Monday was Memorial Day. In my high-school years, I marked it with the last parade of the season, and one of the shorter ones. We’d march up 5th Street from the college campus to one of the cemeteries in town, play a piece in place, then two of the trumpet players would peel off to play Taps. Over the years I quit going to parades for some reason.
Several years, we’ve played a day-long game of Risk, but that’s fallen by the wayside as well.
This year we had all the kids who were in town out for the day. We hung out and watched Grandson play in his kiddie pool while we chatted. Owen cooked up some hot dogs and brats, doing a fine job on the grill, even if the flames were five feet high at one point. We watched the original Top Gun in the afternoon because one of the family friends had never seen it, then Diana and Owen and I saw Top Gun: Maverick. My official verdict: Good flick. I thought it was better than the original, really. Still some questionable strategic things going on, and the villain wasn’t all that well fleshed out. But the flight scenes were great, and the casting was awesome, especially Miles Teller. I don’t think they could have found a better actor to play Goose’s son. It was nice to finally put a face to a name from the first movie, too.
Tuesday Diana, Grandson, and I went to a staff picnic at ICTC. Grandson took a good long look at the inflatable slides, but decided to skip them, instead wandering around to look at the various dogs and listen to the musician. Good times. I spent the rest of the day getting ready for my road trip.
Whose Bright idea Was This?
Back in 2020 when Murdercon was going to be in Raleigh, I made flight reservations through Southwest. WPA went virtual that year, so I banked my tickets. This year, it’s in Green Bay, and there’s no way to fly from Tulsa to Green Bay that involves Southwest, so I’d be paying out of pocket for the flights. Plus, I’d end up having to rent a car to drive from Green Bay to Appleton, where the hotel and half the conference is. I could have flown to Appleton, but again, no way to do so involving Southwest. Driving, even with gas averaging $4.35/gallon, was cheaper.
But it’s a 13-hour trip, and I’m getting too old for these. Plus, I took a slightly different route to avoid traveling through what I call, the “People’s Republic of Illinois.”
I told Diana at one point I was going to rethink my driving limits. I think ten-hour driving days are quite enough for a solo run, thanks very much.
The hotel is lovely. It’s a former Red Lion reflagged as a Hilton, and they’re undergoing renovations. My only complaint so far is that there’s no directory of services. That seems to be a fairly recent thing, possibly due to COVID, as though it’s an attempt to cut down on the surfaces people touch. But even a single-page map of the surrounding few blocks would be nice. There’s no guide for the TV, either, and the remote wasn’t immediately intuitive. But that’s probably just me getting old.
Thursday, the first official day of Murdercon, was great. There was a “Touch-a-Truck” session involving several local agencies showing off their vehicles and equipment. Appleton PD had their tech unit out with most of their two drones. I say most because they suffered a bird strike with their DJI M210 unit that destroyed it (and killed the bird).
Dinner was on our own (I had Jimmy John’s), then we listened to Anne Schwartz talk about covering the story of Jeffrey Dahmer. She had several interesting observations including one that may become a book title. The big one though came when she talked about getting the tip that led her to Dahmer’s apartment, a call she got because she’d cultivated relationships with the officers after being a weekend cops reporter for four years. She says she doesn’t see many journalists today building relationships in the same way and wondered about the effect it’s having on news coverage. I wonder if that lack of relationship-building is a symptom of the push from publishers to do more with less, making reporters feel that they don’t have time to build those relationships.
Today was a classroom day. I chose Armed in America, Arrest and Booking, and Court Process. Even though I was a cop many years ago, I didn’t make many arrests (3 total) and I never had to testify in court. Plus, Oklahoma courts are different from Ohio, so I need to learn as much as I can about their system. Ohio has county prosecutors and county courts of common pleas. Oklahoma uses District Attorneys. Retired ATF agent Rick McMahan was our instructor for Armed in America; he always does a terrific job. Nicole Fumelle of the Brown County Sheriff’s Office gave a great overview of their booking process. She pointed out that the last half-mile or so of the trip to the jail is where things can start going sideways, as the bad guy starts realizing what’s happening to them, that they’re facing their last few moments of any real freedom. Kevin Rathburn talked about the Wisconsin court system. I learned that district attorneys and public defenders in Wisconsin are on the same pay scale, which I found unusual.
Dinner tonight was on our own again, followed by live music during the meet-and-mingle. Then we had a great presentation by Alan Hardwick about working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Very informative.
I did two sessions in the classroom (Body-Worn Cameras and Tribal Policing) and one on the driving range (Emergency Vehicle Operations Course). The instructors had tons of great information, especially the Body-Worn Camera class. I’ll probably be able to use quite a bit of it in Red Dirt Justice.
Dr. Katherine Ramsland gave us a fascinating talk about Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer. She’s a regular contributor to WPA, both in online classes and live discussions, and I suspect I’ll be making use of her books in some of my stories.
We’ve got a dinner banquet tonight with Bob Dugoni, then a wrap-up panel tomorrow morning, then I’ve got a very long drive home. Talk to you soon.
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