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.
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 engulfs small room in seconds.