Monday, February 28, 2011

DUI Cough Syrup?

When was the last time you read the label on a bottle of cough medicine? It’s probably been a long time. I know they are not really all that exciting to read, but next time you are in the medicine chest at home or at the pharmacy, read some labels. Did you know that some of them are 25% alcohol? That’s 50 proof. Two ounces of that cough medicine is more alcohol than a shot of 80 proof whiskey.

Cough medicine is sold without prescription. It is sold to anyone, in any quantity, without any age restriction. So a bottle of wine with 15% alcohol content can’t be sold in California to anyone under 21 years of age. A bottle of cough medicine with 25% alcohol content can be sold to an eight year old kid! The cough medicine is also readily available in pharmacies, grocery stores, convenience stores where kids go all the time.

Check your medicine chest and see how your cough medicine compares to others. If they have a warning about causing drowsiness, it could very well be because of the alcohol content. It does not take many sips of 50 proof to put you to sleep. Try to buy cough medicines that are alcohol free and keep them away from children. When on patrol look for cough medicines in cars, back packs and other locations; underage drinkers may be treating more than their hacking cough. You may find a drunk, rather than someone with a cough; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 27, 2011


In California there has been a growing movement to legalize marijuana growing and sale for personal and commercial use. They claim that marijuana diverts police resources from more serious crimes and officers could be freed up to do other things. They want to tax the marijuana and they claim that marijuana tax money will be in the billons of dollars, enough to save the state from its financial crisis. I am not buying it.

Marijuana is a dangerous gateway drug that should remain illegal. In my opinion we should be going the other way and re-criminalizing marijuana and putting those who use it back in jail like we used to do before we had a huge drug problem. The police know how to prioritize their calls and they don’t do marijuana enforcement and allow other more serious crimes to wait for them to finish. What will really happen is marijuana use will increase and police will be busier than ever having to deal with the increase of crime and traffic collisions that will bring. As for the financial crisis in my lifetime the state has told us that they are going to fix the problem by the use of the lottery, tax increases, special economic zones and nothing has worked and this won’t either.

Once marijuana has been made legal they won’t repeal the law if the money does not flow in. Legalized marijuana will be just like legalized gambling has been tried in so many places. It promises a lot and delivers very little. Have you been around heavy marijuana users? They simply want to lounge around all day and get high on marijuana until they move on to harder drugs. The money that we get from increased tax revenues will be swallowed up by the increase in other crime and accidents that it will bring. Marijuana needs to stay illegal; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Keep Guns Safe

How do your store your guns at home, in the car or at the station? At home they are best kept in a gunsafe. Locked up where they are safe from fire, theft, and children. I am not opposed to keeping a loaded gun handy for self and home defense, just know that you need to have a plan to keep the gun safe when not actually in use by you.

How do you keep your guns in your car? Do you drive an SUV without a trunk? What do you do when you stop to pay for gasoline and pick up a soda and leave the guns in the truck? On the back seat? On the floorboard? Behind the seat in your pickup truck? Are any of these safe places to keep a gun even for a few minutes?

How do you keep your guns at the police station? Do you leave a duty belt hanging on the locker door with a gun in the leather holster? Is a holster the safest most secure place for a gun that’s in a sheet metal locker secured by a lock you used in high school gym class? What about the janitor, the people from city hall who replace the light bulbs, the ride along who wants to be a cop, are they going to steal your gun?

I try and keep my guns with me or locked in a gun safe. If I have to leave them I leave them unloaded and locked whenever possible. When I commute to work and back I simply wear my gun. I never leave a gun in a locker; I take it home with me. When I put a gun in a gear bag its’ best to unload it and use a gear bag that does not say, police or security on it. It just screams for a car burglar to steal this bag. Secure your weapon; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Too Tired

The fatigue threshold: You're out of gas and the suspect is still out of control — 'a cop's worst nightmare'

When engaged in a life or death struggle with a suspect, there comes a time when you just can’t continue. A full on fight can drain all your strength in as little as thirty seconds to a minute. Even if your back up officer is two minutes away that does not leave you with enough reserves to finish the fight without a radical change in the incident. Your arms will get so tired you can hardly raise them, maybe even not be able to lift them up to strike a blow or perhaps not even block a punch to your face. Your feet will feel like lead weights and you will no longer be able to run away.

At this point you need to change the dynamic. That means you must disengage or stop the suspect immediately because you can’t continue as you have and enjoy a reasonable chance of success. If up to this point you have not used any weapons then their deployment is long overdue. The Taser or OC spray should have been used long before this point in the fight, but if not, use them now. The baton also should be used to keep the suspect back away from you. At this point it is no longer about apprehension of the suspect, it is about keeping you alive. Let them go if possible. Other units can catch up to him later. It’s not worth getting killed because he beat you senseless and took your gun away from you and shot you with it.

Retreat to your vehicle if you can, lock yourself inside and drive away if possible. It may not be possible. You can be so tired or so injured that its not even possible to get away. It may be time to move to deadly force before it is too late to continue to resist. You can’t allow a suspect to beat you into unconsciousness. Once they get you down and out you are helpless to defend yourself and they can murder you with your own gun. Your last resort is your firearm; you may have to use it when all other options are done and you are too weak to continue; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spike Strips

A sheriff has been killed while attempting to deploy spike strips. Spike strips are a great tool. The agency I work for has spike strips in their toolbox. This is a headline that I hear all too often. Officers getting killed, or injured or a near miss from traffic while deploying a spike strip. We really need a car Taser. Something we can zap a car with from a safe distance and incapacitate the car.

In the meantime the spike strip is a great device to safely stop criminals in a pursuit. The key is to lay the strip out when there is no other traffic coming that can either run over the strip or endanger the officer. The strip should be placed to cover the majority of the open roadway. Patrol cars can be used to block off an emergency lane on a freeway to channel the suspect into the spike strip. The blocking units should be unoccupied in case the suspect vehicle crashes into the parked car while trying to evade the spike strip.

Officers need to be far from the edge of the roadway when the spike strip is deployed. They should not have their backs up against the center divider of a divided highway with no place to go. Don’t rely on your vehicle alone to protect you from the suspect driver. He may try to intentionally run you down and you need an escape route. Your vehicle may not be strong enough to withstand a 90 mile per hour impact from a fleeing felon. If you cannot place the spike strip safely, don’t place the strip; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cell Phones II

Cell phones are big business in prison! Criminals are denied the ability to make phone calls and contact people on the outside. Now many people, often aided by unethical guards are smuggling cell phones into prisons. The prisoners use them to coordinate escape attempts, buy and sell drugs and guns, and generally continue to run their criminal enterprises outside of prison.

In California the smuggling of cell phones is not specifically illegal, despite being against prison regulations. Some have tried to pass a bill that would make it illegal but foolish legislators who only care about money don’t want to enact the bill. They say it will be too expensive to lock up the smugglers since the prisons are so crowed they have to release criminals under court order. Seems to me that money should be the least of the concerns where public safety is involved. Even without a long prison term, give the smugglers a huge fine and probation for the first offense, and then send them to jail on subsequent offenses. At least then you get them into the system and you have a tool to help stop the problem.

Those officers who assist in the smuggling of cell phones should be both fired and prosecuted on the first offense. They are allowing criminals to continue to operate their criminal enterprises. If they will smuggle cell phones then what is next? Drugs, knives, guns? Helping the prisoners in active escape attempts? An officer who helps prisoners defy the system makes everyone else’s job harder and more dangerous. This unethical behavior should be criminal as well, that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Phones & Crooks

As with everything that makes our society better, the crooks figure out how to turn good things to evil purposes. The iPhone allows texting and video and phone and computer all in one tiny little package. It’s a great way to keep in touch for business, pleasure or crime. All the same uses you have for an iPhone, criminals are using to aid in their crime sprees.

They are small and lightweight so criminals can easily smuggle them into jail or prison. From there they can do all kinds of important drug deals, order hits on rival gangs, and conduct witness intimidation, just like they were on the streets. Criminals also use them when they work as lookouts while other gang members do crime the iPhone guy can watch for the cops and then notify his other gang members when he sees something they need to know about.

Criminals can send text messages to one another and coordinate drug buys without having to worry about getting lost. They have navigation built right into their electronics. Being a drug lord has never been easier. They can keep the names of all their contacts and send out a message to the group when a new shipment has arrived. The iPhone, it’s not just for good guys; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hate Speech

Traditional Christian values have in my lifetime gone from the societal norm, to “hate speech.” Stating the traditional view that you can only be saved from eternal damnation by a belief in Jesus Christ you will now be decried as being too narrow minded and not being inclusive enough. Stating the traditional view that marriage is between a man and a woman is now considered bigoted and evil.

When I was young there was no question that salvation was only through Jesus Christ. I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me. That was a direct quote from the Bible and it was used all the time to explain the exclusiveness of the Christian religion. Only those who believed in Jesus would go to heaven, not because that’s what I wanted or what someone told me was a good idea, but because Jesus himself taught that philosophy.

Marriage between a man and a woman is the bedrock of all society. It is the institution that all societies look to as worthy of preservation as a special form of commitment. This has always been true in every major society in all time. God created us as male and female and intended us to live together in that way. Same sex marriage is an oxymoron. Even atheistic societies and pagan and heathen societies have taught that marriage is between a man and a woman. Now to speak this eternal truth is to be branded as one who utters “hate speech.” Good has always had to fight evil. Speaking the truth, in love, as it has been reveled to us is one way to fight evil and we must not allow ourselves to be silenced or no one will hear the truth; that’s the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


In most parts of the United States is it perfectly legal to carry a loaded firearm in the car. When making a traffic stop on a citizen who admits they are armed, the first thing to do is to not overreact. If you are utilizing good officer safety skills as you make the stop you already have what you need in place. The stop has been called in to Dispatch, you are stopped in a safe, well lit location, your gun hand is free and should be on or near your gun, and you are behind the driver in a position of tactical advantage.

Ask the citizen, where is the gun? Is it loaded? Do you have a permit, depending on your local laws? Why do you have a gun with you today? A security guard, in uniform on his way to work, an off duty cop, a guy dressed like Elmer Fudd going rabbit hunting should not be a cause for undue alarm. Ask them to keep their hands on the wheel and then continue with the stop. A back up unit would be a good idea, but don’t think everyone with a gun is a criminal. Remember, game wardens deal with armed people all day long and they don’t treat everyone with a gun as a dangerous criminal.

If the subject seems to be a problem, has no apparent legitimate, lawful reason for the weapon, then you may need to escalate. You don’t want to create a shooting situation were none existed before. Getting to cover and having the subject exit the vehicle as you would in any other high risk traffic stop is the best idea here. Handle them like an armed suspect until you learn otherwise. Be ready to apologize or at least explain your actions if they turn out to be legitimate; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Red Light Cameras

More and more courts are finding red light cameras to be illegal. We need to continue to lobby against red light cameras whenever possible. A red light camera is a machine; it does not allow the accused to confront their accuser since the human involvement is limited to none. The red light camera does not have the discretion that an officer has to issue a ticket or a warning. Not everyone needs or deserves a ticket.

One of the main reasons for traffic enforcement is to gain compliance with traffic laws to insure the safe and efficient flow of traffic on our streets. Education of the young, well designed roads and signage, and reasonable enforcement of the law are all important tools to achieve safe highways.

Red light cameras are sold to the public as a safety measure, but they are sold to the city council as a method to raise revenue. As agencies look for more ways to increase their operating funds the pressure will increase on many to use red light cameras to raise money. The presence of a uniformed officer in a marked vehicle is a much better option. It provides better more well rounded enforcement that is fair and reasonable; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Our canine buddies are not all good guys. Just like people, some dogs are bad. Dogs kill two or three dozen people in the United States every year. Most of them are children but not all. Most of the attacks are not initiated by the dog owner, but some are. Dog bites are very dangerous and you need to be aware of techniques to help yourself or someone else who has been attacked by a dog.

If you are going to a location where you know there is a good possibility of a bad dog being present, then bring your animal control officer with you. Serving a search or arrest warrant on a house of gangsters is often an opportunity to confront their pit bull or other large and potentially dangerous dogs. If you can’t get an animal control officer in a timely manner your agency K-9 officers can be helpful to aid in the control of the suspects dog. They have experience in dealing with large and sometimes aggressive dogs and will be better able to handle a suspect’s dog.

If you are attacked by a dog, don’t run, stand still and keep your side or front to the dog. Command the dog, Stop! Down! Sit! These commands will often work for most house pet dogs. Pepper spray works really well on dogs, only the most determined dogs will be unable to resist pepper spray. The Taser is an excellent dog weapon. Remove the darts and just test the Taser, most dogs hate that electronic crackle noise enough to be scared away by it. A contact Tase is also an excellent way to stop an in progress dog attack. Using the darts may not be a good idea because even a large dog is a fast hard target to hit with a Taser, unless he is very close or coming right at you. The baton is also a good alternative to having the dog bite your leg, usually dogs will bite the first thing they come to, and your baton is better than your leg; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


2010 and now 2011 appear to be record years for police officer line of duty deaths. After many years of decline, officers are being attacked and killed with greater frequency.

Suspects are not just shooting officers and running away, they are shooting officers, running up on them and shooting until the officer is dead.

Our police unions need to worry less about our pay, benefits and retirement and worry more about out ability to survive. With tight budgets agencies are going to want to cut police training, police academies, and field training. They will want to cut range time, ammunition expenditures, and delay equipment purchases. High pay, good benefits and a great retirement package are wonderful, unless you are killed in the line of duty because your training fell short.

Officers need to make sure that their agencies are not scrimping on vehicle maintenance. Bald tires, no tail lights or bad breaks make for an unsafe vehicle. Every officer is entitled to go on patrol with properly working equipment. Radios, warning lights, and other gear needs to be in proper working condition. Any vehicle with an equipment problem that makes it unlawful to drive, like a burned out headlight, should not be driven. It is unethical and unsafe, that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Every year we have a few officers who are killed because they drown. Can you swim? I think that every police academy should have a swimming course as part of the training. Swimming is an excellent way to maintain fitness, and it is not hard on the body like jogging. Officers who work in boats should be required to wear body armor that also works as a floatation device and their duty belt should have a quick release so they can remove it if they fall into the water.

Every year a few officers are killed in an aircraft crash, often helicopters. Aircraft require a lot of maintenance and it is not unreasonable for officers to expect their aircraft to be in tip top condition. With tight budgets agencies may try and scrimp on aircraft repairs or replacement. This is inexcusable, police aircraft need to be in excellent shape so that when they fly in harsh conditions or even get shot at they have the best chance of getting officers back safely.

Every year it seems there are a few officers who are killed in structure fires. Police academies do a poor job of teaching fire response. Officers are frequently the first on scene at a fire and often discover structure fires while on patrol. Officers need to have a large fire extinguisher in their car, know how to use it and practice with it at least every few years. Officers also should have some kind of hood or other rescue breathing gear that will allow them to enter a burning building with a chance of getting out alive. Water, air and fire, they can all kill officers; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


If the fear of terrorist attack increases, we can expect increased usage of the full body scanner equipment as used at airports. This can be a highly effective tool, but must be used with proper planning and care to avoid violating the right to privacy of people subject to the scanning. The institution of proper procedures can insure the criminals are detected, the public is not inconvenienced, and the privacy rights of those being scanned are respected.

Everyone who enters the location should be given the option of being scanned or searched by hand and wand. Searching should be done in a semi-private location by a member of the same sex as the person being searched. Armed officers don’t have to do the scanning or searching but need to be instantly available to respond to any threats that are detected. By instantly available I mean just that, they have to be within two to five seconds away from the scanning locations.

Full body scanning should be done in two lines; one for males and one for females. The scanning should be observed only by members of the same sex. The scan when completed and found to be nothing should be immediately erased prior to the next person being scanned. Only scans that show a suspicious image should be retain and erased when it is found to be okay, or retained if needed for prosecution. The person doing the scanning should not be able to directly view the person being scanned, but should be in a room immediately adjacent to the scanner in case there is a suspicious image then they can respond to the problem. Full body scanners are an excellent tool but they need to be used wisely; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cop Cars

Many of us in American law enforcement have not gotten over the demise of the Ford Crown Victoria. Some of us are even still unhappy over the loss of the Chevrolet Caprice! Big city police work works well with a big full size American car. A car that will seat five full size grown up men.

The police car is the officers’ office and having a tiny office is not comfortable. It is all a large officer can do to exit and enter some of the little cars in service as police vehicles. Recently my agency purchased a number of the new Dodge police car. It has many good features, but interior space is not one of them. I am six feet two inches tall and weight over 250 pounds. That’s a lot of volume to fill up. Then you add the gun, radio and other gear and it makes me a really wide seat filling beast. It becomes difficult and awkward to buckle and unbuckle the seat belt in a timely manner.

The headroom is good, but it is hard to get in and out of the car, it could use a door opening that curls over the roof a bit. Add the radio, computer terminal, patrol rifle, patrol shotgun, cup holder, lighting controls it really gets crowded inside. We end up tossing the clipboard and LIDAR on the floor. It leaves very little room in the back for prisoners, especially if they have big feet or legs. The legroom in the back with a cage is tiny, and it makes it difficult for prisoners to get in and out. I miss the Crown Vic; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Visit YouTube or any number of similar sites and I suspect you will find videos of people shimming handcuffs. Handcuffs are not a golden solution for prisoner restraint. Handcuffs are a temporary measure to restrict the movement of the prisoners’ hands. That’s all.

Handcuffs don’t take the place of a good suspect search. Many suspects know how to slip their hands back in front of them so they can punch you or grab you. Some suspects hide a handcuff key on their belt, inside the back of their pants or even in their mouth. Some suspects practice attacking you with their hands behind their back, while handcuffed. Suspects with extensive prison and gang records are most likely to be able to do these techniques.

Always handcuff in the back if possible. Always search the suspect once they are handcuffed, or if their custody changes from another officer to your custody. Always check the suspects’ mouth for keys or other contraband during your search. Place handcuffed suspects inside a vehicle cage and observe them whenever possible. When moving a handcuffed suspect always hold onto them so they can’t easily run or attack you. Handcuffs are a great advantage, but even handcuffed suspects can be dangerous; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Robbery Is Not a Police Function

An officer on Memphis, Tennessee police department stopped a vehicle for a minor traffic violation. The normal procedure is to obtain the information from the driver and either warn him or issue a citation for the violation. Rather then do either of these things the officer simply robbed the driver and passenger of their cash and sent them on their way. Apart from the obvious ethical problems associated with robbing someone on duty at gunpoint, does it seem practical that the officer would have a reasonable chance of escape?

I would think that the victim would have a reasonable ability to describe his car and his attire. Certainly a uniformed police officer in a marked car conducting a robbery is an unusual occurrence. It does say a lot about the screening, supervision, and ethical climate in an agency that an officer would do such a brazen criminal act.

Officers need to undergo a through background check for criminal activity, convictions, arrests and even lifestyle prior to being hired. They need to have good credit and be financially responsible. Periodic checks after hiring of the members of the department to insure continued suitability are also a good idea, at least annually background investigators should be running computer checks on officers’ criminal background, driving record, financial history and drug tested every few years too. An officer who has a gambling problem, alcohol or drug problem or can’t handle his money responsibly should not be on the force; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Houston, We Have a Problem, II

Graphic Footage of Cops Beating Teen Roils Houston [VIDEO]

Officers in Houston look in this video like they could have done a better job at the end of a pursuit. By taking a few extra moments to get set up and get the suspect out slowly, you allow yourself and the other officers’ time to think, plan, and calm down a bit. The adrenaline rush of a pursuit and the excitement of the capture can cause officers to over react. Good supervisors will recognize this and control both themselves and their subordinates. Good officers will control themselves and their partners. Don’t let your partner get sued, fired or prosecuted because you watched him beat a prisoner for no good reason.

Tell your partner to stop or better still; physically place yourself between your partner and the suspect. That shows you are trying to restrain him and will keep you out of civil and professional liability for a failure to act. Your voice is unlikely to appear on any video but your actions will be a clear indication of what you were saying. You are protecting your partner the same as if you were helping him to control a resisting suspect.

Good training will create stress in officers and allow them to function through it so they understand the nature of high impact police incidents. It will allow them to perform the proper actions even though they are excited, tired, scared or just stressed out. The use of simunitions and impact suits are great for this type of training. Train your officers for the worst so they can be at their best; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Houston, We Have a Problem

Police officers in Houston, Texas were chasing a young man and when they caught up to him they beat him. He was laying prone when they caught up to him and rather then pile on top of him and handcuff him they are shown in a video kicking him, and hitting him. Video of course only shows us one viewpoint. It does not show us what the officers see or more importantly what the officers perceive. It only shows us what the camera lens picks up.

Still, this particular video looks very bad and several officers are on leave. It looks to me as if the officers are not well trained, not well supervised and do not have a culture that requires officers to look out for one another. At the conclusion of the pursuit of a dangerous criminal, it is best not to run up on the suspects’ car, even if he crashes. Even if he is hurt or dying he can still be dangerous. A police pursuit is not a game of tag, we don’t need to immediately rush up and touch the individual. We can wait. Take up good positions of cover behind your vehicle.

Draw your weapons and wait for sufficient back up to arrive. Order the suspect to turn off his engine and toss out the keys, I like to have them put the keys on the roof of the car, or even the hood. Have the suspect open the car door from the outside and get out of the vehicle. Move him away from the car and back towards your voice and your waiting arrest team. Your arrest team can take him into custody in greater safety because you have greater control of the suspect and the environment; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pretend Police

Ex-cop arrested on suspicion of shaking down massage parlor amormino, porte, police - News - The Orange County Register

Police in our society have a lot of power. We can carry guns around.

We can stop people in their cars. We can stop people on foot.

We can detain people. We can arrest people. We can search people. For the most part, most people accept these norms of society and submit to our authority.

As a result, criminals sometimes pretend to be police and so they do things that will make all police

look bad. This type of behavior often goes undetected as being done by false pretenses and so

people will have less respect for the integrity of the police. Here in Southern California recently

a man wearing a shoulder holster, carrying a clipboard and flashing a badge went to a local

massage parlor. He told them he was there for an inspection and walked around with his clipboard

taking notes. Later he demanded a massage and after his massage he wanted the masseuse to

perform sex acts with him. She refused and they called the authorities to complain about him.

The real police later arrested him at his home.

Police suspect that this man may have done this before at other massage parlors. They may or may

not have submitted to his request for a free massage and for sexual favors. Certainly in either case

it makes the local police appear to be corrupt and unethical. I think that any police impersonation

that involves the use of a gun and theft of property or services; or solicitation of sexual acts under

color of authority should result in a felony conviction. It just makes law enforcement more difficult

the next time those victims face a legitimate officer; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


When was the last time you visited YouTube and looked at the drug videos? Various social network and video hosting sites are running videos explaining how to make and use illegal or dangerous drugs. The videos are targeted towards kids. Children as young as twelve years old are making their own drug concoctions. They are combining both illegal and legal drugs together in order to get high.

Kids speak of pharming. Pronounced farming. They are going to their parents or grandparents medicine chest and searching for drugs. They take a few from each bottle and take them all together. Because they are prescription drugs the kids think that it is safe to take them. Since adults often dont take all their prescription drugs and then dont dispose of them they are good sources for drugs for the kids. Do you have old bottles of medicine in your medicine cabinet? How many pills are left in the bottle of Oxycontin that you had left over from the knee surgery? If your kids took two or six or twenty how long would it be before you noticed? Would you even notice at all?

Kids then ingest these drugs and often wash them down with alcohol. So they are combining drugs with alcohol in combinations never intended by the manufacturer. This can lead to dangerous, even fatal consequences. Imagine what could happen if a 100 pound kid were to take a dozen pills for high blood pressure. Instant blood pressure collapse and perhaps even death. These drugs are nearly always preceded by marijuana, the gateway drug to harder stuff. The use of Oxycontin is often the gateway drug to heroin. Heroin is cheaper and often readily available. Kids and drugs a dangerous combination; thats what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Radio Traffic

When you are involved in a major incident remember to communicate your activities to dispatch. They cant help you if they dont know you are in trouble. Just like in real estate the three most important things are location, location, location. If no one knows where you are at they cant come and help you. Even if the best you can do is radio the nearest cross street names at least units can head that way and look for you, even if they dont know why. At the least you should try to give your call sign, location and short explanation of what is happening. Adam-12, Third & Main, shots fired. Take a half a second and a deep breath so you can speak clearly enough that everyone can hear and understand your broadcast.

Only seven words but they communicate a lot. Who you are, Adam-12. The dispatch or supervisor does not have to perform a roll call to find out who is in trouble. They don’t have to think it is a prank call from a civilian on your frequency. Third & Main gives a location where the back up officers can go to find you. Even if it is not exact, they should be able to locate you by the lights on your car, the noises or behavior of the citizens nearby to the incident. Finally, shots fired let’s responding units know you need help now, and that they need to use caution when they arrive.

These three bits of information are the minimum you need to broadcast in an emergency. As the situation permits, give more specific information as you obtain it. The number of suspects, officer injuries, type of vehicles involved, type of weapons, where you want your back up officers to go and how many back up officers you want to come to your location. In the event of a shooting, the number of officers wont usually be an issue; they will keep coming until its over. If the suspect flees the area, give a description of the suspect, his vehicle information, direction and speed of travel, and any weapons and what the offense was that started this incident. Communication is critical and the more information you can put out, and the sooner you put it out, the better off you will be; thats what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Active Shooter

In an active shooter situation your primary goal is to stop the shooter. Given that most active shooters are prepared to die and are sometimes suicide bombers as well, it will typically mean that you will have to shoot them to death to stop them. Remember it does not take much ability to move to detonate a suicide bomb. Active shooters will often work in pairs or even groups of up to ten shooters. They will sometimes coordinate attacks in more that one location at the same time in order to draw off your resources. They will sometimes plant bombs in areas you are likely to approach or use as a command post.

As soon as two, three or four officers with long guns can gather together they should move toward the sound of the gunfire. Their goal is to find and stop the active shooters. Everything else is secondary. If they come to people who need to be evacuated, leave them or simply point them to the exit and move on. If they come across wounded, even seriously wounded, leave them and move on. Every moment you delay to help a wounded person the active shooter can be shooting more people, creating more wounded and dead.

Ideally, officers should have patrol rifles but a shotgun is better than a handgun and a handgun is better than nothing. Extra ammo, gas masks, and large ballistic vests are good too, but not essential. Speed is essential. Find the target; neutralize the target, as fast as possible. Additional units can worry about evacuation, wounded persons and even wounded officers. Historically we have tried to evacuate buildings and rescue wounded persons. In the active shooter scenario, stopping the shooter is the most important thing; thats what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gun Retention

Firearms retention starts with having a decent holster in good repair that actually fits your gun. The retention screw should be screwed in tight and the thumb break should be snapped. A tired old holster should be replaced. A broken holster should not be worn on duty. Have an awareness of who is near you. I like to keep my gun side near the wall. It makes it harder for a suspect to walk up and take my gun if they holster is against the wall. Stand with your gun side away from people and always be aware of how near people are to you. Don’t be afraid to step back, order people back or even put out your arm to keep them back if necessary.

If someone try’s to grab your firearm, the fight is on. The only reason to take your gun, it is to take your life. Fight as hard as you can to retain your gun. The first motion should be to clamp down on your handgun to keep it in the holster. The other hand can be used to either assist the gun hand in keeping the gun in the holster or can be used to fight your attacker.

I carry a knife that is readily accessible to my non-gun hand. I can draw it one handed and open it one handed with both my right and left hands. I can use it to either cut the hand or wrist that is grabbing my gun, or to stab at the chest, neck or face of my attacker. I consider an attempt to get my gun away to be a deadly attack and so I believe it to be reasonable to respond with deadly force. I also am aware of other weapons that I can use with my left hand. My Taser is set up to allow a left hand draw, and so is my baton. I can also use the improvised weapon of my sturdy ball point pen. Jabbed into the face, particularly the eye socket, a pen can be as mighty as the sword. Don’t let someone kill you with your own gun; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 4, 2011

No Riot

An activist group has been requesting information on the Memphis, Tennessee Police Department to find out if the police are spying on them. The police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation both received tips that there was going to be acts of violence near the headquarters of this group.

The police and FBI sent separate teams to the location to insure any violence would be met with a proper police response. There turned out to be no rally, no violence, no one there who was a threat to anyone. It took well over an hour for the responding officers to leave the location after determining that everything was fine. The group is concerned that the police are trying to intimidate them.

The police could have handled this better. If there was a threat of violence the police could have sent a single unit to the location to scout the area and inform those in the building of the threat. The scouting officer could have informed Dispatch or an off site command post that everything was fine and there was no reason for a police response. In fact, an undercover, plain unit, or helicopter may have been even better so as not to draw the attention of those potentially violent persons. I applaud the Memphis Police for their prompt response to a potentially dangerous situation, protecting those who are perceived as anti-police is never pleasant. They may want to re-consider their tactics and coordination with the FBI if a similar incident occurs; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Low Risk Offender

An officer in Indiana made a traffic stop and was shot to death by the driver of the car. The suspect did not just fire a shot or two at the officer and then try to escape, the suspect fired many times to make sure the officer was dead. The suspect was caught later after a robbery. This type of murder deserves the death penalty. I hope the families of this officer are given swift justice in this case. I hope the politicians, the judges and the police unions make sure this officer’s killer is also executed.

The suspect was a career criminal with at least ten convictions since the mid- 1980s. He was in prison for at least ten of those years. So every year or two he would re-offend and be sent back to jail. The prison system considered him a “low risk” offender and so he was let out of prison after only serving half his time because of his good behavior.

Prison officials often tell us that allowing inmates to have one day of early release for each good day in prison makes the inmates easier to handle. If that is the case, then double all existing prison sentence guidelines so these criminals will stay off the streets. Let’s have three strikes laws in every state so that career criminals who can’t stop violating the law can stay in prison forever and keep those on the streets safe. Under my plan, this guy would still be locked up, rather than out killing a cop; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bad Headline

A local officer pulled over a car for a possible drunk driving investigation. An occupant exited the car and stabbed the officer. The officer drew his gun and shot and killed his assailant. The attacker had an extensive criminal history, including crimes of violence. The headline stated 16 year old shot by police. The news media clearly wanted an inflammatory headline and so thats what they printed.

Knife wielding criminal shot by police.

Teen stabs officer, is shot to death.

Career criminal shot by police.

Any of these headlines would relay information about the event in a fair and accurate manner. Police unions and police department spokesmen, as well as the attorney and family of the officer stabbed should inundate the media with letters complaining about that type of headline that dont provide news, but rather provide inflammatory rhetoric. In cases of unprovoked attack on officers, particularly if the officer is injured, the agency and the individual should sue the attacker or his estate for the damages they caused. Sometimes due to the irresponsible reporting and inflamed public opinion agencies will pay the criminal because the officer shot him in self defense. This is wrong on many levels. It is important that our message get out to the people that officers are assault frequently, that such behavior is not acceptable and will have consequences, sometimes fatal ones; thats what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

LAUSD Police Officer Accused of Shooting Himself

A Los Angeles Unified School District Police Officer shot himself in the chest, in his body armor and then called out an officer needs help call. Over 300 officers responded and placed 9,000 school kids in lock down while they searched for the suspect in the shooting. The officer claimed he was performing a traffic stop and that the driver had shot him and sped away in his truck. Officers detained a man for several hours who looked like the initial description of the suspect that the officer claimed shot him. At the time it seemed odd to me that so many officers could respond so rapidly, set up a seven mile perimeter and still not catch the suspect.

That officer was arrested for filing a false police report. He will probably be fired from his job and of course will hopefully, never get hired by any other agencies. The public places great trust in officers and along with that trust grants us great power to detain, to carry weapons, to use force, to seize persons and property. Any violation of that trust reflects badly on all of us in this profession. The LAUSD police is a large agency and will likely suffer the repercussions from this incident for years.

This incident shows how important it is for first responders and for detectives to carefully weigh the evidence presented and compare the evidence to what the victim says happened. Witnesses often mistake facts; victims often fail to remember certain details as they focus on the gun or simply are too scared to remember much. When too many pieces of evidence contradict the witnesses or victim then it is often necessary to re-interview the victim. Confront them with contradictions and see if they want to change their story, even if they are officers; thats what the SGT Says.