Friday, August 14, 2015

Writer's Police Academy

The Worry Doll has her bag all packed and she’s ready to come along with me when I go to Writers’ Police Academy next week. I’m not sure how she’ll be received. There was no problem me asking an ATF officer a couple of years ago how to make a homemade silencer, but it might be a problem if I ask to let the Worry Doll get her photo taken in the backseat of a squad car. She might end up spending the weekend in my backpack.

I didn’t go to WPA last year as I had a wedding in Las Vegas the same weekend. I didn’t realize it was going to be the last time it was held at a public safety community college near Greensboro, North Carolina.

This year it is in Appleton, Wisconsin, which isn’t the easiest place to get to. A big plane from L.A. to Chicago and then a little plane for the last part of the journey. I usually fly on American Airlines because I have a Million Miler card and get some perks, but they don’t fly to Appleton, so I’m going on United. I was able to use miles for the flight - at least part of it. We had 36,000 miles which I thought would be enough since it’s usually about 12,500 miles each way. However, those tickets were gone, so it was 25,000 miles to get from L.A. to Appleton. I was able to get a flight from Appleton to Chicago for 10,000 miles, so I’m stopping there on the way back. The last leg of the journey I’ll be back on American Airlines. I got a one way ticket for $108.

WPA promises to be even bigger and better in the new location. Apparently, the FBI sends people to train at this facility. They have a plane, a village, a gun range and who knows what else. They had some specialty workshops you could sign up early for. I signed up for how to deal with an unruly passenger on a plane which is held on their real full sized 727. I figured it was a good thing to know these days. Probably good to know how to deal with unruly people anywhere.

It is always a grueling couple of days. The buses leave the hotel at 7 a.m. and don’t come back until around 6:00 and then there is stuff in the evening. I have gone to three WPA’s and it is always fascinating. And the place you can ask questions that you couldn’t get answered anywhere else without getting a least some strange looks.

In the past they had whole set up outside where you could see the bomb squad and touch their equipment, talk to canine officers and pet their dogs and check out a CSI van and a mobile command posts. There were also SWAT team members available to show off their equipment, along with the underwater rescue team. The last time I went they had a whole event around a supposedly abandoned backpack that a robot carried away and blew up. In other words, it is a mystery writers paradise.

They even arranged a police chase through the hotel parking lot, which makes you wonder what the other guests thought was going on. Somehow Lee Lofland puts together the whole thing. It seems to be a labor of love on his part and every year it gets better.

I can’t wait.


Planner said...

It sounds like Disneyland for crime writers! Enjoy! (They might want the Worry Doll to pay her own way . . . .)

Linda O. Johnston said...

WPA sounds fascinating, Betty. I've taken civilian courses provided by law enforcement and sometimes by writing organizations, but WPA may beat them all!

Betty Hechtman said...

Planner, the Worry Doll will definitely have tales to tell even if she spends the whole weekend in my backpack.

Betty Hechtman said...

Linda, the thing about WPA that is different is that you can ask about things that might get you into trouble in one of those civilian classes. The guy I asked about the homemade silencer didn't blink twice before he answered.

Crafty Girl said...

Interesting story.

Miriam Lubet said...

Have fun!