Sunday, August 31, 2008

Look Up

Look up! Recently our agency responded a canine officer and his dog partner to help conduct a search for some run away criminal. They had four dogs there and probably a dozen or more police. While they called for an air unit there were no helicopters up at the time. It was dark and everyone had their flashlights out. They searched a residential neighborhood for hours, and while they knew the suspect was nearby they just could not find him. The perimeter was tight and they heard the suspect several times; running ahead of them while they searched. They saw several window awnings that had been bent down as he was using them to help him climb over fences.

They searched and searched until they had checked every home in the tract. The dogs kept saying the suspect was nearby but they could not find him. Four officers were standing in front of the last house in the tract and were unable to locate the bad guy. At last an air unit came on the radio and said they would check the area. They found the bad guy right away, he was on the roof, just above the four officers standing in front of the last house! If they had looked up they could have seen him.

Bad guys want to get away to avoid jail. You want to catch the bad guy. Who wants it more? You or him? They will go down into sewers, up into trees, and onto roofs, and into little nooks and crannies and spaces that you may not want to go to. Look down, look up; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hidden Spaces

Where are the nooks and crannies in your jurisdiction? Where are those little funny streets, or hallways or parks that no one ever patrols? Do you know where they are? Those spaces under bridges, under water tanks, in flood control channels, on top of hills where the homeless and the teenagers go? Ask local teenagers, and the homeless, they know these places and you should know them too.

Most places have some dark hidden spaces were few people go to. They are hard to reach, or far away, or you can't drive there, or there is nothing there to draw someone, except these places are alone. The back parking lot of an industrial complex at three a.m., the loading dock of the supermarket in the middle of the night, the back of the high school gym.

These are the places were people go to drink and use drugs and have sex and murder and rape and torture. You can drive or walk to these places a thousand times and never find anything, but that one time you go there that you save someone will make all the other times worthwhile. That's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Put Your Agency Out of Business

Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: Vallejo California On Brink Of Bankruptcy

In California some agencies are working under a 3% at 50 retirement system. Under this plan if someone gets hired at age 20 and works 30 years until age 50 they get 90% of their pay when they retire. So you can work someplace for 30 years and retire at nearly full pay at only 50 years old and get that much money for another 30 years. That's like paying for a full time officer full pay to work 30 years and to be retired for 30 years.

The civilians who pay for this retirement system get Social Security benefits once they turn 67 years old. At the maximum someone who makes $100,000 a year get a maximum Social Security benefit of about $26,000 per year. People who make a lot less, get a lot less and since the average income in the US is about $40,000 per year, they can only count on less than $20,000 per year in Social Security. Compare that to a police officer who makes $100,000 a year would be paid $90,000 a year in retirement and get the money seventeen years earlier than his private sector counterpart!

I am not against police getting paid well. I am not against police getting a decent retirement. I am against taxpayers having to pay people to retire young and get four times the amount of retirement income as most other people. Agencies that have this system for forty years will find they are paying for two or three or four officers, but only putting one of them on the street, the others are retired. Are you willing to bankrupt your agency? You may have to if you want that type of retirement; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Girl Suicide Bomber

Iraqi Girl Found Wearing Suicide Vest

In Iraqi the insurgents are so desperate they are no longer attacking American troops, Iraqi troops, Iraqi police, but rather are putting suicide vests on little girls and having them blow up marketplaces full of women and children. The War on Islamic Terrorists continues and American law enforcement needs to stay alert to the practice of terror. Nearly everyday somewhere in the world there is an attack on a school, train, bus, marketplace by Islamic terrorists.

If the Army, the CIA and Homeland Security fail to stop the bad guys, the police are the last line of defense. And then too there is always the threat of domestic terrorists to worry about. Would you recognize a suicide vest if you saw one? Would you suspect a middle school girl of being a suicide bomber? How would you handle that type of situation? Could you shoot a sixteen year old girl to prevent a suicide bomb explosion?

Much of what we do in law enforcement is to plan for events that are unpleasant, infrequent, even unlikely. Most of us will be on the job for twenty or thirty years and never shoot anyone. But we must be aware that the worst type of event, even things that are difficult to imagine could be the next call, the next traffic stop, the next suspicious person. One of the most difficult aspects of our job is the unexpected. Every day take a moment to think about how you would respond to the active shooter, the major building fire, the terrorist bomber. A poor plan is better than no plan and a good plan is half the battle won.

Each jurisdiction has it's own unique vulnerabilities, and response capabilities. Think about how you would handle the major events that could happen in your job. Plan ahead for the worst possible outcome and you go a long way to preventing it from happening, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Holster

I went shopping for a new holster today for my Walter PPK-S, .380 semi-automatic handgun. I carry it off duty and as a back up weapon. My 30 year old holster was worn out and I needed a new one. I also checked the weapon and it was dirty. Not actually dirty as had been shot and needed a cleaning, but just dirty from dust bunnies. When I got the gun home, I cleaned it off and made sure it was fully functional.

I only practice with this gun a couple times a year and so it does get dirty just from being carried around. How often do you clean your back up gun? You do have a back up gun? If you agency allows it you should carry a second gun. You never know if your duty weapon is going to malfunction, get taken away or even if you will drop it in the water or ivy.

When selecting a back up weapon there are several factors to take into account. First of all the weapon should be small and lightweight so that you carry it all the time. I use the same gun as my back up and my off duty gun. A gun with the same ammunition and magazines as your duty gun would be ideal, but not essential. I selected my back up gun years before my agency went to the Glock. I shoot really well with it so I have not changed to a small Glock, which I would recommend to anyone who uses the Glock as a duty weapon; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Holiday Is a Work Day

Labor Day is coming up and that means the end of summer to many people. Time for a big party and get drunk and drive home. Now is the time to brush up on a few indicators of drunk drivers so you will be ready when you spot one. Almost any erratic driving can be a sign of a drunk driver.

Failure to keep within the lane markers, weaving, making very wide turns, failing to turn on their headlights at night, driving too fast or far too slow, and failure to go on a green light can all be signs of a drunk driver. Drunk drivers sometimes fall asleep at the wheel or are so inattentive that they don't drive forward when a red light turns green.

Nearly any moving violation can be the result of impairment due to alcohol. About half of all traffic related deaths are as a result of alcohol; they kill as many people as murderers. On a three day weekend it is particularly important to check on people who you stop for traffic offenses; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 25, 2008

This Is Hard to Swallow

Colleges Want Debate on Drinking Age

Colleges have asked for a debate on lowering the drinking age to 18 years old. They claim that since 18 year old college students drink anyway that we should just live with that reality and let them drink. So what happened when states had an 18 year old drinking age? Only a few years ago this was the case.

Teenage drinking is a terrible problem in most communities. One of the largest causes of death amoung teenagers is being killed in traffic collisions. Allowing them to drink at age 18 will only return us to a time when even more kids were killed in auto accidents. If now 19 and 20 year olds are able to get alcohol and drink it because they look 21 to some store clerk, how young will the kids be who are buying alcohol if the age is reduced to 18? Will we have 17 and even 16 year old kids buying booze because they look 18? Of course we will.

If colleges are worried about excessive drinking on campus, I don't think the problem will be solved by allowing 18 year olds to drink legally. Perhaps we should make the campus alcohol free and raise the drinking age to 30? That's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Old Armor

How old is your vest? Body armor is good for about ten years but most company's say it should be replaced every five years. Some companies provide much longer warranties and you should consult with their representatives to insure the proper level of protection. UV rays, and moisture are the enemies of your body armor. If your vest is more than five years of age it is probably getting too old to be worth betting your life on.

A vest that has been sitting in the closet in the dark and not exposed to moisture will last much longer than one that has been used everyday. Armor that was drenched in water because you have fallen in a swimming pool may need immediate replacement. Armor worn everyday in a hot sweaty climate may require replacement in as little as three years.

Every time you put on your armor you need to inspect it. Make sure the carrier is in good condition. Periodically check the panels to insure they are still intact. Most armor has panels that are encased in a bag that keeps moisture out, check that out to keep water out. That's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Motorcycle Gangs

Law officer shot Hells Angels member in Sturgis, police say »

In a bar on August 9, 2008, a Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang member was shot during an altercation by a member of the Iron Pigs Motorcycle club. The Iron Pigs is made up of law enforcement officers. When did it seem like a good idea to get involved in an off duty incident with an outlaw motorcycle gang member?

Motorcycle gang members typically do not get along well with police and this incident may make it harder for off duty officers on bikes, motor officers and police in general to deal with them. Use extra caution with outlaw motorcycle gang members. Don't be in a hurry to stop them. Try to determine how many their are and if they have a chase vehicle. Groups of gang members sometimes will have a van follow them at a discrete distance.

Keep in mind the nature of your off duty hang outs. Is it really a good idea to hang out at places were outlaw motorcycle gangs go? If an incident does go down while you are off duty, call the on duty police to deal with it, don't get involved unless there is a good reason to do so. You have limited communication, no body armor, and your agency may not be too happy if you get involved in an off duty event that goes bad. That's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bigfoot Can Get You Fired

Bigfoot Hoaxers Say It Was a 'Big Joke' - AOL News

Bigfoot hoaxes are lots of fun, unless you are lying about it in public, on Youtube and on national television. That got a cop fired. How can you go to court and give testimony if you are known nationally as a jokester and a liar? There is even evidence that they may have solicited and accepted money for his claim that he had found Bigfoot.

The reputation of officers is very important. These days much of what we say and do ends up on television or on the Internet. It becomes a permanent record of what happened, and so years from now things that otherwise would have been forgotten will resurface. This cop will be forever remembered as the Bigfoot Hoax Guy. He got extra credibility when he said he found Bigfoot because he was a police officer. He wanted the benefit of the doubt because he was a police officer and now he has tarnished all of us with his lies.

Tell the truth, tell it often, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Family Range Training

Mrs. SGTSays at the range, firing a Thompson Sub Machine Gun. Have you taken your family to the range? As an officer you probably have weapons laying around the house, and is your family safe to be around them? Have you taught them basic firearms safety? Like, don't have guns laying around the house, have them secured where kids can't get to them.
I have taken both my wife and my daughter to the range and both are safe and even proficient with a variety of firearms. In the event of an emergency they both know how to use a gun and they both know how to be safe around firearms. Can you say the same of your family? If not, it may be time for a trip to the range; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Low Income

There are several other techniques that work well in low income housing. Clandestine observation from vacant units can be very helpful. Enter the unit at four or five in the morning, when it is dark and when everyone is asleep. From inside the unit you can photograph activity and make note of what people are doing. Don't interfere in anything going on outside except to prevent loss of life or other very major crime. Your job is to observe. If you need to intervene, have patrol units do so, if possible.

Massive sweeps without warning of the property are also a good tactic. Have plenty of units, dispatchers, jailers and tow trucks. Hit the place from every direction at once. Guard the exits and particularly those holes in the fence that people try to sneak out of unnoticed. Write citations for every open container, every small bit of dope, every unlicensed dog, every unregistered cars. Zero tolerance, with the goal that you make this an uncomfortable place for criminals to hang out at; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Bush OKs Execution of Army Private - AOL News

Why have we had to wait over twenty years for this evil criminal to be put to death? The victims of this evil man did not have the last twenty years of life. I am glad that President Bush has given the green light to execute this criminal; I hope that his execution will be soon.

The death penalty is the proper punishment for criminals who kill innocent persons. At the very least the murderer will not kill anyone else. Prison guards will not have to feed, clothe, and care for the worst people in our society; often at the risk of their own health and safety.

As a society we must insure that he innocent are protected. Keeping evil alive for years, and even decades does not make ours a safer society. People who are in prison, escape and kill again, they assault and kill other prisoners and even other guards. The death penalty is the only method that keeps the innocent safe from these killer; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Black or White?

Do you wear the typical uniform with a white or a black tee shirt? Look at one of your partners in the dark from a distance. How much of them can you see? One of the parts of the uniform that stands out at night is the triangle of the white tee shirt. One way to avoid this problem is simply don't wear a white tee shirt. Wear a black or dark blue tee shirt or other dark color that goes well with the overall uniform color.

What else on your uniform can give you away? A cloth badge is more stealthy than a metal badge. Wear a jacket with a cloth badge over your shirt. Perhaps not practical in the summer. Do you wear little badges, button, decorations on your uniform? All those things are all good but when you are working a job where you may need to hide, they might be better left in the locker.

Noise and light discipline are important on some assignments. If you are working a special detail such as warrant service, or if you are working nights, a dark colored uniform can provide you with a tactical advantage, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Training Classes

Patrol Rifle Instructor’s Course
California POST Plan IV 1076-21640-08002 Sept 9-12, 2008
Host Agency: Brentwood Police Dept., Brentwood, CATuition: $547
R K Miller 714-363-1569
National Training Center

How often do you go outside your agency to train? It is not a bad idea to try and get out at least once every three years. I try and get outside my agency to train at least annually, and twice annually if I can. These folks above do some great training. I did a class with them and it was very well run.

Training outside your own agency does several good things for you. It can give you a new perspective on a problem. It can provide validation for things you have been doing. It can better document that you are an expert in that subject matter.

Take a class, learn something, pass it on to your fellow officers. That's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Shot in the Car - 3 Young Siblings Shot in Back Seat of Mom's Mercedes - Local News News Articles National News US News

A housing complex has two shootings in less than three hours. This woman was leaving the apartment complex at 1:30 in the morning and three of her five children were shot. How can you prevent on-going criminal activity in high crime housing complexes?

Private security, armed and with the authority to make arrests and issue rules violations are an important aspect of housing crime. They stay on the property, control access at the gate to residents, vendors and authorized guests. They patrol the site and issue lease violations to those who violate property rules against loitering, gambling, drinking, and curfew. Those leave violations then have the power to get the person evicted. If they don't live there then the person who authorized their entrance as a guest gets evicted. Eventually people quit letting their gangster friends in once a few evictions happen.

Restrictive parking rules are important. Residents must have a visible, valid parking sticker. Stickers must be different every year and shall not be issued until the resident shows proof of a valid drivers licence, insurance, and registration, and ownership of the vehicle. Only one vehicle per adult member of the household. Any vehicle without a sticker gets towed immediately unless it is in a guest parking space. Guest spaces are only in use from six a.m. to ten p.m. No overnight parking. By eleven p.m. all vehicles still in guest parking are towed away. Bad guys hate having their cars towed.

Enforcement of all these little things keep the bad guys out, because they interfere with their gangster lifestyle. They will go someplace else and drink, smoke dope, and gamble. And then they are no longer your problem, that' what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Uncle SGT Wants You

Recruiting is important. Can you afford to leave it in the hands of some human resource geek who knows nothing about police work? Over the years I have recruited many officers to my agency. If I meet someone who seems like they may be able to do the type of work I do, and they are someone I would like to work with, then I often make an effort to recruit them.

Recruiting is one of the most important aspects of law enforcement. If you don't have good recruits entering the agency, you won't have good officers. I have recruited several of my friends and acquaintances into my agency. That makes it nice when I work I am with people that I like so that I have more job satisfaction.

Recruiters have difficulty getting people to work for law enforcement. It is very difficult to find people who can pass the drug test, and the background check. Agencies waste time and waste money by processing people who are not going to get hired. If you want to work with people you like, people you respect, then go out and get them; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Missing Child

Parents had a bunch of kids and luggage but ended up leaving their four year old at the airport and did not realize she was missing until the plane was airborne and the captain came on the loudspeaker and told them the child had been found!

I work a lot of events and I have a child. I know how easy is it so lose a kid in a busy time, in a large crowd. One blink and the kid is gone. The difference in this event was that the parents had no idea the child is gone from the time they boarded the plane until they were in the air and notified by the crew the child had been recovered.

Child safety is one of the most important things you can do. Tips on keeping your kid safe; everyone travels with a buddy. No one goes anywhere alone. It is harder to lose two than it is to lose one. Do a head count at every choke point, and every few minutes. As you enter the skyway, as you get onto the plane, as you take your seats, as the plane rolls down the runway would have been good times to do that check. Just a few ideas on child safety you can pass along, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Earthquake? Earthquake!

We just had an earthquake recently. Do you know what to do in an earthquake? Did you know earthquakes can happen anywhere in the world? When an earthquake happens the two greatest dangers are being hit by falling objects and getting trapped inside a building.

They used to suggest that you stand in a doorway or get under a desk. Now there are other options. The idea is to find a spot in the room that is very strong and will not collapse. Corners are very strong if they are load bearing walls. If you can get alongside the wall at the corner if the building collapses, you may be left in an air pocket. Then you can crawl out or be dug out.

How about your police station? If you have an earthquake do they have back up generators? What do you do with prisoners in the event of a major emergency that makes your jail building unsafe? The fire department here moves their vehicles outside for a while after an earthquake in case it is a foreshock of a bigger quake. Do you park your police cars where they are safe in an earthquake? Maybe you should, that't what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


What are you wearing? On your feet. The same tired old combat boots you wore in the 'Nam? Law enforcement footwear has changed a lot over the years but many of us still wear a low quarter dress shoe with a smooth bottom or the same old combat boots worn by our fathers, 30 years ago.

Dress shoes are great, for dress occasions, but if you are not wearing the cap and tie, then don't wear them. Promotion boards, funerals, and perhaps even court are good places for dress shoes, the field is not the place for them. Try running across a damp lawn at 3:00 a.m. and see how well those dress shoes work for you.

Law enforcement footwear needs to have a decent tread to allow your feet to grip the surface you are walking or running one. They need to be lightweight so you can wear them for eight, ten, twelve, or more hours on a long shift and not have your feet feel like they weight a ton. They need to support your ankle, so you don't hurt yourself when you step on a sprinkler head or fall off a curb. Good footwear is an important part of your gear, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beer Belly Cooler

Beer Belly Cooler

A wonderful new product has been developed that is marketed as a way to keep "them" from preventing you from bringing your beverage of choice into places where you want to drink. Of course, you is "them." Imagine a high school football game enhanced by large numbers of drunken fans. All made possible by this product that allows people to sneak liquids into events.

This is bladder that hangs around the waist that when covered with a shirt looks like a beer belly. You drink the beer from a straw much like the camelback canteen the military uses. The idea is that you can sneak your beer into venues that want to remain alcohol free. Most such events are alcohol free for a reason, they don't want tempers to flare and people with lowered inhibitions running around creating problems.

Imagine the drunk driver who now wears his alcohol. He can drink and drive but you cannot see the alcohol. He just sips it out of a straw. One more way the crooks will use to try and slip something past you. That is why constant research and training is important, so you can stay up to date on the things the bad guys do to fool you, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Run Them

Do you run all the license plates of all the cars you stop? Do you run all contacts for criminal history, or at least wants and warrants on them? How do you know who you are talking to if you don't check on them. Did you know that at least two of the 9/11 hijackers were stopped by police prior to the attacks? You can meet just about anyone in a traffic stop.

Typically I get the drivers license information from everyone I stop and run every driver. This way I have some idea about who I am talking to. I don't just limit myself to people who seem like they may be criminals, you never know who they are or who they used to be.

Sometimes criminals try to go mainstream and look like your typical soccer mom, but keep the same name and information. They still have warrants in the system and are just waiting to be unlucky enough to be stopped. I run everyone and suggest you do too, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


How many handcuffs do you carry? How many do you wear? How many do you keep in your car? I carry one pair, and I nearly always work with a partner. When I worked alone at an area where back up was always far away, I carried two on my, two flex cuffs and then two more in the war bag in my unit.

My theory is that you need to be able to arrest five people because that is the most you can typically put inside a car. If you can't quickly restrain five people you don't have enough restraint devices. My usual partner carries one set of handcuffs, and I have one and I now have two in my war bag. That's four sets of cuffs. If need be, two suspects can be handcuffed together.

If you have to handcuff two suspects together, who do you put together? First, of all handcuff right hand to right hand. The right hand is usually the strong arm and that disables both strong hands, and by being right to right, they are now facing the opposite ways. Handcuff same sex only and only handcuff adults to other adults. I try to handcuff two people who are of limited threat together, such as two small women. Since they each have a hand free they are not fully restrained, but less dangerous than two big guys; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ride Along

Who gets in your car? At our agency many people get to ride along with the officers on patrol. Dispatchers, records clerks, jailers, parking control officers, Explorers, Cadets, applicants, community representatives, and friends and relatives of the officers all find themselves in the patrol car on patrol.

Having someone ride along is an excellent chance to train someone on what you do and why you do it. It is an opportunity for them to experience the foolishness and recklessness of people on the street that we see almost daily. What procedure do you follow when you have a ride along? They need training before they get into the car. Find out about their background and what skills they have.

Everyone who rides along with me learns how to use the radio, how to access the shotgun and patrol rifle and most important they hear of my expectations. All I expect them to do in an emergency is to save themselves. I don't expect them to help me in a fight or a gun battle. I want them to be safe and I don't want to worry about them. It would be nice if they could use the radio to call for help, but if all they can do is flee the scene, I am okay with that. I don't expect civilians to be there to help me, or to get in my way. They are there to observe, and not provide me with active assistance. If they can do more, that's good but I don't expect it, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Check out the Web

Web Photos Come Back to Bite Defendants - AOL News

A while back I mentioned that it is important to check your suspects for a web presence. In this instance some criminals posted photos on the web that showed they were still drinking and they had no apparent remorse. They were involved in alcohol related offenses. Kids these days post information all over the World Wide Web. Get with some of the younger members of your department or even you kids and find out where to look.

It is amazing, even appalling what people will put on the Internet. I was sent a video taking by a guy who was riding his motorcycle on a narrow road in Hawaii at speeds in excess of 150 miles per hour. He was passing vehicles on the left and right shoulder at over 100 miles per hour. There were several instances where I was sure he was going to crash. The video went on for several minutes.

Now imagine if you have a person in custody for hit and run on a pedestrian. He runs them over and keeps on going, but someone gets the license plate number. He swears he never drives badly and it must be someone else who had borrowed or stolen his motorcycle. How valuable of a piece of evidence do you think that video would be showing him driving his motorcycle at 150 miles per hour? It would certainly place him in a similar situation, and that could make a big difference to a jury, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Comics Code

It used to be that comic books had a code of conduct that they had to follow in order to get a seal of approval. These days the seal is not only generally ignored but it also has been changed to the point that the seal is given now to publications that never would have gotten it in the 1950's. What does this have to do with police work?

In the code they prohibited comics from showing evil and not punishing it, they prohibit showing crime as worthy of emulation. What do we get now from entertainment. Grand theft video games where you get points for the murder of police officers. Music that is affiliated with gangsters. Television and movies that depict criminal activity a fun, normal or expected.

Morally, our society has declined in the last fifty years. Crime is not only more common, it is often more acceptable to people. Police have more difficulty recruiting people because so many have criminal or drug histories; some agencies even drop their standards. Despite the drop in the morals of society, we in law enforcement must continue to uphold the law, and lead by example, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't Chase

Don't chase people, cordin off the area and then search for them. If someone is important enough for you to chase, they are important enough to call in more officers and then search for them. Foot pursuits are dangerous and should be avoided. First of all notify dispatch and ask for air support. A helicopter can track a person fleeing on foot much better than you can by chasing them in most cases. Ask that additional responding ground units respond to points that will allow them to observe open areas the suspect may have to cross to get away.

Once you have a perimeter set up, begin your search. Search like you intend to both find the suspect and overpower him if necessary. The search team should be at least two if not four or more officers. A K-9 is very helpful if you can get one. The dog unit should lead the search but other officers must stay close to provide security. The dog handler must concentrate on the dog and can't watch out for his own safety.

When searching, listen for neighborhood dogs barking. They can often give you some idea where the suspect may be as he enters their territory. Be sure to search both down, into basements and crawlspaces and look up. Suspects hide in trees and officers seldom look up. Searching is much safer than chasing and often catches the bad guy, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Chase Me

Do you still go in foot pursuit of people? Why do you chase people and what will you do with them if you catch them? Chasing some seventeen year old in sneakers, shorts and a tee shirt while wearing combat boots, Sam Browne, radio and body armor is difficult. You are most likely to lose the chase if it lasts very long. If you can't catch the bad guy very soon, you probably should not chase them on foot.

Don't chase people on foot unless you can see where they are going and it is safe to go there. Your dispatcher must know where you are and where you are going. If you lose sight of a suspect you probably should stop chasing them. Suspects can lead you into an ambush, they can take you places where you are lost and can't tell your partners where to come and help you.

You must have an arrestable offense, just chasing after people so you can "catch" them is a waste of your time. If you catch the suspect will you be in shape to fight them if you need to fight? Foot pursuits are dangerous and you are better off avoiding them if you can, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Alarming Activity

Search like you intend to find something. Burglar alarms are frequent calls but infrequent crimes. It is difficult to maintain an alert and ready posture when you are going to the same place over and over again and nothing has happened.

Todays burglar alarms are very reliable. They don't typically just "go off," something has caused the alarm to activate. It may not be an actual criminal, but it could be one. Check the property as if each alarm activation was a real crime in progress. Check every door, screen and window. Check the back and the roof. Go up and look, don't just walk through. Rattle the doors, pull on the knobs.

Try to determine why the alarm activated. If it is an interior sensor, perhaps the pet dog or cat set it off; the alarm company can usually tell you what the sensors cover. If it is an unlocked door or window that blew open in the wind, at least you have an opportunity to prevent a crime by closing the window or door. Those are false alarms in terms that there was no crime, but prevention is better than apprehension, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Can You Swim?

Every year officers drown in the line of duty. Can you swim? If not, why not? Every neighborhood has the ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, flood control channels, swimming pools. What happens when you get a traffic collision call that has a victim in the water? Sometimes the water is swift and there is little we can do by jumping into the water.

What happens when you have no choice? What happens when you are in the car that goes into the water, or you are in a boat that overturns or you fall into the water by accident? Not only do you have to be able to swim, but it is even harder to swim with all the gear on. Can you swim while wearing your body armor, and handgun?

What do you do if your partner falls into the water if he can't swim and you can't either? How about a small child at the bottom of the pool? You can't wait for the paramedics on that one. There are many tasks that we need to be able to perform as police officers, swimming is one of them, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Light 'Em Up

Does your pistol have a flashlight on it? Many do now and it is a good option in a deadly force situation in the dark. What if you don't have a deadly force option? Have you practiced the transition from pointing a gun with a light on it at someone to just pointing a light on them? You can't rely on your firearms mounted light as your only light, not every one needs a gun pointed at them.

While searching a building or worse, a home, if you have the flashlight mounted on your gun, you are now pointing a gun at everyplace you look. That is fine if you are pretty sure you have a suspect in the building, but do you need to shine your light on everyone you find, yes, but do they all need a gun pointed at them, no.

Make certain you can easily get to your flashlight without the gun for those times when the burglary turns out to be a simple unlocked door and you want to see but don't need to keep pointing the gun at a toddler. One of the cardinal rules of gun safety is to never point the gun at things you are not willing to destroy. When we have a gun mounted flashlight, that is one of the things we are doing. Something to ponder, in the dark, alone, that's what the SGT Says.