Saturday, April 30, 2011

Survival to Retirement

What is your blood pressure? How is your cholesterol? When was the last time you had your hearing checked? How is your back, stomach and your weight? Do you have headaches? What’s your work stress level like?

Too often officers don’t make it to retirement because they die in the line of duty. They are not killed by a suspect, they just die. They have a stroke or heart attack or other illness that kills them. Often those illnesses are a direct result of their lifestyle and the nature of the job.

Are you working long hours but sleeping less than eight hours per day? Do you often work six days a week? Do you drink too much and smoke at all? Law enforcement can be very stressful and if we don’t take care of our health it can kill us as sure as a man with a gun. Get an annual check up. Take any medications you are prescribed. Take care of yourself, its part of officer safety; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Officer Charges in Nude Pic

When I went to the academy 30 years ago we were told there were three things that would ruin an officer’s career. Booze, bills and broads; the three deadly B’s. It seems that an officer in Memphis may have forgotten this admonishment. He is alleged to have emailed photos of himself to a fifteen year old girl. Photos of himself not wearing any clothing. When did this seem like a good idea?

The girl is only fifteen years old, why would any adult email photos of himself to any fifteen year old girl? Why would any responsible adult male email nude photos of himself to anyone? Once a digital image gets into cyberspace, it stays there forever and the recipient can send them to anyone else with only the click of a few buttons. How can this officer ever be expected to properly respond to a sex crime, a crime involving young girls, or crimes at a school?

If this is true it shows very poor judgment on the part of the officer. He should resign immediately and never work as a cop again. Depending on any other circumstances he may even need to go to prison, and register forever as a sex offender. I understand that some 15 year olds can look much older than 15 years old. I also understand that the officer was also very young, but if the behavior was something that we would not tolerate in someone who is not a cop, then we can’t tolerate it by a police officer either; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Iowa Deputy Shot

If you are dealing with a suspected criminal then you need to be safe. If you are questioning someone about criminal activity one of the first questions should be, “Mind if I search you for weapons?” If the person refuses to permit you to search, then you should search anyway if you have the legal authority to do so. If they refuse, ask they why, do they have any weapons, are they holding drugs, what do they have on them they don’t want you to find?

Don’t talk to people from inside your car, unless you drive up to the reporting party who runs up to the car, points down the street and says “That’s him, officer.” Any conversation longer than one second and you need to get out of the car. Being seated in the car leaves you at a great tactical disadvantage. I have known officers who will sit with their gun on their lap, pointed at a person standing next to their patrol car window. Will your bullets penetrate the car door? Will you get all kinds of glass and metal flying back on your face if you shoot that way? Can you even hit the target?

When questioning suspicious persons it is easy to be too focused on the questions and not enough on the person. What is their body language telling you, are they getting ready to run, or to attack you? Are they too nervous? Are they paying attention or are they planning something. Are they getting too close to you, are you in a good tactical position? Suspects will sometimes move very slowly to get you to turn to a less favorable position or to give them a chance to escape. Don’t let your questioning of a suspect distract you from your officer safety needs; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Flashlight Gun

For several years now there has been a flashlight design that doubles as a small carbine. While these have not been commercially manufactured using real guns, this certainly should be a wake up call for those who work in the field. Guns can be hidden in almost anything. Pager gun, cell phone gun, belt buckle gun, cane gun and even now even flashlight gun have all been designed and built by someone.

When confronting people in the field, watch their hands. I generally don’t like people to have anything in their hands. It can be very difficult to determine what someone has in their hands, particularly at night, or from more than a couple feet away.

Tell people who are approaching you to stop. “Stop!” Put up your non-gun hand; palm out to show them you want them to stop. “Drop what’s in your hands to the ground.” If the person has their hands in their pockets then I have them turn and face away from me, then take their hands out of their pockets. Making the suspect face away from me before they take their hands out of their pockets makes it harder for them to draw and fire a gun. Control the hands and you control their guns; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Big or Small?

What kind of agency do you want to work for, a big one or a small one? Which one is best, well that depends! Large agencies have the advantage of many different assignments. They typically have their own detectives and they usually can handle even the most complex investigations. Large agencies can afford to have SWAT teams. They take a huge investment in equipment and manpower that small agencies can’t support. Large agencies have multiple precinct houses and so you can work different areas with different people.

Small agencies, less then about fifty officers, typically outsource some of their work. They sometimes have detectives but often they don’t investigate all types of crimes, they major crimes, murder, or rape are often referred out to the county sheriff or other agency. Small agencies sometimes only offer patrol services and not much else, so there is no air unit, no SWAT Team. Small agencies work together more than large agencies, sometimes even the chief will go on patrol and handle calls like everyone else.

In a small agency officers often learn all about their cities, their criminals, their citizens because they serve a small population it makes it easier for officers to know everyone. Large agencies provide a large population and so they are often very busy. Small agencies have limited opportunities for advancement; large agencies can seem like a huge bureaucracy. Both types of agencies have advantages and disadvantages, it’s all up to what works best for you; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 25, 2011

What Were They Thinking?

LAPD officer off duty and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. LAPD officer killed in single vehicle accident drove off the road and hit a guard rail. Local sheriff deputy arrested for having sex with a sixteen year old girl Explorer. These are the local headlines this evening. This is how the local populous sees the police. Each of these was probably a preventable incident and each of them makes us look very bad.

The officer arrested for DUI was driving is motorcycle the wrong way on the freeway. He could easily have been killed or killed someone else. As much time as we spend trying to catch drunk drivers, how can we end up getting arrested for the very same offense. I don’t know how the single vehicle accident happened, but we all know they are often a result of the driver being sleepy or intoxicated. Both of those factors are preventable and should never be a factor in an officer death on or off duty.

An officer having sex with a teenage girl! There is no excuse for that but it seems to happen frequently. Agencies need to have policies and procedures to prevent male officers from being alone with young girls. Their time with the girls should be limited to official police time. They should not be driving them home, seeing them outside official duties and if they do they should be disciplined. Parents trust their kids with us, we should never abuse that trust, or their kids’ that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


If you approach a house and receive gunfire from the house you have many tasks to perform, some very fast. You have to return fire and seek cover; those are the first two tasks. Next you must communicate, first to any other officers at the scene and second to your dispatch and any officers on the way to the location. You may have to withdraw a significant distance, you may even have to return to your car and drive away; a rifle can hit targets hundreds of yards away. Reload as soon as possible, from behind cover if you can. You may have to rescue a downed officer. If that’s the case, don’t rush in and get yourself shot too. Wait for other officers to provide covering fire, use a patrol vehicle or better yet an armored vehicle for cover to get the injured officer.

Direct responding units to set up a perimeter. Make sure that responding units don’t drive in front of the location on the way to their perimeter location. Hand off the coordination to a supervisor as soon as possible. It’s hard to coordinate responding units and return fire at the same time. Once a close perimeter is set up, a far perimeter needs to be set up. A close perimeter keeps the suspect inside the location; a far perimeter keeps other people from entering. It is important to keep traffic from entering the kill zone.

A command center needs to operate fairly close to the location, but outside the observation of the suspects. It has to have a large open space, and good access to and from the location. You need space for fire department, paramedics, Red Cross, news media and a large number of police vehicles. Don’t try and do too much by yourself; don’t rush in unless it gives you a tactical advantage. Deploy SWAT teams and negotiators to deal with the situation; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pit Bull Attack

Police academies seldom teach officers how to avoid a dog attack, but they should. Dogs attack and kill people every year in the United States. I love dogs, I own a dog, but I also realize that bad dogs can be very dangerous. Most dogs will attack the first thing they are given to bite into, so use your baton to fend off the dog. If the dog is chomping down on your baton they are not biting your arm or leg. Dogs will bite and then shake the part they have bitten. Shake the baton even when the dog has bitten it so they are less likely to let go of the baton. Almost any barrier can work to fend off a dog; lawn chair, trash can lid, can be held between you and the dog while you back away to safety.

With your other hand you can deploy your OC spray, your Taser or even your handgun. Pepper spray works well against all but the most determined dogs. The Taser works very well against dogs. For most dogs, simply remove the dart cartridge and make a contact hit with the Taser. Most dogs hate the Taser so much that just the noise of the Taser crackling is enough for them to run away in terror.

If you have to shoot a dog, remember that dogs are much smaller than people and are not only harder to hit with a bullet but the bullet may over-penetrate the dog’s body and hit someone else. Dogs can also be very determined and even if they are shot they may continue to bite. Dogs are very fast and so you should never run away from a dog unless you have a long head start and someplace to retreat to; behind a fence or inside the patrol car. Dogs are dangerous, but easily dealt with, if you know how, and stay calm; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Control Fear

The nature of police work is that sometimes you will be afraid. It is okay to be afraid. It is not okay to fail to act because you are afraid. I think most people freeze in terror not only because they are afraid as such, but because they cannot come up with a solution that will permit them to avoid the negative consequences they fear, so they do nothing. Training is a good way to reduce fear. Fear of the unknown is removed by knowledge and experience of a situation. Simulated experiences allow us to learn but without the danger of real situations. Once we understand the proper method of handling a particular type of call, then the fear of the unknown is reduced.

Fear of danger and personal injury or death can be reduced by proper equipment and training and tactics. If you are wearing your body armor you are less vulnerable and so can be less afraid. If your equipment is in good condition, you know how to use it and it is appropriate for the circumstance, then your fear can be reduced. Deployment of the patrol rifle is a good example of having the proper equipment.

Fear is also reduced when people are in groups. Calling for back up gives the officer a second pair of eyes to watch for danger and a second pair of hands to fight with when danger appears. Suspects are less likely to attack if they are outnumbered or if the odds are not heavily in their favor. If you are afraid in a situation, back off or stop and analyze the situation. There may be a good reason to be afraid. Do you have the right equipment, do you have enough officers, are you using the correct tactics, what can you do to minimize the danger? It’s okay to be afraid, but us it to your advantage; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Minimal Force

There are several ways to reduce police officer use of force. Make sure all officers are carefully screened before they are hired so you have officers who are intelligent, in good condition, and behave in an ethical and moral fashion. Make sure your officers do not use illegal drugs and don’t use alcohol to excess. Chemical impairment leads to poor decision making and that leads to excessive force in some instances.

Make sure officers are well rested before coming to work. Long hours, shift work, court time all cause officers to come to work tired. Being tired can also lead to poor perception of danger and poor decision making. Make sure officers are well supervised. Supervisors can coordinate response by officers and help to stop force when it is no longer necessary. Supervisors need to at least monitor the radio and respond when there is an incident, if not actually working the field.

All officers should be in good physical condition so they can use arrest control techniques to properly restrain suspects without having to resort to higher levels of force. Officers should be encouraged to handcuff suspects promptly and to call for back up frequently to minimize the need for force. All officers should carry OC spray and an baton and most, if not all should also carry a Taser whenever possible. Annual training in these weapons is important too so officers not only stay proficient but also are aware of the proper circumstances for the use of these weapons. Reasonable force, is not excessive force, that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Minimal Force

Once again foolish legislators are trying to change the standard of force from reasonable force to minimal force. The courts have long placed the standard of police force as reasonable force. Force that a reasonable person in that situation would consider to be proper is reasonable force. It may not be the best force option, it may not be the least force option, but it is a reasonable option.

Requiring officers to use the least amount of force places an impossible standard on officers. It makes the officers under react and causes them to risk their lives and the lives of other innocent people by not using enough force to stop an attacker or apprehend a fleeing suspect. No matter how little force an officer uses, there will always be at least one “expert” who will be willing to show up and testify that the officer could have used less force to achieve his goals.

There is always a chance that a lesser amount of force might have worked, but that does not mean the amount of force the officer used was unreasonable. Using the least amount of force possible always seems to come to the “just shoot the gun out of the suspects hand” type of discussion. It looks good in the movies, but it is just not practical in real life in most circumstances. If legislators really want to reduce the amount of force used by police, then lock up more repeat offenders, particularly violent ones. If they are not out on the street committing crimes, then the police won’t use force against them; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Officer Killed in Training

No officer should even be killed in training. That should be our goal. The most important reason to train officers is to prevent officer deaths, not cause them. There are a few things we can do to cut down of officer injuries and deaths in training. Start by giving trainees a complete physical examination before they attend the academy. Heart health under stress is an especially important factor to have checked.

Monitor trainees during training to insure they are drinking enough water during times of heat or exertion. Training should be monitored constantly for safety. Each activity should include a safety briefing. When I run a range or baton class I empower every participant to stop the training activity to insure safety. They are all told to call “cease fire” or “stop training” if they suspect any activity we are doing may be unsafe.

Baton training that involves striking and blocking should include the trainee wearing head protection. Protection for the elbows and knees is also a good idea. Intense baton training can be very dangerous and should be performed on a mat with a high instructor to student ratio. I recommend at least three instructors for every 15 students. Students should generally not participate in intense baton training for more than about 30 seconds at a time. Keep the kids safe; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Deputy US Marshall Killed The US Marshall Service is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies in the United States. They often are sent to recover fugitives from the Federal court system. These are often some of the most dangerous criminals faced by law enforcement. The past year has not been a good one for the US Marshall Service, they have lost several officers.

When making a raid on a location to serve an arrest warrant, proper planning is essential. The first issue is to make sure you have enough people to make the raid. You need to cover all exits and have enough officers to deal with any situation. Have the paramedics standing by in case someone is injured. Any dynamic entry can result in injury to an officer or a suspect just by the nature of crashing into a door and perhaps deploying a flash bang and rushing into a property. If nothing else, people stumble over furniture, or have to force suspects into a prone position to handcuff them. Minor injuries can be treated on scene by paramedics and you can avoid a trip to the hospital.

At least one member of the team either making entry or near the entry point should be at least an EMT and should have medical supplies on their person to provide immediate treatment to any injuries. Prompt, even immediate treatment to injuries often means the difference between life and death. Most gunshot wounds are survivable and rapid treatment is a major key to that. Dispatch should know you are planning an entry and there should be an evacuation plan to get the injured to the emergency room. Hope for the best and plan for the worst; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sandusky Officer Shot

Did you wear your body armor today? Now that it is spring and it is getting warmer it is tempting to avoid wearing your armor. That’s a bad idea. Armor is essential every day on duty. Even if you are on station duty and not leaving the office, wear your armor. Criminals do attack the station sometimes and if there was a major incident, you know you would respond to it.

Wear armor that fits, armor should be replaced every five to ten years. More often if you outgrow it. Armor that fits is more comfortable than armor that is too small. Wear a tee shirt under your armor or even one of the special shirts designed specifically to wick away perspiration from under armor.

Take your lunch break at the station and shower and change your undershirt. It can make wearing armor much more comfortable. Even if you can’t shower, just removing the armor and changing your undershirt makes a big difference. Drink plenty of water when wearing armor. It is easy to become dehydrated on a hot day when wearing armor. Armor is too important not to wear; even if it is uncomfortable; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wisconsin Shootout

Are you willing to shoot someone who poses a deadly threat to you or another innocent person? Are you willing to shoot them two or three times as close range, in the chest? Even if the suspect is only fourteen years old? Even if the suspect is a woman? Or in a wheelchair? Can you look them in the eye and pull the trigger, knowing that you will probably kill them?

One thing the old time gunfighters used to talk about was the will to shoot. The willingness of someone to pull their gun, look the suspect in the eye, and pull the trigger, knowing you will likely kill them is a skill that not many people posses. Do you have it?

Suspects come in all shapes, ages, and sizes and we never know when or where we will be forced to shoot someone. Use of deadly force carries a moral responsibility that not everyone is willing to bear. If you find yourself in training classes thinking maybe you will not have to shoot someone, or maybe you can just shoot the gun out of their hand, or maybe you can just take cover or run away; then maybe this job is not for you; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Watch Out For That Tree

Too often I read reports that an officer has gone of the road in a pursuit and hit a tree, or light pole and was either seriously injured or killed in the crash. These single car crashes are usually preventable injuries. The officer is driving too fast for conditions or too fast for the vehicle or most often too fast for his driving skill level and crashes the unit.

When in pursuit of another vehicle we need to balance the risk of the suspect getting away against the risk to the public and the risk to ourselves in continuing to pursue at high speeds. Whenever possible, get an air unit in the pursuit so they can track the car even if ground units can’t keep up. Also call ahead to other agencies who can take over the pursuit or at least monitor the suspect vehicle as it drives past, they can also do traffic breaks and block intersections to cross traffic.

If your partner is in pursuit, make sure he calls off the speed he is travelling in the police car. If you note excessive speed for conditions, it is okay to suggest that he needs to slow down and back off for his own safety. The excitement of the pursuit may blind your partner to the danger of driving too fast in his desire to capture the criminal. Certainly the supervisor should be monitoring the pursuit and should control the speed too, but don’t let your partner get killed because you did not want to step on the toes of the supervisor. We have to watch out for each other; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Deputy Dies of Cow Injuries

A deputy in Texas was directing traffic when he was attacked by a cow, and he later died of his injuries. The cow was down in the street and the deputy was directing cars around it, when the cow revived, got up and attacked the deputy from behind. While cows are normally not aggressive, wounded animals can be very dangerous. Other officers managed to get the deputy away and take him to the hospital where he died of his injuries.

This is an excellent example that anything can get you killed, even doing nothing. The officer was simply directing traffic and was killed by a rampaging thousand pound beast that struck him, threw him into the air and kept after him. This is where a couple shotgun slugs to the cow may have stopped the attack, but in the time it takes to deploy the shotgun, the attack was probably over. Even shooting the cow with a handgun may have been enough of a distraction to get the animal off the deputy.

When I have a traffic hazard I try to deploy my car, cones and flares so I can minimize my involvement in the incident. Directing traffic can be dangerous even in normal conditions. Injured animals can also be dangerous, and even seemingly dead animals, like seemingly dead suspects, can come back to life and attack so you need to keep an eye on them; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How Not to Deploy Spike Strips

Police vehicle pursuits are very dangerous to the officer, the suspect, and innocent civilians. The need to end pursuits in a timely manner has resulted in the deployment of a tool known as the spike strip. This is plastic device that is tossed on the roadway in the path of the suspect vehicle. The operator then twists an actuator and small hollow tubes with pointed ends are raised into a vertical position. The suspect car runs over the strip and the tubes puncture the tires and let the air out. When it is properly deployed, it works great to deflate the tires of a car.

The problem with the system is that the actual deployment is often difficult for officers to get right. While the system is designed for people to be able to drive over the strips without damage, but not everyone is confident that they system will not damage the tires of innocent drivers. As a result, officers often try and deploy the strip just before the suspect vehicle arrives. This is a mistake because it is too dangerous to try and deploy the strip and then outrun the suspect vehicle.

Officers may want to create a traffic break far in advance of the suspect vehicle so others can deploy the spike strip in relative safety. It can be difficult to predict where a suspect may be in five or ten minutes, but that’s part of the nature of spike strip deployment. Officers can also stand on one side of the center divider and toss the spike strip over the divider and stay safe from the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle can be used as a weapon to attack the officer deploying the strips so caution is important; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How Do I Get Promoted?

So you have been an officer for a while and you want to move up to field training officer, corporal or even sergeant. What do you have to do in order to promote? First of all find out what requirements you agency has for the next position. Sometimes they want a degree, or perhaps there is agency or state training requirements for supervision. Talk to your existing supervisors and find out what they think you need to do to get promoted. There may also be time in grade requirements you have to meet.

First thing to do is master your present position. If you want to supervise others, you should know how to do the job you are supervising. If you can’t do the easy job, how can you do the harder, higher ranking job. You don’t have to be perfect, but you should be very good at it. Once you have mastered the skills in your present job, start learning the next level up. It makes it easier to promote you if you already know how to do the job and have been doing it for a while.

See if the there is an opportunity to fill in temporarily when a supervisor goes on vacation or if their position becomes open for a while. Particularly learn those skills you don’t know now. Can you write a schedule? Do you know how to minimize overtime? Can you do a department budget? Can you manage a fleet of vehicles? Do you know how to write an effective evaluation of a subordinate? These are typical skills for first line supervisors and they are often not performed by lower level employees. Pick up some skills, and pick up a promotion; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Are You In or Out?

There may be a time come when you have to ask yourself, are you a union member or a cop? You may have to choose where your loyalty is, with a department that might have to take unpopular actions, or with your union that may be losing members to budget cuts. There are few agencies out there that are getting the funding they used to get and most are having to make cuts.

If there are cuts to your agency and then other departments in your city, there may be protests against those cuts; perhaps even violent protests. Are you going to take to the streets in protest if your job is cut? How about if you retain your jobs but your pay is cut 30%? If you still have a job are you willing to deploy to protect your city government or city hall building against other union protesters?

We have seen these union protests become violent in several states. I have seen news footage of fire fighters and even officers in uniform participating in these protests. I don’t think it is appropriate for officers to protest when in uniform. Certainly officers retain all the civil rights of other citizens, but they also have duties and responsibilities that go beyond those of non-sworn citizens; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cop Jobs

Where can I find out about police jobs? As new folks look for work as police officers and agencies lay off existing employees and cut back on hiring it can be difficult to even find out who is hiring cops. Naturally the first places to look for police jobs are at Internet sites like Monster, and your state unemployment office. The classified ad section of your local Sunday newspaper is a time tested source for jobs. Since not as many people read the newspaper as use the Internet, you may get a jump on some less well publicized jobs.

Next check out your state regulatory agency for police training. The Commission of Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) at is that agency for California. There you can find a listing of every agency in the state that is regulated by them and often job listings too. The next place to look is at the websites for police unions. PORAC is the large police union in California and they always have a few job listings.

Next, go to the websites of the parent agency for the department you want to work for. Cities, counties and specialized agencies often have their own websites that link to law enforcement jobs. Sometimes agencies recruit through their human resources department rather than through their police departments, so going directly to the city website can be helpful. Other agencies recruit directly and so, lastly, go to the various police websites and look for work. There’s work out there, you just gotta find it; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Nightclubs & Bars

Parking lots are one of the most crime ridden parts of a nightclub. People often go out to their cars to buy, sell and use drugs. Clubs should have a policy that prohibits re-entry without paying the cover charge a second time. They should also have signage posted that prohibits loitering in the parking lot, even sitting inside cars. Security guards should perform foot patrols of the parking lots to deter people from being in the parking lot or from sitting in their cars.

Police patrols should prowl the parking lots too. The presence of police can help to deter crime and can lead to self generated activity if the officer observes intoxicated persons. Officers can also park a couple blocks down the street from active clubs and watch for signs of driving while intoxicated. Simply leaving a bar parking lot is not in and of itself probable cause for a traffic stop. Drive in the vicinity of bars for thirty minutes before and sixty minutes after closing time. Many intoxicated persons will stay and drink right up until the time they are tossed out of the bar at closing. It can often take them up to an hour to exit the bar and pull themselves together enough to be able to drive home.

Drive through the bar parking lot an hour or so after closing. People who are gravely impaired will often sleep in their cars. I have found people asleep at the wheel, car in drive, still in the parking stall; very dangerous. In many jurisdictions, just being at the wheel of a car while intoxicated is an offense due to the potential for drunk driving. Enforcement of laws relating to driving while intoxicated and public drunkenness can seriously diminish the problems with a particular bar, when many of their patrons are in jai; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Nightclubs are often the scene of fights, drunk driving and even murder. There are steps that can be taken to minimize these problems. Parking lots, indeed, the entire perimeter of the club should be very well lighted. There should be no corner in the back in the dark where people can go to use drugs or have sex. There should be some posted at the door to insure underage people cannot enter the establishment. Trained security guards should patrol the parking lot; while many problems start in the bar they are often finished, with violence, in the parking lot.

On site alcohol consumption is often highly regulated. Nightclubs that serve alcohol that have a particular problem of violence or drunk drivers should be treated with special enforcement by alcohol control authorities. In California the Alcohol Beverage Commission have special police who perform a variety of specialized alcohol enforcement assignment and can levy very heavy fines, even take away alcohol licenses. They can also offer special training in alcohol enforcement.

Officers should make a point of patrolling establishments that sell alcohol. At least two officers need to enter the premises at a time. Park the patrol car in front so you can get to it quickly and so it is highly visible. Walk inside and look for underage patrons and patrons who are intoxicated. In California it is illegal to serve alcohol to an obviously drunk person. Check the exits to see that they are not blocked; fires at nightclubs can kill dozens of people, you may need to refer the local fire marshal to the location. Also note the maximum occupancy for the building, often nightclubs will become overcrowded and create a fire evacuation hazard. There are many ways to deal with a problem nightclub; use them all; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nightclub Guards

Almost every week I read a headline that says “Security Guard Killed.” Invariably the second half of the headline will say “In Local Nightclub.” Security guards working at nightclubs face special dangers and are seldom prepared for those dangers. The first problem is they are seldom licensed, screened, trained or equipped for the job. Often they are just some big guy with a flashlight hired to keep the kids out of the drinking establishment. As a secondary role he breaks up fights and tosses people out.

Guards working nightclubs should be trained to deal with the most frequent problem, patrons who are drunk. They need basic communication skills and the ability to de-escalate problems. Too often the guard will simply manhandle people and literally toss them out the door. Too often that person will go to their car and return with a gun. Since most nightclub guards are unarmed and not wearing armor, they have little chance against a drunken, armed attacker.

While I think it is okay to have a large bouncer at the door to check identification and to escort rowdy drunks out the door, security functions should be performed by trained, professional, uniformed security guards. They should wear body armor and be armed. Their screening should include a criminal history and employment background check. Their training should include reasonable use of force and dealing with intoxicated persons. A busy nightclub might need more than one guard to deal with the crowds. The uniformed guards should spend most of their shift in the parking lot creating a show of security at the location to deter troublemakers; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sample Questions

Why should you be hired by this agency? This is a great opportunity for you to tell the questioners how good a police officer you will be if they hire you. What have you done to prepare yourself for a position as a police officer? Here is where you tell them about your training, your experience, your research. I put myself through the police academy, I subscribe to several law enforcement publications, I have been on ride-alongs with different agencies, and my present job allows me to perform some of the same skills used by police.

Can you work any shift and any day of the week? Crime is 24/7 and so law enforcement must be there all the time too. You need to be able to work any shift, even if it is not desirable. Consider how you will commute, who will take care of your kids, and how you will share household responsibilities with your spouse if you are working graveyard and weekends for several years.

Will you write a ticket to the mayor, your wife, your mom, another cop, your supervisor? The police must protect and serve the public in a fair and impartial manner. You also have the discretion to write a ticket or not write a ticket as you see fit. The board is looking for your reasoning in writing the ticket or giving a warning to the violator. It’s okay to answer that you would give a warning or write the ticket, but be prepared to explain your answer. Answer their questions with confidence and then stick to your answer unless they change the parameters; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What Are You Asking Me?

At the oral interview they will ask you questions to try and determine your suitability to work for their agency as a police officer. It is your job to sell yourself to them in the interview. They will want to know how motivated you are to do the job. They will want to know if you are mentally prepared for the shift work, working holidays, long hours that police work often requires.

They will want to know if your personal life will conflict with your career in law enforcement. Will your spouse support your decision to become a law officer? Can you use force, and make ethical decisions? What is it that makes you a better choice for them than someone else? What special training, skills and experience do you have that makes you a better candidate?

This is your chance to sell yourself. Think of yourself as a product and the oral board is your potential customers. Consider what you have to offer to an agency and work that into your answers. Tell them about how your personal life experience and training will make you a good candidate. Practice giving your answers to a friend. Prepare some talking points that you can work into your answers showing that you have overcome challenges and been a good employee in the past. Tell them all the good things you want them to know; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Interview Preparation

One of the most common screening techniques is the job interview. Prepare for the interview by getting a good nights’ sleep, eat a good breakfast, and arrive in plenty of time to be a few minutes early. Prepare a map to get you to the location; you don’t want to be late because you got lost. Call the agency and find out if they need you to bring anything and ask were you are supposed to park your car.

Wear a conservative suit and tie and make sure your shoes are shined to a high gloss finish. Do not wear any piercings or show any visible tattoos. Your hair should be neatly trimmed in military fashion. Ladies should wear a business suit, low heel shoes and a conservative knee length skirt. Ladies should wear small earrings, light make up and hair should be worn up off the collar; avoid excessively long fingernails and paint them a with a subdued nail polish color. It’s hard to be hired as a cop if you don’t look like a cop; this is not the time to dress like you are going out dancing.

Read the job announcement for the position you have applied for, and go on line and read the Home page both for the agency and the city they protect. Know the name of the chief of police and the mayor of the city. Be familiar with the demographics, general crime trends, and economic status of the community, as well as the general size and staffing of the department. You don’t have to know every detail, but the more you know the better you can answer their questions; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Application Completion

When completing an application the first thing to do is the carefully read the application so you can fill it out in conformance to their requests. Some want the application filled out on line, or typed, others want it to be hand written and some will want only black or blue ink. Some applications will want you to use all capitals and others will want upper and lower case lettering. If there is no guidance, then use upper and lower case lettering and fill the application out on line, if possible. If not, print out the application and type it. Have it done by a professional typist if you don’t type well.

Before you actually start, make a copy of the application, and use the copy as a draft copy. Fill out the draft copy and carefully proof read it. Once it is perfect and complete then use the draft copy information to prepare the final copy. Make sure to sign your full legal signature in black ink.

Fill out the final copy and have someone else proof read that copy. The final copy should be complete, with every space filled in and every bit of data requested on the document. Spelling is important so make sure every word is spelled properly. Keep a copy of the application on file so you have all the information for the next time. Most police applications are similar so it will make it easier next time. It will also make the information the same each time. The application is your first contact with the agency and you and you want to make a good impression; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who Are You? Application Preparation

What do you want to get ready before you start looking for a police job? Prepare a resume on your own, you will have to fill out the agency paperwork but it is easier if you have all your data together in one place. Write down the address of every place you have lived since you were eighteen years old. Get the zip code, apartment number, and the phone number. Even if the building has been torn down and replaced, put down the information as it was when you lived there. Get the name and address of every school you went to from high school. Be sure to get the zip code and the phone number.

Write down the name, address of everyplace you ever worked since you were eighteen years old, longer if you are under 25 years old. Make sure you have the name of your supervisor, your job title, your phone number, and the zip code. Make certain you have a short job title and job description and the name of at least two co-workers. Try and pick co-workers that liked you and can give you a good reference. If possible, try to avoid listing the same person more than once or twice on your resume. Have the name, address and phone number of a few people you can use as personal references; they should be people you have known for a long time. A neighbor, family friend, priest or other responsible adult who has known you since you were a child is ideal.

You can find zip codes and phone numbers in the phone book or do a web search for the school or business. Old business cards, tax records, W-2’s, pay stubs and report cards can also be good sources of address and zip codes, particularly for business and addresses that are not there any longer. Some agencies will want financial information too, so gather up your banking data, account numbers for bank accounts, checking accounts and credit cards. Gathering all this information before you apply will make the application process that much easier; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 1, 2011

City Budget Cuts

In times of budget shortfalls many cities are cutting police and fire services. I fully support balanced budgets and I do not think raising taxes in hard times is a good idea. It only slows the recovery or makes hard times tougher. That means that agencies need to find creative ways to cut or hold spending and still deliver services.

Delay the purchase of equipment. If vehicles can be maintained well they will last longer. Train employees to check vehicles before they go in service and to drive safely. Money spent on accidents is money wasted. Downgrade positions, cut the rank of staff positions without actually reducing the number of people doing the work. The decrease in rank can come over time as ranking officers retire, get promoted or otherwise leave the positions open. If absolutely necessary, employees can be administratively demoted with notations in their files that it was due solely to budget cuts and not the quality of their work.

Across the board pay cuts of the same percentage can be made to all department employees to retain the same number of workers. Rather than lay off 10% of a workforce, cut everyone’s pay by 8%, the savings will be about the same and yet will preserve jobs. The agency chief and command staff should take the lead and take a pay cut pay cut 1% greater than their employees as a demonstration of leadership and since they make more money they can afford a greater cut in pay than line employees. Time for creative solutions to fiscal problems, not just making random cuts; that’s what the SGT Says.