Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dead Guards II

The second category of security guards should be the “Patrol Officer.” This guard should have about a third of the training given to police officer. They should have a couple months of training and should be licensed to carry OC spray, baton and firearms. They should wear a police type uniform and always be armed. They should wear body armor when in uniform. These officers should be given concealed weapons permits. They should be carefully screened to insure they have a clear background with updates every couple years.

These officers should perform bouncer duties at bars. They should work at shopping malls and banks. They should be able to detain suspects without an arrest while they conduct an investigation, not unlike police, but only while on duty in uniform on client property. These officers should be expected to confront criminals, shoplifters, or intoxicated people.

This type of job should have a career path not unlike a police officer. They should be paid enough money to earn a decent living and prevent corruption, perhaps two thirds of the average pay for police. There may be some circumstances where they would not carry firearms, such as working in hospitals, but that should be the exception, rather than the norm; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dead Guards

Private security guards in California are being killed at a rate of greater than one a week. There are several reasons why this is happening and several things to do to prevent it. Guards need to be better trained, better equipped and better armed. They need more authority and more legal protection and better screening. Guards should be divided into three categories. The first should be the “night watchman.”

His duties should be limited to observing and reporting problems. They should not carry any weapons, or handcuffs. They should be strictly non-confrontations. Their job should be to unlock doors, do rounds to look for burned out lights and water leaks. They should have limited contact with the public and should not perform any access control, screening or rule enforcement. Their uniform should not look like a traditional police uniform.

They should have a minimal background check, minimal training and the job should be performed by college students, persons just entering the workforce or retired people. They should not work were alcohol is served. If anything happens they should call someone else, the police, a security guard or fire department to handle the problem. Night Watchmen should not be expected to work in low income housing, bars, banks or other places where they would reasonably be expected to confront criminals, shoplifters, or intoxicated people or anyone who might be dangerous or even threatening. These are valuable services but don’t require much training, experience or screening; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Sir Robert Peel is the father of modern policing. While he developed the police department as we know it almost 200 years ago, his theories are timely today. He developed and spoke of several principles of police work. While he did not actually publish a list of principles, these are generally ascribed to him. The first one is “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”

Every society has its criminal element but it is the duty of the police to prevent crime. Unlike fire departments who generally wait for fires to happen, police constantly patrol looking for suspicious activity and persons who may be planning on the commission of crimes. When we find one of these, we intervene to try and prevent or interrupt crimes before they are completed.

Police also educate the public on methods to avoid being victimized and on methods to prevent crime in their communities. We also respond when there is civil unrest. That unrest can be a single individual who is drunk and creating a disturbance or a massive riot. Police need to act as peace officers and restore order to their jurisdiction. Robert Peel, he had some good ideas, that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 27, 2011

TV & Movies & Drugs

How many people in show business have died early deaths as a result of their use of illegal drugs? How often do we read about actors who have in their contract that they will be supplied with illegal drugs? How frequently do we see actors on television or in movies using illegal drugs or talking about their drug use? How many times so we hear about some major celebrity is going into rehabilitation for drug abuse?

Why is it that the movie and television industries continue to have problems with drug abuse? This has been a major problem since at least the 1920’s, all the way back to the silent era of motion pictures. This is a national disgrace for both the entertainment industry and law enforcement. Both of these institutions need to make some major improvements in drug enforcement. Too many of our nations role models are drug users. Too many Hollywood stars are dying every year from drug related causes.

First, every production company should have a firm statement of a drug free workplace. They should not hire anyone who does not first test clean of illegal drugs and they should have random drug testing, testing anytime there is a work injury. Failure of a drug test should result in the immediate cancellation of any and all contracts and termination. Local law enforcement in Los Angeles should form an entertainment industry task force to infiltrate production companies, clubs, bars and other places were entertainment people work or play. The task force should gather information on drug use and sales and after a reasonable amount of time passes, they should raid those locations and arrest all those who use or sell illegal drugs. It is a disgrace to allow this same problem to continue unabated for eighty years; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Michigan Officer Killed

An officer in Michigan was killed by a suspect that soon afterwards, killed himself. Frequently I read in news accounts that a suspect will murder an officer and then often moments later, kill themselves. This is a phenomenon that is deserving of more study. There could be common elements among these suspects that cause them to kill themselves after they murder an officer that could help us to intervene and save two lives.

Of course, my primary concern is for the officer. There may be techniques relating to suicide prevention that could help us to confront the suicidal cop killer that could prevent him from murdering a police officer. Perhaps the suspect could be convinced to surrender prior to killing the police officer. Perhaps there are danger cues we can be trained to recognize that could provide new tactics to deal with the murder / suicide criminal.

Research into the behavior of criminals can provide use with new tools to make the job safer. If we recognize the patterns in behavior we can then modify our behavior to make our jobs safer. Just as we recognize patterns in behavior to detect drunk drivers, or terrorists, we may be able to determine who is planning a murder / suicide and take the proper action; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fitness Photographer Molests Teen

If I had a child who was going to have their photo taken by someone I would make certain that I was there whenever the child is being photographed. Too often we read stories about photographers and other show business types who take advantage of children. Sex crimes against children are unacceptable. District attorneys need to vigorously prosecute those who have sex with children.

Any person under 18 years of age is legally unable to give their consent to sexual relations in California unless they are married or an emancipated minor as declared by a court of law. Any person who attempts to have an abortion, who tests positive for pregnancy, who has a child should be investigated to determine who the father is so that they can be prosecuted if they are over 18 years of age. If the child has been having sex with another child then social services should make a determination as to the suitability of that household for that child.

Children having sex is the next big liberal issue. Even now some are calling it by euphemisms like “intergenerational intimacy.” They are using the same false arguments to attempt to justify their immoral and often criminal behavior. They claim they are born that way. They claim it’s all about “love.” They claim they are victims of Christian morality and not real criminals. The truth is their behavior is immoral and when criminal should be fully prosecuted. In California we have the laws on the books; we simply need to enforce them; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Texas Officer Shot

A small female officer was overpowered by a prisoner she was escorting. He physically overpowered her and got her gun away from her, shot her and escaped. While our officers should be interchangeable, certainly we know they are not. Just as a smaller, weaker, older officer might be justified in using more force and using a higher level of force than a younger officer or more physically fit officer, we need assign officers based in part on their skills and abilities not simply on a policy that says one officer handles this assignment.

While it is typical for one officer to escort one prisoner, certainly that is not always true. A major crime figure, a celebrity criminal, a criminal with a history of escape might require two or even many officers to escort him to court and back to jail. So it is also not unreasonable to have a smaller officer or a weaker officer work with a partner to escort a prisoner.

Just as you would not expect a small officer to have to confront a large suspect alone in the field, we should not expect them to handle a large suspect alone when transferring them from place to place. The safety of the public is not well served if the suspect escapes. The safety of the officers is not well served if they are attacked by a dangerous suspect. Despite budget cuts, big egos, staffing shortages, we should not take shortcuts when it comes to safety. No one is better off if an officer gets hurt or killed; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Brother Died

During a training exercise my brother collapsed. He was training with police from Pasadena, California at an outdoor firing range. Paramedics were on site as part of the training and they began to work on him right away. They called for a Los Angeles County helicopter to take him to the hospital.

Doctors worked on him at the emergency room while officers from as far away as Riverside, California responded. Officers from Monterey Park handled calls in South Pasadena so officers from SPPD could go to the hospital. The California Highway Patrol sent an officer to act as a spokesperson for the department. Brothers in blue, and tan and khaki came from all over to help.

Despite all the help, my brother died. He was my brother because he wore the blue of a police officer. We worked at the same agency. He had only been there a few years; I have been there for over twenty. I try to watch out for my younger brothers but sometimes things happen and you can’t protect them. Just as I risked my life for him, he risked his life for me. Our other brothers and sisters tried to save him but it was not possible. Tomorrow we will all gather for my brothers’ funeral, that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fresno Four

Four officers respond to a woman reporting that her boyfriend was trying to break into her home and threatening to kill her. When the officers arrive the suspect runs away. When he runs they release a police K-9 who bites the suspect and hangs on while the suspect climbs over a fence. The officers shoot the suspect with a bean bag shotgun.

Eventually, they get the suspect arrested and handcuffed. The city later charges the officers with excessive force and two are terminated. Later, the two officers are re-instated with back pay. Years later, the Federal Government accuses the four officers of excessive force and is prosecuting them for civil rights violations of the suspect. The suspect is an illegal alien. Why does an illegal alien get the same protections as a lawful resident of the United States?

Why are officers placed in double jeopardy of having to face internal affairs, local district attorney, and finally the Federal Government? Police work is inherently dangerous and having so many people second guess officers actions, often years later is dangerous to the officers. Officers hesitate to use force when they should and put themselves and other innocent people at risk. The whole civil rights violation issue is too vague and is too often used for political purposes. Police work should be a state issue, not a Federal issue. Officers should not be subjected to that standard; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Woman Shot Cop After Pursuit

Police chase a woman in her car. At the conclusion of the pursuit the woman shoots an officer. A police pursuit is a very dangerous event. The first and obvious danger is the pursuit itself. Driving while dividing your attention between the suspect vehicle, radio traffic and trying to maneuver your police car is inherently dangerous. Pursuits also often mean high speeds as well, which gives you less time to juggle all these activities.

Once the suspect vehicle stops the danger continues. The suspect only has a few choices, stop and run, stop and attack, stop and give up, or stop and stay in the car. If the suspect stops and runs, then the pursuit is on again, just on foot. Foot pursuits hold their own dangers. Suspects can lead you into a place where they can ambush you. A televised vehicle pursuit can alert the suspect’s friends to prepare places for the suspect to hide and for them to ambush you too.

If the suspect gives up you still need to search them carefully and perform a search on their car. A second or third suspect may be hiding in the vehicle, even in the trunk and may have remained hidden until you approach the vehicle. If the suspect stays in the vehicle, don’t rush the car. Wait it out like a barricaded suspect inside a building. You must be ready in case the suspect attacks you once they stop the car. A sudden attack by the suspect is the most dangerous way to end a pursuit and is more common that most officers think. It is very fast and you must react quickly; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Immediate Action

You are shooting and your weapon stovepipes. An empty casing hangs up in the ejection port and prevents the next round from feeding. You can’t fire your gun. What should you do? Drop the magazine. Insert a fresh magazine. Function the slide. Re-engage the target.

Drop the magazine, bad magazines are one of the most frequent causes of firearms malfunctions. If the magazine has gone bad, simply functioning the slide will not solve the problem. Since most police shootings are over in only seconds, then you don’t have much time to get back into the fight before the fight will be concluded without you. Insert a fresh magazine, if the magazine is the problem this should solve the problem.

Function the slide, while having the weapon canted in the direction of the ejection port. That will cause gravity to help pull the loose rounds away from the weapon. Once you have restored the weapon to function, then reengage the target. That means make an assessment as to if you need to shoot again or not. The suspect target may have moved out of sight, the suspect may have surrendered, left or otherwise no longer be a threat. Your training should include both shoot and don’t shoot after clearing the malfunction; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Unusual Response

It is impossible to train officers to deal with every different situation they will face in the field. Situations change from moment to moment and each incident is unique. When faced with an unusual use of force situation, consider some outside the box thoughts. You agency probably has the Taser, bean bag shotguns, batons, long riot batons, OC spray, ballistic shields. Consider if any of these may be useful. Some agencies have other resources like police dogs, Pepper Balls, rubber bullets and other devices. Perhaps a call for mutual aid could be in order.

I have seen officers use equipment from the fire department to subdue a suspect. Officers had a suspect standing near a building wall with a knife in his hand. They took a twelve foot long ladder and two officers pinned the suspect to the wall with the ends of the ladder. Other officers could then move in and subdue him. I have also known of officers using a fire hose to blast a suspect off his feet. A fire hose can be very dangerous and so needs to be used with caution.

In any of these types of situations it is important to do several things. First, devise a plan of action and brief your people on what to do to implement the plan. Next, don’t be in a hurry unless there is immediate threat to human life. Don’t be afraid to back off or revise the plan if it is not working. Try and have plenty of help available so you can implement the plan. Make certain that one person is in charge so everyone does not give commands to the officers and the suspect. Unique situations often require a unique solution, that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

SFPD & Wheelchair

Recently San Francisco Police responded to a report of a man in a wheelchair, threatening people with a knife and vandalizing cars on the street. When officers arrived, the man threatened them with a knife; none of the officers had a Taser. The officers did deploy a bean bag shotgun but an officer was stabbed and officers ended up having to shoot the suspect in the wheelchair.

Some things simply look bad in the news not matter how justified they are at the time. Police shoot man in a wheelchair just never looks like a good headline. The officers had a plan to use less-lethal weapons and they tried to work their plan. That’s good. I am not sure they did the same plan I would have done. A subject in a wheelchair is not very mobile and so one strategy to employ is to further immobilize him by dumping him from the wheelchair. That does require that you get close.

My thought would be to pepper spray the subject so that he is not only limited in mobility, but also blinded. Then distract him from the front while other officers move in from the rear and dump him out of the wheelchair, either to the front or tip it over on its side. Even if he retained the knife at that point on the ground and blinded he would be far less of a threat. The officers with a riot shield could move in and pin him to the ground. When faced with unconventional situation, sometimes you need an unconventional response; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 17, 2011

No Kids in Cars

The California Vehicle Code says that it is illegal to leave little children alone inside a car where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the health or safety to the child or if the engine is running or the keys are in the ignition.

“15620. (a) A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child who is 6 years of age or younger may not leave that child inside a motor vehicle without being subject to the supervision of a person who is 12 years of age or older, under either of the following circumstances:

(1) Where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the child's health or safety.

(2) When the vehicle's engine is running or the vehicle's keys are in the ignition, or both.”

Last year 49 kids died in the United States while left unattended inside cars. Most of those kids were under three years old. On a hot day it can take only a few minutes for kids to die, temperatures can go well above a hundred degrees in only a few minutes.

If you find a little child alone inside a car you must get the door open and the child out right away. Observe the child to see if they are under any distress. If it is not warm and the child is away and okay then you have a few moments to try and find the driver, if not you will have to take action right away. Turn on the overhead lights on your car to draw attention to yourself, notify dispatch of what you have and turn on your siren. Use the air horn, or whoop tones on your siren to get attention. If that does not work quickly or if the child is distress, you may have to break a window. First, check each door handle to see if a door is unlocked. Maybe you can force open a window and reach through to open the door. If you have to break the window, pick one where the glass won’t hit the child, and hit the door very hard with your baton. There are special window breaking tools, use one of those if you have one in your gear bag. You will want your paramedics to respond to check the child once you get the kid to a safe place. Don’t just open the door and leave them in the hot car. Move them to a shady place. Be certain to fully identify anyone who shows up to claim the child and car, cite them or arrest them depending on the laws and the status of the child; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tornado Time

Police officers know their duty is to protect and serve the public. We sometimes forget that we have to be alive and well in order to do that. In large parts of the United States tornados are common this time of year. They destroy buildings, pull cars up off the ground and smash them into buildings miles away.

The weather service gives us an idea when tornados may happen in the next couple days. Later, as the tornados get closer the weather service is able to give us ten to twenty minutes warning before they touch down in a specific area. We need to monitor the weather situation and respond when there is a tornado ready to touch down in our vicinity.

You can’t save others if you don’t save yourself. It is important to make sure you and your partners are in a safe place when a tornado happens so that you can respond to the emergency afterwards. Identify areas within your beat where you can survive a tornado. Look for places where you can park the patrol car where it will be safe. Don’t hide under bridges or an overpass. Get to a low spot, even a ditch alongside the road is better than being in your car. Keep yourself safe, so you can help others, that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Cut Prisons

California prisons are built to hold about 80,000 prisoners and are now holding over 150,000 prisoners. The Supreme Court of the United States has mandated that the state cut their prison population by over 30,000 in the next two years. The governor has said he will release prisoners who have three years or less on their sentences and are non-violent.

A child molester can be a non-violent criminal. A drug kingpin is a non-violent offender. An auto thief and a burglar are non-violent offenders. Are these really people we want returned to the streets? Our parole and probation systems are also badly broken. Criminals on parole often don’t get they type of carful supervision that they should be getting. Our police organizations and unions need to spend a little less time worrying about their pensions and more time lobbying to keep criminals in prison.

California needs to build more medium and minimum level security prisons. We need to privatize some of our prison systems, particularly for the low level, non-violent offenders. We need to get the cost of prisons under control so that we can keep more criminals in prison, rather than allow them to get out and do more crime. We should be looking at the experience of other states on their cost cutting measures. The people of California have supported three strikes laws and other harsh prison sentences. Our governor should not be looking for ways to allow criminals to get out of prison; he should be looking for ways to keep convicted criminals in prison; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Shooting in the Dark

The trigger finger should be indexed along the frame of the handgun or rifle. The trigger finger can be held parallel to the barrel of the firearm. By holding the firearm in this method the officer can aim his firearm simply by pointing his trigger finger. The use of the sights when firing the duty weapon is the best technique, but it is not the only technique for aiming the weapon.

The first choice for aiming is the careful use of the front and rear sights. Certainly this is the most accurate method of using iron sights. The second choice is the quick look at the front sight only. The front sight only is a good technique when there is little time to get a complete sight picture. Sometimes it can be too dark or there can be too little time to observe either sight. That does not mean that the officer cannot aim his firearm.

By indexing the trigger finger to the barrel, simply pointing the trigger finger in the direction of the target, the barrel is therefore also facing the target. Of the three techniques this method is the least accurate, but it is the most intuitive and the fasted method. This method also works in complete darkness or if the officer is blinded by blood, sweat, or pepper spray. In training classes, I have officers index their fingers to the barrel and have them close their eyes and fire at the target from distances of three yards. After a very little practice some can fire almost as accurately as with their sights at short distances; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Looking for Burglars

When responding to a burglar alarm you need to look for the burglar before you get to the location. Note vehicles that are leaving the location, particularly late at night when there is little traffic on the road. An audible burglar alarm will typically scare off the burglar and sometimes you can see them leaving. Check vehicles near the location, particularly if they are occupied, sometimes the burglar will have a look out or a get away driver. Also check out unoccupied vehicles, warm vehicles on a cold night can indicate the burglars’ car.

As you near the location, turn out your headlights, and park a short distance away. Approach the location on foot and verify the address. Keep your radio turned down low and try to avoid using your flashlight. Start at the front door, it’s often both a point of entry and a point of exit. Look for marks at the lock and hinges that could indicate pry marks. Check as much of the perimeter as you can, checking each door and window.

When inspecting windows, look for pry marks and look at the dust on the window sill. If the dust in undisturbed, maybe no one entered the location by that window. Check for spider webs, intact spider webs are a good indication that no one has entered that way. Look at the ground, a pair of fresh muddy footprints could mean someone has been there recently. When you find a closed door, try the doorknob and push on the door. Move slowly and stop to listen, sometimes you can hear people inside the building. Burglary response involves more than just wandering around the building with your flashlight; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Interior Check

You get a call of a burglary alarm and when you arrive as a small office complex you find a door ajar. No sign of forced entry to the door. What do you do? First you should have parked your car so it is not visible from the location and exited your vehicle without slamming the door to maintain the element of surprise. Once you find the open door, notify dispatch and ask for back up. A canine search dog is best, but certainly they are not always available. Wait for your partner from a position of cover where you can see the door and hopefully two sides of the location.

When your partner arrives, check the full perimeter of the location, the door may simply be an exit not entrance spot. Talk to your partner before you make entry about how you want to handle the search. Then make entry, with your loaded shotgun with a round racked into the chamber. Some say you should announce “Police” in a loud voice to warn innocent people and perhaps make hiding criminals give up. Others say you should not announce. I have done both, if I have a tactical advantage I prefer to announce, if I don’t have the advantage, then I would rather not give up the element of surprise. If I do announce, that’s a good time to rack the shotgun, loudly, just inside the door.

Check carefully, and look in any space that can hold a person. Small humans fit into very small spaces. Don’t hesitate in doorways, get into the room quickly. I like to turn on the lights as I enter rooms. It cuts the night vision of the suspect and allows me to see the whole room. Use your flashlight to see into closets, corners and even false ceilings. Don’t be in a hurry to search. If possible, check the roof, sometimes it’s used as a point of entry. A call of the fire department to bring a ladder may be needed if no air unit is available. I used to carry a folding ladder in my supervisor vehicle for just such occasions. Once you have determined the scene is safe, notify the owner. Someone should stay on site until a responsible party arrives. Offer to check the property with them before you leave. They may notice something out of place or missing that someone unfamiliar with the location might miss. Careful checking to catch the crooks and keep yourself safe, that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Job interviews for law enforcement are not unlike those for civilian jobs. They will ask about you, they will ask what you know about the agency and try and determine if you are the best choice for their agency. Some agencies will conduct a normal interview and others will conduct a “stress” interview.

In a stress interview the people asking questions will attempt to introduce some measure of stress into the interview as a method of determining how well you handle stress and how well you handle people who are confrontational. Some stress interviews will start out as a regular interview and then after a few moments the nature and tone of the questions will change to a more confrontational style. This does not mean they don’t like you; it is done to all the applicants.

The key to passing this type of interview is to remain calm and answer the questions to the best of your ability. Often they will ask you a question and then dissect and question your answer. They will generally try to get you to change your answers, confuse you and contradict yourself. It is okay to change an answer if they change the circumstances of the questions. It is also okay to take a moment before you answer so you can think of a proper response, don’t let them hurry you into a bad answer, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 10, 2011


There are some things that have no substitute. Ammunition is one of those things, when you need ammo nothing else will do but ammo. So how much ammo is enough ammo? I recommend that an officer carry at least two full reloads on their person whenever they are on duty and four full reloads is even better. The officer should carry at least that much in their gear bag, even if it is boxed rather than in magazines.

There should be four times that amount of ammunition at the station, per officer in the agency. Some should be stored as ready ammo in the armory but most should be stored in long term ammunition storage. Long term ammunition storage should be clean, dry, not too hot or too cold and should have limited access to range staff and supervisors.

A major shootout can involve the firing of hundreds, even thousands of rounds of ammunition. A barricaded suspect, an active shooter, a major robbery gone bad call all result in officers needing to fire off all their ammunition in their guns and on their belts. Having extra ammunition to replace that is essential given the nature of law enforcement you can’t wait for a shipment to arrive in a few days. Ammunition can be rotated from duty use to training use as it gets old so having ammunition on hand is not wasteful; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

30 Fights Undefeated

If you work for a slow agency you may have to fight someone once a year to get them into handcuffs. Over your police career that means you will have to fight thirty people and win every fight, to be the undefeated champion of your jurisdiction. You are not just fighting for yourself; you are fighting for your agency and for the community your represent. You have a duty to win every fight. If you lose a fight, that means there is a dangerous criminal on the loose who is willing and able to take on the police and win.

You have a variety of techniques and weapons at your disposal. Most of the time your mere presence as a uniformed officer will cause most crooks to simply give up when they see you. Other crooks will require your firm voice commands before they will submit to your lawful authority. Still others won’t surrender until you use arrest control techniques on them in order to gain control over them.

Key factors are your knowledge of the law, your agency policy on use of force and your skills with your various weapons as well as your willingness to employ them quickly and with enough force. Too often officers are unsure about what to do and they under-react in use of force incidents. Know when to employ pepper spray, the Taser, and baton and use them to protect yourself and others. Proper use of force is part of the job and is needed to win every fight for thirty years; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Never Do This

Due to recent news stories out of both Memphis, Tennessee and New York City, let me make something clear. It is never appropriate to solicit prostitutes for sex while on duty in uniform. Unless you are specifically assigned to work a vice sting and arrest prostitutes, it is not appropriate to solicit prostitutes for sex.

In several agencies recently this seems to be a problem. Officers on duty, in marked patrol cars, in uniform asking prostitutes for sex. This is officers who are sworn to uphold the law not only breaking the law but doing so on duty, in uniform. This is an embarrassment to their agency and to police everywhere. Officers who are paid to enforce the law are instead breaking the law. A serious ethical lapse; officers are paid to prevent a problem are instead participating in that problem.

Officers who participate in this activity should be suspended. If they are found to have actually seriously solicited or had sex with a prostitute on duty in uniform or in a marked patrol car they should be terminated on the first offense. Candidates for employment would not be hired if they had been convicted of having sex with prostitutes. Prostitutes are typically using the money to pay for drugs. Prostitutes often have diseases and certainly we don’t want to pay for someone who got AIDS on the job as a Workers Compensation claim because they were having sex with prostitutes at work. Don’t have sex with a prostitute; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Watts Your Problem?

In the 1960’s a California Highway Patrol Officer stopped a driver for drunk driving. The officer arrested the driver and intended to tow his vehicle. As he was conducting his investigation, several of the driver’s relatives showed up at the scene of the traffic stop and he arrested them for interfering with his traffic stop. All during this series of events, a crowd gathered and eventually it developed into full scale race rioting with dozens killed and a billion dollars in damage.

How can officers avoid this type of escalation from traffic stop to rioting and murder? Stay focused on your safety, the safety of your prisoner and your law enforcement goal. If you have to arrest someone, make the arrest, handcuff the suspect, do a quick check of the small of their back for weapons, put them inside a patrol car. Secure the suspect’s vehicle even if you want to tow it. Return to your car and drive away with your suspect. At that point your main goal has been accomplished.

You can return later and tow the vehicle. Unless the vehicle is evidence, you don’t really need it right then and waiting a couple hours will not change the case. When you go back, meet the tow truck a few blocks from the scene, swoop in with a couple police vehicles and take the suspects car. By leaving the scene initially you give time for the crowd to disperse and then you won’t have to fight a whole crowd and risk escalation into a riot. Sometimes a tactical withdrawal is the best tactic to accomplish your goal, that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Citizens With Cameras?

There have been some officers who have asked state legislatures to limit the ability of citizens to take police in the performance of their duties. This is a mistake. We cannot in a free society prohibit people from filming people in a public place. Police themselves take video of people with dashcams, helmetcams and other types of cameras. What we need to do is to limit the ability of people to take the photo of police in the performance of their duties if it interferes with those duties.

Anyone who is under detention or who is participating in a traffic stop should not have the right to video tape the police in the performance of their duties. Passers by should not be able to photograph police activities within a reasonable distance of those activities. Certainly they should not be able to stand in the road, violate a crime scene, or even be close enough to pose an officer safety danger to the officer. I would say that in general I would like citizens to have to stay about twenty to thirty feet away from officers in the performance of their duties.

The video of Rodney King was taken from across the street. With even a poor camera activists or people being oppressed by the police should be able to take video to show poor or illegal police performance. It does not require the videographer to be up in the face of the officer. People in a vehicle that has been stopped by police for a traffic violation sometimes waste an officer’s time and even endanger the officer when they fool with their cameras rather than allow the officer to simply conduct the traffic stop. No right is absolute and certainly I could support some limitation on the right to photograph police in the performance of their duties; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 5, 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.

Saturday, June 4, 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.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pardon Me, Boy

Two US Border Patrol Agents were killed in pursuit of suspected illegal aliens when their SUV was hit by a train. This is one of those kinds of accidents that should never happen. When in pursuit, it is easy to achieve tunnel vision. The brain gets so focused on the pursuit that the officers no longer see anything else around them. Even an object as large as a moving train disappears.

When in pursuit in a two officer vehicle, the driver should concentrate on the driving as much as he can. The passenger officer should handle the radio, and watch both the suspects and the scene. The passenger officer can pay particular attention to the right side of the patrol car and watch for cross traffic on that side.

Safety around railroad trains is essential. Trains weigh hundreds of tons and in a collision with a car or SUV will always win, sometimes not even realizing they hit something. Trains appear farther away and seem to be moving slower than they really are; they are so big they create an optical illusion. Don’t take a chance on a train at an intersection, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stop Training

Once the trainee has mastered the simple traffic stop it is time to make the task more complex. The trainee should practice the approach to non-standard type vehicles. Trucks that are very tall, vans, and even buses are difficult to approach. When the driver is four feet above your head it is hard to have a conversation with them. When I have a vehicle that can place me at risk, I often have driver turn off the motor and exit the vehicle.

Train officers to deal with a driver who does not have a driver’s license. Ask the driver if he has a driver’s license but simply forgot to bring it with him. Ask if the license is valid or suspended. Have the violator write down their name as it appears on the license, their driver’s license number and their date of birth. Then the trainee can run the driver by name to determine if they have a valid license and write the ticket even without a license.

The next step is to teach the trainee to deal with violators who are not as cooperative. How do you get a violator out of the car who does not want to exit? Back off and treat it like a barricaded suspect if there is a concern about weapons. If not, try to open the driver’s car door and reach inside using arrest control techniques as you would for someone on a park bench. The trainee needs to practice both driver side and passenger side approaches. Don’t overload the trainee with too much at one time. Have them take little steps and build on each scenario; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Scenario Training

Scenario training is some of the most valuable training that you can perform, because it reflects very closely the types of activities that you have to do in the field. It is very much like doing the work, but in a safe environment. When doing training it is important that the trainees be safe, I have officers remove all weapons, guns, knives, batons, Tasers, anything that they use as a weapon. If the training requires weapons I replace their weapons with red guns and other simulated weapons. I inspect each officer and I have the officers inspect each other to insure no weapons are missed. I don’t use unloaded guns, but simulated guns that are used for training only. I don’t even permit ammunition in the training area. Every year or so we hear of officers getting killed in training with guns that they thought were unloaded.

Scenario training should begin with very simple tasks, in a safe environment. Have a trainee perform a traffic stop on a minor traffic violation. Use the police department parking lot. Instruct the “driver” to cooperate with the trainee. Have the trainee stop the police car, call dispatch on the radio, work the emergency lights, spot lights and unbuckle the seat belt to approach the car. Make sure they have parked in an off-set position. Have the trainee make a driver side approach. They should check the violator car trunk, the back seat and the driver. The driver should be told to turn off their motor.

They should obtain the drivers license, registration and insurance paperwork. Have the trainee simulate a ticket but also have the trainee run the driver and vehicle. The trainee should re-approach the vehicle using the same tactics as the original approach. The trainee should explain the ticket, indeed, sell it to the violator. The officer should return to his vehicle in a safe manner and then resume patrol. Only when the trainee has mastered these basic skills and can perform them without error should the training advance to more complex encounters, that’s what the SGT Says.