Top Ten Reasons I Love the Writers’ Police Academy

I heard about the Writers’ Police Academy from my Sister in Crime, Jessie Chandler, and  decided to go this year. It was awesome. Here’s why:

1. Road Trip

  1. Girls’ Road Trip. On Thursday morning, I took my first road trip in years (sans dog, child, and husband) with two up-and-coming crime writers, Michelle Kubitz and Emily Gorman. Although we had spoken at several Twin Cities Sisters in Crimes meetings, it was on this trip that I got to know Shelley and Emily and their writing.
  2. Beer and Cheese. You can’t shake a stick in Wisconsin without hitting a can of beer or a block of cheese. On Thursday afternoon, we ate lunch at the Great Dane Pub in Wausau. I drank a beer in something called a crowler, which is a growler in a can. You learn something new every day.

2A. Crowler

Supposedly, authentic cheese curds will make a squeaky noise when you bite into them. Did ours do that? I’m not sure because we inhaled them in less than five minutes’ time.

2B. Cheese Curds

  1. Sisters and Misters. In Green Bay, we realized we were not alone; there were Sisters and Misters everywhere. At the Sisters in Crime table, we introduced ourselves to President Leslie Budewitz and Debra Goldstein. It was a nice way to kick off Thursday night.

3. Sisters in Crime

4. Special Ops Show and Tell. At the hands-on demonstrations, we spent some time watching the K-9 officer and his police dog. Then we spoke at length with an officer on the bomb squad team who gave us insight into the challenges his team faces on a regular basis. I came away with some great ideas for my novel-in-progress, a police procedural set in Australia. We wrapped up the event with a photo on this super-humongous bear cat.

4. Bear Cat

5. Emergency Driving. On Friday morning, I took a “crash course” on Emergency Driving with driving partners, Leslie Budewitz and Karen Heines, and our instructor, Colleen Belongea. Part of what makes the WPA great is the opportunity to take note of how cops talk, walk, and hold themselves. Our instructors (including Colleen and John Flannery) were so incredibly personable, intelligent and self-assured that I’m sure they’ll end up in many of the writers’ stories. (I know they’re going to end up in mine :).

5A. Emerg Driving all

5B. Emergency Driving w Colleen

Among other things, Colleen taught us the proper way to round corners at high speed. The experience definitely made me think about what those high-speed chases would be like for my story’s protagonists, a Latina constable and her partner.

  1. Peeps. On Friday and Saturday, we hung out with Doug Dorow and Carol Huss, fellow crime writers from Minnesota. It was fun to review the classes we’d taken and to discuss our stories. We also met crime writers from Milwaukee, Toronto, Vancouver, Virginia Beach, and Seattle. I feel fortunate to have forged connections with all of these incredible writers.

6. MN Writers

7. I had no idea that Green Bay skirts Oneida tribal land. As a writer of color, it was very powerful to see diverse police officers in action at the Writers’ Police Academy. All ages, sexes, and races were represented. Also, as you can see, the “eye candy” quotient was very high. Just sayin’.

7. Diversity Looks Good

8. Real Cops for Real Writers. Retired Madison police officer, Paul Smith, tugged at my heartstrings when he explained how he developed PTSD following two fatal shootings (he was cleared in both incidents). I can’t imagine a more stressful job than that of a police officer. While the high-stress situations police officers face make for great fiction, the actual toll stress takes on officers can be devastating.

Trying to create the mental health support needed for officers is an overwhelming task. I have been following the Victoria Police’s attempts to create a safety net for its officers in Australia following a review last year which stated the department’s “suck it up” management style was its greatest weakness.

At one point, Smith considered suicide but was able to turn his life around and now works as a PTSD counselor and law enforcement trainer. The session was very moving, and Smith’s service dog had me at hello (shhh, don’t tell my black Lab, Sinjin). Here we are together—and in love.

8. We're In Love

  1. Tami Hoag and Long Gun: Live Fire. What can I say about this unbelievable experience? Shooting a .223 patrol rifle. With Tami Hoag at my side.

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*Mic drop.*  

*Video by Lee Lofland

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9. Jessica & Tami Hoag

Tami was the keynote speaker at the banquet on Saturday night. She was so open and honest with us; it was a speech I won’t soon forget.

  1. Whaaat? Dancing in Green Bay, Home of the Packers? Yes, yes, and yes. On Friday night, we danced with the enemy (Packer fans) at the Stadium View Bar, but kept our identities as Vikings fans a secret.

10A. Stadium View Bar & Grille

Then we boogied down on Saturday night with our new WPA friends (including Jill and Colleen “The Rock” Belongea) at Purcell’s Lounge in the Radisson until we shut that mother down.

10B. Dancing at Purcell's

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Overall, I had an amazing time at the Writers’ Police Academy. Many thanks to everyone who made this such an incredible experience for attendees. I will be practicing my dance moves in preparation for next year’s conference. See you in 2017!

~

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Jessica Ellis Laine lives with a houseful of men. Her short story, “Safe Harbor,” is featured in the mystery anthology, Cooked to Death. Jessica’s novel-in-progress won the 2016 Mystery Writers of America-Midwest Hugh Holton award. She can be found online at http://jessicaellislaine.com.

 

 

Each year the Writers’ Police Academy sponsors a fun and challenging writing contest called The Golden Donut Short Story Contest. The rules are simple—write a story about a photograph we supply using exactly 200 words, including the title.

The 2016 photo-prompt is pictured above.

Below are the first, second, and third place contest winners selected by international bestselling author Tami Hoag.

Congratulations to each of you, and to everyone who entered the contest. Each and every story was absolutely wonderful.

 

2016 Golden Donut Award Winner!

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Click. Clack.

by A. R. Kennedy

Click clack.

That is all I have heard for days.

Click clack.

My fingers producing the only noises in the still ship.

Click clack.

We ran aground twenty-one days ago.

The penetrating waves. The driving rains. The pounding winds.

I sat at this typewriter as we rocked, as we swayed and, finally, crashed.

Click clack.

Only us four had survived the first night.

The others drowned in the high seas.

Plenty of other beds were available now.

All the other cabins were available now.

But we had stayed together.

Out of loneliness? Out of friendship? Out of fear?

I could not answer for them.

For me, I could not leave my Underwood. My only true friend.

It always told me what I wanted to hear.

Click clack.

Just us four until day fourteen.

The yelling. I could not take the bickering anymore.

The hunger. I could not take the starving anymore.

Click clack.

My bunkmates stopped talking to me seven days ago.

But their voices…their voices lingered in my head.

Their screams as I covered their mouths…They bounced around in my head.

But now, even that was gone.

And so was the hunger.

Click. Clack.

~

 

Second Place

Final Words

by Jan Utz

I slip into the room and quickly lock the door.

The sixties called, they want their dorm room back.

This is where I am going to die. I am okay with that.

I was there when history was made.

The worst mass murder on a college campus.

Everything moved in slow motion as I watched rounds of automatic rifle fire slice through young bodies. The two slugs I took to the gut were things of beauty.

I need to record something, anything, to mark this occasion.

The drawers hold nothing but receipts. The ribbon on the ancient typewriter is dry.

Ah! But an ink source oozes between my fingers as I clutch my wounds.

Sitting on the edge of the old chair, I dab blood on the ribbon.

Faint letters appear as I type my last words and remove the narrow receipt.

I hear cops searching door to door.

My frozen in time room will be next, but it will be too late for me.

As the cops break in, my rifle slides down, snagging the pink lace on my skirt.

I take my last breath as the blood soaked message drifts to the floor.

Sorry. Not sorry.

~

 

Third Place

Writer’s Getaway: Inspiration Guaranteed

by Chelle Martin 

The brochure had promised a quaint retreat, with tranquil gardens and the opportunity to relax and interact with other writers. So far, I was a party of one in an aged Victorian house that would probably collapse from a strong wind. I would have checked my weather app and prayed for a gale, but cell service disappeared fifty miles ago.

To say my quarters were cramped was the proverbial understatement. My writing desk was sandwiched between two “handcrafted” bunk beds with warped drawers. If I accomplished a draft, it would be a miracle. To top it off, my agent had recommended this place. “I have only heard good things about it,” she had said.

Anger engulfed me as I rolled a sheet of paper into the carriage of the antique Royal typewriter and pounded away on the keys like the Phantom of the Opera playing a menacing symphony on his pipe organ. Clack, clack, clack. Ding!

The story flowed with a fierce pace, opening with a badly treated author murdering her agent and then escaping to a place no one would ever look for her–a little Victorian house that disguised itself as a writer’s retreat.

 

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I used to be terrified of flying. For 37 years, I refused. But three years ago, on a whim, I contacted Lee Lofland and lucked into a cancellation spot at Writers’ Police Academy, held in North Carolina that year. I sucked it up and conquered my fear of flying, found an inner strength I didn’t know I had, and I started to gain the confidence to begin writing what I truly loved, crime fiction.

A huge part of that genre depends on research and details. Readers are smart and will hone in on anything you wrote incorrectly. And there’s only so much a person can learn from Google and nonfiction. Writers need to hear it, taste, feel it, and smell.

Writers’ Police Academy delivers on every level. My first year, in North Carolina, I was lucky enough to win a ride along with a county sheriff’s deputy.

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Just as he finished telling me his patrol area was pretty quiet, a call came in for a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Several high-speed minutes later, we were at the location and I watched the deputy breach the door. Sadly, the man inside had committed suicide, and so the deputy and his colleagues began to secure the scene. I sat in the cruiser for several hours, watching how it all unfolded. My gracious deputy apologized profusely for being stuck there, but I assured him the little details I picked up were invaluable. I saw how the various officers walked and talked, how they compartmentalized the gruesomeness of the scene and worked with the grieving family. One deputy spent long minutes bringing out cats in carriers and made it a point to have them all face in a circle in an effort to calm them. It was a raw, human side of law enforcement I will never forget.

Last year, I went on the shooting range for pistol training. We were put through the same exercises as new recruits, and learned all aspects of using the pistol, the correct stance for a police officer, and practiced deadly force. I also got my picture in the Appleton paper, right below the article featuring Karin Slaughter (who is my crime fiction hero) as the conference’s keynote speaker.

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This year, I was part of group on an extensive tour of Wisconsin’s oldest maximum security prison, and I learned how to walk a crime scene and figure out blood spatter.

In three years of attending, I’ve found dozens of new classes to take: crime scene investigation, SWAT, interview tactics, constitutional law, criminal psychology, EMS, undercover work, private investigation, medical examiner and coroner presentations—the list goes on and would take up the rest of the article. Every class at WPA is taught by an experience professional, most of them full-time instructors at the police academy after retiring from law enforcement.

But the incredible classes aren’t even the best part. That’s a tie between the opportunity to pick the experts’ brains (and get their contact info for future questions) and the incredible real-life situations WPA likes to throw at us.

This year, the staff at NWTC stage two awesome demonstrations. First up, an MVA involving a drunk driver and a family.

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One actor played dead on the hood of a crumpled car for 45 minutes while another sobbed with grief, all while police, paramedics, and finally life-flight—a real helicopter that landed within yards of us—worked the scene just as they would in real life.

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Next day, inside a crowded lecture hall, WPA instructors and volunteers staged a terrorist act. Several people were “knifed” and we watched the public safety officials handle the situation, including triaging the injured. For a visual person like me, stuff like this is gold.

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I can’t underscore how much this conference has changed my writing life. It gave me the courage to go from suspense with romance to what I truly love—the dark, gritty stuff. I forged various public safety contacts and realized I could network with other authors, that I wasn’t as much of an introvert as I believed. I learned about the psychology of cops and the day-to-day stuff they go through and gained a new respect. I’ve been able to have conversations with my three favorite authors,—Lisa Gardner, Tami Hoag, and Karin Slaughter.

Last year, during Karin Slaughter’s signing, I told her I’d been struggling on my first gritty crime fiction, in part because I was afraid I couldn’t write the homicide investigation so that it was believable. She told me to face my fear and go after what I wanted.  So I got on the phone and found a cop in D.C. willing to work with me. I sold that book this spring.

This year, I got to tell Tami Hoag that her book, The 9th Girl, helped me get back into the right frame of mind to finish that same crime fiction thriller, and that just hours before she signed my copy, I found out my publisher is releasing the book in hardback in January. She was so excited she wrote “congratulations” with her signature.

How cool is that for the mom from Iowa who didn’t think she’d ever be able to branch out far enough to write what she really wanted?

It’s all because of the opportunities from Writers’ Police Academy, and it’s the one conference I won’t miss, because there’s always something new and exciting.

Thanks so much to Lee and Denene Lofland for all they do for us. I’m already marking my calendar for next year!

~

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Stacy Green is the author of the Lucy Kendall thriller series and the Delta Crossroads mystery trilogy. ALL GOOD DEEDS (Lucy Kendall #1) won a bronze medal for mystery and thriller at the 2015 IPPY Awards. Stacy has a love of thrillers and crime fiction, and she is always looking for the next dark and twisted novel to enjoy. She started her career in journalism before becoming a stay at home mother and rediscovering her love of writing. She lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter and their three spoiled fur babies. Her current work includes the true crime series KILLER SHORTS: Murderers Among US, and her crime fiction novel, KILLING JANE, will be available in January 2016.

Stacy is represented by Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo, Helin and Fountain Literary Management for literary and dramatic rights.

Stacy loves to hear from readers!

Website: stacygreenauthor.com

Facebook www.Facebook.com/StacyGreenAuthor

Twitter: @StacyGreen26

 

The 2016 Writers’ Police Academy was the fifth one I’ve attended. I’m not sure I’ve been to any other conference that many times, but WPA always offers something new and different. And just when you think you’ve seen enough to get you through the next five books, Lee goes and changes the venue so there are new things to explore.

Why WPA? As authors, we want to (or at least should want to) provide as much accurate information as possible, and having a conference at a training facility for first responders with access to their instructors—well, it doesn’t get much more real than that.

Will you have a fire scenario in your book. You need WPA. Cops? WPA is a given. EMS? Ditto. Private Investigators? Courtrooms? They have those, too. Want to breach a building? Fire a patrol rifle? Try ‘shoot-don’t/shoot’? Watch a K-9 in action? Yep. WPA has it all.

This year began with a parking lot display of all the nifty cop vehicles. Attendees were climbing in and out like kids at a hands-on museum exhibit. And, as always, there were plenty of personnel around (including one of the furry four-legged variety) to answer questions.

Drug car

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After that was the annual “orientation” where Lee provides valuable information about how everything will work. There’s always a critical tidbit that rises to the forefront. In 2015, the most-repeated question was “What time does the pool close?” This year, it was “How long are the bus rides?”

WPA always begins the first full day with a group welcome. This year (after a bus ride of appropriate length), we were welcomed onto the campus with a fully staged traffic accident. We observed a field sobriety test, Jaws of Life extracting victims from the crashed vehicles, and they even brought in a fricking helicopter.

Crash with helicopter

But the real value, in addition to watching how these scenarios are handled, comes from the willingness of staff to go through every detail afterward, explaining not only what they did, but why they did it. And, even more valuable is the willingness of the instructors to share their contact information so you can hound them ask them followup questions when you get home and find yourself dealing with a scene you want to get right.

After the opening demonstration, the rest of the day is filled with small classroom and hands-on workshops. There’s no way you can hit all of them (did I mention this was my 5th WPA?). Smartest move is to find a friend (and everyone will become your friend) who’s going to something you can’t get to and then share notes.

Rather than go into the entire curriculum in this post, you can look at the WPA website and find the schedule of all the different classes they offered.

My choices included firehouse life, poisoning people, the psychological consequence of being a cop, defensive arrest tactics, how cops talk, and traffic stops with a K-9 (I did that one twice—once with a drug/patrol dog, and once with a bomb/patrol dog). Oh, yes, I took a class on live-firing an AR15 patrol rifle. My takeaways from that one—I’m a granny with little or no upper body strength, and yoga classes, no matter how many downward facing dogs or sun salutations you do, you’re not using the same muscles. But there’s no substitute for learning by doing. The sounds, the smells (and it’s gunpowder, NOT cordite!) And, thanks to the instructors, we learned the safe way to do everything.

Saturday begins with a trek to a large lecture hall. Repeat attendees suspect this will be more than a talk about terrorist attacks. Many first-timers have their suspicions as well, I imagine. Sure enough a few minutes in the presentation, shouts of “Help! I’ve been stabbed!” resound from behind the door at the base of the classroom. The instructor pauses, but continues with his lecture until the call comes again. He opens the door, admitting a “wounded” victim. First aid procedures begin immediately, and soon the instructor has volunteers from the audience.

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Then more attack victims arrive, and we’re now in a full-blown lockdown scenario, with police working to secure the campus and the paramedics arriving to aid the victims, and the room swarms with police (well-played by rookies at the college).

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Everyone in the audience is told to place their hands on their heads, fingers entwined, and they’re not kidding. So much for taking notes.

They begin questioning members of the audience, moving them down the stairs after they’ve been cleared. Luckily, no one challenged the officer with the booming voice when he said, “For the last time, put your hands on your head!” to someone who didn’t take the scenario seriously enough. Later, during the debriefing, when someone asked what would have happened to that individual, we were told he would have been handcuffed and placed where the officers could make sure he was behaving.

One of the best takeaways from WPA is the jargon. You’ll hear “package them up,” “put the white stuff on the red stuff,” “dirty walls and clean walls,” “gunners and grabbers”—all things begging to be added to dialogue in your next book.

Add to all this talks by Lee Goldberg and Tami Hoag, and you have a weekend with enough writing fodder—the right writing fodder—to ensure you don’t have people experienced in these fields throwing your books across the room.

That’s WPA in a nutshell—a very small nutshell. Hope to see you there next year!

~

Click here to read more about Terry Odell.

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Terry Odell always wanted to “fix” stories she read so the characters did what she wanted. Once she began writing, she found this wasn’t always possible, as the mystery she intended to write became a romance—a real surprise, since she’d never read a romance. Terry writes mystery and romantic suspense, but calls them all “Mysteries With Relationships.” Her 20 pulbished works include the Blackthorne, Inc. covert ops series, the Pine Hills Police series, the Triple-D Ranch series, and the Mapleton Mystery series. Her awards include the Silver Falchion and HOLT Medallion, among others.

Click the cover below to read more about Terry’s latest book.

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Many of you have asked how the Writers’ Police Academy started and why it did. So, here’s a brief outline to answer those questions.

  • In November of 2007, Sisters in Crime sponsored an event in St. Louis called Forensic University. Headliners for the event were Jan Burke, Eileen Dreyer, Dr. D. P. Lyle, and me (Lee Lofland).
  • While at this fabulous event I sat in on several of the workshops and lectures.
  • Each session consisted of an instructor/lecturer who typically used Powerpoint or handouts as part of their workshops.
  • The material covered was extremely valuable to writers.
  • At the end of the second day ATF Agent Rick McMahan (another presenter) and I were sitting in the lobby discussing the overall event.
  • I suggested to Rick that while Forensic U was one of the best conferences I’d seen for writers, I thought it would be fantastic if writers could attend a hands-on event, where they touch, and hear, and see, and physically experience police and other first responder training.
  • I said I’d like to try to do just that at an actual police academy.
  • Rick said I was absolutely and without a doubt, as crazy as a loon. It would never work. No police academy in the country would permit a bunch of eager writers to storm their facilities for an entire weekend.
  • I agreed with Rick. But … I wanted to try, knowing how extremely valuable a hands-on event could be for writers. After all, I’d seen the term “Cordite” used one too many frickin’ times in too many frickin’ books.
  • So try I did. And, as expected, I heard “NO, NO, NO, and NO” dozens of times.
  • Then I approached a popular writers conference in Ohio. I presented them with my idea and they connected me with their local police department.
  • I met with local police officials, the mayor, the coroner, the prosecutor, fire officials, and they each agreed to help.
  • We put together a small program for writers, the very first but very small WPA, that included a K-9 demo, sessions on arson investigation, a tour of the morgue and police department, a fire truck demo, and more. Other workshops were taught by Rick McMahan, Mike Black, Dave Swords, and me.
  • The Ohio event was a big hit. But too big for the Ohio location. There was no police academy.
  • Denene and I took a cross-country RV trip and during one of our stopovers in a North Carolina RV park we met Andy Russell.

Andy Russell

  • During a conversation with Andy I learned that he, coincidentally, taught at a police academy.
  • DING, DING,DING! A police academy!! A foot in the door??? It was FATE.
  • Andy took our proposal to his bosses and they agreed to meet with me. And …
  • In 2010, the WPA opened at an actual police academy, with Jeffery Deaver (The Bone Collector. Remember the movie with Angelina Jolie? Yes, THAT Jeffery Deaver) as keynote speaker.

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

Special Guest Speaker – Dr. Katherine Ramsland (Katherine has been with us each year since).

2011 – We expanded the event.

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2011 Guest of Honor – Christopher Reich

2012 – We continued to grow.

2012 Guest of Honor – Lee Child 

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Special Guest Speaker – Marcia Clark (Yes, THAT Marcia clark – OJ Simpson prosecutor). Pictured with Denene and Lee Lofland.

In 2013 we decided to take attendees on an underwater evidence recovery adventure.

World-renowned DNA expert Dr. Dan Krane offered his expertise at the Friday afternoon session.

Dr. Dan Krane has testified as a DNA expert in over 100 high-profile criminal cases worldwide, including serving as a consultant for the “dream team” in the OJ Simpson case. Dr. Krane was also involved in the review of high profile cases around the world, including: the Washington D.C. Beltway sniper, the Jaidyn Leskie Coroner’s Inquest in Australia, the Omagh IRA bombing in Northern Ireland, and the Deventer murder in The Netherlands. He work closely with the Innocence Project and has been involved with several exoneration cases, including George Gould and Ronald Taylor.

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2013 Guest of Honor – Lisa Gardner

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2013 Special Guest Speaker – Kathy Reichs (producer and writer of the TV show Bones).

2014 was the year of the super-exciting police pursuit and shootout.

We also brought you a recreation of the Boston bombing where we detonated a backpack using a C-4 charge. An explosive detection K-9 alerted on the package.

The crowd was moved far away from the scene and then a bomb robot carried the backpack to a safe location.

The bomb squad did their thing.

And … now you see the suspicious backpack, and …

… now you don’t! We blew that sucker to somewhere beyond the suburbs of oblivion.

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2014 Guest of Honor – Michael Connelly

And yes, we, too, had cover models, sort of like those at RWA events. Sort of …

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Rick McMahan shows his hard-earned six pack.

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Even I pulled off the shirt to help the cause …

By the time 2015 rolled around we’d outgrown the North Carolina facility, so we packed our bags and moved the entire operation to a police academy in Appleton, Wi., where we met Larceny Lori, the meanest bank robber in WPA history.

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Lori didn’t do very well in a shootout with instructors Colleen Belongea and Ryan Gilbert.

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2015 Guest of Honor – Karin Slaughter

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With special Guest Speaker Allison Brennan.

And that brings us to 2016 and our wonderful new home, NWTC.

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Sisters in Crime president Leslie Budewitz is a wee bit excited as she prepares to execute a PIT maneuver with instructor Colleen Belongea.

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2016 Special Guest Speaker – Lee Goldberg.

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2016 Guest of Honor – Tami Hoag.

Next up – The 2017 Writers’ Police Academy. Bigger and Better than ever before!!

 

 

 

Now that everyone has had the opportunity to catch their breath and decompress from an action-packed and extremely exhausting weekend at the 2016 Writers’ Police Academy, let’s take a brief moment to examine one of the sessions—PIT.

PIT (Pursuit Immobilization Technique or Precision Immobilization Technique, among other titles used) is a method used by police to end pursuits before a fleeing driver causes a crash or escapes custody. The technique is quite simple in theory—a pursuing car (the police) forces a fleeing car (the bad guy) to loose traction, spin, and then come to a stop. Officers are then typically able to take the driver and passengers into custody.

To help bring better realism to fiction, WPA/NWTC instructor Colleen Belongea first explained the technique to writers.

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“There’s a very short window of opportunity here for the “sweet spot.” ~ Colleen Belongea, WPA/NWTC instructor speaking of the location on the target vehicle where contact should be made during the PIT.

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Once the tactic was thoroughly explained, Colleen had the writers take turns behind the wheel on a closed course to test their driving skills. The end result for bestselling author and WPA keynote speaker Tami Hoag was, well, see for yourself …

* Top photo – Tami Hoag about to experience a thrilling ride with instructor Colleen Belongea.

 

It’s no secret and no doubt that the Writers’ Police Academy is the best in the business at doing what we do—providing top-notch workshops featuring realism that’s, well, so doggone realistic you’d think you were on the scenes of actual car crashes, homicides, shootouts, mass murder, bombings, and other events typically seen and experienced by only by first responders and other insiders.

The Writers’ Police Academy is all about YOU! Your needs are our first priority. We aren’t trying to sell you anything. We do not promote ourselves. In short, our goal is to serve writers by seeing to it that they receive the material and experiences needed to accurately portray the world of law enforcement, EMS, firefighting, and the court system.

Our reward for a year of planning and a weekend of thrills and heart-pounding excitement is, well, the joy we see on the faces of our WPA family members. Such as …

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To get to the smiles and laughter, though, came the extreme realism, the things we do to activate emotions and stimulate the senses, the same sensations experienced by those who go through these events as part of their daily routines.

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By the way, we sincerely apologize for our tiny and dimly lit classrooms!

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* Top photo by Terry Odell. Copy and paste the link below to read her recap of Day 1 at the WPA.

www.terryodell.com

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It’s official. The 2016 Writers’ Police Academy was a HUGE success and throughout the week I’ll be recapping the event. For now, though, until I have time to sort through the hundreds of photos and other details, let’s take a brief peek at the beginning of the fabulously  thrilling weekend experienced by writers who traveled from all over the world (nearly every state in the U.S., China, the UK, Germany, Holland, Canada, etc.) to attend.

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This is how we started the party!! And it was only the tip of an extremely heart-pounding weekend …

 

The Writers’ Police Academy is extremely pleased to announce that we’ve partnered with the renowned Homicide Training Seminar to offer a free registration to their absolutely fabulous and intensive “law enforcement only” 23rd annual conference titled “The Places of Murder.”

You would be the only writer/outsider in attendance. This is actual specialized police training!

This exciting and rare opportunity is available by sealed bid only and the bidding is open to everyone.

Here’s how it works.

Each year at the WPA banquet we feature a super fun raffle and silent auction, but many people who, for whatever reasons, haven’t been able to attend the event and they expressed disappointment because … One – they weren’t able to attend the thrilling WPA. Two – they weren’t able to participate in the raffle and auction.

So … we’re bringing a portion of the fun to you.

This year we’re making available for sealed bid, three fantastic items. They are:

Available for Sealed Bid

1. A Baby Taylor guitar signed by country music superstar Tim McGraw.

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2. Free registration to the absolutely fabulous and intensive “law enforcement only” 23rd annual Homicide Training Seminar – “The Places of Murder.” You would be the only writer/outsider in attendance. This is actual specialized police training!

A rare and unheard of opportunity!!

*Full registration, hotel reservation, and breakfasts and lunches are included in the prize. Travel not included.

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3. A FULL manuscript review and analysis by renowned literary agent Victoria Sanders. Not just a mere 10 or 20 pages. We’re talking a FULL manuscript analysis and review!! Victoria represents internationally and New York Times bestselling thriller writer, Karin Slaughter, who has been translated into thirty-five languages, the long-running New York Times bestselling author Denene Millner, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist/author Nick Chiles, the American Book Award winning journalist/author Jeff Chang, among many superb authors.

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Here’s how it works – Bids on these special items are open to WPA attendees & folks who aren’t able to join us this year. Non-attendees may send confidential bids to 2016wpa@gmail.com and put either Manuscript Bid, Guitar Bid, or Homicide Seminar Bid as the subject heading.

Remember, these opportunities are extremely rare, so reach high and dig deep!!

At the posting of this message, bidding is officially OPEN! Good luck, and thanks for your support!

*Winners will be announced shortly after the conclusion of the August 13th WPA banquet.

2016 WPA attendees may submit their sealed bids at the Saturday night banquet.

Auction proceeds benefit writers by contributing to WPA expenses, academy tools and equipment, supplies, etc.

As always, we thank each of you for your support. And please, please, please share this information with everyone you know!!

 

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Many of you have sent questions regarding what to expect at the 2016 Writers’ Police Academy. I hope the following addresses at least most of your concerns and will also alleviate any anxiety you may be experiencing at attending THE most exciting event (on this planet) for writers.

Here goes:

  1. Wear comfortable clothing (see top photo for one example of what NOT to wear). After all, it is nearly impossible to duck live ammunition, crawl under loops of barbed wire, and defend yourself against twelve knife-wielding attackers while wearing heels and a skintight sequined ball gown.
  2. Bring only the things you need to the academy grounds. It’s tough to kick in doors and fight fires with a mini-fridge, desktop computer, and your three small kids strapped around your midsection.
  3. Speaking of kids, there are no childcare options at the WPA. We only have room in the timeout corner for misbehaving adults (those of you who insist upon breaking our ABSOLUTELY NO VIDEO rule).
  4. Camping is not allowed at the academy. Why not? Because we need the open spaces for helicopter landings and for hiding explosives. Yeah, you might not want to stray away from the group. I’m just saying.
  5. Please bring a photo ID and keep it with you at all times while at the police academy. Police officers are used to arresting people who have several aliases, so it’s best for them to know upfront who you really are instead of thumbing through a list of pen names and “writing as” monikers. Book covers/dust jackets do not count as official ID.
  6. When participating in the emergency driving workshops, please keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times. And no mooning your fellow recruits as your car passes by them while spinning wildly out of control.
  7. If you plan to drive to the academy, please remain inside your cars until the buses arrive and your fellow recruits begin to exit. There’s a very good reason for this rule and I think it has something to do with the armed tower guards who’re trained to pick off anyone moving around outside the academy.
  8. Thursday night orientation is where and when we provide details about the event—where to go, when to go there, what to expect when you arrive, receive your instructions regarding what to do and say if captured, and …
  9. The hotel bars and casino are well-stocked with alcohol, so pace yourselves. They will not run out of your favorite beverage. Keep in mind, too, that the next morning will indeed arrive and it will include lots of loud gunfire, sirens, and barking, snarling police dogs.
  10. We are currently seeking volunteers for the following:
  • someone to wear a Kevlar vest in the class that demonstrates how well those vests and trauma plates stand up to gunfire.
  • someone who’s willing to run away from a snarling police K-9 who’s hellbent on biting someone.
  • someone to be on the receiving end of multiple TASER deployments.

If we don’t get enough volunteers for these assignments we’ll simply pick people at random, without prior notice.

11. Those of you who’re scheduled to tour the prison. Good luck. We’ll see you back at the hotel … maybe.

12. Brings lots of smiles and be prepared to have the time of your lives. We’ve always presented a thrilling and action-packed event, but the 2016 Writers’ Police Academy is absolutely a heart-pounder. My goodness we’ve outdone ourselves, from a stunning hotel experience complete with an in-house casino and delicious meals, to an international police academy that trains elite law enforcement professionals from all over the world. We feature top experts and instructors, modern equipment, and the best attendees of any event anywhere!

You guys are indeed the best and you deserve first-class all the way, which is why we do what we do. The WPA is all about YOU!

*The WPA event hotel is completely sold out. However, we, along with the hotel staff, are working toward securing a nearby spillover/overflow hotel. We should have those details later today.