Sunday, February 28, 2010
Officers were serving a search warrant on a suspect who had been firing random gunshots. This is a very dangerous suspect. A search warrant on a known armed suspect requires tremendous planning and a lot of resources to do correctly. The officers involved have to look at the worst case scenario and be ready if the suspect meets you with a hail of gunfire.
Observe the location with undercover officers for a time. A suspect like this might be best taken when he is not inside his house. Wait until he leaves to go to the supermarket or to work. A simple traffic stop can catch him off guard and away from his arsenal, away from cover and away from others who may fight alongside him.
If you need to take him in his home because you are serving a search warrant, rather than an arrest warrant, be ready for an attack. Take plenty of help. If you have an armed suspect, have a SWAT team make initial contact. If you don't have a SWAT team, make contact with plenty of officers, including some with patrol rifles. Plan on the worst, plan to survive the worst; that's what the SGT Says.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Keep in mind that when you catch up to the bad guy, you still have to deal with the bad guy. Don't chase so far and so fast that you can't fight if you need to do so when you catch the suspect. A suspect who does not want to go to jail, so badly that he will run from the police, is likely to fight when you catch him. Be ready to deploy your arrest control techniques, and even weapons.
Keep your dispatch informed that you are chasing someone. They need to know where you are and what you are doing. On a foot pursuit it is difficult to run and talk on the radio. It is hard to know exactly where you are when you are running around some big apartment complex at night. Foot pursuits are dangerous, bring plenty of help; that's what the SGT Says.
Friday, February 26, 2010
When you have a suspect run from you, you have to make a decision, to chase on foot or not to chase on foot. A foot pursuit is very dangerous, you don't know where you are going and often don't know why the bad guy is running. The guy you stopped for jay walking, may be a wanted felon. He knows that, you don't. He may be desperate to stay out of prison, you may just want to give him a ticket.
If you don't chase him on foot, you don't just have to let him go. You can get back in your car and chase him in the car, if he is kind enough to run along the sidewalk; sometimes they are. You can call for other units, if they are close, cordon off the area and then search for the suspect; with a dog if possible. You can call for an aircraft and search for him with a helicopter. Not everyone has all these resources, but if they are available, then use them, that's what the SGT Says.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
One of the responding officers had been suspended for cocaine abuse. Cocaine abuse! If you would not hire an officer who is using cocaine, why would you allow an officer to stay on the force after you drug test him and he fails? For cocaine. Why would you give a man a gun and tell him to go on patrol if you know he has recently used cocaine?
Agencies need to do an excellent job of policing themselves or they invite disaster. The people will not vote for money to improve police buildings, vehicles, radio and computer systems if they don't have confidence in their police.
Police unions can be very helpful to insure officers are not harassed by a vindictive supervisor. They are not their members attorneys and should not always stand behind officers who are guilty of misconduct. Officers who are using illegal drugs should not be police. Unions need to look to the benefit of their entire membership, not just individual members. It is bad for all their members to work with officers who are impaired by drugs; that's what the SGT Says.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Speak to the dog in a high pitch voice, dogs recognize that sound as friendly, as puppy noises. Often the dog will stop and listen to you. Slowly back away from the dog and when you eventually get to the gate you should not turn around until you are outside. A piece of lawn furniture or trash can lid or even large toy, or garden tool can help you to fend off the dog. A lawn rake, hoe, or shovel can hold the dog at bay.
My agency keeps catch poles in the patrol car. They are like what the animal control folks use. The catch pole can be used both as a lance to hold the animal away but more importantly, it can be used to capture the animal. Sometimes you really have to go in. A catch pole works well for that; reach over the fence and get the dog; that's what the SGT Says.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The police department probably has police dogs. They probably have a veterinarian who does low cost work on the police dogs. The cops could have given this lady a referral to that veterinarian and saved her some money. The police union could have come up with a special fund for officers to donate money and pay for her vet bills. With 2,300 officers, donations of fifty cents each would have avoided all this bad publicity.
With a budget of tens of millions of dollars, the thousand dollar veterinarian bill is nothing. The bad publicity of this incident is nationwide and continues weeks, months after the event. Now the lady who owns the dog is talking about a lawsuit. The city will pay a lawyer a thousand dollars just to write a check and pay her the thousand dollars.
Part of good police work is good public relations. Part of good public relations is making problems go away. Making a major problem go away for a thousand dollars is a good deal. The next time the good people of Memphis think about their police department they will think about the two officers who shot a dog and the city that refused to pay for the wounded dog. Almost everyone loves dogs, not everyone loves police, that's what the SGT Says.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Dogs attack police officers every day. There are so many ways to deal with them without having to shoot the dog. First, inspect the property to see if there is evidence of dogs on the property, droppings, dog toys, dog house, and even dog runs in the lawn. Look for the beware of dog signs and rattle the fence, most dogs will come running when they hear the fence being violated.
I just anticipate that at any home I go to there is a good chance there will be a dog. So, be ready to go into dog avoidance mode. The same pepper spray we use on people works on dogs. The special pepper spray used by mailmen works even better, or at least faster. Spray the dog in the face, eyes, ears, and mouth. Only the most determined police dog will be able to withstand pepper spray. Use your baton as a lance. Poke the dog with the end of the baton. Most dogs will bite the first thing thrust at them. Make it your baton, not your leg.
The Taser is great, that electrical zapping noise scares the crap out of dogs. Take off the dart cartridge and as soon as you know there is a dog on the property, snap that crackle and pop noise for them to listen to. I have known German Shepherds to go hide in the bathroom behind the toilet and tremble at that sound, that's what the SGT Says.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Sometimes it's not about what's exactly right or wrong. Sometimes it's about taking care of the public. Police responded to an alarm call and two Labradors ran out of the house and the two responding officers each fired one round at the dogs. One dog was hit and the other one escaped. Then the city refused to pay for the vet bill for the shot dog.
In over thirty years of responding to alarm calls, I have been confronted by thousands of dogs and I have never had to shoot one. There are so many techniques to avoid having to do that, that only in the most extreme cases should it be necessary to fire a gun at a dog. Just as in this case, the officers missed one shot, and that round had to go someplace.
The city claims that the officers were never told there would be dogs on the property. It does not matter if they were told are not. Officers need to expect dogs at residential properties. Just like you need to expect swimming pools, lawn rakes on the ground, clothes lines and all kinds of other dangers, you have to expect dogs; that's what the SGT Says.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Sometimes the ambush just happens and you have no warning, no advance notice, no chance to be ready. Drive out of the kill zone, assault out of the ambush, return fire, run them down with the car, another reason to wear your seat belt; do what you have to do to survive. An ambush will likely have a specific area as the kill zone. The longer you stay in that area, the more likely you are to be shot. If the car is hit but will still run, one of your best options is to drive away. The car can run at 70 miles per hour, you can only run at about ten. At this point it is not about catching the bad guy, it is about surviving.
If the attacker is foolish enough to be close, then you may simply use your car to run him over. You are simply using deadly force in return for deadly force being used against you. In the time it takes to stop, get out , draw and fire the suspect can fire several times at you. You need to change that dynamic and make him react to your actions. If you do exit the car, try and stop behind or near cover, so you can more safely return fire. Sometimes an ambusher will fire a few rounds and run if you survive the initial attack. Getting to cover helps return the advantage to you, that's what the SGT Says.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Stop before you enter the dead end. Observe the location and look for possible suspects, or even just people who are out of place. Rendezvous with other officers at a parking lot or other open space a few blocks away. Go in with force, so your back up is right there with you.
The other option is to go in quiet. Get out of the patrol car and walk in. Move slowly and move from cover to cover if possible. Stop and observe, think of it almost as a military patrol looking for a sniper, because that is essentially what you are doing. The patrol rifle is a good companion to have with you; that's what the SGT Says.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
A trooper was on a car stop when he was ambushed by a man who walked up and shot him. Ambush seems to be on the rise and at least common enough that we need to consider that possibility when we are in service. Be aware of your surroundings.
Watch for things that are out of the ordinary. Consider the possibility of an ambush, don't take it for granted that you are safe from ambush.
Ambush often comes as a result of a bogus call. Ambush prevention starts with good dispatch information. Get good addresses and good call back phone numbers. Our dispatch has a map and can verify every street address in the city. If a call seems strange or not quite right, have the dispatcher call them back. Have the reporting party meet you at the curb. Ambush is on the rise, keep and eye out for it; that's what the SGT Says.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A police officer working at a school arrested a gang member who was a suspect in a double murder. The suspect was arrested on school grounds, during class, without incident. Then the principal found out and asked that the officer not return to the school.
This is too typical of many in education who refuse to understand the nature of crime and the nature of law enforcement. They are the same people who require schools become gun free zones and then don't take the proper steps to actually protect the students.
Law enforcement on school grounds is often a difficult challenge. Make contact every day with the school administration. Keep them up to date on all the criminal activity that happens on the campus. Let them see you as a person who cares about the good kids, not just someone who wants to make arrests. Parents want their kids protected, and it's your job to do it, that's what the SGT Says.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
For years now companies have been working on tires that don't use air to keep them in service. This tire by Michelin is at least five years old and is still not exactly standard equipment. This is a good example of technological changes that could have massive effects on police work.
How many times has a pursuit been stopped by a spike strip? Now imagine that tool is gone form us because of a new tire! Many times tires fall apart as a result of running over obstacles, and that too will often end a pursuit.
If we cannot rely on tire destruction what other options do we have to end pursuits? There is the Pitt Maneuver, ramming the rear of a car and spinning it out. Roadblocks, to will work, but the opportunity to use them is often limited. The time to look for options to stop suspect cars with this type of tire is now, before they are a problem; that's what the SGT Says.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Handcuffs, even leg irons are only a way to control suspects, temporarily. Suspects who are restrained still need to be watched. The first step in the restraint process is to apply the restraints. Once they are on the suspect, do a complete search of them. Just because their hands are behind their back does not mean they can't reach a weapon.
Suspects then need to be controlled. They need to sit down and be still, or lay down and be still. They should not be allowed to walk around. Placing them in the back seat of a patrol car with a cage is good, but only after you inspect the seat to make sure there is no contraband or weapons. Always seat belt the suspect into the seat, even if you are not moving the car. It's one more restriction on their movement.
When I move a suspect who is handcuffed I hold on to them. I hold their arm, the cuff chain, or even a wrist lock depending on the level of compliance and threat they pose. It's all about control. It is safer for the officers and the suspect if the suspect is controlled properly. Don't just rely on handcuffs for control, that's what the SGT Says.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
An officer pulls over a suspect who gets out and dances in the street rather then obeys the officers commands. Then the suspect pulls out a gun and eventually shoots at the officer. When a suspect is stopped for a traffic violation, generally, I like to keep him in the car. If the person gets out of the car, then I quickly put them back in or move them to the curb and sit them down. It's all about control. When I do a traffic stop, I am in control.
If the suspect gets out of control, by dancing in the street, rather than getting back in the car, then I need to take steps to restore control. The first thing to do is call for at least one urgent back up officer. There is safety in numbers and often suspects are more compliant when outnumbered. The next thing to do is give firm verbal commands to the suspect to get them to stop dancing and go sit on the curb. This would probably be a good time to consider deployment of the Taser or pepper spray. The suspect has not been searched, and there could be weapons or other suspects in the suspect vehicle.
At the time the suspect takes the long gun out of his truck, it is time to put out an officer needs help call, order the suspect to drop his weapon, and if he fails to immediately comply, then the officer needs to consider shooting. Move to the rear of the police car, or get inside and back up at a high rate of speed to get out of the kill zone. The suspect has a long gun and a tactical advantage over the officer with only a handgun. Once the officer is in fear of his life, because he thinks the suspect is going to shoot him, then he needs to rapidly shoot the suspect until the threat stops; that's what the SGT Says.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
ATF Agent Jay Dobyns went undercover for a very long time to try and discover the secrets of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. He often did not go home for days at a time and he was unable to discuss the work with his family. The book very much shows the stresses of officers working undercover, and having to get criminals to trust them.
The work is told from a first person viewpoint and really shows how his life declines as he goes deeper and deeper undercover. He at times almost loses himself in the work as an agent and later as a member of the Hells Angels. It is very disturbing at times to know he is alone and often unarmed and in the mist of some very bad criminals. Highly recommended; that's what the SGT Says.
Friday, February 12, 2010
When the patrol rifle is not with you, can you use your duty sidearm to take it's place? You can if you are trained in long range pistol fire. The average duty pistol can be used to effectively bring fire onto targets as far away as fifty yards. I have done this with both the Glock and the four-inch revolver.
Ideally, you can fire your handgun on a fifty yard range. If one is not available, you can practice on shorter ranges, but use much smaller targets. Firing on a smaller target will give some simulation of firing at a greater range. It will not simulate the need to super elevate the firearm to "arch" the rounds into the target at greater ranges. Getting hits, even at great range, is possible if you train, that's what the SGT Says.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
The tactics were wrong in so many ways. The officer knew the suspect and so he discounted him as a "suspect;" despite the fact that it was a serial murder investigation. The officer allowed the suspect to walk up on him. He got way too close to the officer. There was no time for reaction on the part of the officer.
I try to never hold anything in my right hand when in uniform. Unless I am writing, I keep that hand free so I can get to the gun. I hold my flashlight in my left hand and often try and hold it so I can strike with it, if someone gets close and tries to assault me. Be ready, so when something bad happens, you don't have to get ready; that's what the SGT Says.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Another criminal has been given the death penalty here in California. For the victims to truly get the justice they deserve, the penalties must be swift and sure. An innocent person should not have to go through years of continuances and trial to be set free. A victim should not have to wait through years of continuances and trial to see their attacker.
Criminals are so bold and so unconcerned about actually being put to death that they actually ask for the death penalty. Not because they think they deserve to die, but rather because they think that they will never be put to death and that death row is nicer than the rest of prison.
The criminal justice system does not move fast enough. There needs to be more training for officers so they can collect better data and write more complete reports. More funding for crime scene investigation is needed to collect the evidence of crimes. Detectives need smaller case loads so that they can fully investigate the crimes. The district attorneys must work closer with law enforcement to insure that information is processed in a manner that will hold up in court. Judges need to work 24 / 7, just like the crooks and cops; that's what the SGT Says.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Police chased a car for over 50 miles, when suddenly the car stops and the suspect starts shooting. Very dangerous to chase people in a car. Cars can contain anything. Guns, drugs, bombs, even more suspects. I know many times I have stopped a car, thinking there was one or two people in the vehicle and find out there were more than that.
Car chases often end very fast. The suspect gets tired, scared, runs out of gas; the car stops, they get out, lay down in the road and go to jail. That's the best case scenario. Sometimes the car falls apart and you have to dodge car bits. Sometimes, maybe even frequently, the bad guy crashes into something and stops.
What may be the worst situation, the bad guys stop and shoot it out with the police. Many agencies have now changed their pursuit policies so that only a couple units follow the suspect vehicle. Then what happens when the vehicle stops and bad guys jump out shooting? A pursuit needs to have enough officers to deal with any pursuit termination scenario, that's what the SGT Says.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Letter of the law, vs. spirit of the law.
The letter of the law says the speed limit is 65 miles per hour. So if a police radar gun says the driver was going 66 miles per hour, then the letter of the law has been violated and the person can get a ticket. If you are going to write a ticket for everyone going 66 miles per hour in every 65 miles per hour zone, then you may as well be replaced by a machine.
When I write tickets or make arrests, I ask myself the reason I am performing that duty. It is my hope to create a city that is safer and more habitable for the residents. A car going one mile per hour faster than the speed limit is not that much more unsafe than one going the speed limit that it would generally be worthy of a citation. Human and mechanical error are such that it is unreasonable to impose such tight restrictions on driving. Writing someone a ticket for one mile per hour above the speed limit will not make traffic safer, it will only serve to annoy and harass what otherwise might be an honest taxpayer.
There are times when the letter of the law is important. When a particular gang or location has become a danger or a nuisance to the neighborhood. Then writing every parking ticket that is close to the fire hydrant, or other minor violation may be worthwhile to help create a safer, more habitable neighborhood for the good people. Make your city safe, that's what the SGT Says.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
If you are the first unit to arrive at a major disaster scene, it is not your job to save anyone, it is your job to coordinate the saving of everyone. We all treat each call with a bit of skepticism until an officer actually arrives at the location and provides a first hand account of what is really happening. A major disaster is the same way. The other responders need good information about what is really happening on the ground.
Take a deep breath, calm yourself, take a broad, wide view of the scene. Then try to describe to dispatch the nature of the event, the scope of the incident and the number of injuries, and type of destruction. Is there a fire? Is there leaking natural gas? Are there tanks or trains of fuel or gas nearby? Are there schools, hospitals, or nursing homes near that must be evacuated?
Can you get air support to give an overview of the size of the disaster scene? Is there a danger to responders of airborne poisons or toxins? Is there a danger of additional explosions? Are the employees of the business able to provide more information about the nature of the business and potential hazards? Is this a police event or a fire event? Should the police simply set up a perimeter and let the fire departments handle the problem? All of these are information that the dispatcher will need; that's what the SGT Says.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Our jobs as police entail risk. I have read that just strapping on the shooting iron and body arm increase our heart rates and blood pressure. There is no reason to take unnecessary risks. Two officers were responding to a request for mutual aid and their car crashed. One was killed and the other was injured. Both were wearing seat belts, which is good.
Sometimes even a seat belt is not enough to save you. We have all seen those accidents with cars ripped apart, shredded or crushed. Wearing the seat belt is critical, and I always wear mine in the patrol car. I unbuckle it just before we arrive at the scene so I can jump out quickly, in perhaps the last one hundred yards.
When responding to a mutual aid call, how many times did you get there and find out you were the twenty-fifth car at an incident that only needed nine officers? If you ask for back up and especially mutual aid, notify dispatch to stop it as soon as you have enough officers. Don't let other officers race to your help in the dark, rain, snow when you have plenty of help on scene. You don't want to have a crash on your conscience when you no longer needed the help, that's what the SGT Says.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Muslim extremists are now using surgical techniques to hide explosives inside the bodies of murder / suicide bombers. The terrorists train as doctors, even performing legitimate plastic surgeries. They then return to their homeland and plan to implant explosives into the bodies of those who will carry out the attacks.
As a law enforcement professional, my first thought that a terrorist may want the services of a plastic surgeon to make his face look different. Get extensive plastic surgery so they don't match up on face recognition software or at least pass a casual visual check by border enforcement.
These terrorists are using the same technology for breast implants or buttock implants to implant bombs. Even a full body strip search would not reveal this type of weapon. This is a totally new type of weapon concealment that even goes beyond swallowing balloons of heroin. There have been over a dozen thwarted terror attacks in the US since 9/11, can you prevent that next one? That's part of your job, that's what the SGT Says.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
We come to work and get ready to go on patrol. Check the car, the radio and the shotgun. Make sure there is a full magazine of ammunition, the chamber is clear, and the safety is on. We should do this every time we prepare for a shift. When was the last time you trained to do this on the range?
When was the last time your agency had an unintended discharge in the parking lot with the shotgun? Someone when to check the shotgun but ended up shooting the car, the pavement, a wall or worst of all, some person. Checking the shotgun and proper removal from the vehicle should be trained at least quarterly; that's what the SGT Says.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Al Qaeda is coming and will be here in six months or less. That's the word from a recent article in the New York Post. Are you ready? Is your agency ready? One of the big dangers is not the huge conspiracy of dozens, even hundreds of people working together. The concern now is that home grown Al Qaeda members may carry out individual attacks, not unlike the underwear bomber or the Fort Hood attack.
A single person acting alone or a couple can create tremendous damage. The Oklahoma Federal Building was the work of only a couple people, as was the Columbine Massacre. Are you ready? Is your agency ready?
A patrol rifle is an excellent response to an active shooter. You should be training at least every other month with your rifle; multiple suspects, multiple don't shoot targets. One way to prevent bomb attacks on important locations is as simple as parking enforcement. Important buildings should have safe zones around them. Immediately tow vehicles that don't belong to keep them from blowing up a school, shopping center, financial tower. Much better to have the impound lot blow up; that's what the SGT Says.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Once the situation is stabilized, treat the officer like a victim, not like a suspect. Victims need to have their wounds treated. Sometimes, in stressful situations, people don't realize they have been injured. Have the paramedics check over the officer to insure they have not been injured. Make sure the officer has the proper legal protection to insure they are not further victimized.
Don't leave the officer alone. Make sure their needs are attended to, food, bathroom breaks, a place to sit down that is warm and safe. Once they are safe and taken care of, only then is it time to see about the report writing; that's what the SGT Says.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Cars that exhibited more than one vehicle equipment violation and then did a moving violation. "Real" criminals tend to scoff at the law and certainly bad guys don't worry too much about minor traffic offenses. Run every driver for wants and warrants. It only takes a few moments to run them, and sometimes you can be surprised.
Always get the car registration and proof of insurance. Compare the paperwork to the driver, the car and the other papers. Sometimes people give you a registration from another car, or they give you some other persons drivers license or insurance paperwork that is expired. Look inside the car, even if it is only while you are standing outside the car. People often have to move their dope stash to get to their registration, or while they are fumbling for paperwork the open beer they shoved under their seat will leak out onto their feet. A couple extra minutes can get you a couple extra crooks; that's what the SGT Says.