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Each year as a means to help support the mega-beast known as the Writers’ Police Academy, the event features a raffle and silent auction. It’s fun. Really fun.

Well, since we tend to offer some unusual items not typically available anywhere else, and after receiving so many requests to allow non-attendees to participate in the auction, we pondered the idea and, in 2016, decided to offer a few items for sealed bids. The move was a huge success, thanks to each of you!

Sealed Bid Auction – Open to Everyone!

This year we’re offering five exciting items for sealed bids. These are available to the public, therefore anyone and everyone is welcome to participate.

How Do I …


  • Type BID in the subject line along with with the name of the item, e.g. BID Guitar or BID Script or  BID Critique, etc.

  • In the body of the message please state the dollar amount of your bid (e.g. – “My bid for the signed guitar is $1 Zillion Dollars.”).

Also, please include your full contact information.


Bids will remain a secret until bidding closes at midnight PST, Saturday August 12, 2017. You need not be present at the WPA to win. Attendees of the 2017 may submit sealed auction bids as well, and the same rules apply.


Sealed bids are in addition to the raffle and silent auction items available at the event. You must be present to participate in the raffle and silent auction.


And now … The Items …

 

Oak Ridge Boys – Signed Guitar and CD

A guitar and CD signed by the legendary Grammy-winning Oak Ridge Boys. This unique item is a wonderful addition to any room in the house. I have one in our den, a gift from my wife who, by the way, spent big bucks for it at the auction. Superstar author Lee Child placed the winning bid a few years ago and he, too, has one of these signed beauties in his Manhattan office. WPA instructor/Detective Marco Conelli is another owner of one of these prized guitars. (In case you didn’t know, Marco is also a singer-songwriter/frontman for his own band in NYC).


Murder, She Wrote – Signed Script

Murder, She Wrote script signed by head writer/showrunner Thomas B. Sawyer. Tom also served as Head Writer/Showrunner or Producer on 15 network TV series. He has sold and written TV movies, 9 series pilots, 100 episodes, both comedy and drama. This script is a must-have prize of epic proportion, especially so for Murder, She Wrote fans, and writers of all genres.


Seat at a “For Law Enforcement ONLY” Gang Conference

This is HUGE! We have two seats available to a “law enforcement only” gang conference.
Police K-9That’s right, for the first time EVER, two lucky writers will have the opportunity learn and train side-by-side with top police investigators, all at a conference where outsiders are not permitted. That’s right, you’d be the ONLY writer privy to insider information about developing and maintaining confidential informants—gang-related, so this is especially tough for cops—human trafficking, how gangs infiltrate communities, Asian gangs, gangs and social media, and much, much more. This is a rare and EXCITING OPPORTUNITY that’s not available to the public.


A Complete Pond for Your Home

Cool indoor/outdoor pond.

A pond! No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. We have available for you a wonderful indoor/outdoor pond. It stands appr. 2-feet tall and appr. 4-feet across (appr. 40-50 gallons). The pond comes with everything you need. Well, you’ll have to supply water, plants, and fish, of course, but the rest—pump, liner, filters, plant baskets, light kits, etc.—are included in this package. Denene and I have one and we love everything about it, from the soothing sounds of the fountain to watching and feeding the goldfish to watching hummingbirds bathe beneath the fountain spray. This pond (retail value over $500) is absolutely COOL! Ours has provided countless hours of joy for us, especially seeing hummingbirds zip in to drink from the fountain spray and to bathes beneath the shower. It’s perfect for indoors as well. We’ve arranged to have the pond shipped directly to you from the warehouse (Assembly is required – takes approximately one hour and is remarkably simple. Hey, I did it).


Manuscript Critique by Top Harlequin Editor!

Ann Leslie Tuttle, Senior Editor at Harlequin Books is offering a critique of a synopsis and first chapter (up to 25 pages). How exciting, and what a wonderful means to place your work on the desk of a top editor!

ABOUT ANN LESLIE TUTTLE

Ann Leslie is actively acquires for HQN Books, MIRA and Harlequin/Silhouette Books, she is especially interested in finding paranormal romance and commercial literary fiction. Ann Leslie has acquired trade, hardcover and mass market titles with critical and bestselling potential. Edits an diverse author base, including NYT, USA Today and international bestselling authors Sylvia Day, Julia London, Megan Hart, Vanessa Fewings, Lisa Renee Jones and Rachael Johns. She manages lines of contemporary romance and special projects, including e-books. She is a popular speaker at writer conferences, including the Australia and New Zealand conferences in 2015.

**FINE PRINT**

The manuscript will be of standard manuscript formatting.  The names of the winners will be provided by the WPA to Jenna Kernan who will let Ann Leslie Tuttle know to expect your material for critique

*This prize was acquired by author Jenna Kernan for WPA.


When does this cool opportunity begin?

Right NOW! Yes, you are free to begin submitting bids this very moment. So … GOOD LUCK!! And, yes, we still have a few available spots at the Writers’ Police Academy. See you soon.


Special Notice!

To add to the fun, we will also be hosting a live auction of a few special items. Tami Hoag (that’s right, THE Tami Hoag) is the 2017 auctioneer. She is joined by author JD Allen. This is going to be a real hoot! Details coming soon.


Proceeds are combined with overall WPA funds and go toward overall event expenses, the opening ceremonies (featuring the blessing of the WPA by the Oneida Nation dancers, Miss Oneida, tribal elders), and a student scholarship funded by the WPA. Remember, the WPA takes place on the Oneida Indian Reservation (hotel, academy, and college).

*Winners will be notified by email. We will attempt to contact winners three times (one every other day, starting on August15, 2017), so please check your spam folders. If we do not receive a reply with five day after the third message is sent we will move on to the next highest bidder, and so on until the prize is claimed. Funds to secure bids must be made via WPA PayPal. Once we’ve established contact with the winners we will provide payment details. Items will ship/can be claimed once payment is received.

Fingerprinting birds. Sounds crazy, right? I mean, why would someone need to lift a print from a bird? Would an Emu stand still while a crime scene investigator dumped fingerprint powder on it’s beak? Probably not.

Have a seat for a moment and I’ll explain. This is good stuff, starting with …

Chicken Thieves

Years ago, chicken thieves were considered as the lowest of all crooks. After all, stealing someone’s chickens was to take away a family’s source of meat and eggs and even income if the farmer sold his birds to help make ends meet.

Therefore, it was not at all unusual for the local sheriff to receive a call about the shooting of a chicken thief. That sort of “farm justice” was unofficially permitted back in the day, because, well, why not?

Eggers

But it was easier to catch chicken thieves back then than it is to catch modern day bird bandits, the bad guys who poach or kill birds of prey and/or steal their eggs. The eggs, by the way, are most often sold to collectors known as “eggers.”

Eggers go to great lengths to obtain their prizes, climbing tall trees to reach hidden nests and venturing into other even more dangerous situations. For example, in 2006, a 63-year-old egger named Colin Watson fell to his death while climbing a 40-ft tree in search of eggs. Watson, by the way, had been convicted six times in the past, and for over twenty years was on the radar of authorities.

During a raid in 1995, police discovered a collection of over 2,000 eggs in Watson’s home.

The number of egg collectors has decreased over the years; however, the poaching of birds of prey has increased. Many of those killing these magnificent animals are ranchers and farmers who shoot, trap, and poison the birds who hunt on their land.

In the past, all officials could do was to collect the bodies of dead birds, many of which were discovered in odd places, places where deceased birds shouldn’t be found—at the bottoms of ravines, etc. In other words, they were found in locations and in positions that made it obvious they were placed or tossed there by humans who were attempting to hide their crimes.

DNA

DNA and toxicology testing are extremely valuable when investigating crimes involving wildlife (toxicology tells us an animal was poisoned and DNA can help establish whether an animal was involved in an attack, or not), but they’re not useful when it comes to pointing toward a lawbreaker. So …

A PhD student, Helen McMorris, at Abertay University (Dundee) has found a means to develop and record human fingerprints on bird feathers. The exciting discovery will now assist law enforcement with their investigations

In a recent interview, McMorris said, “The structure of a feather is very similar to the fine weave structure of some fabrics such as silk. It has recently been found that fabric with a thread count of three per millimetre can sustain a fingermark or grab mark and, after microscopic examination, it was found that bird of prey feathers have a barb count of three per millimetre, suggesting that they could sustain a fingermark.”

During her research, McMorris found that green and red magnetic-fluorescent fingerprint powder produced the best results when excited with a blue wavelength of light and viewed through a yellow filter. Doing so causes prints to fluoresce.

Bingo! If the person’s prints are on file, well, police would then have their suspect. At the very least, a fingerprint on a wild bird of prey’s feathers 100% proves a human touched the animal, telling authorities it was most likely man, not natural causes, that killed the bird.

Here’s a news flash that isn’t fake. There are people in this world who want to hurt us. Well, us and anyone else they manage to get in their sights. And, as we’ve seen all across the world, those bad folks use a variety of means to carry out their deadly missions—explosives, vehicles, gunfire, knives, etc.

While different, those instruments of death all have one thing in common—each is visible with the naked eye. Therefore, we can at least see those things. But what if we couldn’t? Suppose cars and knives and guns were all invisible and we had no means of detecting their presence? What if an invisible weapon existed, one capable of killing thousands all in a single act? Okay, and as Amazon’s Alexa would say, “Here’s your flash briefing.” There are indeed extremely powerful invisible weapons—biological agents—that can kill thousands upon thousands of people. Millions, even.

We provide extra gear for our police and military, equipment designed to keep them safe and to help conduct the arrest of armed, dangerous bad guys. We install barriers to prevent vehicle attacks on public buildings. We have radar and aircraft designed to defend the country against missile attacks. Our navy stands watch in the sea. Police and military and private citizens and corporations all train officers, agents, soldiers, family members, and employees in ways to protect against violent attack (active shooters, etc.).

But what about the invisible killers, the things capable killing entire populations—every single man, woman, child, and animal—of towns, cities, counties, and possibly an entire state and beyond? What have we done to safeguard against something as deadly as a bioterrorism attack?

Not an actual street and not a real “Secret Sniffer.”

Fortunately, there’s BioWatch, the early-warning detection system that constantly “sniffs” the air to detect the release of biological agents. Managed by the Office of Health Affairs/Department of Homeland Security, BioWatch, a network of over 30 jurisdictions across the U.S., receives support from other federal agencies, scientists, laboratory techs, public health officials, state and local authorities, and emergency managers.

Air sensors/monitors/collectors are positioned in various locations throughout the 30+ jurisdictions (these jurisdictions are made up of numerous towns, cities, and counties within a specific area). Scientists monitor the collectors, and they collect and analyze samples collected in the filters.

BioWatch collectors are positioned on sidewalks (attached to utility poles and other stationary items). They’re also in airports, bus stations, sporting areas, and other such areas.

Should a biological agent be detected at one of the sensors, the alert system is activated and authorities are immediately notified. Life-saving measures are then to be set in motion, such as supplying each citizen with a proper antidote.

Painting the town, one nose and one brick at a time.

 

Here’s a list of 6 important very real details that should/could be of interest to writers who want to go the extra mile when delivering believable make-believe.

  1. North Korea has launched a malicious cyber activity known as Hidden Cobra. According to Homeland Security and the FBI (this information comes via legitimate outlets, not through a web of anonymous and unnamed sources and leakers), Hidden Cobra works by capturing sensitive information, and by disrupting day-to-day operations. The Department of Homeland Security urges everyone, especially organizations of sensitive natures (banks, law enforcement, etc.) to upgrade to the latest editions of Adobe Flash Player, Hangul Word Processor, and Silverlight, and to review and block all IP addresses listed in the “indicators of compromise” list they provide. For full details, please visit the DHS site here, or the Hidden Cobra link above.
  2. Rapid DNA has been successfully tested in matching families with victims in mass casualties. The process greatly reduces the time it takes to (per the DHS) “reunify families and mass-casualty victims.”

Here’s a fairly recent video of Sen. Hatch questioning AG Sessions about the importance of Rapid DNA use in law enforcement and the need to approve it’s use.

3. The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, along with ILC Dover and West Virginia University helped develop the Resilient Tunnel Plug. This gigantic balloon-like inflatable device is designed to prevent flooding and chemical and gas attacks to a various tunnels, such as railway and automotive passageways. It’s sort of like a puffer fish in that when danger is sensed, the plug, like the puffer fish, inflates to ward off the trouble. When deployed (automatically or manually), the plug  falls from it’s storage compartment and inflates until it snugly fills and seals the tunnel opening. I understand that until the device is approved and in place and ready to work, puffer fish volunteers, among other portly swimming future-filets, are on the way to major waterside cities to assume the roles of temporary tunnel-pluggers.

4. Cell-site simulators—IMSI-catchers—are used by law enforcement, and others (bad guys), for the purpose of capturing cellphone conversations, pinpointing the exact location of a targeted phone, and even for the distribution of spam. The use of these devices by criminals has become more prevalent and, as a result, researchers at the University of Washington developed Sea Glass, a system designed to detect unusual activity in the cellular landscape. In other words, Sea Glass knows when it’s near an IMSI-catcher and it signals to its user when they’re close to one.

During a lengthy testing period in two major U.S. cities, 15 ride-share vehicles were equipped with Sea glass devices. The results indicated a pattern consistent with activity of several ISMI-catchers (also called Stargazers, among a few other names) positioned within the cities.

5. REDDI is the Department of Homeland Security’s latest program for training explosive detection K-9s. The purpose of this new training—to expose K-9 teams to current real-world conditions—is to further enhance the dogs’ ability to detect the presence of bombs/explosives. As you can see (right), the animals selected for the program are extremely smart, fearless, and well-schooled.

6. The Office of Naval Research awarded Dr. Nitin Agarwal a $1,530,778 grant to study sources of false information on the Internet and how it’s spread through social media. The study will also focus on how people and groups use this faux information to conduct cyber propaganda campaigns. Dr. Agarwal is the chair and a professor of information science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

A time-battered shed.

Front door, askew.

One rusted hinge.

Open slightly.

Wedge of sunlight,

On plank flooring.

Beretta in hand.

“I heard a shot, but I was too scared to look. Is he in there?”

“Stay back, please.”

Standing to side of doorway. Breathing heavy.

“Frank?”

No answer.

Heart pounding.

“Frank. I’m here to help. You okay?”

Silence.

Flies buzzing, darting in and out.

Deep breath.

Quick peek.

Maglight low.

Head high.

Minimum target.

Blood spatter.

Lots of it.

Tissue on ceiling.

Sitting on floor.

Shotgun in lap, upright.

“Frank, you okay?”

Useless words.

“Is Daddy all right?”

“Go back in the house. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Hand over mouth, sobbing. “Okay.”

Squeeze through door.

Flashlight aimed toward ceiling.

Holster weapon.

Friends since high school.

Twenty years, or more.

No face.

“Why, Frank? Great kids. Great wife. Nice house. Good job. Wonderful life.”

Silence.

Key radio mic.

“Send M.E. and paramedics. No particular order.”

Doesn’t matter.

BUT …

Chest moves, slightly.

Then, a wet breath … from somewhere.

A finger twitches.

“Frank?”

Another jerky, unbelievable breath.

“Hold on Frank. Help’s on the way!”

Frantically grab radio.

“Tell paramedics to hurry. Victim is alive. Repeat. Victim is alive.”

Sit down.

Holding Frank’s hand.

Sirens getting closer.

“Hey Frank. Remember when we …”

Old Cop

Over the hill, they said. The nerve of those youngsters, with their shiny round faces and buzz-cut hairdos. Why, it was just ten or fifteen years ago when I could deftly place sixty rounds dead-center of the target, leaving nothing but an irregularly-shaped and tattered fist-size hole.

I could read a rear license place from a distance of twenty car lengths or more. And I could chase a punk for miles and then bring him down and handcuff him, like a rancher ropes a steer.  Toe-to-toe and fist-to-fist, I could hold my own against any combative man, or woman.

Push-ups … could do them all night long.

Pursuit driving … piece of cake.

Now, mere days after receiving my thirty-year service pin, well …

Each time I lift my left foot to put on a sock, there’s a strange and quite sharp pain that shoots through the hip on the same side. So I’ve resorted to slipping the sock over my foot while it’s flat on the floor. This works okay, but leaning over far enough to reach my toes tends to cause a painful twinge in my lower back.

Tomorrow we’re scheduled to re-qualify at the range. I hope I score the required 70%. Otherwise, you get a second try at it before the department sends you packing. Can’t shoot, can’t be a cop. Simple as that. The last time I was there I sort of pointed my gun at where I thought the middle of the target should be and then hoped for the best. I scored 72%. I was just happy I passed and was able to keep my job.

tired eyesEither bad guys are getting faster these days, or my old legs have decided they no longer care if we catch them or not. And my breathing … wow, when did all that wheezing start? I used to be able to run ten miles without feeling as if my inside were about to explode into tiny bits of fire.

Speaking of getting faster. Today’s crooks must be driving super-fast, souped-up cars because I can’t seem to keep up during pursuits. They dodge and weave and glide through traffic like an olympic figure skater slips and slides across an ice rink. Me, my movements are herky-jerky, at best. I think the patrol cars they give us these days are designed to resist quick steering and acceleration. And they definitely prefer to move along at slower speeds than the cars we used to drive twenty years ago. Man, those cars could cut through traffic like a freshly-honed paring knife slices through butter.

Police supply companies have lost all my respect. Believe it or not, they’re cutting corners like all other businesses. The shoes they sell us are horrible. I say this with authority. Yes, I know what I’m talking bout. These two feet of mine are screaming at the end of the day. I know, without a doubt, it’s the shoes. My feet are not to blame. Sure, there’s a little arthritis in the toes. Still … It’s the shoes.

It seems like just yesterday when I put my hands on someone to cuff them and they did not could not pull free. Today, these youngster must spend every waking moment in a gym because they, every one of them, are as strong as a team of plow horses.  It’s tough to get restraints around the wrists of these super-strong people. Women are equally as strong. It has to be them, because I’m just as strong as I ever was. Really, I am.

I’ve still not quite mastered the computer thing. I’d still rather hand-write reports. Or, the old Royal in the corner is still just as fast and good as ever. Ribbon’s almost new, too.

68 percentThe boss tells me there’s an opening in the evidence room. The job consists of taking stuff officers bring in, assign it a number, and then stick it on a shelf until someone comes by to pick it up. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. That’s the job. Day after day after day. She wants me to take it. I don’t want to. Can’t really make out all the fine print on those evidence labels. I guess my eyes are just tired after all those years of reading and writing detailed reports.

Maybe, though, I should take the sergeant’s advice. After all, she says, next time I go to the range I may shoot a 68.

And, well, a 68 just isn’t good enough …

… and I love my job.

Really, I do.