Monday, July 30, 2012


  Lee Lofland is the author of the Writers Digest bestselling book Police Procedure and Investigation, a Macavity Award nominee for best non-fiction mystery. As an expert, Lee has appeared on national television, BBC television, and on NPR’s Talk of the Nation. His articles have appeared in numerous newspapers, newsletters, blogs, and in magazines such as The Writer. 

The Writers’ Police Academy, an exciting, hands-on event where writers train at an actual police academy, is Lee’s creation. He currently serves as director and host. Welcome to Book Blather, Lee.

Marilee, thanks so much for giving me this wonderful opportunity to spread the word about the Writers’ Police Academy, one of the most exciting and fun events a writer could ever attend.

First of all, I’d like for everyone to know the Writers’ Police Academy (WPA) is not a typical writers conference. We don’t do author or agent panels. Nor do we do the typical breakout sessions where agents, bestselling authors, and even local cops stand in front of a hotel meeting room to talk shop. Instead, the WPA is all about learning the behind-the-scenes details about police procedure, forensics, firefighting, crime scene investigation, and EMS, and having a ton of fun while you’re doing it. And the best part is that the WPA takes place in an actual police, fire, and EMS training academy.

The idea for the Writers' Police Academy first came to me while attending Sisters in Crime's Forensic University in St. Louis. And, as a speaker I'd attended numerous writers’ conferences all over the country, where I also took advantage of sitting in on police officer-type workshops. I always learn something new everywhere I go. Anyway, while at those events I realized that each presentation, no matter how good, was missing something.

Sure, the material presented was excellent, and the slides were always informative, but the information was delivered in only two dimensions. There were no concepts of depth, touch, smell, or emotion. And seeing a picture of a crime scene, no matter how graphic, well, it's just not the same as getting your hands dirty with fingerprint powder, smelling the real odors associated with a murder scene, shooting guns, feeling the recoil and seeing the suspect fall as the round hits, wearing a Kevlar vest, handcuffing a suspect, driving police cars and fire trucks, etc. Yes, that’s what writers were missing, the third dimension and beyond! After all, writers are supposed to excite the senses of their readers, and how could they expect to write something they’ve never experienced personally?

So, that's what I put together in Ohio back in 2009—a hands-on event—, and man has it ever grown. In fact, it’s so large we moved the event to an actual police academy that’s located on the Campus of Guilford Technical Community College (GTCC) in Jamestown, N.C. There, we have access to a driving track, an on-site working fire station, a burn building, ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, firearms, and, well, if it’s public safety-related, we’ve got it, and it’s available to our writers/recruits.

The WPA is absolutely huge. In fact, when the tour buses carrying our recruits first round the corner and everyone sees facilities and all the police, CSI, and other emergency vehicles and equipment for the first time, well, it's a sight to behold.

You know, I sometimes hear the remark, “I don’t need to go to the WPA because I’ve already attended my local citizen’s police academy.” Well, I definitely encourage every writer to attend anything offered by their local police department, especially when you have the opportunity to learn the basics of police work, tag along on a fun ride-a-long, and maybe even fire a handgun or two. However, the Writers’ Police Academy is NOT a watered down citizens police academy. Instead, our event is the real deal. A one of a kind event, featuring real police, fire, forensics, and EMS training, using authentic equipment, at an actual police academy with classes and workshops taught by active-duty police academy instructors, officers, and top well-known experts from around the country. We offer the same “behind-the-scenes” instruction taught to seasoned investigators, officers, and others in the field. Believe me, there is nothing else like the WPA anywhere in the world. The only thing you can’t do at the WPA is to see and do it all in a single weekend. But the best part about the whole thing is that it’s extremely fun. It’s Disneyland for writers!

Here’s what you can expect at the 2012 Writers’ Police Academy:

Top instructors and experts for the 2012 WPA include Marcia Clark (former OJ Simpson prosecutor), experts from Sirchie Fingerprint Laboratories, world-renowned forensic anthropologist Dr. Elizabeth Murray, author Kathy Harris (marketing manager for the Oak Ridge Boys), ATF Special Agent Rick McMahan, NYPD Detective Marco Conelli, cold case and bloodstain pattern expert Dave Pauly, Author/Detective Lee Lofland, bioterrorism and DNA expert Dr. Denene Lofland, author and forensic psychology expert Dr. Katherine Ramsland, GTCC police academy instructors, and literally dozens of active duty police officers, firefighters, and EMS workers.

Workshops include (and there are many more other than the ones listed here):
- Interview and Interrogation
- Cold Case Investigations
- Special guest speakers
- Firearms
- Bloodstain pattern investigations
- K-9′s
- Dive teams
- Arson investigation
- Federal agents
- Undercover officers and UC investigations
- Bioterrorism and DNA
- Gangs
- Firefighting
- Treating gunshot victims
- First responders
- FATS training (firearms)
- Driving simulator
- Arrest techniques and Handcuffing
- Defensive tactics and self defense for women
- Women in law enforcement
- Jail tours
- Polygraph
- Responding domestic violence calls - role play (onsite scenario rooms include a residence, store, etc.
- Suicides and Hangings
- Shallow grave investigations
- Explosive and bomb squad
-Jail searches - we have fully-equipped onsite jail cells
- Underwater evidence recovery (we have an onsite pool!)
- Onsite working fire station includes hands-on tours and equipment demos
- tons of police equipment and dozens of vehicles for demos and for your up-close inspection, including helicopter, command posts, patrol vehicles, bomb disposal trucks, firefighting vehicles and equipment, SWAT vehicles and equipment, motorcycles, sniper equipment, riot gear, armored vehicles, and much, much more.

And police ride-a-longs with local police and sheriff’s deputies (by lottery)!

Literary agents from the Sullivan Maxx Literary Agency will be on hand to take pitches!

Our 2012 Keynote speaker is international bestselling author Lee Child.

And much, much more, including a special surprise guest!

Here’s a link to photos from the 20111 WPA (it’s my website, The Graveyard Shift)

For additional details about the 2012 WPA, please visit us at

Lee’s next release is a true crime story in an anthology called Masters Of True Crime: Chilling Stories Of Murder And The Macabre. The book is scheduled for release in July 2012 by Promethus Books (already available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble). His current project is a thriller set in Coastal Georgia.


  1. Great article on the WPA. I highly recommend this event for anyone who writes or wants to write about LEOs. You'll love it so much you'll want to go back again and again attend all the sessions. You'll make friends with fellow writers and discover how willing these instructors are to help you 'get in right' in your stories.

  2. It sounds great! Hopefully Lee will do one on the west coast (Seattle would be nice) so I can be part of it.

  3. I'd love to do one on the west coast. However, it's a bit difficult to pack up and move an entire police academy, vehicles, weapons, equipment, etc. The WPA takes place at a real working police, fire, and EMS academy.

    Now, if you can find a police academy that's willing to open their doors to us for an entire weekend, well, give me a call and we'll make it happen... :)

    You know, we have people attend from nearly every state in the U.S. and Canada. Last year we even had someone travel from Ireland to attend.

  4. (Sigh) Guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and fly to the east coast.