Sunday, October 31, 2010

History

Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of history will make those mistakes again. What is the worst thing that ever happened at your agency? We had an officer killed in a motorcycle crash during World War Two. That's the only on duty death we ever had of an officer. We have had an officer involved in a shootout with a bank robber, and he killed the robber. We had two officers involved in a suicide by cop shooting. The suspect had a toy gun and behaved in a threatening manner towards the officers and they were forced to shoot him due to the apparent threat to their lives.

We still have motor officers and we all drive cars and so any one of us could be involved in a fatal traffic collision. Our motors now have crash bars, and wear big helmets, unlike 64 years ago. I constantly urge my officers to wear their seat belts. Dealing with a bank robber is a bit easier now, we train more at the range and in more realistic shooting scenarios than we did before and we field patrol rifles in all the units.

Suicide by cop is a problem any one of us could face. Police are by the nature of being police, predictable. You cannot shoot someone unless they are a threat to someones life. If a suspect feigns being a threat, in a convincing manner then we really have no choice but to shoot him. With the numbers of officers who are killed and wounded every year, we cannot not shoot, we are risking too much. Then we are faced later not with the physical threat, but the legal and emotional threat to our well being. A good agency and a good police union will stand behind the officer involved and let him know that he did the right thing. The officer has to know in his heart that it is the nature of police work that we must be predictable in our use of force. If the suspect does "this" then we will almost certainly have to shoot him. All officers must know this both intellectually and emotionally in order to survive a suicide by cop shooting; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

No Pay Raise

City on course for financial ruin - latimes.com

The city of Costa Mesa in California is near bankruptcy. Like many cities in California and across the nation Costa Mesa is not collecting the tax money they had hoped to get. Revenues are down or they are increasing at a slower rate than they previously had been. As a result responsible governments are cutting expenditures, and living within their means. Just like their citizens. When faced with a very short term cash flow problem, I understand that agencies, just like people, can borrow a few dollars from their credit cards or other sources to float along until the money returns. This only works for very short term problems. If borrowing becomes a method of financing regular expenditures then the city or the person will go deeply into debt that they can't recover from without either being very lucky or cutting very badly. Rather than face those problems, the city voted to increase police and fire salaries. They are spending money they don't have and are not likely to get.

The Federal Government has borrowed unprecedented amounts of money and it is only because our competitors, like Communist China have purchased out debt. If these nations quit buying our debt, we could face crippling inflation and not be able to finance our government. Cities, states and the Federal government need to live within their means. That means no increases for any employees for a while.

Real incomes for citizens have gone down and citizens have had to cut expenses. That means cities need to cut expenses. That means police salaries need to stay the same or even be cut over the next few years. This will not be popular with police unions and many officers. It has to be done. Politicians who try and raise taxes will find there is no money to tax. In California we have the highest taxes in the nation and the state still tells us they don't have enough money. That can't continue. It will be easier to take a small decrease in pay or keep pay the same for the next three to five years than it will be to take massive lay offs, disband agencies, and place hiring freezes; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Holster

How is your holster? Is it a high quality name brand holster? Is it new or nearly new? Is it nice and clean and shiny? A holster hods your handgun. One of the most important tools you carry with you at work, it must hold the gun securely, even when a suspect is trying to take it away from you. That same holster must allow you to take the gun out rapidly, even instantly when you desperately need the gun. I recommend a level two or three for duty use.

When your holster begins to start to get old, you need to get it replaced. Right away. If it is broken, replace it before you use it next. Replace it even if you have to spend the money yourself, don't carry a broken or worn out holster for days, or weeks because the agency is slow about replacing yours. A hundred bucks is well spent and then make them reimburse you.

Once you get your new holster, practice with it. Practice with it a lot. A whole lot. Some holster companies recommend that you draw, and re-holster a thousand times before you carry the weapon in that holster on duty. I agree that you need to holster, draw and re-holster so many times that the weapon and holster and your hand and arm are all one. Able to get the gun in and out right away without any hang ups; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Unexpected Crimes

An officer in Fairmont, MN ran into a burning house to save anyone inside, and instead he was shot in the chest. They officer was wearing his body armor and so was saved. The officer had a civilian with him who was also shot in the leg and the officer and civilian left the building. The shooter died in the burning building, perhaps shooting himself.

Anything you do can get you killed, including doing nothing, including doing the right thing. Dangers of all different kinds are out there. Officers drive their patrol cars and get hit by other drivers. Officers get ambushed while seated in their vehicles. Officers get blown up by terrorists, officers are in helicopters are killed in crashes.

Wear your armor. Wear your seat belt. Call and wait for back up. Don't work when you are sleepy. Always be ready for anything when at work, and expect the unexpected; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gun, Bomb & Fire

California mall ablaze after man sets fire, barricades self in store - CNN

A man goes into a shopping mall. He has a handgun, claims to have a bomb, barricades himself inside a store and sets fire to the mall. He endangers many people, and causes probably millions of dollars of damage to the mall, and puts many mall workers out of work and most likely some businesses too.

Due to the bomb, police were reluctant to confront the suspect and would not let the fire department fight the fires until the suspect was in custody. The War on Radical Islamic Terrorists and the violent mentally disturbed people we face today often bring new combinations of criminal activity. An arsonist with a gun and bomb are a rather unique combination, but we need to rapidly adapt to odd and dangerous situations.

In order to make a determination on how to react, think about or basic assumptions as police. Protect and serve the public; their lives and their property. An arsonist, with a gun and bomb needs to be stopped right away. He is threatening both lives and property. The suspect needs to be neutralized as quickly as possible. A rapid assault by a SWAT team or a trained team of officers with patrol rifles supported by a sniper if possible. Letting the property burn allows one man to do disproportionate damage. The bomb threat needs to be called, he can set it off anytime, so you have to stop worrying about it. The gun can be waited out if the suspect is alone and barricaded. The arson has to be stopped. The firemen can't work until it is safe for them to move it. It's our job to make that happen; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

3 3 4 12

The agency I work for staffs a 3-3-4 schedule. "A" squad works Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. "B" squad works Thursday, Friday, Saturday. The fourth day is the Wednesday for both squads. They work noon to midnight and midnight to noon. The times avoid the rush hours to and from work. This came about because the Air Quality Management District wants everyone to minimize commutes.

Officers get out of the swing of things when they are off for four days in a week. If they have to work overtime it is an 18 hour day. Imagine having a pursuit, traffic collision, or shooting 17 or 18 hours into a shift and trying to testify in court about how awake and alert you were. Officers have to go to court at 8 am then go to work at noon until midnight. Makes for a 16 hour day, plus commute time.

Everyone likes the three or four days off a week, but they forget that they have to go to court on their days off, or training, or special details and so they really don't get that much time off. In my opinion, 12 hour shifts sacrifice officer and public safety and are not really a good idea; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Game Safety

http://www.edmontonsun.com/sports/football/2010/10/21/15778926.html

A football game in Canada ends up in a brawl with players going into the stands to commit assault and battery on several of the fans. The players countered with a complaint that they had been pelted with beer and other items tossed at them during the game while they were on the bench. Events that permit alcohol need extra security for the problems that brings.

This is exactly the reason why officers need to be highly visible during games. Unruly fans need to be dealt with immediately so as to avoid things escalating into a dangerous confrontation. The officers on site should have been watching for fans throwing things and ejected those who did so. If the officers were visible, they may have prevented fans from throwing anything. If the officers were patrolling around, they may have given the coaches the opportunity to complain about the fans to the police who could then have taken action.

Let me be clear. It is totally unacceptable for the fans to throw anything at sports players at any type of game. It is even worse for the players to enter the stands and attack fans. The players should be examples of good sportsmanship and fair play. Those players involved in this unlawful display should be kicked off the team forever, and not permitted to play in the league for at least the duration of this season. Officers working these kinds of events need to insure the safety of all concerned; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Event Readiness

When I recently worked a high school football game I had a patrol car with a patrol rifle and shotgun. I wore my Glock 22, my .380 back up gun, my Taser, OC spray, three knives and my PR-24 expandable baton; wore my body armor all for a high school football game where we did not expect any trouble.

My partner also had a unit and we parked on opposite sides of the field so we would always have a vehicle close by. Despite the festive nature of the event, I wanted to have all my usual patrol gear with me or near by.

Over the years I have had football games with many kinds of emergencies. You get the occasional football player who gets hurt and sometimes a lost little kid. Sometimes a slip and fall, a heart attack, I arrested a visiting coach once for battery on a parent. Drunken high school kids trying to crash the game, a brush fire, and even a gang related double shooting. So be ready for anything, anytime you are on duty and in uniform. People will expect you to act just as you always do in the field and you need your gear to be most effective; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Event Deployment

Event deployment is a complex issue. Manpower availability, costs and expected problems all contribute to the factors determining how many officers are needed to staff an event. At our high school football games we can count on at most a thousand people showing up on a good night. Fewer people than that when it is raining or cold. The area is upper middle class and generally the crowd and the kids are well behaved.

We deploy two reserve officers with at least on black and white unit and most of the officers on duty will stop by for a few minutes to check on the game and extra patrol the event perimeter. I like to keep both officers together most of the time. . Park the unit in front where it is highly visible to the visiting side so they know there are police on site.

We do a perimeter patrol check soon after we arrive. Check the parking lots, and ticket sales areas and entrances. Then check the interior of the stadium to asses the crowd. Some of our visiting teams have a history of minor problems at the games and so school officials usually want use to extra patrol the visitor side of the stadium.

I try and stake out a good spot where I can see the visitor entrance, the field, and both sides of the bleachers. I then send my partner out to patrol those areas I can see, and to get close up views of the bleachers. When he returns I will perform a similar patrol in another part of the stadium. This way we always know one of us is at the static location and the general patrol zone of the other officer. High visibility at events helps to head off problems or to allow officers to intervene before they get out of hand; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Take My Picture

If you are involved in a fight or foot pursuit or accident take photos right away. Get your picture taken before the paramedics clean the blood off your face. Take photos of your uniform. Show it is ripped from rolling around on the ground. Highlight tears, missing buttons and shoe scuffs to your shirt, pants and shoes. We often do a great job of documenting the scene, the victims and the suspect but we forget about ourselves. If you have been attacked by the suspect, you too become a victim. Another officer should interview you and take a crime report, naming you as the victim of assault, battery, battery on a peace officer or whatever crime applies.

All this will help to convey the violence of the encounter with this suspect. Photos are very good evidence. They show the events that you describe so the jury will better understand the nature of a violent encounter. Remember too, that bruises may not be visible for several days. If bruises develop over the next couple days, get your photo taken showing those injuries too. They are important evidence you don’t want to lose.

Juries like to look at photographs. These days with digital cameras nearly everywhere there is no excuse not to take photos. Even if you have to use a personal camera to take the photos, it could be worth it. “I sustained a ½ inch long horizontal cut to my right cheek” is very clinical and not as compelling as a photo showing blood dripping down your face. That’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

AK

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, there have been enough AK-47's produced to provide one for every 70 people on Earth. At that rate there should be 4.3 million of them in the United States.. Some of these are hardly more than jewelery, presentation models made for Saddam Hussein out of gold. Others were blown to bits by B-52's in the 'Nam.

Still, that leaves millions upon millions of them were issued, or sold or even given away to soldiers, revolutionaries, and regular folks all over the world. Every gun make has to choose between reliability and accuracy. Given that the AK-47 was often issued to poorly trained troops and untrained militias, reliability was the primary concern. A thirty round magazine give the would be terrorist a lot of firepower at close range.

While there are certainly far less than 4.3 million AK-47 assault rifles in the USA, there are large numbers of them. Terrorists who come here from other nations may bring them or my purchase them here. Can you face a suspect with an AK? Your patrol rifle will probably out range the AK and you probably have a more accurate weapon. Distance is your friend, so don't engage close. If you have to engage close, your shotgun may be a good alternative to the patrol rifle and certainly is better than your handgun; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Power Patrol

When power goes out there are several police challenges that should be addressed. While the regular telephones will continue to work, many people have cordless phones that don't work without electricity. That means that some people may not be able to call the police. It will be dark and people may trip and fall. People will use candles and that may lead to fires.

Alarm systems may send in false alarms and low power alarms. This can tie up police units responding to bogus calls. Burglars may take advantage of the power outage to burglarize stores and home, knowing the police will be busy and that alarms, security cameras and phones may not be working.

Power outages must be handled as an emergency. Reserves and off duty officers should be called in to help with the call load. Units should extra patrol the affected area. They should watch for citizens flagging them down or suspicious people who don't belong in the area. Police supervisor should keep in touch with utility company representatives to keep informed of the duration of the power outage. Lights off, cops on; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lights Out


It's never a good sign to come home to a news crew and a dozen Edison trucks in your driveway.


Yesterday, I was preparing a blog entry about emergency preparedness and instead, a transformer on a power pole in my back yard was hit by lightening. It also knocked out four others in my neighborhood. Several hundred homes lost power for about 12 hours.

I keep two flashlights on the charger all the time. They came in handy. We keep a large stock of candles on hand and we used about a twenty of them. Our stove is gas and we could have cooked but we elected to go out to eat and then did some shopping. A short drive and everything was normal. We keep a small amount of cash on hand in the event of an emergency we don't have to rely on credit cards that won't work. My digital camera was handy and charged too. I keep extra batteries for it too. That allowed me to document the workers working. There was hazardous waste involved too, so I wanted to have some photos. The Edison guys seemed to have done a good job, replacing five transporters in the dark, in the rain is pretty tough work; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Standing By

When on duty, know exactly what your neighboring officers are doing. The same folks that you rely on to come and help you, should know that you are monitoring their radio traffic. If they go out on a traffic stop, or get assigned to a call you should know where that location is and how to get there. If you don't know where it is at, then you need to look it up on your map.

Keep an ear open for how long it takes for them to put out that they are okay. If the other officer takes too long to clear the call, then you need to start moving in that direction. Get deployed so that if the other officer actually needs help you are in a position to respond.

If the officer calls for a back up, you are in a position to respond in a timely manner. Distance is time and the closer you are the less time there will be spent responding to their need for help. Depending on your unit deployment plan, you may be able to start heading in his direction or you may simply patrol the border of your beat. Either way, you are ready to help; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Speed Radio

Your dispatcher needs to know who you are, where you are and what you are doing and what you need. In an extreme emergency, you may need to prioritize your radio transmissions to communicate the most essential information as rapidly as possible.

“One Adam Twelve, third and Main; shots fired, officer needs help.”
Who you are, where you are, what you are doing and what you need.

That’s a lot to say when you are trying to shoot, move give verbal commands, and reload. In some circumstances you may be able to reasonably anticipate that dispatch may already know who you are. May agency typically field three to six units, the dispatcher generally know our voices, with a department of few than fifty officers even a new dispatcher knows everyone pretty quickly.

Our radio system also cues up your radio call sing when we transmit, so with that system even a big city dispatcher will be able to know who you are when you call. If you have been dispatched t a location and notified your dispatcher of your arrival and not moved far from there, you may also be able t delete your location from your transmission.

“Shots fired, officer needs assistance.”

That may be enough to get the help you need to where you need it. If someone is shooting at you, long radio messages are probably sometime you can’t afford; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Supervisor Tasks

An officer who has a performance issue needs to improve. It is the job of the supervisor to get them to improve. Most employees want to do a good job. Sometimes they think their performance is okay, but may not realize that it is below standard. Sometimes they become complacent over time. Sometimes employees need direction, motivation, encouragement and training. Employee performance can be achieved in a few simple steps that most supervisors don't bother to do.

Inform employees of your expectations, in writing. If you don't tell employees what you want done they can only assume what you want.

Supervise employee while doing their tasks, in person, in the field.

Provide feedback to employees based on their performance, in person, in private.

Write up the progress of the employee if they simply refuse to improve. You owe that to the other officers who do a good job and carry the sub-standard employees weight.

Mention progress on performance evaluations, good or bad.

Supervise the employees, manage their behavior, help them to do their jobs better, safer and more efficently; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Can't We All Get Along?

Part of the supervisors job is to protect the officers who work for them. Protect them from the public, from the department management, criminals and other officers, as well as themselves. When a supervisor receives a citizen complaint he should not only take the complaint but also take the opportunity to explain why the officer did what he did in the field. It is an opportunity to reach out to the community to achieve a better understanding of what we do and why we do it.

When management asks the officers to do something stupid, demeaning or unsafe, it is up to the supervisor to advocate for the officers position. To mitigate the danger involved or to cut down on the make work tasks management sometimes asks them to perform.

Officers need to get along with each other, but sometimes they don't. The supervisor needs to be aware of who gets alone with who and who does not get along. We don't have to be best friends with everyone we work with but we do have to work together. Sometimes the best thing to do is to separate people to different shifts. Sometimes the next thing to do is to work to mitigate their differences, if you can. Two officers who don't get along can ruin morale on a whole shift. It's the job of the supervisor to take care of these problems; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Burglary Job

The Book of Job, chapter 24, verse 16 "In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light."

Crime has not changed much. The criminals case the joint and come back later to do the deed. Residential burglary techniques describes at least 2,500 years ago. So when you are on patrol in the day time, look for criminals who are marking houses for themselves. Sometimes they sit in a vehicle and just watch the street.

If a car with a couple men sitting in it or a single man, just drives off as you approach, that could be probable cause for a stop; that person could be casing the neighborhood. He is probably a good field interview card and identification check. Look in the vehicle for surveillance gear and burglar tools. Channel locks can open doors, long screw drivers can pry open a window.

The crime of residential burglary is often thought of as a one person crime, and certainly that is frequently true. More experienced burglars will often employ a get away driver. They case the locations together, check out escape routes and then come back later after dark. The actual burglar makes entry while the other one keeps watch, keeps the motor running and waits to make a run for it if necessary.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crime Pays?

The Book of Job, Chapter 24, verse 24:

24 They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.
Criminals sometimes seem like they have a lot. We have seen the photos of drug lords houses and stacks of cash as big as a sofa. There are plenty of drug dealers with big Cadillac Escalades, and large diamond rings. There are lots of hit songs and music videos about how terrific it is to be a gangster and have all kinds of power and women.
They will eventually be brought low. They don't sleep well at night. They worry that any minute other criminals will kill them or the police will imprison them. They have no friends they can really count upon.
We do the work of God keeping our fellow man safe and secure in his life, home and property. We are the peacemakers, 'Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God;' that's what the SGT Says.

Shooters & Hunters

Many old time gunfighters often said they lived and the other guy died because the other guy lacked the will to look him in the eye and shoot him. Studies done in World War Two and the Korean War showed that many soldiers did not fire their weapons at the enemy; they only pointed their guns in the general direction of the enemy and shot without aiming. I have watched video of soldiers in Viet Nam holding their M-16’s above a wall and simply firing in the general direction of the enemy. One of my friends was a Marine Corps officer in Viet Nam; he used to say his platoon was composed of lots of shooters and a few hunters.

Are you a shooter or a hunter? Are you able to shoot at the suspect, knowing you may likely kill him? Or are you just firing bullets in his direction? As an officer you must be ready to shoot another person any time you are on duty. Not shoot the gun out of his hand, not shoot them in the leg, but two rounds in the chest and one to the head. Shot another human being one in the heart, once in the lung, and once in the brain; through the face. If you can’t then you need to hang up your gun and your badge; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Report Writing

Write reports in the first person active voice telling the story chronologically as you experienced it. Write it in plain English, if you use radio codes, jargon, or other police talk, then explain it as soon as you write it. Five or ten years from now if you go to court on a cold case or civil trial you may not remember what that code is or it may have changed since then.

If you hand write reports we have always been told to write them in black ink. I have recently begun to rethink that position. Today’s copy machines are so good it is often difficult to tell a copy from an original. Some are now suggesting that you use blue ink, so you can tell a copy from an original. Not a bad idea, if your department will allow it. A signature in blue ink on a black form stands out pretty well.

Review the Penal Code, and agency policy any time you write a complex report. It will help you to include those small details that you may have forgotten so that the elements of the crime are all listed and you explain how you were able to follow policy. If you are concerned about your role in a major incident, don’t hesitate to speak to your union representative or even an attorney prior to writing a report. Once it is on paper, you own it; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

No Fee For Service

http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local/Firefighters-watch-as-home-burns-to-the-ground-104052668.html

Many agencies are now requiring people to subscribe to their emergency services or they either have to pay a large sum of money to receive services or they don't get services at all. This to me, is reprehensible. Police work and firefighting are callings, not jobs.

People should be cops and firemen because they want to help people, society, fight crime or fight fires. City's and counties need to provide police and fire services to the people who are within their borders without regard to their ability to pay. Emergency services should not be for the rich, or those who happen to plan ahead and pay their bill.

Police and fire unions should band together to stop this practice. If libraries, schools and hospitals have to close, police and fire services need to be funded. They are the basic responsibility of government to keep people safe. There is no point in having a library if you can't feel safe going there, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lies

Deputies: Man denies drugs found in buttocks are his

Deputies arrest a man and he says the drugs that they found in his buttocks are not his drugs. This is an excellent example that suspects will say anything, no matter how obvious a lie to avoid arrest, or prosecution. When you are talking to suspects it is important to ask them questions and listen to what they respond. It is also important to observe them and place what they say in proper context.

Obviously, a suspect with drugs in his buttocks is in legal possession of those drugs, no matter what he says. A suspect who says there is no drugs in his car or that he has no weapons on him may very well be lying. As President Reagan used to say, "Trust, but verify." Ask about drugs and weapons, but search anyway, and expect to find something.

When suspects lie, they often give way the truth. They will look at the place where they have hidden the drugs, or they will sometimes avoid looking at the place where they have hidden the drugs. They sometimes won't look at you when they lie, or they will tell the story more than one way, because they can't remember the lies. Suspects lie, that's the truth; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cell Phone Gun


This series of photos show a .22 caliber hand gun disguised as a cellular phone. These guns have been around for years but pop up now and again as different people begin to make them or distribute them.

Watch the hands, control the movements of suspects. Ask them to make their cell phone call or text message after their contact with you. Notice how they hold the gun when firing it. It reminds me of the way people hold their phones when the texting feature is being used. The gun is fired by pressing the numbers on the face.
The gun will not function as a real phone. It is much heavier than a regular cell phone. The "phone" will hold four rounds that can be fired one at a time. Watch out for disguised guns, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Strange Guns

One of my partners sent me a photo of a knife that is also a gun.

curios and antik guns

I started looking around the web for the maker of this unusual weapon and I noticed that there are many different firearms that are disguised as other things. Cell phone guns, pager guns, cane guns, and even a crucifix gun are out there.

The way to avoid these types of weapons is to be aware that such weapons exist and that you need to control the suspects hands. All guns must be pointed at the officer in order to shoot you and so that gives you an advantage. Keep the suspects hands in view and under control.

Failure to obey your commands to put their hands up and to face away from you are danger cues. Suspects that exhibit danger cues require that you respond to them to stay safe. Take cover, give a more firm command, tell them that their actions may result in you shooting them, or even using the Taser on them could be appropriate responses depending on your assessment of the threat; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wet Uniform

When working in the rain, wear a hat. I don't like to wear a hood or rain gear with a hood. It restricts both hearing and sight. In the rain hearing and visibility is reduced all ready and so loosing more is a big problem. Have a second uniform in your locker so if you do get really wet you can go change into dry, don't forget dry socks and tee shirt too! A couple pairs of dry socks in your locker and one in your gear bag with a towel is a good idea.

I like to wear a jacket rather than rain gear. Most rain gear is hot, often yellow, which is not very tactical, and noisey. You lose too much to try and perform regular police work trying to stay dry wearing all that. There are some new fabrics that are better, and if you can get those, wearing them is okay.

Be sure of your appearance. Too often we allow our uniform to decline when it's wet and muddy. Bring an old shoe brush to work and use it to keep the muddy boots clean. Put a good wad of shoe police on the boots at the beginning of the ship to keep the boots in good repair. Don't let bad weather be an excuse to look sloppy in uniform; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wet Weather Driving

When circumstances change, it’s time to change the way you operate. Summer is gone here in Southern California. Last week it was 107 degrees f and this week it’s raining. When it is raining we need to do things differently. When driving in the rain, wear your seat belt. Even if you drive just fine, the other guy can’t stop his car and he may plow into yours, so even if you don’t usually wear your seat belt, and too many cops don’t wear it when it is raining.

The next thing to do is driver slower and drive less. This is a good time to park the patrol car at a busy intersection that has a lot of traffic collisions and be highly visible. You may cause other drivers to slow down and avoid an accident. By being in one place, you are less likely to crash your vehicle. So it’s a too-fer.

When you do patrol, drive slower than the speed limit. This will calm other traffic, and will reduce your likelihood of a collision. When streets are wet it takes longer for vehicles to stop and can make turning more difficult. By calming other traffic you reduce the chance of them having a collision. Set the example and keep the other drivers safe, that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tee Shirt Triangle

Does your agency still wear an open collar dark blue shirt with a white tee shirt underneath? After three decades of trying to get that changed, my agency has finally agreed to make a black tee shirt optional.

For many years I have been training m patrol rifle shooters and my highly skilled pistol shooters to aim for the "white triangle of death." That white tee shirt stands out as a great target, even in almost complete darkness. We have tested this at the range by having an officer walk out from the group and then walk back towards the group. The tee shirt is visible from a great distance.

A white tee shirt contrasts greatly with a dark blue police uniform. The small triangle formed by the open collar and the top edge of the tee shirt is a perfect aiming point for a shooter. It also is a very vulnerable spot. It covers an area that includes the top of the lungs and the spine. It is also above the body armor. Wear a dark tee shirt with your uniform, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

556 / 223

One drill I do with new shooters to the patrol rifle is to start them off with loading the magazine. We use an M-16 series rifle, semi-automatic only, with the 30 round magazine. I start them by showing how to load the rounds, explain the indentation in the magazine follower is a display to show which direction the rounds fit into the magazine. Then I show them how to tell the front from the rear of the magazine, even in the dark, remembering that we work at night too.

The officer then loads one round and he fires that. Next string of fire is two rounds in a magazine. Then three, then five, then ten, then fifteen, then twenty, then a full magazine. We load to twenty-eight in a thirty round magazine. That gives the shooter a chance to practice loading the magazine, inserting the magazine into the magazine well, charging the weapon, taking the weapon off safe, firing the weapon, and removing the magazine. All with less than 100 rounds being fired.

By the end of this short course of fire, most shooters will have a good handle on these basic steps. Without mastering the basic functions of the rifle it is pointless to continue to more advanced techniques. If the shooter is having trouble learning these basics, I will generally have them repeat the three rounds per magazine step until they pick them up. Officers unfamiliar with rifle shooting or with limited shooting experience do sometimes take a bit longer. It's well worth the time to train them right from the start; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

223 / 556

The M-16/ M-4 series of rifles and carbines make excellent patrol rifles. They are a mature technology, the function with great reliability. There is a fantastic array of after market accessories for them. Many people are familiar with them from prior military service.

When I train new officers with our patrol rifles, I go over the functions as if it were a pistol. Hold the rifles' pistol grip in your right hand as if it was actually a pistol. The perform all the functions of the rifle with your support hand, just as you do the handgun. This allows the shooter to keep his shooting grip, and his trigger finger indexed on the frame, so he knows without looking, where the barrel is pointing. It is pointing where the finger is pointing.

The shooter can remove the magazine, obtain a fresh magazine, insert the fresh magazine in the magazine well, tap the magazine and chamber a round all with the left hand. It does not require the shooting hand to be removed from the rifle and so the shooter can engage much faster. This is particularly true if the shooter is simply replacing a nearly empty magazine with a full one. The rifle will have a round in the chamber that the shooter can use on a target of opportunity that presents itself during the reloading process. Being ready to shoot is always a good thing; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Laying Down on the Job

Shoot in the prone or kneeling position recently? When someone shoots at you, the first instinct is often to duck, or drop behind cover. So why don't we shoot that way more often? Nearly all range training is done from the standing position.

Certainly if we are shooting from only a few feet away, the prone position is not the best plan. But at ranges of over ten feet, keeling may be a very good option, and one that you may instinctively assume anyway.

Car engine block, brick wall, fire hydrant, and any other large, thick, heavy item my provide some level of protection, but not if you are standing. Even a curb can be useful in the prone position. Car wheel hubs are good protection, but don't work well if you are standing. Shoot on the range from the kneeling and prone position, that's what the SGT Says.