Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Writers' Police Academy Experience: More Than Just Blowing $%&# Up (Although Do You Really Need More?)

I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life teaching college-level public speaking for a living. My hubby, Captain Awesome, (engineer that he is) once added up roughly how many speeches I’ve seen.  Three speeches a semester x 75 students a semester (a very low estimate) x 45 semesters = 10,125

Over 10,000 speeches.

So when I say I don’t jump at the opportunity to attend conferences and conventions where people are doing more speaking, you can probably understand.

The Writers’ Police Academy was different. 

Held near Greensboro, NC each year, the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA), is a chance for crime/mystery/thriller/romantic suspense writers to experience hands-on what happens in the real world of law enforcement. So we can then turn around and get it right in our writing.

Here are some of the opportunities I was able to experience at WPA:

The decisions EMTs/Paramedics/firefighters have to make when faced with a multi-victim situation. We were given a demonstration (using actor victims) of what such a scene would be like.
I stopped watching this so I could write a scene for a book, it came to me so clearly

What it feels like to get to try to get your weapon out of your holster when someone is rushing at you with a knife from only ten feet away (not easy! Keep perps at least 15 feet away or you don’t have much of a chance)
Janie Crouch author
Self-defense with partners -- I somehow ended up with the Black Belt lady. Great pick.

What it is like (via simulator) to drive an ambulance with sirens and lights blazing
Janie Crouch Author
Instructor turned on the sirens & I didn't even flinch -- I'm used to a loud/chaotic vehicle

How daggone heavy a SWAT vest is (all in all, SWAT moves around with 40+ pounds of gear on them).
Sadly, they wouldn't let me hold the rifles.

How loud it is, even from 30 yards away, when a door is blown off its hinges. Being inside the building would scare the pants off someone who didn’t know it was coming.

The adrenaline that comes along with doing a building search, knowing someone is inside. Seriously, I was one of the more calm people (the officer helping us kept telling me how natural I look with a gun in my hand – that ought to be a frightening notion to some of my ex-boyfriends), and my heart rate was through the roof by the time the exercise was completed.
Janie Crouch Author
I'm telling you, it was SCARY. Even knowing it was safe.

The pressure of giving CPR to a critical patient while a REALLY HANDSOME young paramedic is watching in a moving ambulance.
Janie Crouch Author
Um, yeah... I don't know how his phone number ended up in my notes.
So basically, I loved it. And not just the hands-on stuff. I also enjoyed the more traditional workshops I attended on: prostitution, K9s, Special Ops, and forensic art. Not to mention all the information I gleamed just from talking to law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, lab technicians and TSA agents. Just getting inside their minds, listening to their language, was fascinating and useful.

By the time I left I had a notebook full of scenarios, stories and specifics you can plan to see in my book soon. (In particular, you can expect to see a forensic artist and a hot paramedic in my future books. I’ve already got stories mapped out for them).

Plus, to be surrounded by writers the whole time --people who understand when you stop talking to them in the middle of a sentence to jot down an idea-- just made the entire experience even better. 

I'll definitely go again, and hopefully bring all my fellow Harlequin Intrigue authors along with me.

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