s a preview of some of the 2022 exciting hands-on training sessions and classes taught by top experts.

Arrest and Booking – This session is the real deal. Once you arrive at the jail with a criminal suspect, you’ll take the subject out of the squad car, through the booking process, and finally to a cell, an unforgettable moment that’s punctuated by the sound of a steel door clanging shut behind them. This session includes use of the academy onsite booking area and actual holding cells.

Court Process – Taught by a sitting Wisconsin judge, this course covers the legal implications of bad decisions, from an initial appearance to motions hearings and ultimately a trial. Experience what it’s like to testify in court, recalling incidents, responding to legal questions, and more. Learn how your testimony affects and influences a jury.

Emergency Vehicle Operations (EVOC) – Hop in one of our patrol cars and buckle up, because during this exciting session you’ll maneuver the police vehicle through our Emergency Vehicle Operator Course on 26 acres of a closed training facility.

Firearms – Attendees delve into the types of weapons that officers use in their everyday duties. Learn the fundamentals of a Glock pistol and AR15 rifle. Become familiar with sight picture, sight alignment, stance, grip, and trigger control. Fire force on force ammunition on the indoor pistol range.

Tribal Policing – The United States has 574 federally recognized tribes in 35 states. The course guides attendees through the unique aspects of policing on tribal land. Some of the WPA’s academy facilities are situated on Oneida tribal land.

Use of Force Virtual Reality simulator – A heart-pounding, eye-opening, and extremely realistic session where you must decide, within a fraction of a second, whether to use deadly force. Experience how quickly situations unfold for officers. Once the headset is on, you’re there, in the thick of the action and it’s up to you to make the split second decisions.

Vehicle Extraction – Attendees use the Jaws of Life and see how these unique tools can lift vehicles and cut through virtually anything.

Vehicle Contacts – Law enforcement officers stop more than 32 million people per year. Traffic stops involve lots of moving parts, thoughts, tactics, and crimes. They can be, and often are, one of the most dangerous aspects of police work. This session will take you beyond the basics. Be prepared for … well, anything!

Forced Entry/Room Clearing – You and your team are dispatched to a location (our full-scale forced entry structure) where potentially armed and dangerous suspects are hiding. Upon arrival, you and your partners must enter to clear the building.

Participants experience first-hand the heart-pounding, adrenaline rush of “what if.” What if someone is truly in the building? What if they don’t belong there, and what if they have a weapon? What if they’re a wanted person who’s threatened to kill all police officers who try to capture them? Where are they hiding?

*Explosive devices will be used during this session; therefore, participants will be required to wear protective gear during this thrilling hands-on exercise.

Body Cameras – We’ve all seen police seen body camera footage—some good and some not so good.  These cameras have become a game changer for law enforcement and, in addition to merely recording in real time, have capabilities that are nothing short of amazing.

Defense and Arrest Tactics – Participants learn and perform techniques officers use to control behavior of cooperative and uncooperative suspects.

K-9 Operations – Everyone loves dogs, well, everyone except criminals! Spend some time with a K-9 officer and their K-9. Learn the ins and outs, from drug searches to tracking suspects. Bring your questions and cameras (please, no videos allowed) because these four-legged cops are anxious to show off, just for you! This session shows police dogs doing what they do best. Session may be outdoors, weather permitting.

Cops Doing Counterterrorism: Life In the Joint Terrorism Task Force – In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, state and local government officials around the country were faced with a sobering reality: the job of preventing and responding to terrorism was not solely the responsibility of the federal government.  Moreover, the work of the 9/11 Commission revealed the problems of depending on select agencies with classified investigations: sharing the previously un-shareable with local partners was a necessary part of the solution. But should John McClaine be entrusted with exceptionally sensitive national security information?  Which Jack has the need and the right to know?  Bauer? Ryan? Reacher? Black? Sparrow? Retired Acting Assistant Chief Alan Hardwick discusses his experience transitioning from parking tickets and domestic disturbances to briefing the nation’s leaders on secret operations, along with the impact on local investigators who never dreamed they’d be in the middle of a secret war not only for their country, but for their own lives.

Armed in America – Retired ATF Special Agent Rick McMahan discusses the legal commerce and the misuse of firearms. The presentation touches upon the historical events that have been impetus to the nation’s guns laws. We will dispel some of the errors and myths about firearm laws, including why the most repeated line on TV crime shows and in books is completely wrong— “The gun was registered to the suspect.” The presentation examines legal definitions of various types of firearms, criminal schemes, and motives (i.e. firearms trafficking and theft), criminal manufacture and distribution of firearms (such as “ghost guns”), as well as restricted types of weapons. In addition, the class will explore firearms evidence forensically and how firearms are investigative tools for law enforcement.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent – Has your main character been dropped into the middle of an old investigation and quickly discovers much is wrong? Has a crime been solved, the accused are convicted and the real bad guys walk free among us, with society none the wiser? Join former NYPD Detective Marco Conelli as he takes you through the course of a real investigation that instantly carved its place in the New York news as well as the law journals of America.

The Spingola Files: An Evening With Steven Spingola – A captivating session presented by author Steven Spingola, a nationally renowned death investigator who was heavily involved in the high-profile case of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Known to his colleagues as “the sleuth with the proof,” Spingola is an investigator and on-air personality for Cold Justice, a popular Oxygen Channel true crime program.

Conversations With The B.T.K. Killer, Dennis Rader – This class, taught by Dr. Katherine Ramsland, focuses on the immersive process of interviewing a serial killer, the challenges of the prison system for such work, and the experience of co-producing the documentary. After hundreds of hours spent inside the mind of this serial killer, in the context of many other killers Dr. Ramsland studied, she offers multiple insights for crime and mystery writing.

Touch a Truck – A variety of public safety vehicles and equipment for attendees to view and explore. Officers and firefighters will be on hand to explain the functions of vehicles and tools used by first-responders. Q&A and demo. Indoor event.

Live, Action-Packed Scenario – this adrenaline-pumping, dramatic, and riveting event unfolds in realtime!

Writers’ Police Academy Registration Opens Tuesday,

February 1st at Noon EST 

Guest of Honor – International Bestselling Author Robert Dugoni


The action is real. The instructors are real. The knowledge gained is phenomenal. 

The Writers’ Police Academy experience is invaluable. 

*Images above are from past Writers’ Police Academy events. Raise your hand if you see someone you know. I see Lisa Gardner, Karin Slaughter, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, and …