Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Writers' Police Academy - Day 3 (Saturday) & Wrap-up

Our morning demo involved how police face off with an armed, uncooperative individual. One of the things they demonstrated was how quickly someone with a knife can cover the ground between themselves and an officer (very quickly), giving the officer precious little time to draw their weapon before the attacker is upon them.

Death Scene Investigation
Instructor: Curtis Green, Manitowoc County Coroner

  • He averages one case per day.
  • Curiosity, intelligence and a strong stomach are required for the job.
  • Definitions of manners of death fall into one of these categories: homicide, suicide, accidental, natural, undetermined, pending.
  • Religious and cultural objections to autopsies are usually honored, but may be overridden in the event of a homicide/criminal investigation.

Long Gun: Live Fire
Back at the range! Today I got to fire an AR-15, which is not an AK-47, but looks similar and a lot of people lump them in together. According to the instructors, these are apples and oranges in terms of firepower. I still wouldn't want to be shot with one.

I forgot to mention it in my previous post, but while learning to take aim I discovered that while I'm right-handed, I'm left eye dominant. Also on both days, the casings were flying all over the place as they were being ejected from the guns. Several of them bounced off of me. 

Hello baby.

We weren't suited up in protective gear yet because we were
just practicing. On a shallow note, my hair looks fantastic.

This jackass again.

Cordite, Perps and Badge Bunnies: Everything You Thought You Knew About Cops
Instructor: Lee Lofland

  • Murder and homicide are not the same things. A murder is always a homicide, but a homicide isn't necessarily a murder. Examples: self-defense, killing someone to prevent them from taking the lives of others, state executions. A murder is an unlawful homicide.
  • Badge Bunny = cop groupie. 

Here is a list of no-no's for crime writers:
  • Just say no to cordite! This is one of Lee's pet peeves.
  • Do not have your hero shoot a gun out of someone's hand. It's possible to do so, but extremely improbable. 
  • The FBI does not waltz in and arrogantly take over local cases. They will come in and assist if requested.
  • Speaking of the FBI, they do not have to be automatically called in for a kidnapping. Local law enforcement is free to work with whoever has jurisdiction in other areas. However, the Feds have resources that smaller departments won't have and they have jurisdiction everywhere, and again, they will assist if requested to do so.

And some sobering bad news: We have already surpassed the number of cops killed in the line of duty last year, and it's only August. 

Talking with Serial Killers
Instructor: Dr. Katherine Ramsland

Dr. Ramsland co-authored Dennis Rader's "guided autobiography" and had much to say about dealing with serial killers, much of it not terribly flattering to some other writers and reporters who have done the same. Mainly she felt that they gave their subjects too much freedom (like calling whenever they felt like it) and that strict boundaries need to be set.

She seemed pretty dismissive of Rader, the BTK serial killer who murdered ten people. She admitted to letting him think he was "playing" her during the writing of the book and also had to "bracket" what she thought of him during the process. Now that the book is done, she feels that she can judge him. She said that he sees himself as a James Bond/spy type. I don't remember if she actually used the term "delusions of grandeur" but if not, it still came across. She described the book as 85% Rader and the rest was her setting things up and giving them context.

You know, in case you ever find yourself interviewing a serial killer.

And that, sadly, is the end of my WPA 2017 experience. Due to an extreme lack of sleep I was exhausted, so I not only skipped the banquet Saturday evening, but slept in the next day and had to miss the Debriefing and get to the airport. On the bright side, planning has already begun for WPA 2018, which will be its 10th anniversary, and based on my experience they will really knock it out of the park to celebrate.

No comments: