What a fantastic four days. The Writers’ Police Academy started Thursday afternoon with registration. At that time I picked up my official T-shirt. We looked like Castle with WRITER on our backs. At 5:30 p.m. those who were lucky enough to have had their names drawn from the lottery met for the orientation for the jail tours and ride-a-longs. I, alas, did not have my name drawn. On Friday and Saturday I talked with several people who did get to go on the tour and the ride-a-long and they all had fantastic times.
The rest of us met with Lee Lofland at 8:00 p.m. in salon A in the hotel. He went through the program for the next two days, emphasizing that we had to be on the buses by 7:30 a.m. or we’d have to find our own way to the college. He also told us to ask permission before taking any of the presenters’ pictures, unless they were in uniform. One reason was because some of them work undercover and certainly didn’t want their pictures on Facebook or a writers’ blog. We were welcome to take notes, but no recording of session. He also suggested we not ask Lee Child about the selection of Tom Cruise to play Reacher. <G>
The buses did leave at 7:30 a.m. and after about a 15 minute drive arrived at GuilfordTechnicalCommunity College. They were just setting up the outside, live demonstrations (K9, Swat, Bomb Team and robots, police motorcycles, etc.) I’m afraid I didn’t take many pictures. (My husband’s always scolding me about that.) If you want to see some neat pictures, please go to Lee Lofland’s site (http://www.leelofland.com/wordpress/category/writers-police-academy/ ). Terry O’Dell also has some great pictures in her blogs about WPA. (http://terryodell.com/terrysplace/ )
Since one of my wip stories involves gangs, I didn’t stay outside once the sessions began, so I missed most of the live demonstrations. I did see the equipment used to cut victims out of cars and learned they have to be very careful because the detonating devices that get those air bags in front of or to the side of us if there’s an accident are embedded in the areas that need to be cut through, and if they haven’t gone off during the accident, the explosion could injure a fireman cutting through them.
At 9:00 a.m. I attended the session on gangs and decided I needed to change the gang I was using in my wip. The information Officer Cuthbertson provided was helpful but also scary. Nowadays gangs are worldwide and start from elementary school up. Also the number of females in gangs is growing. He felt children today are exposed to too much violence and are being desensitized.
At 10:30 a.m. I was in the session on Lasting Impressions. During that session we saw one way the CSI can pick up footprints from dusty floors, and learned it’s the embedded chunks and wear patterns that help identify footwear. He also laughed at how CSI on TV is always looking for evidence in a dark room with just a flashlight and at the rapid results they get for fingerprints on those shows. In reality it takes much longer, especially since most police departments don’t have the money to purchase that high-tech equipment.
During breaks the students from the police academy sold goodies for $1. I purchase the cranberry cookies and now wish I’d bought a dozen. They were delicious. For lunch we had a choice of hamburger or hot dog along with chips and a pop. I’d had an omelet for breakfast so a hamburger and pop were all I could eat.
At 1:00 p.m. I went into a large gym-like room. The floor was covered by a mat (such as used for wrestling or martial arts). The class was about personal protection and the instructor, Dee Jackson, was in the Marine Corp and is now with the Greensboro police department. I have a feeling she might have been a drill sergeant with the Marines. When she yelled a command, you listened. She also had a great sense of humor and drilled into us the importance of being assertive if in a dangerous situation, to never go with someone who threatens you with a gun or a knife, and definitely don’t believe them if they say you’ll be all right if you just do as they say. She had us all yelling (screaming) STOP! STAY BACK! STAY BACK! as we maneuvered to a position of safety. And if that didn’t work, she showed us how to break our assailant’s eardrums, dig into their eyes, and knee them in the ribs. While they’re protecting their “package”, a woman can do a lot of damage.
At 2:30 I attended the session on Interview and Interrogation. What we learned is often it’s the subtle clues a person gives off that keeps a police officer asking questions. Like one woman not knowing where she was going or where she’d been staying. And sometimes it’s simply luck. The more you get a person to talk, the more apt you are to get the information you want. Listening can be very important. And even though body language can tell a lot, there’s the “Othello’s Error” where if the individual is telling the truth but perceives that you don’t believe her, she may show some of the same behavior indicators as a deceptive person.
At 4:00 p.m. we headed to the college’s auditorium to hear Dr. Elizabeth Murray talk about forensic anthropology. Think of the TV show “Bones” and you have some idea of what Dr. Murray does. She talked a bit about some of the work she’s done identifying remains from the excavation of a 1972 Vietnam War plane that crashed in the jungle of Laos.
After her talk we boarded the buses and returned to the hotel. At 7:00 p.m. there was a reception. It was a cash bar, but lots of cheese, fruit and nibblies. After that I had dinner and went back to my room and crashed.
Can we say exhausted?
Next week: Saturday’s sessions (my driving simulator experience) and Sunday’s wrap up.