Sunday, November 30, 2008

Shoot Now!

Would you feel bad if you had to kill someone? I mean, the guy who robs the bank, then shoots the bank teller for no reason, and comes out of the bank with guns blazing? The guy who would kill you or your partner in a heartbeat if he could get you in his sights? Think about that for a while.

Our job may require us to kill someone some day. Few jobs have that as a job duty, shoot and kill someone. Telephone operators don't, truck drivers don't, human resources managers don't but law enforcement officers sometimes have to shoot and kill someone as part of their job. In fact, if they don't they may themselves be shot and killed.

If you are not willing to unhesitatingly shoot someone, knowing that your doing so will very likely kill them; then perhaps you are in the wrong business. Not everyone can be talked out of killing another innocent person. Not everyone will give you the opportunity to negotiate with them. Some people will only be stopped in their murderous rampage, if they too are killed by someone else. That someone else may be you; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thank You All For Reading This

Did you take time for turkey? This is Thanksgiving Day weekend and if you have not taken a moment to give thanks, there is still time. Thank the folks who hired you, who trained you, who helped you pass probation, who helped you get promoted. Thank the folks who responded when you put out an officer needs help call, the other agency that stopped when you had that car load of gangsters, that supervisor who wrote you a good review.

Thank the citizens who pay your salary, your union who got you out of trouble, the chief who stood behind you, that partner who went out on a limb for you. The rangemaster or defensive tactics instructor who gave you skills to survive, the woman working for Dupont who invented Kevlar so we could have soft body armor. The people who maintain your radio system, your dispatcher who always checks up on you when you stay out on that call too long without checking back in, the officers who back you up because they hear something in your voice that makes them worry about you.

Thank your wife, your mother, your kids for all the praying and worrying they do about you every time you put on a uniform and go to work. And thank God for the opportunity to be a peace officer, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dynamic Response

In the olden times when confronted like an event such as a mall shooting, Columbine school shooting or the hostage taking and shooting in Mumbai, police would set up a perimeter and wait for SWAT to arrive. We would contain the area, keep other people out and treat everyone who exited like a criminal until we could prove they were a good guy.

In these days of the active shooter who intends to commit suicide at the end of his killing spree, or the political or religiously motivated Islamic terrorist who expects to get killed, we can no longer sit and wait. The longer the event continues, the more people will die. An active shooter will often walk through the venue, calmly shooting anyone who crosses his path. Often they have targeted either specific individuals, but will shoot anyone else who does not instantly cooperate or they target particular classes of people, like all adults.

When responding to an active shooter event, time is critical. A group of officers need to get together and form an immediate response team. If you have two or three shooters, a group of five or six officers should immediately make entry, track down the shooters and stop them. To stop them you will almost certainly have to shoot them and probably kill them, but our goal is to stop, not to kill. If they give up, then take them into custody. This team will have to bypass injured or wounded civilians and even leave a wounded colleague to continue to press the attacker(s) to surrender. It is a very dangerous situation and will require dynamic action from those who first respond; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mall Shooting

Gunfire at Wash. shopping mall kills 1, wounds 1 (

Bad guy goes into a mall and shoots a couple people, now the death toll is up to two. It does not matter so much at the time what the motive may be the result is the same, death comes to the mall. Do you have a mall in your jurisdiction? Do they have guards? Do the guards carry guns?

In most malls in the USA there are security guards, but almost none of them carry guns. How can we expect unarmed guards to respond to armed suspects? Why must we fear the lawsuits that may come from guards who might shoot someone accidentally, or unnecessarily, when we are faced with continuing attacks on shopping malls? I suspect one reason malls are doing so poorly is the fear of crime. I know the Internet makes shopping easy and quick and the products come right to your front door in a few days. One way to avoid the danger of the mall.

If you have malls in your areas, have you coordinated responses with their security in the event of a major incident. Bomb threat, who determines when to evacuate the mall? Fire, who can turn off the sprinklers? Shooting, who will respond and where will they go? Do know the emergency and back entrances so you can get in and out quickly? Do you know where the security office is located and how many guards are on duty? Can you even communicate with them? If you can't answer these questions, maybe you have some homework to do; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai Today, Home Town USA Tomorrow

78 Die in Mumbai Shootings, Officials Say

Muslim terrorists invade hotels in Mumbai India and murder 78 people, mostly Americans and British citizens; using automatic weapons and grenades. Over two hundred people have been wounded and after eight hours of fighting between police and terrorists there are still hostages being held and people being killed.

This is the new face of crime in the world. Can your agency stand up to criminals with machine guns and grenades? Can your agency respond to a coordinated terrorist attack against multiple hotels in your jurisdiction? We are used to criminals who take hostages to allow them to negotiate for money or safe conduct to get away from the failed bank robbery. What do you do about criminals who take hostages so you will free political prisoners or who intend to get as much publicity as they can and then shoot them all to death? We think of Muslim terrorists as religiously motivated, but they do unspeakable things in the name of their religion, including rape and torture and murder. Read about the Muslim attacks on the Russian school children in Breslin.

Can you as a first responder deal with suspects that are that heavily armed? Can you call for help from other agencies in the area? You also have to deal with the traffic control, lookie loos, and news media that will flock to the location. Does you agency use patrol rifles, and are they in each car or locked in an armory back at the station? Can your EMS deal with hundreds of wounded from gunshots, explosions that an incident like this would create? If not, it's time to start thinking about it before it happens here; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


How is your jewelery? What do you wear on duty? Have you considered the tactical implications of your adornments? I wear a wedding ring on the fourth finger of my left hand, and a lion's head ring on the fourth finger of my right hand. I also wear a gold chain with a Celtic cross on it, tucked under my tee shirt. I wear a rather conservative watch with a metal band, nothing flashy or expensive.

How will your jewelery perform when you have to go over a fence? Are you going to scratch it, will you get a fence wire caught on your ring and pull your finger off when you go over? Will your neck chain get caught and pull your head as you jump over? How does your jewelery perform in a fight? Are you wearing visible piercings that can be ripped from you skin, like earrings? Or, God forbid, a nose ring or eyebrow ring that could be grabbed and tear your flesh?

Ideally, we probably should not be wearing any jewelery on duty from a strictly safety standpoint. If you do wear jewels, there are several points to consider. Don't wear anything too flashy, too big, too gaudy, it looks unprofessional, and makes it seem like you are on the take. Don't wear anything that can be ripped out of your flesh. I have permitted my female officers to wear a small discrete stud earring, but not more than one per ear and nothing dangling. Don't wear more than one neck chain and it should be under your clothing, not visible in uniform. Bracelets, toe rings, and other non-uniform jewelery are best avoided; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 24, 2008


The 12 gauge pump action shot gun has been in police work for probably a hundred years or more. It is an excellent and versatile weapon. At short range the firepower and lethality of 00 buck shot is unparalleled. Too often in shootouts with law enforcement, this excellent weapon has to wait in the car. It is far too often underutilized when it could save lives and even deter an armed attacker.

Most criminals know the distinctive sound of the slide of a round being racked into the chamber of a 12 gauge shotgun. That sound tells them that the responding officers are well armed and serious. An officer does not take the shotgun out of the car unless he is not just expecting trouble but prepared to take action to stop it.

Officers often complain about using the shotgun but with proper training those complaints can be overcome. The recoil is too hard; use low recoil shotshells and a rubber stock pad. The weapon is hard to sight; use rifle sights or even an Aimpoint. The weapon has too short a range; use sabot slugs. The weapon is slow to cycle a second shot; training and practice. At my agency we have bean bag rounds, so those shotguns have an orange plastic stock so they don't get confused with the regular shotguns with real ammo, and 00 buck shot. The pump action shotgun is an excellent police weapon, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Are you aiming the gun, even if you are not using the sights? Yes, you are. A pistol can be drawn from the holster and the gun aimed at the target without using the sights. And you don't have to use the sights to aim a weapon. As long as you are intentionally pointing your weapon at a particular target, you are aiming the weapon.

Not aiming would be pointing a weapon not at a specific target but just holding it out and shooting. That is not something that would need to be done in a law enforcement context. Hand and eye coordination is an important skill to develop. Close your eyes. Think about something in the room and then bring your shooting hand up to eye level and point at the item. Open you eyes and you should be pointing at the item. Practice this skill until you can do it well. Once you get good at it you can start doing it with a Red Gun in your hand. When you get very good at it you can practice it on the range with your real gun; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Off Line Forever

Teen Commits Suicide Live on Web

Apparently a young man took pills and died in his sleep as a result of the overdose, all while on a webcam and all with people watching and making comments about the event. How sad that a troubled young man can kill himself and so few people would be able to take action to stop him.

Does your agency have a web presence? If someone told your dispatcher that there was someone online who was trying to kill themselves would your dispatch know how to bring up the website and check on the information? Does you dispatch center even have Internet access?

These days, everything happens on the web. It is incumbent that agencies have the ability and the knowledge to track cyber crimes, and communicate on line with victims, suspects and witnesses. Probably every fourteen year old kid in your jurisdiction is using the Internet everyday to communicate, does your agency? If not, they should be, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Guns Out

When you take your handgun out of the holster, what do you do with it? Do you point it up in the air near your face like they do on TV? Or do you point it at the ground near your leg? Or do you point it ahead of your at a 45 degree angle in a low ready position? Or do you point it at someone?

I would suggest a couple of things about taking the gun out of the holster. If you don't train to do what you do, then stop doing it until you train that way. So if you don't train to hold the gun up next to your face, don't hold the gun that way. Why do cops on TV always hold the gun up near their head? So the director can get a closeup of the actors face and the gun in the same frame. There is no good tactical reason to hold the gun up next to your face. It the gun goes off unintentionally in that location you risk shooting yourself in the head, blinding yourself with powder burns, or at least having a bullet fly into the sky to land who knows where?

Holding the gun down next to your leg is another technique that has very limited application. If you need to point it at a bad guy, it is slower than actually drawing it from an unsnapped holster, because you have so far to bring the weapon up to a shooting position. If the gun goes off in that position you risk shooting yourself or someone standing next to you, like your partner, in the leg. This seems to happen just about every year. No one will want to work with you if you shoot your partner in the leg by accident.

Generally, I have always thought that if you have your gun out you should be pointing it at someone that you expect you may have to shoot. Otherwise, why do you need to clutter up your hand with a tool you don't intend to use? If you are searching a building looking for suspects, then perhaps having the gun out at a 45 degree angle or higher and pointed away from you in the direction you are searching has some justification. But there are points to consider as well. If you are searching a home, with an open door, with no forced entry, who are you likely to find? The home owner or an authorized person; perhaps even a child and it is not good PR to point guns at them.

A gun in the unsnapped holster with your hand on the gun is very fast up on target if you train that way. This has several advantages, you have both hands free to fight, you have your hands free if you stumble and fall, you have a moment of lag time to avoid shooting an innocent person. I check buildings both with my gun out and with it in my holster, depending on what I perceive the risk factor to be. Getting shot is not a good outcome, but shooting the homeowner is not a good outcome either; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


How can the administration show that they are in touch with the troops? The people that run law enforcement organizations often don't have the confidence of the people they supervise. How can they get that confidence? What is it the troops want from their supervisors and managers and chiefs? Law enforcement is a very close fraternity and those who manage them are often not seen as a part of that group.

First thing, if you are a police chief be qualified to be a police officer. In California to be a police officer you have to go to the police academy and pass several tests. If you have worked as a cop outside the state, you can come here and pass the tests and get your certification. Los Angeles Police at one time had an out of state chief who could not pass the test. That really gave the rank an file heartburn. They had to pass the test, why didn't he? If I were in his position, I would have worked every minute that I was not at work to pass that testing.

Next, wear a uniform at least once a week, with a gun, and a radio and a baton and all the gear that the officers have to wear, including body armor. If you are leading a uniformed organization, wear their uniform, wear it correctly and proudly. Go on patrol. Walk the beat, ride on patrol, handle some calls, ride with regular officers chosen at random. Don't ride with the supervisor or drive around with your bodyguard. Just go out on swing shift and graveyard and ride patrol and handle some calls. Just to keep your hand in, just to show you know the streets they way they are today, not just as they were 20 years ago, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Burn Out

Job burn out is an important aspect of law enforcement. After a while it can seem like we are shovelling against the tide and can't seem to get anywhere in the war on crime. It is hard to put into perspective the fact that every day we go out into the field and risk our lives and yet crime continues, the same people often commit the same crimes over and over. Judges let criminals go, our supervisors don't give us a break and the administration does not understand that we can't do our jobs with one hand tied behind our backs.

You can fight job burn out. Think about how you got into law enforcement. To help people, to serve your community. Put into context your efforts to combat crime. The criminal element has always been with us, three thousand years ago or more we were told "thou shalt not steal," "thou shall do no murder." Yet despite this, people still get murdered and people still steal. We work to keep the criminals to a level that makes our communities reasonably safe and to give some measure of justice to the victims.

There are plenty of good people out there who appreciate what we do, they don't often get a chance to say it and sometimes they say it in ways we don't recognize. The most precious possession most people have is their children, and what do they teach their kids? When you get lost, go find a police officer. When you are in trouble, call 911 and the police will come and help you. They trust us with their children, people who don't know us as individuals, but they know us as a profession; and they have confidence in us; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Elevated or Yellow

United States government's national threat level is Elevated, or Yellow. That means there is a significant risk of terrorist attacks. Significant risk seems like a lot of risk to me. If you heard there was a significant risk of an earthquake or tornado or blizzard in your jurisdiction, what would you do? I suspect your patrol work would be different than normal. We have grown complacent because we have been very successful at defeating terrorist attacks in the United States. We need to remember that significant risk of a terrorist attack is a dangerous time.

Have you identified potential terror targets in your area? How about potential terror targets near your area? Oil facilities, financial centers, areas where large crowds gather, schools and shopping centers, government buildings, and high rise buildings. The Islamic terrorists that hit the World Trade Centers because they were financial centers. Wall Street, stock exchanges, government mints, Federal Reserve Banks, are all potential terror targets.

Some terrorist targets are transitory. A large sporting event, or political event or holiday event that brings a large number of people together can be a potential target. Not only do we need to be concerned about the Islamic terrorists, but domestic terrorists too. There have been domestic terrorists who have attacked Federal buildings, abortion providers, shopping centers, and schools. We need to be aware of those potential targets too, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's In Your Wallet?

What do you carry in your pockets? I seem to carry more and more stuff. My left breast pocket has my badge above it and two click pens with black ink sticking out of that little slot. I also carry my eye glasses in that pocket. I can't see close up well enough to read, so I need them when I read anything. Stuff that is more than two feet away I can see just fine, so I don't wear my glasses all the time. My left breast pocket flap has may name tag on it, and inside I carry my little note pad, a few Field Interview Cards, and when I can get them some junior officer stick on badges to give to kids, and my department manual. We have this little pocket size manual that has a list of municipal ordinances, radio codes and directions on how to get to some local places.

My front pants pockets don't have anything in them. I leave my personal keys in my locker at the station. If I buy anything, I may put the change in the pants, but I don't like keeping coins in my pockets at work, it makes noise that may give up my tactical advantage. My right hip pocket holds my flashlight. I use a small one and it fits there okay. I used to have a leather carrier for my previous flashlight and I liked that too.

My left rear pocket has my wallet with my money, drivers license and police ID card. I try not to carry too much money with me, no more than about $60, I think it often looks suspicious when an officer carries a few hundred dollars on him; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Cop Car

This company has been advertising that they are going to make the first ever police car, built from the ground up as a police car. They are looking to make it as a diesel engined vehicle that will have a top speed of 155 mph. That's pretty fast. I have driven 110 mph, with the gas pedal on the floor and still had the suspect vehicle leave me behind in the dust. So certainly 155 is a good top speed.

Their claim to fame, is that they will have all the police gear as part of the vehicle. The light bar, take down lights, prisoner cage, shotgun rack, all that gear will be built into the car and so it will be safer, cheaper and work better. One of the problems with police cars now is the interior is so filled with computers, shotguns and other gear and in a traffic collision the occupants will be bounced around against these often sharp and always hard equipment items. This results in injuries to officers that would not happen if the car were designed from the beginning as a police car. I have not been involved in a significant crash, but I have bumped my arms and knees entering and exiting the car and while bouncing around inside on rough terrain or while driving quickly.

Their intention is to provide a unique vehicle to law enforcement with a full life cycle program. They will buy back the vehicle when you don't want it anymore to keep the vehicles out of the civilian fleet. They will then refurbish the car and resell it or part it out and recycle the rest. They seem to be at least four years away from their first vehicle going on patrol, but it sure seems like a good idea to me; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Watch the Crowd

I work a lot of event security and one thing I have learned is to watch the crowd. Step back from the bleachers and look at the crowd from a distance. They will mostly be watching the event, ball game, dancers, whatever. A few will be chatting with each other or eating. Some will be walking to and from the rest room or exits. It's those others you have to watch.

From a distance you can detect that behavior which is not consistant with what everyone else is doing. Some people will be loitering near the rest rooms or near the exits. Some will be up at the top of the stands, often as far away from the event as they can get, and often as far away from other people as they can go. These are the people you need to watch. These people may be waiting to follow someone outside the venue so they can victimize them. They may be the lookout while something bad happens in the rest room. It may be as simple as smoking in the restrooms in a no smoking location. It may be a mugging, sex crime, or even a murder. They may be planning on disruption of the event by throwing objects down on other spectators, or they may be isolated so they can use drugs or drink alcohol. Any of those groups deserve additional observation.

One of the best tactics to deal with them is to observe them for a moment while alerting other officers to their presence and activity. Get the other officers to see them for a distance before they move in if possible. Direct them in to their postion and update them if the person moves, it can often be easier to see people in a crowd from a distance than from up close. Once your partners move in they can try and determine if any criminal or dangerous activity is happening and make the arrest, or at the very least, make contact to let the subjects know they are being watched to prevent any crime. High visibility often will stop this subjects from doing anything they should not be doing, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Check the Car

When searching a car, the first thing to do is to insure your safety. Don't search a car with people inside the car. Don't search a car if the occupants have been removed but not placed where they are safe and where you or another officer can observe them. If I am alone, I like to have them seated on the curb, 20 feet in front of the car. That allows the cars headlights to illuminate them, or lights from my vehicle. It allows me to glance up and make sure they are still seated, and gives me enough reaction time if they get up. If they jump up and run away, that's a new problem.

First, check those places where the driver can get to weapons or drugs. Under the seat, in the center console, in the door pockets, on the dash, and inside the ash tray. Lift up the floor mats, and inspect the dashboard and door panels for loose screws and possible hidden compartments. Get out of the car and look up under the dashboard with your flashlight and check for contraband and buttons and switches that may open hidden compartments.

Inspect the headliner, the visors, and inside the glove compartment. You may even be able to take out the back seat. Check down between the seats and the seat cushions. Use your flashlight to too look for items between the seat and cushions in case there is something sharp hidden there. I like to move the seats all the way forward and all the way back and recline them all the way. Don't hurry, wear gloves and once you are finished, have someone else look inside the car. You can't be too careful; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Juvenile Crime

Juveniles, under 18 years of age, commit an average of ten murders a day. That's people a young as ten years old killing other people, sometimes more than one. Everyday ten of them killing someone. When dealing with kids it is important to remember those statistics. Children in America are killing each other and killing adults. In law enforcement we often don't consider children as dangerous until they get to be at least 15 or 16 years old. That is no longer a safe assumption.

Street gangs often enlist younger kids because they are not suspected by the police. They also will typically get shorter sentences if convicted of crimes. When you approach a group of teenagers, don't assume that they youngest ones are just someones younger brother and not actual gang members. They may be just as involved in the gang as the older ones.

Other younger kids play first person shooter games ten hours a day and become desensitized to the violence. Recently there was even a game that involved shooting students at a school. These are sometimes the kids who bring guns to school and kill their classmates. Use caution when dealing with kids, they can be killers; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pardon Compean & Ramos

Former Border Patrol Agents Jose Alonso Compean and Ignacio Ramos were sentenced to over 10 years in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone in El Paso Texas. They were attempting to capture an illegal alien drug smuggler. The only hope these men have of getting out of prison early is with a presidential pardon. President George Bush should pardon these two former Agents before he leaves office.

I don't have all the details and I know these two agents were not perfect and did not do their jobs exactly correct. They were convicted of crimes while trying to do their jobs, however imperfectly. While they may have deserved censure by their agencies or perhaps even termination they certainly did not deserve to go to federal prison.

Please petition President Bush for a full pardon for Agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos; that's what the SGT Says.

++ Contact President Bush Now!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scan and Reholster

Range training should include more than just shooting. When the shooter is done firing, he should check to his left to look for additional threats. He should pivot his upper body, moving the weapon and his head to the left, ready to engage any new threats to the left. He should return to center to insure the "dead" guy is still "dead." Often suspects get shot, and run away, fall down and lay still, or give up. As you turn away, they sometimes reappear, or get back up, or draw a second weapon and become a threat again. That is why while scanning for additional threats it is important to check the initial target again. Finally, the officer should point the weapon to the ground and turn his upper body around so that he can see behind him. A lay off suspect or get away car driver may come from behind to attack.

The shooter should then check to the right, check back to the center and then re-holster their weapon. When re-holstering, the shooter should not look at his holster and should be able to re-holster with one hand. This is important because the shooter may need to use his other hand to gesture to others, use his radio or even provide direct pressure to his own wounds. When I reholster my Glock, I put my thumb on the end of the slide so that I don't push the slide back as I push the handgun into my holster.

In a real shooting, officers should not be in a hurry to return their weapon to the holster. In shootings where officers are killed or wounded there are often multiple suspects and so scanning for more suspects is very important. They way we train is often the way we behave in the field, so training for all aspects of the shooting is important; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Range Training

Range training should try and reflect real life shootings as much as is reasonably possible. Several techniques that I try and incorporate into much of my range training to make it safer and more realistic. Since most shootouts happen in only a few seconds, often with little or no warning the officer should be encouraged to start with the weapon in the holster in the same mode as it is when he is on patrol. Snapped in with his hand off the weapon. The rangemaster should initialize the shooting by using a command to fire the duty weapon by saying a word such as "gun" or "threat" something that the officer may likely hear in the field.

The officer should be encouraged to draw his weapon and get his first aimed shot off in a timely manner, ideally in two seconds or less from the "threat" command. The officer should keep track of his own ammunition and should reload as necessary, and not have to wait for a range command to reload his weapon. The officer should clear any malfunctions of his weapon and continue to qualify, just as he would in a real shootout.

The officer should aim for the center of mass of the target presented in most cases. I like to shoot at targets that look like people, so we often used printed photographs of people pointing guns in their hands. Officers should be encouraged to use verbal commands while shooting, "Drop the gun," "Police, don't move" are excellent commands. Officers should be encouraged to draw and return their weapons to the holster without looking at the holster, their eyes should be on the target and any potential additional targets; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Car Jacking

Car jacking is when criminals force a driver out of their vehicles and steal the car. This is a very violent and dangerous crime. One way to reduce this type of crime is to patrol those areas that are good choices for car jacking. Persons loitering in these areas are good people to stop, find out why they are there and conduct field interview cards on them.

Intersections where cars frequently stop at traffic signals or stop signs. Garages and parking lots, particularly where the cars can get in and out easily. Self-service gas stations and self-service car washes, the driver is distracted by the task at had and not watching for criminals. The bad guys are looking for places where the car is stopped, the driver is distracted and the bad guys can get away quickly.

Cruise these locations and look for individuals or groups. Suspects may stand on opposite sides of the street and approach the victim from multiple directions. Since this is a car jacking suspect, they very likely could be armed. Those suspect who do car jacking are very confrontational and extremely dangerous. Use caution when investigating these crimes; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Drive Around

One of the most dangerous things officers do nearly every day is drive. Drive at work or at least drive to work, and home. There are many tactics we can use to reduce the number of officer involved traffic collisions. Two of the most important factors in most accidents are the driver was not paying attention, or the driver was going too fast for conditions. If you are talking on the radio, driving 100 miles and hour, drinking coffee, and taking notes, while checking your map, you may be distracted. When driving at high speed think about anything you say on the radio before you say it, and if you don't need to talk, don't talk. One less distraction. Keep your hands on the wheel and you eyes on the road.

With winter coming up, think about road conditions. It may be okay to take that corner at 100 miles an hour, in the summer when it is dry, but perhaps 50 or even 15 is needed when it is wet or covered with black ice. Remember, when you go around that corner you need traction to turn and can go into a skid, and slip sideways. We have all seen cars that slipped sideways and wrapped around a pole or tree. Brake going into turns, and accelerate going out of turns. In wet weather, break early.

Watch out for animals. As the seasons change, animals sometime migrate and they may migrate right into your patrol area. Even in cities, wild animals sometimes come down out of the hills and into town to eat the cat food, or even the cat! If you have a large animal in the street, wait for it to move, before you try and pass. If there is one animal, there are often several, so watch out for their moose friends before you try and go around them. Should you have to break for an animal, you may not want to swerve around it, animals will often surprise you and jump at the last second. If you do try and drive around them, drive around the back end if possible, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 7, 2008


What do you know about identity theft? Millions of people fall victim to identity theft every year. If you respond to a report of identity theft there are several things to remember. Take a crime report and collect all the data you can from the victim about who they think my have done the crime and how their data was taken. Sometimes they know the suspect, an ex-boyfriend or roommate or similar person.

Have them report the identity theft to the three major credit bureaus, that can help reduce their liability. Have them report back to your detectives if there are changes in their credit reports as a result of the identity theft. Have them notify all their banks, credit cards, Social Security Office and any other agencies or business that they may do business with. They should close credit accounts that they know have been compromised. They should contact their homeowners insurance and the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The three main credit bureaus are:


To prevent identity theft people should minimize their use of identifying information on the Internet. Shred important documents before throwing them away, including anything with you name or account numbers on them. Watch merchants handle your credit cards so they don't swap cards or run multiple slips on the credit card machine. Inspect bills carefully so that unauthorized charges may be caught quickly and removed. The Federal Trade Commission can provide additional information. Identity theft is a major dollar value crime and should be investigated carefully; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

More Range Training

Range training should be more than just standing on a line banging away with your Roscoe. Deadly force situations are dynamic and training should reflect that reality. Range training should take place in full light, in low light and darkness. Even officers who work in the daytime sometimes have to work overtime into the night, or go into an attic or basement where it is dark.

Officers should train wearing the same outfits they wear in the field. The same pants, shirt, body armor, Sam Browne and other gear, even baton. All these items can interfere with a smooth draw or good shooting posture. Many officers, particularly women, can have difficulty achieving an Isosceles shooting position, particularly when wearing armor. It is important to practice with the armor on so that it becomes automatic to move to a comfortable position to shoot from.

The weapon should be snapped into the holster, just at it would be on duty, even for undercover or plainclothes officers. Officers should practice their draw so that they don't get tangled up in jackets, shirts, body armor or a poorly selected holster. Officers should be encouraged to take a step to the left or right as they draw their weapon. Many officers are only a few feet away from cover when they are in gunfights in the field and so stepping can move them to cover in time to avoid getting shot; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

James J. Bulger

The FBI Homepage is a great portal to all kinds of information. While I was there, I realized that as law enforcement professionals we of all people should know who the bad guys are, but I could not tell you anyone who is on the FBI Ten Most Wanted List, apart from OBL. So I thought that today I would list one of the criminals on that list. This guy is considered armed and dangerous and is implicated in many murders. Don't try and make an arrest at a person like this without plenty of back up.

James J. Bulger

Date of Birth: September 3, 1929
Hair: White/Silver
Place of Birth: Boston, Massachusetts
Eyes: Blue
Height: 5'7" to 5'9"
Complexion: Light
Weight: 150 to 160 pounds
Sex: Male
Build: Medium
Race: White
Occupation: Unknown
Nationality: American
Scars and Marks: None known
Remarks: Bulger is an avid reader with an interest in history. He is known to frequent libraries and historic sites. Bulger may be taking heart medication. He maintains his physical fitness by walking on beaches and in parks with his female companion, Catherine Elizabeth Greig. Bulger and Greig love animals. Bulger has been known to alter his appearance through the use of disguises. He has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Canada, and Mexico.
The FBI is offering a $2,000,000 reward for information leading directly to the arrest of James J. Bulger.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Range Training

Firearms training should provide training that is representative of the type of work that you do in the field. I work for a municipal police department in an urban environment. Much of our time is spend in patrol cars and in places where there are a lot of people around. We use targets that are life size photographs of people with guns in their hands. We have little photos that we can tape over the guns in the photos so the bad guys can hold knives, a microphone, police badge, empty hand or even a beer.

When shooting at low light we have to use a flashlight to identify the person who is the deadly threat by actually seeing what the "person" is holding in their hand. We shoot at low light and even in full darkness, with flashlights. We have night sights on our handguns and we get to use them a couple times per year. When it is very dark the shooter has to use their flashlight, either one mounted on their gun or as a separate light.

We shoot from various positions, standing, moving, kneeling and even prone. Look at photos of actual incidents that take more than a couple minutes to resolve and you will see very few officers standing up taking shots at the bad guys. Often they kneel behind cars, fire hydrants, telephone poles and your training needs to reflect that reality; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 3, 2008


Are you voting tomorrow? We are public servants, but we are also citizens. It is our duty to vote and to make sure that the candidates we support are pro-law enforcement. Is your candidate pro-law enforcement? Or does he support the trial lawyers who get rich getting criminals off from the crimes they committed?

In states with the death penalty, does your candidate support the death penalty? Some criminals commit acts that are just so terrible, no one should have to guard them for the rest of their natural lives. They need to be put to death. Genesis 9:6 "Whoever takes a man's life, by man will his life be taken; because God made man in his image."

Does your candidate support the right of free people to self defense? Without the ability to keep and bear arms, common citizens cannot properly defend themselves against armed attackers. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. I am voting for McCain and Palin because their values reflect my values; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Domestic Dispute

Estranged Couple's Home Cut in Half

Don't you hate those calls, you arrive at the scene of a family dispute and the house has been cut in half? I never had that problem, but more than once I have driven up to a home and found clothing, TV sets, golf clubs and lots of other guy stuff laying on the lawn. A man standing in the yard and a woman screaming out the window. Take a deep breath and observe a moment before you go any further.

I try and call the man over to me and talk to him first. The woman obviously needs a little more time to vent. Visually inspect the man to insure he has no weapons. Ask a few officer safety questions, are you hurt, is she hurt, is anybody hitting anyone today, are there any guns in the house? Ask him How are we going to solve this problem today? My goal on this type of call, if there is no domestic violence, is keeping the peace, making things quiet again.

I always ask him if there is someplace he can go and spend the night. After a minute or two with him, I go talk to the woman. I try to get her to come outside near the front door. That way I can talk to her and keep and eye on him. I want her out of the kitchen and away from the knives. I ask her the same officer safety questions, and ask her if he hit her or if there has been any physical violence today. In California, it's easy, if anyone was physically injured, bruised, cut, by the other on, they go to jail. The state will prosecute for domestic violence so the victim does not have to. If there is no violence, I ask her the same basic question, and ask her how she wants it to end for today. I don't intent to change ten years of domestic problems in five minutes at three o'clock in the morning, I just want everyone to be quiet and go back to sleep; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Game Day

I worked a high school football game last night, the home team lost 14 to 40, as usual. We always assign at least two and often four officers to every home game. Our high school is pretty tame crime wise and we generally don't have any problems with the thousand or so people who show up. There are several things we do to help minimize problems. One of the first things I do when I arrive is notify school officials that we are there so they can call us if there is a problem.

The event is on a school grounds, so there is no alcohol, and no smoking permitted on the grounds. The stadium has restricted access, you must pay to get in and there is no reentry without paying again. This prevents people from going out to their car and getting guns, alcohol, drugs and then returning. The minimal entrance fee is enough to prevent that. When money is collected and ready to go to the bank, an officer will escort the person carrying the money to their vehicle so that they can do a night drop at the bank.

We generally have the officers loiter about in the area of the entrances. This allows everyone who attends the event to be aware that there are police officer at the location, a subtle warning to behave themselves. I try and walk all the parking areas near the start of the event to discourage crowds from forming and to prevent drinking and drug use outside the stadium. I also walk all the areas under the bleachers, near the vendors and trash areas to prevent people from finding those dark areas where crime may be committed. The rest of the time I like to stay visible to the crowd. Most minor problems I refer to school officials to handle, they know the kids and can contact them on the next school day if necessary. A little patrolling around makes a big difference at these events, that's what the SGT Says.