Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hit Me

Where is your baton when you get out of the car? Is it on your hip or in your car? Today there are so many options for impact weapons that there is no reason to leave it in the car. The OC spray and Tazer are great, but it's hard to break a car window with pepper spray.

The impact weapon is a critical link in the weapons we have to use to do our job. The Tazer it great, but it only works against one suspect at a time. Aerosol weapons are great and can be used against crowds of people all at once, but they are not as selective as we may need them to be, don't work in high winds and rain.

Sometimes an impact weapon is your best choice and if you left your baton in the car it can't help you. It should be in your ring or carrier whenever you leave the vehicle. Even if you are just buying gas or other routine event that weapon needs to be with you. An unruly crowd in a bar, or parking lot mixed in with law abiding people is a perfect example of when the baton can be effective, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Sure you can shoot your duty weapon well, and you are great with the shotgun, but how can you transition from one to the other? Often, firearms training is modular. Today we will shoot the shotgun. Tomorrow we will shot the handgun. We don't practice using both a the same time.

When you practice use of your shotgun, your handgun should worn just as it is on duty, as well as your body armor. Our bodies are often restricted by the gear we wear and it is important to train the way we will fight. When you practice with your handgun, try shooting with your shotgun in your hand. The shotgun only has a few rounds, perhaps as few as four or five and you may need to transition to your handgun.

If you have your shotgun in your hands and need to approach a suspect, you may need to transition to your handgun if you are in close quarters. What do you do with the shotgun? I like to hold it in my left hand (I am right handed) and roll the arm across my chest so that the gun is held vertical against my body. That secures the gun so that I can employ the handgun. But it takes practice, so go practice, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gun Safe

Gun safes for gun storage at home are a good idea if you have more than a couple firearms. Who can gain access to your weapons and how well are they secured? Do you have children and grandchildren, and other relatives, and neighbor kids who come visit? Can they get to the guns?

When you are not home, who has access to the guns? Your firearms are important tools of your trade, but you are responsible to insure they are not accessed by people who should not have them. How would you feel if a child got them or if a criminal stole them from you?

Do you carry your gun when you are off duty? How about when you travel? Do you secure it properly when you are in a hotel? Duty weapons are a balance between quick access and security. You need to get the gun in an emergency but keep it safe in routine times. Most of my guns are unloaded and locked up most of the time, with only a few kept in readiness in safe locations. Don't let unauthorized people get your guns, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Facility Security

How secure is your station? Can anyone come and go as they please? Are you in a stand alone building or do you share a facility with other agencies or with other departments? Who cleans and maintains the building, changes the light bulbs and services the vending machines?

Who has access to your parking area for your police cars? How about your personal cars? Could a suspect steal your police car? Or could they hide in your personal car, or plant a bomb in your car? Can they steal a shotgun, or assault rifle out of your patrol car? Can they access information on your vehicle computer?

The station can be venerable to stalkers, terrorists, crazy ex-wives, criminals looking for revenge, or suspects friends who want to make a jail break. Can anyone walk into the lobby, dispatch center, break room, report writing room, locker room? Do visitors have to check in and get a pass? Crime prevention begins at home, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Unsnap and Draw and Step and Shoot

When you go to the range, do you move when you shoot? The center of mass of the kill zone of an adult male is only about six inches from center to edge. While drawing the weapon from the holster the officer can take just one tiny step left or right and be out of the kill zone. At least some of your firearms practice should include drawing from the holster, with the weapon snapped in tight.

The shooter can unsnap the weapon, draw, step a few inches left or right and fire two rounds center of mass at a man size target in less than two seconds with just a bit of practice. Since most law enforcement shootings take place in only a couple seconds and from only six feet or less with only about three rounds fired, this is an excellent skill to develop. The shooter should practice stepping both to the left and to the right. Ideally, the shooter should step towards cover. Most law enforcement shootings happen with cover only a few feet away from the officer.

By stepping towards cover, the officer can further protect himself and gain just that much more of an advantage over the suspect. Anything that will stop a bullet can be used as cover. Small caliber handguns can be stopped by light poles, trees, and telephone poles. Take any advantage you can get in a shootout; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Back in the dim past, when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, and I was in the police academy, one of the old instructors told our nearly all male class, "Booze, broads, and bills are what kills most police careers." How's your drinking? When was the last time you went to work with alcohol on your breath? How about your partner?

Do you have an on duty girlfriend? Do you stop by her house on patrol? On one of my first days on patrol, my training officer had me stop a car and ask the driver to step outside the vehicle. It was his girlfriend out on a date with another man. I thought, "Oh my God, my partner is going to murder his girlfriend on my first day and my career will be over before it started." Fortunately for all concerned he let her go and I still have a job. Do similar things happen at your agency?

How are you keeping up the payments? Young officers right out of the academy should be given financial counseling. Perhaps they should even be forced to save a portion of their pay that they can't get to for a few years. How often have you seen the young officer buy a car, motorcycle, jet ski, house, vacation home, etc and then have to work tons of overtime just to stay even. Booze, broads and bills can all kill your career; good advice from decades ago, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shoot Practice

When you fire your gun you are responsible for every round you fire. Where it goes, who or what it hits. If you miss the suspect and the bullet hits a child or a little old lady, or a gas main; you and your agency may have to pay for that error.

When you go to the range do you hit the target every time? What happens if you miss the target? Do you go back and shoot again? We do at my range. Not only does the shooter have to hit the target every time; if they do miss I want them to keep shooting until they hit the suspect.

All too often range training is "two rounds, center mass, ready go." In real life, you will not be told how many rounds to fire, you will make that decision based on the actions, reactions and failures to act of the suspects. The field is an uncontrolled environment and you must train to function in a world with distractions, and make decisions that are correct in those conditions. That is why I seldom tell my shooters how many shots to take on the range, I tell them how many hits I want on the target; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You Saw a What?

Citizens informed authorities of a wild man that would raid their homes and carry people off. Authorities went looking and discovered the Mountain Gorilla, that was in 1902.

A security guard found tape on a door latch and pulled it off and locked the door. Later, on his rounds he noticed the tape on the door again. This time he realized it was a burglary in progress, notified the authorities and they responded to the Watergate Hotel to investigate the unusual circumstances. This let to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

As law enforcement we see and hear about many strange things. It is our job to investigate those reports and determine what is going on. When you get a report of strange lights, weird noises, unusual behavior do you check it out carefully or blow it off? I suggest you check it out, you may just find the next species of gorilla, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Too Close For Comfort

Do you shake hands with suspects on duty? How about victims? How close do you let people get to you on duty, in uniform? Calibre Press speaks of keeping a distance of 21 feet between yourself and a suspect armed with a knife when there are no obstacles between you. Obviously this is too great a distance to conduct most business.

How close is too close? I try not to get "too close" to people when I am working. The most important thing is to be aware of how close people are, what they are doing, and how I can respond in the event of an attack against me. Try and keep barriers between yourself and others. On traffic stops keeping people seated in their car helps to contain them. If you must get them out, have them sit on the curb or have them stand at the end of the car while you stand at side, and conduct your business at the corner.

Generally, I like people to be arms reach away, knowing that people can still kick from that distance. I am a big guy, so my arms length is a long way away, but judge by the arms length of the suspect. Distance gives you more reaction time, more time to perceive an attack is happening and time to react. Be alert, give yourself some distance, and some time; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Training Precautions

This blog gets a post every day, seven days a week because law enforcement must work around the clock every day. I have designed the entries for you to use for roll call training, to supplement monthly training or to give as on going training memo. Whenever you use this source or any other, be certain that the information is applicable to your area. Local conditions may make some or all of this information invalid. Local laws, agency policies, state laws or regulations, case law in your jurisdiction or your particular circumstances may necessitate a change in the information presented to your audience or in your actions.

When I do agency training memos I get them signed off by a supervisor. They initial the original master memo which is then filed in a training file. This serves several purposes. It is difficult to proof read your own work because you know what you intend to say, others will be better at catching your typographical errors. There may be a conflict in what I have written and agency policy, practice or the law. Again, a second pair of eyes can help insure compliance with the law.

Finally, if something bad does happen, the agency has bought off on the training and can't claim the training or procedure was outside policy. If a manager or supervisor has okayed the policy, it makes it more difficult for them to make that claim. Naturally, we are all responsible as individuals for our actions, but it is better when those actions are officially sanctioned by our agency; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Heat

Most Sunscreens Ineffective, Group Says - AOL News

Summer time and it is hot out there. Do you carry water in your patrol vehicle? Does the supervisor carry water in the patrol vehicle? How far out do you travel, and how far is the nearest water? I work in a very urban setting and I am never more than 100 feet from a water source. But what about those highway patrol officers who are out on the freeways, or patrolling desert highways? If you get stuck on a perimeter, how far away is water?

Do you wear sunscreen while at work? I use SPF 50 sunscreen, the baby stuff and often wear a long shirt. With that left arm hanging out of the patrol car window for hours at a time, it is a good idea to wear a sunscreen. Twenty or thirty years of sun exposure is not a good thing for your arm.

Do you wear a hat? Keep the sun off your face with a cap. Do you wear sunglasses? Keep the sun out of your eyes. The summer brings additional challenges of sunlight and heat that we have to overcome. Be prepared to deal with these problems, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Promote Yourself

The Re-Careering of the Baby Boomers: Reinventing Yourself in a New World of Work - AOL Find a Job

What are you going to do with yourself in a few years when you knees give out and your back is tired? Law enforcement is very physically demanding and going out there and pounding a beat can be tough. One reason to promote is so that you can keep working but not have the physical demands on a daily basis that you had before your promotion.

What have you done to get yourself moved into position to get promoted? Do you have a degree? Do you have an advanced degree? Does your state require advanced training? Do you have it? Have you taken advantage of opportunities for training offered by your agency? If you want to get promoted you have to know how to review others work, starting by being a field training officer is an excellent beginning.

Later you need to know about other less law enforcement specific tasks like recruiting, hiring, workplace harassment, and budgets. If you can handle budgets you are often in very high demand, there is never enough money. Writing grant requests to get the Federal government to pay for things is another important skill. Researching special projects, and liaison with dispatch, fire and other agencies is another job skill supervisors and managers need. Start planning now for your future, if you don't who will? That's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Judge Not, Until You Pay

ILR California

A trail lawyer goes to prison over bribery charges. The article goes on to explain that plaintiffs get big awards in verdicts and then make sure that sympathetic judges get contributions to their campaigns so that they get re-elected. The next time the attorney goes back to that judge, they get a better chance of winning because they have contributed to the judge. How corrupt is that?

First of all, trail lawyers probably should not be giving money to judges, it smacks of corruption just on the face of it. Second, if an attorney goes before a judge and the judge has received money from that attorney, he should recuse himself from the case. If I was the defense attorney and I came up to a judge that had received money from the plaintiffs attorney I would ask for a change of venue. If I did not get the change of venue and lost the case, I would appeal on the basis that the presiding judge was influenced by the money given to him by the plaintiffs attorney.

Perhaps judges should be elected only once and then serve only one eight year term before they are term limited out. Might be more difficult to buy a judge if they only run for election one time. Too many judges and politicians forget who they represent, the people, and instead try and make money for themselves. Elected officials should have a real job and only work for the people for a term or two and then return to the private sector. Perhaps they would be less willing to make decisions they don't have to live with as lifetime government employees, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Free Coffee Costs a Career

Cop fired for demanding free coffee - Weird news-

According to news reports a police lieutenant went to Starbucks several times a shift to get free coffee. He cut in line and refused to pay when asked, and he told the clerk he would have a slow response time to calls for service if they made him pay for coffee. So many issues; but the short version is, he deserved to be fired and is lucky he was not prosecuted.

Never go anywhere and expect free service and always have enough money with you to pay full price. If free service is offered, advise the clerk that it is not necessary and you are willing to pay. If they insist on providing free service, leave a generous tip. Don't patronize locations that offer free service more often then once per month, certainly not several times in a shift. Never threaten to withhold law enforcement services if you don't get free or reduced rate services.

Many companies have a policy of providing law enforcement with free or reduced cost service, and that is greatly appreciated, but certainly never mandatory. Officers get paid for their time and can afford to pay for their meals, or they should bring food from home. Since this officer was a supervisor, a lieutenant, I can only imagine what and example his behavior has been for his officers. This officer lost his entire fifteen year career over a few cups of coffee; but moral lapses of this magnitude deserve this kind of treatment, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Don't Give the Bad Guys a Rest

Where is the criminal activity in your jurisdiction? We all know where the drugs are sold, the gangsters hang out, the child molesters go to look for victims. So why are you not there? If there is a corner that is known for drug dealing, that is the corner where you should spend your time. Much of police work involves waiting for something to happen. Wait for a call, wait to see something on patrol.

When you are waiting, go to those places where crime happens. Even if you simply drive up and park in the middle of the block and don't stand a chance to catch anyone, you disrupt criminal activity. If there is an officer safety issue, then meet other officers there. Sometimes we would skip roll call at the beginning of the shift and everyone would leave the station together and just drive to a particular high crime spot and conduct shift change and roll call in the field. Imagine the surprise of the criminals to see twice the number of deployed cars show up at their favorite corner.

The other way to impact these locales is to perform traffic enforcement on nearest main street to the criminal hangouts. This will catch criminals coming and going to their lair and make it harder for them to do business as usual. The intent with all this activity is to keep the bad guys guessing where law enforcement will show up. They don't give their law abiding neighbors a chance to live normal lives and we should not give the bad guys a moments peace either, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Keep Looking

Colombia Rescues Hostages From Rebels - AOL News

In the nation of Columbia they have been fighting a low level civil war for decades. The government recently conducted a hostage rescue and freed people that had been held captive for years by the rebels. How are your old case files looking? Do people get away with murder and kidnapping in your jurisdiction?

How long do you keep on a case until you give up? How much is a persons life worth? Every time you allow a major case to go cold you let a criminal get away with murder or kidnapping. Sometimes criminals will keep kidnap victims for months or as in this case, years. Can you imagine being held as a kidnap victim for years?

What can you do to keep old cases alive? Talk to the victims friends and relatives. Arrange for them to talk to the media. Even if they only get an article in the local throw away free paper, it may lead to a break in the case. Try and keep a tickler file on every major case and update it on those slow days or slow afternoons. Everyone kidnapped deserves to be rescued, and every murder deserves to be solved, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So Sue Me Defending the Police

We live in litigious times, do you have insurance in case you get sued? Often we do everything right, and still get sued. Sometimes attorneys will sue the officers involved in an event to try and throw them off their testimony. People who sue often won't just sue the one officer involved, but all officers present at an incident, their supervisors, their field training officers, and department staff and management. The attorney will cast a large net hoping to catch someone in it.

If you belong to a union, they may have legal protection available. Do you know how much it costs to speak to an attorney for an hour? A hundred dollars, two hundred, five hundred, or more? Do you have that type of money to spend on litigation? Your agency may not pay for your legal protection, they may even fire you, so you have no job to pay for your legal fees.

Officer safety means more than just not getting killed. It means not getting fired, not getting sued, and not getting hurt or killed. Protect your self legally by getting legal defense insurance, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 14, 2008

When is the World Series?

Many of the posts here at SGT Says have to do with training, and preparation, and achieving the mindset that gives you the ability to not only survive but triumph against those who would do harm to you or others. One of the best methods to prepare for potentially deadly encounters is to participate in on going training. I try to attend at least one formal training class per year, and in a good year I make it to two of them.

Sometimes my agency will pay for the training, but sometimes I have to pay for it myself. It is worth the expense if the training provides me with information that I can use in the field. Sometimes the training does not provide much that it new, but allows me to practice skills I already have. Just as professional baseball players attend spring training to insure their skills are at their peak before the games begin, unlike baseball players, we don't know when the "big game" will begin.

Recently I attended an active shooter instructor course at NTC. The instructors were highly skilled, the information accurate and timely and overall a great course. I highly recommend them for any tactical training you may require. Check them out and take a training course, your next call for service may require you hit a "grand slam" and you want to be ready; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Eat This - Tests Show No Drugs in Texas 'Tainted' Cookies; Teen Released - Local News News Articles National News US.

A teenager who was convicted of assaulting a police officer took cookies to twelve police stations and several officers complained that they got sick afterwards. The police did not know who this person was and they ate food that he brought to the police station. At first they suspected there were drugs in the food, but the most recent reports indicate there were no drugs present.

Osama Bin Laden showed up at your police department and left you a plate of cookies. How long before your entire agency is in the emergency room or worse? Cyanide smells like almonds, so bake some nice almond cookies for everyone. An excellent way to debilitate a police department, take them some food and poison a few officers. If there was an immediate death or several officers were stricken with a terrible sickness, how would that affect the ability of your agency to respond to a robbery in progress, shooting at the high school or other major criminal or terrorist event? Such an easy and cowardly way to attack the police, just poison their food.

Cops like to eat and they like cookies and yes, donuts a lot; just look at most of us. Are you aware of what you eat while on duty? Are you careful to eat only in places with a track record of providing safe food service to law enforcement? I generally eat only at three or four places, all of which are frequented by many other members of my agency. Watching what you eat on duty can save your life, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hot Calls

Safe Kids USA: Preventing accidental injury.

In as little as ten minutes the temperature inside a parked car can go from 80 degrees to well over 130 degrees; fatal for a small child. Children have less body mass than adults and so their bodies temperature fluctuates easier than an adults. Now it is summer and the temperatures inside cars will be high. What is your agency policy on children locked in cars? Can you break a car window to enter? Is it a crime in your area to leave a child locked in a car?

In California, it is a crime to leave a child under six years of age unattended in a car without the supervision of someone twelve or over. That means that the officers can not only force their way into the car to rescue the child, but also arrest the responsible party when they return to the vehicle. How do you handle the child locked in a car call? First, ask dispatch to find out how long the reporting party has observed the child alone in the car. Check the ambient temperature, that will give you an idea as to how urgent it is to get the child out. Once you arrive, visually check the child's condition, and talk to them. Do they appear or say they are in distress? Are they awake or unconscious?

Next, check the doors, windows, sunroof to see if they are open or unlocked? Don't be afraid to break a window to save the life of a child. If you have to break a window, hit the window away from the child as hard as you can so you only have to whack it once. Call for paramedics to aid in the child's recovery. If you have a few minutes because the child is not in immediate distress, if you carry a Slim Jim maybe you can open the door, if not call your police tow to open the door, or the fire department. FD can get into anything. Continue to monitor the child and if they appear like they are starting to suffer from the heat, break the window and get in there. Your agency may have to pay for a $500 window, or you may stand there and watch a child die. That's an easy choice, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Major Disasters

How is your agency prepared for a major regional emergency. Can your agency function if gasoline is not delivered for a few days, weeks or even a month? How about electricity? Does your dispatch center have a back up generator? How about two or even three? Will your radio system work if the electricity goes out? Sure, maybe dispatch can still function but what about remote repeaters? If officers have to be on duty for two or three days in a row, perhaps without going home is there a secure place for them to sleep? To eat and food for them?

A major regional disaster can severely strain the resources of your agency. Riots, terrorist attack, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes can all cause the sort of utility service disruption that can cut your electricity, phones, computers, radios, natural gas, and gasoline. If such an even happens in the snow clad winter, can you heat your buildings and keep your people warm?

I live fifty miles from my agency and I have plans for my personal survival if I get stuck halfway between the two locations. I may have to walk as far as twenty-five miles to return home or go back to my agency. In Southern California I don't have to worry about snow, but major earthquake damage could collapse the freeway overpasses and make it impossible to drive. Travel at night on foot in the dark could become nearly impossible. Do you have a plan to make it home or to work in a major disaster, you need one, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Multiple Heavily Armed Suspects

Stratfor - Geopolitical intelligence, economic, political, and military strategic forecasting Stratfor

A group of armed drug cartel enforcers hit a man in Arizona and fled. Later several of them were captured along with their weapons, and body armor. Are you or your agency ready to take on six or eight highly trained suspects armed with fully automatic assault rifles and handguns? Mexico has been cracking down on drug offenders and some of them and their families have fled to the United States.

Do you carry an assault rifle in all your patrol vehicles? Can you shoot well with it, and when was the last time you practiced with it? Can you engage multiple targets, who are moving and acting as a team? Imagine you are on a traffic stop and these guys are in the car on their way to a hit. If you are fortunate to recognize who they are what will you do? I would suggest you play dumb, back off and call for help. Allow them to drive away with a 'warning' even. The team of suspects may have two, even three vehicles. You only stopped one, and don't know where the other vehicle may be stopped.

This type of suspect requires a coordinated effort by multiple officers. Think about the North Hollywood shooting in Los Angeles a few years ago. Over 500 officers responded to that, and there were only two suspects. Plan your response to a major event and take it over with other officers. Having a plan is important, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Canine Buddies

Surprising dogs breeds to be wary of - ParentDish

When responding to calls for service, particularly residential burglary alarms, we are likely to encounter dogs kept as pets or for protection by the property owner. A new study shows Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Jack Russel Terriers are the three worse for biting attacks. Historically, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans have been some of the worst for dog bites. That is because their bites are frequently injurious enough to be reported. When checking out a property look for signs of dogs, doggie poop, beware of dog signs, dog toys, and rattle the gate a bit and see if Fluffy the Rottweiler shows up.

Most dogs will try to defend their territory. There are many ways to deal with dogs. Most dogs hate the electrical noise of a Taser. Remove the dart cartridge and pull the trigger. The electrical noise will frighten most dogs so badly that they will run away. You don't have to zap the dog, just the noise will scare them. OC, pepper spray works well to deter dog attacks. Spray the dog in the eyes, mouth and nose. Typically they will instantly begin to rub their noses on the ground to remove the spray. The dog should be all better in 20 minutes to an hour.

Should these techniques fail, use your baton as a lance, dogs will usually bite the first object presented to them, better they bite the end of your baton then your leg. If you have time, call animal control. My agency carries loop catch poles in the trunk of the patrol car to capture animals, but animal control is your best bet. Your agency K-9 officer can also be helpful in dealing with dogs, since they are subject matter experts. In an emergency a fire extinguisher sprayed in the face of a dog will usually deter an attack. CO2 kind are best, the others are messy, hard to clean up and don't work as well. Only as a last resort should you shoot a dog. Shooting a dog will often be a public relations nightmare and can be very costly. Dogs are also small, fast moving and hard to hit, which means a miss may hit someone else.

Use common sense and don't hurry when dealing with dogs. And watch out for the ankle biters; that's what the SGT Says.

Pass It On

During your law enforcement career you had other officers who helped you along the way. Showed you how things work in the streets as opposed to how they worked in the academy. Officers who kept you safe and watched your back. As you move along in your career, don't forget that obligation to those officers who helped you.

You repay that obligation by not only being a good officer but also by helping the other new guys fit in and do a good job. It does not matter if you like the new guy or not, he may be the one they sent to save your life. So it is in your own self interest that you help to train him to be as good an officer as you can. If you have any skill at all at training others, work towards becoming a Field Training Officer. It is one way you can greatly influence your agency.

As your trainees go out into the field on their own, a little bit of you goes with them. You help shape your agency as an FTO more than any other single person in your agency. It is a great opportunity, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rubber Gloves and Handcuffs

Searching suspects and prisoners, in the field, needs to be done carefully, thoroughly, and completely. I have seen officers walk up to a suspect, face him from 8 inches away and pat his pockets and waistband and consider that a search! Ouch. That's not even close. A good search should begin even before you touch the subject. Look at them from head to toe, front and back. Are there any suspicious bulges, like a gun in the waistband? Does their body language indicate fight or flight? Put on a pair of rubber gloves. You don't know what that suspect has on besides clothing! Lice, fleas, urine, blood, vomit, and worse are on many of those we arrest. Disposable rubber gloves are essential. Achieve a position of advantage, before you begin the actual search. Finally, just before you are ready, ask the suspect if they have any weapons, guns, knives, needles, anything that can stick or cut you. Often they will tell you what they have.

My preference is to handcuff suspects, then search them. If I have to make physical contact with someone, I like all the advantages, but if there is no arrest, you may have to go without handcuffs. Achieve a position of advantage, before you begin the actual search. Then search systematically. I like to start at the head and work down, right upper body, right lower body, left upper body, left lower body. That way I only have to move from one side to the other once.

Once the search is complete, step away from the subject and then look at them again. Once you are sure everything is okay, then remove your gloves and dispose of them properly. I often just toss them on the police car and dispose of them later when the subject is released or locked in the car.

If while searching you find a weapon, loudly tell your partner, and seize the weapon if practical. You may need to push the suspect away to disengage and go to your firearm. If you do, take quick and decisive action to contain them. Should you remove a weapon or contraband from a suspect, remember where it came from, front left pants pocket for example, and then secure it. If it is a weapon, put it in your pocket or better yet, hand it to your partner. If it is contraband, put it into a clean container if possible, even one of your gloves. Any items removed need to be secured so that the suspect cannot retrieve them, passers by can't pick them up, or they don't just get left behind or lost. Always remember to search suspects like your life depends on it, because it does, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wear Your Armor

This weekend I worked a parade and fireworks display. It was a long, hot, tiring day. After a few hours I returned to the station and replaced my tee shirt. It was soaked through, front and back with sweat. At the end of the 16 hour day, I returned and put on another fresh shirt for the ride home. My second shirt was soaked through again. It was a hot, humid, sweaty day and that body armor did not make it any more comfortable.

Late at night I spoke to one of the other SGTs and noticed he was not wearing his armor. I asked him about it and he said "I know I should wear it." I concur with this assessment. As a supervisor he spends much of his shift in the station, and only goes out when the mountain of paperwork gets small or when something happens that needs either extra manpower or close supervision. So his perceived risk is low.

If you have a gun, then you need to wear armor. If the work is so dangerous that you must be armed, then there must be a chance that you will be the victim of a potentially deadly attack. Frequently, attacks come when we are not prepared for them. If we were prepared, the bad guy would probably not attack. The armor allows you to survive the initial surprise and then go on to win. You don't have to be shot for the armor to help you, I have taken a few punches in the chest that I could laugh off because of the armor.

There is no better way to stay alive and stay safe then wearing your armor. If you won't wear it for yourself, wear it for your wife and your kids; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Prone Yourself Out

Watch shows like Cops that present actual video of officers on duty in shootouts and analyze what they do and don't do. Many stand still, yet cover is within a step or two. Many move forward or backwards but don't move out of the kill zone. Generally you need to move laterally to get to cover, a few steps forward or back only move you away from or closer to the shooter.

Some officers fall to the ground to take cover. Excellent idea. When was the last time you fired your duty weapon from the prone position? Some of you probably would have to say "Never." If your only cover is a curb or fire hydrant, the prone position may be your best answer. Go to the range and fire from a prone position. Fire over your head, fire towards your feet, fire on your left and right sides. Try and reload from a prone position. It can be really hard to get to your ammo from the prone position.

Use of available cover means sometimes you have to get dirty or wet or move into positions you don't normally use at the range. Now you have the time to practice shooting and reloading from those postures. Don't wait for the shootout to shoot from the prone position for the first time. Shooting from the prone means you have to really be aware of your background; you are probably going to be shooting upward. You also may be more inclined to shoot over your target too, so watch those sights carefully. The prone position can be a great shooting position, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Avoid Being Taken Prisoner

Colombia Rescues Hostages From Rebels - AOL News

Soldiers and police rescued hostages from rebels in Columbia. This is another example of how we are winning the war on terror and the war against the narco-terrorists from Columbia. In other nations it is not unusual for criminals to kidnap the police and hold them hostage for many reasons. Have you thought about this possibility? If you work corrections or if you even visit jails or prisons to drop off or pick up a prisoner, you should think about it.

If you are in a custodial situation and things don't look or sound right to you, don't ignore those feelings. Your mind will sometimes pick up cues that your conscious may not process right away. Stop, back up, slow down, wait, call for back up. There is no hurry. If things don't seem right, it is time to make certain that everything is okay before you proceed. Does the corrections officer have his uniform on properly, or is he a prisoner pretending to be an officer? Do people who are supposed to have key have them or do they want you to open the door? Are prisoners locked up like they are supposed to be or are they walking around, things too quiet or too noisy?

We all know what is normal, when things are not normal that can be a danger sign. If you detect a possible danger sign, don't ignore it. Withdraw to a position of safety. Don't let the danger cues go unheeded because you were afraid of being embarrassed or looking foolish or overly cautious. Getting taken hostage by inmates is a potentially deadly encounter and not one you want to have happen. Don't let your guard down in prison, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Firearms Training, Keeping it Real

Fastest Gun Ever - Bob Munden - Video

This guy can draw, aim and fire his revolver, accurately, in two tenths of a second. Yes, that's .2 second from leather to shooing. How fast are you? When you go to the range to shoot, do you ever start from the holster, gun snapped in, and arm and hand dangling from your side? When you walk into a convenience store to buy a soda you don't have your hand on your gun, unsnapped ready to draw. The bad guys could be inside robbing the store; are you ready, are you fast enough?

Cops are seldom killed on armed robbery calls, because we are ready, have our guns out and are mentally prepared to shoot. Cops are often killed on routine events because they turn out to be less routine than we expected, and we were not ready. Practice drawing from a snapped holster. I have had officers go from being able to get off the first round in one second to taking five seconds just to draw the gun, because they did not practice with the holster snapped closed.

What do you wear to the range? Do you wear your duty uniform and gear or jeans and a tee shirt? I used to train a female officer who used to come to the range off duty in civilian clothing. She used to shoot isosceles style with both arms and hands directly in front of her. Once she came to the range on duty, in uniform with body armor on. She realized that her boobs were so large and her body armor so inflexible that she could not bring her hands together in front of her body to shoot isosceles position in uniform. That is a great thing to find out on the range, and a tragic thing to find out in the field when you need to shoot.

Practice on the range the way you intend to fight in the field. If you work undercover, wear your suit coat over the holster. If you wear an ankle holster or shoulder holster, but it on and shoot from the holster. An ankle holster can be hard to get to quickly. I have had officers realize that their handcuffs or pepper spray was too close to the holster to allow them to quick draw the firearm. Your gear should not interfere with your ability to get to your gun quickly. Realistic training helps you to stay safe in the field, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Complacent Or Alive?

Ex-Convict Wanted in 8 Killings Captured - AOL News

A police officer was parked in a parking lot and someone came out of a bar and told the officer that a fugitive wanted for eight murders was inside. It was a small town in America's heartland. The suspect probably walked right past the officer in the parking lot on his way inside the bar. Even in the safest and most secure crime free communities law enforcement has to be alert and careful.

The nature of police work is that often we have hours, even days and weeks without any significant dangerous criminal activity. It becomes easy to become complacent. That alarm system that rings but is never a burglary becomes easy to consider as just an annoyance, rather than a potential life threatening situation.

Most police officers killed in the line of duty have over five years service. That's frequently because they become complacent. They get careless, make bad searches, fail to handcuff suspects, and make other foolish mistakes. Handle every call like it is a real one, treat every suspect as if he could be armed until he is properly searched, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cooler Scooter

Man Arrested for Drunk Driving a Motorized Cooler - Switched

This scooter was designed to act as a scooter and as a cooler. Why some company felt this was a good idea, I have no idea. The officers noticed a man driving the scooter / cooler on the sidewalk, and weaving around. They then conducted an investigation, determined he was drunk and made an arrest.

The news media make this out to be a silly news story. This is not a silly crime. An electric scooter with a cooler inside can be a rather heavy vehicle, and then add at least a hundred pounds of driver or more. Imagine a 150 pounds moving down the sidewalk at twenty miles an hour hitting a small child or an old lady. That could be devastating, even fatal to the victim.

Much of police work involves doing things to protect people from doing stupid things. We stop people from committing suicide, from speeding in their cars, and even from driving their scooter / cooler on the sidewalk. Despite the fact that some people think what we do may be silly, we know otherwise. Part of the job is to do the job even when it is not appreciated, that's what the SGT Says.