This past week, writers, producers, and creatives from the United States and Canada descended onto the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College Green Bay campus for the 2022 Writers’ Police Academy. The Academy consists of four days of exciting hands-on training from NWTC Public Safety staff and industry experts using police equipment, procedures, and vehicles, helping authors learn realism through the experiences and training of a police academy.
Lee Lofland, a retired police investigator with nearly two decades of law enforcement experience, founded the Writers’ Police Academy over fourteen years ago to help writers get hands-on with real equipment. He was a guest speaker at various writing conferences before he was inspired to create a more engaging way for authors to receive information rather than just listening to presentations. “I went to conferences as a featured speaker, and I felt like everyone was just droning on,” said Lofland. “I wanted to create a way for people to get a real feel for the subject... and I thought, it would be nice if they could somehow go to an actual police academy and get training.”
Now, in year 14 of the Writers’ Police Academy (and the fifth year at NWTC), writers from all over the world and from every sector of entertainment – from novels, true crime, journalism, television, movies, and more – have experienced the fruits of Lofland’s vision. During the Academy, writers learn various law enforcement procedures, from the basics of arrest, booking, and the courtroom to more active, high-stakes maneuvers like breaching buildings and clearing rooms, emergency vehicle operations, and using K-9 units.
“I know experts that walk me through the processes they use, but it is different when you get the chance to do it yourself. When you get in the stance to breach a door you feel a tension in your legs – that's not something anyone can fully appreciate until they experience it,” said Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author and special guest for the 2022 Writers' Police Academy.
Dugoni is not the only bestseller that has attended the Academy – Lee Child, Lisa Garden, and other bestsellers are alumni of the program. They remain closely connected to their experiences, Lofland, and the knowledgeable NWTC staff and will reach out to discuss police procedures and questions during their writing. Some NWTC instructors have even had their likenesses used to create characters in novels!
“The Writers’ Police Academy has changed the way fiction is written for the better,” said Lofland. “The smallest details, mannerisms, and techniques become apparent when you get to perform them firsthand – that is what makes fiction more believable and gives context that both individuals and professionals can relate to.”