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.