Tag Archive for: Writers’ Police Academy

Are you having a bit of trouble with those pesky scenes that involve cops and their wacky shenanigans?

What’s that you say? One of the folks in your writers’ group said he could help because he was once friends with a guy who once dated a girl whose brother worked with a man whose wife went to school with a guy whose son married a woman whose father was a mechanic who worked on police cars and he said he heard cops talking all the time about crooks and raids and guns and stuff.

Don’t Listen to the Mechanic!

Well, that sort of advice may not be the most accurate in the world. Therefore, I suggest—

Ah, you want to experience shooting and driving and dusting for prints and all things associated with police work. I wholeheartedly understand and I have something that will definitely help you take your writing to levels you never imagined. So forget about the auto mechanic someone almost knew a long time ago and take a peek at this video. You’ll be glad you did (try watching in full screen mode with the volume switched on).
 


 

www.writerspoliceacademy.com
 
#2018WPA

Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) is the study of the shapes, sizes, and locations of bloodstains. The study also determines how the patterns and stains came to be distributed in the manner in which they’re found.

Here, for your CSI library, are a few terms to help the characters in your books sound as if they’ve attended The Graveyard Shift’s …

Homicide School

So sharpen your pencils, take a sip of coffee, and let’s begin …

Accompanying Drop– small blood droplet produced as a by-product when other drops strike a surface (potions of larger drops).

Altered Stain – bloodstain that changed since its original formation.

Angle of Impact – degree of incline/angle at which a blood drop strikes a surface.

Arterial Spurting Pattern – bloodstain pattern(s) caused as blood streams from the body due to pressure from a severed or punctured artery. Blood squirts from the wound with each beat of the heart.

Backspatter Pattern – a result of blood drops traveling in the opposite direction of the force applied, such as when a person is struck with a blunt object, or when flesh is penetrated by a bullet or other projectile.

Bloodstain – deposit of blood on any surface.

Bloodstain pattern – the grouping of bloodstains/droplets/smears, etc., that indicate the manner in which the blood was deposited.

Bubble Ring – circles, or rings, formed when blood containing air bubbles dries and retains the circular shape of those bubbles.

Cast-off Pattern – a bloodstain pattern that occurs when blood-drops are thrown from a blood-bearing object, such as when a killer repeatedly swings a bloody hammer.

Directionality – indicates the direction blood was moving at the time it struck a surface. The shape of the drops are good indicators of direction of travel.

Draw-Back Effect – blood in the barrel of a firearm that has been pulled/sprayed backward into the muzzle.

Drip Pattern – formed when blood drips into other blood.

Drip Stain – a free-falling drop that formed due to gravity.

Drip Trail – bloodstain pattern formed due to the movement of a source of drip stains (a bleeder, a bloody baseball bat that’s dripping blood, etc.).

Edge Characteristic – features of the perimeter of a bloodstain.

Expiration Pattern – bloodstain pattern caused when blood is forced, by air, from the nose, mouth, or a wound.

Forward Spatter Pattern – pattern formed by blood drops traveling in the same direction as the force that caused the spatter.

Bloodstain pattern investigation workshop – 2017 Writers’ Police Academy ~ RJ Beam, instructor

High Velocity Impact Spatter (HVIS) – pattern caused by a high velocity impact /force such as that produced by a gunshot or machinery—farm equipment, factory motors, gears, and mechanisms, etc.

Impact Pattern – bloodstain pattern caused when an object strikes liquid blood, sending smaller droplets in random directions.

Insect Stain – bloodstain resulting from insect activity.

Low Velocity Impact Spatter (LVIS) – bloodstain pattern caused by a low impact/force to a blood source.

Mist Pattern – pattern formed when blood is reduced to a fine spray of micro-drops due to the force applied.

Bloodstain pattern session …Dexter-style – 2017 Writers’ Police Academy

Parent Stain – bloodstain from which a satellite stain originated.

Point (Area) of Origin — The common point where the trajectories of several blood drops can be traced.

Pool – an accumulation of liquid blood on a surface.

Projected Pattern – pattern produced when blood is released under pressure, such as arterial bleeding.

Satellite Stain – smaller droplets that surround a parent stain as a result of blood striking a surface.

Saturation Stain – the accumulation of liquid blood in an absorbent material, such as bed linen or clothing.

Swipe Pattern – bloodstain pattern caused by the transfer of blood from a moving surface onto another, with characteristics that indicate motion/rubbing/swiping between the two surfaces.

Target – any surface onto which blood has been deposited.

Transfer Stain – bloodstain resulting from contact between a wet blood-bearing surface and another. Sometimes it’s possible to see a recognizable imprint/shape of the bloody object on the second surface.

Void – absence of blood in an otherwise continuous bloodstain or bloodstain pattern. Perhaps an object was there, in the area of the void, when the blood was deposited, blocking it from landing in that spot. Then someone moved the item afterward, leaving the clean section.

Wipe Pattern – created when an object moves through an existing wet bloodstain, altering its appearance.


** Attention Writers, Sponsors, Readers, and Fans **

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Writers’ Police Academy. That’s 10 years of helping writers “get it right” with actual hands-on police training.

We appreciate all the support over the years and we’re looking forward to the most thrilling and exciting event we’ve ever produced – #2018WPA. If you’ve ever wanted to attend the WPA, I STRONGLY urge you to do so this year. Openings are available.

Readers and fans are welcome to attend and train along with their favorite authors. Past attendees include Jeffery Deaver(2018 Guest of Honor), Michael Connelly, Lisa Gardner, Tami D Hoag, Karin Slaughter, Kathy Reichs, Christopher Reich, Lee Child, Lee Goldberg, Marsha Clark, Kendra Elliot-Boucher, Melinda Leigh, Katherine Ramsland and many, many more!

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

The Writers’ Police Academy is pleased to present our 2018 Guest of Honor, International Best Seller, Jeffery Deaver.

A former journalist, folksinger and attorney, Jeffery Deaver is an international number-one bestselling author. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the New York Times, The Times of London, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Los Angeles Times. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages.

He has served two terms as the president of the Mystery Writers of America.

The author of forty novels, three collections of short stories and a nonfiction law book, and a lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been shortlisted for dozens of awards.

His The Bodies Left Behind was named Novel of the Year by the International Thriller Writers association, and his Lincoln Rhyme thriller The Broken Window and a stand-alone, Edge, were also nominated for that prize, as was a short story published recently. He has been awarded the Steel Dagger and the Short Story Dagger from the British Crime Writers’ Association and the Nero Award, and he is a three-time recipient of the Ellery Queen Readers Award for Best Short Story of the Year and a winner of the British Thumping Good Read Award. Solitude Creek and The Cold Moon were both given the number one ranking by Kono Misurteri Ga Sugoi in Japan. The Cold Moon was also named the Book of the Year by the Mystery Writers Association of Japan. In addition, the Japanese Adventure Fiction Association awarded The Cold Moon and Carte Blanche their annual Grand Prix award. His book The Kill Room was awarded the Political Thriller of the Year by Killer Nashville. And his collection of short stories, Trouble in Mind, was nominated for best anthology by that organization, as well.

Deaver has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and by the Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award in Italy. The Strand Magazine also has presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Deaver has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony, a Shamus and a Gumshoe. He was shortlisted for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Best International Author. Roadside Crosses was on the shortlist for the Prix Polar International 2013. He’s also been shortlisted for a Shamus.

His The Starling Project, staring Alfred Molina and produced by Audible.com, won the Audie award for best original audiobook of the year in 2015. A serial novel he created and contributed to, The Chopin Manuscript, also won this honor.

He contributed to the anthology In the Company of Sherlock and Books to Die For, which won the Anthony. Books to Die For recently won the Agatha, as well.

His most recent novels are The Steel Kiss, a Lincoln Rhyme novel, Solitude Creek, a Kathryn Dance thriller and The October List, a thriller told in reverse. For the Dance novel XO Deaver wrote an album of country-western songs, available on iTunes and as a CD; and before that, he wrote Carte Blanche, a James Bond continuation novel, a number-one international bestseller.

His book A Maiden’s Grave was made into an HBO movie starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, and his novel The Bone Collector was a feature release from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Lifetime aired an adaptation of his The Devil’s Teardrop. And, yes, the rumors are true; he did appear as a corrupt reporter on his favorite soap opera, As the World Turns. He was born outside Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University.

Readers can visit his website at www.jefferydeaver.com.


It’s an honor to welcome renowned forensic artist Carrie Stuart Parks as our 2018 Special Guest Speaker/Expert.

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning, internationally known forensic
artist. She travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic
art to law enforcement professionals including the FBI, Secret Service, and RCMP, and is the most widely known instructor of forensic art in the world.

Carrie’s novels in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre have garnered numerous
awards including the Christy, Carol, and Inspys. As a professional fine artist, she has written and illustrated numerous best-selling art books for North Light Publishers.

You can visit her website at carriestuartparks.com


 

This is our 10th anniversary so expect the largest and most thrilling event we’ve produced to date. The lineup is unbelievable!

When:

August 9-12, 2018

Where:

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
International Public Safety Training Academy
Green Bay, Wisconsin

As always, there’s far too much to see and do in a single weekend, so get plenty of rest, wear comfortable shoes, and prepare to be blown away by THE event of a lifetime!

Hotel:

HYATT REGENCY GREEN BAY

333 Main Street

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA, 54301

Tel: +1 920 432 1234

Shuttle service is provided to and from the hotel and airport.

Reservation code coming this week. Reserve your rooms asap. Space is limited!

Airport:

Austin Straubel International Airport
Airport Code – GRB
Shuttles are provided between the airport and event hotel.

Since the 2018 WPA is our 10th anniversary, we’ve pushed our own limits to take the 2018 WPA to a level of unbelievable excitement and heart-pounding action. You will not believe your eyes.

WPA melts the wall between cops

Cops are a unique breed. They dress differently. They speak differently. They’re in a class all to themselves, and it’s a “Members Only” sort of group where those on the outside looking in simply don’t understand what it is that officers do and why they do it.

Unfortunately, law enforcement is an operation that sometimes, to best protect us from harm, must do things out of public view. And that lack of understanding and wondering “what they’re up to” often leads to mistrust.

Some members of society reject any form of authority. Others distrust police officers because they’ve heard friends or family members say they don’t like cops. In some corners of cities, counties, and states, young children, even before they’re taught to read and write, are taught to hate the police. Then there are the bad apples of law enforcement who commit acts that go against the very meaning of their badge and oath.

Over time, and as a result of hatred and violence directed toward cops, police officers metaphorically circled their protective wagons in order to survive in a world populated by people who simply don’t like them. Actually, hate would be a more appropriate term in many cases. Unfortunately, the escalating hatred of police combined with the circling of those wagons transformed what was once a wedge of apprehension between citizens and the officers into a nearly impenetrable wall.

Yes, the wall is there. No doubt about it. But what many people don’t understand about the “wall” is that one of its cornerstones is fear—fear of abuse, fear of beatings, fear of racism, and even fear death. Yes, some people live their entire lives being deathly afraid of the police. And likewise, the police, too, fear injury and death.

As a detective in charge of certain operations I devoted much of my time attempting to tear down the invisible wall. I wanted people to know that police officers are human, that we do good, and that we were there FOR them, not AGAINST them. And I still try to convey that message through this blog and through my writings. I also had the same goal in mind when starting the Writers’ Police Academy several years ago.

I knew the instructors at the WPA were the best in the business at what they do, but when I received the letter below, I also knew the event had achieved far more than helping writers “get it right.”

Finally, after all these years, there was a crack in the wall. And I want to say THANK YOU to everyone involved in the WPA for merely being you. It is because you’re who you are that someone took the time to let me know the WPA had a huge and emotional impact on their life.

Here’s the letter (I’ve omitted names and locations to protect the writer’s identity and, please, if you think you recognize the author of the letter, keep the name to yourself).

Here goes…

Dear Mr. Lofland:

It’s been almost a year since I attended the Writer’s Police Academy in September and I am writing to share my experience during that weekend.

I learned about your Academy from a book on getting one’s book published (I don’t remember the title of the book) that I was skimming through in a Barnes and Noble store in early September of last year. Since I have no law enforcement background, I was looking for a way to verify that the information in the novel that I’ve been working on for some time is correct; that’s when I saw the piece on your Academy. I couldn’t believe it; especially since the Academy was being held in a few weeks. I quickly signed up and prepared to go along with my wife, my little daughter, and my mother-in-law.

The Writer’s Police Academy was a life-changing experience; but not in the way I imagined.

You see, I’ve never had a good relationship or opinion of the Police and I’ll explain why.

I was about 8 years old and it was a summer night in the mid 1970’s when suddenly I had a terrible cough just before going to bed. My mother is a praying woman and she taught us that when we’re sick God can heal us; so that night I asked her to pray for me. Quickly, the cough was gone and just before I dozed off into sleep I remember seeing the reflection of Police car lights on my bedroom wall.

The next day I awoke to find that my 16 year-old brother was missing. As my mother finished praying for me and I fell asleep, my mother saw the Police lights on the wall, too, and quickly ran to the window. Two policemen were surrounding my brother. What happened was that a car was stolen in my neighborhood and my brother was accused of being the person who stole the car.

My mother quickly ran downstairs and stood between my brother and the Police; the two men smelled of alcohol and their eyes were bloodshot. One Police officer pulled his weapon on my mother.

The owner of the car ran up to the officers and told them that his car was found by other officers and that my brother was innocent. One of the officers refused to let my brother go and wanted to take him in. My brother panicked and ran.

You see, we lived in the **** area of the **** and this was in the mid 70’s. Police abuse was rampant and crime and fires in the area were out of control. There was little trust in the Police from the community.

They shot at my brother as he ran down the park stairs and he was captured by other officers from three squad cars that suddenly appeared. They took him to the ******** and beat him to a pulp. My parents went to the precinct and were told he wasn’t there and had been released; it was a lie. Later on, the officers took him to an industrial area called *****, beat him some more and left him there in the middle of the night. My brother showed up at my house at 12 in the afternoon the next day.

Investigating officers reported that no such incident occurred and that one of the officers whom allegedly was present that night, whom my brother remembered his name and badge number, didn’t exist. An officer told my mother that she better get my brother out of the area or he would be killed by the police. She obliged.

Since then, my experiences with the Police haven’t been positive. There have been incidents in which I was treated well so I don’t want to over generalize but the bad has far outweighed the good. During the **** years, it was hell! I am of **** **** descent and although I am fair skinned, college educated and have worked all my life; I felt that I had a target on my back as I walked the streets or drove in the City. ….police brutality cases have only made me less trustful of the police. I have often wondered why I am even writing a novel related to the Police.

So, last year, when I went to your Academy, I was very uneasy. I was entering an actual Police Academy and was going to be surrounded by Police. I was nervous, apprehensive, and at times, felt like a hypocrite for even being there. But then the Academy started.

Friday morning began with a presentation on the Jaws of Life. The dedication and care for the public from the presenting officer just oozed out of him and impressed me. I then attended “Making a Lasting Impression” with Robert Skiff and David Pauly: I was blown away. The commitment from those two gentlemen to find the truth in order to protect the public blew me away. I slowly began to see that the Police weren’t necessarily out to get me but to protect me.

I then went to “Fingerprinting” and it was awesome. Next, I attended “Cold Cases and the Realities of Investigations” by David Pauly and Dr. Ramsland; this is where things really started to change. The openness of the presenters in sharing their knowledge was incredible. I could feel their passion and dedication to getting the truth and solving murders. More importantly, I could see and feel their humanity.

Friday evening after the Night Owl Presentation, I had to go to the Bar and gather myself. My head was spinning. Not only from the information I received in the classes but my emotions were everywhere. Then McMahan sat next to me in the bar and began to talk to me; my heart was racing and my palms were sweating. A law enforcement officer was sitting next to me and talking to me man-to-man. He is truly a gentleman. I found out he’s a dedicated dad and husband and I was humbled by his humility and integrity.

We were joined by David Pauly and Dr. Ramsland; they talked to me like I was a human being. You see, Mr. Lofland, in dealing with the Police in my past, I often felt less than human. David Pauly bought me a beer (please tell him I owe him one) and the four of us talked for a while. It was great. They are great people and their knowledge and dedication just blows me away.

Not long after that, Detective Conelli joined us and we had a brief talk; he was exhausted from his trip and needed rest. I couldn’t wait for his presentation on the following morning “Anatomy of an Undercover Cop”.

Saturday came and I was seated on the floor in Detective Conelli’s classroom (the room was full to capacity). He started out by showing a picture of “His Office” which was a building in the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. My heart stopped, I went cold, and I was almost brought to tears. I had been in many buildings like the one in the picture! He then showed us a picture of him while undercover. He had no weapons and was taking a huge risk in going into those buildings. It was during the Crack epidemic and I witnessed, firsthand, how it devastated neighborhoods.

Hearing Mr. Conelli talk transformed me. I began to see the other side of what it is to be a Police Officer. I began to see them as being on my side, for me, and not against me.

On Sunday, during the debriefing panel, I was struck by the Chief’s words and his assistant. I’m sorry but I don’t remember their names. They urged the writers present to write positively about the Police profession. They said it was very easy to portray cops in a negative light but we were witnesses that weekend to the goodness found among law enforcement professionals. I take that advice to heart.

On the plane on my way home I thought about my experience. I have a coworker whose brother is a **** Captain. I decided I would reach out to him in order to not only get information for my novel but most importantly, bury some painful experiences I had been carrying for many years. I realized that the experience with my brother had colored my view of Cops and I needed to change that.

Captain **** **** so happens to be the Captain of *** homicide. When we texted each other in order to set up a meeting, he told me he worked out of the ****! The same one in which my brother was abused. But the *** **** had since moved so I thought nothing of it. It turns out that the **** has indeed moved but the original building (in which my brother was abused) is used to house Captain **** and other administrative offices.

So, on a cold December night around 11pm I went to meet Captain ****. It was surreal walking into that building. I confessed my feelings about the Police to Captain **** and told him that if he felt uncomfortable with me that it was okay if he didn’t want to share and continue our meeting. He was very gracious and understanding. He confessed that the **** doesn’t have clean hands and didn’t have clean hands during those days in the 70’s in ***** but he shared his side of things.

I made peace with a lot of things that night, Mr. Lofland. It all started with your Academy and your gracious speakers. You have a very special thing going there. My mother would call it a ministry; something God-given.

My wish is that your Academy could be duplicated throughout the country and be used as a tool not only for writers but to bridge the gap between the Police and the communities in which they serve. I would like to see young people attend your Academies and receive healing just as I did.

I would also like to see you guys do a documentary on the Police. My vision is to have several Police recruits from several Police Academies from different parts of the country be followed from just before they enter the Police Academy to about five or more years into their careers. The documentary would show their everyday lives and their struggles and maturing process. I think the public would love it and gain a lot from such a program.

As for me, I don’t know if I will ever finish my novel or have it published. I am currently working on getting a Master’s of Social Work (MSW) so that I could work in the **** Schools helping kids in the inner city; kids much like me when I was younger. I can’t attend this year’s Academy because we can’t afford it and because of my studies.

However, I will forever be grateful to you and to Mr. McMahan, Mr. Skiff, Mr. Pauly, Det. Conelli, Dr. Ramsland, and all the others who were there last fall. I’m a better man for attending and am at peace now.

I am eternally grateful to you and to your partners. May you guys have the best Writers’ Police Academy yet and may God richly bless you and yours.

Thank you,

Name withheld


Details of the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy will soon be available. 2018 marks our 10th anniversary so expect the largest and most exciting event we’ve ever produced. It’s going to be BIG!

*Sisters in Crime is a major sponsor of the WPA.

My protagonist is former police detective turned college writing professor. (Hey, we have to have some stuff in common!) Because I share her disabling hearing loss but not her police experience, the Writer’s Police Academy is the perfect place to put myself in my character’s shoes.

I know TV is not the place to learn correct police procedure and even the best authors can make mistakes. Writers need to learn as much as they can so they write about police procedure correctly.

So what did I learn?

1. Police gear is heavy, bulky, and hot (and sometimes smelly).

Yup, it looks cool, but it’s bulky and heavy. Notice that that duty belt is mostly empty. It needs extra ammo, a night stick, extra handcuffs, extra pouches of miscellaneous stuff (like medical gloves and tourniquet), etc. These make the belt so bulky you can’t comfortably lean back in a chair or car seat – and female officers have to take the belt off to go to the bathroom. (Ask Tami Hoag about that.)

And it’s HOT. In the photo I’m comfortably dressed in shorts and t-shirt. In her patrol officer days, my protagonist would have worn long pants and a uniform shirt over that t-shirt and vest. Did I mention how hot that would be? The vest doesn’t breathe well so you sweat more. That means your t-shirt, vest, and even your uniform shirt become sweaty in no time.

Now imagine how hard it is to get in and out of a patrol car in all that gear, without snagging it on the seat belt, steering wheel, car door, etc. It impedes other movement too, like chasing bad guys and tying your shoes.

The equipment changes your stance, too. The first couple hours I wore a duty belt, I was busy trying to figure out what to do with my arms. I ended up putting my hands on my hips or resting them on the duty belt. Now I understand why some people find the cop stance threatening or intimidating.

2. But wait, there’s more!

(Photo by Angi Morgan)

In some situations, officers carry a Break Out Bag (BOB) with extra gear. That way if they’re stuck in a stand-off they have extra ammo, snacks, water, first aid stuff, cargo straps for hauling injured office to safety, and any extra equipment they might need. In this photo Matt Ninham is showing just a few things from that BOB: a mirror on a stick, a selfie stick (for looking in attics, etc.), a pry bar, first aid gear, etc. The BOB is carried on the officer’s non-weapon side. Yup, even more added weight. My protagonist definitely does her push-ups and weight lifting.

3. There’s MUCH more to training than you might think.

Need to use your night stick to get a suspect to back up? Don’t aim for the head!

(Photo by Annette Dashofy)

When searching a building for an armed suspect, can you walk quietly and safely using a roll-step? Communicate silently with your fellow officers? Go though doorways without whacking your weapon, duty belt, etc., on the doorframe? It’s a good thing my protagonist knows this stuff!

That doorframe probably has marks from my weapon and duty belt whacking it. The bad guys would definitely hear me coming.

Can you anticipate an attack?

This was an example of how fast a suspect could draw a knife and kill an armed officer.

Writers Police Academy 2017 Knife Vs. Gun

It’s one thing to read about that on The Graveyard Shift; seeing it in action is an eye-opening experience.

This was also a good example of other skills my protagonist needs, like dealing with Emotionally Disturbed Persons (EDPs) and having a basic understanding of languages used by local populations (like Spanish in Green Bay). Hmm, what language does my protagonist need to learn?

4. Practice, practice, practice.

I thought hitting a target on a shooting range meant I was a good shot. During Shoot/Don’t Shoot training I learned that hitting a moving target is NOTHING like hitting a stationary target at a range.

I also learned that If my life depended on drawing a Glock from the holster on a training duty belt, I’d probably die. Officers have to practice drawing their weapon tens of thousands of times so they can do it quickly and smoothly when their lives depend on it.

Shoot/Don’t Shoot training really gave me insight into what a shooting situation feels like. I knew it was just a training scenario and that I was completely safe but I felt my heart rate increase when the countdown started. (“Your scenario will begin in 5 seconds… 4…. 3…” Yikes!) In my second scenario I even experienced the stress-induced slow-motion effect. It was like the bad guy reaching for that revolver was moving underwater. (Too bad for him that all but one of my shots hit center mass.) I was so focused on being ready to shoot that I forgot all the other things I should have done like speak, move, and take cover. This give me a lot more to work with when I have to imagine what my protagonist is experiencing in a shooting situation.

5. So much to learn, so little time to learn it.

WPA is only four days. I’d love it if it were at least two day longer so I could take all the sessions. Here’s a smattering of what learned in the sessions I haven’t mentioned yet:

  • Handcuffing another student is much easier than handcuffing a training dummy.
  • Tasers don’t cause convulsions, drooling, or any of the other amusing affects seen on TV or in books. They do cause muscle stiffness and involuntary screaming but not permanent harm.
  • TASER stands for Thomas A. Swift Electric Rifle. (How cool is that?!)
  • You can leave behind touch DNA (from sweat and skin cells).
  • You can leave fingerprints behind even when using latex gloves. (Who knew?!)
  • Fingerprints can be recovered from the sticky side of duct tape, even if when two sticky sides stuck to each other.
  • Bad guys are more likely to give up when they see police dogs, even when the human cops are visibly armed.

I learned so much more about procedure, mind set of cops, interview and interrogation, etc. than I could possible describe in one short blog post.

After thinking about all I learned at WPA and how little I have in common with my protagonist, I’m now working on making her a more realistic, well-developed character. It’s working, too. For the first time, I feel like my character is telling me things I need to know about her, like what her name really is (which is not the name I chose for her).  Either I’m starting to get the hang of this writer thing or I’m becoming an EDP – and I have WPA to thank for it. I can hardly wait for next year!



Cathy is a college writing instructor at the University of Michigan-Flint. In her copious spare time she’s working on her first mystery novel and enjoys attending mystery writing conferences and the WPA. She can be reached at cathyaj@icloud or cakers@umflint.edu.

The 2017 Writers Police Academy marked the second time I was lucky enough to present This year I had the honor to present workshops on Blood Spatter analysis and Fingerprinting.

As usual, before I started my first session I felt under prepared. I teach these topics on a regular basis to folks going through police training. To get ready, all I did was take materials I already hand and cut stuff out to fit in the session time of just over one hour. Then self-doubt hit, I feared I had cut too much information and my sessions would run short.

Wow was I in for a surprise. In every session, I ran out of time! I forgot how many amazingly good questions WPA participants ask.

As an Academy instructor, there is always pride in hearing about former recruits doing good as officers. That same pride bubbled up every time someone thanked me for a tidbit they used in a story.

During the blood spatter class I was able to do a demonstration of blunt force trauma using a spatter head.

Blood Spatter/Investigation

One the points I made in class was saying there was a certainty unpredictability about what will happen during a bloodletting event. Body composition, hydration levels, and other factors can alter characteristics of blood. This proved correct with each session.

In the first session, fake blood was flung nearly all the way across the classroom.

Bloodstain pattern session. Dexter-style (photo – Ry Brooks)

In the second session, it only flew a few feet.

Regardless by the squeaks of joy coming from participants it seemed they had fun watching my dummy (who I call Daryl) getting his skull beaten in.

The fingerprinting sessions while less exciting provided some thought provoking questions. During the sessions, I told the story of Brandon Mayfield, a person suspected of a terrorist bombing due to an error in fingerprint matching. In each session, I saw eyes widen as if the story sparked an idea for writers in the room.

Both days went fast, and soon it was time for the banquet. Walking towards the banquet, I was stopped by someone who said they were a first-time attendee. She wanted to ask a question not covered in the sessions. It was about home life and the ability to see my children play sports if on duty. I enjoyed every question I get but overjoyed to spend time humanizing the badge.

It seems the human facet of cops is one aspect of the WPA that does not get enough attention. There are countless books, videos, and web pages to research police procedure. Until folks meet a few officers and honestly take some time to talk to us people never fully “get” police personalities.

My only regret from the weekend was not being able to attend any session. With teaching multiple topics multiple times a day, I never got to go sit in on any of the other sessions. Also, personal and professional responsibilities kept me away from most of the evening events at the hotel.

Hopefully next year I will be invited back to present again. Until then my inbox is always open for questions or feedback, rj@rescuehumor.com


RJ Beam is a Law Enforcement professional and author from Wisconsin. He has experience both as a firefighter and police officer. During most of his career, RJ served as an evidence technician, processing crime scenes.

In 2003, he started writing by launching his blog www.RescueHumor.com. Over the years RJ was asked write articles for various police magazines and journals. He has released two novels in his Stuart Thompson series, Fire Cop in 2015 and Cops & Stalkers in 2017.

 

I admit, I was not aware of the Writers’ Police Academy until Longmire author Craig Johnson posted the upcoming event on his Facebook page. My curiosity led me to check out the WPA website, and I was hooked. As an aside, it is my dream to become a successful crime/mystery author. I grew up in a law enforcement family, and my role models as a boy were deputies and state troopers. More lacking in my repertoire is actual hands-on training in police procedures and methods, so the prospect of just such an experience was exciting, to say the least.

During the registration process, I had some choices to make, including the purchase of souvenir items, meal selection for the closing banquet, and an optional entry in the “Golden Donut Short Story Contest” (more on that later). The registration sells out quickly, I might add, as well as the block of rooms reserved by the conference, so procrastinators may come up short!

Ry Brooks

The real challenge came when my wife noticed I had signed up for the 2017 WPA conference.

“You’re doing WHAT?”, she asked.

“I’m going to the Writers’ Police Academy in Green Bay, Wisconsin.”

“Umm hmm.”

“No, seriously. It’s a great way to learn the details of police procedure. Also, I might get to drive a police car in emergency scenarios. Every kid’s dream!”

“So, is it a course on writing?” She was confused.

“No, not exactly. It’s a learning environment for authors to help them inject more reality into their writing.”

“Shouldn’t you get established as a writer first?”

“What’s the fun in that?”

I was registered for the conference, had requested my preferences from among the most popular workshops, and had just one thing left to do. The “Golden Donut” short story contest entries are strictly limited to exactly 200 words, not 199 or 201. My first draft was exactly 200 words, counting contractions, and it was a great story (in my mind) but for one thing – I had somehow overlooked the requirement that the subject of the story had to follow a specific provided photograph. That first effort thus was deemed a practice run, so I wrote a couple more for submission that fully met the contest rules. Truth be told, I had some concern that my fledgling foray into mystery writing might prove an embarrassment. It was comforting, however, that the identities of the submissions are kept anonymous from the judges, so if my entries were bad, I would be anonymously awful.

The first day of the conference opened with a choice of workshops, the Kooky Cop Carnival or Drones!, and I chose the latter. I later heard I’d missed some comic moments involving famous authors’ hijinks in the other workshop. Never mind, the drone presentation was awesome!

Opening ceremonies included a blessing and wonderful ceremonial dances from the Oneida nation representatives.

Oneida Nation dancers

The conference hotel, along with many of the training facilities, are situated on Oneida native lands and many of the instructors are associated with the Oneida Nation police. Host Lee Lofland opened the conference with introductions and orientation, and we were treated to writer Lisa Klink (Star Trek), who related how she went from a wanna-be script writer to having her work produced on screen.

Day two began in earnest on the campus of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, with an exciting traffic stop takedown and wounded officer extraction demonstrated by the police instructors. After things calmed down, I proceeded to the Blood Spatter Analysis workshop (shades of “Dexter”!) — and discovered most of what I “knew” was wrong!

Bloodstain pattern investigation workshop #2017WPA

This was to be a recurring theme, and that is part of why the WPA began. We were able to participate in a realistic simulation that graphically demonstrated the way blood droplets can indicate height of the assailant, the type of weapon, even whether an attacker was right or left handed.

Bloodstain pattern session. Dexter-style

I noticed some, if not all, of the invited presenters were also participants in the WPA workshops. Many of them are published writers themselves with years of experience, but the lesson is, what you think you know may not be what you should know. I heard over and over, from conference attendees and seasoned authors, “Wow, I wish I’d known that before I wrote…”.

Over the course of the Academy, I had the chance to learn the history of police firearms, techniques of fingerprint analysis, and arson investigation scenarios, including a live demonstration fire set deliberately and surreptitiously. I got to fulfill the fantasy of driving Pursuit Intervention Technique maneuvers and received hands-on training in emergency driving situations and arrest takedown techniques.

PIT Maneuver – #2017WPA

In fact, I enjoyed being a passenger in the PIT target vehicle so much, I volunteered for extra rounds. If there was a ride at Disney World like that, it would have a five-hour waiting line.

One evening, we heard from master interrogator Paul Bishop. You guessed it, most of what we see and read of police interrogation is less than accurate. Following that was a sobering presentation of officer-down scenarios and the equipment used in those situations.

Our last full day culminated in the banquet and “An Evening With Craig Johnson”. I have had the privilege of hearing Mr. Johnson speak before, and it is always entertaining, humorous and thought-provoking. Frankly, I am a big fan of the Longmire Mystery novels and the opportunity to meet authors such as Craig Johnson and Tami Hoag was a big draw for me.

Craig Johnson and Tami Hoag

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. My “Cinderella story” as a first-time participant in the Writers’ Police Academy wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the results of the “Golden Donut” short story competition. No, it wasn’t a Hollywood ending — I didn’t win the top prize. I got Third Place, which was a Pulitzer, far as I’m concerned. See, even if you haven’t been to the WPA before, you can have beginner’s luck! That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Many of you have sent questions regarding what to expect next week during your thrilling experience at the Writers’ Police Academy.

I hope the following addresses at least most of your concerns and will also alleviate any anxiety you may be experiencing at attending THE most exciting event on this planet (for writers). No need for anxiety. It’s like Disneyland for writers!

For starters, the WPA is an extremely casual event where everyone is on the same playing field. No matter where a person is on their road to publication, all of your co-recruits are attending basic training right alongside you.

No agents to impress. No editors to woo.

The WPA is an action-packed and thrilling weekend of playing real-life cops and robbers.

Here are our recommendations to make your weekend go smoothly and fun:

  1. Wear comfortable clothing. After all, it is nearly impossible to duck live ammunition, crawl under loops of barbed wire, and defend yourself against twelve knife-wielding attackers while wearing heels and a skintight sequined ball gown. See, I told you it’s laid back!
  2. Bring only the things you need to the academy grounds. It’s tough to kick in doors and perform a PIT maneuver with a mini-fridge, desktop computer, and your three small kids strapped around your midsection.
  3. Speaking of kids, there are no childcare options at the WPA. We only have room in the timeout corner for misbehaving adults (those of you who insist upon breaking our ABSOLUTELY NO VIDEO rule). Again, ABSOLUTELY NO VIDEO! NONE!!!
  4. Camping is not allowed at the academy. Why not? Because we need the open spaces for hiding explosives. Yeah, you might not want to stray away from the group. I’m just saying.
  5. Please bring a photo ID and keep it with you at all times while at the police academy. Police officers are used to arresting people who have several aliases, so it’s best for them to know upfront who you really are instead of thumbing through a list of pen names and “writing as” monikers. Book covers/dust jackets do not count as official ID. We need your real names, please.
  6. When participating in the emergency driving workshops, please keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times. And no mooning your fellow recruits as your car passes by them while spinning wildly out of control.
  7. If you plan to drive to the academy, please remain inside your cars until the buses arrive and your fellow recruits begin to exit. No exceptions. Potty breaks will have to wait!! There’s a very good reason for this rule and I think it has something to do with the armed tower guards who’re trained to pick off anyone moving around outside the academy.
  8. Thursday night orientation is where and when we provide secret details about the event—where to go, when to go there, what to expect when you arrive, receive your instructions regarding what to do and say if captured, schedule changes, classroom number changes, and … You should be there, if possible. Besides, it’s fun.
  9. The hotel bars and casino are well-stocked with alcohol, so pace yourselves. They will not run out of your favorite beverage. Keep in mind, too, that the next morning will indeed arrive and it will include lots of loud gunfire, sirens, and barking, snarling police dogs. Just saying.
  10. Be prepared for whatever weather Wisconsin plans to toss our way. We are a rain or shine event, meaning if it’s raining you will get wet. So rain gear, umbrellas, etc. As of today, rain is indeed in the forecast, for Saturday. Cloudy on Friday.
  11. We are currently seeking volunteers for the following:
  • Twenty attendees to wear a fully loaded duty belt … all day (Ten will wear it on Friday and then pass them over to the next group of ten to wear on Saturday. The two groups will share their experiences during the Sunday debriefing panel. Should be interesting and fun.. We’ll ask for the twenty volunteers at the Thursday night orientation.

12. Buses will depart the hotel at 7:30 a.m. each morning.

Depart – to leave, typically in order to start a journey.

Again, buses depart at precisely 7:30 each morning. The WPA operates on an extremely tight schedule. This IS an actual police academy!

13. Please remember to bring cash and/or credit cards. You never know when you may need an extra dollar or two. Besides, you’ll want to unload a boatload of dollars at the raffle, auction, and silent auction.

The prizes are unbelievable (a cool guitar signed by the Oak Ridge Boys, a PR package worth nearly $3,000, manuscript review by a top Harlequin editor, signed Murder, She Wrote Scripts (yes, actual scripts from the show),

Indoor/outdoor pond with filter, fountain and ready for fish and plants!

a huge, super cool indoor/outdoor pond (we have one and love hearing the water sounds and watching the fish swim awhile we relax on the deck), two seats available to a “law enforcement only” gang conference (this is over the moon cool, and special). I’ll post them and others later in the weekend.

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!

Tami Hoag has donated two character names in her next book. Yes, your name and physical description could appear as a deputy or a coroner in Tami’s next release! The prizes this year are crazy good! And, if you don’t shell out at least a few dollars to support such a worthy cause, well, you’ll see Tami Hoag again. She has ways to help you see the light …

Tami Hoag

14. Waivers – Each of us, staff included, are required to sign a general waiver. Each of you should have received a copy by today. If not, please check your spam folders, or you can pick up at copy at the Radisson, just outside the door where check-in takes place. Someone will be there to assist. You must have the signed waiver with you at check-in to receive your packets.

15. Reminder – If you are scheduled in a HIT class that involves shooting (live pistol and/or rifle) you must complete a background check. Most of you have already completed these, however, a handful of you still have not responded to our messages. Without the completed background check, prior to the WPA, you will not be permitted to shoot.

16. Drivers License checks – Those of you scheduled to participate in driving sessions (PIT, etc.), you must submit your license information to us prior to the event to allow enough time to run the checks. Some of you still have not responded to our pleadings. Again, no check = no time on the driving track.

Well, it’s almost time. Are you ready for the THE most exciting event on the entire planet, for writers?

Writers’ Police Academy

 

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Tribbles have not taken control of my computer.  Yes, Star Trek is indeed coming to the WPA, and in a big way!

With that said, those of you attending the Writers’ Police Academy this year should be ever mindful that, at any moment, you and your fellow academy recruits could be pulled deep into the Delta Quadrant, some 70,000 light years from earth.

Fortunately for us, Lisa Klink, writer and producer of the Star Trek juggernaut, has arranged for her personal transporter to “beam” her to Green Bay in time to stop any alien attacks on the event. In fact, while she’s there in Green Bay to save the day, she’s delivering an absolutely fantastic Thursday evening presentation titled, Pitching, Selling, and Writing for Television.

This is a presentation straight out of the 24th century. It’s epic. It’s … COOL!

For those of you who may not know Lisa Klink. Here’s a sample of her work:

Lisa Klink began her career in the world of Star Trek, writing for the series Deep Space Nine and Voyager before coming back to Earth for shows such as Martial Law and Missing.

Lisa Klink

In addition to her television work, she’s written short stories, graphic novels, a theme park attraction and three books in The Dead Man series, as well as co-authoring the novel “All In” with Joel Goldman. Lisa is currently writing an FBI thriller for SerialBox.com, which will be released one chapter per week starting this fall.

Lisa’s TV credits are vast, including writing and producing some of the most popular television shows in their genre, such as:

1-800-Missing

Earth: Final Conflict

Martial Law

Star Trek: Voyager

Flash Gordon

Painkiller Jane

1-800-Missing

Star Trek: The Experience – Borg Invasion 4D

Roswell

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

Martial Law

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys

Earth: Final Conflict

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Roswell

Martial Law

And, to add to her already impressive resume, Lisa appeared on Jeopardy! (Contestant and Tournament of Champions contestant).


Thomas B. Sawyer

Now, as you know, each year, we strive to bring attendees the very best instructors, presenters, teachers, volunteers, material, information, and more. Well, the lineup this is no exception to our rule. The 2017 schedule is packed to the brim with superstars in their fields. And we were over the moon excited when Thomas B. Sawyer, head writer and producer of the Murder, She Wrote television series, accepted our invitation to present three wonderful workshops.

Unfortunately, I am the bearer of bad news. My good friend Tom experienced a very serious medical event this past Saturday and was immediately rushed to the hospital. The good news is that he’s on the road to recovery and should be back at home with his wife, Holly, in the coming days.

Toms sends his best to each of you and wishes he could there wth us.

Well, we have some exciting plans in store for you in 2018 and I’m thinking Tom will be a part of at least some of it.

Fortunately, for us and you, Lisa Klink stepped up to the plate to fill in for Tom.

So thank you, Lisa. and please , all of you join me in wishing Tom a big GET WELL SOON!

*Tom sent two signed scripts for the WPA raffle/auction. Break open the piggy banks this year folks, we have some cool items up for sealed bid, auction, and raffle.

 

In the world of make believe, the place that exists in the minds of writers and readers alike, THIS is how the story begins … for the savvy writer. So go full screen, crank up the volume, and hit the play button. Oh, and please do watch to the very end (after the credits). You know how I like twists and surprises!

 

For details – Writers’ Police Academy