Posts tagged "Law Enforcement"

Writer’s Police Academy Recap

Last weekend I attended the Writer’s Police Academy. Every year for the past three years, I had tried to attend but always had scheduling conflicts. This year they moved the dates to the beginning of September and it worked out perfectly. I was so thrilled to attend the event, even if it meant flying across the country to do so.

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Image Credit: Writer’s Police Academy

The weather was perfect the entire time I spent in Greensboro, North Carolina. And I met a lot of writers and law enforcement that made the event well worth attending, even before the classes began! There were hands-on opportunities and Lee Lofland and his staff did an awesome job putting the event together. As a former event coordinator, I know the amount of work behind the scenes and organization required for an event of this size and magnitude. And it went off without any noticeable hiccups.  

For a writer, especially a crime writer, these types of events are crucial for background research. But I was surprised to find many romance authors in attendance as well.

I won’t go into detail about every session I attended (as I posted on my Twitter and Facebook feeds), but I did include a few photos below. I found some of the sessions were too general, such as Gangs and Prostitution, which could have been narrowed down to get more detail. In the Gangs session, we discussed the Bloods/Crips and touched on female gangs, but never really got into Prison Gangs or drug cartels and how they fit in the picture. Again, this session was pretty basic and was perfect for an introductory crowd.

Other sessions were taught by very experienced law enforcement and included stories of their professional pursuits. These were great to hear and provided great color to the world they live in. On the flip side, some of the information provided was so geared toward Greensboro, North Carolina that it was not as valuable to someone like me, writing about Los Angeles, California.

The most impressive sessions were the hands-on sessions. I was lucky enough to attend the Building Searches session, which gave us an introduction on how to search a building and the tools needed, and the ability to actual run through several apartments to test our own skills. It was thrilling and eye-opening. And definitely something I will use in future stories.

I was also able to join a select group to tour a local jail. The group was a bit large to get all our questions answered (and heard), but the experience was amazing. I am currently writing a scene that takes place at Twin Towers in Los Angeles, so it was very helpful.

I learned quite a bit at the conference and encourage anyone interested in writing crime to attend future events. In fact, I will try to attend a future event as well. Although, I have a few Citizen Academies to get through first.

Captain Randy Shepherd displaying the tools needed for Building Searches.

Felony Stop Demonstration

Explosive K-9 Reno alerting on backpack in the parking lot.

Explosive Robot inspecting backpack.

Greensboro Hazardous Devices Team suiting up.

Placing a charge to open the bag and “render it safe.”

Assistant Fire Marshall J.E. Coble setting fire to a couch.

Fire demonstration

Fire engulfs small room in seconds.

EMS Demonstration

I’m attending the Writer’s Police Academy!

I’m all signed up for this year’s Writer’s Police Academy in North Carolina. I’m looking forward to flying across the country to learn how the East Coast handles crime. There will be police, fire, crime scene investigators and science experts. So much information and hands-on activities are planned.

I also get to meet two wonderful writers I haven’t had the chance to meet before, Lisa Gardner and Kathy Reichs. These are two of my favorite authors to read.

The Conference sold out in six days and the agenda hasn’t even been finalized yet. An amazing testament to the work they have done the past few years on this conference. This will be my first time attending and will blog about it for you while I’m there.


The War on Meth

In Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery, many characters are caught in the whirlwind of drugs. Ric Delgado, once a narcotics detective in Los Angeles, is all too familiar with the problems that arise with drug abuse. When he moved to Lake City, Nevada, a small desert community near Death Valley, he had hoped to rid himself of the dangers of drugs. Unfortunately, like many small communities around the US, Lake City is not immune to the rising dangers of drugs. When the stakes are raised, Ric Delgado decides to fight the war on drugs in a big way.

For the past fifteen years, illicit or clandestine methamphetamine labs (“clan labs”) in the United States have declined since laws were put into place to limit the availability of the ingredients required to manufacture methamphetamines. Due to the restrictions, large-scale productions in Mexico thrived as drug cartels added meth to their already booming business of moving heroin, cocaine, and marijuana across the border.

But the landscape changed again in 2005. With the help of the United States, the Mexican government began fighting the meth problem. The government banned imports of pseudo-ephedrine (one of the main ingredients in meth). Current trends show that meth production is now making it’s reemergence in many California desert counties.

American meth makers have found a way around many of the laws created to prevent meth production, including a technique called “smurfing” where groups of people go to pharmacies to purchase small quantities of pseudoephedrine and then pool the score together.

But law enforcement isn’t just seeing a rise in small clan labs. Larger “super labs,” once only seen south of the border are now popping up in the United States. Last September a super lab was discovered in Riverside County, California. It wasn’t a traditional meth production facility, but was producing a refined liquid meth into crystal form.

We are far from winning the war on drugs, but Ric Delgado knows the dangers of a meth lab extend to more than the drug abusers.  Anyone living in or near a clan lab is exposed to immediate dangers and chemical contamination. The toxic nature of the ingredients leaves behind a hazardous waste. When the ingredients are combined, then can ignite, causing explosions, fires and the release of toxic fumes. Many times the waste material is dumped outdoors, causing damage to the environment and drinking water.

Learn the signs of a potential Meth lab, including a strong smells, residents never putting their trash out, lab materials surrounding the property, and laboratory glassware or rubber tubing being carried into the residence. If you see signs of a meth lab in your neighborhood, please report it immediately. For more information visit the following sites:

Stop Meth Addiction

Drug Abuse Information on Meth

Meth Lab Overview

What is Meth

This post first published in March 2011

Born in La Mirada, California, Melissa M. Garcia has lived most of her life in the sometimes gritty, but always entertaining landscape that is Southern California. She graduated from California State University in Long Beach with a degree in English/Literature. Garcia is the author of the Luc Actar crime series (including Falling Angels and Chasing Demons) and the Death Valley Mystery series (Stranger: A Death Valley Mystery). She has also published an e-book collection, Faith Departed: Short Stories of Mystery, Crime, and Despair.

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