Writers’ Police Academy, Part I

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The Writer’s Police Academy has been held in North Carolina for the last five years at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown. I lucked into it this year and managed to register before this incredibly popular event sold out. There were people from as far away as Texas and California who flew in for the WPA! THe WPA combines lectures on law enforcement and forensic topics with hands on training to allow the attendees to try on gear, train with firearms, and even in some cases, take part in simulated exercises.

All of our instructors laced their talks with personal experiences, which for writers is like manna from heaven.

Here is a review of the event, first two days.

Thursday evening
• After an orientation, the attendees were given a visual on “Disarming the Bad Guys” and got to practice taking a gun or knife away from someone attacking you. Very exciting and not as instinctual as you might think. The gal who taught this – Eli Jackson – is a 2nd degree black belt in mixed marital arts, and not someone you would mess with, ever. And the takeaway could hurt, as it should!

Friday morning
Up at 6:30 for breakfast and then on the buses to Guilford Technical Community College for the all-day session.
Before the day’s sessions began, we were treated to a EMS scene, where a drunk driver had plowed into a table at a flea market where people were grilling while selling their wares. Over the next 45 minutes, we watched as the first police car arrived, then the EMS buses, and more police. The scene was organized chaos in slow motion, in order for everyone to see what was happening. As a trained EMT myself, I know how fast those scenes go, and no one would have seen anything if it went at the normal pace. I had a good laugh with the EMTs who ran the scene at lunch that day.

ACCIDENT SCENE AT THE BEGINNING

ACCIDENT SCENE AT THE BEGINNING


ACCIDENT SCENE AFTER TRIAGE

ACCIDENT SCENE AFTER TRIAGE

• There were so many good sessions to choose from, first come, first served, that I had a hard time choosing, but I started with Women in Law Enforcement, taught by Sgt. Catherine Netter of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office. She gave a wonderful talk on her career, obstacles she faced, and jail procedures. Lots of questions from her class and wonderful insight on being a woman in what is only now less than a man’s world.
• My next session was Cybercrime with Detective Jeff Flinchum, of the Greensboro PD. I learned a lot about the current forms of cybercrime (cyberstalking, hacking, real eastate fraud, sexting) and how difficult it is a lot of the time to catch the bad guys, or kids, since cyberbullying has become a major problem.

Friday afternoon
• My first afternoon session was Prostitution Sting run by Emily Mitchum, an officer with the Greensboro Police Department. She came dressed as a hooker! She talked to us about a Reversal operation, where the police go after the johns. When you get rid of the johns, the prostitutes leave the neighborhood, and drugs and assaults leave too. She gave us a good primer in the laws that apply to prostitution, and I learned that Solicitation of Prostitution is only now a felony in North Carolina; it still is only a misdemeanor in many states. Complete with film of her at work under cover (so to speak) and an explanation of the teams backing her up, this was an excellent presentation.
• The second session was Firearms Forensics by Dave Pauly, retired from the US Army Criminal Investigation Command and graduate of the FBI National Academy. While I had had a firearms introduction from a knowledgeable friend of mine, this session talked about ballistics: the physics of what happens in the barrel of a gun, bullet identification, what happens to the barrel upon firing, blow back, and the torus judge, a really deadly gun he recommends for women.

Stay tuned for a subsequent post on the Saturday events. I am going to try to type up my notes – rushed as they were – from the various sessions, if anyone is interested.

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10 thoughts on “Writers’ Police Academy, Part I

  1. When you said writer’s police academy I had different thoughts in mind altogether. I had just read Gutkind’s book in which a chapter was called “the creative nonfiction police” so I thought your writing course was going to be on a similar, writing technique topic. Instead what fun. Especially for you as a crime writer. You must have been in seventh heaven and the program so far sounds so interesting I’d love to book in even though I can never see myself writing crime.

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