Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Knife Fight

How big does a knife have to be in order to be a deadly threat? On the 9/11 hijackings they used box cutters to take over four airplanes. That's pretty small. The veins in your wrist and neck are right below the surface of your skin and it does not take much of a knife to get to them. A quick slash of the neck and you could bleed to death very quickly. A home steak knife is able to plunge through your chest and into your heart. A regular six inch long screwdriver can be as deadly as a dirk the same length.

All these rather ordinary edged weapons are deadly weapons. They are deadly threats when you face them on the street. Too many officers discount the deadly nature of edged weapons. They think they can respond with open handed techniques, pepper spray or batons. While any of those could be effective, the cost of failure could be death; your death.

I am no saying you have to shoot every person with a knife. A Taser can be an excellent tool to stop a man with a knife. Pepper spray, baton and empty handed techniques can work in some circumstances too. Deadly force is also reasonable depending on the specific circumstances; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bomb Guy


A man in San Diego is accused of having the largest bomb making factory ever found in the United States. He was discovered as a result of his gardener accidentally causing an explosion. He was also the subject of a bank robbery investigation. Be ready for anything because you never know what is going to happen. Bank robbers are not generally known for their use of bombs.

Sure sometimes a guy will walk up to a bank teller and say he has a bomb, hand over the cash. But you don't have that happen very often and you don't need a real bomb to do that, just a couple road flares and some wire. Most bank tellers will hand over the cash on a simple note, they are not there to take chances.

This is very disturbing because this suspect is not some terrorist or radical Muslim. He seems to be just a 'regular' criminal who is building bombs. He was building them in California were the terrorist and militia types don't usually hang out. We have very strict gun control and in San Diego there are few legitimate uses for civilian explosives. It's not like he was blowing up stumps for the farm. There are some really bad people out there in very unexpected places, be careful; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Peace Officer

Although it was twenty years ago, I still remember my FTO. He retired a while back and I would still bump into him around town. I learned a lot from him. Part of what I learned was my enthusiasm for training others. He used to train use of force, firearms and defensive tactics. He was really good at it.

He was always trying new weapons, new techniques. I think he must have used ten different batons over the years looking for the perfect police impact weapon. Straight, side handle, extra thin, wooden, metal, plastic, and even nunchucks.

Last night I heard he had been found dead at home. He was a couple years younger than me. At this time we don't know the cause of death. He had been medically retired a few years ago with a very bad back. He had many surgeries and was taking massive amounts of pain pills. He was a very active man of action and it must have really hurt him to take it easy. I was planning on calling him tomorrow. Can't do that now.

SGT Gabriel Thierry, rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon you; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Flashlights are great; they really help you to see at night. I have one on my patrol rifle. There is one mounted under by patrol shotgun. There is one mounted under my Glock. I carry an extra one in my gear bag. Naturally, I have one in a leather pouch on my belt. The new tiny batteries and high intensity bulbs throw out light we could only dream about 20 years ago. We carried the little yellow two D cell flashlights the emitted a dim yellow glow. Some of us got rechargeable Mag-Lites, Kel-Lites or Stream-lights and we paid $100 or more for them. Back then, $100 might be 12 hours pay or more.

Those old flashlights were big and heavy. Often if you dropped it once, the bulb would break. They usually had a little bit of foam rubber in the butt of the light and you could replace the bulb. Be careful not to touch the bulb with your bare hands or the oils from your fingers would cause them to break we were told. It’s pretty hard to replace a light bulb the size of a kidney bean without touching it with your fingers. Almost no one carried two lights and the big ones were so huge we carried them in our sap pockets in our pants. They were so long and so heavy we often carried them instead of a baton. Even security guards without a license to carry a baton would carry a big flashlight and I don’t think there was a tow truck driver who worked nights who did not have one.

Now there are at least twenty different lights out there and many companies make several models for different purposes, even different colors. Back in the olden times they were only black, just like the Model T Ford. I still find that most of the time when searching around at night, the ambient light is good enough. Unless it’s totally black, like under a house or in a rural area, the moon and city lights provide enough light to use for getting around. Wait two or three minutes or more before entering a dark area to let your eyes adjust. I find that walking very slowly and listening, and scanning left and right are very helpful at night. Close one eye to preserve night vision if you have to turn on a light for a moment. Cup your had over the light and just let a tiny sliver of a beam come out to inspect a close up window sill or other small area. Those tiny key chain lights can be helpful for that too. Remember also to carry your flashlight even during the day, you never know when you need to enter an attic or basement; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Firearms Safety

Police: Prank Goes Awry; Nicholas Bell Kills Sleeping Friend Jeffrey Charbonneau

A man wants to "scare" his friend by waking him up by shooting him in the chest with an air rifle. Turns out the air rifle was a .22 caliber rifle and the friend is now dead. Toy guns are toys for children to play with. All other guns are not toys and should not be played with by anyone. That includes firearms, air rifles, BB guns and anything else that shoots a projectile.

This type of "prank" is negligence to the point of criminal behavior. The friend deserves to go to jail for the killing of his friend. Guns are great tools and I think every responsible adult should own at least one for defense of himself and his loved ones. They also have great responsibility as part of their ownership.

Don't point a gun at anything you are not willing to shoot. Consider all weapons as loaded all the time. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire. Be sure of your target before you shoot. This applies to all guns, all the time; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Search Me?

You are on patrol and get a call of a suspicious person. You find them and speak to them. If they have done nothing illegal, ask if they mind if you search them. If they consent then you have another opportunity to arrest them. Search with permission, it's difficult for such a search to be tossed out in court. In your report write what as said, "Would you mind if I conduct a quick pat down search or weapons?" Then write down their exact response as best as you can remember it, "Okay."

Before I ask the subject if I can search him for weapons I always like to have a little conversation about it first. "You don't have any reason to be carrying a weapon on you, do you? You don't have any weapons on you now, do you?" "Well, if you don't have any weapons, you would not mind if I verify that would you?" Then I ask them for permission to search. Search for permission when you can, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Chicken or egg? Handcuff first or search first? I say if you have the legal authority to handcuff, then handcuff them. Think about it. We search a suspect because we don't know if they have any weapons on them or not. So we find a weapon and then we handcuff them so they are less able to resist, escape or access a weapon. Why not handcuff before you search and before you remove their weapons? Won't it be easier to fight someone who is handcuffed?

It will be harder for them to run, harder for them to fight, harder for them to get to any weapons they may have on them. If I know the person is going to go to jail, then I always handcuff them before searching. I know that I am going to have to handcuff them at some point anyway, so I just do it right way.

Always cuff the suspect behind his back. It's so much harder for them to fight that way. A quick check of the small of the back and then I can take my time to do a complete and careful search. Handcuff, then search, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Emergency Fleet Management

In the event of a regional emergency, how will you refuel your patrol cars? How do you refuel your cars now? If you use commercial gasoline stations it could be difficult to refuel if there is no electricity. A big earthquake, storm, or riot could mean loss of electricity. Without electricity gas pumps won't work. Even if you have your own department fuel pumps, and your own auxiliary generator, does the generator power your fuel pump or just your offices?

Can you use a hand pump to get the fuel out of your underground tanks? What does your fire department plan to do for fuel in an emergency? Without gasoline your fleet is going to be stuck in the parking lot pretty fast. What plans do your neighboring agencies do for fuel in an emergency?

There is much to plan for in a major emergency. Fuel for the fleet is only one problem. With debris on the ground, how are you going to drive around if the roads are blocked by downed trees or building rubble? Does your agency have a bulldozer, or your city yards? Do you keep extra spare tires? You drive over much debris and you will need them; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Today is the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Also on that day Dallas Police Officer, J.D. Tippit was murdered. Officer J.D. Tippit was on patrol in his beat as usual that day. He had been an officer for over ten years. The radio call went out that the President had been killed and officers were sent to set up a perimeter to try and catch the killer.

Officer J.D. Tippit went to his assigned location on the perimeter. He had a fair description of the killer and was looking for the man. Officer J.D. Tippit saw a man who looked like the suspected killer, so he stopped his patrol car. The man stopped and walked up to the car. They spoke for a moment and then Officer Tippit exited his car. The man pulled a gun and shot Officer Tippit. The man then walked up to the Officers' body and fired again to insure he was dead.

How different history could have been if Officer J.D. Tippit had been a bit more cautious. He thought he saw a presidential assassin. Rather than simply get out of the car, he could have got out of the car with the shotgun. He could have gotten out of the car with his handgun drawn. When confronting a possible killer, don't be afraid, and don't be afraid to use reasonable force, pointing a gun at a possible killer is not unreasonable; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Death Penalty


The State Supreme Court of Tennessee has said that lethal injection as a method of punishment may be unconstitutional as it is set up in Tennessee because it may allow the prisoner to suffer. The say that the amount of drugs given the person to be executed may not be enough to prevent suffering and insure a quick death.

This is of course simply a dodge so they they can delay the death penalty. These liberal judges, like almost all liberal judges, simply don't want the death penalty to be used so they make up reasons why it is unconstitutional. They simply delay the executions with legal wrangling so that the prisoner will not be executed.

If they really cared about the will of the people they would have prescribed a remedy and told the state how to execute the prisoner. They do that all the time with other types of cases. If it was discrimination, the court would say to hire a certain number or percentage of minorities as the appropriate remedy. In this case the court could have said how much of each drug had to be administered and then let the execution proceed. The death penalty is not unconstitutional. The founding fathers intended a death penalty for treason and other crimes, so clearly they did not write the Constitution to contradict that intention.

There was no lethal injection in those days, it was firing squad, hanging, or decapitation. On the face of it those three methods were considered as reasonable, and lawful. Lethal injection is much more humane than any of those three. There is no requirement that the person to be executed feel no pain, they should simply not be tortured, but a quick and relatively painless death as found in lethal injection, firing squad, hanging or a quick decapitation are certainly constitutional and better treatment than the killer ever gives to his victims; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Booze, broads, and bills. These are three deadly sins that get officers in trouble. These three things get more officers fired or disciplined than just about anything else. Young officers right out of the academy always want to get married, buy a new car, and buy a house and a jet ski. While all of those are noble desires, they need to be looked at in the context of bills. While it is true that most officers when they get hired are making more money than they ever made in their lives and have good steady jobs, there are certain cautions to remember.

Police work often comes with a probationary period. A time of one to two years where the officers performance will be evaluated and he can be let go for almost any reason. This is not the best time to buy a house. The value of a house will not likely rise much in the first two years of ownership even in good economic times and the officer who fails probation is not in a good position to return to work quickly. In my opinion it is best to spend those two probationary years looking for a new house, learning about the housing market, about financing and saving up a large down payment than it is to buy aright away.

New cars and jet skis are fun, but somehow you got through the academy without them. The first year of police work is the most critical. If you make it through that you are likely to make it the rest of the 30 year career. Again, save up some money and wait until the end of the first year to buy a new car. That fast sports car that seemed like the perfect car when you were in the academy can get you killed when you are driving too fast on the way home from a graveyard shift. Wait a year, when your finances are in better shape. You will have more money for a down payment and a better idea of the type of car that is right for you.

Two can live as cheaply as one, well not quite but that’s not as far off as some like to think. If your girlfriend stood by you and helped you make it out of the academy, then she is a real trooper. You won’t have any time for a real honeymoon before you go to work as a rookie, but if you love each other and are ready to make a life time commitment to her in front of God and everyone, the by all means get married the week you graduate from the academy. Having a wife who will stand by you in the difficult times of the academy means she is a good one to have when you have to face the difficulties of police work. She will also help you determine when you should by that house, that car and maybe the jet ski or the stroller; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Special Edition

Today a special message from a brave policeman who has a few words to share. If you think you are being shot at, but are not certain of the location of the suspect here's a few words of wisdom from SGT Lucero:

"Unless you can ascertain where the shots are being fired from, it's always best to retreat to a place of cover and concealment to establish where the shots are coming from. There you can gather your wits, re-assess the situation then, develop a plan to tactically take out the shooter, Unless you feel your life is in grave danger, by all means, engage but retreat is still an option where you can wait it out for additional units to get 10-97. It would be a disaster if the person who was firing was actually a kid with a pop gun. Albeit, maybe a good shooting, but the public would not see it that way and the city would incur a huge liability for you actions. Additionally, when you are driving to the location, you should run similar scenarios in you head as to what you maybe encountering upon arrival there.

By no means am I condoning not engaging with the suspect, but you have to be absolute certain that you know where the suspect is holed up or where the shots are being fired from.
First and foremost, get down, away from the line of fire and put out over the radio, "shots fired". Help will be on the way.

A very knowledgeable Sgt once told me that 80% of all officer deaths involving shootings were when the officer was in the driver seat of his patrol unit. If this would be the case, get down low and exit the patrol car immediately...away from the danger to a location of cover. There you can assess what your next course of action would be. Don't apply "tombstone courage" as we will be able to get this suspect at another time. You can't engage with the bad guy if you're dead.
Remember, our primary duty as police officers is to "get home safely, to our loved ones at the end of the shift" and that's what this sergeant says..."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

You've Got Mail

While mail should be screened before it is received by the officials in local government, I understand not every ten man police department can afford a million dollars for an x-ray scanner. There are other options. At the least mail should be opened in a secure room that is apart from the rest of the station. That way if a bomb exploded or anthrax was released it would only effect the one employee.

That employee could work for the city, as a contract employee or a police department employee. They could screen mail for the whole city government so as to provide them with enough work if your agency is small. All incoming delivery's should be checked, not just the US Mail. Think about all the people who bring stuff into your station house, it's probably a lot of folks. Mail, FedEx, UPS, other overnight or local couriers, office supply deliveries, vending machine people, and many others. Any one of them could bring in a bomb or poison.

The screening room should have excellent lighting, blow out panels in the event of an explosion, no glass windows, a telephone and a CCTV being watched by dispatch. There is a big difference between a million dollar x-ray machine and doing nothing; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Play Post Office?

Who accepts deliveries at your agency? Who opens the mail and the packages that arrive? If a suspicious packages arrives, do they have the skills to recognize it and the training to know what to do about it?

Items enter our buildings everyday. UPS, US Mail, FedEx all send big and little boxes and envelopes into the station. That's in addition to Staples, Coca-Cola and the coffee guy. There needs to be a screening process to determine that our facilities are secure. Can a gang member mail a bomb to your chief of police? If there is no mail inspection then the gang member can be certain his mail will be delivered. If a murder suspect mails anthrax to your homicide detective will the letter arrive safe and sound?

Does your city hall, fire department, dispatch center and other essential public services all get mail and deliveries without any kind of inspection? Can a bomber simply send a package to your mayor, or chief of the fire department and blow them up? You are the security experts, what are you doing to protect that critical infrastructure? It's part of your job, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Run Run Run

Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Officer Tim Lawton was on patrol when he saw a group of men. He approached the men and one ran away. The man who ran away shot at the officer and the officer was able to apprehend him.

One officer approached three suspects. That's not good odds. One of the reasons we approach people like that is because we think they are doing something criminal. Be careful what you wish for, is what I am reminded of in those circumstances. What would have happened if there was two robbers and one victim rather than the other way around? I am not saying that you can't ever approach a group alone, but there are options to consider.

I am not saying don't approach people but there are things to think about and do before you make the approach. Call for backup. Watch them from a distance before you approach. Drive past and look for a reaction to your presence. If you do approach, don't feel compelled to chase one who runs away. Call for more units and set up a perimeter. Let the air unit or the dog chase him. You still have two other suspects to worry about; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Test Guns

The duty weapon carried by an officer should be issued by the agency or should meet standards developed by the agency. They should specify the brand, type, caliber and action type for weapons carried on duty. Not everyone in an agency is a weapons expert and so these decisions should be made by weapons experts within the agency to insure a quality weapon is being carried by the officer.

The firearm should be inspected at least annually by a qualified armorer who can determine if the weapon is safe and functional. It should also be inspected and test fired before it is carried on duty for the time. The officer carrying the weapon should also test fire the weapon before carrying it on duty. He can verify the magazines work, that it fits in his holster and that it shoots where it is pointed.

Generally speaking, you should never carry a weapon on duty that you have never personally test fired, if possible. It's the only way to be certain that it works properly. Guns are complex machines and there are many things that can go wrong with them; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tactic Change

For decades our mantra was to shoot to stop. We don't shoot to kill. If the suspect tossed down his gun, threw up his hands or simply ran away we generally did not need to shoot anymore because the suspect stopped doing what he was doing that forced us to have to shoot him. We also only shot at someone when we had a specific target. The War on Radical Muslim Terrorists may force us to change some of those tactics.

If the suspect is a suicide bomber, then we need to stop him from being able to move. In essence, we need to kill him. Any ability to move even a finger could be enough to trigger the bomb and kill himself, us and maybe dozens of other people. If you reasonably believe a suspect is a suicide bomber, then you need to shoot until you reasonably believe he is no longer able to detonate the bomb. In my mind, you need to shoot until you reasonably believe he is dead.

That means unlike with a suspect who has a handgun as their weapon, a suicide bomber who is down may need additional shots to the torso, or better yet, to the head to insure they can't detonate the bomb as their last movement. Shooting a bleeding suspect who has fallen to the ground and is motionless is not going to look good on the evening news. Having him blow up and kill five or six people because you did not shoot him will look even worse; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


What happens when you get a flat tire? Someone needs to change the tire. That someone should generally not be the officer driving the car. One of the major reasons officers medically retire is back injuries. Tires are heavy and the jack is treacherous and between them there is a fair amount of opportunity for the officer to get hurt. At the very least, officers get dirty replacing a tire and sometimes need a new uniform afterwards. Agencies need a multi-tiered program to deal with flat tires.

Every patrol car needs to have a full size, properly inflated, ready to go spare tire in the trunk. Those little donut spares are just too small and unsafe to leave on for any length of time and it is foolish have a unit out of service due to a flat tire. The needs to be a reasonable number of spare tires, inflated and ready to go at the station as well. In the even an officer runs over a spike strip or a spilled load of nails, the vehicles need to get back in service right away. Having a few extra spare tires at the station is a good way to make that happen. Every officer needs to be trained in how to safely replace a spare tire. Each type of car and jack is a little different and it is not reasonable to expect officers to replace a spare tire at three a.m. in the rain, never having done that task before then. Every supervisor car needs to have a floor jack in the truck. I am a big proponent of having the supervisor drive an SUV type vehicle so he can carry lots of extra gear, a floor jack is one of those things. A big floor jack is much safer than the crummy little car jacks that come with most cars today.

Every patrol car should have a can of that spray that inflates a tire and repairs a small hole. It’s not a substitute for replacing the tire but it’s much faster and can get you back on the road in a couple minutes. In the event of an emergency it can really make a big difference. Officers need to be able to replace the flat or fix it in the event of a major incident they can’t wait for a tow truck, but that is my preferred method. Finally, the agency should have a service agreement with the Auto Club or some other towing service that can come out and replace the flat. They do flat tires all the time and they know how to replace a tire quickly and safety. The small expense is well worth it in reduced Workers Compensation claims and officer satisfaction; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shift Change

Are you ready for a terrorist attack or major crime in progress at shift change? Does everyone head into the station thirty minutes to shift change to gas up their cars, take in their gear and get a head start in going off duty? Often a shift change location can be several minutes away from the actual patrol area. If your entire department shift changes all at the same time, who is left to handle the calls? Is there a period of thirty minutes to an hour each shift change where officers are preparing to go off or on duty and not really on patrol?

My reserve partner and I sometimes stay out on patrol for an extra hour, just to cover that shift change time. Since we don't get paid anyway, there is no overtime involved. You could also schedule a few officers to come in early every day and leave early for the purpose of covering shift change.

Back in the day when I was in charge of scheduling and deployment, I scheduled half of my officers to shift change every four hours. That way at least half of the officers were on duty, in the field able to handle any calls. It really decreased our response times. Plan for the worst things to happen at the worst times; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alcohol & Friends

When your partner got home from work tonight did he have a beer? Or two? Or three? Or ten? Too much alcohol to drive legally and safely? How often does he do that? Every night when he comes home from work? Or just after the bad nights? Alcohol abuse often starts with drinking too much alcohol to cope with the stress of the day.

Drinking a beer now and then is not a problem. Having a whole six pack on a hot summer day, when he is off and at home and working in the yard is not a problem. When was the last time he went to work hungover? If you have any answer other than "never," then he has a problem and so do you. When was the last time he drove, legally intoxicated? If you have any answer other than "never," then he has a problem and so do you. When was the last time he was on duty and legally DUI or even actually drinking? If you have any answer other than "never," then he a problem and so do you. Alcohol has probably killed as many officers as criminals.

He's your partner, it's your duty to insure he is safe at work, and that means confronting him about his alcohol problem. If that does not work, then go to the supervisor or even Internal Affairs. You could ruin his career, but you could safe his life; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

There Will Be a Test

You have three seconds to recognize a deadly threat, draw your duty weapon, and hit a man sized target six feet away, with three rounds, center of mass. You are competing against someone who gets to determine when you will begin the course of fire. Failure to make good hits rapidly enough may result in your death. Failure to recognize the deadly threat soon enough, may result in your death. Shooting when there is no deadly threat or hitting someone other than the intended target will likely result in your termination of employment, severe financial penalties and perhaps prison.

You will have some advantages. You will be pre-screened to insure that you are physically and emotionally fit to participate in this competition. You will be permitted to wear body armor, but it is optional. You will be trained for months to insure you understand each of the aspects of this competition. You will have the moral authority of society on your side, unless you make an error, in which case society will turn against you.

Welcome to the world of law enforcement. You may or may not face this test every day that you don the uniform of your agency. This test may also be given more than once. It may come when you are tired, exhausted, scared, or simply distracted. So you must be ready, every day, all day for twenty or thirty years; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Alcohol and You

When you got home from work tonight did you have a beer? Or two? Or three? Or ten? Too much alcohol to drive legally and safely? How often do you do that? Every night when you come home from work? Or just after the bad nights?

Alcohol abuse often starts with drinking too much alcohol to cope with the stress of the day. Drinking a beer now and then is not a problem. Having a whole six pack on a hot summer day, when you are off and at home and working in the yard is not a problem.

When was the last time you went to work hungover? If you have any answer other than "never," then you have a problem. When was the last time you drove, legally intoxicated? If you have any answer other than "never," then you have a problem. When was the last time you were on duty and legally DUI or even actually drinking? If you have any answer other than "never," then you have a problem. Alcohol has probably killed as many officers as criminals; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 8, 2010



An officer responded to a report of a hit and run driver. When he arrived the officer confronted a truck driver who may have been responsible for the accident. In the ensuing shootout, the officer was killed. Anything you do can get you killed, even doing a simple thing like responding to a traffic accident.

Complacency is one of the most dangerous aspects of our job. In life we learn by our experiences. If we do something a certain way, and it works out, then we will continue to do it that way forever. Police work can be that way too.

If we handle calls alone and confront suspects alone and it works out every time, then we will get used to handling calls by ourselves. So we don't call for back up. We don't wait for back up if we do call for it. We rush in to chase people, rather than set up perimeters. We don't take the patrol rifle or shotgun when we are confronted by a potentially dangerous criminal. Every officer who falls in the line of duty needs to teach us a lesson so that their courage will not be in vain. Be careful out there; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Decision Point


A police officer was killed and a police dog injured in a shooting in San Diego, California. Officers were doing a probation check and things just went horribly wrong. Probation officers were checking on someone on probation and they got the door slammed in their face. The kicked open the door and took one into custody. Other doors were closed and so they called for more help.

In most major incidents there are decision points. Times when officers have to make a decision about how to proceed in the incident. This was probably that moment. Often officers are keyed up and ready to go. By nature officers are oriented towards the resolution of the event. Get it done, handle it, finish the job, get it over with. This would have been a good time to call for back up, which they did, and then wait. Waiting is not in our nature, but sometimes it's a good idea.

This was not an active shooter. They had time. They could have waited to take the remaining people into custody. They knew the people inside were resistive. They could have evacuated the building, while they waited for a SWAT team. They could have slowed down and thought out a plan to take the subjects into custody that did not involve going in with guns blazing. Calling out the suspect and having them come to you is typically the better option. Waiting them out when then can't go anywhere and are not a danger to others is a good idea. I was not there and we don't know the full details of the event. I may have done what they did, but there are always other options. My condolences to the survivors and to San Diego Police Department, they lost a brave officer; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


This week I got to use a patrol rifle with a laser pointer sight attached. In broad daylight the sight only provided a useful dot to use to for aiming at a range of about twelve yards or less. In low light I am sure it would work for about 25 yards or even more if it was rather dark.

The patrol rifle could be fired from the hip, rapidly, and accurately using the laser as the aiming point. Simply put the laser on the spot to be shot and pull the trigger. The bullets went where the dot was placed. While moving it was somewhat difficult to keep the laser on target, but it was easy to tell where the dot was located.

This is a very good tool to put on a weapon. I like it. I think there could be a problem with the same red dot if there were several officers carrying the same laser on the weapon. I would like to see the dots in different shapes or colors or some other way of determining mine from yours; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 5, 2010


A few years ago an officer pulled over a Daihatsu Charade. The driver of the car jumped out, shot the officer to death and drove away. The ride-along was able to verify the driver was the killer. The officer had not called in the license plate before he was shot to death. At the time there were only about ten thousand of that make and model in California. Ten thousand suspects.

Basic police work, we were told to stop every single Daihatsu Charade we found and do a field inteview card on the drivers if they were even close to the suspect. In California, ten thousand of a specific make and model is a very small number. It's also a very large number when sifting through them. Detectives ran every license plate, every registered owner, every ticket that had a Daihatsu Charade as the suspect vehicle.

Imagine sitting at a computer terminal for the entire shift running ten thousand license plates. Boring, no real skill involved, just tedious work. Basic police work. Not everything is gun battles, stick time and car chases. Much of it is boring. And the basic boring stuff catches the crooks, they got the Daihatsu Charade too; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

War in the Streets

When war comes to America, will your agency be ready? If Radical Muslim Terrorists bring a dozen jihad warriors to your town with rifles, bombs and suicide vests is your agency prepared to respond? The terrorists have been using new tactics recently to attack us. They combine attack types using them sequentially to both lure in first responders to ambush them and to spread first responders out over a large area.

The terrorists are also taking large numbers of people hostage. The often make demands and pretend to negotiate while raping, torturing and murdering the hostages. They hope to generate news coverage and increase terror in the population. They plan on killing the hostages rather than let them go, so negotiation is pointless.

On Halloween night in Baghdad a similar incident happened that left over 50 killed and another 75 wounded. The responders lost ten killed plus more wounded. The terrorists used bombs, suicide vest bombs and rifles to attack the stock exchange and to capture a church congregation and hold them hostage. They detonated their suicide bombs when the rescuers came to save everyone. Are you ready for that, you need to be ready for it; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Range Safety

Today I went to the range with four other range masters. We were to shoot pistol, shotgun, rifle and sim-munitions. The first thing we did was a safety briefing. Between us we probably have a hundred years experience as firearms instructors. Despite that, the first thing we did was talk safety. We took turns acting as the instructor.

Later, during the course of the shooting one instructor told one of the students to show how he shot a target. The student fired a couple rounds to demonstrate. The instructor did not intend for the student to fire any rounds. The line was clear, no one was forward of the line of fire and the rounds were fired in a safe direction.

Even experienced instructors can mis-speak or mis-understand an instruction. It is critical for instructors to watch how their students behave, handle their weapons to insure safe gun handling. In this incident there was no injury, the discharge was not unsafe, but it was unintended, and this was with experienced range instructors. Always put safety first when at the range, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mail Call

When your local synagogue phones 911 and says they got an unexpected package from Yemen, what do you do? Ask the dispatcher to tell them to leave it alone in a room and to have someone meet you at the front door. Notify dispatch that you will turn off your radio and your cell phone when you arrive. Since radio waves can set off explosives, tell dispatch you have arrived when you are still a block or so away. Turn off your radio and your cell phone. Remind dispatch to have other responding units to turn off their radios too.

Meet with the person in charge and ask them to explain to you why the think the package is suspicious. They know what is normal for their location . Ask them to show you the package, but don't touch it. If based on your interview and observations you think there could be a problem use a land line phone to advise a supervisor what you have and ask for a bomb squad to respond. Bombs go off every day in the USA and so don't discount the possibility that it could be a real device. Too often we are worried about looking stupid for calling out the experts for what can turn out to be nothing. That can get people killed. When in doubt call an expert, that's why they are the experts so they will know what is real and what is not real and what to do with the real ones.

If you think an evacuation is necessary, then try and get the person in charge of the facility to make that call and get everyone out as calmly as possible. Station people at entrances so no one comes back inside. Have EMS and fire respond to a site near the location where they can stage in the event of an explosion. Have responding units set up a command post nearby and determine if you need to evacuate a larger area and stop traffic. A very small bomb won't require much evacuation to be rendered ineffective. More than just the check is in the mail, it could be a bomb, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quiet Halloween

I worked Halloween night on patrol. My city is not exactly rich, but they are pretty close. Some of the neighboring areas are not so nice. So we get a lot of people who drive to our town so their kids can go trick or treating in a safe city with nicely decorated homes and good stuff to pass out. The people in our town are a very lawful bunch and we don't have much crime on Halloween. The crowds are heavy but well behaved. So some of this may apply to your town, some, maybe not.

A few things to think about for next year. Some of our streets get so crowded that it is very unsafe for people to drive, with all the kids running around in the dark. It might be a good idea to block off some of the streets in the areas that get the heaviest traffic, set up parking a distance away so people can avoid having to drive into the area and maybe even run a shuttle bus or two into the area. Anything that would reduce traffic so that emergency vehicles could get around better would be helpful.

Officers may want to consider walking a foot beat our deploying T-3 Motion or bicycles. The traffic is so heavy that it is difficult to get around in a car. More Reserves should be deployed and perhaps a few Regulars on overtime or switching their schedules around. We never got really busy, but there were a few times when everyone was doing something. It was a good night, but sometimes scary things can happen, that's what the SGT Says.