03-23-19 – Paty Jager – All Feelings Are Universal

Friday, August 25, 2017

WPA School ‘Daze” for Mystery Writers & Fans

By Linda Lovely
I’ve been going to “school” at least once a year for the past five summers.  So while lots of folks are gearing up for a fall return to classes, I’m decompressing from attending my fifth Writers’ Police Academy, held this year in Green Bay, Wisconsin, at a real, international-accredited police academy.

After my first year as an attendee, Lee Lofland, the Writers’ Police Academy’s founder, asked Howard Lewis, my critique partner, and me to help organize the next year’s event. Five years later, Howard and I remain part of the WPA family, handling tasks associated with registration, class assignments, publicity, the Golden Donut Short Story contest, auction donations, attendee communications, etc. My husband questions my sanity regarding these activities. But it’s hard to say “no” to Lee, and the hard work pays handsome returns as I make new friends and gather law enforcement information I could never ever glean from a hundred Google searches.

The most recent three-day Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) offered its usual heady blend of hands-on learning, riveting presentations, and plain old fun.  With the exception of my participation in Shoot, Don’t Shoot training and life-fire instruction with an AR-15, every program/class I attended was brand new to me. With five years under my belt, that’s a real tribute to Lee’s ability to keep the programming fresh with new topics and instructors.

The WPA fun began even before the opening bell with a “Kooky Cop Carnival.” I visited several of the “stands” where you could try your hand at tasks like handcuffing a reluctant suspect. Wow. Those handcuff keys are really tiny. If my detainee was patient and docile enough to stand still for the five minutes it would take me to cuff him, I wouldn’t need the handcuffs in the first place. I also failed miserably at speedily pulling up bullet-resistant pants and putting my duty belt back on when I supposedly got an emergency call while on a bathroom break. While these challenges offered lots of laughs, they also made attendees appreciated how much training it takes to do what the movies look like easy-peasy tasks.
I don't own a gun, but live-fire session
lets me feel what it's like to shoot
an AR-15. I'm not too bad when no
one is shooting at me.

Here’s  a look at the types of information covered in the new classes I attended:
  • Death scene investigation from a long-time coroner’s point-of-view.
  • Relationships between the criminals who engage in dog-and cock-fights and drug dealers and gang members.
  • The dissection of a real, high-profile murder case by a detective and a psychologist. The presentation included an exploration of the distinctions between being mentally competent to stand trial and not-guilty by reason of insanity.
  • Drug identification. An officer trained in this field explained how a variety of illegal (and legal) drugs impact users as well as how they are “marketed” and sold illegally.
  • Bug Mania! A scary presentation on the world’s biggest killers—tiny insects. Found myself scratching my arms an hour after learning just how many deadly diseases are carried by mosquitoes and ticks.
  • An introduction to firearms that explained the workings of various firearms and when/how they’re most often used.

Me with the delightful Craig Johnson
And I haven’t even mentioned the fabulous featured speakers:  Paul Bishop, former LAPD detective, who spoke on interrogation/interview techniques and myths; Lisa Klink, author of Star Trek fame, who spoke on writing for Hollywood and TV; and Craig Johnson, author of the Longmire mystery series that’s become a Netflix series favorite.

Have I talked you into attending school next summer? Hope so.

P.S. My newest book, BONES TO PICK< a humorous mystery with a side of romance, is now available on preorder, includes info I picked up at a previous WPA (and it just may have saved my heroine's life). Pick it up to find out how!


Judith Ashley said...

Fantastic post, Linda. I'd love to learn more about the distinctions between being mentally competent to stand trial and not-guilt by reason of insanity. I think that would be an interesting piece of information to know in general. And, when you say the relationships between criminals who engage in dog-and-cock fights and drug dealer and gang members, do you mean the similarities in their psychological make-up, organizations or literally that they are connected in relationships as in a business relationships?

I attend a monthly meeting with local police officers and I'm always in awe of how easily they move around with the Kevlar vest, etc. The summer heat doesn't seem to bother them but then, they are protecting themselves as well as the rest of us when they wear the gear.

Linda Lovely said...

Judith, being mentally competent assumes that you can understand the charges and are able to communicate with your attorney and assist in your defense. Not exact but that's the gist. You can be mentally competent but could still employ an insanity plea (though some states no longer have this option).

The folks who engage in dog/cockfights are often also drug dealers, belong to gangs or have business relationships with them.

I'm in awe of the jobs some of these law enforcement individuals do.

Judith Ashley said...

I wondered if that was the "relationship". It makes sense. We have Neighborhood Policing where I live and a dedicated Neighborhood Response Officer. Officer Boylan is calm, patient, has excellent listening and communication skills. I've watched him in action and he's awesome!

Diana McCollum said...

Great post, Linda! The conference sounds fabulous. Just up a suspense author's alley.

Sarah Raplee said...

I hope to attend WPA someday! Sounds really interesting and fun. Do you know the dates for next year?

Linda Lovely said...

Hi, Sarah. Will let you know the dates as soon as I hear. Always a dance of coordinating facility and hotel availability and also making sure there are no conflicts with other big conferences for writers.