Universal Translator

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Officer Death

If an officer is killed in the line of duty on your agency, you should immediately ask neighboring agencies for mutual aid.  Unless your agency has thousands of officers too many of your officers will be personally involved with the incident.

You will also want to have your officers stop handling calls for service.  Let neighboring agencies take those calls.  Your officers will be upset.  Some may even be looking for revenge.  You want your officers to be professional.  You want them to have time to mourn.

Your officers should be able to go back to work in a couple of days.  If individuals need more time then it should be granted.  Counseling should be available for those who need it or want it.  If your officers were involved in the incident that led to your officers death, counseling should be mandatory; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Good Drones

Drones have great potential.  They can revolutionize industry and government and even travel.  Amazon is looking to have drones perform four hour delivery of product.  They are more and more capable and cheaper and cheaper.

Real estate agents like to use them to take pictures of large properties.  Tourists like to use them to take spectacular photographs of lakes, rivers, forests and monuments.  Farmers can use them to fertilize crops and distribute insecticide.

Private security can patrol large properties and police can patrol large cities.  Firefighters can scan the extent of a blaze.  The advantage is they can be sent in where it is too dangerous for helicopters.  Drones can be deployed almost instantly.  We need regulations, but not harsh enough to stifle the value of drones; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


An officer stopped a suspect for having no front license plate.  It escalated into a shooting and the officer killed the driver.  The prosecutor complained about the nature of the low level stop.  He complained about the probable cause for the stop.  Not because the stop was illegal, but rather because it was a low level crime.

If police are not supposed to make stops for low level crimes, then simply eliminate them from the criminal code.  Police are supposed to investigate activity that is suspicious and then arrest violators, or cite them or warn them as appropriate.

Too often recently I have heard people complain about the nature of a police stop.  They did not deny that the person was guilty of an offense.  They said the offenses were too minor for police to bother with.  How big of a crime should have to happen before the police should take action?  American police do a good job, people need to back off and let us do it; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Verbal Commands

What does someone who is aggressive look like?  What does someone look like who is threatening?  Can you describe those behaviors?  Those are behaviors that you need to recognize when you see them for your own safety.

You need to be able to describe what you see when you write a report.  You also need to speak to the person if you can.  You need to order them to stop, to take control of the situation.  You are the police and you are in charge.

If you are not in charge, then you need to regain control.  The steps you take to regain control are more of what you need to document so that you can justify your actions.  Verbal commands need to be simple, direct and clear; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Video and Report Writing

Just because everything is on video now does not mean your report writing skills are any less important.  Video only shows so much, there is much that is missing in video.  Often, just as the interesting things happen, the officer moves or bounces around and we see nothing but shadows, colors, and blurry images.

The video only shows what the camera sees.  The camera does not provide your exact view.  More importantly the camera does not interpret what you are looking at.  The camera will show a man with something in his hand.  The officer will interpret that something as a garage door opener or a handgun.

The video will be viewed in the comfort of an air conditioned room, in total safety. The video will be recorded in the field where anything is possible and bad things may even be likely.  That will greatly change the interpretation of what things look like, how you react to what people do and say.  It's important that your reports include what you saw, how you interpreted what you saw, and how it made you feel; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Report Writing

Report writing is a critical but often overlooked part of police work.  We spend far too little time learning how to write reports and how to put into words what happened in the field.  Since so many of our tasks are routine and repetitive we become complacent in our report writing and often leave out important information.

If we have a use of force against someone it is important to include those little details that might not seem like much alone, but can more fully explain the reasonableness of our use of force.  "The suspect came at me and I hit him with my baton, one time in the arm."  That is not much of an explaination.

"The suspect exited his car.  I ordered him in a loud voice to 'Get back in your car.'  He refused and ran towards me, screaming, 'I don't have to do what you say.'"  His tone of voice was angry, his face was red, and his right arm was raised in a fist.  I drew my baton and ordered him to 'Stop, get back.'   Then went he was almost on top of me, I struck him one time in the upper right arm with my baton, to prevent him from punching me.  He then stopped, and fell to his knees at my feet.  I handcuffed him without further incident."  The additional details make it much clearer why the suspect needed to be struck with a baton.  Two years from now in court, the second version will help you recall important details; that's what the SGT Says.