Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Just about every year a few officers are killed in the line of duty by drowning. Can you swim? If not why not? How soon before you can get to the pool and learn to swim? What happens if you fall into a swimming pool? What happens if a child is at the bottom of a swimming pool and you need to rescue them? How much open water is there in the area you patrol?

Not only can you swim, but can you swim with all your gear on? That Sam Browne, and boots, and body armor can really drag you down, unless your body armor is a floatation device. Don't laugh, some body armor can actually float. If you work as a game warden or otherwise work on or near the water, this can be a good thing for you to look into.

If someone falls into the water, it is often best to try and help them from the shore. Most public pools have a long pole or hook to pull people out of the water. You can toss them a floatation device, or use any long stick, pole, or rope to try and get them to safety. In very cold or fast running water, you may simply become a second victim. But most important if you can't swim, you need to learn how; I think it should be taught in the police academy, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hot Stuff

Often law enforcement are the first ones to arrive at the scene of a fire. Sometimes we are on patrol and discover the fire, sometimes we are dispatched to them. There are several things to keep in mind when responding to fire calls. The only real reason for law enforcement to be there is to evacuate potential victims, keep others away from the fire, and direct traffic and the fire department. When you arrive, don't part too near the scene, the fire department will need to park close, you don't want your vehicle to catch on fire, and don't block the fire hydrants.

Often there are people nearby the burning structure that can tell you if people are likely to be inside the building. Burning buildings are filled with toxic smoke from burning plastics and other materials, so you must be very cautious about entering a burning building. Notify dispatch that you have an actual fire and if you intend to enter. Check doors to see if they are hot before you open them, stay low, under the smoke and heat, move quickly. Shout to possible victims that you are the police and that there is a fire. Children will often hide under beds and inside closets in a fire. Get in and get out quickly. Fire spreads very quickly and in only a minute or two can envelop a whole house.

The only reason to enter a burning building is to rescue people. Don't try and save animals, property or the building. Fire is very dangerous, and law enforcement don't have the protective suits and breathing gear to safely enter a burning building; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Knife, No Spoon

Knife attacks on law enforcement officers are typically fast, violent, and can result in serious injury or death. Officers often don't understand the dynamics of knife attacks and often underestimate the potential dangers. Arteries can be just below the surface of the skin and so a knife does not have to be large to be deadly. Remember, the 9/11 hijackers were armed with little box cutters and they managed to murder thousands of people by employing these seemly poor weapons.

Criminals who prefer edged weapon often practice frequently and will often strike very fast. Watch the suspects you encounter carefully so that they don't have opportunities to make a knife attack. I like to keep the suspect on the other side of a barrier like a police car door or have them stand in front of the patrol car while I stand to the side. That makes it more difficult to attack directly. I also like to keep suspects at a distance from me, when I make a traffic stop, I keep them in the car most of the time. Watch out for curbs or short fences that can cause you to stumble backwards if attacked.

A knife attack is a deadly attack on you. Deadly force is a proper option, but maybe not the only option. While you may be able to draw and shoot, your Tazer, baton or arrest control techniques are other options that may work depending on the circumstances, but remember, a knife attack is an attack by a suspect using deadly force against you. Using deadly force against them is appropriate, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kidnapping and Rape Prevention

Crime prevention is an important part of law enforcement. I take every opportunity to teach crime prevention to people, some of the most receptive people are recent victims. A few tips to give to people, particularly women:

Pay attention to what you are doing, don't walk with a cellular phone to your ear, you cannot hear an approaching attacker, and your vision is limited.

When you approach your vehicle, have your keys ready and enter the vehicle quickly. Lock your car doors, put your seat belt on and drive away right away.

Most kidnappers and rapists will look for victims that are weak and easy. Walk with confidence, if approached by someone, don't stop, but look them straight in the eye.

If a criminal pulls a gun on you, don't get into his car, run away, it is difficult to hit a moving target, and you don't want to be taken to a remote location where the criminal has all the time in the world.

Most kidnappers and rapists will not fight a woman, if you are attacked, fight back. Again, you don't want to allow them to take you to a remote location.

Most kidnappings happen from parking lots, shopping centers and work lots. Ask someone to walk you to your car, park close to the door, park only in well lit areas.

Make certain that women in your agency know these tactics, as well as members of your family and as many members of the public who are receptive to your instruction; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Police Unions

Big unions are endorsing Obama for president. Many police unions are marching in lock step with those unions. Police unions are good when the are acting like police. They are bad when they act like unions. Obama is for homosexual marriage, abortion on demand, immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and almost total elimination of private ownership of firearms. Is that what you want? Is that what you stand for?

Many of us in law enforcement are veterans and even Reserve or National Guard members. Few of those people are in favor of immediate and total withdrawal from Iraq. Most of us are very pro-firearms ownership. We know that the average criminal gets guns from illegal sources and is often not permitted to have guns anyway. Most in law enforcement tend to be conservative, so why are our unions so liberal?

Too many of us do not work with our unions to try and get them to endorse candidates that we support. In California a few years ago we had a very anti-law enforcement governor, yet the police unions endorsed him. Why? Because he was all about the big government and spending more and more taxpayer dollars, as a union that trumped all other considerations. Where does your union stand on political endorsements? Find out, contact them and make sure they endorse the candidate you intend to vote for, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hard Time


Corrections can be a difficult and thankless job. You walk the toughest beat on the planet because everyone is a criminal. And you deal with them 24/7 in every situation, from eating, sleeping, cleaning and dying. Many are there for life and some are there for the death penalty. It is difficult to know that everyone you meet for the day will be trying to kill you, cheat you, scam you. Zoo keepers holding the most dangerous animals on earth; human beings with nothing but free time and evil thoughts.

Just being in most prisons, even as a visitor can be very depressing. Often they are old, they frequently smell really bad, and the decor is not exactly welcoming. The whole environment is all about control. Control of movement. Control of contraband. Control of activity. Control of who is placed with whom. Control of access. Even control of life and death.

Prison and jail guards must deal with this oppressive environment during their entire shift. It is not like street patrol where you can stop and have a cup of coffee or chit chat with a local business owner. They don't control their time much more than the prisoners do, they have to be where the prisoners are supervising what the prisoners are doing. Family and prayer are two important methods to help you decompress after a hard shift, and there are no easy shifts. Check out the website linked above for a few ideas on how to get through your day; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Film Guards

Hollywood protests LAPD effort to take over security on location sets - Los Angeles Times

Apparently there is no crime left in Los Angeles. They must solve all the murders and catch all the robbers because LAPD thinks they have the manpower to take on more work. The LAPD wants to stop using retired police officers for security at movie sets and start using on duty officers. When did this seem like a good idea? LAPD brass claim that there have been complaints about the retired officers not doing a good job. So rather than bother to investigate the complaints and punish those few responsible for doing a bad job, they elected to punish all of them by taking their jobs away. These officers are already regulated by the city, if they don't do the job, revoke their work permits.

LAPD has a terrible problem with recruiting, they can't get enough qualified officers to fill their ranks for even for normal patrol and now they want to take another couple hundred officers and use them to guard movie sets? This is typical mismanagement and empire building by LAPD. While crime is down in Los Angeles in recent years, crime is down nearly everywhere in the US, Los Angeles is still not exactly a safe city. LAPD claims the officers working these details will be off duty, but if that is the case, when will they sleep, go to court, decompress from the job?

How can they reliably come up with a couple hundred officers who are off duty without harming the officers and their own staffing? Many movie companies have already shifted production to other cities, other states and even other countries because of the expenses and problems of filming in Hollywood. LAPD should stick to police work and let those in the private sector or who are retired police do the guard work, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pain, Dispair, Agony

Studies often conclude that officers have a high divorce rate, high domestic violence rate high rate of alcoholism and a high suicide rate too. Sometimes those rate interconnect and a murder / suicide will result. Think about the officers you work with and who do you think is likely to fall victim to one or more of these problems? Once the officer is fired, arrested, quits, or dies there is seldom any surprise among his co-workers as to where his career was heading.

Is it better to remain quiet or to allow the officer to ruin his career or die as a result of one or more of these problems? Often these incidents are related. They begin drinking to handle the stress of the job, they stop speaking to their wife because they don't want to worry her or because she does not understand. They sometimes turn to domestic violence as they drink, frequently leading to a divorce. They then kill themselves and sometimes the wife too when they realize their home life is over or that the domestic violence will come out in the divorce causing them to lose their jobs.

Would you allow another officer to handle a dangerous call alone if you could back him up? If you thought another officer's life was in danger would you drive 100 miles an hour to get there in time to help? Naturally, any good cop would do any of those things, but why won't we reach out and help those of us around us who are dying a little bit at a time? Rather than let your fellow officer go to the bar after work, invite them out for a run, or to a juice bar, or go shopping, to church; anything but drinking. Invite your partner and his wife to a dinner or other social activity where you can talk and break their cycle of drinking and violence.

Does your department maintain psychological counseling, chaplains, and other resources for officers with alcohol or marital problems? Good officers have strong social connections, poor officers often do not. Spare your agency and your partners the shame and sadness of divorce, alcohol problems and even murder / suicide by helping those of your brothers who have fallen down and need a hand up. It is important for us to look out for each other, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Terror and Money

I read in a news article today that there is concern for terrorist attack between now and election day.


Check out this website for a look at the ongoing terror attacks in the news. Just like the media does not bother to cover the 21,000 murders a year in the United States, they don't bother to cover the thousands of Islamist terror attacks.

What steps have you taken to respond to a major event? Do you have first aid and CPR certification? A major incident will likely have many injured and EMS will probably be overwhelmed for some time. Do you carry first aid supplies in your patrol vehicle and personal vehicle? How about your financial assets? The terrorists attack the World Trade Center so they could throw the US into financial crisis. We have also seen disruption in financial markets recently with various banks on the verge of closing. Having your financial house in order is another important way to prepare for an emergency.

Today I went to a local bank and opened a new account. So I have accounts at two different unrelated institutions. In the event of a computer attack on one financial institution, I will be able to access my money at the other one. I also keep a certain amount of cash in small bills at home too. How can you pay for fuel and food if your credit cards and ATM cards don't work? In an emergency many places may be unwilling to take your check and in a regional disaster your home equity line of credit will sometimes be frozen. I seldom carry cash, but I realize in a disaster or terror attack that it may be the only method of exchange that works, at least for honest people; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Small Agency Newhall

Many officers work in areas that are sparsely policed. Few officers, large beats, little to no back-up. So let's look at the Newhall shooting with an eye to a smaller agency. First of all, preparation pays off in the long run. Establish liaison with all other agencies that work in or near your patrol area. There are often many agencies that share the same territory but don't often think about working together. Fish and Game, Alcoholic Beverage, county sheriff, local police and even private security. One of my friends was a guard who lived in a rural area and the local resident sheriff used to go by his home late at night a couple times a year and get him as back up.

Next is communications, you can't ask for help if you can't talk to your neighboring agencies. Radios in the patrol vehicle that can talk to other agencies can help you get help and coordinate a response. Equipment and weapons are important. The Tazer can really stop a fight quickly, with you as the winner. The patrol rifle or shotgun with slug, particularly sabot slugs can give you significant firepower improvement over a handgun. One long gun per officer is a must, at Newhall the CHP officers only had one shotgun per car.

Finally is tactics. Don't be in a hurry to confront the suspect. At Newhall the officers knew it was a man with a gun. So again, if you can, wait for backup. They did have their weapons ready, but their shotgun skills failed them under pressure; one round was ejected on the ground unfired. An extended magazine or patrol rifle would have given them the ability to stay in the fight longer with the long gun. Use your PA to give verbal commands to the suspect from a position of cover. Get the suspect out of the car and prone him out near your vehicle. He should be far enough away from his vehicle that you have some reaction time if there turns out to be a second suspect. Working alone has unique challenges, and requires preparation, common sense, and good judgement and guts; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Newhall Incident: CHP log book (Archives)

In 1970 four California Highway Patrol Officers were murdered in a shootout with two criminals in the Newhall area of Southern California. They were conducting a "routine" traffic stop on a car that was suspected in a misdemeanor branishing a firearm incident a short time earlier that morning. The two CHP officers called for back-up and a second two officer unit was enroute to their location while they began the stop. The driver had his revolver out and the passenger had his shotgun ready. The driver ordered the driver out of the car and to put his hands on the fender of the vehicle. Unknown to them, there was a second suspect in the vehicle who exited, shooting.

I would suggest there are several things that could have been done differently. If you have a suspect with a gun, this was a brandishing call, wait for your back up to arrive, if at all possible. Sometimes the suspects will stop before you get all your units in position, but it is better to wait if you can. Take all the back up you can get. They called for one unit but others were available. I would have asked for at least two more units, a total of six officers. They only knew about one suspect, but it is prudent to assume there could be another person in the car, and having an overwhelming level of force will cause most suspects to surrender.

If you have a suspect with a gun, don't approach his vehicle. Use the lights of your vehicle to make a curtain of light, and bring him back to you and prone him out behind your headlight. Practice the concepts of contact and cover. Don't have one officer deal with the driver and the second officer watch the car for other suspects. These brave officers died to teach us these lessons, we need to learn them; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Prisoner Transportation

The first thing you need to do when you take custody of a prisoner, is to search him for weapons, contraband and tools to help him escape. A prisoner being taken from one custody location to another really has no reason to have anything on their person. Take everything from them. Items as simple as a plastic comb or paper clip can be used to to open a pair of handcuffs. A pen or pencil can be used as a weapon. A cellular phone can be used to coordinate escape attempts with people outside of custody.

Search systematically, start from top and work your way down. Remove hats and look inside the hat band, flip up the shirt collar, check the neck for neck chains that may hold weapons or tools. Check the waistband carefully, remove belts; buckles can be used as weapons as can the belt. Check all the pockets, I like to turn them inside out. Check the cuffs, inspect the socks, and make them remove their shoes. Flex the shoes and make certain that the insoles and heels don't hide a secret compartment.

Finally, check the mouth, and under the tongue; a good place for keeping handcuff keys. Always properly secure your prisoner. Handcuff them behind the back, with proper handcuffing techniques. Use waist chains and ankle chains if you are transporting a prisoner very far our outside a secure area. Never underestimate any prisoner. Make sure that you personally have checked the prisoner. Don't rely on others to do your job; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

No Secrets

Do you use agency cell phones, computers, text messages or other electronic devices for personal use? Courts have ruled that employees have no right to privacy for the computers and other devices that are provided by the employer and they have ruled the other way and said that employees may have a right to privacy for those messages. Since the courts have ruled in both directions, what should you do about it?

Any electronic message that you send, by voice or text or fax or any other message should be professional and just assume that at some time it may be read by your supervisor, or others inside and outside of your agency if you are using an agency provided device or a personal device on agency time. Comments about suspects, victims, coworkers, or even relatives and friends can be embarrassing or even dangerous to your cases or careers should be avoided. Think about a personal conversation with your wife or girlfriend that you may not want published. Think about everything you have ever said about a supervisor, co-worker, suspect or victim. Often they remarks may not always be complementary.

Those records may be subpoenaed for some case you are working on, for billing purposes, for some department audit any number of reasons. You cannot assume that information you send out electronically will remain private. Phone conversations can be recorded, text messages stored, computers can have data deleted and then recovered. Information that you felt was confidential and would never be revealed may show up in some report about a crime, an audit of equipment use or even an investigation of you! Don't say or type or text anything you don't want revealed, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Direct Me

A number of the officers killed in the line of duty every year are killed in traffic related incidents. Directing traffic can be a dangerous job but many officers don't take it seriously; yet it is a task that many of use have to perform often. There are many ways we can increase our effectiveness in traffic direction and our safety at the same time.

Park a unit with the emergency lights on so that people are warned of your presence. Use plenty of rubber traffic cones to both direct traffic into lanes where you want them to go and to alert people that traffic is not normal. At night use flares, to supplement the cones, but a few flared during the daytime is a good idea too.

I keep a pair of white gloves in my gear bag and wear them if I am going to direct traffic. It makes your hands more visible, particularly at night. I also use a whistle. It is surprising how well you can get the attention of a motorist who has dozed off at an intersection by a shape blow on a whistle. Many officers who direct a lot of traffic also use a reflective vest, I think this is a great idea; you can be almost invisible at night. Simple, effective tools exist to help us with traffic direction, use them and stay alive, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

2009 Budget

How much money has your agency set aside for funerals for 2009? Police officer funerals are very expensive. Many of your officers will want to attend, and there may be overtime incurred as your agency has to cover shifts left open by the officer who died. Every other day an officer is killed in the line of duty. Police funerals are often a big deal with sometimes thousands of officers and well wishers in attendance. Failure to property train your officers because you are saving money, means you need to budget for funerals instead.

Many of those officers who die in the line of duty are often dead as a result of poor training or poor followup on the part of the supervisors to insure that officers do what they are trained to do while at work. Administrators like to save money in hard times and one of the first things they look at is training expenses. Saving money by not training is a poor way to balance the budget. You pay for training by training, or by paying for lawsuits, workers compensation claims, or funerals.

There are many inexpensive methods to conduct training. Good training does not have to be expensive. Often, simply reviewing the essentials are some of the best training you can perform. At the range you can shoot five hundred rounds in a day or shoot thirty rounds in a day. If you have to make good decisions while at the range, then the thirty rounds in a day may be the best range training day, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Force Me

In Graham vs Connor 490 US 386 (1989) the Supreme Court of the United States said the force used by an officer must be reasonable and be based on the totality of the circumstances as known by the officer at the time. When you write a use of force report, keep this court decision in mind. Force cannot be justified by information you find out later, after the use of force. Force must be justified by what you know when you use the force, what you find out later does not matter.

When you write a use of force report, begin at the beginning. What type of call were you dispatched to? You will have a different state of mind when you are responding to a shots fired call compared to a barking dog call. If you use force because the suspect attacks you, a good approach is to write the report as if you are any other victim of an assault and battery, because you are!

There is nothing wrong with using force, it is a part of law enforcement. It is our job to restore order out of chaos and sometimes that requires that the agents of chaos are forced to do what they don't want to do so that order can be restored. Any force must be reasonable and must be lawful and within your agency policy. Knowing your agency use of force policy will help you to use force in a lawful and proper manner. That's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cheap Training Ideas for the Range

Range training does not have to be expensive to be good training, but shooting at the same boring silhouette targets does get a bit dull after a few years. You can perk things up a bit and make the training more realistic with just a small investment in time and effort and perhaps a couple bucks.

Have officers bring in old shirts and tee shirts. Use them to clothe your targets. If you use a silhouette target you may be able to pull the tee shirts right over the top, or even just staple them onto the backstop. This will give a more realistic appearance to your target, since most of the people who get shot by police are wearing clothing. Get a paper plate and draw a face on it with a marker pen and use it as the head. Staple it on the backstop. If you get really ambitious you can photocopy a face and staple that to the backstop. Don't use your own face, or anyone on your department!

You can also blow up balloons and use them as the head. Again draw a face on them with a marker pen, staple them at the bottom or use double sided tape to hold them in place. More balloons can be stuffed into the shirt to make a more three dimensional target. Use four or five balloons and tell your shooter to fire until all the balloons are popped to simulate that some suspects don't fall down with only one shot. None of this is difficult or messy or expensive or time consuming. It only takes a little bit of work and imagination to make range training better, more interesting and more effective, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Off Duty Incidents

Over fifteen percent of the officers that are felonious killed each year are killed while off duty. That is a terribly large number of officers getting murdered while not officially performing police work. When you are off duty, do you wear clothing that can identify you as a police officer if you happen to walk into the local convenience store? Do you carry a gun, extra ammunition and handcuffs when you are off duty? If you don't carry handcuffs and take enforcement action, anyone you arrest you may have to hold at gunpoint for a long time until the uniformed on duty officers arrive.

Can you communicate off duty? Do you carry a cellular phone with local police phone numbers programmed in? Do you have access to body armor off duty? At least at home or perhaps even in your car? Will you put it on before you get involved? Do you have less lethal weapons, baton, OC spray or other weapons besides your gun?

When the on duty uniformed police arrive, do what they say. They may prone you out until they can properly identify you, to them you may just be a man with a gun. When the uniforms arrive don't argue with them, do as they tell you so you don't get shot by them for failing to act as you should, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 12, 2008

School Buses Are Yellow


For years I have gotten information about the potential for terrorist to hijack school buses and murder the children on board those buses. Attacking schools, school buses and public transportation buses has been popular with terrorists in other nations for decades. What has been done by law enforcement to limit the possibilities of these attacks? The Federal Government published a pamphlet. Most states and local jurisdictions have done even less than that.

The Federal Government says that school bus terrorists attacks should be planned for along with other potential disasters. They suggest a four part program of mitigation, prevention, response and recovery. Has your local school district done anything to mitigate a terror attack on a school bus? Can a bus driver communicate to a bus or police dispatcher with a radio or cell phone to at least alert others that there is a danger? Do bus drivers and school police know what to look for to prevent a potential terrorist attack? Can they identify subjects who may be observing the bus system for a potential attack?

Is there a plan with your agency to adequately respond to a terror attack on a school bus? Do you know how to drive a school bus? Do you know how to kill the engine on a school bus? Can you open the emergency exit door and windows on your local school buses? Are you local school buses private or government operated? Do you have plans for a recovery once the attack is contained or ended? How will you handle thousands of parents driving towards your local high school after a major attack? How will responding ambulances get there through all that traffic? Are your school resource officers at least coordinating with school officials so that they are part of any school emergency plan? You have lots to do to get ready, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept 11

Pearl Harbor, the day Kennedy was shot, and now 9/11. Days that all Americans will remember their whole lives if they were old enough to realize what was going on at the time of those events. I was in third grade and we were lined up outside waiting to go in after lunch. The school custodian told something to our teacher; she ran inside to the office and he took us inside the classroom. After a few minutes she came back and told us that the president had been shot and we should all pray for him, this was in a public school. We prayed, but despite our prayers, our president died that day and we were saddened as a nation for days, even weeks to come. It changed our lives and we often compared him to President Lincoln, another great president killed in office by an assassin.

Events just as devastating happen every two days in the United States. Just as devastating to the wives, and daughters, and husbands, and sons, and other relatives who are left behind when their police officer loved one dies in the line of duty. Some old veteran officers, some young kids barely out of training are killed in accidents or feloniously taken by some criminal. To those left behind their lives are devastated, and changed just as much as a presidential assassination or a major terrorist attack.

Every two days a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty. Let's try and finish this month without any of us getting killed at least for the next two weeks. Wear your body armor. Wear your seat belt. Don't drive so fast that you can't stop the car in time. Call and wait for back up. Watch the suspects hands. Do a through systematic search and handcuff suspects in the back. Do this and maybe we can pass a couple weeks without another cop funeral; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Flame On

What do you do when you encounter a structure fire? One of the very first things to do is to notify your dispatcher to send the fire department to extinguish the blaze.

The next most important thing to do is to rescue anyone who is inside the building. Neighbors can tell you if anyone should be home and if they have exited. If you must enter the building you can cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth to minimize the inhalation of smoke. Some products are available to act as face masks to allow you to breath for short periods of time in smoky environments. Heat and smoke rise and you can stoop or even crawl under the smoke, temperatures can be fatal just a few feet from the floor.

Children often hide in closets and under beds when they are scared and fire can be very terrifying. Opening a door or window can feed the fire with an additional influx of oxygen and can create much more fire inside the building. Use your vehicle fire extinguisher or if there is a garden hose you can use that to begin to fight the fire so you can enter and search for victims. Avoid using elevators during a fire and don't try to save articles. Never allow civilians to enter the burning building. If your clothing catches on fire, stop, fall to the ground and roll on the ground with your arms to your side to extinguish the fire.

Fire can be very dangerous and with out the proper equipment there is often little police can do in a fire emergency. Since we patrol at all hours of the day and night we are often the first ones to find a fire, sometimes before we are the first to arrive at a fire call. The only thing we should be concerned about at a fire is saving lives; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Hells Angels President Shot Dead in San Francisco - Mark Guardado - Zimbio

More news from the world of motorcycle gangs. The president of a motorcycle gang has been shot, perhaps by a rival gang member after a fight in a bar. What types of enforcement actions are most helpful when dealing with motorcycle gangs?

If the gang hangs out in a bar, then use your state and local alcohol beverage laws to monitor their behavior at the bar. Most state alcoholic beverage laws are very strict and compliance must be exact or heavy fines and even loss of the liquor license can follow. You can also enlist the aid of your state alcohol beverage commission to help with that type of enforcement.

Motorcycles require special equipment just like cars. They have to have headlight and tail lights and all the other equipment that street legal motor vehicles must have. The driver must have a valid drivers license that is endorsed for motorcycles. During a traffic stop you can run the driver to make sure he has no warrants. Often using small laws can give you the opening to search for weapons, look for drugs, detain and interview suspects. Motorcycle gangs are dangerous and you should never contact them without enough back up; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Robbery Video


One of my friends showed me a video on youtube yesterday. It showed two police cars drive up to a bank, apparently responding to a robber alarm, and four officers ran into the bank. A car with three passengers was blocked in by the police cars and just barely managed to get past them and drive away. Naturally they were the robbers and the police looked pretty foolish when the came back outside. I don't know if it was a real video or something from a movie, but either way there are several training points here.

Just assume that everything you do while wearing your uniform is being videoed. Between ATM cameras, and security cameras, and cell phone cameras it is hard for anything interesting to avoid being photographed. When responding to a call, get there quickly, but don't rush once you arrive. Take a moment to scan the location, in fact, as you approach you should be aware of people leaving on foot, on bicycles, and in cars. For a bank robber, you are better off to set up a perimeter and wait for the robbers to leave then you are to rush in; a gunfight outside the bank is safer for the bank employees than one inside the bank.

If you do feel you need to go inside, at least make sure your perimeter is secure. You don't want a lay off suspect or the get away car driver behind you as you go in to the bank. Typically, you are better off to set up a perimeter and have your dispatcher phone the bank and ask the manager to step outside to talk to you , then you are to go in yourself. Make sure the dispatcher gets a description of the manager and that you have them exit the door of your choice. Then you should control them and determine what is actually happening inside the bank.

Don't be in such a hurry that you go right past the bad guys and end up as a funny video on youtube, or in a Chevrolet commercial, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


A few days ago I saw an excellent presentation at my agency by another Reserve Officer who is an expert on shoplifting crime. He told use that robbers take $500,000 per year but shoplifting steals over $37,000,000,000 a year! Thirty-seven billion dollars. That's some serious money.

He said shoplifting is increasing being conducted by organized gangs who will take as much as $50,000 in a single day. How many cops would work a fifty-thousand dollar robbery in your jurisdiction? A crook would have to hit a thousand 7-Eleven stores to get that much money.

Shoplifting teams are often illegal aliens, imported specifically to work the shoplifting team. They have scouts who check out the stores, then the team goes in and gets the merchandise. One member stays outside the store to watch for police and mall security. One or more of the members of the gang will distract the store clerk. They will ask to return an item or ask about working there; anything to distract them.

Other gang members will stand in the way to block the view of the actual thieves. Then one will hold open a bag and the other will load the bag up. Once the bag is full they will all exit and the one with the bag will return to their vehicle, usually a minivan. He will unload the bag and return to the mall so they can hit another store. Some days they will hit multiple malls along the same freeway to minimize drive time.

Things to look for from a law enforcement perspective; people loitering in front of stores as the lookout, people carrying shopping bags that are heavy and possibility reinforced with duct tape or lined with aluminum foil to fool the sensors, people going to and from a mall with loads of full shopping bags. Shoplifting is a serious crime and we should be spending more of our time in apprehension and prosecution of these gangs, that's what the SGT Says.

Sept 11 is Coming

September 11 is coming up and time to think about the astromical disaster that can strike at any time in our jurisdictions. We recently had the big hurricane scare and thousands were evacuated from the Gulf Coast. Terrorism, earthquake, weather, fire, flood, can strike nearly anywhere. Are you ready? Is your agency ready? Is your family ready?

When you are on patrol, how far away are you from the station? Can you survive for a couple days in the field with just what you have in your patrol car? I work in a small city and I am no more than one urban mile from the station at any time. I can walk back to the parking lot and get things out of my personal car, if necessary. My jurisdiction has no obvious terror targets, but we are close enough to many that are outside our city; so that we may have to provide mutual aid if they had a large attack.

I keep a war bag with me that has everything I need for my usual police work. I keep a second group of gear in my personal car with water for several days, first aid supplies, and other gear so that I can stay at work for up to three days without any help from anyone else. It also allows me the ability to walk home or walk to work if the bad thing happens while I am commuting. I always carry at least one gun with me while commuting. You can't be too careful, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Shoot the Burglar

Texas Couple Turns Tables on Gunmen

A woman, her husband and their two children were in their homes when two armed men broke into their house and attacked them. They chose to fight back against the intruders, eventually one of the criminals were dead and one shot and badly wounded.

Take time to give security advice to homeowners when you get the chance. There are many things homeowners can do to minimize the opportunities of criminals to victimize them. Lights at night help to scare off criminals, I like motion control lights that only come on at night where there is motion. I know when I respond to an alarm and those lights go on it freaks me out! Good sturdy doors and locks are essential. A deadbolt lock on every exterior door is a minimum, I like one on the master bedroom door too.

Keep bushes and hedges and other plants trimmed down so that windows are visible, and don't let trees grow so close to the house that crooks can climb into second story windows. Dual pane windows are not only energy efficient, but they provide better resistance to breakage. Windows and doors need to be locked as often as possible. In areas of hot weather, metal security screens can provide good ventilation and good protection. Let people know what passive steps they can take to avoid a criminal confrontation in their homes; and they won't have to take active steps; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

High School

Whenever there is a major event at our local high school, we have officers provide security for the event. Every home game for the football team and every dance we have at least two, usually four and sometimes more officers on site at the stadium and the gymnasium. Over the years that I have been doing these events, and I only work a few of them, we have had a shooting, a fire, and numerous arrests of individuals for fighting, alcohol and drug use and possession. The advantage of having officers on site is that we can respond immediately to resolve the problem. Often the officers discover or at least witness the event.

Teenagers often go to events and then drink and drive, crash and die. By attending student functions we can insure the use of alcohol is very limited. We screen people as they arrive, we make our presence known by being highly visible to everyone at the event. Patrol the parking lots and check the cars; people smoke dope, drink alcohol and commit other crimes inside cars. We patrol the perimeter, the restrooms, the areas under the bleachers, and all other nooks and crannies looking for people who don't belong there.

One of the most important things we do as law enforcement is to protect the children. High school events are places were there are hundreds if not thousands of children. What better place to be than at a high school to insure the safety of the people we are charged with protecting; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tactical Firearms Training

Firearms training is important, but it is only half of the equation. The other half is the tactical options and decisions that precede or often prevent actually having to shoot. This type of training is essential and is best done using weapons like you use on duty. They best way to do this training is with red guns or some type of paint ball gun.

I always take a red gun to the range with me. When questions come up about how to draw, aim, scan, reholster or otherwise manipulate the weapon, I use the red gun. My duty weapon is usually left in the gear bag so that if I draw a gun, it is the safe one. Use the red gun, non-functional when demonstrating some technique to a student. Only if I actually intend to shoot do I get the real gun out and use it, otherwise I keep the red gun on me.

There are many opportunities to train, but safety is a paramount concern. Several times a year officers are killed in training exercises, usually because someone had a loaded gun and reacted as if it were a real situation. If you do train in the field, make in more theoretical, than practical. Officers typically should not perform informal training while armed; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Scan and Reholster


This guy, Bob Munden, is a trick shooter. He is extremely fast. How quickly can you get your gun out of the holster? One second? Two? How fast can you draw and shoot? Three seconds, or more? Most police shootings happen in three seconds or less. You should be able to draw your weapon and fire at least two rounds in under two seconds. Any longer is too long.

Once the shooting is done, what do you do? I recommend that you scan the area and look for additional suspects prior to returning your weapon to the holster. Once the suspect is no longer a threat, dead, wounded, surrendered, fled the scene; pivot to the left, pointing your weapon to the left and look for other suspects. Most of the time when officers are killed there are multiple suspects. Then return to the suspect and insure he is no longer a threat. Then pivot to the right and look for more suspects.

Then return to the center and look at your suspect to insure he is still no longer a threat to you. Then, look behind you. A lay off suspect or a get a way driver or other suspect may be there waiting for you. Once you have checked left, right, and rear, for one last time check the suspect and finally once it is safe, return your weapon to the holster; without looking at your holster. Once you take your weapon out, don't be in a hurry to put it away; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What Level Are You?


A woman got a gun away from an officer and shot herself to death with that gun. Some are saying that if he had been using a level II holster rather than a level I holster she would not have gotten the gun and would be alive today. Well, maybe. And if she got the gun from a level II holster then he should have had a level III holster. And if she got the gun from a level III holster then maybe he should have left his gun in the car or maybe the agency should not have been armed. And then when someone smuggled in a gun and killed six people we would have all wondered why the guards were not armed.

If everything runs perfectly, then no one gets hurt and everyone goes home at night and sleeps a good nights rest. But if everything went perfectly there would be no need for police and security guards and corrections officers. Sometimes things go bad. Sometimes things go very bad. Sometimes bad guys take officers guns away. Officers carrying a level I or II or III holster, or even officers get guns taken away right out of their hands. Typically, when officers get their guns taken away, it is the officer who gets killed, the suspects don't often kill themselves with it. The higher the level the more difficult it is to remove the gun from the holster, and the slower the gun is to draw. Most police shootings occur in only about three seconds; you can't spend much time drawing your gun or statistically you will be the loser in the gun battle.

We must always be mindful of the location of our guns and where they are in relation to other people. I try not to let people get within arms reach of me. I try not to let people get near my right side, near the holster. Technology alone won't protect my gun, I keep my mind on it and my elbow in touch with it as much as I can, particularly when I am close to people. Perhaps a better holster would have saved this woman. Perhaps if the officer had back up or other weapons like a Tazer, or better training or just had his mind on his job. I don't know the details of the incident, but I do know that gun retention is an essential element of officer safety; that's what the SGT Says.