Monday, January 31, 2011

New Gun

At my civilian job I carry a Smith & Wesson Model 686 .357 magnum 6-shot revolver with .38 +P ammo. Since my duty weapon is over 25 years old I decided it was time for an upgrade, so I got a Smith & Wesson Model 625 .45 ACP 6-shot revolver. I decided to stay with the revolver since after two dozen years of carrying one I do shoot very well with it. I am both fast and accurate and the upgrade to .45 ACP should give me better stopping power. Both guns are stainless steel and I like living so close to the ocean.

As part of my transition to the new gun I have fired 156 rounds so far, one from each of the 26 moon clips I purchased with the gun. This is both a test of the gun, a test of the moon clips and a chance to get used to the new weapon and using moon clips rather than speedloaders. I find the moon clips at least as fast to load as the speedloaders but faster to dump than loose rounds.

Since I am still waiting for my new holster I won’t be carrying the new weapon on duty for a while. Most of what I have read says you sould practice your draw at least 500 to a thousand times before carrying a new holster on duty, and certainly that is my goal. While that sounds like a lot of drawing I figure two or three hundred times a day for a week or so should bring me to that total pretty quick. Transition to a new gun involves more than just taking it out of the box; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Prepare to Serve

When doing a warrant service there is time to prepare. Part of that preparation can be to practice your entry. Back at the station you can walk through the planned entry. Simulate your door knock, your verbal announcement, your door breaching and entry. What happens when you entry? Are you looking for more than one person, what happens if you take fire, will you retreat or return fire and continue to enter? What actions will you take if one or more officers are down? Will you evacuate or continue to fight?

Using red guns or simulated guns you can walk through all of these options before you get to the scene. You don’t need a complicated shoot house. This is just an opportunity to walk through the options to get used to doing it together and prepare for different outcomes. You can outline the floor plan using masking tape taped to the parking lot. Even placing traffic cones in the floor plan with caution tape will work.

What happens if the suspect sees you on approach as you are in the middle of the lawn, or walking up the stairway? Perhaps having a couple officers with patrol rifles cover your approach when you are most vulnerable would be helpful. Does everyone’s radios work together? Have you checked them? Even the animal control officer and the fireman? If your agency does not do this very often ask another local agency that does a lot of warrant service to stop by and give you a few suggestions a few days before the event, most will be happy to help. It’s better to ask for advice before hand than have to ask for help when things fall apart; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Service Gear

Even without a SWAT team officers can perform warrant raids and searches successfully. We give our entry officers ballistic helmets, and large external ballistic body armor. We even have the first guy in line carry a ballistic shield. There may not be much cover available and the shield allows you go bring some cover with you as you cross open areas. The entry team should have at least five people, two with rifles and one with extensive first aid experience and extra first aid gear. The other two should have handguns and function as the arrest team. You don’t want to have too much gear in your hands as you are trying to handcuff suspects.

Take extra handcuffs with you in case there are other persons you need to detain. Having animal control and social services with you can be helpful if there are dogs or children on site. Don’t rush into the location. Sit down the street in a plain car in plain clothes and watch who is coming and going so you have an idea who is inside the location before you have to go in. I like to have an undercover type actually walk as close as reasonably possible to check things out close up in case there has been a last minute change by the suspect.

Don’t get into a big hurry to go in. Wait for everyone you need to arrive before you go inside. It’s best to have an outer perimeter to keep people out and an inner perimeter to keep people in. If the suspect jumps out a rear window you don’t want to chase him, you want him to run into your inner perimeter officers. Officers on the inner perimeter should be in teams of two and at least one in each team needs to be armed with a patrol rifle for their greater accuracy. The officer without the rifle should be the young guy, in case a foot pursuit develops he is not burdened with a rifle; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 28, 2011


A few years ago the small agency I worked for served a warrant on a known gang member. Planning and coordination go a long way in a warrant service detail. First, find out everything you can about the person who is getting the warrant service. His criminal convictions, his arrest history and known criminal associates. An accountant wanted for some white collar crime may not seem like a big deal unless he is an accountant for the mob.

Google Earth and other on line programs can provide you with views from above and from street level. We also used a police helicopter from a neighboring agency for a quick reality check to make sure nothing had changed from the time the Google maps were made. Since the suspect was rumored to have a dog, we brought along an animal control officer specifically to deal with his pit bulldog. We don’t have a SWAT team but a neighboring agency has one, so we alerted them and had two of their officers along with us to provide liaison.

We contacted our fire department, and had a paramedic unit standing by on site. As part of the planning process we located a large parking lot a couple blocks from the raid site to use as a staging and headquarters area. A command post was set up at the staging area, to coordinate the responses. The patrol units were notified so they could stay out of the area unless needed. They were part of the initial briefing held at the police station. A second briefing was held at the site. Planning and information dissemination make raids go much easier, especially if things don’t go as planned; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Service With A Smile

Serving warrants can be a dangerous business. As events have shown both last year and into this year even suspects with rather limited criminal histories can murder officers when they come to their house to serve a warrant. Suspects my only have convictions for minor offenses but they may be involved in more major crimes. By having officers raid their homes they may be worried that the officers will find evidence of those major offenses.

Suspects with an apparently limited criminal past may have only minor convictions but may have plea bargained those crimes down from more major offenses. The suspect who has violated his parole for battery may have had an initial arrest for assault with a deadly weapon offense reduced to insure a conviction. A suspect may be lucky, have a good lawyer or simply be in the system and not yet convicted of major crimes.

Any suspects with a history of violence, and especially those wanted for a crime of violence need to be handled as if they will respond to your warrant service with violence. Don’t underestimate the response you may get when serving a warrant. Plan for the worst and you will be ready. Don’t plan and if the worst happens, you can plan on a disaster; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Deadly 2011

All over the nation offices are dropping like flies. Criminals are shooting both police and security guards at a terrible rate. There are getting to be so many that it is becoming hard to keep them all separate in my mind. The one thing that is clear, is that these are dangerous times and this is a dangerous job. We only shoot to stop, once the suspect stops being a deadly threat, we can stop shooting, but only when we are sure. The suspect determines when the gunfight is over by giving up or going down and stopping the deadly threat.

Practice with your firearm at least once a quarter and better still, every month. Being able to hit the target is an important skill. When you practice, don't forget the fundamentals of marksmanship. We train a lot on the tactics, but simple shooting is important. Hitting the target is the goal. That requires practice and it is a perishable skill, so you have to shoot frequently.

Your front sight is the most important of the two sights. Keep it in focus as you squeeze the trigger. If you put the front sight on the center of the target you are likely to hit it someplace. If you are close aim for the tee shirt triangle. It is above body armor and makes a good aiming point. One hit is better than 20 misses. Two or three hits are even better, but some suspects can take 20 hits. Can you bring that guy down? If good solid hits are not bringing the suspect to a stop then shoot him in the head. The longer he is a threat the more danger he poses to your and other innocent people.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ten Things for Your To Do LIst

This has already been a bad month for law enforcement.
1. Call for back up.
2. Wait for back up.
3. Call for enough back up.
4. If you think you are going to have a gun fight, bring your patrol rifle or patrol shotgun. Handguns are for gun fights you did not anticipate.
5. Use cover when ever possible. Cover is often within three feet of you.
6. Unless it's an active shooter there is no need to rush. Plan your actions and coordinate with your partners.
7. Wear your vest, every day, all day.
8. Wear your seat belt, every time you get into the car.
9. Watch out for your partner, don't let him get hurt.
10. Don't underestimate the bad guys, even seemingly harmless criminals have killed officers.
It's important to use caution when working in the field; stay alert and stay alive; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Less Lethal

National command has required that Federal agents who are confronting drug dealers first use "less lethal" methods of engagement. When dealing with suspects armed with a firearm the only response that makes any sense is deadly force. Using a bean bag, Taser, pepper spray or other less lethal weapon is dangerous and foolish.

Drug dealers are dangerous criminals. They deal in products that kill people. They murder one another to gain control of drug markets. They handle large amounts of money and valuable drugs so they are always ready to defend those assets from other drug dealers.

Even the employment of less lethal weapons in situations were lethal force is unlikely to be used against officers there needs to be back up officers prepared to use deadly force if the less lethal force does not work. Less lethal force is not always effective enough fast enough to prevent a deadly response by the suspect; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1,000 Posts

SGT Says has made a thousand posts. Over two years of publishing almost every day of the week. The blog is designed to provide officer safety and education and opinion on topics important to public and private law enforcement.

These posts are short so that you can read them everyday. Reading them at roll call can help to provide a short bit of training before the officers deploy for the day. I have tried to address concerns of pre-service officers, officers working the field as well as officers in supervision and management or command positions.

I have over thirty five years experience in the field of public and private law enforcement, with over twenty as a sworn officer. Many others have helped me over the years and I see this blog as a small way to help others to stay to avoid getting sued, prosecuted, fired, hurt or killed. Officer safety means all this and more; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Cite It

When you write a traffic ticket, sell the ticket to the violator. If you find they are speeding and dont have their drivers license in their possession, write them the speeding ticket, note that they failed to have their license on them but dont actually cite them for that offense. Most violators you cite are regular tax paying citizens who seldom are contacted by the police.When you present the ticket to them for signature, spend a moment to explain the process to them.

Here is an example of what I like to tell them.

I cited you for speeding. The speed limit is 35 miles per hour. Given the hour of the day and the level of traffic flow the safe speed is 40 miles per hour. I cited you for driving 52 miles per hour, which is twelve miles per hour over the safe speed. I noted the fact that you failed to have your drivers license but I did not cite you for that offense. You have until this date to take care of the ticket. You will receive addition information in the mail or you can call the number listed on the ticket or visit the court at the address listed. Sign here as a promise to appear in court on the date indicated if you have not taken care of the ticket by that date.

This whole explanation only takes a moment and is very informative, non-judgmental and non-threatening. It makes an unpleasant experience for the violator a little more bearable. Most people who get a ticket are just regular people who made a mistake, were not paying attention or have weak driving skills. Often they just need the reminder of a citation to make better decisions, pay more attention or work on their skills. This way the violator can be upset that they got a ticket, but they dont have to be upset at you. It’s not personal, its just your business; thats what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 21, 2011

TC Actions

When responding to a traffic collision there are several things to do quickly upon arrival. First, determine if the scene is safe. Cars in the street that could be safely moved out of the roadway should be moved to prevent additional traffic collisions. Park your police car where it can best protect the scene and leave space for paramedics and those big fire trucks. Vehicles on fire need to be checked for occupants and those occupants rescued. Vehicles that are crushed have to be checked for occupants quickly. Then make an assessment of any injuries. Triage of the wounded is important. Officers often arrive before the fire department or EMS and so need to render first aid to those in need of immediate treatment. Some injured can self-treat, hand them a bandage from your first aid kit and tell them to apply it to the wound to stop the bleeding. Get everyone out of the street.

Call for fire department, more police, tow trucks, public works or EMS as needed. I always like to err on the side of caution when trying to determine if someone has been injured and needs the paramedics. The last thing I want is for someone to tell me they are fine and then have them keel over and die five minutes later. Anyone who has injuries bad enough to require stitches, is dizzy, has pupils that are behaving oddly, says they hit their head, or just does not seem right or asks for paramedics will get the paramedics.

Once you have stabilized the scene, find all the drivers. Get their drivers license from them. I like to clip them to my shirt pocket so that I remember that I have them and dont leave the scene without returning them to the owners. Locate the passengers and witnesses. I often use field interview cards to take down information, or we have cards that we give out when drivers are just going to exchange information and no police report beyond a log entry will be taken, those are helpful for me to use to take field notes. Be sure to check for drunk or impaired drivers and run the license plates and drivers licenses before anyone leaves. You dont want to let them tow a stolen car or allow a wanted fugitive to escape because you did not check; thats what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Use of Force

New officers sometimes dont use enough force at the beginning of an incident and then have to significantly ramp up the force when they are forced by the suspects actions to escalate.

An officer tells a suspect on a traffic stop to stay inside his car as the suspect starts to open the door to his vehicle. The officer repeats the command, but does not raise his voice or increase his command presence. The suspect exits the car, and runs towards the officer in a threatening manner, the officer has to pepper spray the suspect to control him and keep from being assaulted.

An officer makes a pedestrian stop on a shoplifting suspect. The suspect refuses to cooperate with the officer, shouting obscenities at him, failing to put his hands behind his back or to get on the ground and challenging the officer to fight. The officer could pepper spray the suspect but does not do so. When the officer finally approaches the suspect to try and handcuff him, the suspect and officer fall to the ground together. The officer has to punch the suspect with his fists numerous times in order to get the suspect handcuffed.

An officer approaches a suspect of domestic violence. The suspect is facing away from the officer and has his hands inside his hoodie. The suspect refuses to either turn around or show his hands to the officer. The officer could Taser the suspect but does not. When the suspect draws a gun from his pocket, turns and points his gun at the officer, the officer has to shoot the suspect.

In each scenario the actions of the officer were legally justified and reasonable. In each scenario the officer could have used more initial force and probably avoided having to use greater force later in the event. The officer should take control of the events and not merely react to the suspect; thats what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Does your agency get Federal money for any reason? Many agencies do receive Federal funds in the form of grants for special projects, or low cost or free equipment transfers. Does your agency enforce Federal immigration laws? Why not? You take Federal money for law enforcement, why not enforce Federal laws?

Illegal immigrants commit a disproportionate amount of crime. By entering the US illegally they demonstrate from their first day here a lack of desire to comply with American law. They cannot vote and generally don’t pay or under pay taxes. There is no legitimate reason not to enforce immigration law.

Since illegal aliens are a drain on the local governments by crime, welfare, tax evasion they are costing your employer money. With hard economic times few cities, counties, or states have enough money to pay for law enforcement. By arresting and deporting illegal aliens their negative financial impact can be reduced on your agency. Immigration is not just a Federal responsibility, it is a local problem too; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Money, No Jobs

Camden, N.J. laying off police and firefighters - Jan. 17, 2011

Cities are laying off police officers all over the nation. I think that as officers who have dedicated our lives to service and to protect our communities as well as each other we need to keep that in mind when it is time to negotiate contacts. While we all have families to support and bills to pay, we need to remember our calling as well as our partners. Staffing cuts should come as failures to replace attrition.

If your city is looking at laying off 10% of your police force, I think it would be better if everyone took a 10% pay cut in order to save those jobs. My wife's employer cut every ones pay 15% but did not lay anyone off; (she is not in law enforcement). The Federal, State and local governments are all going broke. High pay and big retirements may not last much longer, and I prefer pay cuts to job cuts. By cutting jobs you make your communities less safe and your own job becomes harder and more dangerous.

If you have fewer officers on patrol it will mean you will have fewer officers to handle the same number of calls or perhaps even more calls when the word gets out to the crooks that there are fewer cops on the beat. If you take a pay cut, your union should stipulate no layoffs. It is better for everyone to keep their jobs even if if means lower pay or benefits. There are no other jobs out there for laid off officers to get, it's not like they can go to other agencies that have money, because none of them have money; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Unknown Drugs

How do you deal with a suspect who is intoxicated but not actually under the influence of an illegal drug? There are several factors to consider. In California people can be taken into custody and held for psychological evaluation for 72 hours if they are a danger to themselves or others. Someone who is threatening others or appears suicidal could be held under this law.

Someone who is passed out due to an illegal drug presents a different problem. When I have a person down, I like to have the paramedics respond if I have any difficulty getting them to awaken. Are they breathing okay? Is their heartbeat too fast or too slow? Sweaty skin? Best thing to do is call the medics and maybe they will take the suspect away and get him off your hands.

In the meantime look for other minor offenses the suspect may have committed. Driving without a drivers license, trespassing, prowling, challenging to fight or other minor crimes are arrestable offenses and may be a way to get the drug user off the streets until they sober up. In the event they are arrested document all their property, and try and get a blood test if possible. Document their statements and behaviors that may indicate they are under the influence of a substance. The abuse of unknown drugs is a dangerous problem; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Legal Drug Use of New Drugs

For fifty years now science keeps coming up with more an more ways to get high. In most cases the products get to a certain level of popularity and then the legislatures jump on it and make the new drugs illegal. There is a certain lag time between the time the kids discover the drug and the time the legislature determines it must be banned.

In the meantime officers are left trying to figure out what to do with kids who are on drugs but not in possession of any illegal substance. These are very dangerous times, the twilight time between when people in large numbers begin using a drug and when the legislature makes it illegal.

Officers don't know the name of the drug and little research has been done about it so no one knows how suspects will react when they take it. Will they become violent? Will they have superhuman strength? Will they suddenly get sick or even die? Can we even make an arrest? How can we prosecute someone for doing something that may not even be illegal? These are hard questions and we are going to be answering them more and more often soon; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Peds & Cars

An officer was murdered by a suspect as they were chatting. It is possible that the officer was inside his car when he drove up to a pedestrian and started talking to him. The suspect just pulled out a gun and started shooting. How often have you seen officers talk to people at the car window? How many times have you done it?

I won't talk to people at my car window unless I am asking the victim or reporting party; "Which way did they go?" and even then I don't actually stop the car. When seated inside a vehicle it is very difficult to avoid attack when seated inside a car. Sure you can drive away and that is a good tactic if you have the car in gear, motor running and a clear space to the front.

When I stop a pedestrian I generally stop behind them and walk up to them. Sometimes if I want to "catch" them I will sometimes drive past them, stop and jump out and confront them from the front. When people walk up to my car I either direct them back to the curb or pull up and walk back to them. I like the maneuver room; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hoof It

Call another unit, park the patrol car and go for a walk. Walk in the park, walk at the high school, walk around the civic center, walk the business district. Walk down some alleys, under some bridges, and through some low income housing tracts. Being in the patrol car, zipping around at even 25 miles per hour makes it difficult for people to approach you. The average citizen will not generally flag you down unless they are in trouble. Potential informants are not going to rush into traffic to stop your car. Walking a school gives you a chance to learn the lay out before you have to go there for an active shooter. Walking the business district allows the store owners who pay lots of taxes an opportunity to chat with you and share their concerns.

Walking around makes you visible to people who might otherwise not see you very often. It also gives you a type of invisibility because people dont expect a cop to walk up on them in the dark alley or parking lot in the middle of the night. Walking allows you to see and hear and even smell things that you would never notice in a car. A couple kids smoking dope, sitting on a park bench would go unnoticed if you were driving past them 100 yards away. Those guys stripping the car in the alley will walk away as soon as they see a patrol car drive into the end of the alley, but wont notice a couple officers on foot.

Always let your supervisor know your plan in advance. Notify your dispatcher what you are up to when you get there. Dont carry too much gear that is going to rattle and leave your flashlight turned off unless there is something you specifically want to look at, use your night vision and dont give away your position. Move slowly and its okay to even stop and listen for a moment too. Foot patrol, you can cover a lot of ground at two miles per hour; thats what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Crazy, but Not About You

The guy who is the suspect in the murder of all those people at the Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona is almost certainly crazy. That is to say, if the media reports are even close to accruate, he has had serious problems in school and life trying to control his behavior and his writings. He has had a drug problem and yet has managed to slip through the mental health system and the criminal justice system.

When dealing with people who are mentally ill it is a good idea to remember that unless they receive treatment they generally will get worse over time. The guy you have to respond to because he is naked on the lawn at 3:00 a.m. today, may be naked and have a butcher knife next time. Don't use previous contacts as a guarentee that the suspect will be non-violent.

Keep your distance and speak in soft tones, at least initially. Keep your Taser ready and don't approach until you have a least two officers, four is better and six is not too many. Disturbed people can be very strong. They also don't always respond well to chemical agents. I don't like to spray people I am pretty sure I am going to have to fight anyway; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

S&W 625JM

While I am a reserve police sergeant, I am also an armed security guard in my regular job. Since 1984 I have carried a Smith & Wesson 686, .357 magnum revolver with .38 special +P hollow point ammo. Last year I decided it was time to retire the old wheel gun and upgrade to a new one. Since I do shoot very well with a revolver I elected to stay with the revolver but go with a larger caliber. So I got a S&W 625JM .45 ACP 4 ¼ inch revolver.

I also wanted to go from leather gear to nylon but I could not find a good duty holster and speedloader pouches for the large N frame revolver. I carry a double pouch and a quad pouch now and I just could not find a quad pouch in nylon. While the 625 uses moon clips rather than speedloaders the method of on duty carry is the same a speedloaders. So I went with a new leather holster and will continue to use my old speedloader pouches. I also had to get an off duty / undercover holster. The gun comes with four moon clips but I wanted 20 more so I ordered them direct from Smith & Wesson, along with the off duty holster. The Galco holster arrived yesterday and it is very nice.

I also got a moon clip tool; it is a device that helps clip the ammo into the moon clip and then helps strip out the expended casings. You don’t really need it but it is easier on the hands if you are going to shoot a lot of ammo. Naturally, I had to get more cleaning supplies and duty ammo. The ammo was over a dollar a round! Its terrible how the price of ammunition has increased in the last few years. The 625 comes with wooden grips so I had to order Hogue rubber grips for it too, I am still waiting for them to arrive. So far this project has taken almost a month from the day I ordered the gun until today. I did get to test fire the gun and it performed well, accurate and reliable. I will test fire it again and practice with it, both loaded and unloaded before I carry it on duty. Getting a new gun is more than just picking one out of the catalog; thats what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


When I get a domestic call I like to have the dispatcher ask the reporting party to come outside and wait for me at the curb. This provides me with several advantages. It will often separate the two parties, since the other one will often stay inside. I gets one of the two away from the kitchen knives and other weapons inside the house. It also allows me to make an assessment of the situation and at least one of the parties prior to entering an unknown location.

In this instance the officer was killed outside the home. Just because you are responding to a domestic dispute and think you are going to meet the victim does not mean you should assume both that you are meeting the actual victim and that they are not really a big part of the problem. In domestic disputes victim and suspect should be viewed as interchangeable labels for both parties until your investigation is well underway.

As you approach note the demeanor of the person you are contacting. Do they seem like a victim? Can you see their hands? Do they have any weapons? Are they cooperating with your commands? Treat them as if the suspect switched places with the victim until you know better, that' s what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Brinks Robbery

The Great Brinks Robbery happened in 1950. The criminals made off with over $2,000,000. That’s back in the days when you could buy a house for $3,000. They planned the robbery for well over a year. They added more criminals as the need to bring more people into the conspiracy dictated. Eleven criminals were eventually to participate in the robbery.

The criminals monitored the building from a hide out across the street. They got the information about the building alarm system from the alarm company. The criminals broke into the building and made copies of many of the door keys. They even did practice runs inside parts of the building to make certain they could find their way around when they did the robbery. On the day of the robbery they even disguised themselves by wearing clothing similar to the Brinks uniforms.

While this crime took place over sixty years ago they employed techniques that are still in use today; both by common criminals and by terrorists. They planned for a long time. They placed their target under surveillance, they made practice runs, and they used a large number of people to carry out the crime. Apart from the conspiracy, much of what they did up to the robbery was either not illegal or only a minor crime. Watch out for these types of behaviors on your beat, they may lead to an even larger crime; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jewelry Robbery

A police officer in Massachusetts was shot and killed in a shoot out with a robbery suspect. The suspect was also killed. A second suspect was also apprehended later. About half of the time when an officer is killed in a shootout there is more than one suspect.

Jewelery store robbers are very dangerous suspects. They are after high stakes and often know they will face security guards, even armed guards. They hit an open business knowing that he target is hard and the response may be heavy. Don't disappoint them.

When responding to a jewelery store robbery call, send multiple officers, I would recommend at least four and eight or more would be better. Don't respond directly to the store if it is in a mall, don't go inside if the store is a stand alone. Treat it much like a bank robbery. Set up outside with your patrol rifle or patrol shotgun. Look out for a lay off suspect or driver in a get away car. Make the store employees come out to you to verify they are legitimate. Jewelery robbers, they are very dangerous; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Health Fitness

A deputy sheriff in Texas was fighting with a 16 year old girl and collapsed and died. Most agencies have a standard for both the medical health and the physical strength and agility in order to get hired. Few agencies ever test their employees health or physical fitness ever again.

Look at the officers who work for your agency. How many have ten, twenty, thirty years on duty and are still in good shape? Probably few, if any are in the same shape as when they were hired. While I think it is unreasonable not to expect some physical decline as officers age, certainly some physical and health standards are not unreasonable.

Officers should get an annual medical exam. Police work often results in high stress, high blood pressure, heart disease and back problems. An annual medical exam can document the decline and and perhaps catch some problems early. Agencies should also perform a physical fitness and agility test at least every few years. Officers need to keep some minimum level of health and fitness; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 7, 2011


No seat belts in 42% of fatal police car crashes By Kevin Johnson - Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 'USA Today'

As many officers die in traffic collisions each year as die in felonious assault. Wear your vest, wear your seat belt. How many times have I written that? Yet, two or three dozen officers died last year because they failed to wear their seat belts.

If you are a supervisor, do you remind your officers to wear their seat belt? Do you discipline those who do not wear their seat belts? Wearing your seat belt is required by law in pretty much every state in the Union. What other laws do you allow your officers to violate?

If you are a Field Training Officer do you make your trainees wear their seat belt? Do you wear yours as a good example? Any FTO that does not wear his seat belt should not be an FTO. What other things do you train that will get your rookie killed?

Part of being a good officer is watching out for each other, make your partner wear his seat belt, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Slippery Crooks

A career criminal recently was in a car that was being stopped by officers for a minor traffic offense. The suspect coated his hands and arms with some kind of lotion. When the vehicle was stopped the officers removed the occupants from the vehicle. During the contact the career criminal was found to have exhibited probable cause for his arrest and one of the officers started to restrain him and place him in handcuffs. Due to the slick material on the suspects’ skin the officer was not able to hold onto the suspect.

The suspect broke free and ran away. The officer was unable to properly draw or even grasp his duty firearm due to the transfer of the slick substance to his own hands from the suspect’s skin. The poses an extreme officer safety risk, the inability to physically control a suspect and the inability to draw a Taser, baton or firearm could have led to the death of the officer or other innocent person. In this instance, it did result in the escape of a criminal but no injuries.

When using physical techniques to control a suspect there are several options to consider. First, look at the skin of the suspect. If it is oily, greasy, sweaty, it may be more difficult to control that suspect than one who is dry. The suspect could also have open wounds, blood or other bodily fluids on their body that you may not want to touch. I try to use rubber gloves when I have to touch suspects. It protects me from blood borne pathogens and in this instance could have provided a stronger grip. The officer could also have put the suspect into a kneeling or prone position so that the suspect’s mobility would be impaired. If the suspect was still so slippery that he got away from the officers hold, the rapid removal of the glove would have “cleaned” the officers’ hand and he could then draw his gun or other weapon. Just because the suspect is slippery does not mean they should be able to give you the slip; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I worked at a part of the parade route for the Rose Parade New Years Eve. I was paired up with a Deputy from the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department. One of the first things we did together was discuss our firearms. Not just because I am a gun guy, but rather because it is important to know in an emergency what kind of weapon the other officer has, how it functions and where it is located. He told me the type of duty handgun he carries and also the type and location of his back up gun. I also shared the same information with him.

That type of information is not the sort of thing you want to find out after the shooting starts. Can he use my magazines, or at least my caliber of rounds? Does he carry a back up gun? Where it the back up gun located? How do his duty gun and back up gun function; are their manual safeties that must be released in order to fire?

We also checked our radios and gave a short inventory of our other weapons. We then discussed a bit about our experience? Is this his first Rose Parade? Has he worked as a police officer for very long, does he know a criminal when he sees one? What is his concept of the operation; are we going to arrested everyone or just make them stop and move along? All this information is important so that when something happens you have an idea about how the officer will respond to the event. In law enforcement we often work with different partners, different agencies and it is important to have some idea before things go bad what they are likely to do; thats what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


How do you put on and staff the security for a giant event like the Rose Parade? How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time. Take an overview of the event and divide it into zones. Each zone is a specific area with geographical limits. A parade would have the parking, the parade route and a staging area and an area where the parade ends. Each of these would be different zones. Some parts of the event may be more than one zone. A long parade route might be many zones.

Each zone is assigned to a supervisor who will organize and control his zone. It is his responsibility to coordinate the police who will be assigned to his zone and to deploy any additional officers that are sent to his zone. He will determine how many officers he will need, where they will go, who they will partner with and generally supervise their actions. It will be his responsibility to insure they have all the equipment they need, get breaks, and start and end their shifts on time.

The event will also have roving officers and supervisors. Some of them will be available to fill in for those officers who are late, no shows, or have to leave early. They are also there to respond to any major events as the primary back up team in the event of a major incident. The overall event staff should include medical, bomb disposal, canine units, riot control, communications, command staff and other specialized law enforcement teams. They will spend most of the event in the staging area or pre-positioned in command posts around the event so they can deploy quickly if they are needed. Proper planning makes large events go smoothly; thats what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Don’t work with wet feet. During bad weather bring extra shoes and extra socks to work with you. I even carry extra socks in my gear bag into the field. I keep my shoes shined up so that the wax shoe polish will repel water better than the unpolished shoes. I also sometimes put a little petroleum jelly along the seam between the upper and sole of the shoe and brush it in just like shoe polish. This will help you to keep water out if your shoes without having to actually waterproof them.

Wet feet are not only uncomfortable but can actually cause injury. In very cold weather they can increase the chance of frostbite. In milder weather wet feet are very soft and while walking around can create blisters or sores on the feet. The nature of our work does sometimes require that we get wet, you cant always pick where you are going to have to walk, run or stand. If you do get wet once the call has been resolved you need to take care of yourself and make sure you are dried off.

As a supervisor working in wet weather, check your officers to make sure their feet are dry. Ask them to bring extra dry socks to work and have them return to the station an extra time or two so they can warm up and dry off. Proper maintenance of your officers will keep them from calling in sick or injured as a result of working wet. Both the new guys and the old guys may be too proud or too manly to complain, so you gotta check them both to make sure they are fine; thats what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Police Officer Erika Gandara

Guadalupe, Mexico no longer has a police department. Here in California we have had some cities disband their agencies because they ran out of money or had other problems. In Guadalupe, Mexico they don't have any police because they have all been killed, quit, or kidnapped.

Erika Gandara is a name we should all remember. She was the last police officer working in Guadalupe, Mexico. She had her house torched in an arson fire. Eventually she was kidnapped and her fate is unknown, but I would suspect she was murdered. It is a very hazardous job to be a police officer in Mexico and my heart goes out to her family and my prayers go with her for her courageous stand.

The scourge of drug trafficking is a terrible thing. It destroys whole societies, governments and nations. Mexico is at a crossroads between drugs and freedom. Much of their problems are a result of American use of Mexican drugs. It is American money that buys those drugs that gives these Mexican drug lords their power. Remember Police Officer Erika Gandara and do all that you can to enforce our drug laws so there will be no more like her and none like her in our nation; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Illegal Steroid Use Among Police Officers 'a Big Problem'

Let me make this clear. If you are a police officer and you are illegally using steroids then you are a criminal. You should be fired and go to jail. Period. There is no valid excuse. If you work the jails or tough neighborhoods and think you need to pump yourself up to do the job you are wrong. Illegal use of steroids is a crime and no better than any other dope fiend.

I have known officers to use steroids and it is very bad for them. They get angry very easily and effects their ability to do their job and their relationship with their co-workers. It also has serious long term health problems.

If you are using steroids illegally, then you need to stop, right now, today. See a doctor and get yourself into a program and get off the drugs before you kill someone or even yourself. If your partners are using drugs then report them to you internal affairs bureau immediately. If you are not sure, then go to your supervisor and tell them what you suspect. It's wrong, it's dangerous, its illegal, its unethical, its unacceptable; that's what the SGT Says.