Thursday, September 29, 2011

Citizens’ Police Academy Part 2

Last night at the citizens’ police academy we learned about Driving Under the Influence (DUI) from a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). Some tidbits. Colorado has an Express Consent law, which means that by agreeing to have a driver’s license, we consent to taking either a breath or blood test if there is probable cause indicating we are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The instructor went through roadside tests performed if you’re stopped for suspected DUI which include tracking a light with your eyes, walking a straight line placing heal to toe and balancing on one foot with the other foot out in front. A suspect can choose either the breath or blood tests, which have to be conducted within two hours of first contact. For the second half of the session we learned about the K-9 unit, and two handlers and their dogs demonstrated catching a suspect and conducting a drug search.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Citizens' Police Academy

I started taking another citizens’ police academy. This is my third, and I learn new things every time. The session focused on use of force. There are very strict guidelines on the type of force that can be used in different circumstances. Police officers must make an instantaneous decision on what level of force to employ to protect themselves, members of the public and the person they’re dealing with. There are different levels of control the police can apply including:
- officer presence
- verbal direction
- soft empty hand control (physical contact to cause pain but not bodily injury)
- hard empty hand control (including baton, pepperball, taser, beanbag shot from shotgun)
- deadly force

We saw a video clip of officers in training being hit with a taser, and then the instructor demonstrated a taser on a mockup. A taser completely incapacitates the target person, but once it’s turned off the individual returns to normal. I can assure you, I don’t ever want to be the recipient of a taser shot.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I’m still recovering after returning yesterday from the Bouchercon Conference, the largest mystery conference in the US. Here are some of the sound bites that I enjoyed:
- When a bullet riddled body was found, someone in law enforcement commented, “I think he lost his will to live.”
- Dan Hawkins stated, “Humor, magic and mystery have in common that things go in one direction and then you’re yanked in the other direction.”
- Author Hank Phillippi Ryan commenting on her news investigation career mentioned an intern who asked, “Can you tell me how to skip the boring parts and just get to being famous?”
- On a panel about evil, a panelist commented, “You can choose the sin but not the consequences.”
- A panelist quoted Agatha Christie in saying, “An archeologist is the best husband; the older you get, the more interested he is.”
- A term I had not heard before: Thrillzy for a combination of thriller and cozy.
- A book publisher stated, “Amazon will find it a little more difficult to be a book publisher than they expected.”
- Author Brad Parks stated, “Writing is performing on the page.”
A great conference, but after conferences two weeks in a row I’m ready for a break. Oh yeah, I’ll need to wait one more week since I’m doing two book launch events next weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference

This last weekend I attended a wonderful Rocky Mountain Fictions Writers Conference. I’m very loyal to this conference because I sold my first novel as a result of a pitch session there in 2005. Awards banquet speaker Bernard Cornwell gave an entertaining presentation. Here are a few sound bites. He gave a list of interesting book titles. These two caught my attention: Memoir of an Amnesiac and The Romance of Proctology. He quoted another author, “What a writer thinks of critics is like asking a lamppost what it thinks of dogs.” He also quoted James Joyce’s wife as saying to her husband, “Why don’t you write books people can read?” Farewell luncheon speaker Allison Brennan said she writes to entertain not save the world. A line that got a chuckle from the crowd was a quote from a psychologist, “Stories avoid insanity and dysfunction.” She quoted Stephen King, “Fiction is truth inside the lie.” She also stated that stories make us human. The conference provided an opportunity to attend workshops to hone my writing craft, catch up with friends and make new ones.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

More Police Role Playing

Today I participated in another role playing exercise to train new police officers. In the first scenario I was a suspect in a sexual assault case. When the police arrived, I tried leaving the house, and when the police stopped me, I told them I was glad to see them because a berserk woman was screaming inside the house. I claimed to be a refrigerator repairman who had been called to a house, and then a crazy lady scratched me (there was fake blood on my hand). The officers had to determine if I was a victim or a suspect. I had a knife on my belt and the trainee didn’t notice it and remove it. The trainer pointed this out, and the trainee will never make that mistake again! Eventually, I was cuffed as a suspect. In a second scenario, I hid in a closet and was discovered when the police trainees practiced a house sweep. So my crime spree is over, and I’m back to being a mild-mannered mystery writer once again.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Citizen's Fire Academy Part 5

This last Wednesday at the Citizen’s Fire Academy we learned about fire investigation and how the fire investigator coordinates with law enforcement when arson is suspected. We had a whole session on emergency medical services with demonstrations of moving a victim onto a board to be transported after stabilizing the neck and head, modern resuscitation methods (different from thirty years ago when I took CPR and learned mouth-to-mouth), and a tour of the ambulance. We also saw a demonstration of the arson dog. Shadow and his trainer Mike showed how Shadow could locate drops of 50% evaporated gasoline. Attached is a picture of Shadow and a photo of a classmate secured on a backboard.