The only thing more thrilling than writing about kick-ass action characters is getting a chance to meet them in real life.
During a recent tour of the LAPD Police Academy I had a chance to not only interview some of LA’s finest, but actually participate in some of their more exciting training activities. The tour–which was organized by Romance Writers of America’s mystery and suspense writers’ group–including back-to-back activities at the LAPD Police Academy in Elysian Park (remember the opening from Charlie’s Angels?) and the Davis training facility in the San Fernando Valley. Besides meeting some of LA’s most highly trained cops, we also took part in hands-on demonstrations and a terror-inducing ride at the driving track.
It was a day I’ll never forget and I thought you might enjoy the pictures.
As an animal lover, I got a special kick out of meeting several officers in LAPD’s mounted patrol unit, plus their furry sidekicks. I was surprised to learn that LAPD has so many horses on staff, but evidently these guys (all geldings, it turns out) are great for crowd control at large outdoor events. They also happen to be a favorite among foreign tourists at Venice Beach.
We also met some members of the canine unit, including Sage, a bloodhound that is used to track bad guys who have fled crime scenes.
After finishing up with the four-legged cops, I was honored to meet the only female member of LAPD’s elite SWAT team. This officer told us about the rigors of SWAT training and showed us the armored vehicle they use, along with some of their weapons. I was tremendously impressed by this pioneering woman. Lead-lined clothes are not for the feint of heart.
The thrills continued in the afternoon at the Davis facility, where I got to see a firearms demonstration and check out the EVOC, or Emergency Vehicle Operations Course. I piled into a car with fellow suspense writers Brenda Novak and A.J. Brower, plus a highly trained driving instructor. We strapped ourselves in for a white-knuckled ride around the twists and turns of the driving course. When my heart finally started beating again, they ushered us into an indoor facility to show us the new simulators where officers practice high-speed chases in urban environments.
We capped off our tour in the room where they teach officers how to use “less lethals,” such as Tasers and batons. Brenda Novak and I eagerly volunteered to participate in a “shoot or no-shoot” exercise and were given mock pistols. Despite putting on our best game faces, we were promptly gunned down by bank robbers before we even managed to draw our weapons. A dramatic end to a dramatic day.
Have you ever had a chance to see a law enforcement or military training facility up close? If you get the chance, jump on it. This was an unforgettable experience.
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