Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Shooting the Patrol Rifle

Think of the patrol rifle as a big pistol. A right handed shooter using an M-16 series rifle can perform most of the rifle functions much like they do their duty handgun. Hold the pistol grip with the right hand. Place the right index finger along the rifle frame, with the tip just below the magazine release. The ammunition magazine can be placed into the magazine well using the left hand, like with the handgun.

Insert the magazine, tap the bottom of the magazine one time and give it a gentle tug to insure it is fully seated. To charge the rifle, bring up the left hand to the charging handle. Consider the charging handle to be like the slide on the handgun. Press the index finger near the base and push the charging handle to the rear. Allow the charging handle to escape from your hand and snap forward. Don’t ride the charging handle forward. If the bolt does not go all the way forward, simply use the right thumb to press on the forward assist to push the bolt closed. Move your left hand to the forward grip.

Once the weapon is charged and you are intending to shoot, using the thumb on your right hand, push the safety to the ‘fire’ position. As you bring up the rifle onto the target and have made the decision to shoot, put your finger on the trigger. Squeeze the trigger just as you would with the handgun. Most officers will fire the rifle much more accurately over greater distances than they can fire the handgun. The patrol rifle is an excellent tool that can deliver rounds accurately, over great distances, with more rounds in the magazine compared to the handgun. Agencies need to deploy the patrol rifle for most situations where deadly force may be appropriate; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Flash Mobs

People use social media to announce and event that draws people from many locations to participate in some activity. In the past they were often used to tell people there was going to be a party at a particular location and sometimes hundreds of people would show up, uninvited and unplanned for, causing major problems. Later this same social media was used to organize silly events that were generally harmless. People coordinated visiting a business or other public place and everyone would dance or sing or simply stand still for a few minutes, then resume normal activities. If crowds could be gathered to do something silly in public they could be gathered either as a cover for crime or terrorist or gathered specifically to perform crime or terrorism.

There are several ways to intervene in this type of incident. Your school resource officers should be aware of the sites that kids are using to relay information. They should be monitoring those for illegal activity, subject to department policy. Your teenage informants should be contacted, particularly on the weekends to gather intelligence for flash mob violence. Dispatchers should monitor the agency Twitter accounts and other web sources for potential flash mob violence.

Some of these groups have been as few as four people and as many as thousands. Officers need to have their riot gear; helmets, riot batons, gas masks in their gear bags at all times. Some of these mobs have even shot and murdered people, so officers must be prepared for gatherings, rioting and even shootings. Flash mobs, a new problem for 21st Century law enforcement; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Technology For Police


Long wars often drive new technologies. As police we need to assess these technologies and consider their ability to assist us with our jobs. In Afghanistan soldiers were using an off the shelf toy remote control truck to patrol ahead of the soldiers. The tiny truck tripped a big bomb and exploded without any of the soldiers being killed.

Police in America respond to bomb threats every day. Hundreds of real bombs either explode or are deactivated every year. These soldiers used an off the shelf commercially available remote control truck toy to drive ahead of them and activate any IEDs, bombs or mines they might come into contact with on patrol. If you get a bomb threat having a simple, cheap “robot” might come in handy. A toy like this can sell for as little as a few hundred dollars and add a cheap remote camera and you can have a very sophisticated tool to make robots available for every officer.

Imagine putting one of these in the trunk of every supervisor. One robot for every ten or twenty officers would not be unreasonable. The price per officer is only a few bucks. In a SWAT call out or even looking for a suspect hiding in yard, officers could deploy this remote control car and look for the suspect without having to endangering themselves. Law enforcement needs to stay informed about new weapons, new computers, new robotics, new identify verification systems that are in use by the military and adapt those that work for us into the law enforcement system; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mabry–O'Connor Shootout,_Jr.#Mabry.E2.80.93O.27Connor_shootout

In December, 1881 an officer was in a shootout and killed a man. Later, the same officer was acquitted of any wrong doing in the shootout. In August, 1882 the officer and his father were confronted by family members of the man he shot and both the officer and his father were killed. His assailants were also acquitted of the officers’ murder. Eventually, the subjects were in turn killed in an unrelated shootout.

If you are involved in a major incident with a suspect, particularly if you are forced to shoot a suspect, it is best to try to stay away from his family members. They may try to exact revenge against you. They may try to confront you in some way. In today’s’ society it is best to allow other officers to confront those family members. The family may try to provoke you into making spontaneous utterances that will be designed to make you look guilty of a crime or make it appear as if your original shooting was unjustified.

It is best to not make any statements about the shooting to anyone without the approval of your representative. If you are confronted by family members, you should remain silent and make every reasonable effort to withdraw to a safe location. If you are contacted by relatives, then be sure to report the contact to your supervisor and your representative. You don’t want a police shooting to become the beginning of a series of shootings and assaults; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On or Off?

In the video we see an off duty officer who is still in uniform confront a man and the two of them engage in a fistfight. At some point the on duty police arrive and the suspect eventually is released. Are you on duty or off duty? If you are on duty then do your job. If you are off duty, how much do you get involved? It depends. In most cases the best thing you can do off duty is call the police and be a good witness.

Unless there is a serious crime in progress then you should not get too involved when you are off duty. Are you covered by workers compensation insurance if you are hurt taking enforcement action while off duty? Do you wear body armor off duty? Do you have extra ammunition, handcuffs, pepper spray and other weapons with you when you are off duty?

If you have no intention of arresting the suspect while off duty, then why are you getting involved? Do you want to write reports and go to court for off duty incidents? Will your agency back you up in the event of a civil lawsuit as a result of actions you took off duty? Generally it is best to allow on duty officers to handle incidents unless there is danger to innocent people. Be a good witness, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Great Lawman

One of the greatest lawmen of the Old West was Elfego Baca. He stood off a group of perhaps as man as eighty cowboys who were attempting to kill him Sheriff Baca was holed up in a small building and used the lower floor to help him stand off the attackers. The gunfight lasted for three days. During that time Sheriff Baca killed as many as four attackers and wounded as many as eight others. The attackers never hit him. Eventually there was a truce called and the incident ended. Perhaps as many as 4,000 rounds were fired at Sheriff Baca.

Are you ready for a shootout alone, against 80 suspects? Can you fend off attackers who fire 4,000 rounds at you? Can you shoot twelve armed suspects with no injury to yourself? Could you hold out for three days, alone in a gun battle?

This is the legendary heritage that we as American law enforcement have inherited. While this was an extraordinary event and it is unlikely to happen again, officers are often faced with large numbers of suspects or at least unruly crowds and have to deal with the situation. Sometimes back up can be a long way away both in distance and in time. Your skill, courage and determination will often be what determine the issue, not the odds against you. Are you a legendary officer? There may be a day when you need to be; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cops & Guns

Garry McCarthy, Chicago Top Cop, Calls Gun Laws 'Government-Sponsored Racism'; Right Responds

Too many police officials speak in favor of gun control. It is the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms. The common man should be permitted to carry a firearm for self protection and they should not require the permission of the government to do that. In nations like Switzerland and Israel people carry guns both concealed and openly and there is almost no gun violence.

Gun control is not about controlling guns, it’s about controlling people. In societies with a law abiding population there is little gun violence. Japan permits almost no private ownership of firearms. Switzerland requires ownership of firearms for most households. Yet, in both nations there is not only almost no gun crime there is almost no crime of any kind in either nation.

Rather than look to restrictive gun laws we need to look at other aspects of the criminal justice system to help protect our society. Police officers need better and longer training so they can perform their jobs better. Police need to cooperate more with prosecutors so our investigations and reports are prepared in a manner that will insure more convictions. Greater use of data bases to connect criminals to crimes is needed. As serial killers and other criminals move from state to state, law enforcement must follow their activities. We need to use more science to gather evidence; even minor crimes need a careful and complete investigation. The courts need to dismiss frivolous lawsuits right away to clear the docket for more serious cases. Criminal cases need to be moved along in a timely manner; all but the most exceptional cases should go to trial and adjudication within a year of the arrest. There is much we can do to reduce crime; gun control is not helpful; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Gunfight? OK

Despite happening over a hundred years ago the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral has implications for our police work today. Wyatt Earp knew he was heading for a potentially deadly confrontation. As a result he got two additional officers to back up him and his partner. Since it was a potential gunfight, one of the officers took a long gun, a shotgun, with him. The officers started the event by giving the suspects verbal commands.

Thirty shots were fired in only thirty seconds. One of the suspects was shot in the gun hand, but he transferred his handgun to his off hand and continued to shoot. The officer with the shotgun fired all his ammunition and transitioned to his handgun. By the end, three of the four officers were wounded but none were killed. Two unarmed suspects ran away but the three armed suspects were all killed.

There was public outrage about the shootout in broad daylight. Some citizens supported the officers and others supported the suspects. Eventually, the officers were arrested but they were cleared in two different hearings. The coroners’ report was instrumental in refuting the claims that the officers had fired on suspects with their hands raised. The crime scene investigation revealed that one of the suspects had no powder burns on his clothing indicating he was not shot in a close range assassination as some witnesses alleged. Very little has changed in police shootings, even after almost 130 years; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gang Crime

In September, 1876 a criminal gang of eight heavily armed men robbed a bank in Minnesota. During the robber they ruthlessly murdered two men, but were confronted by both law enforcement and armed citizens. Several of the gangsters were killed and the rest fled the scene. In the pursuit, two of the robbers got away and one of them subsequently committed more murders and robberies. Four of the suspects were captured from the James/Younger Gang.

America has had violent criminal gangs for centuries. It is a problem that seems never to go away. The only way the gangs are broken is when their criminal activities are actively pursued, prosecuted by law enforcement and prosecutors who are well trained in gang dynamics and gang violence. Sometimes it can be difficult to obtain convictions of gang members because the community sees the gangsters as victims of persecution or as some kind of “Robin Hood” who is bringing justice to the community. Other times it is simply a matter of juries that are scared, coerced or even bought off by the gang who then refuse to convict the gangsters.

In making gang arrests and convictions, officers need to focus on the on-going criminal nature of the gang. They need to show the gang only exists for the personal enrichment and power of the gangsters; not that they are doing any service to the community. The helplessness of the victims and their innocence is important to tell the jury. Agencies need to focus on the whole gang. Constant pressure by the police working in cooperation with elected officials, and prosecutors is needed to bring gangs down. A concerted effort over the long term can break criminal gangs, but it takes time and resources. It’s worth it however when the gang is dead or in prison and the streets are safer; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Goingsnake Massacre

In law enforcement we are sometimes called to take actions that are not going to be popular. In those instances it is best to avoid a fight if at all possible. In the Goinsnake Massacre there was a jurisdictional dispute between a US Court and a Cherokee Tribal Court concerning who would try an accused murderer. In the event the US Court sent ten marshals to remove the suspect from Cherokee jurisdiction and bring him to the US Court for trial.

The Cherokee were just as determined to keep and try the suspect and in the event over twenty people were killed and more injured. This is an excellent example of officers who were acting in haste to perform an unpopular act and were met with a hostile and resistant population. The US Marshals could have sent in one marshal to discuss the handing over of the suspect. Once the Cherokee court refused to hand over the suspect the US Marshals could have returned to the US Court and told them of the Cherokee refusal.

Law enforcement agencies are well served by leaders who avoid getting them into jurisdictional disputes. They seldom end well for the agency and often create hard feelings and can lead to violence. As in this incident there was no exigent circumstance. The suspect was in custody and about to undergo a trial. While the US Court believed they had jurisdiction and not the Cherokee Court, it should have been handled by attorneys with papers not officers with guns. We are peace officers and our job is to keep the peace, not create a situation where officers are fighting with each other; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How Much Is Enough?

In today’s’ limited budgets there is a temptation to cut training. Firearms training can be expensive and it is very tempting to cut firearms training as a way to balance budgets. Cutting firearms training is not a good idea. Use of force is an area of huge potential liability for agencies and even though it is generally not frequent and tempting to cut training for these infrequent events an improper use of force can be devastating for an agency.

Firearms training does not have to be expensive to be good. Officers should train at least four times per year with their duty weapons. The number of rounds can be limited, the length of time spent training does not have to be great, but the training needs to happen. I have had officers go to the range and practice drawing their weapon, moving to cover and giving verbal commands; rather than shooting. I have had officers draw their weapons from a great distance, 20 to 25 yards and take one single head shot, using as much as 20 seconds to take the shot. Repeat that drill six to ten times and ammunition usage is pretty low.

Officers can start their course of fire a long distance from the firing line, perhaps a hundred yards away, have them run the distance, come to the firing line, draw their weapons and perform a failure drill; two rounds aimed at the center of mass and one round at the target head. The target should be ten to fifteen yards away. Often officers will be so tired and breathing so heavy they can’t hit the target. Have them perform this drill two or three times. That’s fewer than ten rounds per officer and the whole process takes less than twenty minutes. Cost effective training can be good training; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Motorcyclist Dies On Ride Protesting Helmet Law In New York

A man riding on a motorcycle was not wearing a helmet because he was part of a protest against mandatory helmet laws. He was in a minor accident, fell off his motorcycle and was killed with a head wound. In California it is illegal to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. Even riding a bicycle can be dangerous without a helmet as the head bounced against asphalt will usually leave much greater damage to the head then to the roadway.

While I think wearing a helmet is an excellent idea when riding a bicycle or motorcycle and especially for children, I am not all that convinced that is should be a legal requirement for adults. As grown-ups we voluntarily participate in many dangerous activities. Just driving around even in a car or big SUV is inherently dangerous. I am not sure that enough people are saved by motorcycle helmets every year to make it into a law. At the very least they should have a few roads you can drive on that are helmet free zones, maybe winding mountain roads where you will be killed even with the helmet when you drive off a cliff.

As officers we are sworn to uphold the law. That means we are expect to enforce the laws without our personal regard for the necessity of the law. Part of being a professional is performing our tasks in a dispassionate manner. We can enjoy our jobs, we can love our jobs, but we have to do our job, even the parts we are not so enthusiastic about; that’s what the SG T Says.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Terror Potential

A man boarded a plane without identification and flew on the plane. This is not supposed to happen, but it did occur. We implement systems but our enemies and criminals will try and find ways around those systems. As law enforcement officers it is our duty to be alert to those who would try and circumvent our systems and try to use them to their criminal or terrorist advantage.

It is up to use to recognize what is normal. It is the absence of normal that often alerts us to the presence of the abnormal and it is the criminal and the terrorist who is abnormal. While not every strange thing, circumstance or person we encounter is a criminal or terrorist, it is often that strangeness that can alert us to the evil we must stop. A suspicious circumstance if often all we have to go upon when we approach people.

Being able to articulate what is normal can help us determine what is abnormal and what is suspicious. People carry backpacks to school and to bus terminals. People don’t usually carry backpacks into classical music concerts with their tuxedo. That backpack could contain snacks, a change of clothing or a bomb. Investigate the unusual and determine if it is okay or criminal, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Glock Trigger Safety

Siderlock makes another Glock positive external safety. It is a little button on the side of the trigger that prevents the trigger from being pulled to the rear. The button is depressed to the side in order to take the pistol off safe. This is a replacement to the original Glock trigger and does not require any actual physical modification to the weapon; it is a simple replacement of the Glock trigger.

The device is another method of providing a positive physical safety that must be disengaged prior to firing the firearm. The presence of a positive safety on the Glock series of pistols is a feature that I always thought Glock should offer on their own. Glock makes excellent firearms and I think customization to fit the needs of individual officers or agencies is a good idea.

Offices should keep in mind that all firerarms should be treated as if they are loaded at all times. Officers should remember to point the firearm in a safe direction at all times. The trigger finger should generally be places alongside the slide, outside the trigger guard until the officer is on target and ready to fire the weapon. The operator is the most important safety device on any firearm; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Glock Safety

I consider the M-1911A1 the standard against which all other firearms are to be judged. The Glock series of handguns are the most widely used firearms by police in the United States. They are excellent handguns and compare favorably against the M-1911 series of pistols.

One of the features of the M-1911 I like is the positive manual safety on the side of the slide. The Glock has a series of safeties but they do not offer the manual safety like on the M-1911 series. Now there is an aftermarket solution to that problem. This device does require a minor modification to the firearm. I have heard both that it does and does not violate the Glock warranty. You may want to contact Glock about that before you make the alteration, but it may be worth losing the warranty depending on your needs.

Cominolli makes a new manual safety that can be installed onto a Glock pistol. I don’t have one, I don’t own one, I never even saw one, except online. It does look like an interesting device and for those who are familiar with the M-1911 series and are considering a transition to a Glock pistol, this could be a good item to consider. My trigger finger is my safety, but it does not hurt to have a back up; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


A police report should be written with the intent to provide the most accurate presentation of the facts of the case as possible. Different agencies have policies that may vary but in my opinion officers should have every opportunity to obtain all information necessary to write a full and complete report of events.

Sometimes multiple officers are at the scene of an event. It can be very helpful for the officers to discuss the nature of the event so that they can insure the greatest accuracy in their report. Sometimes there is video of an incident. I think it is a good idea for officers to review the video or even listen to dispatch recordings to help them to remember the incident. Often in the stress of a major incident it is easy to get items out of sequence or to fail to take notes as the event happens. Sometimes it can be helpful if a third party, such as a supervisor, discusses the event and assists with the report. Officers often fail to include important details, not because they are trying to be deceptive but because they either can’t remember or don’t realize they are important.

Major incidents can be very complicated. It can be easy to become confused and to mistake facts, people, timelines and events. Often after an event it can be difficult to remember many details. Sometimes details become clearer after reflection for a little while. The people deserve the most accurate and correct reports possible. I am in favor of making that happen; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Active Shooter

A man went on a shooting spree and killed seven innocent people. Active shooter incidents happen more frequently than we often realize. Officers need to be ready to respond to these types of incidents without having to wait for a SWAT team. Active shooter incidents are over in minutes, often the first responders will be too late, certainly waiting an hour or more for a SWAT call out can be too much time.

Everyone on patrol should have either a shotgun or patrol rifle. Every car should have both weapons inside. Officers should be encouraged to deploy these weapons without having to justify their deployment. Officers should be well trained enough that they feel confident with bot the shotgun and patrol rifle so they will be willing to deploy them.

Training should be frequent and officers should practice team tactics as well as individual marksmanship. Shift supervisors should perform active roll call training a couple times a year. Just a few minutes putting everyone into a diamond formation and walking down a hallway and clearing a room. You don't even need to use weapons, just hold your hands out without weapons to get the feel of the formation and the room clearing. Prepare for the active shooter, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Everyone I know who has worked as a cop for more than a year has left a ticket book on the roof of the patrol car and drove away. Or their clipboard or some other piece of police gear. It is easy to get distracted and since we work outside our vehicles it is easy to leave a bit of gear on the vehicle and drive off. There can be a serious downside to leaving gear on the vehicle. If there are confidential documents on your clipboard and they fall into the wrong hands that is very serious. If tickets have been written and then are lost alongside the road someplace, then they will never be processed.

If a rifle is left on the truck lid of a patrol car and a criminal or child get the weapon; innocent people could be killed. At the very least a patrol rifle often costs over a thousand dollars and that is a big investment to lose. In this particular incident, the officer was unlucky enough to have photographs of the patrol rifle being flashed all over the Internet.

The officer deserves to be punished for what happened. Failing to put the rifle away where it belongs is a very bad mistake. It was not inherently evil. This deserves a few days off and a nasty note in the officers file. It should not be a career killer, but it should slow down this officer’s career. The discipline should not be influenced by the Internet photo, which is not relevant. This incident showed incompetence, not evil; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Walk, Don’t Run

The Supreme Court has said that running from the police in a high speed pursuit can be considered as a violent felony crime. Certainly citizens have a duty to stop when contacted by the police. The citizen who runs is failing to due their duty. We often think of officers as having duties and citizens as having rights, but citizens have duties too.

Citizens must submit to a lawful arrest and to a detention based on probable cause. Someone who commits a traffic offense is required to stop when the police try to make a traffic stop. When they run away the officers are not the aggressors when they chase the suspected offender. It is not a wolf chasing a rabbit; it is the sheepdog chasing the wolf. The police are not predators; the suspect is not the prey. The police are doing their duty to protect the people from the predators.

The citizen who runs from the police in a vehicle and then proceeds to exceed the safe and lawful speed, running stop signs and red lights is willfully endangering their fellow citizens. Police chases are dangerous and they are instituted by the suspect and generally ended by the suspect. The officers don’t have control over when the suspect tries to run away and have little control over when the suspect stops. Suspects need to be apprehended when they run away; they need to be punished severely when they are convicted of running from the police. The suspect also needs to be held civilly liable not the agency and not the officers, since it is the suspect who is responsible for the incident; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 12, 2011

See Yourself

Sometimes when a police department is having problems it’s not a bad idea to have an outside source look at the agency and provide recommendations. The recommendations should be advisory only and the final decision to make changes should be in the hands of the chief, city council and mayor.

An outside source can bring fresh eyes to old problems. The outside source should be permitted to speak to anyone and review files. They should look at the lawsuits filed against the department by citizens, and employees as well as workers compensation claims, vehicle fleet management, jail operations, training, promotions, hiring, discipline, firing, use of force and the ratio of management, and supervision to officers and legal compliance.

Some agencies can become insulated from the outside and may fall behind in the implementation of best practices. Sometimes the day to day operations can hinder the long term planning needed to keep a department up to date. An outside audit and review is not a magic bullet but it can often serve to provide some new ideas and help departments to move forward, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Millions for Criminals Family?

Persons who are in the process of committing a felony should not have the right to collect damages. The heirs of those people should not be able to collect damages either. A woman was driving as much as 120 miles per hour trying to get away from police. She had a blood alcohol of more than twice the legal limit. She rammed two police cars. These facts are not in dispute. She was participating in a string of dangerous and illegal acts. At one point a police officer approached the car and he ended up shooting her to death because he thought she was trying to run him over.

These basic facts are not in dispute. The relatives are claiming that the city should pay them millions because the officer violated her civil rights by shooting her. The officer was not prosecuted for any wrong doing. In my opinion since she was participating in an ongoing criminal incident she and her heirs should not be entitled to any compensation, even if the officer violated her rights. Judges need to throw these cases out of court as they are simply an obvious attempt to shake down the city for money. If the woman was not committing violent felonies the police officer would not have shot her.

In my opinion, citizens have a duty to submit to the lawful authority of the police. When they fail to do that the police have a right to use reasonable force to make them submit. When a criminal is engaged in criminal acts, they should not be entitled to financial compensation if the officer who attempts to apprehend them does not do his job perfectly. Pursuits are dangerous and so are vehicle approaches. This officer was involved in both and as a result of the criminal actions of the suspect the officer felt the need to fire his weapon in the belief he was in mortal danger. That should not result in a financial windfall for the family of the suspect; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Holding Handcuffed Prisoners

Many of us have been trained to hold the chain of a prisoner who has been handcuffed. This can be a dangerous mistake. A handcuffed person can use the handcuffs as a method of restraining the officer and attacking him. All they have to do is flip their hand over the officers hand and it traps the officers hand. This is all part of an important fact, people who are handcuffed can still be dangerous.

Generally speaking, when someone is handcuffed, police usually think the fight is over. The real situation is the fight is over when the suspect thinks it is over and submits to your lawful authority to make an arrest. The suspect can change his mind at anytime after that so you must always be aware of the potential for attack.

That potential exists even when the suspect is handcuffed, even when they are in the cage in the back of the police car and even when they are in jail. Rather than hold the handcuff chain on the handcuffs, hold the suspect’s hand instead. I like to grip three fingers of the suspects hand while I conduct a search for weapons. When moving the suspect I hold them by the hand and elbow, rather than the chain; or just above the elbow. It’s all about maintaining control of the prisoner. It’s safer for you, for your partners and ultimately even safer for the suspect; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


A suspect jumped a counter in a booking area and attacked an officer. When dealing with prisoners it’s all about the control. Control their hands, control their ability to move, control where they go and what they do. The best control is done by the architecture of the jail structure. Suspects are limited by doors controlled from a central location and they can’t move more than a few feet without having to have another door opened.

In this instance there were several problems. The officer was wearing a gun in a jail environment; usually this is not a good idea. Officers should check their weapons when entering a jail facility. The facility had a counter that could be jumped. Counters should have glass or wire screens to prevent prisoner from moving outside the booking area.

Prisoners in booking areas can be handcuffed even shackled with waist chains and ankle restraints. Dangerous criminals do not become less dangerous simply because they are in jail or being booked. Jail cameras need to be monitored at all times so if an attack happens, then the monitor can send help. Jails can be dangerous places; don’t let your guard down just because the suspect is in custody; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 8, 2011


An officer from Buena Park police has died in training. Like the young South Pasadena Officer who died in training recently, he just died. Neither of them were killed as a result of the training. Police training can be very dangerous. It is up to use to make sure we conduct training in a safe fashion.

Before training begins, all emergency procedures should be in place. Phone contact to the local EMS. First aid gear ready in event of an emergency. Evacuation routes prepared. Assign staff and even students to special tasks in the event of an emergency. Have shade, water, and other materials ready to keep students from becoming overheated or too cold.

The students are in training so that they can survive on the streets, as trainers it is our obligation to do our best to make sure they don't die on the training field. I think training should be realistic and hard, but not unduly dangerous. Handling loaded firearms and driving high speed cars as well as using chemical weapons, and batons have great potential for injury. Take care of your students so they can survive to get to the streets; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

No Rodney King

Fullerton Police took a homeless man into custody after they received a report that he may have broken into a car. During their contact with the suspect, six officers struggled with him at Tasered him several times. The man was immediately hospitalized and died five days later.

The FBI and the District Attorney and Fullerton Police have all instituted an investigation of the incident. The city and those investigating all seem to be saying the right thing. Wait for the investigation to be finished before you make up your mind about what happened. They are not releasing all the videos that are in evidence. They have stated they don’t want to try the case in the media and if the case has to go to court they don’t want jury members to try the case based on what they saw on television.

Years ago LAPD had a similar case with Rodney King and handled it badly. The agency and officials released statements that condemned the officers without doing any more research than watching excerpts of the video. The media manipulated the video by editing it for both time and content to make the incident appear worse than it was. People were whipped into a frenzy and rioting ensued with several killed as a result. Officials should make no substantive statements on these kinds of incidents until a proper report is complete.

Incident like this often look bad to the public. These officers may have done good police work. They may have used poor tactics. They might have acted irresponsibly. These officers may need to go to prison for criminal acts. We don’t know what really happened because the investigation is not complete. As yet, we can’t say what the outcome should be. These officers deserve due process and the public deserves a full, impartial investigation; not media hype; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Retired and Packing

Officers who honorably leave their agency should be granted concealed weapons permits. The agency should require a periodic qualification, annually or at least every three years is enough. Skills decline and laws change and so the qualification should include a legal update. Agencies should keep retired officers with CCWs on a mailing list and send them regular, perhaps quarterly, updates on the law as relates to use of force.

Officers who retire and maintain a CCW may want to consider training with their handguns on their own time. The agency should permit them to use agency facilities and even ammunition as part of their retirement benefits if possible. Officers who are retired can be a valuable resource for the community. They have the instincts and training of police and those will stay with the retired officer for many years after they are no longer on the job.

Retired officers will still face suspects who think they are still police. They will face people they arrested who perhaps want to attack the officer in retaliation against him. The officer will recognize criminals and may need to intervene to stop a crime or save someone. There are many reasons to permit retired officers to keep carrying after they leave the agency; and it’s the right thing to do; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Katrina Shootings

Four officers were convicted in the shooting on a bridge after the Katrina Hurricane. The officers were guarding a bridge and shot and killed two people, and wounded four others who were trying to cross the bridge. The officers claimed the people on the bridge shot first. There were questions about the evidence, questions about the truth of many of the officers’ statements and questions about the sequence of events.

When writing a police report, tell the truth. It is much better to admit to a mistake of fact, an error of judgment or other difficulty in the event than it is to leave out material facts or to lie about them. It can make the difference between a verbal reprimand, written counseling, or even termination and prosecution. Everyone will occasionally make a mistake, people understand that. When police make mistakes it can have deadly consequences, but usually a mistake is not a criminal act. Lying on a report can take a questionable incident and convert it into a crime.

When police are found to be lying in a report it taints the case against the suspect and it sometimes turns the police into suspects. If you have a significant use of force incident, it is okay to speak to a co-worker, supervisor, union representative, or lawyer before you complete your report. You want to record the facts as you know them. It can be helpful to have someone you trust assist you with both remembering and recording the facts. The police department and the suspect will both have lawyers, there is nothing wrong with you consulting with one before you write a report that could be used against you in an administrative or legal proceeding. In a complex event you may need help getting the facts straight; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

M-16 Series Patrol Rifle

Consider the patrol rifle as a large handgun. It makes the rifle concept an easy transition because the skills you have practiced for years with the handgun can then carry over to the rifle. First the grip on the rifle should be like the grip on the handgun. The web of the hand should be high up on the pistol grip just as it is on the handgun.

The right hand holds the handgun and the left hand performs most of the other work of reloading, charging and removing magazines. This is also true with the rifle. Nearly always hold the rifle in the right hand and keep the right hand on the pistol grip. The index finger should be alongside the rifle frame just as it is on the pistol frame; until you are ready to fire. Manipulate the safety with the right hand thumb, without crossing over to the right side of the frame.

The trigger finger can be used to depress the magazine release, but the left hand should remove the magazine, obtain a fresh magazine, and insert and seat the fresh magazine. The left hand should also operate the charging handle, all from the left side of the rifle. Pull the charging handle back with the left index finger, all the way back until it pulls away from your hand and slams forward. This allows the right hand to stay in position and you can stay on target easier. Practice these motions slowly and perfectly. Practice them enough and you will become fast. Smooth motion, with repetition will build speed. The patrol rifle is an excellent weapon and every uniformed patrol officer should have one and be proficient with it; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Peel Time

About two hundred years ago, Robert Peel said “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

How many times have you spoken to officers who speak of the general public as a group that is separate, distinct and beneath the police? Those officers refer to the pubic as “Idiots” or speak of the public in “us” versus “them” terms. Officers are “on the job” and the rest are simply “sheeple.” While certainly our training and our experiences differentiate police officers from those in other professions, we must be careful not to let our pride in our jobs become arrogance.

The interests of the community and the interests of the police should be the same. We need to insure that we don’t violate the rights of the public. We need to make sure the public is kept safe from the few who are inclined to criminal acts. We also need to be sure that we don’t hold the public in contempt, they are our customers and they pay our salaries. We are there to serve their needs, by doing so we are granted extraordinary powers and authority. It is a great trust that we must hold high; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Drug Ambush

A sheriff deputy on duty stopped at a red light was shot to death in an apparent ambush. The assumption is that it was a hit by a drug cartel. Everyone who buys, sells or uses drugs has contributed to the murder of this officer. Agencies need to make drug enforcement a major priority. We can become just like Mexico if we don't keep up the pressure on drug dealers in this country.

We need a multidiscipline approach. The best drug program is the one where prevention is the first line of defense. Children at any age are young enough to use drugs and so they are young enough to be taught the danger and immorality of drugs.

Marijuana is a gateway drug. No one starts with heroin or cocaine. They start with lighter drugs and work their way up to the hardest to get the most extreme high. All drug suspects need to be documented, prosecuted and worked to keep them from progressing. Drugs kill more than they user, they kill cops, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Peel Force

“Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.” So almost 200 years ago, Sir Robert Peel was giving us advice on the use of force and the escalation of force. Use force when Persuasion is insufficient, ask the person to comply, start with a low level and move to greater force only when needed.

Advice is given that tells the suspect what they should be doing in the specific circumstances.

Finally, before the use of force issue a warning to the suspect. You will be arrested or shot or sprayed with pepper spray if you don’t stop that. Just as we do today, we would rather use verbal commands than escalate to actual physical force. We have more force options than Sir Robert and his Coppers ever dreamed of using. The Taser, and pepper spray and other less lethal weapons are a major improvement over the truncheon. But the impact weapon is still an important part of our arsenal. Sometimes beating someone is the only reasonable way to gain compliance.

Sir Robert also talks about using only the physical force that is necessary to resort order, so even when force is used there are limits to it. We beat someone with the baton until they comply with our instructions, not simply until they are unconscious. We use force to accomplish a goal of capturing lawbreakers or restoring civil order from unrest, that’s what the SGT Says.