Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bombs Away

Drano can be made into a bomb with only the addition of a few household items. These bombs are mixed in a soft drink plastic bottle and once mixed up will explode in about 30 seconds. They are similar to bombs made with dry ice. While they are unlikely to do much damage or injury they could if they were set off in the right place of if someone were handling them as they exploded.

Getting a call of Drano bombs is unlikely to result in officer injury unless you arrive almost immediately or if the suspect is still actively setting them up when you arrive. They are quick and easy to make so it is possible they could be there when you investigate. The important thing to note is the person placing the device will be close by when they explode due to the short time it takes for the chemical reaction.

This means as you approach you need to be especially aware of people leaving or near the scene who may be involved in the incident. High school or college age males would be typical suspects; playing a prank or simply engaging in risky behavior are typical of the type of suspect that may use this type of bomb. Certainly anyone with Drano and aluminum foil without much of an explanation would be suspicious of this type of activity; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


This week alone we had the US nearing default on it’s debt, bombing and active shooter attack in Norway, a war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq, riot in Hollywood, wildfires out of control in the Western US, famine in Somalia, floods along the Mississippi Valley, volcanic eruptions in Iceland and all kinds of other disasters. Are you ready if these problems strike home? Most of these could happen almost anywhere. Most of them have happened in the USA at sometime.

The first bit of preparation is to train the family. Devise a plan of action. If something bad happens what are you going to do about it? Will you stay at work or come home? What happens if you can’t get home? What if the wife and kids are at work or school or church? What happens if your home is underwater or under volcanic ash or burned to the ground, what’s the back up plan?

If I am at work, my plan is to stay at work. If the wife is anywhere other than with me, her plan is to try and get home. She seldom goes anywhere that is not within walking distance of home if there was an emergency. My plan is to come home when the emergency has stabilized enough to get home. The back up plan for the wife is to go to the local fire station, or hospital or Regional Park. All of them are likely to be major trauma centers and should have medical and security personnel there to lend assistance. She has skills that will make her useful there and so they will probably keep her to help. Plan for your emergencies and coordinate the household response, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Officers Hit by Suspect Vehicle

Two officers investigating a drive by shooting were run over by the suspects when the suspects tried to escape. While most of the time we are warned to watch the suspects hands because they can contain a weapon, we have to remember that the car is an excellent weapon as well. A car can go very fast, even in short distances and we cannot stop a car easily.

The most important thing is to stay out of the way of a car. Being in front of or behind a car can be very dangerous. If you have to be near a car, be to the side of it, even a brief moment to the front or rear of a suspect vehicle can be fatal. If you make a traffic stop and want to approach from the passenger side, retreat to the rear of your patrol car and walk behind your own vehicle and then approach the suspect from the passenger side, don’t walk between the vehicles. The suspect can slam his car into reverse, run you down, trapped between both cars and then speed away.

These officers were chasing the suspect vehicle on foot, under most circumstances this is bound to fail, since cars are so much faster than men on foot. They probably would have been better served to return to their vehicles and chase the suspect from a car. While I understand the temptation to chase a car for a short distance, especially in heavy traffic or other circumstances where the car would have trouble getting away, it’s not a good idea. Don’t let the thrill of the hunt get the better of you and cause you to get hurt, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gun Grabbing

An officer was booking a prisoner when the prisoner jumped a counter and attacked him. The officer reported later that the suspect tried to grab his gun. The officer was fighting for his life and there were no one there to help him. Booking areas should be secure areas; officers should not be bringing firearms into such areas. The arrested people should not be unrestrained most of the time. They should be locked in a cell or handcuffed into a wall or bench.

Booking areas can be very dangerous. Often suspects think the booking area is their last chance to escape. Sometimes they think if the attack an officer they will have more prestige with the other inmates. Other times suspects are impaired by drugs, alcohol or mental illness and so may not make good or rational decisions.

Booking areas generally should be staffed by a minimum of two officers at the very least until the suspects have been fully searched for weapons and finished their initial intake and booking. That way an assessment can be made of the danger level of a particular inmate. Jail safety is important, that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

University Cop Fired for Helping Other Officers

A university has its own police department and sometimes they assist the local police department; just as the locals often assist the university police. I have always believed that one of the most important things officers can do is help each other. Help your own agency, help neighboring agencies, help on duty and help off duty.

In this instance a university officer responded to an officer needs assistance call from the local city agency. He left the school and assisted a neighbor agency in a legitimate agency. Once the incident was over, he returned to the school. The problem is that he forgot or neglected to notify his own dispatch of his actions. The officer was then fired by his agency.

Certainly the officer deserves disciplinary action. Even if the officer has previous disciplinary actions, I don’t know if he does or not, he does not deserve to be fired. Officers need to keep their dispatch and chain of command informed about their location and activities. By leaving your beat and not notifying anyone you leave your own agency and your own partners at a disadvantage. Supervisors need to know where their officers are and what they are doing. By firing this officer the agency sends a message that they don’t care about helping their brother agency, its bad public relations. It’s a bad example and it will cause resentment with the rank and file in both the university cops and the local police. If I was the chief of the local agency, I would offer him a job, that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Patrol Cars

Patrol cars are used differently than regular vehicles and there are many small design features that I would include in a police car that would allow us to use is even more than we do now. The car should function as a ladder. The bumper, trunk lid, car roof and even light bar should be sturdy enough and resistant to foot steps so that offices can walk up the vehicle and use it to climb over a fence or onto a roof from the vehicle. Perhaps even some kind of removable or fold down ladder that can be attached to the roof. It’s helpful to check a roof when there could be a suspect on the roof and it’s helpful to be able to climb a fence to enter a backyard.

Patrol cars should have a fold down rear seat into the trunk so that they can be used as an ambulance. Often police officers are the first ones to arrive at the scene of an emergency. Sometimes the grab and dash is the best method of treating a badly injured person. For some major injuries waiting two, three, five, ten minutes for paramedics to arrive can just be too long. It’s better for an officer to just get the victim to the emergency room in the same length of time. Having a vehicle that can carry an injured victim in a prone position would allow them more comfort, and a second person could sit next to them to render aid.

The trunk, hood and roof of patrol cars are often used as a desk. As officers load and unload their gear they often place it on the car. This leaves marks, scratches and even dents on the car. Since this is a common occurrence, why don’t those parts of the car have a surface that won’t mark, scratch or dent? Officers often use the hood or trunk as a desk while they write a ticket. Why don’t we have a surface where the officer can place his ticket book, write a ticket and still keep the suspect in view? It’s time to update the police car; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Public Favor

Robert Peel almost 200 years ago said that “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.” Police services are paid for by the whole population and the whole population should receive police services. Police services should be provided without regard to the person who is either the victim or the suspect.

If a person has been murdered the murder needs to be investigated properly no matter who the victim may have been in life. The death of a prostitute drug user is as important as the investigation of the murder of a rich person, elected official or even another police officer. All citizens have value and are deserving of proper police services.

Too many police administrators look for the ethnic, political, or special interest group of the month and provide them special police services. Our impartial service is important to the public and no group should get a special deal from the police. Public perception is critical to keep the confidence of the taxpayers; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Funeral Death, Again,0,4487618.story

Another officer has been accidentally killed during a funeral procession. A funeral is very important, but not important to die over. A funeral procession is a complex activity. Officers need to be briefed and have a plan to deal with the various procedures that need to be implemented to make the procession go smoothly and safely. Motor units that will participate in the procession should be trained in the procedures for stopping traffic, driving ahead to the next intersection and actions to avoid turning traffic.

One of the common factors in these accidents is vehicles turning or making lane changes and the officer is unable to stop or swerve in time to avoid a collision. The procession should move slowly so that the escorting motorcycles can keep up and leap frog ahead without having to drive sixty or seventy miles per hour. The other key is to have enough motor units. Having more units allows them to block off roads without having to hurry back to the front of the line to block off the next street. The leader of the procession and the motor units should practice before the day of the event to insure proper coordination.

The first couple vehicles in the procession should be in radio contact with the motorcycle escort. They should drive slowly so that the escort does not have to race up to the head of the line. A slower procession is also more dignified than racing to the gravesite. Drivers in the procession should be told to stay in line and if they have to leave, to move to the right and stop, wait for the procession to pass and then proceed. Motor units should pass on the left of the procession as they would in a pursuit. Officer safety should attend every funeral; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back Up Guns

A well equipped officer will wear body armor and carry a back up gun. Now the well equipped suspect will wear the same. An officer confronts a suspect in a gun battle. The suspect goes down and drops his gun. A second officer seeing the suspect has dropped his gun draws his Taser on the suspect. The suspect drew a back up gun and shot the officer.

If a suspect has deployed a firearm, then it is a reasonable assumption in my opinion to believe that they may have a second gun and to use a gun against them. There are several key issues here. The suspect had not surrendered. The suspect had used a firearm to attack police. The officer with the Taser did not have a cover officer with a firearm. If the officer wanted to use a Taser, he needed to have a officer armed with a firearm covering him.

The officer did fire the Taser but due to the body armor the suspect was not disabled. The Taser is an excellent weapon. It is not appropriate to use a Taser against a suspect armed with a firearm. It is also best to confront suspects from behind cover, if possible. Don’t underestimate suspects’ ability to harm you or another officer. Suspects often train, are determined and don’t have any rules of engagement. You have to be ready for anything, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Funeral Deaths

At least twice in recent months, officers who have been working police officer funerals have been killed during the funeral. This is a double tragedy because you have an officer who has died and during his funeral a second officer gets killed. One officer death becomes two officer deaths.

Typically when a funeral procession is moving from one site to another, motorcycle officers will provide an escort to the procession. The motorcycle officers will block all cross traffic that intersect the procession route. Officers will leap frog one another as the procession clears one intersection, the motorcycle unit released from that intersection will race ahead and block the next intersection.

Motorcycle police officer is an inherently dangerous job. There are several factors to consider with funeral escort. Have enough officers to perform the detail without causing them to have to hurry. One of the common factors in these deaths is the officers are hit by other vehicles. Consider having local agencies block their own streets with their own on duty units if possible. Review the need to drive safely with your motor units prior to deployment. Make certain they have their emergency lights on and maintain a safe distance from traffic that they have to pass on the left. Remind them to watch out for vehicles making turning movements and leave enough space and time to stop or get out of the way. Advise those leading the procession to not go too fast for the motor officers to block the route. Even if they have to slow to a crawl or even stop it’s better than having an officer get killed trying to outrun the procession. A police vehicle in radio communication with the escorting motors should lead the procession. Officer safety is a constant, even during funerals, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heat Emergency

In high heat with high humidity it is easy to develop heat stroke.

There are several things you can do in times of high heat. Drink plenty of water; you can lose a whole pint of water in as little as twenty minutes. Drinking coffee or soda is not as good as drinking plain water or a sports drink. Keep most of your body covered and wear a hat to protect your head.

If officers have to work outside, directing traffic at an accident scene, holding a perimeter location at a crime scene, make certain they get plenty of breaks. Officers should break every thirty minutes if possible, and should have access to water. When setting up a perimeter try and place officers in the shade if possible.

Dispatchers should make more frequent checks of officers in single officer patrol cars. Nearly 200 Americans die of heat related causes every year, so extreme heat is a dangerous condition. Keep water in every vehicle both for drinking and to cool overheated persons. After a foot pursuit or fight, insure the officers and suspects are cooled down properly afterwards. Heat is a real danger, take caution and you will be fine; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spike Strip Officer Death

Once again an officer has been killed while attempting to deploy spike strips. The spike strip must be placed at exactly the right moment. Too early and the strip will disable the cars driven by innocent people. Too late and the spike strip will disable a police car. Just right and the officer could be in danger of being run over by the fleeing criminal.

Police need to be able to disable vehicles that are running from them. Right now the spike strip is one of the most effective methods of doing that. There needs to be a new technique that is effective but does not endanger the officer placing the strips. There needs to be a method of placing strips that does not require the officer to stand by the roadway to adjust the strip placement and activate the spikes.

A spike strip that is self propelled, that can self deploy without the immediate presence of an officer would be very helpful. I support research to develop a weapon that will permit a pursuing vehicle or helicopter to disable a vehicle. Some method of killing the vehicle’s electrical system would probably be the best technique; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stop and Go

Two officers make a traffic stop on a suspect in a red pick up truck. The suspect vehicle pulls over, stops and the suspect jumps out quickly and begins shooting right away. The suspect jumps out of his vehicle so quickly that he does not even take his car out of gear. Once the suspect fires a few shots, he returns to his vehicle and tries to drive away. His vehicle has hit a pole and it takes him a few moments to begin to leave. Officers stay back with their vehicle and fire and hit the suspect.

I often work a two officer patrol car as the passenger officer. When we make a traffic stop I unbuckle my seat belt as soon as it is apparent that the violator is going to stop. I watch the vehicle occupants, people in the vicinity and potential cover and lighting at the stop location. I have my hand on the car door handle and I actually open the door just as the patrol car stops, the remaining momentum of the car stopping will actually open the door. I am out of the car the instant the patrol car stops. My right hand goes to my handgun, and depending on several factor, I may even have the gun out.

Why is the vehicle being stopped? Is it a simple traffic offense or a stolen or wanted vehicle? Did the vehicle stop right away? Were the occupants of the vehicle looking back at the police car or moving around inside the car? Is the driver stopping his vehicle at a place were he has a tactical advantage? Are there multiple occupants? Depending on the answers to these questions depends on my need to have the handgun out and in my hand; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wear Your Vest

On July 4, I worked about a six teen hour shift. It was hot. It was a long day. It was not comfortable. I wore my body armor the whole time. I took two breaks to return to the station and change my uniform. Each time I put on a new shirt and a new tee shirt. All three time my tee shirt was soaked all the way through with sweat. It was a hot day.

I started the day with a Gatorade drink before I even left the station. I had five more and a bottled water during the course of the day. I had another one on the drive home and another one once I got home. I had another Gatorade each of the next two days at home. All to rehydrate myself after the hot, sweaty day.

You need to make sure that if you are going to work on a hot day you keep your fluid intake up. Don’t drink caffeinated beverages like milk and colas. You need to drink water and sports drinks. Drink low calorie drinks and no matter how many you drink, it may not be enough. Continue to drink them once you are off duty for at least a day. Don’t go home and drink alcohol, you will lose too many fluids. I also wore a hat and wore sunscreen and long sleeve uniform shirts to protect me from the sun. No matter how hot it gets, you still gotta wear your body armor, that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It’s Hot

It’s hot.

Wear your vest.

It’s sweaty.

Wear your vest.

It’s humid.

Wear your vest.

My assignment is not that dangerous.

Wear your vest.

It’s just a short shift.

Wear your vest.

I have to be outside in the sun.

Wear your vest.

There is no excuse to not wear your vest. If you think you need a gun, then you need to wear body armor if you are in uniform, that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Robert Peel

Sir Robert Peel said, “The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.” That is still true today. I think there should be a technological solution to law enforcement use of force. I think the Taser is close, but not quite there. We need a device that is like a Taser, but that has a range of at least seventy-five feet and is wireless. It needs to be able to shoot multiple targets and yet be specific to individuals, even in a crowd. It needs to be totally harmless once the effect has worn off, but it need to totally incapacitate the target no matter the conditions and no matter how large, drugged, or determined the target is when hit.

Police will always make mistakes. Police will sometimes have to use force to stop sympathetic suspects. Children, teens, pregnant women, old people, will always elicit sympathy from the public even if they are armed with a gun, have killed someone else or done some other terrible crime. The public will think less of the police who use force in such circumstances, even if the officer was within the law, agency policy, and the officers’ acts were reasonable, even necessary. The public will think less of the police even if they cannot come up with alternatives.

Police should train use of force in such as way that they don’t have to second guess themselves. The law, agency policy and best practices need to be clear and ingrained into the officer so that the use of force can be done quickly and with the best outcome. When physical force is needed the officer should use force in a manner that is decisive and that will end the incident quickly; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bulger Booked

James Whitey Bulger was arrested here in Southern California just after the FBI ran a short spot on television that profiled him and his girlfriend. The power of television should be employed by Federal, State and Local governments to catch crooks. I have said many times that the Ten Most Wanted should be on television every day until they are captured.

State and local governments should also use television to put out the word that dangerous criminals are lurking in our midst. Bulger was on the loose for over fifteen years! It took only one television broadcast to capture him. We need to get serious about capturing criminals, particularly ones who have murdered and been on the loose for a long time.

We also need to increase the rewards given for the arrest of fugitives. Most only have a reward of $25,000 to $50,000 dollars. The rewards should be ten times that amount. If we expect people to give up their friends, acquaintances, neighbors who also happen to be dangerous criminals, then we have to pay them enough money to allow them to change their life. That means enough money to buy a house, not enough money to buy a low end car. Better publicity and larger rewards will bring in the crooks; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Robert Peel Says

“The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.” The police work in their society and in America the police are rightfully local authorities. By being local, the police can be very responsive to the concerns of their local community. The police are not an occupying army; they are in the community to protect the community.

Police do their best work when they work with the community to fight crime and keep order. Citizens need to be able to call the police in a timely manner so that police can respond fast enough to stop crimes in progress and capture criminals. The community must respect the police so that they will provide information about suspected criminals.

Police need the support of the community in other ways. Budgets are determined by local government and if the public don’t approve of the police then often police don’t get raises, don’t get new equipment and sometimes even get jobs cut. Community support also gives the benefit of the doubt to police when a controversial incident happens. Sir Robert Peel was right almost 200 years ago, that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

15 Most Wanted

The US Marshal’s office has a list of their 15 Most Wanted Fugitives.

Similar to the 10 most wanted list maintained by the FBI this listing includes some of the most dangerous criminals in the United States. One of them is a former police officer who is wanted for the murder of his wife and molestation of children. Daniel William Hiers, Jr. is a white, male, 6’- 3” tall, and very fit. He has eleven years experience as a police officer and practices martial arts and carries a .40 Glock handgun.

There are thousands of wanted criminals all over the United States. With better dissemination of their information we can capture more of them. These people are living, working, travelling around the nation and around the world. Many of them are still committing criminal acts, including murder. The longer these people are on the lam the longer justice for their victims is delays. Check out these websites once in a while, maybe you will stumble across a big fish one day; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Handcuffs II

Sometimes I have linked two sets of handcuffs together to secure a large person who can’t easily put both arms behind their back. Running the handcuff links under the back of the suspects’ belt can help to further restrain the movement of a suspect. Thin people can sometimes slip their handcuffs from behind them around to their front. Suspects should never be handcuffed to the front, it’s too easy for them to pick the handcuffs or grab your gun, hit you, or just run away if their hands are to the front.

Once the cuffs are on they need to be adjusted properly. They should be in the little space on the end of the wrist where the bone protrudes. It makes a nice little channel in the arm to prevent the handcuffs from sliding around too much. Once in the right place, handcuffs should be double locked to make them harder to pick and to prevent them from over tightening. There should be a little play in the handcuffs; you don’t want to cut off the suspect’s circulation.

The suspect should be searched immediately after the handcuffs are placed on him. At the very least search the small of the back so that you know the suspect does not have easy access to a weapon while handcuffed. Even if the person is of the opposite sex your policy should permit that much of a search for your safety. Once a person is handcuffed, and even if they are placed in a police car with a cage, you still need to periodically monitor them to insure they are still restrained and are not experiencing a medical emergency. Suspects can pass out, vomit and suffocate while handcuffed or stop breathing for other reasons too. If you think the suspect has a medical condition or is on drugs consider having your paramedics respond to evaluate their safety. Once handcuffed, searched and in the police car, I like to get the suspect transported to jail as soon as I reasonably can do so. The suspect is in your custody and is your responsibility; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I usually work with a partner so I only carry one set of handcuffs on my person. I carry one or two additional sets inside my gear bag. Years ago when I works alone, I carried two sets of handcuffs and two sets of Zip Cuffs. My handcuffs are carried on my strong side, behind my firearm. I don’t anticipate having my gun drawn and having to handcuff someone one handed with my left hand, so I wear the on my right side.

It is important to inspect your handcuffs at least once a month if you don’t use them much. Make sure they are clean; it’s not hard to get fuzz and lint inside the case. Check them for rust and if there is any, clean them as you would your handgun. Generally you don’t need to oil your handcuffs, but if you do a tiny drop inside the keyway should be good for at least a year.

When I carried two sets of handcuffs, I carried them in separate, identical handcuff cases. The double handcuff case is uncomfortable to sit on. Hinged handcuffs are stronger than those with a chain but are not generally necessary. If you are arresting many violent mental or drug suspects they are a good idea but I would not carry them as my only set of handcuffs. Flexible nylon cuffs are a good tool for arresting people with a cast on their arm or other mobility issues. Keep them secure, that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Most Wanted

With the death of OBL it is time to look at other wanted persons. Many agencies issue most wanted lists and the Federal Bureau of Investigation publish the best know one, the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive list. They post it on the Internet and posters go out to various agencies and the Post Office. Does your agency have a most wanted list? The Internet is a great tool because it gets the information out to people with little cost and can be accessed 24/7.

Once in a while I check the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive List. As local police we contact many different kinds of people and you never know who is driving that speeding car, or has the car broken down on the side of the freeway. Many major criminals have been captured or contacted by local police and so it’s a good idea to know who is out there.

Robert William Fisher is wanted by the FBI for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, murder and arson. He is a male, white, 6’-0”, 190 pounds, athletic build, brown and blue. He is known to carry weapons. He is wanted for the murder of his wife and two children and blowing up their house in Arizona in 2001. He has been on the FBI list for over eight years and it’s time he was found and brought to justice; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hands Kill

If looks could kill, you would be dead but looks don’t kill, the hands kill. That means you have to watch the hands of the suspects. More than just seeing the hands you need to see the palms of the hands. Suspects can draw and fire a gun quickly and so you not only need to see the hands you need to control the hands.

Give the suspects commands to make sure you can see their hands. I like to have them face away from me if they have their hands in their pockets, before I tell them to remove their hands from their pockets. Give commands from behind cover if possible. Give commands and then move after you have spoken so the suspect who can’t see you will be less certain of your location.

Suspects lying on the ground should have their hands where you can see them. A suspect can roll and draw a weapon with lighting speed and it’s not too difficult to shoot from the ground. This is a good reason to give commands from cover. Don’t approach a suspect with his hands under his body; it’s very easy for them to be concealing a weapon; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Back in olden times a few people had police scanners. They could listen to police calls and know what was going on in their local area. It all depended on their antenna system, and how far away they were from the agency they were listening to. Most of the people who could afford these expensive scanners were private security keeping tabs on their area, journalists who were chasing hot leads to good stories, two truck drivers trying to get a job and police buffs who just liked to listen to police calls as a hobby.

Now there is a website that allows people to hear live police broadcasts 24/7 wherever they can get an Internet connection. You have to make certain that anything you say on the radio is something you are willing to have recorded and played back in court, on the news, to your chief, and to your spouse.

Scanners can also be used by criminals. Some have used scanners to determine the approximate numbers of officers on duty at any given time. Others have monitored police broadcasts to determine the beat locations and response times to calls. Still other criminals have carried scanners to determine the response to specific calls in progress that they are involved in while they listen. With this new service, more people can be listening because they service is free and anyone with Internet access can hear you. Watch what you say, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicago Cops Not Prosecuted

The media are worried that Chicago police who were accused in a sex scandal were not prosecuted, but a citizen who made a complaint against the police was prosecuted for surreptitiously filming the police during her interview with internal affairs. These two circumstances need to be looked at separately. If the police have been accused of sexual misconduct then their internal affairs department should investigate and determine if they committed an offense and if they can prove it to the satisfaction of the courts. They also need to initiate personnel actions; the actions of the police may not rise to the level of provable criminal behavior but may subject them to disciplinary action from their employer, the police department. Or the prosecutor may make a deal and drop some or all of the charges in exchange for their testimony against the person making the surreptitious videos.

As for the person who made the surreptitious video of the police who were investigating the person who complained about the police her complaint and the video that she did are two separate issues. Her alleged violation of the law is not made right be her motivation. There are no legal exemptions for those taping police in assault cases. The final determination of prosecution will be made by the district attorney who is not part of the police department so there is professional distance there.

The media often likes to lump together issues that are not connected. They also compare issues that are not related to each other. The fact that these activities are illegal is determined by the state legislature, not the police. The penalties for these crimes are set by the state legislature, not the police. This story tried to make it seem as if the police targeted a victim of police mis-conduct for harsh treatment but in reading between the lines and applying some analysis shows that does not appear to be the case; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bomb Response

If you find what could be a bomb there are many things you can do to minimize the danger. The first thing to do is don’t touch it. If you are not certain something is a bomb, but you think it could be a bomb, and then treat it as a bomb. Don’t use your radio or your cell phone near the suspected device. Some bombs are set off by radio waves. Use a land line phone to call for more help.

You need to evacuate a reasonable distance. Keep calm and keep others calm, a crowd running from a bomb could trample people. Survey the whole scene. If the bomb goes off what may happen? If the bomb is in the middle of a parking lot the bomb is probably your only worry. If the bomb is under a bridge or in a building, then you may need to evacuate the building and stop traffic over the bridge. Don’t try and move the bomb outside, some bombs are detonated when they are disturbed.

Some bombers use clusters of bombs. They leave a secondary bomb to kill first responders after the first bomb is detonated. Set up a location for responders to go to where they can prepare to move to the bomb location, but check that second location to insure there is no bomb there. Handling bombs is a job for experts, but there is a lot you can do before they arrive; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Police Uniforms

The law enforcement uniform is in great need of being updated. They have remained almost unchanged since the beginning of police forces in the 19th Century. Uniforms should be fire resistant, if not actually fireproof. Uniforms should be bullet resistant; the body armor should work better with the actual shirt and trousers. Armor should not be a separate large heavy bulky item that is separate from the clothing. Armor and clothing should be act as a flotation device.

Even items as simple as a name tag don’t serve us well. I have worn the little metal name tag with a pin. It always looked bad, sort of hanging down because the thickness of the pin would not let it hang straight. Later, I wore the military style name tag with two butterfly clips. Frequently the clips fell off and the name tag would dangle from a single pin. Sometimes both pins would fall off and the name tag would get lost.

Police clothing should provide protection from gunshots, fire, and knives, both stabbing and slashing. Police clothing should provide protection from falls, and provide comfort when in a kneeling or prone position, with elbow and knee pads. Police clothing should be integrated with communications gears, speakers and microphones. Police clothing needs to move into the 21st Century; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Old Shooter

A 73 year old Mormon man in Arizona shot his ex-wife, her attorney, several others and himself recently. The ex-wife had a restraining order against her ex-husband who in return got a restraining order against her too. There are several lessons to be learned from this shooting. The first thing that seems unusual is that the shooter was 73 years old. As the population ages we will see more incidents of older people committing crimes usually associated with younger suspects. If you or another innocent person is presented with a deadly threat, you need to take it seriously even the suspect is very old.

The suspect shot his ex-wife despite the fact that she had a restraining order against him. Restraining orders are almost worthless. The only value in a restraining order is the police can arrest he violator for no other crime if they can find him prior to an actual violent incident. This is rare. Really, a restraining order is a piece of paper in a file cabinet someplace and provides no actual protection. Not only is the restraining order of little or no value they can actually sometimes be an aggravation to suspect and tip them over the edge to violence.

In this case the suspect shot his ex-wife. He also shot her attorney that she used in their divorce. It may be a good idea if possible to warn family members and their attorney when these types of murders occur that they too could be at risk. Naturally, additional potential victims could be difficult to identify, but when a man kills his wife after a messy divorce, it is not unreasonable to assume that her attorney and perhaps even his maybe in danger until he is captured. Domestic disputes continue to be one of the most dangerous types of events we handle; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Preparedness Again

Basic items like water need to be with you all the time. We keep water in both our cars, so we can survive the long trip home. It is in small handy bottles so we can carry several of them even if we have to walk home. How far do you typically travel from home? How quickly could you get home if you had to walk? I generally don’t travel more than 50 miles from home. In the event of a major disaster, earthquake being most likely here in Southern California, I figure it could take two to five days to walk home.

Downed bridges, downed power lines, broken sewers, urban fires, and rioting, public disorder are all to be expected after a massive earthquake in Los Angeles. It would make slow going for a person on foot, alone. I figure it could be as few as ten miles a day, depending on the amount of devastation. That’s a long walk during a hot summer.

I carry water in my vehicle in small bottles that I could put in my gear bag or even in my pockets, or tuck inside my shirt. I always carry a pistol and a couple extra magazines, along with other survival and police equipment with me. My wife works rather close to home and there are several routes she could take to get there. She also carries and emergency box in her car, including water. Can you get home, or would you walk to work? Or go someplace else? Have a plan and work your plan; that’s what the SGT Says.


Gasoline prices are high and there is no sense that they are likely to decrease anytime soon. How can your agency keep fuel costs down? Sometimes the agency can make agreements to get discounts on fuel by paying fuel charges as they are incurred or by paying an invoice within 30 days. Even one or two cents off per gallon can make a big difference over time. Fuel provided by a local independent dealer may also be less expensive than a national brand.

Agencies can use smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles for some patrol uses. Vehicles used in dense urban areas really don’t need to be able to drive 100 miles per hour since the roads are narrow and the traffic heavy. Agencies should have a mixture of vehicles, faster, larger vehicles where they are appropriate and smaller, more economic vehicles where they are appropriate. Agencies don’t necessarily have to have all vehicles able to transport prisoners; agencies can use a paddy wagon when prisoner transport is needed.

Individual vehicles should be kept in proper tune, and all their fluids need to be filled to the proper level. Agencies should have people who are responsible for checking fluids at least five days a week, at least, and if not, the fluids should be checked at the beginning of every shift and replenished as needed. Tire air pressure and tire tread should be checked at least weekly to insure good mileage and safety. When driving, officers can avoid jackrabbit starts and excessive speed when not necessary for effective patrol. Saving your agency money by saving fuel can save jobs at your agency; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sextacy, Ecstasy & Viagra

Prescription drugs are now the most widely used dangerous drugs. People use prescription drugs because they are readily available, may be covered by over prescriptions, and are considered safe by most people. These drugs can very dangerous.

Prescription drugs are not sold over the counter because they are considered dangerous. They are also designed to be used under the direction of a doctor and supervision of a pharmacist. These two professionals determine if a specific medicine is proper and safe for a particular patient. Some drugs are not safe for everyone. Some drugs are not safe depending on the age, weight or medical condition of the person taking them.

The pharmacist is responsible to insure there are no drug interactions between drugs. Two drugs that are safe when taken individually can be dangerous when taken together. Some people don’t realize how dangerous this combination can be. One of the new combinations is Ecstasy taken with Viagra. These two drugs can cause heart problems and other dangerous side effects. Teenagers are taking this combination of an illegal drug and legal drug to gain sexual pleasure. Look for prescription drug abuse; it’s a huge problem, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dead Guards III

The third category of guards should be plain clothes guards. They should have at least a year experience working as a “Patrol Officer” and then with additional training they should be allowed to work in plain clothing. They should be able to work at high profile events or as shoplifting prevention in plain clothing to enhance their ability to blend in with the public. They should have the ability to detain suspects, not unlike the police, while on duty.

They should receive pay and benefits that are slightly higher than a “Patrol Officer.” They should carry identification not unlike a plain clothing police detective. These guards should be highly trained and carefully screened with updates every few years.

Guards often get killed because they are working unarmed when they should be armed. They get killed because they are not well trained and don’t recognize danger when it confronts them, so they get killed. They don’t know how to de-escalate situations and often instead antagonize suspects. They don’t wear body armor and so if they get shot they die from wounds that would have been non-fatal if they were wearing armor. Too many guards are dying preventable deaths; that’s what the SGT Says.