Thursday, December 31, 2009

Party Time

Patrol patterns need to vary depending on the circumstances. New Years Eve is a big night for parties. People like to drink alcoholic beverages at New Years Eve parties. People who drink alcoholic beverages often do not drive well. This is a good time to patrol areas near parties.

Rather than drive around in a housing tract looking for parties, drive around the perimeter of housing tracts waiting for cars to exit. Don't drive inside the tract looking for parties because you might inflame party goers and precipitate an incident. By driving the perimeter you can watch for people who are exhibiting signs of poor driving.

Patrol those areas where kids may go to drink alcohol. School grounds after hours, video game stores, tattoo parlours, parks, and empty homes and buildings. Kids using alcohol is particularly dangerous, they often have no idea of their limits and often don't drive well in normal conditions. Watch the parties, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Old Criminals

An inmate has died in prison at age 72 of natural causes. He had only been in prison for two years for child molestation. Just because someone is old, does not mean they can't be a dangerous criminal. Even the Bible tells us that we have three score and ten years, seventy years. In the past, criminals did not live to become old people. The criminal lifestyle is hard to maintain when you are older. Now, more criminals are sent to prison for long periods and are being released at age 60 or 70. Hardened criminals who have spent thirty or forty years in prison.

Criminals older than 60 years old have killed police officers. Older people are making up a larger and larger percentage of our population. Americans are living into their eighties. Medicine and society are giving older people more opportunities. Some of those opportunities are criminal.

When dealing with older suspects don't discount the potential danger they pose. There are some things that you can do to make it easier to deal with them. Speak up so they can hear you, hearing loss is common with the elderly. Look directly at them and speak to them, not to younger relatives. Allow them to sit if possible when contacting them, weakness often comes with age. Don't mistake weakness with an opportunity to let your guard down; that's what the
SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Just because you declare a school, church, courthouse or other place a gun free zone, does not mean no one is carrying a gun. It just means the honest, law abiding people who are paying attention to where they are at are not carrying guns. It is up to law enforcement to get the rest of them.

People who carry guns often touch the gun frequently. They act nervous, especially when approached by police. When in a crowd at a stadium or train station, I like to stand at the edge of the crowd and watch the people. Observe their behavior, watch for bulges in their clothing that could be a weapon. Sometimes they will even dump the gun when they think they are being approached. Guns can be tossed in toilet tanks, stuffed down seat cushions, and even just drop them on the ground and walk away.

If you think you have a suspect with a gun, don't be in a hurry to tip your hand. Make the stop when you have the advantage. Watch them for a moment before yo stop them in case they have partners. Approach them rapidly from behind if possible. Control their movements and their hands. Keep their hands away from the weapon and try and stop them where they are away from other people. Keep yourself safe while keeping others safe; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Guards & Liability

Private security, properly trained, screened, hired and supervised are no more dangerous than police and should carry no more liability. Police academies are very long, but most of it is not applicable for security work. Vehicle code? Child and sex crimes? Driving? An armed security guard standing a post does not need all the training that a regular police officer will require.

They don't deal with the variety of crimes that police have to deal with and if there is something they can't handle, they call the police to handle it for them. The liability should be the same for a security officer as it is for a police officer. Is he trained for what he is doing? Was he screened for the type of position he has? Is he properly supervised at his job? Security officers use deadly force often, just as police do and just as private citizens do. Private security guards are a great way to provide protection at a fraction of the cost of police. But they do not replace police, they are only a supplement.

Look at your local police academy, and how much real training is given in use of force, probably only a small part of the academy. Give that to a guard and then screen out the bad guys and the people who should not be in the protective industry and they should be fine. If a criminal precipitates an act of violence, the liability should rest primarily on him, not the cop, not the guard; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hands, Cover, Back-up

Officer involved shootings are on the increase. Watch the hands. Suspects use their hands to attack. They draw a gun, a knife or a blunt instrument with their hands. Watch the hands.

Use cover. Get behind the engine block, the wheel of a vehicle, a solid concrete wall will stop most handgun rounds. Use cover.

Don't rush in. It is okay to standby in a good position, wait for back up as you assess the situation. Don't rush in.

Sometimes you can't see the hands, and you need to read papers. Sometimes things happen quickly and you don't have time to find cover before the shooting starts. Sometimes you have to go in and try and save people without waiting. Sometimes is not always, use the techniques when you can, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Radio Codes$49499

The Federal Government is working to get agencies to do away with ten codes. I agree that they should be greatly cut back and standardized. When I joined the department we had page after page of radio codes to learn. Many of them were so obscure that the average officer probably never used them in a 30 year career in law enforcement.

One of the codes was for a plane crash. How often does an officer respond to a plane crash? Even officers who work at an airport probably don't have that many plane crash responses that they need an actual code for it.

In times of stress, it is easy to forget information that we don't use very often. When working with other agencies, the same code can be used for two different meanings. This can lead to dangerous understandings. Agencies should use a phonetic alphabet and a short list radio code of no more than the twenty most common codes; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chapter 5, verses 7 - 12.

" 7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

When you worked patrol last, were you merciful?
Are you pure in heart?
Are you a peacemaker?
Do you stand up for righteousness when you are at work?

This book was written two thousand years ago, and it is still good advice for the average cop on the street; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Some of the best firearms training has involved in the firing of a thousand rounds by a single shooter in a one day session. Most law enforcement gun battles take place in only a few seconds. The ability to draw, aim, and shoot accurately, several rounds on target is critical to winning a gunfight.

I used to run a three week course of training for private security. The three days were spent on the range. The last of the three days was a drill for drawing, aiming, and shooting accurately quickly. We practiced several techniques. One was to draw on command and shoot 2, 3, 6 rounds before the person standing next to you. The competition added a bit of stress, and added a measure of the rapidity of the learner.

We also used to fire several hundred rounds in quick succession. Firing nearly as fast as we could fire them. This provided an opportunity to gain speed, but also provided a type of torture test for their firearms. Repeating the draw, aim, and fire over and over again in rapid succession increases muscle memory for the shooters. Practice the skills you need to survive on the street, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Draw, and Don't Shoot

Some of the best firearms training I have done involved shooting few or even no rounds. Often, officers doing range training draw and shoot, draw and shoot, draw and shoot, draw and shoot, draw and shoot... but seldom draw and don't shoot. In the field, officers generally draw and don't shoot. So, why don't we train that?

If our officers are trained to draw and shoot, and in the field they draw and shoot - at something they should not shoot, can they claim they are only doing what they have been trained to do? If a little kid with a plastic gun jumps out of the closet and yells, BANG, and our officer draws, and shoots, not because he really feels threatened, but because he was drawing in response to the perceived threat and then fired because he always fires when the draws, is he to blame, or are we to blame?

Prepare the range as always. Prepare to fire. The trainee should be armed, loaded and ready. Give the command, standby, ready, draw, don't fire. Draw and yell, "Police officer, don't move!" Scan left, center, right, center, and reholster, without firing. Draw, give a verbal command and don't fire. In doing this drill, I have had a few officers actually fire, proving the value of this type of training, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Officers were chasing a reckless driver. One of the officers was placing a spike strip in the road and was run over and killed by a fellow officer. Perhaps one of the worst things you can do on duty, accidentally kill a fellow officer. No matter what the circumstances, you will feel terrible and guilty.

High speed vehicle pursuits are one of the most dangerous activities that are engaged in by police. The circumstances change quickly and it can be difficult to react quickly enough to avoid dangers. Suspects crash, go places where we would never take a car, and even drive in the wrong direction.

Placing a spike strip is an extremely dangerous activity. A pedestrian is very difficult to see on the highway. A pursuit going 100 miles per hour will travel a mile in about 45 seconds. Stand on the edge of the road, rush out into lanes with the spike strip, place it on the roadway, and then run back to safety. All in only seconds. A difficult task, a dangerous job, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 21, 2009


As your hand reaches down to unsnap the holster, lift your left foot off the ground. Move your left leg to the left as your thumb breaks open the holster snap. Bend your right elbow as your hand movement begins to reverse upwards as your fingers and thumb grasp the pistol grip. Your left leg moves away from the right leg to a place about shoulder width away.

Your right wrist flips up, pointing the barrel of the handgun forward, the instant the barrel is clear of the front of the holster. The left foot contacts the ground and you move the center of gravity of your body leftwards. The barrel of the pistol is parallel to the ground and your right index finger is alongside the frame of the pistol.

Your left hand is coming up from your side, and moving across the front of your body. The fingers and palm of the left hand are flat as they slide towards the pistol. As the right hand begins to move away from the holster and forward the left hand grasps the right hand over the pistol grip. The elbow of the right right arm straightens up as the pistol is brought forward, and up and out away from your body. The left hand holding the pistol in a grip over the right hand.

Your eyes are both open and you are focused on the threat. Your head is straight up as you bring the front sight in alignment with the right eye. The focus of your right eye drifts back and sees the rear sight for an instant and aligns it with the front sight. Your eye stays focused on the front sight as your right index finger moves to the trigger. The pad of the finger presses backwards on the trigger as your eye continues a sharp focus on the front sight and a fuzzy focus on the target. It takes a lot for one little BANG, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Faster, Faster, Faster,0,2757244.story?track=rss

Several career criminals murdered a police captain. Now years later they are getting sentenced for their crimes. The criminal justice system moves too slowly. Justice delayed is justice denied. An innocent person should not have to wait for years, even decades to be found innocent. A guilty person should not be able to delay justice for years before they are punished.

Many career criminals get out of bail and continue to commit crimes. This is particularly true if they are pretty sure they are going to be convicted and spend many years in prison. The courts should run twenty-four hours a day, just like crime and law enforcement operate.

Other aspects of the criminal justice system should also go faster. Jury selection should be very limited. Each side and the judge should get a few peremptory challenges and that's all. They should not have to show a reason to exclude the juror, they should just be of the jury. People serving on jury duty should get full pay while they serve, up to thirty days. Companies will not lose much by having to pay their employees for jury duty, most only serve for a couple day. Move the system along; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Car Alarms

Recently I read a safety tip that suggested keeping your car keys next to your bed at night. The idea is that if you hear a noise or have any kind of emergency that might need the police or paramedics, you simply activate your car alarm. The car alarm will alert others that there is a potential problem. Theoretically the neighbors will call the police and the bad guys will run away.

There are several caveats with this plan. You have to live close enough to other people for them to be bothered by your car alarm. Or you can have members of your own household respond or all for help. Of course, you also have to have a car alarm, and be alerted to the problem so you can sound the alarm.

All of this depends on how we respond when the car alarm activates. How many times have you driven past a ringing car alarm and just ignored it? How many times do car alarms ring and we don't get called to respond to them? Even in parking lots we often don't give them much more than a passing glance. Complacency is hard to overcome; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Strike to Gain Time or Distance

Over the years I have found women's' self defense classes to be interesting and potentially useful for law enforcement. They are designed for small people to fend off much larger attackers. As law enforcement we sometimes have to take on suspects that are significantly larger than we are, and often without immediate help.

Some of the principles that we can look to when fighting a larger opponent are useful when applied to police work. Strike against those portions of the suspects body that are not made larger by exercise.

Most people are greatly distracted by strikes to the eye. Even if the strike does not hit the suspect, the suspect with something thrust at their face will jerk back. That short advantage can give you time to go to an appropriate weapon. A foot strike downward on the kneecaps can incapacitate a suspect and give you time to step back and gain distance. A foot strike downward to the top of a foot can also slow a suspect and give you a moment to go to another option. Naturally your mileage may vary and you must comply with your agency policies; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Electrical Weapon

There is a new technology that allows electricity to move across open space. That is, wireless electrical transfer. This could be the technological breakthrough that we have all been waiting for to use in a new weapon.

Imagine a Taser, without the wires. Imagine not having to be tangled up in the wiring, and not being limited to the fifteen or twenty feet range of a tethered Taser. A weapon that will instantly immobilize a suspect with a range of fifty or a hundred feet, and then they will be all better in an hour would be the perfect police weapon.

I hope there are those in the law enforcement weapons development field who are working on just this type of technology. Phasers on stun, suspect in custody, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tee Shirt

Look at someone wearing a tee shirt under their regular shirt. There is a little white triangle of tee shirt exposed. That is your aim point. When you have no other choice but to shoot at a suspect that is the place to place your rounds.

That little white triangle is above any body armor. That little white triangle shows the lungs and spine. Getting hits on that little white triangle will likely bring down the suspect rapidly. Stopping the suspect is the goal of shooting the suspect.

Think about how you look in uniform. Does your uniform has this little white triangle of death? You may want to consider a dark blue or black tee shirt. Perhaps a dickie to cover the tee shirt. Officers need to be aware of how they attire themselves and dress for duty and tactical survival; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Officer Deaths

Wear your vest. Every day on duty, in uniform. In the station, in the patrol car, on a stakeout, on a DARE speech, no matter what your duty, wear your vest. If you could predict when and where the shoot outs happen, you could catch all the crooks.

Wear your seat belt. Every trip, every time, if you are in the car and it is moving, you need to have your seat belt on. We all know that seat belts save lives, let them save your life too. You have better control over driving the car if you have your seat belt on. You can control your driving, but you can't control the other drivers, wear your seat belt.

Call for back-up, wait for back-up, don't get complacent while waiting. You need to maintain a good position. Get to cover. Observe the location. Keep your weapon ready. Just because you are waiting, does not mean the suspect will wait, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Don't Do This

Memphis police officer indicted for sex with prostitutes» The Commercial Appeal

If you work for Memphis Police Department, please read this carefully:

It is not appropriate to have sex with prostitutes while on duty, in the police car.

In fact, there are several things wrong with that. When at work, you should do your work, the police work that you get paid to do as a police officer. That means you should not have sex while at work.

You should not have sex with prostitutes, in most jurisdictions, prostitution is a crime. As a police officer you are supposed to arrest criminals, not engage in criminal activity with them. It is in direct contravention to your role as a police officer.

Since Memphis Police Department has had five police officers accused of this type of activity, I felt this special training was necessary. It probably also applies in your jurisdiction too, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Keep Up

Here is a link to a tactical training site. Law enforcement changes all the time. Criminals develop new ways to commit crimes. Courts develop new ways to interpret a law. Technology changes the way we do our jobs.

Criminals used to steal horses, now they steal cars, and peoples identity. Courts used to let law enforcement interrogate people without attorneys, not we have to give them the Miranda advisement. We used to have cars without radios and used call boxes to phone the station and get our calls. Now they dispatch by computer.

It is imperative to keep up with all these changes. Blogs like this one and websites like the one I linked to are good ways to get new information. Law enforcement is not just a job, it has to be a lifestyle, because it requires that type of commitment; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Family Training

When was the last time you trained your family? You better be ready, but so had they. Too often officers are ready to respond to a problem that happens when they are off duty, but the family is not ready. Will your two year old tell the robber at the 7-Eleven store he better behave himself because his daddy is a policeman?

Does your wife know to step away from you and seek cover if your tell her to do so? Or will she argue and question you and create a scene, just when you need surprise the most? Can your children call 911 on your cellular phone? If you carry a gun, you better be carrying a phone.

Do the people you hang out with, who are not cops, know what to do if you have something go down right in front of you? You have to train the spouse, the kids, the family and the friends that if something goes down and you have to take enforcement action, they need to seek cover, get to safety and call for help on 911; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Explode Your Gun?

While on the range, a .45 caliber Glock handgun exploded in the hand of the deputy shooting the weapon. The sheriff has speculated that the new gun exploded because of faulty ammunition. Sometimes guns are faulty, sometimes ammunition is faulty. Shoot enough guns long enough and you will be almost certainly have one malfunction.

Several years ago the company I worked for tested three handguns from a certain manufacturer and we managed to destroy two of them in only a few hours of shooting. These were good guns from a major handgun maker and brand new, right out of the box. We were using quality ammunition.

Everyone on the range needs to wear quality eye protection. Often when a gun "blows up" a few small bits will be thrown out and they can do severe damage to the eye. Everyone means all persons on the range, not just on the firing line, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Muslim extremist terrorists blow up a train in Russia. Western media naturally ignores the obvious and simply calls them "Chechen rebels." As police in America we need to know that Muslim extremists could blow up a train here any time. We are at war in two Muslim nations, we have troops and advisers in many other nations, all fighting Muslim extremists.

Train bombers are sometimes suicide bombers, and sometimes they leave the bomb on the train. They also leave the bombs at train stations. Seldom do they leave a bomb along the track to blow up the rails or a passing train.

You don't need to have long distance full size passenger trains in your area to have to worry about this type of attack. Local commuter trains have been attacked in many countries. Watch out for the package left alone or the person who fits the profile of a suicide bomber. It could happen in your city, you need to be ready; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


When criminals run away, they start off with a huge burst of speed. Just like a cheetah they can't keep that pace up for long. Sure, they are fast, but they knock off pretty quickly. Your criminal cheetah will probably not last long either.

The adrenalin rush, the fear, the desire for the crook to get away is going to wear off quickly. So the key to catching these guys is three things. The first key is to be even faster than him and actually catch him right away. With all the gear we wear, that is hard to do very often. The second key is to pace yourself. Just keep the bad guy in sight and eventually you will catch up with him. He will be tired and you will be fresher. Naturally, that is very terrain dependant.

The third key is to surround him and search for him. Bring in other units from other directions and cut off the runners escape. Then have everyone move in and search the area, with dogs or helicopters if possible. Then you find the guy and not only are you not tired, you have plenty of help; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Foot Patrol

Are you walking or patrolling? Do you see her dress, or do you see her hands? Look at the waistband for weapons. Look at what's in the hands, is there a weapon, or drugs. Look at the demeanor, is the person nervous because an officer is walking towards them?

Foot patrol allows you to walk up on criminals before they even know you are there. The key is to observe the people for criminal activity, not just wander around and hope to find something. Stop and look. I like to look for people who are looking around, as if they are the lookout for other criminals. I also like to observe the crowd and watch their behavior. After a few moments their behavior will fall into a pattern. Anything that disrupts that pattern may indicate criminal activity.

Criminals try to look like they belong, but they often don't. Look for that which does not fit. People who are wearing the wrong clothing for the location. People who are not participating in the activity that the others are doing. People who are not shopping at the shopping mall. Don't just walk, patrol, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 7, 2009


This year has been the worst year for police ambush deaths in many years. There are three basic types of ambush. Officers are lured to a location, officers are found at a location, officers are randomly shot on the street. A once rare occurrence has become more common.

How can we defend against this type of attack? The first way is to always be aware of your surroundings when on duty. If something seems like it is out of place or unusual, then you should slow down, get more help and raise your level of caution. If a suspect wants to lure you to an ambush, they make fake a call for service, then shoot officers as they arrive. It is always a good idea to park a bit away from the address of the call and approach carefully on foot.

If a suspect tries to ambush you on a traffic stop, they may exhibit unusually brazen driving behavior to try and get you to stop them. Don't focus on just the traffic violation, watch the suspects actions, his hands, and make sure you control the situation. If the suspect does not do what you tell them, escalate your awareness and get more help.

When you are at a stationary location, make sure you are watching those around you. Of particular importance is those who enter after you enter. If their behavior or clothing does not fit the circumstance, be ready to respond to a potentially deadly threat. On duty means on alert, all the time; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Traffic Direction

Yesterday I worked a 5K / 10K run. We had to block off the streets that were being used for the run participants. Keeping the runners safe is the most important aspect of the duty. One roadway was three lanes and it ran directly into the race route. To slow traffic, we coned off two of the lanes so that the cars only had one lane of traffic intersecting the race route. That meant the officers only had to stop one car to stop all of the cars. In addition to cones, we placed one marked patrol car with all the lights on to help both block the lane and direct the traffic.

Slowing the cars before they got to the intersection made it safer for both the runners and the officers. Cutting the traffic down to one lane made the traffic that the officer had to watch, much more manageable. We were working during the day, so we did not have to employ lights or flares.

Several other techniques were employed to make the job safer. Wear your yellow and reflective traffic vest. Don't stand directly in the traffic lane. Direct traffic from the sides of the lanes, not the middle. Stand with your side towards the traffic flow, it makes you narrower. When in doubt, stop the traffic and figure out what you want to do before you proceed, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Presence & Verbal

When suspects see an officer in uniform, sometimes they simply give up in submission to your authority as an officer. Your mere presence can create an arrest. That's why officers wear uniforms, as symbols of authority. Sometimes suspects will stop committing crimes, and run away.

When you use your voice, you can command others. You can command others to do what you require them to do. You have the legal authority to force your will upon others. You have the legal authority to command them to stop, to move, to force them to give up their liberties simply by the use of your voice.

Two of your most powerful tools are your presence and your voice. Use them carefully as you would your aerosol weapons, Taser, baton and gun. I try and move quietly so that suspects frequently don't know when you are there, then you can employ your presence and your verbal commands to best advantage; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stay Back

Today I saw an officer from a large local agency. He had made a ped stop on a busy street. The suspect was sitting on the curb with his hands in his lap, looking up talking to the officer. The officer was standing with on foot in the gutter and the other leg with knee bent and foot on the curb. One quick punch from the suspect and he will hit the officer in a very manly and uncomfortable place.

Having a suspect under your control means not taking chances, and not taking the suspect for granted. This suspect looked like he may have been a homeless guy. Many homeless people commit a lot of crime to survive. Many homeless don't mind going to jail because it is a place to live and food and medical care. One way to go to jail, is to attack a cop.

Keep enough distance between yourself and a suspect to avoid getting punched or kicked. Keep the car hood between yourself and the suspect. Stand behind the suspect while he sits on the curb. Stay out of harms way; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Radio Codes$49499

The Federal Government is trying to get agencies to drop ten codes and other numeric radio codes. After the recent national emergencies of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 showed that different agencies could not communicate by radio. Part of the problem is that they do not have radio system interoperability. The other part of the problem is that we all speak a slightly different language.

I have never been a big fan of radio codes. It takes a very long time to learn to use the radio codes when first starting with a particular agency. Even neighboring agencies often use different codes and can't understand each other.

My thought has always been that a few codes, maybe a couple dozen are all that get used all the time anyway. Why not just have a radio code that consists of those codes and say everything else in plain language? 10-4, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Be Ready

Officials: Police Fatally Shoot Washington Suspect

A police officer found a wanted car and then found, and shot and killed the suspect in the recent murder of four police officers. Basic police work. Know who the bad guys are in your area. Know what kinds of cars they drive and know where they hang out. Go to those places and hunt for bad guys.

When you find a car that you think may belong to a bad guy, run the plate and do a traffic stop. Investigate as any other traffic stop and be ready to find what you are looking for. Too often police are murdered because they are looking for bad guy, but not really expecting to find bad guys.

A police officer is feloniously killed every five to ten days here in the United States. Every few days a police officer finds something bad and gets killed. You have to be ready. You must be prepared like that officer who found the suspect that killed four other officers but was not able to kill him. Be like that officer, be ready, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Coffee Shop Survival

  1. Sit so you can see the entrance.
  2. Make sure your dispatcher knows where you are and what you are doing.
  3. Watch who comes in and who goes out.
  4. Be able to get to your gun, draw and shoot if needed.
  5. Don't become so absorbed in what you are doing that you forget where you are, in public.
  6. Remember, anything you do can get you shot, even doing nothing.
  7. If that little voice in your head says there is a problem, don't ignore it, act on it.
  8. If more than one of you are at the location, don't park together, don't let the suspect know how many officers are inside before he comes inside.
  9. Don't sit where you can be seen from outside the coffee shop.
  10. Don't go to the same place, sit in the same spot, on the same day, every day.

Getting into a routine that says, I get my coffee, I catch up on some paperwork, I chit chat with the troops and then go on patrol, write a few tickets, then go home at the end of another boring day can get you killed; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Four Dead, Still No Suspect Arrested

Local News Maurice Clemmons, man wanted for questioning, has troubling criminal history Seattle Times Newspaper

The police arrest a man, he is convicted of terrible crimes and then a politician releases him. Now four police officers are dead. My condolences to the friends and family of the fallen officers.

Send donations to LPIG Benevolent Fund at Post Office Box 99579, Lakewood, WA 98499.

A $120,000 reward is being offered for information. Tipline for this crime is (253) 591-5959 or (866) 977-2362.

Killed in this ambush were: Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39; Ronald Owens, 37; Tina Griswold, 40; and Greg Richards 42. Use their deaths to train harder and avoid complacency; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Four At Once

Four police officers were murdered in California today. They were sitting in a shop writing reports and doing routine matters at the beginning of their shift. Anything you do can get you shot, even doing nothing.

All the time when on duty you need to be aware of your surroundings and be aware of the potential for attack. Sit so that you can see the exits. Be aware of where the exits and the cover is located.

I like to sit were it is difficult to see me from the entrance. So when the robbers enter they can't see me right away. Try to sit in such a way that you can draw your handgun. Anything you do can get you shot, even doing nothing, so be ready, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Station Bombing

With the recent attack on Fort Hood, Texas an interesting question has come up. How safe is your police station? In decades ago, attacks on police departments were not that uncommon and they happen all around the world, even now. Not so much here in the USA.

With the on going War on Islamic Terror, ask yourself, how safe is your police station? How close can people park cars to your station? Can a member of the general public park their explosive filled car in your underground parking garage and blow up your whole building, like they tried in the first World Trade Center attack? Can they park right out in front of your door and blow up the front of the station, think about the Federal Building in Oklahoma City?

Can anyone walk right into your lobby and set off a suicide bomb and blow up a large number of people? How hard is it to get into your station? Do you let anyone in the back door? Who mops your floor? Trustees or contract janitors? Who searches the contract janitors, would you notice if they were someone new with a trashcan filled with explosives? Physical security of your own station is something to think about; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Red Gun

A police recruit was involved in a training incident where another officer was shot. The only time live ammunition should be used in training is on the range where the goal is to shoot targets. Real weapons should only be used in training when absolutely necessary. On the range, or when training how to clean the weapon.

Red Guns, Blue Guns, sure they can be expensive, but the cost on one unintended discharge can ruin a career, a life, even an agency. If I ran a police department, I would issue each officer a duty handgun and a matching Red Gun. Then every time the officer when on training, he could take his matching Red Gun and train with that.

Gun takeaways, tactical training, even some range training is best done with weapons that won't function with real ammunition. A Red Gun is only about $50. That's not much money. They last forever. They are terrific for avoiding injury or even death when training activities the officer may need to do, and not actually fire his weapon, that's what he SGT Says.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

11 Bodies

Cleveland Police Find 4 More Bodies at Suspect's Home -- Sphere News, Opinion and Analysis

Police have found the bodies of at least eleven people at this mans home in Cleveland, Illinois. They went there to arrest him on assault and rape charges. This tells us several things. The first is, bad people often do many bad things. Don't think that just because they guy you are going to arrest for assault and rape will not be dangerous when confronted by a group of police.

They were going to get a guy who apparently murdered eleven people, maybe more. He attacked several others. He is a very dangerous career criminal. Criminals like this can be very dangerous to responding officers.

When arresting a dangerous suspect, consider several options. Arresting them at home, there may be weapons or other suspects present. Arresting them at work, you may endanger innocent people. Perhaps arrest them between the curb and their front door. They are alone, in the open and have no cover. Look at your options, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Security Guards

Private security, properly trained, screened, hired and supervised are nomore dangerous than police and should carry no more liability. Policeacademies are very long, but most of it is not applicable for security work.Vehicle code? Child and sex crimes? Driving? An armed security guard standing a post does not need all that training that a regular police officer will require. They don't deal with the variety of crimes that police have to deal with and if there is something they can't handle, they call the police to handle it for them.

The liability should be the same for a security officer as it is for a police officer. Is he trained for what he is doing? Was he screened for the type of position he has? Is he properly supervised at his job? Security officers use deadly force often, just as police do and just as private citizens do. Private security guards are a great way to provide protection at a fraction of the cost of police. But they do not replace police, they are only a supplement. Look at your local police academy, and how much real training is given in use of force, probably only a small part of the academy. Give that to a guard and then screen out the bad guys and the people who should not be in the protective industry and they should be fine. If a criminal precipitates an act of violence, the liability should rest primarily on him, not the cop, not the guard; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Fights

Sometimes holidays bring families together. Sometimes families don't get along. Sometimes things go very bad and the police get called by the family or the neighbors.

Family disputes are very dangerous. When people get emotional, when they have been drinking, when they have been arguing, even fighting, they become irrational. Otherwise ordinary regular folks suddenly become raving maniacs who attack each other, and maybe the police.

When responding to a family dispute call, try and get some information before you get there. Have there been previous calls to this address, and how recently? Is there physical violence or is it just yelling? Are there weapons involved in the violence, are there guns in the house? How many people are involved and where are they now? Have they been drinking or using drugs today? How many people are on the property and a general description of them? A big party with thirty people requires more of a response than one or two officers, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 23, 2009

DUI Turkey Day

Many people get depressed around the holidays and with Thanksgiving coming up it might be a good time for police to think about drunk drivers! Depressed people sometimes turn to alcohol to make themselves feel better.

On a day like Thanksgiving when families often gather, some people who may have problems with family members may start drinking early in the day. We often tend to think that we will find drunk drivers just after the bars close in the wee hours of the morning, but on a day like Thanksgiving, many people start drinking early.

Rather than cruise the areas around bars, check out the convenience store parking lots, liquor stores, and supermarket parking lots looking for persons driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They might just have to run out and get some extra beer, or dinner rolls, or cranberry sauce. Keep and eye out in atypical locations for people too intoxicated to drive, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tunnel Vision

In a high stress incident, your perception may be altered during and soon after the event. One of these is tunnel vision. You focus on one object or one person and everything else seems to go away. We often do this when we watch television or read a book. Everything else seems to disappear. A suspect pulls a gun or a knife, it is not unusual for the officer to focus on the suspect or sometimes even just he weapon.

The ability to tightly focus on an object is important, but in a deadly battle, we need to be aware of more than just the suspects gun hand. One way to combat this problem is to move. Move your whole body. If possible, move left or right to cover. By moving you will often force yourself to expand your vision and change your focus.

Most of the time when officers are killed in the line of duty there is more than one suspect. One way to see that other suspect is to train to scan the area before you re-holster your weapon on the range. Be quick on the draw, but slow on the return to the holster. Scan left, center, right and even to the rear before you re-holster your weapon. Doing so gives you a chance to break out of your tunnel vision and look for other suspects prior to putting your weapon away. Take every advantage in a gunfight; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dog Mouths

A couple days ago, one of the guys I work with was bitten in the hand by a dog. He said he was walking his dog and it was attacked by another dog. He put his hand in the mouth of the attacker and pried it's mouth open and got bit when the dog closed his mouth again. Dogs attack with the mouth. Their only real weapon is their teeth. Putting your hands near the teeth is not a good idea. You want the dog to open his mouth, don't use your hands to get him to do it.

A couple years ago a neighbors husky dog grabbed my daughters cat and was shaking it like a rag doll. A quick, hard kick to the hip caused the dog to drop the cat, which then ran way. I kicked the dog because my foot was covered in a shoe. If the dog were to have bitten my foot, he would have to either crush it with is jaws or pierce the shoe leather. Neither of those was likely. Kicking the hip, rather than the face had several advantages. I was less likely to miss the dog and kick the cat by mistake, and the dog would find it harder to get to me, since I was at the end without teeth.

If I was at work, I could have used my OC pepper spray, it works great on dogs, or I could have used my baton. The baton can be used as a lance to poke at the dog's face. Most dogs will drop whatever is in their mouth and bite on the baton. A side handle baton works well for this because it is easier to hold onto when the dog has the other end. Dogs also hate the Taser, just remove the cartridge and test it, they hate the snap, crackle, pop electrical sound; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Google It

Have you ever used Google Earth? It lets you see nearly anyplace in the United States from above. It is a great tool. If you are serving a search warrant or arrest warrant, run a search for the property. It will get you a very good view of the property that you can use to plan deployment, and look for potential escape routes, both for the suspect and the officers.

The other reason you can use it is to check the security of the properties you are responsible for guarding. Google Earth your police station. Look at were the police cars are parked. See how easy it is to get onto the property, how a terrorist could plan an attack on your station. Someone a thousand miles away can look at your police station and plan an attack using the type of imagery that only the US Government had twenty years ago.

Check out your city. Look at those properties were major incidents could happen. Your water reservoir, your high schools, your city hall, your electrical utilities, oil refineries, and other large places that might see major criminal activity. Google Earth, check it out, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ft. Hood

At Fort Hood, international Radical Islam moves in and kills and wounds a large number of Americans. Radical Islam does not have a hierarchical structure. There is no complex table of organization that has a pigeon hole for every member. It is millions of people with only vague connections to each other. What they share is not an organization, but rather an ideology.

The fact that the suspect was acting as an individual does not mean it is an act of individual motivation, but rather an act of terrorism. If there is no organization, then the individual cannot betray others who may be plotting acts of terror against the state.

This is one of the many reasons this type of enemy is so difficult to fight. There is no central control. There is no individual planning the attacks for others to carry out. At any time a radical individual can determine they are in a place to carry out an attack. Against an Army base, against a school, against a shopping center. It is up to us to be ready; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Suicide by Cop

PoliceOne report

A recent report says that perhaps as many as four out of ten officer involved shootings were a result of an attempt of suicide by cop. The very bad news for police is that people who try suicide for cop will do those things we most train to counter with gunfire. They will shoot at cops, shoot at innocent civilians, take hostages, or simulate weapons they don't have in order to get the police to react with deadly force.

Police work, particularly use of force, is predictable. Shoot to defend against deadly force. So, simply reverse that training. Depict that you are trying to use deadly force against a police officer and they will shoot you. A very logical train of thought.

Police who are forced to shoot a suicide by cop suspect are simply acting out their part in the equation. An officer who plays out his role in this evil game is only responding like he has been trained. He is doing what society, his agency and the suspect all expect him to do in that situation; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

4 2 1

Officers Hurt in NJ Shootout

Police in New Jersey were working a stake out on two armed robbery suspects. One of the suspects came out with a shotgun and started shooting at the parked car with the two cops in it. Only two cops watching two potentially armed suspects. What's wrong with that picture?

If you were doing a traffic stop on a car that you knew contained two suspects from an armed robbery, how many units would you likely use in the traffic stop? I would think that you would get at least four two officer units, so that would be eight officers, as a minimum.

When doing a surveillance on two armed robbery suspects, you should have at least four, if not eight officers to watch them. Officers should have a numerical advantage of at least four to one whenever possible; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Range Rules

There are a few rules of range safety that always should be followed in range training.

Treat all guns as if they are loaded all the time. 

I run a hot range and so I expect all guns to be loaded once we start shooting.

Keep your firearm muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times.

Since the weapon is considered loaded, naturally it must be pointed in a safe direction.

Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

The trigger finger needs to come up on the trigger when the target is about to be shot.  The rest of the time the trigger finger needs to be indexed along the slide.

Know what is behind your target.

Unlike the suspects, we are expected to be responsible for every round we fire.  That sometimes means holding fire when it is too dangerous to shoot.

Range rules keep you safe on the range, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Keep Out of Trouble

Document, document, document. One of the best things you can do to stay out of trouble is to document everything that happens at an incident. More detail is usually better than less detail. Explain why you did what you did. The suspect generally initiates any violent action. Document what the suspect said or did that needed you to respond with violence.

Suspects will generally telegraph what they are going to do to you or to others. Document those telegraphed actions and words. Paint a word picture of your experience, tell others exactly what happened that caused you to have to use force. Police work is frequently reactionary, based on the suspects actions. Police use of force is generally predictable, we use force when it is legal and our agency policy and training tell us it it a good idea to use force when a specific situation happens.

If the suspect says "I am going to kick your fucking ass." The quote him exactly, as best as you can remember. Indicate the tone of voice the suspect was using, he was loud, firm, strong voice. He was less than a foot away from my face when the shouted that to me. He was pointing his index finger at the center of my chest when he yelled at me. The suspects face was flushed red and the veins were bulging out of his forehead and he was spitting as he screamed. Is there any doubt that that suspect needs to be brought under control? Document what happened, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do Your Job Right

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund

Sgt. Chris Edmondson, Officer Dominguez, and Officer Baca have all been indicted for the involuntary manslaughter of Jesse Saenz. They responded to a domestic dispute, during which the suspect was violent and had to be Tased. The suspect was arrested and transported to the station. When at the station, they realized he had stopped breathing and the paramedics were called.

The autopsy revealed that Jesse Saenz had high levels of cocaine, nemzoylecgonine, cocaethylene and hydroxzione in his blood and died as a result of cocaine intoxication. Over time the community complained and eventually the three officers were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Every day officers risk their lives trying to keep our communities safe. Sometimes they have to kill people to stay alive or save others. Sometimes people die in custody. Officers have a difficult job to do and they should not be subjected to prosecution for doing their jobs in the manner that they have been trained to do them; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 13, 2009


My friend Terry sent the following email to the folks at

"Dear Mr. Frank,

I hope this find you well.

I am writing concerning an order I placed online in 2006. (details follow below)

To sum things up, I placed an order online for 3 shirts.

I never received the items I ordered.

The payment for the order cleared my bank account.

I contacted customer service regarding the matter and was advised they would have to research the matter.

They never called me back.

Since the shirts are probably all gone, I wanted a refund.

I would still like a refund or store credit.

I hate to say it, but I have refused to do business with your company ever since.

I would like to be a satisfied customer and place repeat orders, but the first order I placed went poorly and the issue has yet to be resolved.

I am writing to you to request you verify my concern and issue me a refund or store credit.

Thanks for your time.


Terry "

Naturally, I only have the messages from my friend and like Terry, have not heard from the folks at LAPoliceGear. After reading this message, they won't hear from me either; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Once three or four first responder police are on site, they should form a team and move to the sound of gunfire, immediately. They need to communicate to their dispatch the nature of the even and their response. They need to coordinate follow on units, but the next unit to arrive should take over that task from the team to allow them to concentrate on neutralizing the threat.

If there are thought to be multiple suspects in multiple sites, then multiple teams should be formed to deal with each one. A command post needs to be set up very soon to coordinate additional responding units. Medical personnel should be escorted or only allowed into cleared areas. This may delay medical treatment but there are ways to speed things up.

Set up a triage area in a secure spot near the command post. Have medics coordinate the treatment and transport of the injured. Once enough law enforcement arrive, additional teams can penetrate the danger zone and extract the wounded. Some law enforcement vehicles may be needed to snatch and grab some of the wounded and race them to the hospital. Wounded are the second highest priority, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Leave the Wounded

As the initial responders to an active shooter the primary duty is the stop the active shooter. That may be by shooting them, taking them into custody, or even driving them to ground so that the incident becomes a barricaded suspect. Stopping the shooter means that the initial responders must focus on finding the shooter and taking rapid action to stop his violent actions.

That means that the team must bypass locations where additional suspects may be hiding as they move towards the sound of gunfire. It also means the team cannot stop to render aid to victims or even downed officers. This certainly flies in the face of what we have been trained to do in normal situations. You have to focus on the goal of stopping the active shooter to prevent more victims from being created.

How can you justify leaving wounded people, perhaps to die? You have to stop the active shooter. If the initial responders stop to treat wounded, then as they are doing that, other wounded or dead will be created. It is the job of the secondary responders to aid the injured. Leave the paramedics or additional police the job of treating the wounded, go for the shooter; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Active Shooter Response

The first officers to arrive at an active shooter scene must determine the nature of what is happening and coordinate the responding units. Try and find out how many suspects there are, the nature of their weapons, their descriptions, and where they are located.

Time is essential and so once three or four officers are on site you need to move rapidly towards the shooter. The team needs to concentrate on stopping the shooter, not rescuing victims; leave that for follow up officers and paramedics.

The team must rapidly stop the active shooter to stop more people from becoming victims. Once the shooter is located, if he does not surrender, then you must engage him in accordance with your agency shooting policy. Generally, if he is continuing to threaten people with a deadly weapon, then the shooter should be shot until he stops being a threat. Once the threat stops, take the suspect into custody; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 9, 2009


A team of four officers in a diamond formation, one officer on point, one just to the rear and right and left of the point and a rear officer. The officer to the right rear is the unit commander. The point officer watches to the front, the two side officers look to their respective flanks and the rear officer looks to the rear.

The advantage is that the unit can give three officers weapons to any direction. The disadvantage is it is a bit more ponderous to move around than the T formation. This is an excellent formation when you are not really sure where the threat is located. It moves slow, but works well in areas where there are many rooms to check.

The final formation is the stack. Four officers one behind the other, close to one another, the last officer facing to the rear. The stack is best for very narrow areas. It only allows one officer to the front or rear, the second and third officers face to the front, but can look to the side if there is space to check. This works well for a balcony on an apartment building or motel. Pick a formation to use that fits the nature of the threat and the terrain; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Active Shooter

Saturday I went to the range with my agency and I conducted pistol, patrol rifle, patrol shotgun, and active shooter training. It was a long day, but a good day, at a local outdoor range. We started with the basics of a quick review of each weapon, and then shot each weapon type. We shot standing still and moving, left, right, and forward and backwards.

Once we got the shooting practice, we formed into teams and did formation training. Our formations were a T formation and a diamond formation. We use four officers, three across, shoulder to shoulder and one at the rear for the T formation. The unit advances with four weapons, usually patrol rifles facing front and the one officer at the rear watching to the rear. This is a great formation for moving to contact an active shooter at the end of a long hallway where you can be reasonably certain the position of the shooter.

It allows three long arms to the front which can put out a high volume of fire, yet the officer to the rear allows you to bypass rooms with a certain degree of assurance if something bad comes out behind you, your officers will have someone watching that area who can respond immediately with fire. With two active shooters in the news this week, our training was very timely; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bomb Response

Response to a bomb threat can be a maddening type of call. One of the biggest problems is you can't generally be sure about if there is really a bomb or not. That means that you have to find someone who can make the decision to evacuate or not. Once you find someone who can make that decision, you have to provide them with good information.

The nature and timing of the threat can tell you some information. If a bar tosses out an unruly patron and three minutes later they get a bomb threat from a seeming drunken caller, there is a high probability that the danger is very low.

People who are familiar with the property are the best ones to search the property. If you are very concerned that the bomb threat is real, then you probably don't want civilians to be looking for a device. If you are pretty sure there is a real bomb, it is best to evacuate everyone and wait for the bomb to explode. Even after a reasonable time, it is best to send in the bomb squad people to check for an as yet unexploded bomb; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Police Dispatchers

Some of the best dispatchers I ever worked with were either former police officers who were medically retired as officers or who were reserve police officers. Due to their having worked in the field, they have better insights into what the police officers need in the field.

Not every dispatcher needs to be a police officer first. Quite the contrary, most dispatchers are very good at their job. Working with former or reserve police officers makes the dispatchers better at their jobs.

Working in the field gives officers first hand dealings with suspects, and teaches them the specific types of information that officers need when handling calls. Having worked in the field gives a dispatcher insights that they don't get just sitting in the sterile and safe environment of a dispatch center. If I was in charge, I would never let police officers medically retire, I would make them finish their careers as dispatchers with police officer pay; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Officer Mr. Ed

Horse police are a very helpful tool. I have always wanted to work as a horse police officer, even though I know nothing about horses and could not possibly afford one, I think it is a great concept. Several times over the years I have worked with horse police officers.

They are great for crowd control. People like horses and so they are less likely to be mean to a horse than to a police officer. People are also afraid of horses, because they are big and strong and can push a crowd back easier than a group of police on foot.

Horse mounted police sit up high and can see over the tops of cars and crowds. They also are difficult for people to recognize as police. I have seen horse mounted police work large parking lots and find car burglars. They could see over the parked cars and catch the thieves in the act. Horse police, they do some things very well, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seattle Attack

Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton was murdered in a drive by shooting this week. The officer and his trainee were sitting in their patrol car and the suspect vehicle drove up and shot both officers for no apparent reason. Trainee Officer Britt Sweeney called for help and jumped out of the police car and returned fire. She can work patrol with me anytime.

Anything you do can get you killed, including doing nothing. Just sitting in your patrol car alongside the side of the road. Writing notes on the back of a ticket, catching up on your patrol log, going over the rookies training packet, doing nothing, getting killed. Doing what you do every shift.

The trainee noticed the unusual vehicle behavior before the attack. She bent over to take cover. She called in the attack to dispatch. Despite being wounded she exited her patrol car and returned fire. Officer Timothy Brenton should have been proud that his trainee was able to do so well on the worst day of her police career. My condolences to the family of Officer Brenton. My congratulations to Officer Sweeney on her excellent police skills. Be careful out there, even doing nothing; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Terror Attacks

In a recent raid on suspect Islamic terrorists, the FBI had to kill one suspect and an FBI canine was killed in the line of duty. Islamic groups have moved in all over the United States and recently Al Queda published a bulletin to encourage people to use home made bombs to attack the West.

Are there Islamic terrorists in your jurisdiction? Could there be good targets for Islamic terrorists in you patrol zone? While you may not have a World Trade Center, or a large military or government installation, you could still have many places were a terrorist may want to plant a bomb.

Recent terror attacks have happened in marketplaces and transportation networks. Trains, subways and commuter trains have been popular targets for terrorists. They are good places to kill a number of people and disrupt our economic infrastructure at the same time. A little extra patrol in those areas would be a good idea; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Just Before Patrol

Just as I am getting ready to go to roll call and start working in the field, I use the restroom, wash my hands and check my uniform in a mirror. Law enforcement can be very unpredictable and there have been many times when I have found myself either running from call to call to call, or stuck on some perimeter and unable to move for hours. You can't just run off and go to the bathroom.

I wash my hands frequently when at work. Besides dealing with the general public, police have to deal with all kinds of people, in all kinds of places. Very few of those places are very clean, and many have large numbers of people. Not just the recent flu worries, but many other viruses, bacterias, and even toxins are out there where police have to go and conduct their work. Washing hands is an important defense against those tiny dangers.

The uniform should look good. The manner in which one attires oneself for work is important. A quick check in the mirror will give you an additional perspective on your uniform and equipment. Is the shirt tucked in properly? Is the "gig line" straight? The belt buckle, and the live of the pants zipper and shirt buttons should be lined up smartly. One final check before going out and fighting crime; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shoot Fast and Accurate

When a suspect points a firearm at you, your response should be to aim your weapon at them and shoot them until they are no longer a threat to you or any other innocent person. You need to move to cover, if possible and give verbal commands if you can. Neither of these two activities should slow your shooting.

When a firearm is necessary, accuracy and speed are often the two most essential elements. In a real gun battle, only hits on the target count, so you must be accurate. Since most gun battles are over in seconds, you don't have much time to aim

The suspect must be shot until they are no longer a threat. That may mean one shot, it may mean fifty shots. Some suspects are able to absorb large numbers of hits due to drug or alcohol intoxication, sheer determination, or the use of body armor or even thick clothing. It is not our intention to kill the suspect, only stop them from hurting anyone. If they die, it is an unintended consequence of a series of events that was started by the suspect; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Riot Ready

When on patrol, I carry a helmet and a gas mask. My patrol car also has a 48 inch riot baton in the trunk too. It does not take much for a riot to break out. Fifty teenagers drink a few beers to celebrate a sports teams victory and after a couple hours they are throwing rocks, rolling cars over and setting them on fire.

When the police are called, having the right gear is essential. A beer bottle can be a deadly weapon if it hits you in the head. Rocks and bricks are also very dangerous. That police helmet comes in very handy when the rocks and bottles start flying. A face shield is a very important part of that helmet.

If you end up as one of the first units to respond, you may not have time to go back to your locker and get your gear. You gotta have it with you and be ready. If there is a riot, are you ready? I am; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Traffic Direction

Now that there is a little rain now and then, I have to consider traffic collisions and my response to them. One of the tasks that I often have to perform at some minor traffic collision is directing the other cars around the crashed ones. Frequently, I work at night, so visibility is an issue too.

In California we have to wear reflective high visibility vests at night. A high visibility vest is not enough when directing traffic. I like to place about a zillion traffic cones as well as road flares in the danger zone. Road flares are great, particularly at night, but there are some dangers too. Don't place flares where they can start a brush fire, or where the oil, gasoline or other fluids from the traffic collision can catch fire.

I also like to use a little yellow cap over the end of my flashlight. It makes for a much higher visibility light cue for the other drivers than just a regular flashlight beam. I also wear white gloves when I anticipate directing traffic for a while. Being visible is the biggest part of the battle, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Watch Out

When on vehicle patrol, always be on the lookout for dangers from other drivers. At a stop sign or red light, watch who you stop next to. Look at the occupants of the vehicles to either side of your unit. Is it a little old lady or a car load of gangsters? Are they drinking a beer or smoking a Jay?

When you stop behind another vehicle, leave space to get around them if you have to suddenly take off to a call. Even better, leave enough space that you can make a u-turn if you need to because you see something good in the other direction. You don't want to have to back up and go forward and back up before you can make the u-turn.

Watch the people on the curb and the cars across the street. Keep and eye on your rear view mirror in case of threats from behind. If you work with a partner, you should each watch different areas, two sets of eyes are better than one. Always watch for danger, even at red lights' that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Leave the station on patrol and go pick up your dry cleaning. Stop by the bank and cash your paycheck. Write a check for a bill and then go to the Post Office to buy a stamp and mail the letter. Visit a restaurant, sit down in a booth in the back and eat lunch undisturbed. Phone home and talk with the wife for a while.

Return to the station to use the restroom, and then chat with the dispatchers for a while. Go back on patrol and head for the shoe shine shop. Pick up your dress shoes and drop off a pair of boots. Head over to the uniform shop and get fitted for a new uniform shirt.

Did you do any police work? Did you earn your paycheck? Was this an ethical way to do your work for the day? Do you work with this officer? I hope his is not you, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Armed and Retired

Congressman J. Randy Forbes has introduced the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act. The idea is that officers who are retired should be able to carry their weapons after they leave their agency. There are some agencies that make getting a carry permit difficult for retired officers.

No one is served by keeping qualified officers from being able to carry a firearm off duty. Crime, and even terrorism can happen anywhere and having an armed officer, even a retired officer, on scene when the event happens can make a significant difference in the outcome of a criminal act.

If the 9/11 hijackers were confronted by an armed retired police officer, the event could have been ended right away. Box cutter, vs Glock; Glock wins. Every day there are officers who are kept from having a gun by some bureaucrat who is more afraid of good guys with guns than he is about innocent people dying from criminal acts. This law will help to correct that problem; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 26, 2009

No Glasses

Do you wear glasses or contact lenses? Can you function without them? Can you shoot without them? Have you gone to the range without them? Some of the time we may find ourselves in a position where we have to run, jump, fight and then shoot. Being able to see is frequently an important part of firing a handgun, rifle or shotgun. If you have not gone to the range and fired your weapons without your glasses, then you need to do so soon.

If your glasses get broken, if you lose a lense, if your glasses get knocked off, you may still need to shoot. While shooting with your glasses or contacts on is the best method of training, you should still train without them once in a while. Just as we sometimes have to shoot in low light, officers may have to shoot with obscured vision.

Instinct shooting is a good technique for close up shooting and certainly it can mitigate the need for glasses. Practice pointing your finger at things without looking at them first. You can even close your eyes, point at something you remember in the room and then open your eyes and see where you are pointing. It is a skill that can be developed over time. Later, you can use that type of skill on the range. Naturally, shooting on the range should be with your eyes open and range training should be well supervised; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Dogs

Dogs bite the first item presented, make sure it is your baton and not your leg. If you have a dog charge at you, stand your ground and use your baton as a lance. This is where the full size PR-24 works well. The side handle allows you to hold one and poke it at his face. Most dogs will bite it.

Dogs used to be wild animals similar to wolves. They still are like wolves. Wolves eat caribou. The wolves show up and the caribou run. When you see a dog and you run, they don't see a cop. They suddenly become wolves, and you become a caribou. And they will chase you. And they will bite your ankles to bring down the "caribou." You don't want to be a caribou, so don't run. It makes you look like a caribou to German Shepherds, and poodle dogs alike if you run. Stand your ground.

Fire extinguishers filled with CO2 are good for preventing dog bites. The cloud of carbon dioxide will scare off most dogs. Your police car probably has a dry chemical fire extinguisher, so don't use it. If you know there are going to be dogs the first choice would be to call animal control and let them deal with Fluffy the Rottweiler. A good second choice can be to call you fire department and borrow a couple CO2 extinguishers. Of course, some bad dogs just have to be shot, but try and avoid it if you can, that's what the SGT Says.


I have probably entered into 5,000 backyards, parking lots, and buildings with various levels of watchdog inside the property. In all that time I had my ankle bit while standing next to the owner who was telling me how safe his dog was and that the dog would not bite me, and no other dog bites. Dogs can be a problem in law enforcement. Dogs are territorial and when we respond to an alarm, a domestic dispute, a crime in progress, or warrant service we are violating their territory.

When we go to an unknown property, it is important to check for signs of a dog. A "Beware of Dog Sign" is a is one of those signs. Look also for doggie doo, doggie toys, dog bowls, worn parts of the yard that might indicate a dog on the property. If you think there is a dog on the property, rattle the gate, tap on the fence. Often the dog will make himself known if you make it seem as if you are violating his territory.

If a dog does show up and you have to check the property there are many options. Dogs hate the TASER. Remove the darts and "test" the TASER so the electrical sparks make that crackle noise. I have had some pretty bad dogs run away, tremble and hide because of that noise. I have never had to zap a dog, just the noise is frightening to most of them. OC spray works well on dogs too. Spray them in the face, or open mouth, just like you would a person. Most dogs will leave you alone and just like people they will be all better in an hour or less. Dogs can be overcome without firearms most of the time; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 23, 2009


TASER is recommending that officers and their agencies may be able to avoid some liability by training officers to aim at places other than the chest. The concern is that some people think that the TASER may cause heart problems in some people. TASER says it does not cause heart problems, but to avoid the appearance of an issue, shoot suspects in the back or the leg.

The TASER is an excellent tool to gain compliance from suspects that are potentially or actually violent. Police careers are expected to last twenty or thirty years. Officers are frequently threatened and even attacked. Officers have to win every single attack to make it to retirement age. Officers need every tool at their disposal to enable them to gain compliance from suspects and violent people.

Survival to retirement is very important, but survival is more than just not being killed. Survival is not being severely injured. Survival means don't get an accumulation of small injuries over a career. Survival means not being fired. Survival means not getting sued. If there are tings you can do to avoid getting killed, injured, fired or sued, then I am all for it. TASER them in the back, or in the legs, if you can, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


One of our officers who had over 30 years on the department as a patrol officer and supervisor recently retired. He immediately was sworn in as a reserve officer. At his retirement party, they showed us a PowerPoint presentation showing his career as an officer.

After a recent remodel of the police department, they found a large pile of photographs from the 1940s and 1950 inside the ceiling of the basement. They showed traffic collisions, officers standing around, shooting at the range and doing all kinds of various police tasks. What was mundane at the time, is now interesting. The uniforms are totally different, the equipment is so sparse! No radios, not much gear on the belt. Motorcycle officers without helmets, even some officers apparently on horseback.

I realized that I only have a tiny handful of photos of myself and of my agency. So recently, I started carrying a small digital camera in my gear bag. I have started taking photos of my partners, my patrol cars, the station. Just don't take photos of people posing doing things that will get them in trouble.It is nice to have a few photos of my work, after nearly 20 years on the job; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


A few firearms training tips. Use your duty magazines when on the range and use your duty gun. It gives you a chance to make sure that the magazines and the gun function and that you get used to the feel of your own weapon. I have seen magazines fail on the range that the officer was carrying on patrol only moments before the shooting training.

Clean your weapon before you go back in service or store the weapon for more than a day. Dirty weapons can malfunction and you don't want a failure to feed or extract in a shootout. Be sure to check your weapon before you return to patrol. Don't go back into service with an unloaded gun or a gun loaded with practice ammunition.

Don't practice with your gun in the field. Only practice with a real gun on the range or other appropriate controlled environment. It is easy to have an unintentional discharge, or other problem when training in the field. Practice is supposed to make you safer, not get you killed; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Front Sight

The front sights are the most important of the two sets of sights on your handgun. While a perfect sight picture is ideal, if you are in a hurry and don't have time to carefully line up your sight picture, look at the front sight. Bring your handgun up to your eye. Place the front sight on the center of mass of the target presented to you.

Naturally, if you have time to align your rear sights, front sight and target, then do that before you shoot at the target. Practice shooting at the range. Once you get good, it is time to start working on speed. Getting onto target quickly is an important skill. Bring the weapon up and place the front sight on target and pull the trigger. It can cut your lag time to getting the first round off by as much as a second or more.

Since most police gun fights last only a couple seconds, being able to get your first round off quickly is important. Start your practice with your gun in the holster and the weapon snapped inside. You hands at your side and ready. Once you start to move, unsnap the weapon, bring the gun up rapidly, and when your front sight is on target, operate the trigger. As you fire the first round, you can continue bringing up the weapon and using the front and rear sights, fire the second round; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Begin at the Beginning

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A man reports his child has been carried away in a hot air balloon and the world watches as the child turns up in the attic of his own house. When dealing with lost, stolen, missing children, remember the words of Glenda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz; "Begin at the beginning."

In addition to chasing the balloon, putting out a broadcast to everyone to look for the kidnapper, always search the house, top to bottom, front to back, check the neighbors kids homes, and the local schools, playgrounds, and places the kid likes to hang out. Children get into all kinds of trouble and often we get called to try and fix it.

A systematic approach to missing children is important. Collect all the data you can get and look for the child at home. Many times I have responded to missing children calls and they were at the Laundromat where the kids hang out, at the playground, in the laundry hamper in the bathroom hiding from their mom. Look for the kid while someone collects the crime or missing persons report, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Auto Safety

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According to a recent test automobiles are significantly safer now than they were 50 years ago. Traffic deaths per mile are greatly reduced, in part, as a result of these safer vehicles. The other reason that traffic deaths are down is harsher penalties for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Along with that we need to continue to enforce DUI and other traffic laws.

They say that at some times of night perhaps as many as half of the drivers have been drinking. So that means you need to be out stopping cars and getting that half to walk the line and touch their nose. If they fail the tests, they need to go for a ride in your police car.

Look for drivers with their headlights off at night, for drivers who are not tracking within their lanes. Drivers that are slow to start from a red traffic light and drivers who drive too fast or too slow for conditions. Really, any erratic driving behavior can be a result of an impairment caused by alcohol or drugs; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Use of Deadly Force

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says "The prohibition of murder does not abrogate the right to render an unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm. Legitimate defense is a grave duty for whoever is responsible for the lives of others or the common good." Sounds like a pretty good use of deadly force policy for a police department.

The officer has the right to render a suspect unable to inflict harm. That often means that the officer would have to shoot a suspect, and perhaps even kill him to stop the suspect from inflicting harm on others.

The use of deadly force is probably the most serious decision and officer will have to make while on duty. The decision will have to be made often in great stress and with very little time to weight the various options. This is why the law and agency police must be ingrained into every officer and should be a constant part of their training. Not just training how to shoot, but when to shoot; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Night Perimeter

Sometimes we have to do a foot patrol someplace in the dark. I like to use ambient light whenever I can. Searching a building for example; I like to stand out front for a couple minutes and just wait. In the dark. And listen. Often you can hear people inside the buildings or nearby who can be helpful, or who might be suspects.

Walk the perimeter without the flashlight turned on. I keep it in my non-gun hand, but not turned on, my finger on the button to turn it on immediately if I need it. If I do turn the light on, I close my dominant eye to retain my night vision in that eye; that is my shooting eye. The super powerful light can also be used to gain a momentary advantage over another person by shining it in their face and blinding them.

Walk the perimeter slowly. Stop every few steps and look and listen. Scan the area, and don't forget to look behind you. Check your footing carefully before you take each step. Don't hurry, you can see a lot if you don't hurry. The tactical advantage of being able to sneak up on a suspect is huge. Once you complete the perimeter check, go back and check a second time with the light on. There may be pry marks or other evidence that you missed without a light. This system is time consuming, but trading a little time for a tactical advantage is worth it; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Patrol in the Wet

One way to stay safe while on patrol in wet weather is to not drive around so much as usual. Rather than constantly drive, sit in a favorite spot and work traffic. Make sure you are parked safely and legally. Watch a traffic light, stop sign or work radar / lidar. This will reduce your actual drive time and cut your chances of being in a collision.

Sit at high crime areas and just watch from a distance to gather intelligence. Fill out Field Interview Cards on suspicious characters and their vehicles. Watch for specific crime related activity and if you see something good, move in and make an arrest. Sit in the middle of the high crime area to suppress crime and take back the street. Liquor stores, convenience stores, and schools are always good places to park you patrol car.

Make shop keepers and shoppers happy, do foot patrol in shopping centers. Business districts, strip malls, shopping centers are great places to go for a walk. Go into each store, speak to the shopkeeper, especially the manager and ask how things are going. Give them a pamphlet on crime prevention. This is good public relations for the department, makes shop keepers and shoppers happy, and that's always a good thing; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Driving in the Wet

The weather is getting wet. Time to drive safely. When the streets are wet, we need to drive slower. When the streets are wet, it takes longer to stop the car, it is harder to turn the car and even acceleration is more difficult as the wheels will slip.

The other drivers are driving cars that are often not as good as the patrol cars. They often don't have the driving skills that the patrol officers have. The other drivers will not slow down and so they will skid past limit lines and into intersections. The other drivers will not slow down and so will have rear end collisions when the car in front of them stops suddenly. The other drivers will not slow down and so they will spin out during turns or even lane changes.

About five dozen officers a year are feloniously killed at work each year, and a similar number are typically killed in accidents, usually traffic collisions. Drive slower, wear your seat belt, watch out for the other drivers. Make sure your car windows are clean, particularly the inside. The glare on a windshield can create a major blind spot. Make sure your windshield wipers are in good repair, check them out at the beginning of the shift, before you leave the station. Little acts of preparation can prevent the rest of us from going to your funeral; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cold Shooting

With cold weather here, it is important to wear the proper clothing to keep warm and dry. Here in Southern California we don't get snow and seldom get much rain. It can get cold and even a little rain means it's time to wear the rain jacket. Officers often wear gloves as well, and in some places, even mittens.

Do you practice your skills wearing all this gear? Do you go to the range and shoot with your big bulky jacket on ? Do you shoot the patrol rifle and shotgun while wearing a big bulky jacket? How about shooting with the gloves or mittens on? Can you work the decocker? Can you take the weapon on safety and put it back on? Can you reload, while wearing mittens?

How about your other weapons? Can you draw your baton with gloves on? Can you swing your baton without it flying out of your hands? Can you open your folding knife, one handed, while wearing mittens? All of your tools become more difficult to use when it is cold and your hands are covered. Practice your survival skills, even when it's cold; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Chase and Run

When driving at high speed, as in a pursuit, watch the road far ahead. You need to look beyond the suspect vehicle, and look at what he may encounter. You have to watch to see if the suspect might crash into something or if he may turn off to the left or right. You need to be close enough to see him well and what he is doing.

Watch the driver and other occupants in the vehicle. What are they doing? Are they throwing things out the windows? Weapons? Drugs? Or just obstacles to delay or attack you? Are they trying to hide things inside the vehicle? Are they preparing to shoot at you? Turning around inside the car and facing to the back is a good sign of that.

Are they getting ready to stop the car and bail out and run? If the car slows down in an area with plenty of places to hide in on foot, they may be getting ready to do just that. If the doors pop open, they are getting ready to bail. If the suspects bail out, go for the driver. He is the one who is gets to go to jail for the pursuit. Better yet, get a helicopter, let them chase; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Most police shootouts happen in less that ten feet and even six feet is not unusual. Most shots fired miss. The shooting and the target are often moving and that makes them very hard to hit. If you have to shoot, moving to cover is an excellent tactic. Often cover is only a step or two away.

Greater barrel length, great velocity, longer sight radius are all going to improve accuracy. In real gun battles, the shooters often don't even aim, they just point and shoot, one of the many reasons they miss so frequently. All the fancy gun gear is great, unless you don't use any of it.

Practice on the range is not enough, dynamic training with simunitions and similar systems are really the way to go in advanced training. Those who remain calm and actually fire the weapon once they aim at the target are very likely to hit the target and win the battle; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Does Not Look Good

Okla.Trooper Involved With Medic Scuffle in Trouble Again (

An officer gets into a scuffle with someone and has to take anger management classes. When should that officer return to active field duty? If an employee has anger management issues should they be carrying a gun and responding to calls for service that may result in physical violence as an unavoidable part of the job? I don't know the specifics of this case and the second allegation may be totally false, the investigation is ongoing. I am only speaking in general about law enforcement.

This is one of the many problems we face in law enforcement is that anything that happens to us in the past will immediately be brought out into the public view if any similar incident happens again. The officer is tried in the public eye, and made to look bad without any chance to defend himself. The media will not generally interview the officer and often the officer is ordered not to say anything in his own defense by his agency or his attorney.

Most officers I know are more worried about the civil liability aspects of the job then they are about the dangers posed by criminals. Often, agencies only look at the initial reports and take action even without the investigation being completed. Year ago in the Rodney King Incident, officers were blamed without any attempt to find out what happened, what was going on that led to the incident or any analysis. Taking someone into custody who does not want to go simply does not look pretty. Too often police administrators forget that basic lesson; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Employees

What do you know about budgets? If you want to get promoted in law enforcement, don't just keep learning more and more about guns and tactics and shooting. Look at what the higher level positions do, and then learn how to do those skills that differ from your skill set.

As police move up to higher levels, they have to perform other tasks besides patrolling and directing units in the field. Supervisors have to supervise. That job entails writing reviews on their subordinates. Can you write a decent review on another officer? What do you say, how do you start? Police work is a job, and good cops also have to be good employees.

Good employees show up to work on time, ready to work. They don't call off sick, unless they are actually sick and they bring in a doctors note. Good employees forward the goals of the organization. If the chief likes parking tickets, then a good employee will write a parking ticket once in a while. Good employees get along with the other employees and help the new folks do a good job; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Off Duty

While driving home from work today I noticed a police helicopter circling the street about a mile ahead of me. I checked my iron, checked my tin, checked my six, rolled down a window on each side to listen for a siren, scanned the roadway ahead for units, or unusual traffic patterns, all the while watching the helicopter go round and round.

Even off duty, it is important to think like a cop. I have had several instances of people recognizing me as an officer, off duty, in civilian clothing. Driving up to a potentially dangerous situation, even in my personal car could place me in jeopardy, the bad guys could think I am there to get them, despite the fact that I am just driving home.

Naturally, if there is a serious problem, I would be likely to jump in and help. But that means I need the tools to help properly. A gun, a badge are two of the most important, but being aware of what is happening may be the most important; that's what the SGT Says.