Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, to those working and to those at home. Party calls can be very common at times like this and there are several things to keep in mind when you respond to them. The first thing to remember is why you are there and try to accomplish that task without distraction. Most of the time you are there because the noise is too loud. Two officers should go to the initial call, park down the street so your vehicle is not visible from the location. Wait for a couple minutes before you approach so that you can see who is going in and coming out as well as listen for the noise. Walk up to the door, find out who is in charge and give them an advisement to keep the noise down or that they could be arrested for disturbance of the peace. Get their name, date of birth and a telephone number before you leave, both as documentation that you contacted them and in case your dispatcher needs to call them back.

If the party is out of control to the point where it needs to be shut down, bring plenty of help. Officers should wear helmets and face shields and carry batons. Side handle or straight single piece batons are best for this type of work. Police cars should be parked a short distance away and left with at least one officer to guard them. Ejected party goers often like to vandalize the cop cars as they go home. The person who is in charge that you contacted before should be arrested right away for their failure to control their party and disturbing the peace. When possible, have a neighbor complainant sign the citizens arrest form so that an officer is not the victim.

Officers should stay together and watch the crowd. The goal should not be to make many arrests, but rather to disperse the crowd and get people to go home. A few units should station themselves around the perimeter and watch the cars as they drive away. Sometimes you can pick up a few drunk driving arrests out of a large party call. Keep your paramedics handy in case either someone becomes violent and there are injuries, or in case of alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. Happy times for some are not always that happy for us; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cut to the Fight Scene

Recently I was reading a discussion about carrying an edged weapon as a back up weapon. I think it can be a good idea. Just like any back up weapon there have to be several issues to resolve first. Does your agency prevent you from carrying an edged weapon? Is the edged weapon you carry permitted by law in your state? Have you documented training in the use of the weapon by experts in it's use? Do you continue to practice with the weapon?

These are the same kinds of questions you should be able to answer if you carry a firearm as a back up weapon. I actually carry a handgun as a back up weapon and two knives. In fact, I carry three knives, but one I consider as a utility tool that I use for cutting ropes and such. The other two are weapons, I keep one in a front pocket and one in a back pocket. Remember, many people carry knives these days and they are certain to recognized the tell tale little clasp that holds your knife in the pocket.

I anticipate that I would use it when a firearm is unsafe to use, perhaps in an explosive environment, perhaps the suspect has been dowsed with gasoline. Or if I cannot reach my firearms, or if they are out of ammunition. I have also considered that if someone were to grab my duty gun, cutting their arm would be an effective method of dislodging their grip. If not, there is always jabbing them in the eyes; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 29, 2008


One of the readers of this blog, The Bronze made mention in the comments about a website you should all know about. It is the Officer Down Memorial Page. The website shows all known officers killed in the line of duty. Not just those feloniously killed by the bad guys, but those killed in accidents too. He found the officer who's traffic accident death I remembered yesterday.

Too often we are getting killed accidentally. Accidents account for just about as many deaths as the bad guys. Many times those accidents are our own fault for failing to take reasonable precautions to insure our own safety. Certainly law enforcement is dangerous. Between security guards, police, corrections, park rangers, and other members of our team nearly every day one of them is killed.

We need to be sure to drive a little slower, make sure the red lights are working and on when we are driving fast, make sure to buckle up. It is our duty to protect others but it is also our duty to protect ourselves. The impact of an officer death lasts for years. I remember officers who were killed ten and twenty or even thirty years ago. I did not come up with this saying but it is a good one to remember: Let's be careful out there; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Officer Needs Help Calls

When I was just starting out in law enforcement I read about an officer in the greater Los Angeles area who was responding to an officer needs help call. An officer needs help call will bring an avalanche of officers to your location here in Southern California. It is probably the highest priority call you can get.

A help call means that a trained, armed, sworn officer is unable to handle a situation and is likely in physical danger to the point that he needs as much help as he can get as quickly as he can get it. I called for this once and in less than thirty seconds I could hear sirens of responding officers from more than one direction. In under five minutes I had over thirty-five police cars on scene, with probably fifty police officers from two different agencies.

The young officer responding to the officer needs help call in greater Los Angeles was driving with red lights and sirens, code 3, as fast as he could go on the freeway. He hit the center divider and his car disintegrated into little bits. This was about thirty years ago, and I still remember the news footage of that big steel Chevrolet Impala and the wheel hubs looked to be the largest parts left. Naturally he was killed instantly.

Today I read about another young officer in Richmond, California who died under similar circumstances. He was responding to an officer needs help call, on slippery roads and hit a light pole. He died a few days later after being on life support since the accident. An officer needs help call may be the highest priority call you can get, but if you don't get there you can't help. Drive fast, but drive safe; we should have learned that by now; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

That May Be a Clue

Not long ago we were doing a DUI checkpoint. We had lights and cones and warning signs and nearly thirty officers and probably twenty police vehicles all out in the street with all kinds of blinky lights going. We had about six cars lined up at the checkpoint when we heard the skidding of wheels on pavement. All of us looked up in the direction of the noise and saw a small car skidding and sliding all over the lane; heading directly for the last car in line. I could hear at least two other officers saying, "Oh, no!" as the last car in line, actually pulled into the center lane to escape being hit.

The little car finally stopped, just missing the car that pulled out of line. A huge blue cloud of tire rubber, brake dust and probable cause surrounding the little car. "I think we may have found one" I said half to myself. The little car, hoping no one had noticed them I am sure, backed up and made an illegal u-turn to drive away from the checkpoint. Two of our young officers ran to a waiting police car and a few blocks later made the traffic stop.

Not surprisingly the driver was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, the passenger was arrested for being drunk in public; very, very intoxicated, and their little car was towed away. Between towing fees, attorney fees, fines, court fees, and increased insurance premiums that is going to cost someone between $10,000.00 and $15,000.00. Some days you sit with a line in the water all day and don't catch anything. Some days the fish just jump in the boat; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 26, 2008

You Sent Me

The dispatcher is a critical link in the law enforcement chain. There used to be a game called telephone where you would whisper a sentence into someones ear and then they would repeat the sentence as best as they could to another person and so on until it got to the end of a long line of people. The last person would then say out loud the sentence that was told to them. Typically the sentence would have changed dramatically after only a few repetitions.

Someone sees a crime in progress and they yell to their wife to call the police. The wife phones the police and speaks to an operator who forwards the information to a dispatcher who radios it to a officer in the field. The information may go through many hands before it gets to the responding officer. And it will travel by voice, by telephone, and by radio or even by computer text. Someone broke into the garage; my husband said someone robbed our garage; a woman reported her husband was robbed in the garage; robbery in progress in the garage. It does not take much for a cold report call to mutate into a major crime in progress call.

A few questions can certainly help clarify the nature of the event. A good dispatcher will ask those questions. Where is the robber now? How long ago did this happen? How many robbers are there? Do the robbers have any weapons? Where is your husband now? Is your husband okay or does he need medical treatment? Which way did the robbers go? Were they in a car? What type of car was it? Many questions to ask, to make sure we get the right response; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


"I pay your salary."

"Okay, here's a nickel, I figure that's about your share."

It's okay to think that, but if you find yourself saying that, it is probably time to take some time off. Not everyone we meet on the streets is a bad guy, some are just folks who got a ticket or contacted the police and it turned out a bit negative. Sometimes they can get you down more that the bad guy who swears at you. Most of the time when we respond to a call for service it is seldom happy news for someone. Often, it is bad news for everyone.

The innocent person who has their car stolen, or their home burglarized did nothing wrong, and they often feel violated, hurt and betrayed. They work hard, pay their taxes and then something bad happens. Maybe the worst thing that ever happened to them in their life. Sometimes they are so upset they will say something to us that is not very nice. So we gotta take it and remember they are not really mad at us. They are not even mad at the uniform. They are mad at the situation and in a few hours they will feel bad that they yelled at us. So just put on your plastic smile, nod your head, and say "Okay" a few times until they calm down; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The polls are open for the Best Police blogs....Please go and vote ....

On this Christmas Eve remember a few things:

Your family and God are more important than the job.
Make time for both of them this Christmas.

Some families you will contact this holiday season will have serious problems that will only get worse during the holidays. Use caution and don't let the holiday cloud your officer safety judgement. Separate those who are arguing. Keep them out of the kitchen, that's where all the knives and other pointy things are. Watch the hands and interview participates separately. Don't fail to take people to jail who need to go, just because it is the holidays; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Maybe Next Time

"Commonwealth v. Goewey, 452 Mass. 399 (2008). A police officer engaged in a motor vehicle stop properly ordered a passenger out of the vehicle where the passenger acted nervously, produced a questionably invalid identification, and made obscured reaching movements inside the vehicle."

Normally in a traffic stop the person under investigation is the driver. But sometimes the passengers are in need of some police intervention. In the case cited above the officer acted properly in getting the passenger out of the vehicle to continue his investigation. It is always important to remember your safety vs the value of the investigation. You may lose in court but you have to be alive to testify against the bad guys. When in doubt, you may not want to continue and just let the bad guys go on their way. If you have a license plate, or other good ID they can be contacted again, if necessary.

Often we become so focused on making an arrest or writing a ticket we sometimes forget our officer safety or may not remember the technicalities of the law. It is imperative that we remember both of them at all times. Being a bad guy is a lifestyle and if we don't catch this crook today, we can get him tomorrow; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lots of Bombs

State police: Bomb explodes at an Oregon bank (

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms there have been thousands of bomb related incidents in the US every year.

2006 3445 explosives incidents 135 injuries 14 fatalities
2005 3722 explosives incidents 148 injuries 18 fatalities
2004 3790 explosives incidents 263 injuries 36 fatalities

We read about bomb threats all the time and that is because real bombs explode frequently all over the world, even in the United States, an average of ten per day!!! What do we do about threats or concerns about a possible bomb? First of all, don't use radio communication our cellular phones in the area of the bomb. Clear people out of the potential blast area if the threat is credible. A blast area can be very large and it is better to clear out too much than not enough. When evacuating an area, be sure to block off traffic on adjoining streets and gather the evacuees together so they can be accounted for, it is a hard thing to have to return to the scene of a bomb and look for missing employees who may have been evacuated already.

In responding to a credible bomb attack, there are many people and agencies who need to be alerted. Other than law enforcement, you need a bomb squad, Federal BATF, local fire department, paramedics, local trauma centers, local news organizations, TV and radio. The utilities need to know, gas, water, electrical so they can cut off service to the building and restore service if there is widespread damage. Red Cross can provide services and you may need local schools or other government buildings for evacuees or as staging areas.

Bombs can be as small as an envelope or as big as a tanker truck or train car. Bombs can be planted for terrorism, insurance scams, to murder specific persons, or for political, animal rights, or religious reasons or revenge. Bombs are sometimes detonated by radio frequency on command, by timer, or by motion. They can also go off by mistake. Sometimes the bomber will accidentally blow himself up while trying to build or emplace the bomb. Sometimes the bomber will be a suicide bomber trying to take others with him when he blows up. Don't be that other person; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More DUI Checkpoint

When performing the driver contact on an DUI checkpoint, treat it similar to a typical traffic stop. The difference is that the driver you contact at a DUI checkpoint will usually not be doing anything illegal. So try and be nice and extra polite to them while you look for a reason to take them to jail. First thing to do is introduce yourself, your agency and tell them what you are doing; conducting a DUI checkpoint.

I like to have two officers approach the stopped vehicle. One on each side. The officer on the driver side will try and determine if the driver it too intoxicated to legally drive the vehicle. The officer on the passenger side will be the cover officer. The contact officer should inspect the eyes of the driver. Watery, red eyes, a smell of an alcoholic beverage, are two very important factors to look for to find DUI drivers. I like to ask the driver if they have had anything to drink, often they will say they have if they have been drinking. The drivers who have been drinking who have any significant symptoms should be checked further. Direct them to the side of the road and have them perform the usual field coordination tests.

The cover officer on the passenger side should be watching the drivers hands, watch the other passengers for possible threats. Sometimes you can find drugs, guns, and open alcohol containers inside the car if you just look. Have your flashlight out in your non-gun hand so that you can inspect the vehicle interior carefully. Keep your gun hand free so that you can use your gun if you need it, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

DUI Checkpoint

Last night I worked a DUI checkpoint. We set up on a major street and stopped cars driving into town looking for persons driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As the cars approach they are greeted by a sign that says "Sobriety Checkpoint Ahead." The sign is placed at a location where they have one opportunity to turn at a traffic light and avoid the hassle of stopping for a checkpoint. Then they are funneled into a single lane of traffic where a gauntlet of police are standing on each side of the lane and finally they come to a stop sign and stop light.

We try and keep the traffic moving so the delay is minimal for motorists going about their business. We had ten officers working the line so when the first vehicle was stopped, five officers could contact the drivers in the first five vehicles. We also had five officers on the passenger side of those cars so they could act as the cover officer and watch the driver and passenger. It was cold so usually the windows were rolled up on the cars. I worked the passenger side most of the evening. From about 9:00 p.m. to just after 2:00 a.m. we made about ten arrests for DUI and one for driving without a drivers license.

We had temporary lighting set up in the streets so we could see inside the stopped cars. There were dozens of traffic cones channeling the cars into one lane with police cars parked in the center of the street and on the curbside. The center cars could be used as chase cars in the event someone were to try and run the checkpoint. At curbside we had a command center with computers to run drivers license information and print it out as well as lighting and space to conduct field coordination tests. A motorcycle and two other units were tasked as chase cars to stop vehicles that tried to avoid the checkpoint or who otherwise needed to be stopped. It was a good set up, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Armored Car Robbery

Darrell Rene Cooper is wanted by the FBI for an attempted armored car robbery. There was a gang of seven criminals who participated in this robbery. They shot one of the guards and attempted to shoot the other one. The injured guard managed to get back into the armored car and they drove away and escaped. The suspect is armed and dangerous.

Armored car robberies are often very violent. Since the guards always carry guns and generally are not afraid to use them, the robbers often shoot right away. Unlike your average liquor store that may have $50 in the till, an armored car may have hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars inside. Armored car robberies often happen very quickly, typically two or three robbers, will shoot the guard and take the money. Many armored car companies train the vehicle driver to drive away at the first sign of trouble and leave the messenger behind.

When responding to an armored car robbery, keep in mind the suspects will not only almost certainly be armed but they will be very confrontational. They will be very likely to shoot it out if given the chance. On the way to the scene be alert for vehicles going in the other direction at a high rate of speed, particularly those going towards the freeway or out of town. When arriving at the location, take a good position of advantage with good cover if possible. This is a good time to deploy the patrol rifle or shotgun; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Sometimes officers will have an unintended discharge of their weapon. Most typical are those when the shotgun or patrol rifle are being inspected at the begining of the shift. Some agencies try and get around the need for this inspection by marking or tagging the weapon with tape or other marker. The weapon is made ready for patrol use and taped closed until the officer employs the weapon in the field.

The problem with this technique is that the officer who has to trust his life to the weapon, must trust his life also to the person who prepares the weapon before it is taped and he has to trust all those who handle the weapon after that and before he uses it. That can be dozens, even hundreds of people before the officer gets his turn. I have seen drinking straws, and cigar butts and other inappropriate items dropped down the barrel of the taped shotgun. This is not a good system.

Officers should inspect the weapons they are going to carry on duty and not have to rely on someone elses inspection. They must inspect them and prepare them in a safe and proper manner. Above all else they must keep their muzzle discipline and keep the weapon pointed in the right direction. This is the final safeguard, if there is an unintended discharge of the firearm, then the round will hit a target that is safe to shoot. Never point a weapon at something you are not willing to shoot; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Family & God

What is it that helps officers survive deadly encounters? Those who have been cornered or those who have been hit and kept fighting or who recovered after massive injuries. Many of them cite family and religion. How are you going with those two?

How is your family life? Do you spend enough time with your wife or husband? Are you like many in law enforcement who neglect their spouses and end up divorced, sometimes over and over again? Why don't the police academies train us how to get along better with our spouses? Why does the field training ignore the home life? Our jobs place unique pressure on the spouses and they should do more to support them and train them. Some agencies reach out to the spouses so that we can share what we do with them.

How about your religious life? Did you go to church this weekend? If not on Sunday, find a service that is mid-week. Many times our Saturday and Sunday is Tuesday and Wednesday. That's okay, there is a church somewhere that will have a mid-week service you can attend. If a belief in God will help you through a traumatic event, then maybe it is good officer safety to get right with Him before you next go on patrol; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Best Blog

This blog was nominated on this site as a best blog. Thanks to those who nominated this blog, thanks to those who comment on it and to those who read it. Check out the link, there are some other very good blogs out there.

It is important that as professionals in the field of law enforcement that we continually strive to maintain our professional knowledge, keep current with the crime trends, and share our knowledge with others.

In my career I have been fortnante to have been able to attend many training classes, work with some great people and experience some interesting events. I just try to pass some of that on in a way that may help some other officers do a good job; That's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Complacency Kills

Sure, complacency kills, but you can't rely on it to kill every time. That's the problem with complacency, it often is no big deal, until it's not. Then it is sometimes too late.

Did you park in front of the address to the burglary alarm today?
That's complacency.
Did you park in front of the address to the robber alarm today?
You got it really bad.
Did you park in front of the address to the shooting in progress today?
You can get hurt doing those things!

Nothing ever happens does not mean nothing every will happen. It means you have another opportunity to hone your skills and get better, so on the day something happens, you will be ready for it. If you were a burglar, would you hit the location that has never had a burglary alarm activation or the one where the alarm goes off all the time? The one that goes off all the time has a slow response time by the alarm company and the officers. It will be dispo'd as a false alarm even before the officers arrive. Sometimes they may not even bother to show up! People see what they expect to see and if the responding officers expect to see nothing wrong they won't see the burglar hiding in the bushes, the pry marks on the window and the damage to the front door. Treat every call like it could be the one you have trained for in your whole career; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Auto Burglary

A few items to remember for this Christmas season to avoid auto theft and auto burglary.

Lock your car, take your keys with you when you leave.
Place shopping bags in your trunk. If you don't have a trunk, cover them with a blanket. I like to put items on the floor of the back seat, it is hard to see things there.

Don't leave your original registration in your car, leave a copy in the car and keep the original at home.

When you go to a valet, only give him the car key, not the trunk key and not the house keys.

Use The Club or similar steering wheel locking device.

Use a car alarm whenever you leave the vehicle.

Never leave children alone in the car, not even for a moment.
Park in a well lit area.

Use a car cover.
Use a steering wheel lock device.

Let people know to do these things when you talk to them at shopping centers, or if they have been victimized. A few tips to make sure your car comes home with you; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Can You Respond? - U.S. Cities Brace for Mumbai-Style Attack

Can your agency sustain multiple attacks like happened in Mumbai, India? The terrorists used rifles, pistols and grenades to attack hotels, and similar venues. How many hotels in your area use armed guards? I suspect, probaby none. What good will unarmed guards be against heavily armed attackers, probably no good at all. They may be able to notify police, absorb some of the initial gunfire hits, and help exacuate guests to safety, but in general they will be powerless to stop attacks in progress.

How many large upscale hotels are in your jurisdiction? What is their layout? How do you enter, not only the front entrances, but the rear, service entrances? Is there a heliport on the roof? How is the building from a tactical perspective? Can you make an unseen approach? Are their nearby buildings that would allow observation and firepower to be directed onto the hotel?

If your city sustains multiple attacks at the same time, do you have enough officers to respond? The North Hollywood Shootout in Los Angeles only had two active shooters. At the time they suspected their might be five or six suspects and responded over 600 officers from many agencies. How many officers can your agency call on for a major event? Will it be enough? How will they communicate? All these are things to think about before the bad thing happens, because some day it will; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tactical Distance

There are many reasons to keep your gun in the holster as much as you can. Unless you are actually shooting, threatening to shoot someone, or preparing to shoot or threaten to shoot someone, you really don't need it. While it is true that most law enforcement shootouts take place in three or four seconds, officers rarely lose the shootout because they did not draw their weapon. They may lose without having a chance to draw their weapon, but that is different.

If you are sitting in your car at a red light and get shot by a sniper, there is not much you can do about that. Most of the time when officers get a chance to draw their weapons it is because either they were in a situation where deadly force was not likely, like sitting at a red light or walking into a crime in progress. Or they were not paying attention to danger cues or failed to react properly to those danger cues, and by the time they were under attack, it was too late for them to react.

Watch your surroundings, watch the suspects and subjects hands. Take control of every situation. People stand where you want them to stand and do what you want them to do, otherwise you are ignoring potential danger cues. It is also okay to back off and call for more help. Not every call can be safely handled by one officer. Keep a reasonable distance between yourself and others. Don't let people surround you. Don't let people get too close to you. I seldom shake hands with people because I don't want them to grab me. Use objects like the hood of your car, your car door, tables, chairs or planters to keep people away from you. I like to have people stand in the gutter with their heels at the curb; so I can easily push them down if I need to knock them down. Take every tactical advantage, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Watch The Hands

What makes a bad guy? How do you tell that you need to pull your gun on someone and not on someone else? The first thing to do is to analyze the circumstances of your contact with someone. Stopping someone in a vehicle for a minor traffic violation will typically not result in an unprovoked attack against the officer. Not to say that it does not happen, but it is atypical. People who commit serious crimes will often commit more minor crimes too. So a vehicle that exhibits many equipment, registration, and moving violations may be driven by a more serious criminal, so that should be a danger cue.

When people are stopped by the police, most drivers will sit in the car and wait for the officer to approach. Those who jump out of the vehicle are atypical and this is a danger cue. When someone jumps out of a car on a traffic stop, immediately direct them back into the car or to the curbside. If they fail to obey, again take that as a danger cue. The hands are the most dangerous part of a suspects body, if you can't see their hands, again that is a danger cue. Multiple suspects are more dangerous than a single person. An officer working alone is in more danger than an officer with backup. Nighttime is more dangerous than daytime. Some neighborhoods are more crime prone than others. The size, age and physical strength of the suspect compared to that of the officer can also increase the potential danger to the officer.

If at nighttime an officer stops a vehicle for a minor traffic violation in a relatively safe neighborhood, and their appears to be only one occupant and the driver stays in their car, then generally there should be no reason for the officer to draw his weapon. Approach the vehicle with caution, check the car trunk to insure it is latched, suspects have been known to hide in trunks, check the back seat so no one can hide on the floor. Watch the drivers hands. When the driver goes for his drivers license, proof of car insurance and vehicle registration watch his hands and inspect the center console, glove box or where ever else the papers may be stored. You may see weapons or drugs. If you see any offensive weapon, then it would be proper to draw your weapon, step back to cover, and give verbal commands for the driver to not touch the items; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Subject: Tribute to 4 Philadelphia Officers killed this year LOD

The City of Philadelphia has lost four police officers killed in the line of duty. Any officer killed in the line of duty will sent shock waves through an entire agency. I used to work for a private security firm with as many as 3,000 employees. Twice we had employees killed in traffic related incidents. One was intentionally run over and killed, the other about ten years later was killed in a traffic collision when an SUV hit his patrol car and cut it and him in half.

I can hardly imagine the sadness that an agency must experience after having four officers ruthlessly murdered in the line of duty in less than a year. The pressure to quit the force must be great as wives and mothers and husbands try to keep their loved ones safe. Officers on duty will be jumpy and worry and may overreact.

In times like this officers should take advantage of additional tactical training to insure their skills are up to speed. They should also be willing to seek agency or private counseling to insure they are keeping their stress under control and their marriages stay intact. It is a difficult thing to have partners die in the line of duty. Please keep these brave heroes in your prayers; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence calls can be one of the most dangerous types of calls that we have to respond to and handle. These are crimes of violence. The first thing that you need to do is respond to these incidents as you would any crime of violence. If you had a call of two people engaged in a fight at a shopping center, how many officers would you send? If you get a call of two people engaged in a domestic violence incident, I suspect you probably would only send one or two officers.

These crimes of violence are dangerous not only to the potential victims but to the responding officers as well. There are several factors to continue. First, your approach needs to be cautious. Just as you would approach any other violent crime in progress location. When you make contact with the participants, treat them like any other suspects in a violent crime. You may need to do a cursory search for weapons. Home are full of weapons, guns, kitchen knives, hunting knives, fireplace pokers, hammers, screwdrivers and many other pointy, sharp, dangerous things.

Separate the participants and turn them so that they can't see each other but that you and your partner can see each other. The two people involved should be positioned so that they can't hear each other. Any third parties, children, in-laws, next door neighbors need to be moved to a safe place and watched by additional officers. Just because two people live together does not mean they can't be dangerous not only to each other, but also to you; that's what the SGT Says.

Give us the statistics that go beyond how many officers are killed dealing with domestics. Tell us at what points in the event that lethality risk is greatest. Talk to us about civil standbys and restraining orders. Make liberal use of case studies of actual events. Give us the psychology of the victim and offender and methods to counter the threats. Provide the incentives to deal effectively with each encounter, explaining that our routines and responses are being measured by the offenders and used against us. Explain how one officer’s mismanagement of a domestic violence case can endanger the next officer who responds.

Monday, December 8, 2008

High Risk Car Stop

I almost never approach a car with my gun out. I only draw my gun if I think the person I am investigating is particularly dangerous, so there would normally be no reason to have it out. If I think the occupants of a vehicle are very dangerous, I won't approach the car. I will stop them, with back up if possible, and then have them turn off the engine and put their hands out of the windows. I have the driver toss the keys onto the roof of the car. Some people have the driver just toss the keys out, but I don't want them to get lost, or to step on them later.

I then have the occupants get out one at a time. The driver gets out first as he could have a way to start the car and drive away, and I want to prevent that. He opens the car door from the outside handle and pushes the door open with his feet. He gets out, puts his hands up high with this elbows locked. I have him turn all they way around so I can visually inspect his waistband, the most likely place for him to keep a gun. I then have him take a couple side steps to get him away from the car. I then tell him to walk backwards towards me and once he is behind my headlights I have him kneel or prone out and he is handcuffed and searched. This procedure is repeated for the other people in the car.

If I am still waiting for back up, then the occupants can either wait in the car, or I can prone them out in the street or along the sidewalk while we wait. If I think the bad guys may have a gun, I don't want them moving around too much, and would probably leave them in their car, hands out the window. They are at a great tactical disadvantage that way. The main thing I am looking for is maintaining control of the suspects hands and a tactical advantage for myself; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Car Crash

In 2007 41,059 people were killed in traffic collisions in the United States. This is down about one percent from 2006. One percent is not very much, but it is improvement. One of the reasons cited for the improvement is increased traffic law enforcement. In 2007 16,929 people were murdered and the number is about one percent less than the previous year.

Law enforcement spends tremendous efforts to investigate murders, and rightfully so. We utilize all these resources to investigate 16,929 people and yet traffic collisions kill more than twice that many people. Traffic collisions also generally kill innocent people, where many murder victims are life long criminals who were engaged in gang and criminal activity at the time of their deaths. Naturally, these are only generalizations, and many good, innocent people are murdered too.

Law enforcement needs to explore new techniques to enforce traffic laws and new ways to reduce accidents. There is an intersection near my home that has a large number of often very bad accidents; yet the local agency rarely seems to work traffic enforcement there. I suspect it is in part due to the nature of the intersection itself, there are no easy places for a patrol car to sit and watch cars run the red light or speed into town. Perhaps even the design of our streets and highways would be improved if they were done with the input from law enforcement; that's the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Freezing Out There

It gets cold at night. And so we need to try and keep warm on patrol. There are several techniques that work well. Being indoors in a heated building is nice, but it is not always an option. Wear your body armor. The excuse that it is too hot does not work well in winter. It will really help keep your body warm. Wear a tee shirt under it because layers help keep you warm and make armor more comfortable.

Wear long sleeve uniform shirts. Many don't wear them because their agency requires a tie with long sleeves. I think this is a backwards policy and officers should not be required to wear a tie with the long sleeve shirt. It really helps layer the arms when the long sleeve uniform shirt is worn with a jacket. Wear a jacket, that is rather obvious, but wear a warm jacket. Many uniform jackets are pretty crappy and cold winter nights really show that to be true. Make sure whatever outer wear you have on is properly marked, patched on the shoulders, name plate and badge. I like a badge patch on my jacket, then I don't have to fool with taking it on and off my jacket two or three times per shift.

Make sure your jacket will allow you to draw your gun and other gear easily, nothing worse than needing your gun and having it get tangled up in your jacket. Don't wear a scarf. Long flowing items of clothing can be grabbed by suspects or get hung up in doors and things. If you really have to wear one, tuck it inside the shirt or jacket so the ends are not dangling. Wear quality footwear, and good thick socks, even two pairs of socks if needed. Cold feet mean a miserable officer. You may need a special pair of insulated boots for winter use, living here in Southern California it does not snow so I don't need that type of gear, but I know how useful it can be if you do have snow to deal with.

A good pair of gloves or mittens can be important too, but you must be able to write and shoot and reload with them on. If you wear them, take them to the range with you and shoot with them on before you wear them and at least once a month when it is cold. You have to be able to function your equipment if it is cold. Some mittens are made for shooters and have separate index, trigger fingers. Those are probably best if you need mittens, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sheriff questioned on restrictive concealed weapons policy hutchens, carona, concealed, gun, county - News -

Does your agency issue permits to carry concealed weapons? Everywhere in the nation where citizens are permitted to carry weapons crime goes down. Criminals carry guns if they want them. Criminals are always able to get guns, even in the UK or Japan they can get guns if they want them. It is the decent citizens who need guns to protect themselves.

Think about a typical residential burglary with a confrontational burglar, perhaps a rapist, or even a murderer. When will the homeowner be aware of the incident? When the dog barks, when the bad guy breaks the window or kicks open the door? Perhaps when the bad guy is seen in the hallway? The homeowner picks up the phone and calls 911. What happens then? How long until help arrives. What should the homeowner do until the police arrive?

Think about the size of the area you patrol. From the time you receive a call how long does it take for you to respond and take action? The average police shooting takes about three seconds. Does it take you longer than three seconds to respond to calls for service? Of course it does. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

In The Car, Out Of The Car

Sometimes when we make a car stop we get people out of the car. Sometimes we leave them in the car. Sometimes they get out on their own and we put them back in. Sometimes they get out of the car and we leave them out. How do you determine what to do?

If I have stopped a car for a minor traffic offense then my usual preference is to do my business with the driver and passengers inside the car. I will approach the vehicle, get their drivers license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance, then return to the passenger side front door of my car. From there I will inspect the documents, verify them with my dispatcher, write the ticket and then return to the violators vehicle. I will then explain the ticket, have then sign it and send them on their way.

Only if I want to do something more than that, will I get the driver out of the vehicle. If the documents are not in order then I may have them come out of the car so that I can talk with them about the paperwork. Often, if they have a warrant, invalid drivers license or other problem, I am going to need them out of the car so that I can arrest them. Sometimes I get the driver out so I can talk to them without the others in the car hearing. I also get people out of the car if I intend to search the car or the people. In or out, officer safety is the number on priority; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Danger Cues

Danger cues are those actions that suspects do that give us information that can keep us safe. At all times when on duty, watch for these cues to help keep yourself and your partners safe. One of the most important things to watch for in inappropriate actions. On a traffic stop, most people stay in the car and wait for you. Someone who jumps out of the car and yells at you could be a distraction for the others in the car to attack, escape, or hide the guns and dope.

Take control of such people right away. Watch their hands, control their movements, get them to the curb right away. If you can, pat them down for weapons. If your policy allows, search the vehicle and the occupants. Always ask for permission to search, even if you don't legally need it, a permissive search leads to fewer legal challenges.

Watch for suspects touching themselves in places where they may hide a gun. They often want to subconsciously touch it. Watch for people wearing the wrong clothing for the environment, long coats in warm weather, shirt tail untucked in a more formal environment, baggy clothing that can conceal a gun at the waistband. Anything that is out of place, should get extra attention, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ask and Find Out

I think one of the reasons officers often experience post traumatic stress disorder is because they have not realistically analyzed the nature of law enforcement. Sometime we have to do unpleasant things to achieve a good outcome. Sometimes we have to hit people with sticks. Sometimes we have to punch people with our fists. Sometimes we have to spray people with chemicals or pepper spray, or shoot them with a Tazer or zap them with a stun gun. Sometimes we even have to shoot and kill people.

No good cop ever signs onto the force because he wants to shoot people. But every good cop should realize it is a very real part of the job. Most of use go our whole lives and never fire a single shot. I never have. I have come very close on several occasions. I have even been shot at on a few occasions, but by the time we realized what happened the suspect had fled and there was no one to return fire to.

Now is the time to discuss these issues with your supervisor, you coworkers, you lawyer, your mom and dad, your kids, your priest; before the incident happens. You need to know what your options are so that you don't have to think about it if they time comes and you need to shoot. You need to know those people will be there for you if you have to shoot someone. Preparation makes the post incident time go much easier; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Navy closes for Christmas, families first in new year - National -

In Austrailia their navy is closing down for Christmas and New Years so sailors can be with their families. All ships not on deployment are to close down and send all the sailors home for Christmas and New years. That's because they are so short handed they don't have the crews they need. They are so short handed they can't afford to have people quit the Navy because they can't take off for holiday, like regular jobs.

How is your agency working over the holidays? Will they have a full deployment of officers? Will they over staff officers because of the extra traffic and need for drunk driving enforcement? The nature of what we do requires working odd shifts, weekends, and holidays. Just like the military, we have to be ready when evil strikes. That means making a sacrific and working when others are off.

In these festive times, don't neglect your family. Remember that they miss you and want to be with you. If you have to work those odd shifts and holidays, do some time shifting. Open Christmas gifts early. Go to church on the day before or after Christmas Day if you can't make it there on Christmas Day. What we do requires sacrifices from more than just us, so remember your loved ones this year; that's what the SGT Says.