Sunday, May 31, 2009

Off Duty

Two vacationing San Jose cops subdue violent airline passenger - San Jose Mercury News

Are you ever off duty? My wife sometimes asks me why I have moved from condition yellow to condition orange. She can tell when I have seen something that does not look right. After being on the job for a few years, it just becomes normal to sweep the area and look at the people around you.

I go to the mall and watch the people looking for gangsters, and other potential trouble makers. When I go into the convenience store I look for criminals hanging around outside and potential robbers inside. It has just become automatic when I am in public to watch for potential trouble.

An airline passenger when off the deep end and these two San Jose, CA cops fought him into submission and held him for hours until the plane could land. These two officers were on vacation and could have just as easily continued to look out the window and let someone else worry about the problem. But that's not what good cops do, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Bad Video

Highway Patrol-Paramedics Argument Caught On Tape - PoliceLink

The article says the ambulance was taking a sick woman to the hospital and it did not have it's emergency lights or siren on. The highway patrol car came up behind it and had it's emergency lights on, no siren. This happened in Oklahoma. I don't know the law there, but in California, just having your lights on is enough to require other vehicles to move over. Any vehicle displaying lights, police, fire, ambulance should cause any other vehicle to pull to the right of the roadway and stop. So, if this happened in California the police vehicle would have had the right of way. The highway patrol officer claimed the driver of the ambulance flipped him off as he drove by him.

Later, the highway patrol came back, pulled over the ambulance and attempted to write the driver a citation. I am unsure what the alleged violation was, but I don't think I would have stopped him either for failure to yield or for flipping me off. With a patient in the back of the ambulance, the officer should have followed them to the hospital and wrote the ticket there, rather than make the patient wait.

During the stop, one of the men from the ambulance team is told he is under arrest and he brings his fingers up to the face of the officer. This is not a lawful submission to an arrest, which would generally be required. I don't let people poke fingers in my face while on duty, especially after I have told them they are under arrest. Very poor officer safety was demonstrated by several of the highway patrol officers. Very bad tactics. They are standing very close, they are not taking physical control of the person they arrested, and ultimately they let him go. So why were they arresting him?

As I have written many time, assume all you do is on video. These officers did not read my blog and now they are on YouTube. Officers need to remember they should not be thin skinned about people who may flip them off or fail to yield right away. There are a lot of jerks out there and there is nothing served by confronting them all when no actual arrestable offense has happened. While we don't know all that happened, the video is short, not much audio, and it starts well into the traffic stop, the officers don't look good here; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Range Training

Tomorrow I have range training. This month we are firing close up with the duty handgun, backing up, and transitioning to patrol rifle. Once we transition to rifle, we move to cover, reload and re-engage the target. We then move back to a second position and fire from there too.

Shoot close up, transition to rifle, move, reload, shoot, move. A simple course of fire, yet we are training a number of skills in a short period of time. Range training does not have to be time consuming or expensive, it does need to be comprehensive.

Think about the skills officers need when they are in the field. Watch and read the news and do range training that simulates what really happens in the field and what your officers really do in the field. Train realistically, train often, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Death Penalty

A career criminal was executed in South Carolina for the murder of a police officer. With about fifty police murdered in the USA every year there should be an average of fifty criminals executed each year for killing a cop. For the death penalty to work it must be applied consistently and rapidly to those who deserve death.

Suspects who commit first degree murder generally deserve to die. They typically live a criminal lifestyle from an early age and continue until they are killed themselves, or sent to prison forever. In most cases, first degree murder is worthy of the death penalty. It is not right to allow killers to stay alive in prison while their victims lay in the grave.

The other reason they deserve death, is that someone must guard them. Why do we endanger the lives of prison guards, and other prisoners to tend to those who deserve death? Once the death penalty has been given, prisoners should not wait years, even decades to be put to death. They can go on killing guards or other prisoners and not worry about additional punishment. That's not right either, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Abuse? Maybe, Maybe Not.

ARE THEY ALL YOURS ?!??: border patrol abuse

A pastor claims the DHS / Border Patrol beat him for no reason. Watch the video and then read my take on it below.

The DHS Officer says something like "A drug dog alerted on your car, you need to get out of the car and we are going to search your vehicle." If a drug dog alerts on a car a peace officer has probable cause to search the car. A peace officer has probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, possession of drugs, and probable cause to arrest the occupants for possession of drugs. That is established law, and not unusual at checkpoints and also not unusual for agencies who have drug dogs to bring them on traffic stops and have them sniff the car. Agencies don't need probable cause to have the drug dog sniff the car because it is not an invasive search. Just like the officers can look in the windows of the vehicle and see drugs on the seat or open beer bottles on the floor.

I also get the impression that this was the second time the "Pastor" was stopped as he says "...that did not happen" and other phrases that lead me to believe that the drug dog hit was not at the same place as this confrontation. Perhaps it was in a long line of cars going through the checkpoint and the drug dog hit was at the tail end of the line and now that he is at the front the officers are stopping him.

It seems strange that he would have this on two video cameras, as if he was intending to create a confrontation and wanted to tape it. He also is debating with the officer about the authority the officer has to both order him from the car and to detain or arrest him. The side of the road is not a place for debate. Debate and your legal defense takes place in front of a judge. The lawful orders at a traffic stop made with probable cause that a crime has been committed are required to be obeyed. The stop and detention are lawful even if the person inside did not commit a crime. The officer only needs probable cause which is a far lower standard of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt.

The suspect was verbally resisting and passively resisting the orders of the officer and the use of a Taser would be appropriate under those circumstances. The fact that he is white or a pastor or whatever does not give him the right to resist an arrest. It is his duty to submit to arrest, which he did not do. Also remember, video is everywhere, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Toy Helicopters

Just when I got you all watching for large helicopters to help inmates escape, now the inmates are using little helicopters to ferry in cell phones! There are many companies that make some highly sophisticated "toy" helicopters. These have long range and pretty good carrying ability.

As the military increases the use of robots for warfare, they will drive the technology to make small flying devices. Recently, I read an article that they are trying to develop flying insect size robots that can see and send video signals. Can you defend your jail against that kind of spying?

Inmates often have contacts in the outside world who have access to impressive resources. Large helicopters, small helicopters, toy helicopters, robot bugs, none of this is outside the realm of the possible any longer. Those who guard our prisons need to stay ahead of the technologies that can help prisoners escape or smuggle in drugs; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Locked in the Car

Kids in Hot Cars Alert

According to this website about two dozen kids a year die of the heat after being left alone in the car. Temperatures inside a car can get up to as much as 140 degrees, in as little as a few minutes. Some children have died in as little as 40 minutes when locked inside a car.

If you get a child in a car, get there without delay. The paramedics should be dispatched also. When you arrive, look inside the car and insure there actually is a child inside. If the child does not appear to be distressed, then check all the doors and windows, people often forget to lock the car, or maybe a window is down enough that you can reach inside and open the door. If the doors are locked, run the lights and siren for 30 seconds, it will draw peoples attention and perhaps the parent will show up.

The fire department has all kinds of cool tools and getting inside a car will be easy for them. Some police agencies even carry Slim Jim's and officers can open car doors without a key. The main focus is the safety of the child, if the child appears to be in distress, notify your supervisor and break the window to get the child cooled down right away. Get their clothing off, put them in the air conditioning in your unit, pour cool water over them.

When the parents do show up, consider possible prosecution for child endangerment, so get all their information for your report. If they are intoxicated or unable to care for the child or disinterested in the problem, an immediate arrest may be necessary. This is about the life of a child, there are few things more important than that; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


A woman got shot in the head by a .380 handgun and despite a brain injury was awake, alert and walking around when the police arrived. Most gunshot wounds are survivable. Well over half of those shot in the US survive. That number would probably be higher if the persons shot were given first aid sooner.

This is important to remember as a law enforcement officer. Often we get shot in the toe; fall over, and die. The bad guy gets shot ten times, runs three blocks and survives. Officers need to remember that getting shot does not equate to getting killed. If you are alive to realize you have been shot, then there is a good chance you will survive.

If you get shot and are still in danger, continue the fight as best as you can. Once the suspect is no longer an immediate threat to you, or other officers have taken up the fight, you need to give yourself first aid. First, apply direct pressure to any bleeding. Then let your partners and Dispatch know you have been hit. Treat yourself for shock, raise your legs up, have your head lower than your legs if possible. Remember, most of the time a gunshot is survivable; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reasonable Use of Force

Years ago in the police academy we were taught all about the force continuum. We were showed various stair steps or ladders that showed us how as the amount of force was used we were moving up the stairs or up the ladder. Often, people found it confusing. If pepper spray was on a lower step than use of the firearms, with baton on a step in between the two levels, people often wondered if they had to use a baton before they could shoot someone.

Now, many trainers are giving up the ladder or stair step model for use of force. Look to the courts and to the legislatures to provide law enforcement with a model for use of force. Force must be reasonable to an officer who knows only what circumstances the officer using force knew when he used force. If an officer shoots someone because he thinks someone is pointing a gun at him in a threatening manner, that use of force is justified. It is justified, even if the person shot did not, in fact, have a gun.

It is a reasonable use of force because it is the belief that the suspect had a gun that is the reason the suspect was shot. The officer may be mistaken in fact, because it is unreasonable to require that they be certain in fact. The officer must act in a manner that is reasonable, not certain; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Shot Don't Shoot

Range training should be done at least every three months and every month is even better. In fact, if I was in charge, the police would shoot a little bit every week. Sometimes just firing a few rounds can be very good training. It is not the number of rounds that is important, it is the context in that they are fired.

One month I had my officers load their duty pistol, and go stand on the firing line. I had a target downrange that was a simple generic silhouette target, about 15 yards away. I told them when I gave them the range command "Go!" that they were to draw their weapon, point it at the target, get a quick sight picture and yell "Police, don't move." I told them to not fire a round, just point the gun and give them a verbal command.

About one out of every twenty fired one round. None of the officers involved had ever been to the range, drawn their weapon, pointed it at the target and not fired their gun. Since in the field officers frequently draw their weapons, but seldom fire, it is a good idea to practice that skill; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Stupid Calls

911 Messy Room

Someone calls 911 for a kid with a messy room. Sure you have gotten stupid calls on your 911 system too. We always have gotten stupid calls on the emergency lines. It's a part of the job. A good dispatcher will screen these calls out and the officers will not have to respond to them.

Sometimes a citizen will be insistent that we come our or a new dispatcher will not know how to make these kinds of calls go away and we end up stuck with them. Take it in stride as part of the job. Don't let the annoying citizen or the incompetent dispatcher get to you and make you upset that you have to waste your time rolling on a mess room or some other stupid call. At least they are not shooting at you.

Make it into an opportunity. Inspect the home. Listen to everyone there. Get identification from everyone, run their driving records and their vehicle registrations. Perhaps the car registration is expired and you can tow their car. Maybe you can find someone with an outstanding warrant. Perhaps junior is growing marijuana in his messy bedroom. You may get an arrest out if the call yet, consider it a challenge, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Silent Movie

YouTube - Police Chase Suspect Kicked In The Head By El Monte Police Officers on 5/13/2009 (Police Brutality)

Police video taped kicking a suspect in the head. Watch the video and listen to the voice of the TV news guy. It seems to me the TV guy was generally pro-police but he saw something on the video that disturbed him. When we watch these videos there is much to keep in mind, because seeing should always be believing.

Officers are not seeing the situation from the same angle as the video. In this case the video camera is above the suspect and has a clear view of the suspects waistband and both hands. The officer is seeing the suspect from ground view and we don't know for certain what he can see, or what his perceptions are about the danger posed by the suspect.

We also don't know the back story on the video. In listening carefully to the TV guy he says the car was wanted in a drive by shooting, attempted murder from earlier that day. The suspect drove on the wrong side of the street at a high rate of speed. The two passengers got out and surrendered at the vehicle. The driver chose to continue to run on foot when the vehicle stopped. Those are significant danger cues that the suspect running away may be very dangerous.

The audio we hear is only that of the TV guy. We have no idea what the suspect may have said to the officer, or what commands the officer gave to the suspect. If the officer told the suspect to turn around and put his hands up and the suspect laid down and put his hands behind his back, again that could be a danger cue. I an neither defending nor condemning the officers in the video. I am saying that we should not simply allow a silent video to tell us all we need to know about a situation before we make judgements about the propriety of the actions of the officers involved; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


An American city police department has had four officers indicted for using prostitutes while on duty. These were not new folks, these were long term employees of that agency. Why is it that four officers would be involved with prostitutes on duty?

That is a significant failure of both the supervisors and of their co-workers. It is difficult to believe that these officers were well supervised if they were doing this activity on duty. It is the job of the supervisor to know what their officers are doing on their shift.

It is also the job of a good officer to know where his partners are at and what they are doing. The other officers who worked with these indicted officers should have known where their partners were at during the shift. If they did know what these officers were doing, they should have warned them and give them a chance to go to the supervisor. Police work involves a public trust and we must be able to trust our partners too; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Move Along, Nothing To See Here

How many times have you been at the scene of a major event and then see large numbers of officers standing around doing nothing? If you are involved in a pursuit and they bad guy is in custody, unless you were in a traffic collision or were a primary unit, go back in service! Don't hang around at the termination of the pursuit and chit chat with other officers about things unrelated to the pursuit.

When the media shows up, it looks bad to see twenty-seven police cars, one suspect and all the cops standing around doing nothing. Even if you are a bit hyper and need a few minutes to pull yourself together, that's fine, get in your patrol car and drive three blocks away and wait there. Even take another officer with you and drive a short distance away and have a cup of coffee and relax a bit. Just don't loiter about the scene with no actual work to do making it seem like all the police in the county have nothing better to do than stand around.

The perception of the public is important. If they think there are too many police or if the police don't have enough work to do, then they won't vote for candidates who are pro-police. It is part of the public image battle that we have to fight every day to show people we do a good job, because the vast majority of officers do good police work; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


An inmate was captured sixteen hours after escaping and was 30 miles away from the jail. That's actually not very far away. Even walking on the sidewalk at two miles per hour he could have gotten that far away. A prisoner who has made an escape has several problems once he gets outside the wall. The first problem is his attire may be distictive and could draw the attention of not only law enforcement but citizens as well. The second problem is a lack of money.

If the prisoner is lucky he is wearing clothing that can pass as regular street clothes. If not he has to steal clothing or take off or modify his clothing so he looks different from a prisoner. No money also means he needs to obtain money and again the quickest way to get it is to steal that too. All of this assumes it is an unplanned escape. Obviously, someone outside waiting in a car, or someone who has stashed clothing and money at a predetermined point outside the fence changes the dynamic.

So when looking for a prisoner, keep in mind how much time as passed. Know they need clothing, so treat reports of stolen laundry, shoplifted clothing in mind as possible clues to the location of your escapee. Know he needs money so a quick small robbery of a convenience store, or even strong arm robbery can also be an indication of your escapees activities. Transportation is also important and so he may try and steal or even carjack someone pretty soon. He may try hitchhiking, but that puts him on the side of the road where police will be looking. He may try public transportation, but that needs money. Knowing what their needs are can help us to find them; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Video Use of Force

Video is everywhere. When you do your job, just pretend that someone has you on tape. Because there is a good chance someone does. Every ATM has at least one security camera. How many ATMs are there in your beat? Nearly every cell phone has a video camera. How many cell phones are in your beat? Every bank, every cash register, every police car, every industrial building, every jewelery store, video cameras are everywhere.

Do your job as if everything you do is being recorded on camera. That means some day it may be seen by your wife, your supervisor, your chief, your priest, your next door neighbor, your best friend and your mom and your kids. Sometimes cops have to do things that are hard to watch, shooting a bad guy, using the baton on a violent suspect, wrestling someone to the ground who does not want to go to jail. But there is a big difference between that and an improper use of force.

Your reports must accurately reflect what you did and why you did it. You may not remember how many times you hit the suspect, that's okay. If you think you hit him at least three time then write it just like that. "To the best of my recollection, I struck the suspect three times with my closed fist, in the right upper arm." The number of times you hit the suspect does not matter as long as each strike was reasonable. If it takes three hits or five or nine to force the suspect to comply and get him into handcuffs then that is a reasonable number of times to hit him. If it takes only one hit to get him into handcuffs and you hit him twice after he surrendered, then you hit him too many times; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, May 15, 2009

No 4 2 1

But Sarge, I work out in the weeds someplace and I can't call three other officers to get one guy. What can I do? Good question. Be careful, don't hurry, make the advantage yours. Stop the suspect at a place and time of your choosing. If you know he is at a gun range, is it best to confront him there or someplace else?

Perhaps you could wait until he returned to his car and as he was driving away you could do a high risk / felony car stop on him? That might be safer than confronting him at the range. You have your car for cover, you have his back facing you. You can give verbal commands on the public address system. You can point your shotguns or patrol rifles at him.

This was an arrest of a known violent suspect for a crime that was not in progress. Capturing him was important. So important that spending a little time and getting it right would be an excellent idea. Too often in police work we feel compelled to rush in and hook the crook and book. That's nice, but sometimes it is a better idea to devise a plan to do it safely; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

4 2 1

Florida Deputies Shooting

Two Florida Deputies were murdered by a National Guard soldier when they attempted to arrest him, at the shooting range, for beating his wife. The deputies used a Taser on him, but he recovered, pulled a gun and shot them both. Two words: danger cues.

Crime of violence, the suspect is suspected of beating his wife.
Knowledge of weapons, suspect is in the National Guard.
Proximity of weapons, suspect is at a shooting range.

This is a dangerous individual wanted for a crime of violence. I don't know the particular circumstances and it is not my intention to criticize the deputies involved. I may have done it exactly as they did with what they knew and what they had available to them at the time.

When faced with a violent suspect, who has knowledge of weapons and proximity to weapons, two officers is not enough. A minimum of four officers should have been used to arrest this suspect and at least two of them should have been armed with long guns, patrol rifle or shotgun. It is not too difficult for a suspect who is skilled, lucky and confrontational to shoot two officers, it is very difficult for that suspect to win when the odds are four to one. The goal is to provide an overwhelming show of force to intimidate him into surrendering because he will know he cannot win a confrontation. To do that an advantage of at least four officers to one suspect is necessary; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Helicopter Escape

Not too long ago I posted a link to an article about criminals who escaped from a jail in Greece by helicopter. Now another one has happened, this time on a French Island. This is something that should never happen. First of all, helicopters should not be this easy to hijack, in this case three suspects armed with a bottle of gasoline and a handgun forced the pilot to fly the helicopter to the prison. What would have happened if the forces him to land at a school and then started shooting kids? Or if they dropped the firebomb on an electrical generating station?

This is an element of air travel that seems to have very poor security. Recently I took a helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon and the security seemed rather minimal also. What with the whole world wide War on Islamic Terrorists why are people getting on helicopters without a security screening of some kind?

The next issue is what are the guards doing when all this happens? In the Greek incident the guards were apparently part of the plot and had been bribed to let the prisoner escape. In this instance, why were the guards not shooting at the helicopter? Helicopters are rather large targets compared to a fleeing prisoner. Perhaps prison guards need more training in preventing helicopters from being used as escape tools; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Video Guards

Police: DeKalb Inmate Hurt Trying To Escape - Atlanta News Story - WGCL Atlanta

A prisoner tied bed sheets together and climbed out of jail. As it was the sheets were not long enough and he fell and hurt himself and he got captured again. The area where he was climbing out of confinement was not directly observed by guards, only video cameras.

Video cameras are very good tools for documenting things that happen, but they are not good for exercising direct control over people. A bunch of bed sheets long enough to be used as a rope, may be missed by someone watching a video image, but an officer on site would almost certainly noticed them right away and prevented the escape attempt.

Video cameras miss things, distort images and only see from one angle at a time. They also have to be monitored by a human who is paying attention to the image. It can be difficult to watch an image on a television screen for long periods of time when the image is generally uninteresting and boring. Often those watching have to view many screens at once which makes it more difficult to carefully observe specific individuals. Real guards are better than virtual ones, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Corruption Prevention

"Since 2003, at least 34 officers and civilian employees of the department have been indicted on corruption charges, including ticket fixing, robbery, prostitution, extortion and drug conspiracy."

Hiring good people is one of the key elements of having a clean police department. That means the hiring process must include high standards, a severe drug test regimen, and a complete background investigation. Since drug use and financial irresponsibility are frequent among officers who turn to unethical behavior, the new hire should be squeaky clean in these areas.

Through training is the second element to a good police department, free of corruption. The "Code of Silence" does not exist to hide the very criminal activity officers are sworn to prevent. Good officers know how to the job and how to avoid ethical problems. Proper accountability of seized property, drugs and cash are very important, and the officers need to be trained in ways to insure such items make their way into the evidence locker. Every step of training from the first day in the academy to the final day on field training should be documented.

Good supervision from the top down is critical. The chief on down must exhibit only the highest ethical standards. Policies that forbid bribes, even freebies, should be clear and enforced at all times. Discipline must be swift, fair and severe. Officers who behave in ways that would disqualify them from getting hired should not retain their jobs. Random and annual drug testing, and a financial review, even a periodic update to the background check are additional techniques that can be employed to keep bad cops off the streets; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Swine Flu

Many people are now concerned about the swine flu. In 1918/1919 the United States was hit by a flu pandemic that killed tens of thousands and crippled some cities for short periods. There are many potential disasters that can strike and few areas are not at risk for at least some of them. The preparations for most of them are the same, with a few modifications.

With swine flu agencies may suffer from limited staffing, increased calls for medical service and difficulty getting supplies, such as fuel. As officers get sick, or their families get sick, many officers will stay at home to recover or care for family members. Train officers how to avoid swine flu, wash hands, use gloves and dispose after prisoner handling and so on. Advise officers to try and find alternate sources of family care so they don't have to stay home and care for sick family.

Prioritize calls for service and perhaps even decline to respond to non-violent misdemeanor calls for service. Minor thefts, loud music calls, parking offenses and other minor crimes or nuisance abatement calls could be handled by telephone, or the reporting party can simply be told the agency is not responding to that type of call during the pandemic emergency. This is something that the command staff will have to authorize and the time to plan for this is now when there is time to make decisions. Planning will help to reduce the impact of a swine flu pandemic on local police operations; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Drug House Raids

Recently one of my friends sent me a photo of a shotgun pointed at a door. The shotgun was rigged to fire at the doorway if someone opened the door from the other side. This was set up at a drug laboratory. Drug houses are so dangerous in so many ways.

The drug makers are often drug uses as well, so the consequences of their actions are not always uppermost in their minds. Setting a booby trap to kill another gang intent on ripping off your drugs or money may seem like a good idea, but what happens when a child, neighbor, or the police enter by that door? It would be difficult to hide the evidence of such a crime and the reward for it could be the death penalty or at least a very long prison term.

Drug houses can have needles, poisons, poisonous air, explosive or flammable atmospheres, as well as booby traps inside. The location can also contain drug uses who may be violent, and armed with a variety of weapons, knives, guns, and even a big pit bulldog. A raid on a drug house requires extensive planning and the cooperation of animal control, the fire department, paramedics, drug experts, and air units. A quick Google map to include air photos can help with planning and coordination of responding units. Drug houses are dangerous and officer safety is a priority; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Shotgun & Handcuffs

If you deploy your patrol rifle or your shotgun, how are you going to handcuff the suspect? Your hands are full of gun. Best answer, don't handcuff the suspect, prone him out of the ground, and hold him there until another officer without a long gun can move up and perform handcuffing.

Second best answer is you have a weapon with a sling and can sling the weapon and perform the handcuffing. Have you ever tried handcuffing someone with a slung patrol rifle or shotgun? Probably not, and with that weapon hanging in front of you what will happen to it when you bend over to do the handcuffing? It will flop out in front of you making it hard to bend down and hard to fight if things go bad.

If you are with another officer armed with a long gun, he can sling his weapon and you can hand him your long gun. Then you can move up and handcuff the suspect. If you are near your unit you can lay your long gun on the seat and lock it inside the car while you handcuff the suspect. I have even had officers tell me they will lay it on the ground or disassemble it and then move forward to cuff the suspect. I am not a big fan of those options.

No matter which option you select, you should practice it a few times before you have to use it in the field. You need to keep your weapons out of the hands of passers by, other suspects, and out of your own way; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Range Accident

Vest Saves Officer in Accidental Shooting at Range

Ideally, range training should take place in the same conditions as your field operations. Wearing your full uniform, to include body armor on the range is an excellent way to train. Your handheld radio, baton, Taser and all your gear will give you a different feel to your gun belt. Having all the gear on may make you move slower when you practice shooting and moving.

Your duty trousers may ride higher up then your blue jeans and so may make it harder to draw your handgun from the holster. Wearing your body armor at the range may make it more difficult to achieve certain shooting stances than just wearing your tee shirt. Your duty shoes may not be as conducive to running around cover and moving to a new shooting stances than your off duty tennis shoes.

Those officers who wear an alternative uniform, like bike patrol, K-9 handlers, or detectives should go to the range in their usual attire. Their firearm should be kept just as it is when they are on duty. If the detective wears a shoulder holster, then he should unsnap, draw and fire from his shoulder holster on the range. All of these officers should also train at least annually in full regular uniform in the event they end up on patrol due to an emergency or staffing shortage. Train under the same conditions you work and your training will be the better for it; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Secure Entry

Permit/Deny - data center management - Would Rockford Files Be Foiled Today?

One of my favorite TV shows is The Rockford Files. I always liked how he could fast talk his way past secretaries, and others to get what he wanted. I have long believed that with a jumpsuit and a toolbox or a suit and a clipboard you can get in just about anywhere.

How many times have you walked into your station and seen people you don't recognize? Do you make any inquiries about who they are and what they are doing? Would you recognize the janitor for your station? How about the electrician? Is your agency simply so large that it is impossible to know everyone who works there?

What type of physical security does your station have? Can anyone walk in off the street and gain access to the records area? The detective bureau? How secure is your dispatch room? Could a prisoner go from your jail or holding cells to dispatch? Is there always armed people in the station who could repel an armed attack? Many nations practice asymmetrical warfare, fighting against a much stronger enemy; like the United States. Do the gangs in your area practice the same techniques? Station security is often something we get after the deadly attack; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

No Laughing Matter

Police Officer Jokes About Murder Victim

A police officer was caught on video joking about a murder victim. I have written often about the fact that when you are in public you need to consider yourself to be on video all the time. These days nearly everyone has a cell phone with a camera in it. Most of them have video capability too.

While sometimes murder victims die in what may be interesting, or even funny ways it is not appropriate to joke about the death of a person while in public. The victim may be a drug dealer or a gang member, but the average citizen does not know that and almost certainly does not share your sense of humor.

This is the type of video that prevents agencies from getting raises or funding for needed equipment or even staffing increases. This is the type of video that gets officers fired or prevents them from ever getting promoted. It does not matter who the victim was, he was still a human being and entitled to a certain amount of dignity; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Have A Plan

Sometimes police work can be slow. Driving around with little traffic on the streets and no calls coming over the radio. That's a good time to develop plans. Think about what you would do and say in various situations that could happen in your beat. If the bank got robbed, if there was a liquor store hold up in progress, a shooting in an alley, an active shooter at the high school.

Where would you deploy, what other units would you need, what would you say on the radio? Think it over as if it were happening, from start to finish. How many units would it take to secure your local high school on a Tuesday afternoon? Where would you get them? What resources are available? Is there a SWAT team, K-9s, helicopters? How many patrol cars could arrive in one minute, five minutes, ten minutes, an hour? What would you do in those time increments?

Can you locate a command center near potential trouble spots in your beat? Low income housing, rowdy bars, and schools? Are there political or terrorists targets in your beat? Abortion clinics, Muslim or Jewish centers, power plants, Federal buildings are all potential terror targets. Are there transportation hubs, buses, trains, airports that may be disaster scenes due to a crash or terror attack? Think about how you would respond to the potential incidents in your beat, a poor plan is better than no plan; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Body Armor

Pittsburgh officers were killed by a man wearing body armor. The suspect was hit several times in the legs but was not immediately incapacitated by those hits. Officer training should include shooting at the suspects head and upper body, areas not covered by most armor. Shooting at the lower body is also important, the pelvic girdle is seldom covered by armor either.

The most appropriate weapon for situations with suspects armed with long guns and wearing body armor is the patrol rifle. A patrol rifle and it's ammunition should be selected for it's ability to defeat most common body armor. If your agency does not field a patrol rifle, then a selection of rounds that will penetrate body armor when fired from the shotgun should be in the field with each shotgun.

There are many legitimate reasons for civilians to wear body armor. People who carry large sums of money, or jewelry, someone who is being stalked, or who work in dangerous jobs may need to wear body armor. Public figures and people who live or work in high crime areas may choose to wear body armor. We should not work to ban body armor for anyone but police, we need to train to defeat body armor when we encounter dangerous suspects wearing it; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Mohr Case Profile

The Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund protects those who protect the rest of us. They provide legal defense for officers who are accused of illegal acts in the line of duty.

"Former Atlanta Police Department Officer Raymond S. Bunn was indicted on December 9, 2005 by a Fulton County County grand jury supervised by District Attorney Paul L. Howard. Officer Bunn was charged with Murder, Felony Murder, Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Violation of Oath."

Officer Bunn was on patrol and confronted several suspects whom he believed were committing auto burglaries. One suspect driving a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV tried to run over Officer Bunn. Officer Bunn fired one round and killed the suspect. Officer Bunn was struck in the knee by the SUV.

If you are on foot and a suspect tries to run you down what are your options? The first option, naturally, is lateral movement to avoid the vehicle. This is the first and best option when faced with a moving vehicle. If this is not practical due to obstacles in your way or the proximity and speed of the moving vehicle, what other choices do you have? You may be able to move forward or backward and jump onto or behind a barrier, such as a K rail or the hood or trunk lid of another vehicle.

If you are unable to move to a position where the suspect vehicle cannot strike you, is it reasonable to attempt to shoot either the vehicle or the suspect to avoid being run over? It is unlikely that simply shooting the tires, radiator, or other parts of the vehicle would save you. Tires are very difficult to puncture with handgun rounds and the other parts are not likely to disable the vehicle rapidly enough to save you from being run down.

The only other reasonable option is to shoot the driver of the vehicle. Just as a person coming at you with a glass bottle, knife, or wooded club can strike you with deadly force, so can the driver of a motor vehicle strike you with deadly force. The only substantive difference is the vehicle is more limited on where it can go to follow you, it can be much faster than someone on foot, and it is so powerful that one blow could reasonably expect to be fatal or inflict great bodily injury.

Check out the LELDF website, read the story about Officer Bunn. Then consider what you would have done in a similar situation; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, May 1, 2009

When Did This Seem Like a Good Idea?,0,6331642.story

Four Memphis, Tennessee police officers were alleged to have had sex with prostitutes, including some on duty. Three of them have resigned and one who was alleged to have hired a prostitute off duty says he will fight the allegations.

The police are supposed to do what with prostitutes? Have on duty sex with them or arrest them and put them in jail? If you are unsure of the answer, then you should not be a police officer; the answer is to arrest them and put them in jail.

The vast majority of prostitutes that I have encountered over the years have been sad people who are enslaved by drugs and vicious pimps, both of which destroy their lives at an early age. Prostitution is not a victimless crime. The money it brings in typically pays for drugs. That money goes to organized crime organizations. It corrupts families, it corrupts police, it destroys neighborhoods, and it especially destroys the lives of the people involved as prostitutes. It is real crime that deserves real enforcement, not police participation; that's what the SGT Says.