Sandra Orchard


Attend the Writer’s Police Academy in Jamestown, North Carolina from September 23-26. And get a cool T-shirt in the deal! In addition to the popular Firearms Simulation Training (FATS), this year’s event has added a driving simulator, and for a few lucky participants, ride-a-longs in police cruisers!

Hi, I’m Sandra Orchard. Anita Mae, of Inkwell Inspirations invited me by to tell about my awesome experience at last year’s academy. Lee asked if I’d repeat the article here. So here we go.

The event is held at an actual training facility and offers an incredible array of hands-on, interactive and educational experiences to enhance a writer’s understanding of all aspects of law enforcement and forensics.

First there’s the equipment…

On opening day, almost every imaginable law enforcement and rescue vehicle assembled in the parking lot, and officers were on hand to answer our questions about the equipment. In addition to the sheriff and police command-post trucks pictured, there were motorcycles, cruisers, a fire engine, ambulance, bomb retrieval (that’s little R-2D-2 in the picture), dive team equipment, riot gear, and more weapons than an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

Nothing like handling the equipment, and talking to the officers who use it to add realism to your descriptions.

Second came the classes:
We could choose from a vast array of classes such as handcuffing techniques, fingerprinting, forensics, jail search, arson investigation, pepper spray demonstration—yes, one brave officer let himself be sprayed, crash investigation, tools of the trade, sprinkler demonstrations, the list goes on, and… my favorite, undercover work. Considering that I had just signed a contract for the first book in my “Undercover Cops” series with Love Inspired Suspense, I was anxious to glean all that I could from this class. Not only did Marco Conelli, former undercover cop turned writer, share many of his experiences, he gave us glimpses of what went on in his head and heart during that time, which is where the real meat of my heroes’ stories lie.

NYPD Detective Marco Conelli

On Day Two…
We arrived at the academy not knowing what to expect. It was kept very hush, hush. We were divided into two groups and ushered into the school one group at a time and stationed in the hall. You need to understand that this is an actual college and students were in classes. Suddenly an armed gunman, wearing a conference ID tag just like the rest of us came charging down the hall.


click the link above to see the brief video

As you can see in the video it felt very realistic. Within minutes police swarmed the hall, took down the gunman, waited for the paramedics to assess him as others secured the building. One officer kept his weapon trained on the downed gunman until the paramedics ran a strip and confirmed he was dead. Officers then escorted the hostages out of the school to be interrogated separately.

You’ll notice in the picture that the hostages are escorted with their hands on their heads because they have no way of knowing if the gunman had an armed partner. Then we observed the paramedics treating a bullet wound in one of the victims.

Afterward, we were told that we’d observed a “Rapid Deployment Demonstration “provided by local law enforcement & GTCC students.

As a writer, being in the middle of it, hearing the shouts, gunshots, crying students, tasting the fear and panic and desperation, feeling the cloying atmosphere, I was able to absorb so much that I can now write into scenes in my novels.


Firearms Simulation Training was an added bonus for attending the academy.

We were given Glocks (some had stun guns) and faced with a floor to ceiling screen that showed videos of shoot and don’t shoot situations like the one pictured above in which the driver jumped out of the car and grabbed the officer from behind. Obviously, I (the partner back in the cruiser) can barely see the suspect, let alone take him down.

When we took a shot, the hit would show on the screen. We were surprised more than once by the post-simulation explanation of why we should have, or shouldn’t have, taken a shot.

For example, in one depiction a man held a baby in a car seat and was wielding a knife yelling at us to stay back. We’re calmly telling him to drop the weapon, unwilling to shoot because the guy might drop the baby! He’s not listening so our shouts grow more urgent. I don’t recall if a single one of us took a shot, because of the danger to the baby. The officer conducting the training told us after the scenario that any officer unable to take that shot would be kicked out of the academy. The man was a serious threat to the life of the baby and the officers and was not responding to instructions.

The most adrenaline-pumping moment for me was when I had to face a hostage taker alone in an office (as depicted on screen). A disgruntled employee had his boss in an arm lock and was waving a gun. I was telling him to put down the weapon, that he really didn’t want to do this etc. But to no avail. All the while, I trained my own weapon at the guy’s head—the only part of his body visible past the hostage. The instant he lifted his gun, I took the shot.

The guy’s brains splattered on the wall behind (yes, it looked as gross as it sounds). The officer in charge of the simulation turned to me and said, “Great shot.”

I pretty much freaked out on him, saying I could have hit the hostage. I was shaking, heart pounding. It was unbelievable. It gave me a whole new perspective on the split second decisions officers are called upon to make and the emotional havoc it can wreak afterward.

In celebration of the launch of her Undercover Cops series, and to show her appreciation to her new readers, on September 30th, using, she will choose one name from her combined lists of newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans, and blog participants. The chosen individual will receive a $25 gift card for their preferred online book distributor. The winner will be announced on her blog on October 1st. If you’d like a chance to win or simply wish to connect, here’s how to reach her:

Visit her website ~

Visit her personal blog ~

Connect on her Facebook Page ~

Subscribe to her newsletter ~

Sandra Orchard writes inspirational romantic suspense set along the northern shores of Lake Erie in the heart of the Niagara region, Canada. In 2009 she won Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence and sold to Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense the following year. She is an active member of ACFW, several RWA chapters including Faith Hope Love, and The Word Guild. When not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, especially her new grandbaby, brainstorming new stories with fellow writers, and hiking or kayaking in God’s beautiful creation. Her newly released debut novel, Deep Cover, is the first in her series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.
10 Reasons To Attend The Writer's Police Academy

1. It’s the only place on the planet where writers can train at a real police academy with active-duty police academy instructors.

2. There’s a fully-functional, working fire station on the grounds. Instructors offer workshops on arson and firefighting.

3. Weapons experts and police snipers provide in-depth answers to your questions. This is a hands-on event. So yes, you can touch the weapons!

4. Classes on fingerprinting, handcuffing, and other areas of police training are taught in the actual classrooms where police academy recruits receive their training. And, you’ll use the same equipment as the police recruits.

5. You’ll have access to police tools and equipment, including items that aren’t normally available to the public.

6. The WPA features on-site jail cells. Sgt. Catherine Netter instructs WPA recruits on how to properly search the cells for illegal contraband. Sgt. Netter also teaches a fabulous workshop about women in law enforcement.

Is that Jeffery Deaver with the fully automatic rifle? It sure is!

7.  FATS (Firearms Training Simulator) is always a hit! You’ll use real weapons (Sig Sauer and Glock) in shoot/don’t shoot real-time scenarios.

8. Attend workshops taught by some of the top experts in the country – Lt. Josh Moulin, ATF Special Agent Rick McMahan, Alafair Burke, Bill Lanning, Jerry Cooper, Dr. Katherine Ramsland, Dr. Denene Lofland, Dave Pauly, Detective Marco Conelli, Detective Lee Lofland, Lt. Randy Shepherd, the GTCC police academy staff, and many more!

9. Enjoy the company of fellow writers while you learn behind-the-scenes information about police/fire/EMS procedures.

10. Sisters in Crime will pay most of your registration fee!

Sisters in Crime members can attend the Writers’ Police Academy, to be held Sept. 23 to 25, 2011 near Greensboro, North Carolina, for a deeply-discounted registration fee of $100. SinC national will pay the balance of members’ $255 registration.

Act quickly to take advantage of this offer, which is in effect until June 15, 2011.

If you’re not a Sisters in Crime member, you can sign up for a SinC membership to receive the discount. The annual membership fee for a SinC professional membership is $40.

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Writers and Cops


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Registration for the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy is now open. You do not want to miss this one of a kind event!

Writers’ Police Academy

Guilford Technical Community College and Public Safety Training Academy

Jamestown, N.C.

September 23-25, 2011

2011 WPA


Attention all recruits! Registration for the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy is set to open in a couple of days. Are you ready to learn from the pros? How about training on a real driving simulator, the same one used for police, fire, and EMS emergency driver training?

Want to experience the sights and sounds of the concussion grenades used by raid and entry teams? Or, have you got what it takes to face an armed robber? Do you know when to pull the trigger in self-defense?

Well, we’ve assembled another action-filled weekend that’s packed full of exciting workshops taught by some of the top experts in their fields. We’ve got it all, from the take down during arrest to the courtroom and prisons and jails. Serial killer investigations, bloodstains, DNA, evidence collection, interview and interrogation, and microscopic murder. Bioterrorism and computer crimes, two highly-specialized areas of police training, are among our featured presentations.

Actual police cars, motorcycles, firearms, helicopters, K-9’s (including a bed bug detection dog!), and firetrucks, ambulances, and other emergency vehicles and equipment.

Remember, this is a hands-on event that former recruits have nicknamed, Disneyland for Writers!

Featured presenters for the 2011 Writers’ Police Academy

Special Guest Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Alafair Burke

Dr. Denene Lofland

Lee Lofland

ATF Special Agent Richard McMahan

Sergeant Josh Moulin


Faculty also includes many active-duty police academy instructors!


*We’ll be announcing the name of the 2011 keynote speaker when the new website launches in a couple of days.

Writers’ Police Academy

September 23-25, 2011

Jamestown, N.C.

Guilford Technical Community College

Public Safety Department

Police Driving Simulator: Writers' Police Academy 2011


Just when you thought FATS and VirTra training were the hottest things around, the Writers’ Police Academy has gotten our grubby little paws on a driving simulator for the 2011 event. WPA cadets will once again have their nerves placed on edge as they maneuver through city streets at high speeds while chasing murder suspects and bank robbers. What’s it like to conduct a felony traffic stop? How about driving really fast, at night, in the rain, with lights and siren going full blast?

Wrap around plasma screens offer a true life-like experience that’s just like sitting behind the wheel of a police car, fire truck, or ambulance.

Have you got what it takes to drive the WPA Interceptor? We’ll see. And the driving simulator is just an appetizer…



Writers’ Police Academy

September 23-25, 2011

Jamestown, N.C.


This is one entry team no criminal wants to face. WPA recruit Rebekah Aidukatis, ATF Special Agent Rick McMahan, and the master of the twisted ending himself, Jeffery Deaver, made quick work of drug dealers and other armed thugs during the WPA FATS training. When these three entered a building you knew they were there and that they meant business.

Criminal justice instructor Bill Lanning was described by the recruits as AWESOME. That’s pretty much his opinion of the Bone Collector, as well.


Firing an M-4 using three-round bursts, Deaver found his targets with laser-like accuracy. This guy can really shoot!

WPA organizer and my guardian angel, Nancy Metzner, was mother hen to all. Here she looks on, I’m sure, to see to it that Jeffery Deaver had no problems during his training.


Instructor Stan Lawhorne helps a recruit and first-time shooter. We called her “Number 4” because many of her rounds (marked by a number 4) were often found landing in unusual places, like tree tops, street signs, and generally any place where the bad guys weren’t. She was a great sport and by the time the training was over she’d found her mark. Learning to shoot is difficult enough, but she learned the hard way—in the dark, under stressful conditions, and with moving targets.


Julie Goyette (WPA staff), Jeffery Deaver, and Nancy Metzner look on as EMS personnel treat a shooting victim in the academy hallway.


Verna Dreisbach, Jeffery Deaver, Lee Lofland, and Marco Conelli at the Friday night meet and greet reception.

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Writers’ Police Academy photo of the day!



Sophie Littlefield in an “arresting” pose.

WPA: Day One


The first day of the Writers’ Police Academy opened with one-on-one visits with police officers, firefighters. and EMS personnel. Various agencies set up equipment on the driving track and answered questions and demonstrated equipment.

Hazardous Devices Team members offered information about explosives and how they’re handled. They also brought along some pretty massive disposal equipment and vehicles.

Recruits made their way from one station to another, reluctant to leave any of them. The information was fascinating.

Dive team members explained their role in criminal investigations and search and rescue operations.

Recruits made themselves at home behind the wheel of various patrol vehicles. Yes, they played with the lights and siren.

The Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.) showed off some of their firepower.

Crime lab officers explained their duties.

Police motorcycles from several departments were on display.

Attendees toured the local sheriff’s office mobile command center.

N.C. Highway Patrol officers explained their role in law enforcement.

Bomb squad officers introduced their mechanical team member.

A fire sprinkler lab demonstration left recruits with a better appreciation of a firefighters job.

Crime scene investigators were often overheard saying, “It’s not like you see on CSI.”

FATS and VirTra training was a huge hit. Many writers said they now had a new-found respect for what police officers are faced with on a daily basis. I was extremely pleased to see everyone do so well under such stressful conditions.

Dr. Jonathan Hayes, NYC medical examiner, delivered a fascinating presentation on autopsy to a packed auditorium.

The event has already been described as Disneyland for writers.

More on Monday.

Chasing a Dragonfly


Darting between moss-draped limbs, twisted, gnarled, and snarled.

Whizzing past a red-topped stalk, a lonely tease of color living alone in a world of green.

A stop on some bark and a rest on a post.

Flittering about, through roots and leaves and muck.

Dashing willy-nilly around the wilting Lilly.

A mirror? A piece of glass? Not too close or a meal for a bass.

A visit with a spider. A water-walker, light as a feather.

It was here and then it was gone.

A bolt of lightening.

A fly-by.

A buzzing.

A tease.

A no show.

And then…there it was was.

As still as stick. A lump. A knot.


A click, a whir, and a flash.

And it was gone.

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200 Word Short Story Contest Now Open!

The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to announce the opening of the Golden Donut short story contest. The rules are simple. Write a story about the photograph above using exactly 200 words, including the title (each story must include an original title). All stories must be polished and complete, meaning they must have a beginning, middle, and a twisted ending that would make our keynote speaker proud. Again, all stories must be exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199!

The contest winner will receive the prestigious Golden Donut Award (sponsored by the High Point North Carolina Public Library). All entries will be screened by a panel of authors who will select their ten favorite stories and then forward their picks to our mystery judge (identity will be revealed at the academy banquet). The masked decider will present the winning story title to the appropriate Writers’ Police Academy staff member. The winner’s name will be announced at the WPA banquet. The contest is open to everyone, not just attendees of the academy, and the winner need not be present to win.

Submission Guidelines:

Submission Deadline: September 10, 2010

– Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified.

– Hyphenated words, for the purpose of this contest, will be counted as two words.

– Be sure to include your name, address, email address, telephone number(s), and title of your story on a cover letter that’s separate from your story page. DO NOT include your name anywhere on the story page or it will not be read by the judges.

There is a $10 entry fee. Checks or money orders MUST BE made payable to “Writers’ Police Academy” and must accompany the submission in order for your submission to be considered.

– Send all entries to:

Writers’ Police Academy

P.O. Box 60091

Savannah, Ga. 31420

att. Short Story

– There is no limit on the number of entries by any author. But each individual entry must be accompanied by its own $10 entry fee. ( One entry = $10. Four entries = $40, etc.)

– Any entry not meeting the exact 200 word requirement will be disqualified.

– By submitting an entry to this contest authors agree to allow The Graveyard Shift/Lee Lofland/the Writers’ Police Academy, and affiliates to publish the story as a part of The Graveyard Shift blog and/or as advertisement for the Writers’ Police Academy.

*All rights to all work/short story shall remain the property of the author. The Writers’ Police Academy reserves the right to exclude or delete any entry without cause, reason, or explanation.

-No refunds. Proceeds go to the Writers’ Police Academy fund to benefit the GTCC criminal justice foundation.

Photo by Sunday Kaminski

Sunday Kaminski’s mysterious work has been featured in publications such as the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

So there you have it. Now get busy and take us on a journey down that winding road in the photo. Will anyone make it back? Who knows. That’s up to you.

Good luck!