Upon arrival at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, one of three fabulous venues for the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy, Denene and I were immediately greeted by Mike Videc, the man in charge of the facility’s operations. Mike, from that moment forward, was my go-to person for everything. He made certain that ALL our needs were met. He and I exchanged early morning texts at 5 a.m. to discuss plans for the day—room setups, times to
switch on the menagerie of escalators and elevators, lighting, etc. We exchanged texts again late night ,after midnight, to see if scheduling had changed for the following day. He was on top of his job, and mine, every minute we were there. If we needed something, Mike handled it, and he did so with a smile on his face. His was the first face we saw when we arrived, and it was the last we saw as we departed Appleton.
Mike Videc is a fan of mystery novels. He’s particularly fond of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books (a huge fan, actually). And, after helping with the event and meeting so many authors who were new to him, well, Mike is now working his way through numerous books he purchased at the Writers’ Police Academy bookstore. He also won several at the raffle. He thoroughly enjoyed meeting attendees of the event, and I’m extremely pleased to have a new and very good friend.
Many of you now have a new fan.
Speaking of Lee Child, here’s how you can join Lee on the set of the hit TV show REACHER!
Our first official WPA business was a pre-conference meeting with hotel staff who, by the way, rolled out the red carpet to welcome the Writers’ Police Academy to the hotel. The pre-con meeting was attended by sales and event managers, reservations manager, setup managers and staff, hotel security chief, banquet managers, the chef, Mike Videc, and another Mike, the outstanding A/V tech who also made himself readily available from morning to night, and others. And, of course, Denene and I attended. We discussed every detail of the event and what we expected during our stay, and they took the time to explain their roles and how they’d fit into our plan. The meeting went well and those folks certainly didn’t disappoint. The executions of their plans were flawless. I don’t believe we’ve had a better hotel experience in all our years of producing and operating the Writers’ Police Academy.
So, day one of the WPA …
Attendees who stayed at the event hotel, Hilton Appleton Paper Valley received a free buffet breakfast each day in a private Salon reserved for the WPA.
12 noon – 4 p.m.
For four hours, attendees were treated to a large indoor display of various emergency vehicles—firetruck, ambulance, CSI, patrol car, SWAT drones, and more. Also available were tools and equipment used by different agencies, experts for Q&A and demos, K-9, SWAT, Suicide Awareness and Prevention experts, to name only a few. This was a phenomenal portion of the event.
Here’s a brief video I recorded while the various agencies were arriving to set up their equipment and displays.
The video and photos below feature a few of the indoor displays and demos.
2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The check-in process was as smooth as a newborn baby’s bottom. Only one tiny mistake (mine). I misspelled someone’s last name on a name tag. But that was it. The only issue.
Also, Jason Weber, the public safety training director, was present to handout continuing education certificates to WPA attendees who’d signed up to receive those valuable credits. I must say, it’s a nice (free) bonus to receive con. ed. credit simply for attending the Writers’ Police Academy.
After enjoying the cash bar and chatting with both old and new friends, a brief event orientation, and a first glimpse of the display of raffle and auction items (more about these exciting items in the next post), WPA attendees were treated to a presentation by Anne E. Swartz, the former Milwaukee Journal newspaper reporter who broke the story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and wrote the book, “The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough: The Story of Milwaukee’s Jeffrey Dahmer.” Anne and the reporting team were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
Anne’s latest book about Dahmer, MONSTER, was also the title of her enthralling presentation.
The evening wrapped up with Anne signing books for the crowd. Believe me, the line of people waiting to have their copies signed was quite long.
At the conclusion of Anne’s presentation, Mike Videc immediately went to work preparing the venue for the next day. When he was done he secured our things, locked the doors, cut the power to the escalators and elevators, and then switched off the lights before heading home. A few minutes later, just after midnight, he and I were chatting via texts to discuss plans and setups for the next evening.
I then had four hours to sleep, shower, dress, have a very quick breakfast, make sure the buses were on the way to the hotel to transport everyone to the public safety academy for the start of classes and hands-on sessions, contact Jason Weber at the academy to make certain they were ready with the live-action scenario that was to begin precisely at 8 a.m., herd everyone to the buses and check to be sure no one was left behind, and then drive to the public safety academy, a 25 minute trip. And … everything kicked off as planned and on time. Of course, at 5 a.m., Mike and I had already exchanged a couple of last minute “do you need anything, no, we’re good” texts.
Next up … Friday, the first day of sessions at the public safety academy.
Writers’ Police Academy Online’s Next Class
Behavioral Clues at Crime Scenes
June 25, 2022
11:00-12:30 p.m. EST
A fascinating live, online seminar taught by Dr. Katherine Ramsland. Session covers staging, profiling, character development, and more!
Dr. Katherine Ramsland teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania, where she is the Assistant Provost. She has appeared on more than 200 crime documentaries and magazine shows, is an executive producer of Murder House Flip, and has consulted for CSI, Bones, and The Alienist. The author of more than 1,500 articles and 69 books, including The Forensic Science of CSI, The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds, How to Catch a Killer, The Psychology of Death Investigations, and Confession of a Serial Killer: The Untold Story of Dennis Rader, The BTK Killer, she was co-executive producer for the Wolf Entertainment/A&E documentary based on the years she spent talking with Rader. Dr. Ramsland consults on death investigations, pens a blog for Psychology Today, and is writing a fiction series based on a female forensic psychologist.
Registration for this class is OPEN.