Tag Archive for: 2018 Writers’ Police Academy

The rules were simple—write a complete story about the photograph below, using exactly 200 words. Not 201 or 199. Precisely 200 words.

Writers from around the world accepted this challenging assignment, sending us a mountain of entries. Then our team of screeners/pre-judges whittled those short stories down to a list of twelve well-told tales.

The top dozen stories were then sent to our renowned contest judge, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 50 Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense novels, Brenda Novak.

Brenda Novak

Brenda then read each of the stories and subsequently selected a winner and runners up.

Congratulations to everyone for jobs well done!




Here are the top twelve entries, starting with the contest winner, Frank Cook!

Remember, the focus of each story was based on the photo below.
So, without further ado …

2018 Golden Donut Shot Story photo prompt

1st Place

Frank Cook

The Last Look Back

“I show it to all my clients,” Karen told the woman standing in her office. “In the background you see a dead and decaying forest, then this old rickety bridge leading across to this side. I call it, ‘The Last Look Back.’”

The woman shrugged. “I don’t get it.”

“My clients come to me with, how should I put it? ‘Disappointing marriages.’ I make things better. I point to this photo. It represents what they had. A once young and caring relationship that has grown old and dry. And this old bridge,” Karen confided. “It represents their fear of crossing into the future. Can they trust their emotions? Their own decisions? Will they be ok?”

Karen smiled. “It is my job to bring them out of that forest and across that dangerous bridge. This photo is the last time they ever need look back on their past.”

The woman nodded and felt for something in her jacket pocket. “On the other side of that bridge,” she pointed. “And a little bit into that forest. We found six decomposed bodies there this morning.” She pulled a badge from her pocket. “Including your husband you reported missing.”

* * *


2nd Place

Ry Brooks

Bridge to Nowhere

I am an old footbridge, and in my time I have experienced some things. When I was young, many traveled over me. Sometimes, children tossed pebbles to watch them fall. Once in awhile, young lovers hugged, gazing at the rocks and rushing river below. Those were good times.

Lately, most people use the highway bridge downriver, and it has been lonely. Six daytimes ago, I had visitors, a man and a woman, but they were arguing, and I was glad they hurried across. They came back two nights past, and this time they were quiet. The man was carrying the woman, which at first I thought was considerate. But he laid her down, in the middle of my span, and then something terrible happened. The man dropped her body into the rushing torrent below and ran away. I felt anger at my powerlessness then, and wondered what could be done.

Tonight he is back, running from pursuers, and I am ready. He is almost half way across – there, I snapped my rusted support cables, right in the middle. It will also be my end, but after all, I am old and the man will not be missed.

* * *


3rd Place

Nana Herron

The Open Road


That voice. His voice. Echoed throughout the valley. Time was running out.


I was thumbing a ride when a pickup truck blew past me and stopped. The driver rolled down the window and smiled. “Didn’t yer mama ever tell you not to hitchhike?”

She had. I got in anyway.


“The open road ain’t safe for a pretty, young thing like you.”

“I’m not scared.” I shivered.

“You should be.” He laughed.


When the truck stopped, I ran. Brambles cut my legs. Branches slapped my face.

I hid. Had I been here before? If only I could remember…


The game was on.

I ran. My lungs burned as the old bridge appeared. Just a few more steps…


A shot rang out. I halted.

The bridge swayed and creaked as he approached.

When he lunged, I ducked. A scream pierced the valley.


I looked down the hole at his twisted body and laughed. “Didn’t yer mama ever tell you not to pick up hitchhikers?”

My work here was done. The open road beckoned, and I was itching to hitch another ride.

And, rounding out the top twelve, in no particular order, were …


Entry #30-Vinnie Hansen

Bridging the Gaps

The bridge swayed. Mark’s stomach lurched. White knuckles gripped the cable. “I never thought you’d come back here.” He shouted over the noisy river rush.

“What about you?” Erin’s face turned up, gorgeous green eyes searching his. “Samantha was your friend, too.”

Friend. Erin’s tone made Mark avert his eyes toward the trees. “But you were actually here, Erin. How awful.”

Erin sidled closer and wrapped an arm around him. “The scene of the crime.”

“Crime?” Sammi had acted impulsively the newspaper said, standing on the rail, leaning far out, blonde hair whipping, breathing in the ozone. Alive. “It was a horrible accident.”

His heart pounded. Erin had been the newspaper’s source. What was she telling him?

Hardness in Erin’s jacket pressed Mark’s side.

 In the distance, the bridge dumped into a dark hole in the forest. Sammi’s spirit had exerted a force, drawing Mark from Erin. His wife. A rock below had crushed Sammi’s skull. “Sammi was a mistake.”

“Yes,” Erin murmured.

He pivoted toward her. “You knew?”

She nodded.

He gulped. “But it was an accident?”

“A terrible accident.”

Erin backed away and pulled out a hammer.

The truth hit home with a thud.



Chelle Martin

Over the River and Through the Woods 

“Team Building” day consisted of hiking Black Bear Mountain and promised scenic views from a rustic footbridge. And possibly bears.

Before we’d gone ten yards, I became a mosquito magnet. Moreover, my boss and “teammate” insisted I carry his backpack due to his bad back.

We brought up the rear of six pairs, stopping frequently so John could check for landmarks, and I could gasp for air.

“The footbridge should be just ahead. Give me my roast beef.”

I pulled a sandwich from his pack and handed it to him. The smell wafted heavily on the humid air. “Aren’t you afraid of bears?”

He waved me off.

Out of sight, I called up an app on my phone. Once we resumed hiking, I hit play and John sprinted ahead at the sound of a growling grizzly.

I laughed until I cried, when a text came in.


“John! Wait!” The backpacks slowed me down. I arrived as John encountered a bear on the other side of the footbridge.

I hated to admit it, but the Black Bear Mountain brochure was right. The view really was spectacular.

* * *


Kathy McIntosh

Bridging Fear

It was not the same bridge. Totally different construction. My brain registered that fact, but the fear that lay deep in my bones and muscles rose unbridled by reality.

Home lay across that bridge. Home, peace, and Grandma’s peach cobbler. Downstream the pond waited for me, cool and refreshing. Ready for me to jump in naked, washing away the pain and soothing the scars.

My brain knew that. Knew that beyond that bridge I’d soon be enveloped in the love of my children and my husband. I knew how sturdy that bridge was, how it could support all of us and all the food we could tote. I smiled, remembering how we pondered each purchase, determining if it was worth the haul across the bridge and up the hill beyond.

That other bridge had been longer, stronger, built from concrete, built to last. Until an IED had destroyed it and most of my squad. Since that day I had been unable to cross bridges.

A cold, wet nose pressed against my fist and a soft, warm body leaned into my side.

“I can do this.” I stepped onto the wooden planks, my dog beside me.

* * *


Rick McMahan



“Yes, little one.”

“I’m scared,” she whispered.

“No one is going to hurt you.”  My large hand gripped her small one tightly as we moved on the swaying bridge.   Her palm was soft. Her bones delicate.


Looking down, I gave her my best toothy smile. “I promise.”

The planks groaned under our footfalls.

Glancing back over my shoulder, I could barely make out the three filled sleeping bags at the edge of the trees in the dying embers of the camp fire. The fourth bag was empty.

My feet picked up speed, urging us both forward.

“They will come for me,” she hissed defiantly.  “They’ll take me back.”

I didn’t answer her.

The cold river rushing below masked the pounding of my heart.

In the moonlight, I watched her free hand dance across the rough hewn railing. Her manicured nails were painted a fierce pink.

“They were a nice family,” my sister said.

“I know.”

My free hand hung down at my side. I still clutched the sharp knife. As we walked, I imagined I could hear every time a droplet of coppery blood fell from my blade and spattered the bridge.

“They were.”

* * *


Janice Peacock


Tillie bolted across the rickety footbridge, a drawstring bag of gold slung across her back.

“Do you think we lost him?” Sue called to her sister, not slowing to look back.

“I don’t know, and I don’t care. Keep running!” Tillie replied.

Halfway across the bridge, Tillie’s foot caught on a rotten plank, and she fell hard. Sue caught up with her, gasping for breath. Cannonball Churchill clomped after them, his black boots shaking the bridge with each step. The pirate wanted his gold back and wasn’t going to let a couple of girls outsmart him.

“Sorry we stole from you, sir,” Tillie shouted as she tied the sack to the bridge’s railing. The girls took off for the safety of the forest.

Cannonball stopped to untie the bag, his large hands struggling with the knots. The rotten planks creaked beneath the pirate’s feet and splintered. As his legs broke through the boards, he grasped at the wood crumbling around him. Plunging into the churning river below, he was whisked down to the sea.

Avoiding the bridge’s hole, Tillie tiptoed to the sack, untied it, and ran. Girls are much lighter—and much trickier—than pirates.

* * *


Michale Rigg

The Pack

Walking on the wooden suspension bridge over Benson Creek in the pre-dawn chill, Thomas counted each plank. Stopping at seventy-five, he turned toward his colleague, Hidalgo.

“Here,” Thomas said, “put ‘em here. Set ‘em at eight hundred.”

Hidalgo placed three homemade contact-mines on the decking. “Why eight hundred? Pack mules weigh a lot more, especially loaded with gold.”

“Not taking chances.” Thomas paused. “This job means I can move my family to town. They deserve the best.” He smiled. “My boys are working on their Orienteering Merit Badges today.”

“But what if someone—”

“Been watching. Company goons will arrive in about an hour to search for wires and dynamite. This early, there shouldn’t be any foot traffic. Besides, it would take a large group walking together to detonate these beauties.”

The duo camouflaged the devices and hid to await their prey. Shortly, just as the guards arrived, a group of young men dressed in khaki and green started onto the span marching in double-column, like an infantry platoon. Scouts.

Thomas jumped up and screamed. “Stop!” His face went numb.

As the explosions echoed through the valley, Thomas slumped to the ground and wept.

* * *


Crystal Smith


The world looks different when you’re hanging upside down by your ankles.

If Carl hadn’t been so obsessed with authenticity, he wouldn’t be in this situation.  He was building the wine list for his farm-to-table restaurant and heard rumors that a whiskey called Lone Bridge was the smoothest.  So Carl headed into the sticks of Georgia to look for the distillery’s secret location.  He didn’t know the liquor business was just a front for the owner’s gun running operation.  When Carl got halfway across the bridge, he was met by a group of men carrying rifles.

“I think we caught us a spy.  Who you working for, boy?”

“No one.  I’m a chef.”  That drew laughter and earned him a few punches.

“Don’t that sound fancy.”

They held him and searched his belongings.  Carl spotted a flask in the leader’s pocket and fear gave way to curiosity.  “Can I have a sip of that?”

“Why not?”  He tipped the flask to Carl’s mouth.  “Good, ain’t it?”

Carl nodded as the men lifted him over the side of the bridge.  Smoky with hint of spice.  It really would have been perfect.

* * *


Vicki Tharp


The Drako moons rose high as Coolidge dangled by his legs beneath the rickety suspension bridge. Sweat stung his eyes, and his abdominal muscles burned as he swung up and caught a guidewire with his left hand.

In his right, the remote activated blasting caps.

“Easy,” Holden called out from below.

“Shut it,” Coolidge said, too focused on the job to slap any heat behind it.

“Remember what happened last time?”

Why wouldn’t Holden let it go? “Nothing happened.”

“Exactly. Get this right, or we’re all dead.”

Coolidge attached the caps to the explosives. He panted through the strain on his core, completing the connections, and syncing his quantum controller. “It’s right.”


His redemption.

The ground shook as the platoon of Dragoons broke through the trees and stormed toward the bridge.

“Let’s go!” Holden panicked and squeezed off three rounds from his CytoBlaster. A Dragoon vaporized. Then another.

Coolidge fast-roped down under a barrage of return fire. They scrambled over the muddy bank, ducking behind cover. Coolidge energized his wrist-mounted detonator. He hesitated.

“What’s wrong?”

Blood pounded behind Coolidge’s eardrums. His throat went disaster-dry. “I can’t remember the passcode.”

* * *


64-Susan Vojtik

One Step

She stared at the end of the bridge. Home lay at the end. The little cabin behind the trees. Her husband waited there for her. He was angry with her again. This time it was dinner. Too hot or too cold or too spicy. Too something, for sure. He had yelled at her, beat her and then got drunk. And then he fell asleep. And she had walked down the bridge.

He had woken up a few minutes ago. She could hear him calling her as she stood on the bridge. The bridge that would lead her home or to freedom. He never allowed her to be on the bridge. She was excited and scared. The bridge meant freedom. Or home. But, freedom… He would take her to bed and punish her. The last time he did that, she lost the baby.

He called her again and she turned around. And took one step. Off the edge of that broken bridge, many hundreds of feet above the ground. And, as she took that step, she wondered if they would think he had pushed her off the bridge and would punish him. And then she didn’t care anymore.



It was nearly seven years ago to the day when I first made the three-hour drive from our North Carolina home to the 130 acre Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories compound, and I could barely contain my excitement. After all, the folks at Sirchie are probably the best in the world at what they do and the mere thought of the many superstars of crime-fighting from around the world who’ve been trained at Sirchie is almost overwhelming. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of crimes that have been solved using Sirchie products—products that are made right there on the compound.

After traveling for what seemed like an eternity, while answering emails and phone calls regarding the Writers’ Police Academy, the sprawling Sirchie property appeared on my right. The first thing that caught my attention was the golf-course-like green grass that stretched as far as the eye could see. And it was surrounded by what appeared to be an endless, gleaming, white 3-rail fence. A large gate, complete with a coded-entry system, was the only break in the fence. Very impressive.

I made the right turn off the winding country road I’d been traveling since I left the bustle of interstate traffic and headed through the opening in the metal gates. Two or three huge, white buildings sat at the end of the drive. And there was a beautifully-landscaped pond in front (I later learned the pond was even stocked with fish). There were no signs or identifying markers—nothing—to let anyone know that this was indeed one of, if not THE premier crime-fighting operations in the world. But, I soon saw a personalized license plate on a vehicle that let me know I was in the right place. The lettering had something to do with crime scene investigation. Bingo.

Anyway, the purpose of my trip was to meet with the folks who run the massive Sirchie operation to discuss their involvement with the Writers’ Police Academy. I can’t begin to tell you how lucky the attendees of the WPA are to have the opportunity to learn from Sirchie instructors. They’re the best-of-the-best and they teach the best-of-the-best. Needless to say, this is a rare opportunity and I’m so pleased to be a part of it.

After our meeting, I was given a tour of the place. And here’s a little of what I saw.

Impression evidence

All sorts of goodies filled tabletops, such as these flashlights equipped with special lenses used for seeing what the naked eye can’t.

Assembling narcotics field-testing kits.

Extensive instruction on bloodstain patterns is offered at Sirchie. WPA recruits will have the opportunity to attend one of these fascinating workshops, by the way.

Bloodstain class area.

Learning to recognize patterns.

Road-mapping to determine Area Of Origin.

So, how would you like to attend some of the extremely elite and specialized law enforcement-only classes at Sirchie? Well, you know me. I’ve got something up my sleeve that just might get you inside this very private world. Interested? Stay tuned …


Okay writers, it’s time to sharpen the pencils and get busy studying the above image and then assembling a grouping of words that’ll knock the socks off our mega-famous judge, Tami Hoag.

Yes, you heard me, Tami Hoag—THE Tami Hoag—will read the top twelve entries and then select the winning story. The contest winner, of course, receives a slew of cool prizes including the coveted Golden Donut Award!

Here’s what you need to do to get your writing in front of one of the world’s top authors (sorry for the small font—the graphic is a photo).

This is a fun contest!

Since the graphic above is a photo, the embedded links are not active. Here are the links listed within the newsletter, in their order of appearance in the piece.

  1. Click HERE for a link to more details and contest rules.
  2. If you’d like to be a first-round judge, email us at 2018goldendonut@gmail.com.
  3. Don’t forget to tell your friends who are figuring out how to budget for conferences this year that Sisters in Crime is once again offering a $150 registration scholarship to all SinC members attending the Writers’ Police Academy for the first time.
  4. If you need help with your travel arrangements, feel free to contact Darek Jarmola, the agent who handles arrangements for our guest speakers and experts. Derek is well versed in transportation options for Green Bay, Wisconsin. He can be reached at Darek@authenticeurope.com or by phoning 918-214-4582.

Tami Hoag – Writers’ Police Academy firing range


Tami after performing a PIT maneuver at the driving track. Intense action, and FUN! – Writers’ Police Academy


There is still time to sign up for the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. HURRY!

Again, If you’ve ever wanted to attend the WPA, I STRONGLY and WHOLEHEARTEDLY urge you to do so this year. Openings are available … this year. Could be your last chance. I’m just saying …



Working as a police officer extremely intense. It’s tough. It’s mentally and physically challenging.

During the course of a typical shift, officers meet many people while responding to various calls and while working a variety of assignments

While protecting and serving, well, here are five things they should ALWAYS do when doing what they do.


Spots are still available to the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. Yes, registration is still open and, we have lots more surprises on the way. This is an event you’ll remember for a lifetime so please hurry while slots are available! Oh, be sure to refer a friend and have them sign up as well. You’ll soon see why that could be a very important step.



Police officer academy training is extremely intense. It’s tough. It’s mentally and physically challenging.

During the course of basic training, officers are taught many topics, tactics, and techniques.

Academy instructors advise recruits on the hundreds upon hundreds things they must do right during their careers as law enforcement officers.

Here are five things they should NOT do.


Spots are still available to the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. Yes, registration is still open and, we have lots more surprises on the way. This is an event you’ll remember for a lifetime so please hurry while slots are available! Oh, be sure to refer a friend and have them sign up as well. You’ll soon see why that could be a very important step.




Tomorrow at noon (EST). Set your watches, timers, clocks, and all other reminder-type devices because registration to the 10th annual Writers’ Police Academy is scheduled to go live at that precise moment (12 noon EST).

Be ready to sign up because you will not want to miss the thrills and heart-pounding excitement.

Sign up the first day for a chance to win a FREE registration packet worth over $500! The WPA is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!



Here’s a preview of what to expect at the WPA. Crank up the volume, set the video to full screen, and hang on!

Just for fun, who can tell me the name of the person who’s eyes appear in the top photo?

Seeing is believing and the hands-on training offered at the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy is second to none. It’s thrilling, heart-pounding, and a ton of fun! Add a mind-blowing new level of realism to your writing. #2018WPA

Registration opens at noon (EST) February 18, 2018. Please be ready to sign up because spots for the 10th anniversary blowout are extremely limited!

Pursuit Driving – High Speed Pursuit! You will drive the pursuit vehicle!

Wound-Packing – Police officers sustain gunshot wounds in the field and it is often up to their partners to perform life-saving first aid techniques. Now you, too, have the unique opportunity to stop an arterial bleed, seal a sucking chest wound, or to stop bleeding from a gaping wound. Never before have writers been offered this behind the scenes, hands-on experience. Bring life to your characters. Realism beyond belief (Caution – graphic images, but this is a simulation. Not a real victim!).

Emergency Driving – Experience the difficulty of multitasking while driving, observing, and communicating, and all while utilizing lights and siren.


*Above videos were filmed at the Writers’ Police Academy training facility.

Using a .38 to shoot a gun from the hand of a bank robber from a distance of eight miles away is not realistic. For that matter, neither is shooting anything from a bad guy’s hand at practically any distance, but that’s for another blog article. This one is designed to help improve the shooting skills of the heroes you develop so carefully in other ways—they’re the best interrogators on the planet and they run faster, punch harder, and jump higher than any human anywhere. But their shooting abilities are a bit lacking.

Oh sure, you have them easily take aim and pick off the wings of a gnat in the next county over. But we, the readers, all know what we’re seeing is a load of hogwash. We know this because we see how the characters hold their guns. We see how they pull those triggers.

That’s right, we’re privy to to a writer’s lack of knowledge when it comes to things such as:

  1. Weapon Selection – Choosing the weapon that’s right for you and your character is important. Shooting is not a one size fits all activity. So shop around until you find the firearm that fits your/their hand, is comfortable in the hand, and one that is easy to handle.

As you can see here, the options are many. By the way, the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy features a workshop on Weapons Selection (Explore gun types to match the personalities of various characters of different eras).


2. Stance and grip – Accuracy begins with a proper and solid stance.

  • Your stance should be firm and unwavering.
  • Feet approximately shoulder-width apart.
  • Your body weight – well-distributed.
  • Lean slightly into the gun.
  • Grip on the weapon should be firm and strong, but not so tight that your hands shake.

3. Sight Alignment – align the front sight between the rear posts in the rear notch with an equal amount of light on each side.

4. Sight Picture – hold the sight alignment on the target, at the spot in which you wish to strike the object with the bullet.

5. Trigger Control – This step is extremely important! The trigger is the key to accuracy. Poor trigger control leads to poorly-fired shots. The trigger should rest on the pad of the index finger, approximately half-way between the fingertip and the first joint. NOT in the fold/crease of the knuckle! To fire, squeeze the trigger/apply a slow, steady pressure.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice!!

Spend as much time on the range as humanly possible. Well, that’s if you want to improve your shooting. If not, good luck during the next foot pursuit of a crazed and heavily-armed escaped convict/masked murderer/robber/rapist/known cop-killer.

2018 Writers’ Police Academy Offers Live-Fire Workshops!

By the way, you can enjoy time at the rifle and pistol range at the Writers’ Police Academy. Click the link for details. Registration for this one-of-a-kind thrilling event opens at noon (EST) February 18, 2018. This is our 10th anniversary so expect over the top excitement!

Range time – Writers’ Police Academy

2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Writers’ Police Academy and the event is nothing short of AMAZING! As in OMG A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.! Believe me when I say this is THE year to attend. Registration opens at noon (EST) on February 18, 2018. Please be ready to sign up the moment the clock strikes twelve because space is extremely limited!


Learn how a projectile behaves when it hits its mark and then transfers its kinetic energy to the target.


Crime scenes always tell a story, which shows up most clearly in behavioral clues. This can mean anything from signatures that link crimes to indicators of staged crimes to predictors of dangerous future behavior. This session shows writers how to spot and interpret behavioral clues during criminal profiling or psychological autopsy.


The science behind bloodstain patterns and spatter. Hands-on session that includes time with SPATTER HEAD! *HIT class


This is a HOT session. A vehicle is fully engulfed and it’s up to you and your team to extinguish the flames. *HIT class


Forensic art – composite drawing, facial reconstruction and unknown remains, cognitive interviewing, signs of deception.


Experience the sights, sounds, odors, and emotions associated with rescuing victims trapped in confined spaces. *HIT class


Officers must follow the law of the land and this session details the law as it pertains to traffic stops.


Techniques used to control behavior of cooperative and uncooperative suspects. *HIT class


Session explores DNA evidence, samples, the testing process, and errors often found in books, TV, and film.


Police dogs doing what they do best.


Experience the difficulty of multitasking while driving, observing, and communicating, and all while utilizing lights and siren. *HIT class


Dusting, fuming, and difficult to print surfaces are just a few of the fingerprinting techniques you’ll learn in this detailed hands-on session. *HIT class


A heart-pounding, eye-opening, and extremely realistic session where you must decide, within a fraction of a second, whether or not to use deadly force. *HIT class


As police officers, you and your partner respond to an alarm at a local business. It is up to you to search clear the building. Part of “clearing” involves looking for criminal suspects who may or may not be hiding. Of course, the person you encounter could be the janitor. Or is he?? *Participants will be required to wear protective gear during this hands-on exercise.  *HIT class


Learn the fundamentals of a Glock pistol. Become familiar with sight picture, sight alignment, stance, grip, and trigger control. Fire live ammunition on the academy pistol range. *HIT class


Hit List – the list of HIT workshops


Human trafficking – Details TBA




Learn the basics of the .223 patrol rifle, nomenclature, field stripping, fundamentals, and live fire on the rifle range. *HIT class


Learn more intricacies of the martial arts. The basics of getaways, pressure points, holds, locks and bars, multiple opponents. Learn how one defends against various weapons. Believe me there are big differences. Feel free to bring your fight scene (in your mind, not on paper) and we’ll try to work through it. Hands-on workshop.


If you’re writing a character who has studied or uses martial arts, pick a discipline that matches his or her personality and physical strengths. It will make your character more credible. We’ll give you information to help you choose wisely. You’ll also learn how martial artists in various disciplines are trained. This determines how they think and react when confronted. See what they see. Hear what they hear. A perfect way to build suspense in your fight scenes.


Why carry a gun when you can let a microscopic creature do the job for you? A collection of my most interesting and deadly microbiology cases. This workshop provides an opportunity for audience participation. Download the student version of the Socrative app so you can provide your anonymous (if you want) opinion on these fascinating cases. www.socrative.com/


Behavioral science is one of law enforcement’s most powerful weapons. Profiling—mindhunting—helps not only capture predators, but can also uncover the key to their motivations. Mindhunting will explore how criminal predators work, ways to prevent them from striking again, and how to protect yourselves and others by knowing your enemy.


More people now resort to public acts of extreme violence than in the past. Although it is still difficult to identify individuals who will act out violently, threat evaluation has improved. This session shows specific risk factors associated with the violent mind, understanding prediction limitations, and devising plans of action.


Opening Ceremonies by TBA


An examination of basic police procedures and how incidents can get distorted by the media.


What causes PTSD? The effects on officers and their families. The symptoms of PTSD and treatments. How departments and other officers respond to those suffering the effects of PTSD. How cumulative stress can impact performance and health.


High Speed Pursuit! You will drive the pursuit vehicle! *HIT class


Examining the love tendencies of law enforcement officers. From scandalous infidelity, to office romance and the sparks ignited while answering calls. We will rip the sheets off the mattress and expose the inside world of love in the cop world.


More than an Aerosmith song title, “Walk This Way” is a room-clearing tactic used by American Law Enforcement. Session also details how to distinguish whether or not someone is or was a police officer, and if they’re on or off-duty. Say what??


You will never approach or view staircases the same way again, ever! This session details how officers safely approach, explore, and evaluate stairways. Hands-on.


Workshop title and details TBA


Session with NYPD Detective Marco Conelli – Workshop title and description TBA


Each year we incorporate surprise sessions that are designed to excite the senses of WPA attendees. The purpose is to allow you to experience “events” that unfold in real time, just as officers and other first responders experience in the real world.


Ready, Set … Blow Down Those Doors! KABOOM! Yes, you and your fellow SWAT team members will learn to use explosive charges and other methods of gaining entry into “hard-to-reach” places. This is the real deal! *HIT class


Police officers sustain gunshot wounds in the field and it is often up to their partners to perform life-saving first aid techniques. Now you, too, have the unique opportunity to stop an arterial bleed, seal a sucking chest wound, or to stop bleeding from a gaping wound. Never before have writers been offered this behind the scenes, hands-on experience. Bring life to your characters. Realism beyond belief!


Tasers will be deployed. Class participation is encouraged … if you dare.


Actual courtroom testimony. Experience what it’s like to testify as a police officer, recalling incidents, responding to legal questions, etc. Learn how your testimony as a law enforcement officer affects and influences a jury.


You conduct the traffic stop. Various scenarios. Be prepared for … well, anything!


Do you know the truth when you hear it or see it? Join nationally recognized behaviorist, interrogation expert, and experience LAPD detective Paul Bishop as he guides you into the intimate world of interrogation—where success or failure is determined before the first question is asked.


Explore gun types to match the personalities of various characters of different eras.


How TV, movies, and fiction distort police work

*More workshops to be announced. Check back often to view new additions.

Each year the Writers’ Police Academy features a fun writing contest called The Golden Donut Short Story contest. We provide a photo prompt and writers must use it as the theme of their stories. The catch? Each tale must be exactly 200 words.

The concept of flash fiction is not new, of course, but the way this contest came about was, well, here’s how I arrived at the decision to include the contest as part of the thrilling WPA.

This was the time before cellphones, social media, and TV remotes

As a child, I read everything and anything I could get my hands on, from Superman comics to Poe. And, as a result, I often wrote silly little stories and even made a few attempts at poetry. But, as time passed, writing faded out of the picture as my focus turned to police work. I never stopped reading, though. Book after book after book. I loved libraries and book stores. I loved the smell of both new and old books. And I was never very far away from something to read. Running radar … sure, there was a book nearby for the slow times. Working graveyard shift … I had to have something to keep me awake during the times when drunks and robbers slept. Fishing … well, those sly rascals aren’t always biting.

Fast Forward to Shortly After Leaving Police Work (Retirement is Boring)

I wanted to write because I had so many stories to tell. And then I saw it … a writers group for beginners. No experience needed. So I signed up (this was 10 years ago, or more) and it wasn’t long before we were hard at work writing short stories. The instructor, though, added a twist to our assignments. He wanted us to write a complete story in exactly 200 words (now you know where I got the idea for the WPA 200 word story contest).

To write a complete story in 200 words was a tough task, especially for someone like me who’d never written anything worthwhile with the exception of a few hundred traffic tickets and thousands of police reports. The assignment was indeed challenging, and fun. And, later, we had to do the same in just 50 words.

I kept my first story as a reminder of the beginning. And, for fun, I thought I’d post it here today. What about you? How early in life did you know you wanted to write? Do you ever re-visit your early work?

Anyway, here you go … my first official attempt at writing. It’s called Economic Downturn. Remember, it’s an unedited first attempt/draft written 10 years ago. So a bit of pity for me is fine … 🙂

Economic Downturn

Moments ago, the palette of reds, oranges and purples streaking the horizon gave way to night’s inky blackness. The sun had surrendered its position to a heavy and swollen harvest moon. Milky light pushed its way through the tired oak’s twisted and knobby branches.

A cold puff of wind shoved and swirled ribbon-like waves of dried leaves along the cracked asphalt street. They made clicking, ticking sounds as they tumbled and danced along the cold and lonely tarmac.

As he looked towards the sounds, an icy chill swept over his jacket-less frame. Turning toward the house where his wife lay sleeping, he saw the once toothy Halloween jack-o-lantern. It had begun to rot and its sagging, twisted grin mocked him.

Time was slowing and sounds were disappearing as the big limb groaned from the stress of the foreign weight. The thick rope tightened still more as the massive tree pulled him upward against gravity.

His feet came to rest two inches above the cool earth, and the crumpled lay-off notice he had clutched so tightly fluttered to the ground.

His last breath gently floated skyward to mingle with the autumn air.

He wondered if she would miss him.