Universal Translator

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

War on Drugs


Dangerous drugs from marijuana to heroin were all legal in every state in the union at one time.  A hundred years ago many drugs, now illegal, were contained in mass market products sold to the general public.

Eventually, the effects of these drugs were realized and they were made illegal.  They were made illegal because of the many devastating effects these drugs had on society and on individuals.  Addiction is a terrible thing and these drugs are generally physically and or psychologically addictive.

Today, many people, even some police, are saying we should legalize, regulate and tax various drugs, especially marijuana.  None of the problems caused by these drugs being illegal will be solved by making them legal.  The money raised in taxes will not make up for the increased domestic violence, workplace accidents, and traffic collisions that will happen as a result of legalization.  We are losing the war on drugs, to the detriment of society; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 14, 2014

How Long Can You Work?

They say that fatigue can be as dangerous to drivers as being under the influence of alcohol.  Do you drive when you are fatigued?  Does your agency work a ten or twelve hour shift?  Do you get up after a refreshing eight hours sleep and then go directly to work, or are you awake five or six hours or more before you even start your shift?

If your shift runs into overtime because of a late call or report writing or prisoner transportation, you have been awake for twelve or fourteen or sixteen hours or more?  What happens if someone calls off for the night and you have to work a shift and a half?  Are you safe to drive home after working eighteen hours?

How about court the next day?  Work an eighteen hour shift, then drive home, sleep a couple hours, then drive back to work, get a patrol car, go to court for four  hours then back to a twelve hour shift?  Are you alert?  Can you shoot?  Can you drive?  How many hours can you be expected to work and still be effective?  As a supervisor you need to consider how long your officers work.  An officer might be able to work one eighteen hour shift, but can they work two or three in a row?  Officer fatigue is an important issue that is often overlooked; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


“Handcuffing a suspect during an investigative detention does not automatically make it custodial interrogation for purposes of Miranda.” People v. Davidson, supra, at 972.

Sometimes in the field we have to handcuff people, even though they are not under arrest.  Sometimes we don't have enough evidence to make an arrest, but we suspect there may have been a crime or that the person we have contacted may be involved in something illegal.

Detaining a person when there are circumstances that merit investigation is not an arrest.  If we find out everything is fine or at least that no arrest is needed, that person can be un-handcuffed and sent on their way.  There may be no record of the contact and the person was never arrested.

Occasionally we may need to ask a question or two in order to find out even if a crime has been committed.  If the person is not in custody, then Miranda will usually not apply.  I always make it a point to say, I am handcuffing your for my safety while I conduct an investigation, you are not under arrest, only detained.  This way the suspect knows they are not arrested.  I don't put them in the patrol car or move them around anymore than reasonably necessary.  Handcuffing is not always an arrest, especially if you don't intend it to be and you explain; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Major Incident


A truck driver ran over and seriously injured a little boy who darted into the street.  It is the nature of little boys to dart into the street.  It is in the nature of vehicles to sometimes hit them.  The initial traffic collision may have been the fault of the child or of the truck driver or some combination of the two, that remains to be investigated.

The driver stopped and rather than render aid, he was attacked and beaten by a crowd.  I can understand that people might be upset by a truck driver running over a child.  I can understand that people might need to use force to stop a driver from trying to flee the scene, but that was not the case here in this incident.

When responding to such an incident it can be difficult to sort out what is happening when you first arrive.  Certainly rendering aid to the child is a critical priority, but stopping the assault should happen first.  This type of incident requires a large number of officers to interview witnesses, arrest assailants, process the accident and crime scene, and contain the location.  It's best to divide up the tasks and assign officers to each major event with an overall commander.  Don't try and do everything alone, use your resources; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stick Time


An officer went to a gas station to check on a report that a woman with warrants was there.  When he contacted her this other guy got involved and confronted the officer.  The officer used pepper spray against the suspect but to little effect.

My first question is, where is the officers baton?  I surmise that it's in the car because who needs a baton to take on a woman with a warrant?  Answer, the officer who has to deal with her boyfriend.  As a result the officer ends up in a boxing match and later the emergency room.

I have carried at least five different kinds of batons in my career as an officer.  All of them had advantages and disadvantages.  All of them were useless in the patrol car.  Carry your baton on any call on any field contact; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Local Control

Some people express concern about the "militarization" of police.  I too am concerned about that.  Police are there to "protect and serve" the public, not as instruments of oppression.  The police are there to maintain order and to enforce the law.

Part of the problem is that local and state politicians are giving up more and more local control of law enforcement.  They are taking state and federal money to pay for officers, equipment, and activities that used to be paid for out of state and local taxes.  I am opposed to federal money being used by local law enforcement.  Certainly the transfer of surplus federal government equipments, vehicles, armored cars, desks, chairs or any other physical property is fine, but there should be no strings attached.

Too often these items and money come with strings.  They require certain hiring requirements.  They want certain procedures to be followed or special enforcement to be done with the money. The federal government should not be dictating how local law enforcement works.  Law enforcement should represent their local government, under local control.  If you don't like what your local police do, then you should be able to go to a city council meeting and complain.  You should not have  to write a letter to Washington.  It's another bulwark of too much government power and overreach; that's what the SGT Says.