Universal Translator

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Vehicle Inspections

One shift my partner and I went through eight patrol cars before we found one that was working.  The radio did not transmit, the siren did not sound, the brakes were gone, the transmission was out, the spotlights did not work, and so on.

It's important to check all these things and to make sure they work.  Something like bad breaks is very dangerous.  Consider the liability if you crash into another vehicle and claim the brakes were bad on your patrol car.

It's unethical to write equipment violations on other peoples cars if you vehicle is also not legally operating on the road.  Tail lights, break lights, headlights are some of the parts that break frequently and need to work on your patrol car.  How will it look if you go to court on a headlight ticket and the defendant counters with your car had no brake lights?  It would get your ticket thrown out; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vehicle Inspections

One of the major expenses in running a patrol operation is the cost of the patrol vehicles.  One way to help minimize costs is with a proper training and inspection program.  It’s surprising to me how few officers actually know how to inspect a patrol vehicle.

Do a general walk around of the vehicle.  Look for new dents, scratches and other obvious damage.  Each vehicle should have a vehicle damage sheet inside with a notation of all damage.  Any new damage should be noted at the start of the shift and initialed by a supervisor.  Then inspect the interior, including the glove box, center console, under the seats, and in the trunk.

Not only are you looking for damage, you are looking for contraband and making sure you have all your equipment.  You need crime scene tape, charged fire extinguisher, first aid kit, jack, spare tire and other gear.  Go over your electronics.  Check your lights, the standard vehicle equipment, headlights, tail lights, but also your emergency lights and equipment.  Get out of the vehicle and make sure they are all working.  Check the horn, turn signals, brake lights, and siren too as well as your spotlights.  Working gear prevents injuries, keeps down costs and even saves lives; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Civilian CCW

In California the county sheriff where you live or the chief of police where you live can either issue you a CCW.  They lost a lawsuit over issuing concealed weapons permits.  The plaintifs complained that it was essentially impossible for anyone to get a concealed weapons permit and carrying a firearm openly was also illegal.  The courts agreed that since the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right, it seems people have some mechanism that allowed them to carry a gun.

Most agencies seem to have adopted a wait and see attitude after the loss.  I don't know of any, other than San Diego where the casemlaw originated that are actually making much effort to issue CCWs.  Just as LAPD ignored the court 20 years ago on the CCW issue, I suspect most agencies will do the same now, until there are more lawsuits.

Part of the problem is that there is often a fee, as another method to discourage people, non-refundable, and often a few hundred dollars.  There is also often lots of paperwork, again, to discourage people.  They also want references too.  Those can be hard to get as well.  I suspect this victory is only the first step needed to make this into a shall issue state, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Suicide Prevention


During holidays people sometimes get depressed.  Police officers often have to work over the holidays and that can lead to further depression.  Officers who get so depressed that they talk about suicide need to get help right away so they don't kill themselves.

If someone really wants to end their life, they will just do it, if they are talking about it they are reaching out for help.  You need to help them, especially if it is another officer.  Too often we ignore warning signs and officers kill themselves.

When an officer talks of suicide we often don't want to get involved in their business.  We don't what to ruin their police career.  We are uncomfortable "snitching" on them.  It is better to act and save their lives rather than not act and have them dead.  Many agencies have psychologists, mental health professionals on call who can help.  Many agencies have chaplains who can provide counseling and advice.  If you partner asked for help with a fight in progress you would risk your life to aid him.  If he asks for help to avoid suicide, how much will you risk to save him?  Suicide prevention is part of your job, even if it is your partner; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cop Mentality

A cute girl who dies of a drug overdose, some pimp got her hooked on drugs so she would sell herself to get high.   A partner hurt by some gangster who does not show any remorse.  We see alot of bad things in 20 or 30 years on the job.

Just like soldiers who have been in battle and seen a lot, sometimes too much, police work does take a psychological toll on officers.  Many become alcoholics, get divorced or kill themselves.  Suicide is especially common after they retire because they don't have the job anymore to keep them going.  Cops often become isolated and don't have many friends outside the department.  People often don't understand how dangerous police work is and so they see a video or news report and complain about how the cops did not have to shoot that guy or beat that guy.  The cops become bitter because their friends don't understand the cops did what they were trained to do, shooting the gun out of someone's hand is Hollywood, not real life.

So yes there is often a "police mentality" and it comes after years of frustration and pain.  It's a form of PSTD but is generally unrecognized, just like the military cops are too proud, too manly to admit a problem.  I am lucky I only do it part time in a city that is not too busy, and I have always had a good wife who supports me and a faith in God that everything works out in the end.  They often adopt an us vs them mentality.  Just like old soldiers they are the best friends to have and often the worst enemies to make.  ER doctors and nurses often get that way too.  They see too much bad.  They used to call it job burnout; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Cop Mentality

A friend of mine asked me if there is such a thing as a police mentality.  I responded to him with some of my observations. 
It's a couple things. First, for the last 40 years or so most agencies do a psychological test.  So if you don't fit a certain personality type, you don't get hired.  Now mostly they are looking to weed out the wackos, but also they want people who are willing to be assertive when needed in order to enforce the law.  Each agency selects their own criteria, but they are all similar.

Second, cops are trained in a similar manner and that further weeds out those that don't fit in.  Both of these are similar to the military with pre-induction testing and then boot camp.

Finally, most cops see a lot of bad things in their careers.  Most of those bad things are the result of stupid people doing stupid things and often the ones who get injured are innocent.  A guy gets drunk and drives his car and crashes into a van with a mom and kids.  Mom and kids are at best scared and at worst killed and mangled.  That's hard to deal with and it makes people angry.  Child abuse, some three year old beaten with an electrical cord, or child neglect a three year old left alone at home while mom goes dancing; or a baby left alone in a car on a hot day.  Cop mentality, it does not have to be a bad thing; that's what the SGT Says.