Registration for the 2023 Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) is scheduled to open February 1, 2023, at noon EST. This, our 15th year of delivering hands-on training classes and sessions taught by leading law enforcement and forensics experts, scientists, and other industry professionals, is likely the most exciting event we’ve produced to date.
We’ve added a special focus on homicide investigations that includes classes taught by top homicide and crime scene investigators, a coroner who’s also a flight nurse and author, evidence experts, SWAT team members, narcotics experts, behavioral health professionals, use of force and tactical response experts, The Operational K9 Medical Team of Wisconsin, and much more!
Our cadre of academy instructors are current or former officers who are also certified law enforcement academy instructors. WPA instructors train both new and veteran law enforcement officers, and several are instructor-trainers who are state DOJ qualified to certify new instructors in various fields. So yes, Writers’ Police Academy attendees receive the same training taught to law enforcement, at the same law enforcement training academy they attend, using the same equipment, firearms, and vehicles used by law enforcement. The Writers’ Police Academy is indeed actual law enforcement training. It is exciting. It is unique. And it is FUN!
2023 Guest of Honor
In addition to the core classes offered at the WPA, we’re extremely pleased to announce that our 2023 guest of honor is the fabulous Hank Phillippi Ryan. Hank is not only a wonderful and talented writer, she’s also an on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, winning 37 EMMYs for her ground-breaking reports.
2023 Special Guest Presenters
Each year, we feature high-profile special guest speakers who have special knowledge, experience, and background, and insight into crime, criminals, and crime-solving. These are experts who provide behind-the-scenes information that could help writers add detail that will activate the senses of their readers.
This year I’m thrilled to introduce our three special guest presenters—Photojournalist Mike De Sisti, Steven Spingola, homicide detective/TV personality (Cold Justice, a popular Oxygen Channel true crime program), and renowned serial killer expert Dr. Katherine Ramsland.
So, without further ado, please meet the Writers’ Police Academy’s outstanding 2023 lineup.
2023 Guest of Honor
Hank Phillippi Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of 14 psychological thrillers, winning the most prestigious awards in the genre: five Agathas, five Anthonys, and the coveted Mary Higgins Clark Award. She is also the on-air investigative reporter for Boston’s WHDH-TV, with 37 EMMYs and dozens more journalism honors. Book critics call her “a master of suspense,” “a superb and gifted storyteller”; she’s the only author to have won the Agatha in four categories: Best First, Best Novel, Best Short Story and Best Non-Fiction. Her newest is HER PERFECT LIFE, a chilling psychological standalone about fame, family, and revenge. It received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, calling it “a superlative thriller.” B.A. Paris says, “Shocking, suspenseful… kept me guessing until the end.” and Julie Clark says, “You will read this in one sitting!” It is now nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Contemporary Novel. Her next is THE HOUSE GUEST, coming February 2023.
Hank is a founder of MWA University, host of CRIME TIME on A Mighty Blaze, and co-host of First Chapter Fun and The Back Room. She is a past president of National Sisters in Crime.
Hank’s first novel, the bestselling PRIME TIME (which won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel in 2007) is actually not her first encounter with publishing. That was in 1969, when she got a summer job as a proofreader, and read the entire Indiana Code of Laws out loud.
Hank began her TV career in 1975, anchoring and reporting the news for TV stations in Indianapolis and then Atlanta. She’s battled her way through hurricanes, floods and blizzards, wired herself with hidden cameras, chased down criminals and confronted corrupt politicians. With ground-breaking reports including revealing mistakes in the 911 system that sent emergency responders to the wrong addresses, a failing jury selection system, firefighters given outmoded and failing equipment, corruption in the mortgage industry and unfair practices by powerful contractors, her hard-hitting journalism has changed laws and changed lives. She has also covered national political conventions, the NBA playoffs and the Super Bowl, and has interviewed newsmakers from Prince Charles to President Carter to Muhammad Ali.
Hank grew up in the Indianapolis area and went to Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio, where she majored in Shakespeare (and, she says, “minored” in “independent reading and listening to rock and roll records”). She also studied abroad at the International School in Hamburg, Germany.
Outside Channel 7, Hank has also been on the advisory board of the Lyric Stage of Boston, a professional theater company. There, Hank founded the Lyric’s “First Curtain” program, which provides the full theater experience for underprivileged students with free tickets and theater education scholarships.
Hank lives in the Boston area with her husband, a nationally renowned civil rights and criminal defense attorney.
Visit Hank at HankPhillippiRyan.com, Twitter @HankPRyan, Instagram @hankpryan and Facebook at HankPhillippiRyanAuthor.
Special Guest Presenters
Mike De Sisti has been a photojournalist with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel since 2008. He covers everything from breaking news, professional sporting events including the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers to features, and business assignments. His work has allowed him to travel to China for a story on paper production, Prague for Harley Davidson’s (a Milwaukee based company) 115th anniversary celebration) and to the Super Bowl. He teaches a news photography class at Marquette University in Milwaukee.
A native of the northwest suburb of Chicago, Crystal Lake, IL., De Sisti graduated in 1996 from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale with a fine art photography degree. His passion for photojournalism started in college while working at the school newspaper, the Daily Egyptian. He also worked at the Post-Crescent in Appleton, WI from 1998-2008. Besides photography, his other hobby is running. Mike has run 11 marathons since 2006.
He’s married with two daughters, ages 10 and 13.
When Darrell Brooks drove his red Ford Escape SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade on Nov. 21, 2021, killing 6 people and injuring dozens of others, it shook the city of 70,000 and the entire state of Wisconsin. Less than a year after the attack, Brooks would be charged and prosecuted in a Waukesha County Court. The four-week long trial was replete with disruptions and delays from Brooks, who decided just days before the proceedings began that he would defend himself.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photojournalist Mike De Sisti spent a majority of the time as the sole pool photographer in the court. He’ll show you in images what that process was like. De Sisti also responded to the scene of the parade attack the night of Nov. 21, and covered the aftermath the days following.
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.
Some youthful offenders have been lured onto criminal teams and carefully groomed to participate in murder. Their experience of killing is different from that of a primary predator, as is their post-murder response. For over a year, I’ve worked with Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr., one of the two accomplices to “Candy Man” Dean Corll, who killed at least 27 boys during the 1970s in Houston, Texas.
Henley reveals the mechanism of manipulation and describes where it went wrong as he resisted, then killed his murder mentor. Henley does not excuse his crimes, but he does wonder how he could ever have been involved. Through him, we learn how predators like Corll bait their potential partners and control their behavior.
Known to his colleagues as “the sleuth with the proof,” Steven Spingola is an investigator for Cold Justice, a popular Oxygen Channel true crime program. During a 2014 episode in Vigo County, Indiana, Spingola and another investigator obtained a confession in a decades-old cold case. During an intense interrogation, suspect Clint Mackey broke down and stated, “I went back, grabbed the knife and killed her.
Steven Spingola is an investigator with a national reputation for excellence. He is a 2001 graduate of the FBI National Academy, and he holds two master’s degrees. Steven is a death investigation expert, a police-related shooting reconstruction specialist, and is formally trained as a criminal investigative analyst (profiling).
Prior to his retirement as a lieutenant of detectives with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), Spingola supervised all major categories of criminal investigations, including stints in the Homicide Unit, Vice Control Division, Sensitive Crimes Unit, and Violent Crimes Division. He further served as the lead investigator for the Critical Incident Unit, a group that probes police related shootings, use-of-force incidents, and other significant events. As a detective, Spingola spent several years conducting death investigations for a homicide unit with one of the highest clearance rates in the country. He was heavily involved in the high-profile case of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.
Steve has authored several books: Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes 1 & 2; Predators of the Parkway: A Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders,and Staggered Paths: Strange Deaths in the Badger State.
A captivating session presented by author Steven Spingola, a nationally renowned death investigator who was heavily involved in the high-profile case of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Known to his colleagues as “the sleuth with the proof,” Spingola is an investigator and on-air personality for Cold Justice, a popular Oxygen Channel true crime program.
2023 Writers’ Police Academy Instructors and Classes
An often-unseen part of a homicide investigation, the coroner’s office investigates sudden, unnatural, and unexplained deaths. This course takes you from the scene of the crime to the autopsy table!
Jon Hagan, Coroner, RN, Flight Nurse, Author
Looking to add cold case investigations to your mystery writing canon? Join Bruce Robert Coffin, Retired Detective Sergeant and award-winning mystery author as he discusses cold case murder investigation police procedures, and more. You’ll learn the who, what, why, when, where, and how of cold case investigations and how to apply that knowledge to your writing.
Bruce Robert Coffin, Retired Detective Sergeant and Award-Winning Mystery Author
Investigating a crime scene, whether it is a burglary or a homicide, is a process that involves a wide range of skills and knowledge. Sure, it’s a bit easier to solve a crime when the found evidence is a warehouse filled with stolen goods, but when the clues are as small as a single fiber or human hair, speck of glass, a partial fingerprint, or DNA collected from shed skin cells, well, the situation becomes far more complex. After all, evidence collected today could also prove beneficial years later, making the role of crime scene investigators more crucial than ever before.
In this session, Crime Scene Analyst/Investigator Holly Maas guides participants into the world of evidence collection, detailing various procedures and methods, from lifting fingerprints to collecting DNA to interpreting blood spatter.
Holly Maas, Certified Crime Scene Analyst and Property and Evidence Specialist
Over 107,000 overdose deaths were reported in the United States in 2021. Through persistent efforts of investigators, many of these deaths resulted in homicide charges. This course is an in-depth look into the latest emerging drug trends in the United States, including the current fentanyl crisis.
Instructor – TBA
Many murder suspects flee the scene of the crime in a vehicle. Savvy law enforcement officers often spot the absconding suspect’s car and initiates a chase. During this exciting session, WPA attendees get behind the wheel of an actual patrol vehicle to pursue a suspect throughout a 26-acre closed Emergency Vehicle Operator road course.
Andrew Opperman, Professional Standards Division Lieutenant, Wisconsin Department of Justice Certified instructor in EVOC, firearms, and OWI/SFST.
Nicole Crocker, Detective, Wisconsin Department of Justice Certified instructor in Vehicle Contacts (Master Instructor), EVOC, Tactical Emergency and Casualty Care, Officer Wellness, OWI/SFST, Professional Communications, and Scenarios.
Law enforcement officers must be prepared for risks of all types, including gunfire and other threats of serious bodily harm or death. To prepare for the worst, they regularly train with various types of weapons. Hopefully, they’ll never face a situation where deadly force is required. Unfortunately, officers often encounter criminal suspects who are armed and extremely dangerous, such as a homicide suspect who’s determined to escape custody even if it means shooting responding officers.
In this hands-on session, attendees learn about, handle, and shoot firearms that law enforcement officers carry in the course of their duties, such as the Glock pistol and AR15 rifle. Participants become familiar with sight picture, sight alignment, stance, grip, and trigger control, and gain the hands-on knowledge of what it’s like to look down the barrel and over the sights. Experience the feel of the weapon, the pull of the trigger, the movements and action of the gun, and sound of the instructor’s voice when they give the command to “FIRE!
Ian Nishimoto, Certified Master Instructor—Defensive and Arrest Tactics, Firearms/Tactical Rifle, Scenario Assessment, and Tactical Response.
Ryan Peterson, Law Enforcement Academy/Criminal Justice Associate Degree Program Instructor, Former Officer in Charge, Field Training Officer, Evidence Technician, Firearms Instructor, Tactical Emergency Care Instructor, Threat Assessment Officer (Special Investigations Unit), SWAT Team Member, Task Force Officer—US Marshals Fugitive Apprehension, Patrol Lieutenant.
You and your team are dispatched to a location (our full-scale forced entry structure) where potentially armed and dangerous suspects are hiding. Upon arrival, you and your partners must enter to clear the building and apprehend the offenders. This course will have you ‘slice the pie’ as you make entry into an unknown building to begin your search.
Participants experience first-hand the heart-pounding, adrenaline rush of “going in.” What if the armed suspect is around the next corner? How many suspects are inside? What type of weapons do they possess? What if they’re a wanted person who’s threatened to kill all police officers who try to capture them?
*Explosive devices are used during this session; therefore, participants may be required to wear protective gear during this thrilling hands-on exercise.
Jon Nejedlo, Behavioral Health Officer, Field Training Officer, Training Unit Member, SWAT Team Member, Certified Instructor—Emergency Vehicle Operation and Control (EVOC), Vehicle Contacts, Firearms, Defense and Arrest Tactics (DAAT), Scenario Instructor, and Tactical Response.
Brian Jordan, Patrol Sergeant, Field Training Officer, and Training Unit Member, Unified Tactical Instructor (Professional Communications), Certified Instructor—Defensive and Arrest Tactics, Handgun, Tac Rifle, Tactical Response, Emergency Vehicle Operations, and Vehicle Contacts.
Finally, you’ve caught the suspect and now it’s time for you to “slap on” the cuffs.
This hands-on course details the different methods of securing the perpetrator. Attendees handle and apply chain cuffs, hinged cuffs, flex cuffs, and leg shackles. Discover how quickly you can get them cuffed & stuffed.
Angel Van Noie, Wisconsin Department of Justice Certified Instructor—Officer Wellness, Constitutional Law, Defensive and Arrest Tactics (DAAT), Physical Fitness, Hazardous Materials, OWI/SFST, Tactical Response, EVOC, Scenario, Vehicle Contacts, Firearms, and Professional Communications.
Neil Dorner, 21-year law enforcement veteran, Entry and SWAT Team Member, Evidence Technician, School Resource Officer, NWTC Academy Instructor.
Everybody loves watching TV shows like CSI Las Vegas, but how authentic is it really? This class, taught by a veteran police officer, gives you the real story on the basics of homicide investigation, and break down what cop shows most often get wrong. The instructor is also a published author of over 45 books and will give you tips on how to make your fiction more realistic and believable.
Michael A. Black, Award-Winning Author, Retired Chicago Area Police Officer (Patrol, Homicide, SWAT).
From missing persons to drug investigations to fleeing suspects, and even emotional support—K-9s have been a very important part of public safety for over 50 years! Unfortunately, there are times when K-9s have been attacked and suffered injuries. This course details how responding emergency rescue personnel and K9 handlers apply immediate medical aid to these valuable partners.
Lyn Schuh and The Operational K9 Medical Team of Wisconsin – Educators of K9 Handlers (Law Enforcement, Search and Rescue, Military K9 Teams, EMS Personnel and Firefighters) for Prehospital Emergency Medical Care for their K9 partners.
Mike Knetzger Certified Use of Force Analyst (Force Science Research Center) Patrol Sergeant (ret.), Certified by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Training & Standards Board to teach Victims, Defensive & Arrest Tactics, Firearms, Vehicle Contacts, Professional Communications Skills.
Jeff Steeber, Police Officer, Criminal Justice instructor at NWTC Certified by the Wisconsin Department of Justice to Teach Instructor Development (Master Instructor), Vehicle Contacts, Officer Wellness, EVOC, Firearms, Defensive and Arrest Tactics, Scenario, Tactical Response, and Constitutional Law.
The sheer unpredictability of calls and situations that an officer faces sets their job far apart from any other occupation—the person you believe to be a witness to a homicide may, in fact, be the suspect; encounters with individuals can quickly change from dealing with someone who’s calm and cooperative, to a person who’s combative with deadly intentions. To better handle all types of situations, from peaceful to life-threatening, academies use real-time scenario-based training, including virtual reality.
Participants in this heart-pounding hyper-realistic session use a state-of-the-art Apex Officer VR system that places them (virtually) into numerous environments and circumstances where they will have to think quickly to make the right decisions! This is the same training system used by law enforcement officers around the world.
Erik Walters, Public Safety Training Complex Specialist, Former Patrol Sergeant, Wisconsin Department of Justice Certified Instructor in Defensive and Arrest Tactics, Vehicle Contacts, Scenario, EVOC, Tactical Response, Physical Fitness, and Firearms.
2023 Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) registration is scheduled to open February 1, 2023. In the meantime, please visit us at www.writerspoliceacademy.com to view the schedule of events, a complete list of classes and instructor bios and photos, hotel information, the special Thursday afternoon session—Touch a Truck and Ask the Experts, and other details.
Reserve Your Room Early!
Hilton Appleton Hotel Paper Valley
333 W College Ave, Appleton, Wi. 54911
For reservations, call 1-800-774-1500 and Ask for the Hilton Appleton Paper Valley Hotel and the Writers Police Academy Block.
Click here for Online Reservations
The event begins at noon on Thursday June 8, 2023. It is highly recommended that you reserve your room from Wednesday June 7 – Sunday June 11 to take full advantage of the exciting activities.
Questions? Please contact Lee Lofland at email@example.com