Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fast and Accurate

Today I went to the range and did range training with a young new officer. Of course, he did very well. His shot placement was quite good and his groups were good too. He has been to the academy and has been working for two different agencies for a while. He has seldom trained with me at the range.

While shooting I noticed he was slow on the draw of the pistol from the holster and slow getting his first round off downrange. As most of you know, the average law enforcement shootout takes place in only a few seconds, three to five seconds is not unusual. I asked the officer to load six rounds in his Glock and I loaded 14 rounds in mine. I told him to fire at the head of the target and I would fire center of mass. From the holster, I gave the command to fire.

In about five seconds, I fired all fourteen and he took about six to fire his six rounds. We repeated the exercise and by the time I fired my fifth round, he fired his first round. In both cases, his rounds were all over the target, and mine were close together. He needs a lot more practice, and he will get that with time. So far, no one ever trained him to be both fast and accurate. They only taught him accurate. It's time to move to the next level, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Career Criminals

The "Grim Sleeper" case in Los Angeles has finally had an arrest. The suspect would murder than stop killing for years before he would commit other murders. Often when a suspect commits a murder and then no other killings surface for year the suspect is in prison and unable to kill. Sometimes the criminal will leave the area and continue to kill elsewhere but law enforcement will fail to tie the crimes together because of the different jurisdictions involved.

In this case the suspect had been arrested numerous times, often for minor offenses. He was never in custody for very long and never got his DNA entered into data bases. This shows the importance of several things we need to make sure we do in law enforcement. The first is to write good reports that include all the circumstances of the offense. Next, make sure the suspect is entered in all the data bases that the law allows.

This suspect was a career criminal who even in his fifties was committing crimes. That's someone who needs to be put away. That's the sort of criminal that the three strikes laws were designed to keep in prison. Talk to your district attorney and try to get them to go for maximum charges and maximum terms. Make certain that during sentencing the judge is aware that this is someone who have not been rehabilitated by short terms in jail and needs to go to prison; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home Defense

The best gun in the world is the one you never have to use, so start your whole home defense plan with by keeping criminals out of your home to begin with. Every exterior door should have a dead bolt lock on it. Those locks should be locked all the time unless you are walking in or out of the door, when you are home and when you are away. I can't count the number of crime reports that started with "I was only gone for a minute..." If you need to keep the door open for ventilation, get a security screen door, with a dead bolt lock and use that to secure your entrance when the solid door is open.

Have a weapon you train with. You need to be able to hit the target, not the neighbor, your kid or your spouse. Have a legal weapon. You want the event to be about the criminal attacking you and your defense of your life, loved ones, and property, not the AK-47 you brought home from the ‘Nam.

Have legal ammo. Some killer flame thrower ammo may look great on YouTube, but you want something that have has known performance and is not going to detract from the reason you had to shoot. Weapon and ammo that are like those of your local police are very legally defensible or like you used in the service, as a cop, or as a guard. Have a lawyer that you know and can contact. There will always be questions, lawsuits, and district attorneys who don’t like people using guns for self defense; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Get The Lead Out

Lead is found in bullets, in the projectile and often in the primer. If you go to the range and train, if you don't use a completely lead free bullet, then you are risking your health if you don't follow a few precautions. Lead can be ingested by breathing air with lead dust in it, or from getting it in your eyes, or mouth. You can also get it by touching your contaminated hands to your face, or by eating, gum chewing or smoking on the range.

While your body can eliminate some lead, your body will store some as well. The body does not do well with lead. It accumulates over time and the damage it does will get worse and worse. It can lead to brain damage and damage to nerves. So it is a good idea to minimize your lead exposure.

Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum on the range. Wash your hands and face before you eat, drink, smoke or chew gum after being on the range. Use lead free primers and bullets that are lead free or low lead. Make sure you have good ventilation if you use an indoor range. Your rangemasters spend the most time on the range and so have the most exposure. It's a good idea to have them checked for lead exposure every year or so; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Recently a sniper had targeted Oakland police on a traffic stop. There has been a rise in sniper and unprovoked attacks on police in the US in recent months. There are several tactics you can employ to minimize sniper attacks. The first thing is to be aware of the location of your traffic stop. Try to pick spots that are not adjacent to housing projects, known gang hangouts and other dangerous sites.

When possible make use off all our resources. How many times have you been on a traffic stop and had three or four officers show up and stand around and do nothing? Put everyone to work. The first officer on scene is the contact officer. He is to talk to the suspect, pat them down, write the tickets, search their car and talk on the radio. The second officer is the cover officer, he is to watch the suspects to insure they don't attack the cover officer.

The third and subsequent officer can perform site security. It is his job to watch the traffic driving by, the pedestrians going past and the general area. He should be watching parked vehicles nearby, and look at windows of apartments and houses that could provide cover for a sniper. He might even want to deploy the patrol rifle if it fits your department usage policy; that's the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Training After Training

I always figured that officers should attend an academy for about six months full time and then do their field training for six months. After that, they should go back to the academy for another two months of more advanced training and finally a couple more months of field training. In the second session of academy training the officers should have a more collegiate atmosphere. They should discuss their experiences and ask questions of experts how to handle situations they have encountered.

They should get more advanced firearms tactical training with shotgun and patrol rifle usage. The recruits should get stress inducing tactical scenario training, to include the report writing after the scenario. They can then do follow up investigations, to include lifting fingerprints, interviewing witnesses and photographing the crime scene, and finally giving mock testimony.

Officer training reduces liability and it increases effectiveness. Officers who don't get hurt or hurt others because they are highly skilled reduce workers compensation expenses and lawsuits from suspects. Officers who are well trained in evidence collection and report writing will achieve more convictions, because they will present the information in a professional and complete manner. More training means better police; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Academy Gun

Several times in recent days I have had young people ask me about the best gun to carry in the academy. An important question and I have at least three good answers. If you are sponsored by an agency and they are sending you, then carry what they issue, if anything. That way you will be training with the gun you will be using on duty and showing solidarity with your agency.

If you are a gun person and own a handgun that is suitable for duty use and you shoot very well with it, then carry that gun. There is no point in reinventing the wheel and if you shoot well with the gun, then go with what works well for you. Money is often tight for young recruits and so avoiding the expense of a new gun is probably a good idea.

For those who are paying their own way through an academy and don't already own a gun they shoot well with, I recommend the Glock Model 17, fourth generation, 9mm semiautomatic handgun for most recruits. More police in the USA use the Glock than any other firearm. The 9mm is a widely used handgun round for law enforcement and is competitively priced. Recruits often fire a lot of rounds and having a less expensive round is a good idea.

The fourth generation has some adjustable features that make it easier to handle and operate compared to the older Glocks. The Glock is a durable, reliable firearm and many agencies actually use the Glock Model 17 so it is a good weapon to be familiar with as a police recruit. It's large magazine capacity is also important for recruits who will not have to spend as much time reloading. There is no manual safety to release or decocking levers to fool with. It is simply draw and fire, not unlike a revolver. These features make it an excellent choice for the new shooter. The Glock 17 retains good resale value so if you want to change later you can trade it in or sell it yourself and get a good start on the money for a new gun.

There are good reasons to carry other weapons on duty or off duty besides the Glock 17. There are other guns that have better stopping power, or are cheaper or work better in certain applications, the Glock 17 is my recommendation for police recruits who are having to buy their own gun and ammo to attend the academy. Once they have completed their initial training and have a better understanding of firearms manipulation and tactics, then perhaps they can transition to another weapon that better suits their needs; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Goodby Maywood Police!

YouTube - Maywood, Ca Police - final radio transmission 6-30-10#t=107

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the world. The city council of the city of Maywood, California disbanded their police department and has now contracted with the LASD to provide law enforcement services for their city. This will save the city money.

The citizens of Maywood will not be as well served by the Sheriff as they were by their own police. The police who work for a small city know the community, they know the bad guys, the short cuts and all the ins and outs of that city. They can provide excellent police services in a manner that is responsive to the needs of the community. The Sheriff does provide law enforcement services to many cities in Los Angeles County. The city of Lakewood has been well served by the Sheriff for decades, however, having your own police department is better. It provides more local control over the actions of the officers.

The Sheriff has thousands of officers and some will now be assigned to Maywood. They will have no ties to the community and will be rotated in and out of the city as they are promoted, transferred and otherwise moved about without regard to the needs of Maywood. If a city cannot support it's own police and fire departments, then I question their need to be a city at all.

Friday, July 23, 2010


One Dead And Four Hurt In Pit Bull Attack - WREG

Pit bull dogs attacked several people. The fire department arrived to treat the injured and were themselves attacked. Many people were bitten by the dogs and one eventually died of a heart attack during the incident. Dogs kill several people in the US every year, usually children and old people. Dogs attack thousands of people, but dog attacks are not very hard to fight off, if you plan just a little bit. Don't run from dogs unless you have a good chance of getting away. Most dogs are faster then you are and running just excites them more.

Dogs will generally bite the first thing that comes to their mouth. If you hold one end of your baton and stick out the other end, most dogs will bite the baton, rather than you. Common household items can be used to fend off most dog attacks. A trash can, a hoe, shovel, or rake, or lawn chair are all good at keeping a dog away. Most dogs hate electrical noise and so the contact Taser noise is often enough to scare dogs away, without even touching them.

Pepper spray works well on dogs, and so does a fire extinguisher. CO2 types work best but even the dry chemical type can cause them to be confused and disoriented. The air bottle itself can be used to hold the dog at bay. The shotgun can be used to hold the dog at bay also. Having the weapon on safe and keeping your finger out of the trigger guard, you can poke the dog with the muzzle. A very dangerous dog, one that has already bit someone can also be lured close and shot with the shotgun in that manner, with the barrel in their mouth as they try and bite it. A contact or near contact shot is best with dogs, they are actually rather small and move quickly. You don't want ricochets or missed rounds to hit innocent people nearby.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Camera vs Brain

Cameras have generally been good things for police work. It proves that the vast majority of the time officers act with restraint and professionalism. It also shows how out of control otherwise ordinary people can act when they are angry or intoxicated. It has also provided us with opportunities to analyze shoot outs, and other confrontations so that we can provide better training in the future.

There are tremendous limitations to cameras. The camera only records what the lens sees. The angle of the lens will not be what the officer or the suspect sees. The light, shadows, angle of the camera lens will be different from what the human participants in an event will see. Sometimes the camera will record more that what the eye will see and sometimes less.

The camera will record dispassionately what is going on in front of it. The human eye will record accurately, but the data it transmits will be interpreted by a brain that is subject to fear, confusion, anger and training. The brain will have to immediately interpret the data transmitted to it by the eye. The camera only has to record data, it does not have to interpret it, or react to it and it does not care if it is destroyed. The brain tries to avoid getting sued, fired, arrested, wounded or killed. That makes a big difference between the camera and the officer; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Camera Shy

Videotape Your Next Traffic Stop: A Good Idea?

More and more people are carrying cameras and photographing police activity that they are involved with. When a person is pulled over on a traffic stop they often pull out a camera, on it's own or part of a cell phone. If the driver does not pull out a camera, their passengers may begin taping your traffic stop. If that is not enough, passers by will often pull out a camera.

Do your job properly and just assume that you are always on camera. Just assume that every thing you do and every thing you say is being recorded. The bank ATM camera, the traffic red light camera, the traffic monitor cameras may all catch your actions on tape. If someone pulls out a camera, don't permit them to endanger you. They can't thrust the camera in your face, for example. Don't throw your hands up and tell them to put the camera away unless you have the legal authority to do so; otherwise you just look stupid on camera and they have caught you overstepping your authority.

While it is usually perfectly legal for people to video tape and sound record police actions, people do not have the right to interfere with your work. You need to watch peoples hands and make sure that camera is a camera, not a gun. Some guns have even been disguised as cameras in some cases. Don't worry about the camera, just do your job; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Laser Attack

Three men were supposedly shining lasers at passing boats, aircraft and police. Just a few days ago, the US Navy tested a new laser that was used to shoot down aircraft drones. Another website has been selling light sabre lasers strong enough to burn flesh. Lasers are getting cheaper and stronger.

It used to be that the only laser lights we ever saw were small pointers that kids had. Then they became the sights on guns and we had to respond to every laser light that shined on us as a potential gun sight. Some states make it illegal to shine lasers on people with the intent to make them think they were being targeted.

Officers need to treat every laser attack as a potentially deadly attack. That little laser dot could be a sight for a gun. As the laser technology continues to develop, we need to be aware of the potential for new and different kinds of attacks on police. Not all technology works for the benefit of law enforcement; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Recent trends in the Islamic world are taking shape here in America. Muslims are forming private communities and denying access to other, non-Muslims. They are in some cases speaking only Arabic, running their own schools and some even allege they are participating in paramilitary training.

Any group that cordons itself off from the rest of society can bring a sense of unease to their neighbors. Even long standing groups like Amish or Christian Monks can seem strange to those not in the group. The difference with some of these new Muslim communities is they generally don't embrace American culture or ideals and they seek to impose their own ideals on America.

While people should be free to generally live as they please, it must be in the context of American laws and values. People who form their own enclaves must still obey their local laws. It is important that building construction and occupancy conform to the zoning laws of their local area. Children need to be in school and be vaccinated as required by law. Gun laws must be enforced. Just because someone has a particular religious preference does not mean they can't be a victim of child abuse, elder abuse or spouse abuse. It is important that if such enclaves exist in your jurisdictions, that you reach out to them to insure compliance with all local laws in their area; that's what the SGT Says.

Terror Attacks

The City of Hemet Police have been attacked numerous times recently by various bombs and booby traps. While no officers were killed or injured, it has only been a matter of luck as each of the attacks had the potential to be deadly. Officers have made more arrests in these cases and hopefully the attacks will stop.

Domestic terrorism seems to be on the rise here in the US in the last ten years. Since the attacks on 9/11 several sources of danger to police have appeared that previously were not recognized, or were only a minimal problem. The international Muslim extremist threat continues with some groups now more active in recruiting Americans for attacks here in the US. They are recruiting recent immigrants, and many in our prison population to carry out attacks in the name of their radical Islamic agenda.

The drug lords of Mexico are a greater threat now, and some have even made attacks here in the US. Most have been confined to attacking other drug smugglers but there have been several attacks on police officers as well. Now this rather unknown threat in Hemet. We need to be more aware of the potential for ambush, bomb attacks and sniper attacks. All these are hallmarks of terror attacks; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cheap Range Tricks

Penny-Pinching Towns Put Police Out to Pasture

The first thing that always gets cut is the training budget. One of the biggest items is range training. So here are a few ideas on how to cut range expenses. First of all, you don't always have to shoot a lot of ammo to get good training. Shoot only a couple rounds but shot them in unusual positions. Seated, prone, on your back, seated and shooting to the side as if you were inside your patrol car, are all positions we need to practice shooting in, but don't necessarily need large number of rounds each.

Get a party pack of balloons and helium. Fill the balloons with helium and use a pen to draw a face on them. Tether the balloons to the ground. The red balloon is the bad guy, the blue balloon is the hostage. You only need one round for this drill. Get it wrong, either a miss or hit the blue balloon and it's game over!

Buy a bag of balloons and round up a bunch of old tee shirts. Ask officers to bring them in or get them at a thrift store. Blow up the balloons with air and stuff the tee shirts with them. Attach the balloon filled tee shirts with tape or staples to your usual backstop. Fire until all the balloons are gone. Start from the holster when the rangemaster says "Threat." One second to draw and one second per balloon should be enough; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Money and Jobs

Penny-Pinching Towns Put Police Out to Pasture

At least four towns in the US have eliminated their police departments this year. There are many reasons, but the bottom line, is the bottom line, they don't have enough money to do all the things they want to do and have a police department. How is your agency doing? Agencies need to make good use of their money and resources.

The individual officer can also make a difference. People are reluctant to pay for something if they don't perceive value for their dollar. Police officers should be visible to the public, performing police functions, not hanging out at donut shops. Police should provide excellent customer service, so that if the average citizen thinks about the police, they think about the officer who provided them with great customer service.

Keep your overtime to a minimum. Overtime really kills budgets. Write your reports as the incidents happen, don't wait until the end of your shift to write them so that you incur overtime. Make sure at the end of the shift your are prepared to leave, not get a half hour of overtime refueling the car, putting away your gear, finishing up your daily log, things you could have done in advance and saved the overtime. An agency with fifty officers getting one hour of overtime a day can spend over a quarter of a million dollars on overtime in a year. Some agencies are disbanding for less money; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Notifiy Folks

There are so many people to notify. The phone company, because you may need to tap their lines or prevent the criminals from calling out of the bank for reinforcements or the media. You may be able to block their cell phones from a local tower or if you have identified the criminals perhaps their cell phone provider will cancel their phone. Call the electric company, you may need to cut power to the bank, or if there is shooting you may damage power poles, lines, or transformers.

Contact the gas company, in the event of a shootout, you don't want the gas to the building to be hit. Not a big problem with a bank, but if they are hold up in a fast food place, they often have big gas lines. Notify the bus companies, you don't want a big city bus stopping out front in the middle of a hostage situation.

Make sure local hospitals, primarily trauma rooms and emergency rooms are away of the potential for injuries. Local schools need to be advised, they sure don't want to release five hundred elementary school kids three blocks away from a hostage situation. There is so much more than the guns to consider in a hostage situation; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Major Call Out

Taking care of your people can be a real problem. If you have a small agency, it can be hard to rotate people out, and you may have already called in the next shift. Be ready to call people in on their days off and call reserve officers, if you have them. Remember that Explores and Cadets, Parking Control and even Jailers and other non-sworn can often be very helpful. They can assist with traffic direction at the outer perimeter, run errands and other duties that don't require someone with full police powers and a gun.

Your patrol cars may need to be refuelled, sitting idling for a long period of time may cause them to run out of fuel, on a hot day, some may even overheat and shut down. Non-sworn personnel can be very helpful with those duties. They can even be given a couple hundred bucks and sent to the drive through for a few burgers and drinks!

If it looks like a long siege, start considering how you will arrange shift coverage. At some point you need to send people home. Here in California, after twelve hours most officers start making double time pay. You probably want to avoid that if you can. The Red Cross and Salvation Army can be helpful in finding places for evacuated people to stay while they are displaced. You may need to rent a few motel rooms so officers can sleep for a few hours before they return to patrol or to the scene of the event. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a major call out; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

More Perimeter

Your command post site needs to be several blocks away from the bank hostage site. You don't want to be dodging bullets if things go sideways and you don't want to have to move if things go mobile. You need places for officers to park their police cars, a place for the paramedics and fire trucks and the media. If you don't assign a place for the media, they will find their own place and it may not be someplace you want them to be located.

Soon after the start of the incident, appoint a scribe. It will be his job to follow you around and write everything down. At this time we called for the fire department, at that time they arrived, and such. The million orders and details you can't remember after the incident is done. You will need city yard crews to bring barricades and traffic cones so you can block off streets and your command post area.

If the incident goes on for more than an hour or so, you need to be able to rotate your troops. No one should be on the active perimeter for more than an hour and twenty minutes is a long time. You want everyone on the inner containment to be alert and active. So you have to have enough officers to rotate people back and forth so they can use the restroom, get food and water and rest up. Someone who spends five or six hours on a hot summer day, sitting on a rooftop waiting for something to happen will not be in prime condition when it does happen. Take care of the troops; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bank Hostages

When you arrive at the bank, you find the robbers are inside and since they saw you arrive, they have taken hostages? What do you do now? First thing to do is notify Dispatch and your follow up units. Deploy units to cover all exits, even windows. Suspects may try and escape from any exit. Call for air support, the ability to see the roof could be very important.

Make note of the vehicles out front and in the rear. One could be a get away car, and it may even have a suspect inside. Notify your supervisor and ask for a SWAT deployment. All responding units should deploy their patrol rifles. Block off traffic on surrounding streets and set up a spot for a command post. You need a very big parking lot type space.

Call for EMS to respond to the command post. If this becomes a shooting you want to have paramedics on site. Begin evacuation of buildings adjacent to the bank and across the street. Start with buildings in close and work your way out. You may end up clearing out several blocks of space depending on the terrain and configuration of the bank; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Duty Gun

The best way to avoid having your gun taken away is to avoid giving the suspect the chance to take away your gun. I generally don't allow people to approach inside my bubble of safety. I have an imaginary space around me and I don't let people get that close if there is any way to avoid it. I want people to my front where I can keep and eye on them and I generally want them to be at least three or four feet away from me. Awareness of the gun and the proximity of others is your first step towards keeping your firearm.

I never let people stand on my gun side, even women and children. I just don't want someone that close to my weapon. I want them at least arms reach away. I often stand with my gun side towards a wall, a car or other obstacle, it makes it harder to approach from that side. If someone comes towards me I will often hold out my support hand and tell them to stop! The hand gesture helps with people who are excited or don't speak English well. I also turn my gun side away from them so they have to reach across my body to get to the gun.

When I am around other people I press my right arm against my gun and holster. It helps create an awareness that my gun is where it belongs and makes it harder for someone to remove, at least without my being aware of the attempt. I even clamp my right hand over the top of the holster / duty gun when I am in a crowd, not in a position to draw, but to cover the top of the gun. Every call you go to there will be at least one gun there, because you will bring it; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gun Take Away

An officer in Chicago was just shot and killed with his own gun by a mentally disturbed man with a history of over twenty arrests. We used to lose a lot of officers because their guns were taken away, but it is rather rare now. We learned to protect our weapons and we learned that the only reason a person has to take your gun is to kill you. Contrary to what Hollywood shows all the time, nearly everyone to takes a police officers gun away will try and kill the cop.

Someone who tries to take your gun away is trying to kill you. There is no other reason to disarm you. If they want to get away, all they have to do is run away, few crimes and few jurisdictions will allow officers to shoot unarmed fleeing suspects in the back. I carry a back up gun so that if my duty weapon is taken, I can draw my back up gun and shoot the suspect. Do you carry a back up gun? How often do you practice both drawing it and shooting it?

I carry a couple knives that I can reach with my off hand. I am able to draw those knives, open them one handed and then stab the person who is trying to take my gun. A couple quick knife jabs to the face and most suspects will be less interested in taking your gun away. Or a really good, long cut into the suspects hands as he is trying to draw you gun from the holster would also likely deter him from taking your gun; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


We had an earthquake here this week. It was a 5.4 but seeing as how it is Southern California, most of us hardly too much notice. We are also subject to flooding here, and the potential for tsunami also. And not too far away from here, brush fires. And of course just up the state in Oakland they had rioting this week too.

Are you aware of all the potential disasters that can happen where you patrol? Are you prepared for a police response to them all? How about a terror attack? Do you know what buildings or gatherings are most likely to bring out an extremist attack in your jurisdiction?

If a large building fell over due to a bomb or an earthquake, what can you do as a first responder? The first duty is to report carefully, exactly what happened. Coordinate the other units that will respond. Recognize you can't do it all yourself and proper reporting is essential to save lives. Give an estimate of the number of potential killed and wounded. Give them an idea of how many units, police, fire, EMS you will need to handle the situation.

Set up a command post in a safe area, with plenty of space for coordination of the rescue. You need space for police, fire, Red Cross, media, medical, coroner, and perhaps special agencies too. There may be a need for ATF if you suspect a bomb, or FBI if you think it is a terror incident. Be aware of the needs of the injured, but also possible evidence collection too. A large disaster is a big problem, deal with it one small bite at a time; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Sometimes it takes some doing to get the proper firearms training we need. In my opinion, every agency should have a full time use of force instructor and a range that they can use most of the hours of the day or night. Officers should be able to visit the range on duty or off duty to practice with their weapons under the supervision of someone who knows how to train them.

On the day an officer is issued with his duty gun, the should also be given a red gun of the same type as his duty weapon. Then the officer can use the red gun to practice his draw and his re-holster. The re-holster can be as important as the draw, and it needs to be practiced.

When it is time to return the duty firearm to the holster, the officer should maintain his eye on the suspect, and not look at his gun. He should be able to return the gun to the holster, without looking and without having to use more than just the gun hand. Just as you would not turn on your flashlight to look a the holster in the nighttime, you have no reason to look at gun as you re- holster in the daytime; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Additional Multiple Suspects

While you are preparing to shoot them, give the suspects verbal commands. Identify yourself and tell them what you want them to do. "Police officer. Drop the gun." That's a very clear command. Innocent bystanders can understand that you told the suspects, that you recognized that they had a gun and that you wanted the suspects to put the gun down. That could be important in coroners inquests, trials, civil suits, to show you were in fear of your life, and the suspect might actually drop the gun!

No matter how long the gunfight goes on, continue to give verbal commands. Tell the suspects to give up. Tell them more officers are on the way. Tell them they can't escape, or even tell them to run and you won't shoot, if you need time to recover from an injury or if no help is coming soon.

The goal is to keep innocent people safe. You may have to die in order to do that, but it is not mandatory. We can try and get the bad guys a bit farther down the road when we have more people and a greater tactical advantage, unless it is an active shooter who is targeting innocents right now. Most crooks just want to get away. We are all willing to risk our lives, but don't throw them away; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

More Multiple Suspects

When you are facing multiple suspects, besides shooting back, move to cover. Most of the time cover is only a couple steps away. Even if you are only partially hidden or only hidden from some of the suspects, it's better than being out in the open. The act of simply stepping a foot or two to your right or to your left can disorient the aim of the suspects and give you an extra fraction of a second.

Anything can be used to stop, slow or deflect a bullet. Even bushes can sometimes deflect or slow down a bullet. It can also offer some degree of concealment from the suspects. Take every advantage you can get, no matter how slight. Sometimes even a tiny margin can mean the difference between life and death. A detective once told me he was talking to a suspect in the hospital and when the suspect pulled a gun from under his pillow, the officer drew the hospital curtain between himself and the suspect and the suspect did not fire! Out of sight, out of mind.

The next thing you need to be doing is to communicate the situation. Tell your partners on scene there is a deadly threat, yell "GUN" or "KNIFE" or whatever the suspect is using to threaten you. If there is no officers on scene, contact your dispatcher and tell them "Officer needs help, shots fired." Practice saying it at the range, just so you are used to talking and shooting; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Multiple Suspects

On the worst day of your career, you may be confronted with multiple suspects who are attempting to shoot you do death. How do you deal with that? One at a time. The first thing to do, once you recognize multiple deadly threats is to fight back. Draw your duty weapon. Get your gun out of the holster, and start shooting. As quickly as you can. Shoot at the threat that is the greatest to you. If one suspect is much closer, then shoot at him first. If one suspect has a shotgun and the others have a lesser weapon, like a handgun or knife, shoot the guy with the shotgun first.

Ordinarily we would want to shoot the suspect until his threat to us is over, but when there are multiple suspects making deadly threats against you, it may be better to try and shoot each one with one or two rounds and move on to the next suspect. That way each suspect can be hit in the shortest possible amount of time.

While you are drawing you can start shooting. Even if you are not fully up on the center of mass of the target, shoot as you are bringing the gun up. Shoot them in the ankle, knee, and the stomach on the way to the chest. I like to practice drawing the handgun from the holster, and moving the barrel to a horizontal position as soon as the muzzle clears the top edge of the holster. It allows me to be on target, just that much sooner; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan

Preparation for your shift begins at least eight to ten hours before the shift starts. Your work uniform needs to be ready, cleaned, pressed, and ready to wear. Shoes need to be cleaned and shined. I don't generally wear a high gloss spit shine on my shoes or boots, but they need to look nice, at least at the start of the shift. Shoe polish actually works to protect the footwear, so it's a good idea to use a little bit.

Go to sleep and sleep at least six hours if not more. I had at least two officers yesterday who were expecting a 14 hour shift who told me they had less than three hours sleeps. That's just poor planning. If you had a shooting, do you want to tell the investigators you thought the suspect had a gun, after working ten hours on only three hours sleep? It is easier to make mistakes and crash your car if you are operating on very little sleep.

Get your gear together. I check out my flashlights, make sure they are charged, and gather all my stuff together. I make sure I am not leaving anything at home, checking all my gear before I get up in the morning. Have at least a light meal before you start your shift. It helps energize you for the work you have to do on your shift. Prior planning prevents piss poor performance, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Event Security

I am working a parade and fireworks display today. It will be a long day, but I have done this before and I know what to do to be ready. I am preparing all my gear today. So I will be able to just get up in the morning and leave. My uniform will be ready, my shoes shined and gear bag packed. I will have two uniforms, and change of socks and underwear. At least a fourteen hour day is scheduled, so about halfway through, I will go back to the station and change clothes. It makes a big difference on a long shift.

The department is supposed to provide food and water, but I will bring my own too. I don't like to depend on others and what is supposed to happen, so I have my own stuff as a back up or a supplement to what the department provides. In the morning we have a parade, so I will wear more of a tennis shoe than what in normally wear. It is much more comfortable than dress shoes or boots. Standing and running around on asphalt directing traffic and moving barricades around is hot dirty work, and really tires out the feet.

In the afternoon, when I switch uniforms, I will also switch to my usual boots, with ankle holster. The fireworks display entails a lot more simply patrolling on foot and standing at the entrance to the stadium. Boots and the back up gun are more important in a large concentrated crowd. These general ideas apply for many kinds of event security; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Too Many Officer Deaths

Half way through the year and we have lost almost ninety officers in the line of duty in the United States. At least thirty were killed in shootings by suspects. There are many things we can do to insure we are less likely to be added to the list of statistics.

Wear your body armor every day when you are on duty in uniform. Body armor is a distinct advantage for the officer. Few suspects wear armor and most will try and shoot the officer in the chest. Even if hit with a handgun round in the armor, most officers should be able to return fire, perhaps from a prone position. Have you ever tried shooting your duty pistol from a position laying on your back?

Wear your seat belt whenever you are in the patrol car. I wear my seat belt and only take it off as I approach either the suspect vehicle or dispatched location, so I can jump out of the car quickly. The air bag alone will not save you in most head on collisions. While you may be a great driver, the other drivers around you are not, and they will run red lights and hit you all the time. Sow down at intersections and make sure they way is clear Don't drive too fast, you can't help anyone if you crash on the way to the call. Too many officers are killed in one vehicle traffic collisions; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Game Warden on his Game

Officers killed two suspected cop killers in West Memphis a while back. Some of the video was released today. I watched the part where the officers make the final traffic stop of the suspect vehicle in a Wal-Mart parking lot. The suspects are in a white van, and are driving out of the parking lot. Before they can leave a police car pulls into the parking lot and approaches them from the front. The police car moves to block the exit of the van from the parking lot. While I am not a big fan of stopping suspect vehicles from the front, I don't think I would have wanted to drive past these heavily armed suspects. The officers were responding to the Wal-Mart because an alert game warden had noticed the wanted van and called it in. The officers took action, stopped the van from exiting and begin to exit the car.

The game warden, driving a giant pick up truck, sees the suspect vehicle start to back up, as if to try and flee from the police car blocking their path. That could have lead to either the suspects running into the Wal-Mart and taking hostages, shooting it out inside a Wal-Mart store, or simply a road pursuit. The game warden speeds up his truck and slams into the drivers side of the van. It appeared to me he was trying to hit the van in the rear and the van may have turned as if to make a u-turn, causing the truck to hit the side of the van.

The game warden then puts his truck in reverse and backs up a long distance, perhaps 25 yards from the van. The game warden then jumps from his truck, wearing his body armor and with gun drawn, and moves to a position of cover. I know many of us think of game warden and we think about a guy who spends his days writing tickets for people who have a clam that is too small or a dove out of season. This guy was on his game. He saw the suspects, called it in, waited for back up, took action to prevent their escape, maneuvered his vehicle to a safer position, got to cover and then prepared to engage by gunfire the two armed suspects. This game warden did a great job!

Within a few seconds, the parking lot is full of officers and it is apparent that the officers are firing at the van. The video I watched is very small and you really can't tell what the suspects are doing, but they are inside the van. The responding officers do a good job of staying out of each others way and avoiding a crossfire. They also do a good job of using the available cover. At one point several of the officers are on the "wrong" side of the van and you can see they all move at the same time, back to the safe side of the vehicle. Apparently, someone must have given them a verbal command to get back out of the line of fire, since they all moved at the same instant.

Stressful situations like this are where our training and experience comes into play. Good observational skills, the willingness to call for back up and wait for it, the ability to plan your actions and to change the plan as things develop are all important. It is good to see these officers doing a good job under terrible stress, two of their own were murdered only a short while before this shootout. That's one of the imponderables in this job, we never know what will happen on any given day; so you have to be ready all the time, even if you are just a game warden; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Prison Reform

Why should prisons cost so much to run? Prisons should cost very little to run. A city of ten thousand males would have all kinds of businesses to serve the needs of the community. A large prison is very much like a large city, ten thousand males, but without the thirty thousand women and children. Prisoners complain that the worst thing about prison is the boredom. Why not make prisoners work?

Prisoners now do work in every state, why not increase that work? They should do all the work associated with the day to day living in the prison. This already happens in many other countries. Laundry, food preparation, painting, cleaning, barbering, lawn mowing, and all the other routine maintenance of the facility. It would give prisoners something to do and keep the expenses down. I realize that many of these tasks are already performed by inmates. I also realize that some inmate are only suitable to be locked away and have no contact with other people, guards or inmates.

Most people are in prison for non-violent crimes. They could be trained to perform useful work. That work could be done at the prison. They could even grow food, harvest it and process it for their own prison or other state and local facilities. I realize that unions don't want to compete with prison labor, and I certainly agree that the products they produce should not be sold for profit. I have heard that Texas already does much of this type of work. Prisoners should only be used to run the prison system, give the prisoners more work to do, and reduce the burden on the taxpayers; that's what the SGT Says.