The 2017 Writers Police Academy marked the second time I was lucky enough to present This year I had the honor to present workshops on Blood Spatter analysis and Fingerprinting.

As usual, before I started my first session I felt under prepared. I teach these topics on a regular basis to folks going through police training. To get ready, all I did was take materials I already hand and cut stuff out to fit in the session time of just over one hour. Then self-doubt hit, I feared I had cut too much information and my sessions would run short.

Wow was I in for a surprise. In every session, I ran out of time! I forgot how many amazingly good questions WPA participants ask.

As an Academy instructor, there is always pride in hearing about former recruits doing good as officers. That same pride bubbled up every time someone thanked me for a tidbit they used in a story.

During the blood spatter class I was able to do a demonstration of blunt force trauma using a spatter head.

Blood Spatter/Investigation

One the points I made in class was saying there was a certainty unpredictability about what will happen during a bloodletting event. Body composition, hydration levels, and other factors can alter characteristics of blood. This proved correct with each session.

In the first session, fake blood was flung nearly all the way across the classroom.

Bloodstain pattern session. Dexter-style (photo – Ry Brooks)

In the second session, it only flew a few feet.

Regardless by the squeaks of joy coming from participants it seemed they had fun watching my dummy (who I call Daryl) getting his skull beaten in.

The fingerprinting sessions while less exciting provided some thought provoking questions. During the sessions, I told the story of Brandon Mayfield, a person suspected of a terrorist bombing due to an error in fingerprint matching. In each session, I saw eyes widen as if the story sparked an idea for writers in the room.

Both days went fast, and soon it was time for the banquet. Walking towards the banquet, I was stopped by someone who said they were a first-time attendee. She wanted to ask a question not covered in the sessions. It was about home life and the ability to see my children play sports if on duty. I enjoyed every question I get but overjoyed to spend time humanizing the badge.

It seems the human facet of cops is one aspect of the WPA that does not get enough attention. There are countless books, videos, and web pages to research police procedure. Until folks meet a few officers and honestly take some time to talk to us people never fully “get” police personalities.

My only regret from the weekend was not being able to attend any session. With teaching multiple topics multiple times a day, I never got to go sit in on any of the other sessions. Also, personal and professional responsibilities kept me away from most of the evening events at the hotel.

Hopefully next year I will be invited back to present again. Until then my inbox is always open for questions or feedback, rj@rescuehumor.com


RJ Beam is a Law Enforcement professional and author from Wisconsin. He has experience both as a firefighter and police officer. During most of his career, RJ served as an evidence technician, processing crime scenes.

In 2003, he started writing by launching his blog www.RescueHumor.com. Over the years RJ was asked write articles for various police magazines and journals. He has released two novels in his Stuart Thompson series, Fire Cop in 2015 and Cops & Stalkers in 2017.