Writers’ Police Academy: The Recruits

WPA: The Recruits


Another Writers’ Police Academy has come and gone…and it was FANTASTIC! Sure, the faculty was comprised of some of the top experts in their fields, but the real superstars of the event were the recruits. And all the instructors were quite impressed by your eagerness to learn and your desire to “get it right.”

WPA attendees traveled from nearly every state in the U.S., and from Canada, to have a peek inside our lives. And what a peek that was…from reciting the Law Enforcement Code Of Ethics (as a group), to seeing a hostage situation unfold and terminate in real time. This event is a one of a kind event. There is no other like it, anywhere!

The weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but that didn’t stop anyone from braving the downpour to have a look at Professor Bill Lanning’s shallow grave crime scene. The victim, “Sonja,” waited patiently as recruits photographed her in the spot where her killer attempted to cover his tracks.

Dr. Katherine Ramsland (with WPA event bag) joined recruits in photographing the crime scene

Reciting the Law Enforcement Code Of Ethics is how the day begins at many police academies. We maintain that same long-standing tradition.

WPA recruits took the event seriously, and for that they were rewarded with “behind the scenes” tips not normally seen by civilians.

A disgruntled employee takes Sandra Neal hostage during the Saturday morning briefing.

I dialed 911, and within seconds, a hostage negotiations team was on the scene.

But words weren’t enough this time. A loud “CRACK” echoed throughout the auditorium. Instantly, the threat was terminated by a single rifle shot to the suspect’s head. It was Lt. Randy Shepherd, a sniper for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, who delivered the threat-ending shot.

Lt. Shepherd is a nationally renowned expert sniper.

WPA recruits tested their newly-acquired fingerprinting skills.

Chester Campbell is now ready for his first crime scene.

EMS instructors showed recruits the proper way to enter an active crime scene to treat a gunshot victim. Their goals are to preserve both the life of the victim, if possible, while protecting the evidence from contamination and destruction.

Luckily, our gunshot victims were able to enjoy lunch between receiving bullet wounds to the head.

Even “Sonja’s” best friend, Chris P., stopped by to say hi to WPA defensive tactics and arrest techniques instructor Stan Lawhorne. It really burns him up to see Stan getting all the attention…

More WPA fun on Wednesday. Tomorrow, Melanie Atkins and I once again play good-cop-bad-cop in our review of Castle. Until then, I’m getting some rest. You guys wore me out last weekend!

*By the way, in case you haven’t heard the news…Lee Child is the keynote speaker for the 2012 Writers’ Police Academy!


24 replies
  1. Edith Goldman
    Edith Goldman says:

    This was my 1st time at WPA and Lee and all the staff were fantastic. I hope to return next year. Thank you, Lee, for doing all this work and big thanks to all the staff, who were great teachers and utterly amazing to work with.

  2. Betty Hechtman
    Betty Hechtman says:

    What a great weekend! I can’t thank you enough for all the work that went into putting on WPA. Even though I write cozies, I got a lot of useful information and had a lot of fun. I can’t wait until next year.

    Betty Hechtman
    Behind the Seams, Berkley hardcover Nov. ’11
    You Better Knot Die, Berkley massmarket Nov. ’11

  3. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Hi Carola. Since you mentioned “brain-spattered” I’d assume that the round had penetrated the brain, forcing bits and pieces of it outside the skull via an exit wound. Sounds like that description alone would answer the question, but…a lot would depend on where the round hit and from what angle. The gun battle I was in, where I shot and killed a bank robber, my first shot entered the suspect’s head, but exited beneath his jaw. The bullet never touched anything vital and he popped up and began firing again. And, I’ve seen people who’d been shot in the head with a .22 round only to have the bullet dance around inside the skull. One of those suspects even drove himself to the hospital.

    And, I once answered a suicide call where a man had placed a shotgun barrel beneath his chin and pulled the trigger. A good portion of his skull and face were missing, complete with brain matter stuck to the walls and ceiling. I thought he was dead, definitely, until I saw tiny air bubbles form and pop in the blood where his mouth and nose should have been. He was breathing. In fact, as far as I know he’s still alive today.

  4. Carola Dunn
    Carola Dunn says:

    Lee, with regard to your sniper in the auditorium: I’ve just read a mystery in which the murderer was shot in the eye, collapsed in a bloody, brain-spattered heap, then got up and came back for more. Is this possible (leaving plausibility aside!)?

  5. Tamara Ward
    Tamara Ward says:

    Thanks, Lee! What an amazing weekend! I’m still recovering. I was amazed at the openness of all the instructors who told it as it is and took the time to answer some really odd questions. From poor muddy Sonja Friday morning to the panel q&a, I had a blast and learned a ton. Hope to see you (and everyone else) next year!

  6. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Hi Wendy – Yes, tomorrow’s blog will feature those stories. I’d hoped to read the top three at the banquet, but time simply didn’t permit me to do so. By the way, the stories were really very good. I’ve read a few of them since I returned home from the event. We should find a publisher who’d consider a Donut anthology…

  7. Wendy Dingwall
    Wendy Dingwall says:

    Thanks, Lee for all the hard work to bring us such great talent and classes. I too had a difficult deciding which I liked best. And would love to return next year. I’ve written up a report on my blog for my facebook and twitter followers.

    When will the top 3 Golden Donut winners and their stories be posted?

  8. Melissa Zbikowski
    Melissa Zbikowski says:

    I had such a great time! Already planning on attending next year, maybe with a few guests too. The classes were great, but the instructors were fantastic. I’m still having a hard time deciding which class I enjoyed the most. Thanks for all of your hard work. Can’t wait until next year!

  9. Jennifer Oberth
    Jennifer Oberth says:

    We had a blast, too, Lee! Every class was jam-packed with info., fun and hands-on activities. There was more to see than we could possibly fit in so I’m counting down to next year. FATS and the Jail Tour were my highlights – and Joy, the police dog, of course.

  10. Rebecca Butler
    Rebecca Butler says:

    Lee, drove through an hour of torrential downpour on the way home, I-95. But I was unfazed after the self-defense classes and the horrors I’d been immersed in over the weekend at Police Academy. What a great experience! Debbie Rasure and I will never be able to make a summary for the SinC Atlanta newsletter do justice to the excellence of your crew. –RB

  11. Nancy Sweetland
    Nancy Sweetland says:

    I second everyones’ comments – the classes were great! I’m only sorry that I had to pick and choose so couldn’t get to everything.Thanks so much. (And it was fun, too!)

  12. Katherine Nyborg
    Katherine Nyborg says:

    Thank you, Lee, for all you did, and thank you to all the other experts who shared their time, experience and hard-won knowledge with us. WPA was an incredible experience! It was not only hugely informative, but a total blast!! I hope I can come back next year, as there just weren’t enough hours in the day to catch all the goodness that was WPA. So much to learn, so little time!

    Thanks again, Lee. WPA was this writer’s dream come true.

    — Kath

  13. Julie D.
    Julie D. says:

    Lee, I had no idea what to expect from WPA. As a new author, I have been to my share of ‘writers’ conferences’, but this was like nothing I have ever experienced. I can’t stop talking about it to whomever will listen. FATS was amazing (I should have shot the child! Imagine?), the instructors were dynamite, and despite the jam-packed days, it was over in a flash, it seemed. I’m back home and still high from all I learned. Thanks again for all you do. I’ll see you again next year.


  14. Chester Campbell
    Chester Campbell says:

    I had a blast, Lee. The sessions were quite informative and the presenters were great, very personable and full of information. I was a bit surprised to see my Q-tip mug among the photos above. My wife got a kick out of that comment.

  15. Katie Vorreiter
    Katie Vorreiter says:

    I’m really hoping to come next year. Do you have the dates yet? Same location? (Love the pic of the gunshot victim enjoying lunch, btw).

  16. Stephanie St.Clair
    Stephanie St.Clair says:

    Many thanks to you, Lee and all the great instructors/volunteers for putting together one of the best conferences I’ve attended. There were so many great workshops offered that I wanted to attend, but couldn’t. Hopefully, I’ll get to go again next year and Lee Child is a definite plus. Think I’ll start saving my pennies now.

    Overall, I’m very happy I went to WPA instead of another writing conference I had originally planned to attend.

    Thanks, Lee!

  17. Jordan
    Jordan says:

    I never meant to be the confusing recruit with two names, Lee. Honest! I promise not to do that again next year.

    Over all, last weekend was a fricken BLAST!!! Even though nothing happened on the ride-along, I really enjoyed my time spent with Deputy Apple. And when it was all over, and I woke up this morning in my own bed and I realized I didn’t have a class to go to, or a hilarious story to be told, there was this odd sense of emptiness inside. I want to go back. Can we do it again next weekend? lol. I can’t wait for next year to get here. I saw and did so much, and yet, there was so much I missed that I really wanted to get to. Next year can’t come fast enough.

    Thanks Lee for everything you did this past weekend!

  18. Maggie Toussaint
    Maggie Toussaint says:

    It was a fantastic event! I’m still hoping my head won’t explode and that when I need them, I will be able to decipher all my hand written notes. I’ve had lots of traffic at my blog today on the topic and a good many folks are expressing interest in WPA. I think you have a built in audience for as long as you want to run this conference!

  19. Mary Brookman
    Mary Brookman says:

    Wonderful weekend. Jail tour was packed with information and FATS was fantastic. So many friendly, fantastic people: staff, volunteers, presenters, and writers. I feel so fortunate that I was able to attend WPA again this year and look forward to next year.
    Thanks to Lee and everyone involved!

  20. Melanie Atkins
    Melanie Atkins says:

    I’m exhausted, Lee. I fell asleep this morning while a friend of mine was talking to me. I might need another nap to stay away long enough tonight to write my Castle blog! lol

    The WPA was a blast! I had so much fun… especially doing FATS training. I blew away a grandmother coming at me in an airport with twelve inch knitting needles. Yikes!

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