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Exciting News!

The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to announce the June 2022 return to in-person, hands-on training in Green Bay, Wi., at one of the country’s top law enforcement training academies. Registration for this action-packed, thrilling event often sells out quickly. Therefore, for the first time ever you’ll have a chance to secure your spot in advance. In addition, this offer includes a 5% discount off the 2022 registration fee.

Here’s all you have to do to take advantage of this incredible opportunity—sign up to attend 2021 MurderCon. It’s that simple!

Click this link to sign up for MurderCon.

Once you’ve registered for MurderCon, your 2022 WPA spot is automatically reserved at the specially discounted rate (5% discount off the 2022 rate).

Writers drive police vehicles in hot pursuit, then perform PIT maneuvers. THRILLING and HEART-POUNDING!

This offer applies retroactively to everyone who’s already registered to attend the 2021 MurderCon event!

Those of you who elected to rollover your Writers’ Police Academy registrations from the 2020 event that cancelled due to COVID, your spot is reserved for the 2022 WPA, at the 2020 rate. 

To claim your discounted rate, you must complete a new registration form. The 2022 WPA registration opens in February. Details coming soon.

In the meantime, sign up to attend the 2021 MurderCon, the ultimate training event featuring incredibly detailed and cutting-edge workshops. 

Click this link to sign up for MurderCon.

All MurderCon participants will receive a free mini fingerprinting kit to be used during an interactive class!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MurderCon sessions, taught by some of the world’s leading experts, have never been available to writers, anywhere. The information presented is typically for law enforcement eyes only./

 

 

*The exact days of the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy date TBD.

From the start of the Writers’ Police Academy over a dozen years ago, we’ve taken writers inside the typically closed world of law enforcement, forensics, EMS, and firefighting. We’ve introduced you to world-renowned experts. We’ve helped establish contacts between writers and experts, writers with agents and editors, and more. We’ve seen beginning writers grow, and we’ve seen seasoned authors expand their knowledge in ways that were once not possible.

It’s been a long and exciting journey, one that we’ve made together.

Our 2021 event, MurderCon, continues the tradition of delivering spectacular, unique classes. So without further ado … the fabulous 2021 lineup.

2021 Guest of Honor – Andrew Grant (Child)

Andrew Grant was born in Birmingham, England in May 1968. He went to school in St Albans and later attended the University of Sheffield where he studied English Literature and Drama. After graduation Andrew set up and ran a small independent theatre company which showcased a range of original material to local, regional and national audiences. Following a critically successful but financially challenging appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Andrew moved into the telecommunications industry as a ‘temporary’ solution to a short-term cash crisis. Fifteen years later, after carrying out a variety of roles—including a number which were covered by the UK Official Secrets Act—Andrew escaped from corporate life, and established himself as a critically-acclaimed author. He published nine novels under his own name, and in 2020 began a collaboration—writing as Andrew Child—with his brother Lee, to continue the internationally-bestselling Jack Reacher series.

He is married to novelist Tasha Alexander, and lives on a wildlife preserve in Wyoming, USA.

 

1. Rescue Your Characters from Sticky Situations: Fingerprinting Problematic Surfaces

Learn how experts process fingerprints on problematic surfaces, such as the sticky sides of various tapes, wet and/or textured surfaces, firearms, and more. Class includes instruction on forensic chemical processing and the use of powders and brushes to develop and capture prints. Attendees will receive training from one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field, who will lead the class in real-time, hands-on fingerprinting exercises using the kit supplied to attendees by Sirchie.

*All MurderCon attendees will receive the Sirchie kit in advance of the event!

Instructor – Andy Parker

Andy Parker has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology / Criminal Justice from Florida State University. He began his career in law enforcement with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. After seven years with FDLE, he worked crime scenes, analyzed latent prints and footwear evidence for the Tallahassee Police Department. In 2002 he began work with the City-County Bureau of Identification in Raleigh NC. At CCBI, he has held the position of Latent Print Examiner, Latent Print Section Supervisor, Deputy Director in charge of the Identification Division, Deputy Director in charge of the Laboratory and currently is responsible for the Investigations Division.  He is a certified Latent Print Examiner with the IAI. Andy is also a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy.


2. “Spatter” or “Splatter?” Have You Written it Right, or Wrong?

Attendees will witness the real-time creation of various bloodstain patterns, and then learn to recognize each configuration and how investigators determine where an injury or bleeding event occurred.

Former FBI Special Agent David Alford, a founding member of the FBI Evidence Response Team, presents the key information to each type of design and shape, and how the volume of blood, amount of force, and directionality of the force can form consistent patterns while still producing individual flares to each stain.

Combining this incredibly detailed training with their own observations, the class will understand how bloodstain patterns tell a story. This session is certain to help your stories zing with realism, including correcting an often-misused term. Is it Spatter, or Splatter? One is appropriate. The other is not.

Short Story Contest – Bloodstain pattern posters will be provided to attendees, who will then arrange them in their own unique order to build a crime scene. Then, when the plot begins to thicken, use those mysterious details to write a short crime story of 500-800 words to be submitted to contest judges. Prizes will be awarded to the authors of the top three stories. Contest to be judged blindly. Participation is merely a fun exercise and is not mandatory.

Instructor – David Alford


3. Solving the Unsolvable: The Pandemic of Murder Cases Across the U.S.

With over 17,000 murders in the United States each year, and nearly 40% of the murders going unsolved, a quarter million unsolved murders remain in filing cabinets and databases across the country. As a member of the Vidocq Society that specializes in assisting law enforcement in solving the most complicated murder cases, the instructor details why cases “go cold” and how detectives can become more efficient and effective at solving the most violent and serious crimes committed in the United States.

Instructor – Dave Pauly.

David Pauly retired from The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command as a Special Agent-in-Charge/Commander and Forensic Science Officer. He performed duties in over a dozen states, and frequently worked with local, state, and federal agencies. He also performed duties in Panama, South Korea, Afghanistan, Haiti, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Sinai, Egypt, Canada, Guam, and Nigeria. He holds a Master of Forensic Science degree from The George Washington University and is currently the Director of Applied Forensic Science at Methodist University, Fayetteville, NC.

David graduated the FBI National Academy (Session 195), Canadian Police College – Major Crimes Course, Miami-Dade Police Department – Bloodstain Interpretation Course, and National Fire Academy – Arson Investigation Course. He is a Fellow of The American Academy of Forensic Science, and is a current, or past member of the International Association of Identification, North Carolina Chapters of the IAI and FBINAA, International Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts, North Carolina Homicide Investigator’s Association, The Vidocq Society, American Investigative Society of Cold Cases (AISOCC), and various other professional law enforcement and/or forensic science associations.


4. Case Study of the FBI

She had a lot going for her—living on the Presidio of San Francisco with a gorgeous view of the ocean, a husband in the US Army, two sons, and a good path forward. Little did she know, on one February day, people stood outside her front door waiting to kill her. When she opened it, she was shot seven times, beaten, and stabbed. If she’d had any hope of surviving the deadly encounter, those expectations were dashed when her attackers slashed her throat, from ear-to-ear.

This presentation is the story told by David Alford, the FBI agent who worked the case. You’ll see photos of the crime scene, and you’ll learn about the FBI investigation which took four years to unravel the convoluted details. Was the victim’s killer an upset boyfriend? Her husband, or his mother who was happy to “take care of her no-good daughter-in-law?” Were others involved? It took another six years to bring four defendants to justice.

The bloody crime scene was preserved the entire ten years, remaining much like it was found the night of her murder. The break in the case came during a call from Fort Worth, Texas, when a host of participants and witnesses relayed various pieces of information needed to solve the case, including a string of arsons, a heartless nurse and mother, a new wife, a box of money, a map from Germany, and sex games used to eliminate one of the witnesses. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Instructor – David Alford


5. Criminal Homicide: Viewing a Murder Scene Through the Eyes of a Seasoned Detective

Acclaimed homicide detective Jeff Locklear takes the class inside the barriers of crime scene tape, to a place where only police and medical examiners are permitted to go. This is a rare opportunity for writers to learn insider details of investigating suspicious deaths, and to pick the brain of a highly successful homicide detective who’s solved hundreds of murders, including high-profile homicide cases featured in the national media.

Instructor – Det. Jeff Locklear

Detective Sergeant Jeff Locklear, a 22-year veteran law enforcement officer, currently works with the Fayetteville North Carolina Police Department as a homicide police specialist and training officer.

As a homicide detective he’s been involved with over 350 homicide investigations. He’s also investigated hundreds of violent felonies including rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, and missing persons.

During his career he has responded to hundreds to death scenes such as suicides, homicides, accidental deaths, and natural and unexplained deaths.

Detective Locklear has conducted thousands of interviews of violent offenders, including cases featured on 48 hrs (The Kelli Bourdeaux murder), Swamp Murders, NCIS – The Cases They Can’t Forget: The Holley Wimunc Murder, Scorned Love Kills 2014, The Today Show, and numerous other news and media outlets, such as People Magazine and Time Magazine.

He’s a founding member of both the 2008 Fayetteville Police Homicide Squad and the 2016 Fayetteville Police Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT). In addition, he’s served as sheriff’s deputy , Forensic Technician, Patrol officer , Crimes against persons detective, homicide detective, gun and gang task force detective, and as a Violent Criminal Apprehension Team Detective.

Detective Locklear has presented cases workshops at a number of conferences and events, including the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Conference, North & South Carolina Arson Investigators Conference , Fayetteville State University (Criminal Justice), Fayetteville Technical Community College (Registered Nursing students), Methodist University, and more.

Having spent the majority of his career investigating violent crimes, Detective Locklear has a unique and vast perspective of being the first officer on scene, the Forensic technician processing the scene, the detective investigating the crime, and the detective whose task it is to track down and capture the suspects who committed the crimes. He’s a dynamic speaker who can “escort you” to a crime scene, “walk you” through what happened, “show you” who did it, and then “lead you” to where the suspect fled after committing the offense.

Detective Locklear is married and the father of three children.


6. Forensic Toxicology: Poisoners Throughout History

An entertaining and educational discussion of the history of homicidal poisoning from the days of early man, down to the present, with case discussions of real poisoners drawn from criminal history. Also discussed will be the psychology of the poisoner, and poisons used by writers in their fictional works.

Instructor – John Trestrail, the “Poison Detective”

John Harris Trestrail, known as “The Poison Detective,” is a practicing boarded toxicologist, and for many years, was a visiting instructor at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, on the subject of murder by criminal poisoning.

Mr Trestrail is recognized internationally, as the foremost authority on criminal poisoning and murder by poison. For 33 years (1976-2009), he served as the Managing Director of one of the nation’s certified regional poison centers. He now serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of Criminal Poisoning.

Since 1990, Mr. Trestrail’s seminars on“Murder by Poison!” and “Poisoners Throughout History”, have been received with wide acclaim by audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.  Having presented over 300 seminars, he is a popular speaker.

As an expert consultant, Mr. Trestrail has served in many criminal poisoning investigations, to law enforcement and attorneys. He has been honored as a Fellow by the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology, and is a Diplomate, by examination, of the American Board of Applied Toxicology. Mr. Trestrail founded the Center for the Study of Criminal Poisoning, as well as the Toxicological History Society, and has been featured in multiple episodes on The Discovery ChannelThe History Channel, The Learning Channel, and PBS.

He was the project leader for the forensic research project that was able to resolve the key question in the famous British, 1910 Crippen murder case, using DNA comparisons with living exemplars, and took part in London, England, as a member of the research team, in the making of the PBS documentary “Secrets of the Dead: Executed in Error”, on this infamous poisoning murder case. He has been an active participant in the International Program on Clinical Safety, of the World Health Organization (WHO), working for the establishment of poison control services in the world’s developing countries.

Mr. Trestrail is the author of the pioneering book Criminal Poisoning: An Investigational Guide for Law Enforcement, Toxicologists, Forensic Scientists, and Attorneys, published by Humana Press, in 2000 (2nd edition in 2007). He is also one of the co-editors of the popular book Toxicology Secrets, published by Hanley and Belfus Publishers, in 2001. His third book The Poison Quiz Book(2nd Ed.), was published by McGraw-Hill, in 2006.

Graduating with honors, Mr. Trestrail obtained a B.S. degree in Pharmacy, from Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan, in 1967, where he was initiated into Rho Chi (Pharmaceutical Honor Society). In 2010, he received the Ferris State University’s “Distinguised Alumnus Award”.  From 1967-1968, he attended graduate school, at the College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, majoring in natural product chemistry. Mr. Trestrail’s public service experience was as a Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps, from 1968-1970, where he taught chemistry at the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture, in the Republic of the Philippines.

He is a member of the following professional organizations:

  • American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (AACT)
  • American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC)
  • North American Mycological Association (NAMA) [Life Member]
  • Toxicological History Society (THiS)

7. Forensic Botany: Utilizing Plant Evidence to Solve Crimes

Forensic botanical evidence is relevant in high‐profile criminal casework and in circumstantial cases where little other evidence is available. When requested to assess the value of botanical evidence, a myriad of questions typically arise. A discussion of available scientific methods follows to establish how best to classify, identify, individualize, database and utilize this unique form of biological evidence. Case examples are often the best method for visualizing applications and fostering discussion with investigators. Two of the most fascinating cases I have been asked to participate in include a John Jay University student homicide where plant seed evidence was associative to the body, vehicle, and defendant (People of the State of New York v. Darryl Littlejohn); and an outdoor crime scene and clandestine grave where placement of botanical evidence and weather conditions were key controversial evidence regarding criminal intent and premeditation (State of Kansas v. Luis Aguirre).

Instructor – Dr. Heather Miller Coyle

Heather Miller Coyle is an Associate Professor in the Forensic Science Department at University of New Haven, a small private University located in West Haven, CT. She obtained her B.S. in In Vitro Cell Biology from State University of New York –Plattsburgh in 1986 and her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from University of New Hampshire in 1994.

Her work experience includes employment in the pharmaceutical industry (Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals; Ridgefield, CT) and the DNA unit of a forensic science laboratory (Division of Scientific Services; Meriden, CT). She is also a private consultant for DNA review and independent quality control of forensic laboratory casework on request and is court qualified to testify in six states and federal court.

Dr. Coyle’s research interests focus on touch DNA cases, trace biological evidence and DNA quality control issues. She is a science and technical writer who has published numerous scientific and technical peer-reviewed journal articles both independently and with University of New Haven student research projects.

She is also the editor of a textbook on Forensic Botany and a separate textbook on Nonhuman DNA; both relate to criminal casework and use of scientifc methods. Her consulting on botanical evidence includes assessment of cases such as the homicide of Imette St. Guillen (People of the State of New York v. Darryl Littlejohn), a double homicide with an outdoor crime scene excavation (State of Kansas v. Luis Aguirre), and the St. George’s County homicides (State of Maryland v. Jason Scott).


8. Mantracking: Hunting Humans

With thousands of fugitives going on the run each year it takes a dedicated, persistent, and competent “tracker” to locate and successfully return the most violent and dangerous felons to law enforcement to stand trial for their crimes. Taught by a world-renowned tracker, this session will provide details to add to your one-of-a-kind story.

Instructor – Kyt Walken

Kyt Lyn Walken serves as an official representative of Hull’s Tracking School and is the first female mantracking lead instructor at a U.S. school based in Europe. In Poland, she received instruction led by C.R.O.W. (Conservation Rangers Operations Worldwide Inc.) and was certified as a Wildlife Conservation Ranger.

Currently, Kyt hosts and teaches “ManTracking” courses across Europe, collaborating with Survival Schools, S.A.R. Groups, and with Ballistic Experts. She is proficient in Tactical Tracking, Anti- and Counter-Tracking, Strategic Movement, and Deceptive Techniques.

Kyt has trained Slovenian, German, and Italian Law Enforcement Officers, and members of Special Forces. She is a regular feature writer for prestigious US and UK based webzines whose focuses are Survival, Off-grid Living, and Prepping.

Recently Kyt has been entitled Directora de la Escuela de Rastreo Umano Carcayú (Director of the Umano Carcayú Tracking School) – Spain.

She is author of the Manuals “The Importance of Being a Tracker”, “The Urban Tracker”, “Tracking Compendium”(with Andy Martin) and “Jungle Warriors: The SAS In Malesia and Borneo,” available in English and Spanish.


9. Carolina Homicide: Case Studies of the South

Southern charm can be inviting, warm, and welcoming, but it can also have a dark side. Taught by one of the south’s finest detectives, Jeff Locklear, this session offers rare insight into homicides committed in the All-American City—Fayetteville, NC.

Nestled next to Fort Bragg, home of the Airborne Special Forces and Delta-Force, Detective Locklear and his fellow investigators have their hands full working cases that easily rival those of The Big Apple.

Instructor – Jeff Locklear


10. Forensic Entomology: Utilizing Insects in Criminal Investigations

Insects that inhabit human tissue in postmortem situations can play a valuable part in death investigations. In this class, taught by one of the world’s leading forensic entomologists, you’ll learn how experts use medicocriminal entomology to help determine time of death, establish the geographical location where a death likely occurred, link suspects to victims, and even offer a different source of toxicology and DNA evidence.

Instructor – Jason Byrd

Jason H. Byrd, Ph.D., D-ABFE, is an associate professor within the University of Florida Department of Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine and the associate director of the William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine.

In his capacity as a professor, Dr. Byrd directs programs in veterinary forensic sciences, wildlife forensic sciences, and forensic medicine. He has combined his formal academic training in entomology and forensic science to serve as a consultant and educator in both criminal and civil legal investigations throughout the United States and internationally.

Dr. Byrd specializes in the education of law enforcement officials, medical examiners, coroners, attorneys and other death investigators on the use and applicability of arthropods in legal investigations. His research efforts have focused on the development and behavior of insects that have forensic importance, and he has more than 20 years of experience in the collection and analysis of entomological evidence. He has also published numerous scientific articles on the use and application of entomological evidence in legal investigations.

Outside of academics, Dr. Byrd serves as a medicolegal death investigator within the National Disaster Medical System, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, Region IV. He also serves as the commander for the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System.

Dr. Byrd is a Board-certified forensic entomologist and a diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Entomology.  He was the first person to be elected as president of both the American Board of Forensic Entomology and the North American Forensic Entomology Association.  He has also served as President of the International Veterinary Forensic Sciences Association and subject editor for the Journal of Medical Entomology.  Dr. Byrd is also a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


11. Committing the Perfect Murder – an interactive discussion of not getting caught

Modus operandi, Motive, Signature, Trophy, and X-factors are intriguing concepts to consider when writing the perfect plot. But pulling off the perfect crime is rarely accomplished by even the most prolific and intelligent of offenders. Attend this special session to discuss how to conceptualize the perfect murder!

Instructor – Dave Pauly

 


12. Trivia “Myth Busters”

Test your CSI and forensics knowledge. Is the information you see on television and film correct? How accurate is the crime scene technology, evidence processing, and police procedure seen in crime fiction? This informative panel discussion and Q&A will “bust” all common myths, mistakes, blunders, and gaffes.

A must-attend session designed to help writers eliminate embarrassing missteps in their stories.


Each registered attendee receives an official mini Fingerprinting Kit from Sirchie. The kit is to be used during the session called “Rescue Your Characters from Sticky Situations: Fingerprinting Problematic Surfaces,”
an interactive session taught by Andy Parker, a certified Latent Print Examiner with the IAI. Andy is also a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy.

Registration is open.
Seats at this virtual event are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
*Please direct questions to Lee Lofland at [email protected]

Sponsors, The Heroes that help make it all happen. You can too!

The Writers’ Police Academy needs your support!

Each year we rely on sponsorships to help offset the huge costs associated with the high level of programming we offer. Sponsor dollars also assist in maintaining affordable registration fees for writers at all stages of their careers.

Yes, sponsoring the Writers’ Police Academy is a worthy cause, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to showcase your books and other products through the WPA’s unique far-reaching worldwide community of thousands upon thousands of writers, readers and fans, television and film writers. There’s also the potential to reach audiences not typically within an author’s fanbase, such as the over 700,000 law enforcement officers in the U.S. alone. In addition are forensics experts, attorneys, firefighters, corrections officers and staff and, well, the list is practically endless. The Writers’ Police Academy is the ultimate means of developing previously untapped sources of customers and readers.

Sponsorships are also a vital part of helping the Writers’ Police Academy continue with its unwavering commitment to aiding writers in their quest to write “killer” fiction.

So won’t you please join us as a 2021 sponsor? I’d deeply appreciate it!

Several levels of sponsorship are listed on the MurderCon website. They range from the Hero Level to friends of the WPA at the other end of the spectrum. No amount is too small or too large, and every single dollar is much appreciated and very much needed.

The list of sponsorship levels and benefits is available on the WPA “Become a Sponsor”page. There, you may also select the level of your choice and then and submit the corresponding dollar amount via PayPal. Or, payment by check is also welcome.

Sponsors are featured and promoted on the WPA/MurderCon sponsor page, on social media throughout the year, and on this blog, The Graveyard Shift.

Please contact me with your questions at [email protected]

The Writers Police Academy, and the writing community, wish to extend a deep and heartfelt “Thank You” to each of our generous supporters. Without you, dear friends, this celebrated event would not be possible.

What is it that sets writers of crime fiction apart from, well, everyone else in the entire world? Could it be that …

1. The worst murder scene in the world pales in comparison with the thoughts roaming through your mind at any given moment of the day.

2. You actually do wonder what human blood smells like.

3. Somewhere in your house is a book containing photos of crime scenes and/or dead bodies. (Click the book!)

51uTGkVA7kL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

4. You want to ride in the back seat of a police car.

5. Your internet search history has a file all its own at the Department of Homeland Security.

6. At least once in your life you’ve asked your significant other to pose in a certain way so you can see if it’s possible/believable to stab, cut, shoot, hack, or strangle them from a variety of angles.

New-Picture-14

7. You own a pair of handcuffs, and they’re strictly for research purposes.

8. The cop who lives in your neighborhood hides when he/she sees you coming with pen and paper in hand.

sex in a graveyard

9. You attend more police training workshops than what’s required of the police officers in your town.

Lecture Hall – Writers’ Police Academy

10. While other people fall asleep listening to soft music or gentle ocean waves, your sleep machine plays the sounds of police sirens and automatic gunfire.

11. Your favorite bookmark is an actual toe tag from the morgue.

12. Writers in other genres listen to classical music while working. You, however, have a police scanner chattering in the background.

13. When using a large kitchen knife to chop vegetables, your thoughts drift to using an ax to dismember a body.

14. You see a cop and instantly know the caliber and manufacturer of the pistol on his side.

15. You’ve searched high and low for a perfume or cologne that smells like gunpowder.

16. You own a police flashlight.

17. Your screensaver is a photo of a police K-9.

18. The ringtone on your phone is the theme song for the TV show COPS.

19. You think you know more about crime-scene investigations than most of the cops in your city, and you probably do.

20. You’ve registered for 2021 Virtual MurderCon, a one of a kind event that takes writers behind the scenes to learn insider information about crime-solving from top forensics and law enforcement experts. And yes, we’re pleased to announce that spots are now available! So please spread the word.

 

 

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

 

Today I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes of this blog. Yes, this site has tons of moving parts that require many creative minds and many hands to turn the dials, push the buttons, and flip the switches. So without further ado …

Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins is in charge of our patrol division. It is he who offers details of traffic stops, responses to various types of calls, training information, etc. His teams also provide security in and around our property.

Cap’n Rufus “Peanut” Jenkins

Our two sharp-dressed cops, Rusty and Willie, provide backup during all dangerous situations that may occur during the writing of blog articles.

Sharp-dressed cops Rusty and Willie,

Our in-the-field reporter, Jerry “Fake News” Journalyss.

Jerry “Fake News” Journalyss.

Animal Control Officer Chuck “The Chicken” Davis handles all calls involving runaway animals, cases of animal abuse, chicken theft, and more.

Animal Control Officer Chuck “The Chicken” Davis

Third Shift Watch Commander, Lt. L. Arge Rat.

Lt. L. Arge Rat

Larry “The Knife” Johnson, a master of disguise, plays the parts of a few bad guys on the site.

Larry “The Knife” Johnson

Paulie “The Painter” appears as himself.

Paul the Painter

Bad Breath Bill played himself during an article about edged weapons. Larry “The Knife” Johnson joined him in the post.

Bad Breath Bill

Major Mechanical serves as Chief Deputy.

Major Mechanical

O-R3 and Running Bad Guy, a regular on the site, teamed up to teach us about crime-fighting robots.

O-R3 and Running Bad Guy

Facilities manager, Rosie, maintains a clean website—no profanity and no discussions of hot-button issues, such as politics, race, religion, etc.

Rosie

The Man in the Moon supervises the daytime operations of Graveyard Shift.

Man in the Moon

For some reason, and we don’t know why, this weasel pops in from time to time.

Weasel “popping”

Today, nothing and no one are safe from scandal. These two, Betty and Billy, for example, have been at it for quite a while now. We’ve threatened to fire them but they cannot seem to control their emotions.

The “pucker factor” sometimes causes strange reactions.

Harry “Hot Sauce” McGee is our resident expert on non-lethal weapons.

Harry “Hot Sauce” McGee delivers the “Juice”

“The Hand” appears throughout the site. Here we see him demonstrating the proper procedure for “drawing” a gun.

“Drawing” a service weapon

As a precaution, we routinely sweep the site for things that go boom, and other hazards. Here we see Beauregard the Bomb Dog doing what he does best.

Beauregard the Bomb Dog

To teach us about Rigor and Livor, the Mortis Twins, we brought in world-renowned death expert Frankie Stein.

Frankie Stein

Our aquatics experts, Dewey D. Duck and Ronnie Raft.

Dewey D. Duck (upper right) and Ronnie Raft (lower left, bottom, sides, and rear).

Dewey’s 1st cousin, “Three-Eye” is our resident surveillance expert.

Three-Eye

Guarding us around the clock is Police K-9 Sha-Key. Never felt safer in my life.

K-9 Sha-Key

Tommy Turtle and Tiny Tom are on-hand to detail the effects of bioterrorism.

Tommy Turtle and Tiny Tom

Skeeter Simpson teaches us about bloodstain patterns.

World-renowned bloodstain pattern expert Skeeter Simpson

Of course, to maintain the grounds of the Graveyard Shift compound, we employ top professionals that include horticulture expert Gilly Goat.

Gilly Goat

Website repairperson and master carpenter Harry Hammer is never happy when links are broken.

Harry “The Frown” Hammer

Crime Scene Experts, Grant Greenfly and Bobby Blowflow, always know the finest of details. They’re like, well, flies on the wall.

Crime Scene Expert Grant Greenfly

Crime Scene Expert Bobby Blowfly

Sergeant Sam Stinkfeet is a real pro at evidence collection and preservation.

Sergent Sam Stinkfeet

Hematology expert O. Positive, along with a rare visit by renowned scientist B. Negative, provided much-needed information about blood evidence.

Hematology experts O. Positive and B. Negative

Officer survival expert Fred Fish taught us of the dangers associated with tunnel vision.

Fred Fish

The “Yelling Woman,” played by Laura Largelungs, is featured throughout the site as the person/witness who’s screaming nonstop … at crime scenes, he-said/she-saids, domestic calls, at, well, everywhere. She/he is the person who “loses it” no matter the situation. And they never fail to get in the way at every step.

Laura Largelungs screams, “Help, poleeeece!”

Larry Lipzipper – Miranda expert.

Larry Lipzipper rehearsing his lines. “You have the right to remain silent. Use it!”

The part of the villain is played by actor Carl Cockroach.

Carl Cockroach, in character.

Prison information provided by Calvin Convict.

Calvin Convict

Weak Walter often describes the thought processes and actions of criminal suspects who enjoy fighting the police, but aren’t very good at it.

Weak Walter 

Our staff of law experts, led by by Judge I. Have Power, are always on standby to weed through legal issues.

Judge I. Have Power

Howard Hacker, our cyber crimes expert, is on standby to answer all questions.

Cyber crimes expert Howard Hacker

As you can see, The Graveyard Shift is well-staffed by a slew of top experts. Without them we’d be just another blog.

Of course, there are many other experts who walk our hallways and occupy the offices of our elaborate compound. Unfortunately, there’s not enough time or space to showcase each of them today. And, there are many more characters experts on the way, and you’ll soon them and some of our regulars in places other than this blog. As they say … STAY TUNED!


MURDERCON

REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

2021 MurderCon takes writers behind the scenes, into actual murder cases where you’ll learn intricate crime-solving details, including how creepy-crawling insects assist detectives.

To help add a special twist to your crime novels, one of the world’s leading forensic entomologists, DR. JASON H. BYRD,  is scheduled to present a spectacular presentation called Forensic Entomology: Utilizing Insects in Criminal Investigations.”

In this session you’ll learn how “Insects that inhabit human tissue in postmortem situations can play a valuable part in death investigations. You’ll also learn how experts use medicocriminal entomology to help determine time of death, establish the geographical location where a death likely occurred, link suspects to victims, and even offer a different source of toxicology and DNA evidence. is an entertaining and educational discussion of the history of homicidal poisoning from the days of early man, down to the present, with case discussions of real poisoners drawn from criminal history. Also discussed will be the psychology of the poisoner, and poisons used by writers in their fictional works.”

Other MurderCon classes include forensic botany, cold cases, active homicide investigations, fingerprinting difficult surfaces (wet, sticky, etc.), case studies of the FBI, and much more.

I strongly urge you to take advantage of this rare opportunity to learn details not typically available for non-law enforcement.

MurderCon is a “killer” event!

www.writerspoliceacademy.com

Seats at this unique event for writers are LIMITED!

One of the most dangerous aspects of working as a law enforcement officer is not the suspect who’s standing ready to fight, the armed robber who’s decided to stop running and turns square-off with the cop who’s been in pursuit for several blocks, or even heading to a shots-fired call. Instead, the most perilous, threatening, hazardous (you pick the synonym) situation officers face is the unknown—what they can’t see. It’s the what or who is waiting for them behind a doorway, a dark alley, or somewhere within a stairwell that sends the scary-meter off the charts.

The Fatal Funnel

The entrance to these areas of “the unknown” is often called the “fatal funnel.” For example, a murder suspect was seen entering a backyard garage at the end of dead-end street. The garage is a large building and the owner tells officers that it’s packed full of antique furniture, lots of boxes of all sizes, four old cars, a tractor, lawn care equipment, and an assortment of cabinets, shelving, and other typical garage bits and bobs.

There’s only one way in and that’s a side door made of solid metal. There are a few windows, of course, but unfortunately they’re blocked by stacks of cardboard boxes.

The door, then, is the point that separates the officers from access to the concealed killer. It’s the sole point of access to the interior of the garage. It is where the wide expanse of the outdoors narrows to a single point. The doorway and immediate area leading to it is the fatal funnel.

Unfortunately, for the officers, that doorway must be breached, and they must go inside to bring out the criminal. It’s their job. It’s their duty.

The Two “Cs”

“Cover” and “Concealment” are terms drilled into the minds of rookie officers during their academy training. They’re also stressed during briefings and training sessions for SWAT and High-Risk entry teams. All officers should keep those words and their meanings at the top of the “things I must do” each and every day” list.

A cover is an object or barrier that has the capability of likely and hopefully stopping projectiles such as bullets, rocks, bottles, etc.

Concealment is something that prevents officers from being seen. It’s any place where an officer could hide to prevent a suspect from knowing their precise position, and what he/she may be doing (reloading, calling for backup, moving into a more tactically advantageous position, etc.).

Doorways are the danger end of the fatal funnel. It’s the point where an officer can be easily seen. It’s where they’re the most vulnerable to attack, and it’s the place where  it’s difficult to move out of the path of incoming projectiles. This is the place where an officer is most likely to die during a high-risk entry.

Author Lee Goldberg learns safe building entry procedures while at the 2016 Writers’ Police Academy

It’s why officers are taught to never stand in front of a doorway during a high-risk incident. After all, the advantage in these situations is definitely in the hands of the suspect. They know where the officers are positioned but it’s up to the officers to learn the bad guy’s location.

Prior to entering the home/room, the first officer to enter should take a quick peek inside using just a small portion of the head to penetrate the doorway. With firearm at ready, the shooting hand also penetrates the doorway simultaneously with the head. This action enables the officer to address an active and immediate threat. The officer should then have an idea of the layout of the room that’s immediately beyond the doorway. They may also learn the location of the suspect and other possible threats, such as animals, boobytraps, etc.

Two officers preparing to enter the fatal funnel – 2016 Writers’ Police Academy

After the quick peek it’s time to pass through the fatal funnel. It’s the decision of the first officer whether he/she goes right or left. The second officer entering must go in the opposite direction. If the first officer goes right, the second officer enters to the left. Each officer then clears the corner nearest to them.

Room clearing instruction at the 2016 Writers’ Police Academy

The eyes should be in the direction of the muzzle of the gun. Where it goes the eyes should follow. Peripheral vision is a MUST to detect movement and activity in all directions. Again, though, the immediate focus of the eyes is where the weapon is pointed.

Each area of each room must be searched in the same slow and methodical process, and each doorway within a house is its own fatal funnel.

Two techniques used to safely enter a building or room are “Criss-Crossing” and “Buttonhook.”


It is the goal of the officers to safely locate and apprehend the suspect. However, that’s not always the outcome, such as the recent shootout in Houston, where five narcotics officers serving a search warrant immediately came under fire the moment they entered the fatal funnel of the home to be searched. After the first officer entered and was shot, it was up to the remaining officers to first go in to bring out the injured officer, and then to apprehend the shooter(s). As a result, four of the officers were shot (two in the face) and a fifth suffered a knee injury.

When the first officer entered the house, he was attacked by a large pit bull. Then one of the suspects, 59-year-old Dennis Tuttle, opened fire, striking the officer in the shoulder. The officer fell and the second suspect, 58-year-old Rhogena Nicholas, tried to grab the officer’s service weapon. She was shot and killed by the officers who were on the way in to rescue their fellow officer. Tuttle was also killed during the shootout.

The officers obtained the search warrant because they knew black tar heroin was being soldfrom the house.

I’ve been the first officer through the fatal funnel, many times, and I can assure you that the feeling associated with doing so is practically indescribable. The adrenaline released when the decision to “go in” cannot be compared to any other. It’s a combination of fear and courage that, when teamed together, instantly forces your feet to move forward without hesitation. Your heart pounds and your vision and hearing become razor sharp. Your muscles are hard but fluid, and your mind is focused on nothing but the task at hand.

Once, when entering a house, I was attacked from the rear by man holding a steak knife in his hand. He’d been concealed behind a large piece of furniture to my right (I’d chosen to left after a quick peek). The second officer entering the room quickly stopped the attack and the third officer took the second man’s place and continued going to the right  while the attacker was pulled from the room. We located the main suspect hiding in a room at the back of the house. After clearing all the rooms and cuffing everyone inside, we located a fairly substantial supply of crack cocaine.

Looking back, I think about all the times I could’ve been shot, like the officers in Houston. Would I do it again, if in that position? Absolutely.

It’s what cops do. It’s part of the job.

Fatal funnel and all.


Sadly, on the same day I posted this article about the extreme danger associated with the fatal funnel, the Virginia State Police announced this sad news. I trained at the same academy as did this brave young trooper.

Trooper Lucas B. Dowell was a member of the Virginia State Police Tactical Team that was assisting the Piedmont Regional Drug and Gang Task Force with executing a search warrant at a residence in the 1500 block of Cumberland Road/Route 45, just north of the town limits of Farmville. The Tactical Team had made entry into the residence shortly before 10 p.m. Monday when an adult male inside the residence began shooting at them. The Tactical Team members returned fire, fatally wounding the male suspect.

Trooper Dowell was transported to Southside Community Hospital in Farmville where he succumbed to his injuries.

The process has begun. A new website is under construction. Courses and classes are in the design stages. The first group of instructors are scheduled and, by the way, the lineup for the first daylong live and interactive seminar is absolutely incredible. You’re going to lose yours minds!!

Full details soon to be announced. This is exciting!

*The online WPA is not a substitute for the in-person hands-on event!! Instead, these courses are designed to compliment the annual event, and to further assist the writing community.

Realism in fiction is important, when it’s needed. The ability to weave fact into fiction is aa must. But one must first know what’s fact and what’s fiction before attempting to use reality as part of fiction. Otherwise, the author is offering readers fiction as reality.

And that’s a fact. Or is it fiction? Okay, now I’m confused.

Anyway …

Have you done the unthinkable? Are there words in your latest tale that could send your book straight to someone’s “Wouldn’t Read In A Million Years” pile? How can you avoid such disaster, you ask? Fortunately, following these four simple rules could save the day.

1. Use caution when writing cop slang. What you hear on TV may not be the language used by real police officers. And, what is proper terminology and/or slang in one area may be totally unheard of in another. A great example are the slang terms Vic (Victim), Wit (Witness), and Perp (Perpetrator). These shortened words are NOT universally spoken by all cops. In fact, I think I’m fairly safe in saying the use of these is not typical across the U.S., if at all.

2. Simply because a law enforcement officer wears a shiny star-shaped badge and drives a car bearing a “Sheriff” logo does not mean they are all “sheriffs.” Please, please, please stop writing this in your stories. A sheriff is an elected official who is in charge of the department, and there’s only one per sheriff’s office. The head honcho. The Boss. All others working there are appointed by the sheriff to assist him/her with their duties. Those appointees are called DEPUTY SHERIFFS. Therefore, unless the boss himself shows up at your door to serve you with a jury summons, which is highly unlikely unless you live in a county populated by only three residents, two dogs, and a mule, the LEO’s you see driving around your county are deputies. Andy was the sheriff (the boss) and Barney was his deputy.

3. The rogue detective who’s pulled from a case yet sets out on his own to solve it anyway. I know, it sounds cool, but it’s highly unlikely that an already overworked detective would drop all other cases (and there are many) to embark on some bizarre quest to take down Mr. Freeze. Believe me, most investigators would gladly lighten their case loads by one, or more. Besides, to disobey orders from a superior officer is an excellent means of landing a fun assignment (back in uniform on the graveyard shift ) directing traffic at the intersection of Dumbass Avenue and Stupid Street.

4. Those of you who’ve written scenes where a cocky FBI agent speeds into town to tell the local chief or sheriff to step aside because she’s taking over the murder case du jour, well, grab a bottle of white-out and immediately begin lathering up that string of goofy words because it doesn’t happen. The same for those scenes where the FBI agent forces the sheriff out of his office so she can remove his name plate from the desk and replace it with one of her own along with photos of her family and her pet guinea pig. No. No. And No. The agent would quickly find herself being escorted back to her “guvment” vehicle.

The FBI does not investigate local murder cases. I’ll say that again. The FBI does not investigate local murder cases. And, in case you misunderstood … the FBI does not investigate local murder cases. Nor do they have the authority to order a sheriff or chief out of their offices. Yeah, right … that would happen in real life (in case you can’t see me right now, I’m rolling my eyes).

Believable Make-Believe

Okay, I understand you’re writing fiction, which means you get to make up stuff. And that’s cool. However, the stuff you make up must be believable. Not necessarily fact, just believable. Write it so your readers can suspend reality without stopping in their tracks to wonder if they should, even if only for a short time.

Your fans want to trust you, and they’ll go out of their way to give you the benefit of the doubt. Really, they will. But, for goodness sake, give them something to work with—without an info dump, provide readers a reason to believe/understand what they’ve just seen on your pages. A tiny morsel of believability goes a long way.

But if you’re going for realism, then please do some real homework. I say this because I recently began reading a book and I’d barely made it halfway through the first chapter when I tossed it into my WRIAMY pile (Wouldn’t Read In A Million Years). This was a ARC a publisher sent me to review, by the way.

It was obvious the author was going for realism, and it was also painfully obvious the writer’s method of research was a couple of quick visits to crappy internet sites, and a 15-minute conversation with a friend whose sister works with a man whose brother, a cab driver in Dookyboo, North Carolina, picked up a guy ten years ago at the airport, a partially deaf man with two thumbs on his right hand, who had a friend in Whirlywind, Kansas who lived next door to a retired security guard who, during a Saturday lunch rush, sat two tables over from two cops who might’ve mentioned a crime scene … maybe.

Please, if you want good, solid information, always speak with an expert who has first-hand knowledge about the subject. Not a person who, having read a book about fingerprinting or bloodstain patterns, suddenly believes they’re pro. Sure, they may be able to relate what they’ve read on a page, however, those mere words are not the things writers need to breathe life into a story. Reading about bloodstains is not the same as standing inside a murder scene, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions felt by the person who’s there in person. The latter is the true expert who can help a writer take their work to the next level, and beyond.

So, is there a WRIAMY pile in your house? Worse … have you written something that could land one of your tales in someone’s “Wouldn’t Read In A Million Years” pile of unreadable books? If so, perhaps it’s time to change your research methods.

A great means to assist in adding realism to your work is to, of course, attend the Writers’ Police Academy! Registration for the 2020 WPA’s special event, MurderCon, our 12th anniversary blowout, opens on February 23, 2020. You will not want to miss this thrilling experience. It is THE event of the year!

*The all new MurderCon website is scheduled to go live by the end of next week (February 15, 2020). Please check back to view the all new topics and schedule.

As many of you know, each year the Writers’ Police Academy hosts a fun and challenging writing contest called the Golden Donut 200-Word Short Story Contest. Contest rules are simple. Write a complete story about the photograph we provide, using exactly 200 words—including the title.

Contest judging is completed blindly and in steps, with each step a means to narrow the entries to the top dozen finalists, with the exception of an occasional tie that left us with 13 or 14 stories as finalists. Then those top tales were sent to a final judge who selected their pick as the number one story. Past contest judges include bestselling authors Tami Hoag and Heather Graham, to name a couple. Yes, our contest judges definitely know a good story when they read it.

So, with that said, I’m extremely pleased and honored to announce that Linda Landrigan, editor-in-chief of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, will serve as judge for the 2020 Golden Donut 200-Word Short Story Contest. So sharpen your pencils, warm up the erasers, and be ready to trim your twisted tales into a mere 200 words, because one of the top pros of the mystery genre will soon be reading your work.

Linda Landrigan has published everything from whodunits to howdunits, noir and more. The prestigious magazine she helms, AHMM, has featured stories written by Lawrence Block and Bill Pronzini, and a practically endless list of other talented authors, such as my friends Rhys Bowen, SJ Rozan, Leslie Budewitz, Chris Grabenstein, Elaine Viets, and Jan Burke, to name only a scant few.

I grew up reading AHMM and, of course, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. As a kid, those stories were responsible for igniting a passion of wanting to become a police detective and/or a writer. I also longed to see my name in an issue of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. 2020?

About Linda Landrigan

Linda Landrigan

Linda Landrigan has had a longtime love affair with mystery. Earning her undergraduate degree from New College in Florida and her Master’s degree from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Linda held a variety of jobs before landing a position as associate editor of Hitchcock under the magazine’s previous editor, Cathleen Jordan, with whom she had the privilege of working for five years. Assuming the mantle of editor-in-chief in 2002, Linda has also edited the commemorative anthology Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Presents Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense (2006) and the digital anthology Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Presents Thirteen Tales of New American Gothic (2012), and has found time to be active on the board of the New York City Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. In 2008, Linda and her “partner in crime,” Janet Hutchings – editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine – were presented with the Poirot Award from Malice Domestic for their contributions to the mystery genre.


2020 Golden Donut 200-Word Short Story Contest details TBA.

By the way, have you, in the past, entered a tale in the super fun Writers’ Police Academy’s Golden Donut Short Story Contest?

If so, would you like to submit your previously-submitted story for consideration to be included in a book published by the Writers’ Police Academy and Level Best Books? If your answer is yes, then dust off your copy and prepare to send it to us. Details are in the works.

It’s is with great pleasure that I announce that the Writers’ Police Academy will soon begin work on a new anthology. This new collection of mysterious stories (details below) comes on the heels of the successful publication of the 2019 book, After Midnight: Tales From The Graveyard Shift (published by Level Best Books), edited by Phoef Sutton with a foreword by Lee Child.

Description of AFTER MIDNIGHT

The curtain rises on this collection of twisted tales, revealing the words of bestselling thriller author Lee Child. Child sets the stage for a series of mysterious and strange goings-on that occur between the hours of midnight and dawn … the graveyard shift.

Contributing authors in this first anthology produced by the Writers’ Police Academy include bestselling mystery and crime authors, top television writers, true crime experts, and more.

Contributing Authors

Heather Graham
Phoef Sutton
Robin Burcell
Allison Brennan

Ry Brooks
Carrie Stuart Parks
Lisa Klink
RJ Beam

Joe Bonsall
Katherine Ramsland
Denene Lofland
Michael A. Black

Emilya Naymark
Mike Roche
Les Edgerton
Shawn Reilly Simmons

Rick McMahan
Marco Conelli
Cheryl Yeko
Howard Lewis
Linda Lovely
Lee Lofland

Also published by Level Best Books, the 2020 WPA anthology is titled People Are Strange: Tales From The Graveyard Shift. Phoef Sutton returns in 2020 as editor. And, like this year, we’re offering a chance for YOU to have YOUR story in this amazing collection of tales.

I know, you’re anxiously awaiting the name of the superstar, mega-famous author who’s writing the foreword. So, without further ado …

Yes, your story could appear in a book with a foreword written by …

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Lisa Gardner!

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa Gardner, a #1 New York Times bestselling thriller novelist, began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. A self-described research junkie, she has transformed her interest in police procedure and criminal minds into a streak of internationally acclaimed novels, published across 30 countries. She’s also had four books become TV movies (At the Midnight Hour; The Perfect Husband; The Survivors Club; Hide) and has made personal appearances on TruTV and CNN.

Lisa’s books have received awards from across the globe. Her novel, The Neighbor, won Best Hardcover Novel from the International Thriller Writers, while also receiving the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle in France. She was also recognized with the Daphne du Maurier Award in 2000 for The Other Daughter. Finally, Lisa received the Silver Bullet Award from the International Thriller Writers in 2017 for her work on behalf of at-risk children and the Humane Society.

For a bit of fun, Lisa invites her readers to enter the annual “Kill a Friend, Maim a Buddy” Sweepstakes at LisaGardner.com. Every year, one Lucky Stiff is selected to meet a grand end in Lisa’s latest novel. Past winners have nominated spouses, best friends and even themselves.

Lisa lives in New Hampshire where she spends her time with an assortment of canine companions. When not writing, she loves to hike, garden, snowshoe and play cribbage.


Full “People Are Strange” contest details coming soon!

Due to COVID concerns and precautions, the 2020 Writers’ Police Academy/MurderCon is now a virtual event!

Mark Your Calendars! August 6-7, 2020.


In response to a huge number of messages, yes, there will indeed be a 2020 Writers’ Police Academy/MurderCon. In fact, the 2020 event marks a full dozen years of bringing excellent and exciting programs to writers, readers, and fans of crime fiction and real-life crime-solving from around the world.

To celebrate the 12th annual WPA, we’re offering a prize that’s an over-the-moon opportunity of lifetime. I’m talking never before made available opportunity. Something that’s practically unbelievable. It’s heart-pounding. It’s nerve-tingling. It’s mind-blowing! It’s phenomenal! It is absolutely staggering! And it’s … well, it’s a secret for now.

Details as to how you could be the lucky and extremely fortunate person to win this rare opportunity are coming soon. I’m excited for you!

To add to the excitement, I’m extremely pleased to announce that the 2020 Writers’ Police Academy/MurderCon will once again take place in Raleigh, N.C., hosted by the global leader in crime scene technology … Sirchie.

Attendees entering Sirchie headquarters.

About Sirchie

“Sirchie,” according to Dyer Bennett, Sirchie’s Vice President of Product Development and Training, “is a 90-year-old organization that’s a global leader in finding ways to fulfill law enforcement needs, including training in all types of state-of-the art forensics. In years past, Sirchie has supported the WPA by providing instructors and training materials.”

“Each year some 700 law enforcement professionals visit Sirchie’s Youngsville, N.C campus, just outside of Raleigh, NC, to attend renowned, extensive training courses. Most of the attendees come from sheriff’s departments and municipal and state police forces. However, they also welcome officers and agents from a variety of other state and federal agencies, including state prison systems, airport security, FBI agents, Treasury, and Secret Service agents. International students come from countries ranging from Italy to Mexico and Argentina to Qatar.”

Sirchie and the Writers’ Police Academy, a Partnership of Writers and Law Enforcement

“Currently, Sirchie offers over 30 courses on campus annually on a variety of forensic topics. Their initial training programs primarily focused on fingerprinting and crime scene evidence collection. Now the subject matter includes all types of evidence collection, analysis, and preservation. For example, advanced courses in clandestine grave recovery, blood stain analysis, death investigation, reconstruction of a shooting, chemical and DNA testing of blood and semen, testing of substances suspected to be drugs, and arson investigation. Of course, they still provide in-depth instruction related to crime scene investigation and fingerprint analysis. One of the most popular courses still is the five-day Crime Scene Technology course that covers a variety of CSI techniques.”

Bennett had this (below) to say about the Writers’ Police Academy’s special event, MurderCon held at Sirchie’s elite compound in Youngsville, N.C. a suburb of Raleigh.

“We train attendees the same way we train law enforcement. Writers who’ve attended prior WPA courses can expect the learn-by-doing philosophy to continue. Every course will have a hands-on component.”

“If they take the arson course, they’ll analyze burn patterns with an expert who has thirty years of ATF experience in arson investigation. If they take the clandestine grave course, they’ll learn the proper way to excavate bones and remains in the field. If they take a drug analysis course, they’ll be taught not only how to test a suspect substance, but the measures needed to protect themselves from exposure. The same, of course, is true of courses related to biological testing and blood spatter documentation and analysis. Fingerprinting and crime scene photography will definitely be hands on. They’ll see and do what officers see and do.”

“The difference from prior WPA events,” said Bennett, “is that at Sirchie the focus is entirely about homicide investigations and the science and forensic technology and analysis used to solve the crime. When attendees graduate from MurderCon, they’ll have the knowledge to describe what really happens—and doesn’t happen—in a homicide investigation.”

“When MurderCon attendees leave, they’ll know what it feels like to conduct an investigation. Having first-hand experience will allow them to portray crime scene details realistically; and it will let them share with their readers how it feels to investigate a homicide.” ~ Dyer Bennett, Sirchie

So please do mark your calendars with a bright red circle. Believe me, you do not want to miss this all new and wonderfully exciting program.

Writers’ Police Academy/MurderCon. August 6-9, 2020.


Two of the many in-depth workshops offered at the 2019 MurderCon event:

A Bloody Mess: Search, ID, and Document Blood Evidence


 FBI Special Agent (ret.) David Alford, instructor.

David Alford (above) is a retired FBI Special Agent with 21 years of experience investigating violent crimes, terrorism and other cases. He was one of the founding members of the FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) and conducted crimes scene searches on domestic and international violent crimes and bombings, including the Polly Klaas kidnaping and murder, the Unabomber’s cabin and the 9/11 Pentagon scene. He worked in the Denver and San Francisco field offices and completed his career at Quantico in the FBI Lab ERT Unit. During the 6 years in the FBI Lab, he was primarily responsible for overseeing and teaching basic and advanced crime scene courses throughout the US and many other countries.

Buried Bodies

Buried Bodies. Instructor ~ Dr. Meredith Tise, above center wearing light blue shirt, holding a metal probe used to examine ground at a suspicious grave site.

Dr. Meredith Tise earned her PhD. In Applied Anthropology from the University of South Florida. She currently works with the Pinellas County (FL) Sheriff’s Office and consults with the Medical Examiner’s office in Largo, FL, where she assists in remains recovery and analysis. Dr. Tise was part of the team who researched and unearthed 55 graves containing the remains of boys buried at the Dozier School for Boys, about 60 miles northwest of Tallahassee.


Police Magazine Showcases MurderCon/Writers’ Police Academy and Sirchie

MurderCon/Writers’ Police Academy is an event that’s well-attended by writers, readers, fans, editors, agents, translators, and law enforcement professionals, all from around the world and from nearly every state in the U.S.

The event has been featured in hundreds of popular blogs, magazine articles, on local television affiliates, social media, the AP wire, and in 2019 the WPA was the focus of a wonderful article in Police Magazine written by the magazine’s editor, David Griffith. In the article, CSI: Helping Authors Keep It Real, Griffith captured the true purpose of WPA, to help writers by providing the details that help bring better realism to their stories.

In one section of the piece Griffith wrote, “One of the most notable attendees was Charlaine Harris, author of the books that inspired the TV series ‘True Blood’ and ‘Midnight, Texas.’ Harris has the kind of resume that would allow her to contact just about any law enforcement agency in the United States and get a response to her questions, but she prefers coming to MurderCon to learn the details that can give her law enforcement scenes credibility. ‘I would be embarrassed to interrupt real officers while they are working,’ she says.

Also mentioned in an earlier Police Magazine article, “Prior guests of honor, including best-selling authors Tami Hoag and Lisa Gardner, have enjoyed the event so much that they’ve returned as attendees.”

 


The release of the Writers’ Police Academy’s first anthology, After Midnight: Tales From the Graveyard Shift marked a wonderful milestone for each of the contributing authors. The already successful book is a compilation of tales written by dear friends who, during the past eleven years, helped push the WPA to the top of the ladder. With a foreword written by superstar Lee Child and edited by Phoef Sutton, well, it just doesn’t get any better.

In addition, we were we especially thrilled to include the stories of two contest winners, Ry Brooks and Emilya Naymark. Next year, we’re pleased to say, we’re publishing a second anthology. Details to be announced in January. I will say this, though – we’re opening spots for an additional contest-winning tale, for a grand total of three available spots!

Writers’ Police Academy anthologies are published by our dear friends at Level Best Books.

 


Lee Child – Writers’ Police Academy

Finally, speaking of Lee Child … remember the mention at the top of this article of the rare, phenomenal and absolutely staggering and mind-blowing opportunity for one extremely fortunate person? Well, here’s a clue.

Jack Reacher