NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A. Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson

Friday, August 28, 2015

Writers Police Academy - Things That Boom!

Last week I attended the Writers Police Academy. The Writers Police Academy got its start when a group of law enforcement officers recognized too many authors got the details wrong because they’d never had the opportunity to interact with professionals who knew--and were willing to share--the correct procedures.


That germ of an idea—allow writers to ask a million questions and try their hand at skills taught by active-duty police academy instructors and law enforcement experts—outgrew its beginnings at Guilford Technical Community College in North Carolina. The 2015 version, with the entire cast of experts, descended on the Fox Valley Public Safety Training Center in Appleton, WI. 

The buses rolled in--and so it began...


What a great training facility with room for fire vehicles, ambulances (they mapped every bump in Main Street and programmed the sequence into the vehicle's shocks to simulate actual road experience for EMTs-in-Training), skids pads, firing ranges and even an airplane for hostage and terrorist training. 


There's a lab for CSI techniques, classes on interview/interrogation, fingerprinting, autopsy and booking techniques, firearms and drug identification, and the challenges women face in the field and workplace. Secret Service and undercover cops talked about what makes their missions succeed--and the mindset of the law enforcement professionals. Firefighters demonstrated rescue techniques and handlers put their K-9 partners through drills from finding drugs (oops, dog nails scratch unmarked cars) to taking down uncooperative Bad Guys.

The collection of buildings dubbed “River City” (you can see a portion above with the airplane) gets burned, stormed and robbed on a regular basis, as police academy cadets learn their craft and nearly three hundred writers watch, take notes, and try their hand at those same skills. 

While I didn’t get to attempt the Shoot/Don’t Shoot simulator (damn lottery!), I tested for blood in the CSI lab, learned about blood splatter, and tried out the cooler replacement to Luminal. I breached buildings, learned how to make things go BOOM, and (my favorite) discovered the beauty and control of flow martial arts. 

(Note to the master – I’m trying to locate a dojo for Aikido. If not, there’s always Tai Chi.) 

Mostly though, I talked with terrific instructors and listened to their stories. I connected with friends and made new ones. What a great weekend. 

Thanks to all the folks at WPA and its host of volunteer organizers for providing a unique opportunity to “get it right” in future stories. 

What about you? Is there a law enforcement experience you’d love to try first hand?



An award-winning author, Cathy Perkins works in the financial industry, where she's observed the hide-in-plain-sight skills employed by her villains. She writes predominantly financial-based mysteries but enjoys exploring the relationship aspect of her characters' lives. A member of Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America (Kiss of Death chapter) and International Thriller Writers, she is a contributing editor for The Big Thrill, handles the blog and social media for the ITW Debut Authors, and coordinated the prestigious Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.


When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, the setting for CYPHER, HONOR CODE and THE PROFESSOR, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

13 comments:

Anne Marie Becker said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Cathy! I almost went to WPA last year, but had too many other commitments. Hope to go someday soon! I hear rave reviews every year.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Oh, Cathy, I am so envious! Thanks so much for sharing.

jean harrington said...

What a wonderful opportunity for any writer dealing with police issues. I'm with Marcelle--envious. I'll comfort myself, though with the fact that a new MWA chapter has opened in Ft. Myers, Florida, and the September 11th meeting will have a police chief as guest speaker. I'll have my questions ready.

Sandy Parks said...

Sounds like a wonderful opportunity for authors. It's on my wish list in the near future.

Elise Warner said...

What a fascinating experience. Hope I have the opportunity to partake someday.

Cathy Perkins said...

@Anne Marie - I hope the more central location makes it easier to people to attend. August in WI is also not as hot and humid as summer in the South!

Hmm @Marcelle - I suspect some of the details may be a wee bit different in Canada. Do they have anything similar?

Kathy Ivan said...

I really want to do this sometime. I think the experience would be amazing, and I'm jealous that you got to go, but I'm sure you had a blast and learned and ton of new stuff to use in your books. Oh, well, maybe someday...

Cathy Perkins said...

@Jean - how wonderful that you have a MWA chapter nearby - my turn to be envious!
"Our" cops loosened up as soon as they realized we were writers rather than media (that message hadn't filtered all the way down in the ranks). Hopefully the chief will answer questions.

@Elise and Sandy - it was a wonderful experience. The hands-on was such a wonderful experience. Go if you get the chance! It isn't expensive and Sisters in Crime subsidizes first timers.

Rita said...

Thanks for sharing. I think the new digs are larger and WI does sport cooler weather in August. I remember some saying they just couldn't handle the heat and humidity at the previous location. Glad it was a big success.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Cathy, I'm not aware of anything like this in Canada, but I'll check it out.

Lee Lofland said...

There is only one Writers' Police Academy in the entire world. In fact, we have people attend the WPA from all over the globe - Australia, Ireland, Ecuador, Germany, Canada, etc.

We'd certainly love to see each of you there in 2016. Planning has already begun and next year, of course, will be even bigger, better, and more exciting!

Cathy Perkins said...

@Kathy - Put it on your "bucket list"!

@Rita - I didn't make it to Raleigh but the "veterans" said it was much larger. Everyone loved the new facility - and we slipped out Saturday afternoon for a walk on the path by the river. Lovely!

Cathy Perkins said...

@Lee - I'm sure the WPA team has great plans already underway for next year. Karen Slaughter's storytelling - can't call it a speech! - will be hard to top. :)

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