Highlights from the Writers’ Police Academy
The Writers’ Police Academy conference (held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, August 11-14) started with a bang on Thursday afternoon. The attendees explored armored, S.W.A.T, and bomb squad vehicles. Lesson: my characters will need a lot more agility than I have to get inside those vehicles, especially the armored one. The first step into the driver’s seat is waist high on me.
Tried on a flak vest and crowd control shield. Didn’t even attempt the battering ram. Heavy is the theme with this equipment, including the bomb squad suit. Lesson: My characters will need physical strength to handle this stuff.
For a plastic gun, the Glock 17 was heavier than I expected, but has the sweetest trigger action. Now, when I put a Glock in a character’s hand, I know what that gun feels and shoots like, with every expectation my character can be as deadly as I was.
I learned how to poison a person with bacteria from my own cupboard or the woods out back. Useful information for any amateur sleuth that might turn up in a new series. TIP: mushrooms are unreliable, even the known poisonous ones.
I finally found a use for geometry in self-defense. It’s all about the angles. No doubt I’ll have a character using these techniques. TIP: when fighting an attacker, fists to flesh, palms to bone. Meaning, don’t punch ’em in the face and injure your knuckles. Use the heel of your palm against the jaw and cheekbones.
Friday started with a mock crash scene which involved a variety of triage scenarios, among them a trapped man needing the Jaws of Life to extricate him, testing a drunk driver, and a dead guy and his hysterical and combative mother. Yes, combative is among the normal reactions in these scenarios. We got the full show of rescue vehicles arriving with lights and sirens. Even the evac helicopter dropped in. Helpful should one of my characters get in an auto accident or come across one.
Saturday kicked off with an interactive mock lockdown. No narration. Minutes into the lecture, it just happens. A knife wound victim staggers into the lecture hall. The instructor calls for help from anyone with medical training. When three more victims stumble in, it’s a lockdown situation. Belts are used to tie shut door hinges and objects jammed into the opening mechanisms. Warnings sound over the P.A. A suspect is apprehended. But, is there an accomplice?
S.W.A.T. explodes into the room, guns drawn, shouting, “Hands on your heads!” Their presence is so commanding seven men instantly control a room of hundreds. I am experiencing an adrenaline rush, just as any character I put into this situation will. I also now know what it feels like to get frisked. Told you it was interactive.
There’s much more I could share, from Lee Goldberg (author of the Monk Series and scriptwriter) who delivered his How to Use Research speech like a comedy routine and Tami Hoag (does anyone not know who this author is?) sharing a personal story about using research in one’s private life. Our instructors included an ATF agent, an arson investigator, a Private Investigator, and the amazing officer Colleen (The Rock) Belongea who my six foot plus defense instructor said he would not mess with. She was a favorite with everyone, and as much a face of this conference as organizer Lee Lofland, author and detective.
To view more pictures of this event, go to www.leelofland.com, The Writers’ Police Academy, or my author FB page. This excellently organized event will be repeated in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2017.
by WisRWA member Barbara Raffin