Saturday, August 22, 2015

Writers' Police Academy - Day 1 (Thursday)

The 7th annual Writers' Police Academy kicked off Thursday in its new location in Appleton, Wisconsin (near Green Bay).

Ominous skies over the airport in Appleton,
but luckily we seemed to have come in after
the storm.

Thursday was check-in day. First up was the annual orientation session, which revealed (among other things) that the change in venue had allowed the event to take on nearly 300 participants. Previous years capped at about 250. There was also an amazing (to me) number of first-time participants. In the past it's seemed like most people were WPA veterans, but this time around we were totally eclipsed by the newbies.

Obligatory "view from my room" shot. I don't
know what the story is with that church, but it's
gorgeous. Looked like they might have been
working on the roof.

Following orientation, we were treated to a session about 3D Crime Scene Mapping. According the the description in the program, The future of CSI is real and in use today! I think I've actually seen them do this on the show, although in real life there's a lot more time and effort involved in downloading and producing the finished product. The mapping machine, which uses an eye-safe laser to create a "picture" of the crime scene, is produced by camera maker Leica and as with technology these days, the cost to purchase them is dropping rapidly. The model we got to see in action cost about $200,000 when it was purchased several years ago. The current model is around $90,000 and the next generation is expected to be around $75,000.

Instructor Dr. Joe LeFevre, who is Department Chair of the Criminal Justice Program at the Fox Valley Technical College Public Safety Training Center (new home of WPA) walked us through an actual homicide he worked in which they used the laser in conjuction with crime scene photography to re-create the scene, a combination that hadn't been used before. Despite the defense attorney derisively dismissing their evidence as a "glorified Etch-A-Sketch", LeFevre and his team easily convicted the victim's husband of her shooting death.

Dr. LeFevre firing up the magic 3D laser mapping machine!

I've created an album on Flickr for this event and will be adding these and other pictures from WPA 2015.

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