WPA-Women in Law Enforcement and an Accident Response

My learning experiences at Writers’ Police Academy continued early Friday morning when we stepped off the bus that took us from the Marriott Hotel to Guilford Technical Community College/Public Safety and were herded over to an “accident scene.”

Car has driven into group at a garage sale

Car has driven into group at a garage sale

The “scene” was that a drunk driver lost control of his car and ran into a garage sale. Two victims (one a child) were pinned under the car. (These two “victims” were dummies…and I don’t mean stupid.) Around the car were injured men and women along with a tipped-over table and merchandise that had been for sale. The demonstration began when a police officer arrived, supposedly responding to a 9-1-1 call. He assessed the scene and called for backup. The 9-1-1 dispatcher also sent the fire department, and once the EMTs assessed the injuries, ambulances were called for.

Helping a victim

Helping a victim

It was like a 3-ring circus. In one area the two officers questioned the driver, put the driver through several “sobriety” tests, and finally handcuffed the man and took him away. Meanwhile, on the other side of the car the EMTs were going around to all of the victims and cataloguing them by the severity of their injuries. They then took the appropriate action, first quickly removing those with the least serious injuries from the scene, and then providing care to those with more serious injuries. While that was going on, the firemen used both an inflatable airbag and the jaws-of-life to lift the car and extract the two bodies from under it. After the injured were taken away in ambulances, the two dead bodies were placed in body bags and placed in ambulances. End of demonstration.

You can see how they lifted the car

You can see how they lifted the car

We then had the opportunity to ask questions.

From there we broke up into different groups, depending on what we were interested in hearing/seeing or what team we’d signed up for. I went to “Women in Law Enforcement.”

C.D. Netter, a sergeant with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, has been in law enforcement for 17 years. Many of those years have been spent as a prison guard or supervisor. She said the sad thing is so many of the inmates in prison are mental patients with nowhere else to go since so many mental facilities have closed over the years (usually due to budget cuts). She’s also seeing a lot of Vets with PTSD. At least in prison they are safer, have shelter, food, and some counseling, but she didn’t feel it was the best situation for them.

Sgt. Netter said initially women in law enforcement were placed in limited roles, usually desk jobs. That’s changed over the years though some men still have problems with women supervisors. With both the inmates and other officers, it’s how you carry yourself. If you look and act like you’re in control, you’ll be treated accordingly. In fact, she said women patrol officers have proven to be more effective than men in avoiding violence and in establishing conflict control. Men, she said, see women as “Mom on duty.” And, if a man fights with a woman and loses, he loses face. Facing a woman, there’s no testosterone battle. Also, over the years, police departments have discovered that women are better at writing reports. Women include more details and that pays off in court, so women have been teaching their male counterparts to put more in writing.

For those writing female law enforcement romances, Netter said it is far more difficult for a female to date/marry a man who isn’t in law enforcement than the other way around. Many women find a man in uniform sexy; whereas, many men are intimidated by a woman carrying a gun. It affects their egos. And it’s difficult when a woman can’t talk about the job and might need to cancel a date or leave in the middle of a date because of an on-going investigation or police emergency. It’s for those reasons that many female LEs marry other officers.

Since my present wip (work-in-progress) involves a female police officer, I found all of this information interesting and helpful in forming my protagonist’s thought process.

More next week.

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15 Responses to WPA-Women in Law Enforcement and an Accident Response

  1. Great info – thank you for sharing!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks, Kristen. NYT’s author and presenter, Lisa Gardner, was one of the “victims.” Lee Lofland had a good picture of her on his blog. I think she’s the one being looked at in the picture on my blog.

  2. First responders are definitely a different breed. Thank goodness for that. Enjoyed your post.

  3. Sounds like quite an exciting and interesting workshop! Glad you were able to find a wonderful way to connect your newfound knowledge with your current WIP.

  4. I would love to do this someday. Thanks for sharing details!

  5. Melissa Keir says:

    What a great demonstration. I can only imagine how important it would be to have that first hand example to see what is done and not done. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Diane Kratz says:


    I plan on going to this next year. Sounds like you learn so much from the experience. I can’t wait!


    • Maris Soule says:

      Do put it on you “To do” list, Diane. But keep track of when registration opens. This year registration was closed within 24 hours. A few slots opened up after that, but you miss a chance to get in on some of the neat “extras.”

  7. Paula says:

    Your post reminded me of two things. 1. The accident 11 years ago (the deputy called it a “near fatal”) in which they used Jaws of Life to get me out of the cab of my truck and 2. The article I just read, with video supplied, regarding mental patients who slip through the cracks of the mental health system and end up in prisons. This happened to be about a prison in Chicago, but it has happened all over the nation as states close their institutions.

    Good article, Maris and I’m glad you got so much good information to use for your book.

    Nice changes to your website – it rocks!

    • Maris Soule says:

      Thanks you, Paula. Yes, Sgt. Netter echoed exactly what I’ve heard about mental patients ending up in prisons because family and police have nowhere else to take them. So sad.

  8. Diane Burton says:

    What a great conference. Sounds like you learned a lot.