Friday, September 30, 2011

Rock vs Guns

Homeland Security Today: Dangerous Rock Attacks on Border Patrol Agents Are Up; Chopper Brought Down by Rock in ‘79

Mexicans along the border with the United States have been throwing rocks at Border Patrol officers. This has resulted in some Mexicans being killed by Border Patrol officers who shot at them after the rocks were thrown at them. While no Border Patrol officers have been killed, many have been seriously injured by rocks. Over 700 of these incidents are reported every year.

Border Patrol officers sometimes respond with pepper balls and other less lethal options. Sometimes, especially if no one is hurt and no vehicles are damages, the Border Patrol agents will not respond and sometimes not even report the incident. Less lethal weapons are not always appropriate when attacked by people throwing rocks. Rocks can cause deadly injuries. Rocks can cause great bodily injury and that is enough to respond to with deadly force in many cases.

This is a problem that can be stopped tomorrow; Mexicans need to stop throwing rocks at American Border Patrol agents. Mexican police should be patrolling their side of the border and should prevent Mexicans from going over the fence and from throwing rocks over the fence. The United States should have a strong, tall, real fence between the US and Mexico. A good fence will minimize these problems and will help prevent smuggling and illegal immigration; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Off Duty

An off duty deputy was shot and killed when he was called to a friends house to ask her boyfriend to leave; he was unarmed. That one sentence tells us what is wrong with that incident. Your boyfriend is creating a problem and you want him to leave? Hang up the phone and call 911. Problem solved. The deputy was off duty, he should generally not get involved in police activity.

The deputy was involved in a domestic violence incident, they can often be very dangerous to the first responders, and since he is a friend of one of the participants only increases the danger. The deputy was unarmed. He is responding to a police call for service without a firearm. Would you do that on duty? Of course you would not. Why do it off duty? If he was not wearing a gun, he would certainly not be wearing his body armor.

Unless there is an overriding reason why you need to be involved, don’t get involved in police work off duty. You don’t have the moral authority of a uniform and badge. You don’t have the legal authority and civil protection you may enjoy on duty. You don’t have the gun, handcuffs, pepper spray, and body armor you hopefully have on duty. You don’t have the back up and communications you have on duty. This deputy was brave, but he made some mistakes. Learn from his death and give his death meaning; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Foot Pursuit

An officer in Castle County Delaware was stabbed to death by a suspect he had been chasing. Foot pursuit is very dangerous and officers need to be careful when performing this activity. Just because someone runs away does not mean you should or can legally chase them. What are your legal grounds for a detention or arrest, apart from the suspect running away? How important is it to capture this person you are chasing? If they have done a minor crime it may not be worth it to run after them.

Is the suspect running into a gang infested housing project? Are you alone or is your partner with you? How soon can you get back up on site, or an air unit? Can you cordon off the area and conduct a search rather than do a foot pursuit? Is the suspect known to be armed? If this is an armed robbery suspect you don’t want to face him one on one at night in some alley. You need to broadcast your location and activity to dispatch; you may need back up to safely affect the arrest.

Suspects that jump fences or run around a building sometimes stop and wait to ambush the officer who is chasing them. Suspects often run into areas they know well and the officer may not know. The officer could run into a pre-planned ambush, or even simply run into a yard with a bad dog, swimming pool or clothes line that can put him out of action. How far can you run before you are too tired to fight? If you run all out for two hundred yards can you still draw your baton and fight some big guy for two minutes? Probably not; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Terrible Things

Jeremiah Lee Wright Decapitated Disabled Son, 7: Police (VIDEO)

People do terrible things to one another. As police officers when those terrible things happen, we have to go there and restore the peace. In this instance a man murdered his seven year old son, cut his head off and then displayed the head so that his wife would find it outside when she came home. This is a terrible thing that should never happen and that no one should have to see. There are so many alternatives available to this family. Give the child up for adoption, divorce the spouse and let them have custody, give the child over to child services, leave the child with relatives. Murder is never an option.

As police we have to respond and deal with the aftermath of disaster. It can be difficult to deal with and difficult to respond to as well. The person who did this crime deserves the death penalty for the murder of an innocent child, but it is not up to us to administer that death. It is up to us to take the father into custody, document the crime scene and write the proper reports and then go to court and testify to the evidence as we know it.

We also need to take care of ourselves and our partners. We need to remember that this suspect it not representative of all people. That is actions are an aberration. We should not go home and drink ourselves to sleep. We need to seek counseling from professionals if we are very upset with this type of incident. We need to remember that to protect and serve includes our partners and ourselves. We see those terrible things that people do to one another and then we try to restore the peace. We need to seek peace for our partners and ourselves also when faced with this type of terrible incident. The peace of God passes all understanding, turn to him first; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Power Outage

All of San Diego, some of the rest of Southern California and even parts of Mexico were out of power recently for over 24 hours. When the power goes out, can your dispatch function? Do you have back up generators for your agency? Do you have the ability to stay on the air for days if the power does not come back right away?

Can your officers control traffic in your city if all the street lights and traffic signals go dark? If you have a large city, with big streets and heavy traffic, losing the traffic signals can be very dangerous. If there is no automatic traffic control it can be hard to conduct an evacuation, or facilitate the response of fire and EMS.

How will kids get home from school without electricity? If you live someplace where there is snow on the ground and no electrical power how will people keep warm? You may still have heating oil or natural gas but heaters often require electricity for pumps or fans. Public safety is more than response to bank robberies; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Patrol Car

How many prisoners do you transport in your patrol car at one time? I seldom transport more than one. Often when I have more than one prisoner, I get a second unit to transport the second prisoner. Having the prisoners in separate vehicles makes them easier to control because you only have to deal with one person at a time. It also makes it easier to verify the ownership of any drugs, weapons or other contraband found in the vehicle after they leave.

The rear seat of many patrol cars is now partitioned off so that the whole back seat area is cut off from the whole front seat area. I would suggest there are two options that might make some sense. Partition off only the passenger side of the rear seat to carry one prisoner in a plastic bucket seat. That keeps the prisoner separate from the officer and by it being on the passenger side it allows easy entry and exit for the prisoner.

The other half of the rear seat can be used as a storage space for the officer to carry ready gear. This is a good place to store the weapons. The patrol rifle and patrol shotgun can be carried in a separate little armory area. This makes it more secure than leaving it in the passenger compartment. Units with two officers could even hold two patrol rifles. Other ready riot gear could be held there two, like a tactical vest, extra magazines, and gas masks could be stored there too. Different vehicle configurations can be helpful, that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Patrol Car

Since we don’t have unlimited budgets, and we don’t control the design of police cars, how can we improve our vehicles without spending much? The easiest thing to do is to work with our existing emergency equipment venders to make certain that our police lighting gear takes up the least amount of space in the center console. Some of the gear may be able to be placed in the dashboard, even if it means eliminating the glove box.

The shotgun and patrol rifle can be placed in several different places. Moving the guns to the doors or near the door is not very expensive. The biggest problem is that most patrol cars are not large enough for big police officers and all the gear we need in the car. I have even suggested designs that create one seat in a cage for suspects in the back seat of the patrol car and the area behind the driver seat can be used for the arsenal to store the patrol rifle, shotgun, riot gear and ammunition.

Retired body armor can be used to armor your patrol vehicles. While not an ideal solution it is better than what happens to most retired body armor. Typically used armor ends up in the trash or on the range or sometimes sold or given away. It can be put in the door panels and behind the dashboard. Use care to avoid placing it where it can catch on fire from the electrical or engine heat. Sometimes we have to take small steps to reach our ultimate goal, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 23, 2011


While researching police shootings one thing stands out in many of them. The standard police car is woefully inadequate for response to a shooting incident. The officer sits low in the car and so it can be difficult to exit the vehicle quickly. The big hump in the middle of the front of the police car contains radios and other controls make it nearly impossible for officers on the drivers’ side to exit the passenger side of the car. The officer is restricted to exiting by the driver door and that provides a tactical disadvantage.

The shotgun and patrol rifle are generally mounted in the passenger compartment in the front of the car with the radio and other electronics. That makes it hard to get the long gun out of the car past all the gear. The muzzle is usually pointed up with means stuff sometimes falls down inside the weapon and officers removing the weapon may have the barrel pointing at themselves or their partner.

The front of the vehicle, doors and windshield provide very little ballistic protection. Officers still hide behind car doors and vehicle frames and yet there is very little protection provided by those features. The engine block and brake drums are fairly bullet proof but are small and not located where they can provide much protection. Our cars are not much protection, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bad Idea***-while-on-duty&s=b57e3353a769777a824957dd0d598fa1&p=5846489#post5846489

A New Mexico State Police Officer has been placed on administrative leave following the release of photos showing him having sex with a woman. He is in full uniform, she is partially undressed and on the hood of a civilian car. They were in an isolated part of the desert on a county owned ranch and there were no witnesses to the event which was photographed by a security camera.

Many are calling for this officer to be terminated immediately. I agree that this officer showed very poor judgment by having sex with a woman while he was in uniform, outside, in daylight, during his shift. What we don’t know is important. Was he on the clock or was he on a break? Employers don’t have much control over employee actions when they are on a break or at lunch. What is the relationship between the officer and the woman? Is it his wife, his live in girlfriend? Someone he has known for ten years? Or is the officer having sex with a woman he met on the job and has exchanged sex for leniency on a citation?

Certainly the officer deserves some degree of punishment for having sex while in uniform, in a public place, presumably on duty. I would suggest a day off for each infraction. If it is found that he in any way coerced the woman then he should be fired and perhaps even prosecuted for rape. This is typical of the main stream media and others who see part of the information and immediately start demanding people get fired or go to jail without an investigation being conducted. I wonder how many of those calling for this officers badge thought it was okay for President Clinton to have sex on duty? Everyone is due a little due process, even the police; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Matawan Shootout

In May of 1920 union violence during a coal strike left seven private security detectives dead and three local people including the local mayor. The police chief was involved in the shooting on the side of the local miners. At the time private detective agencies often were employed by companies that needed protection from striking workers. Local police forces were often too small to do the job alone. Local police and these detectives were often on opposite sides.

In difficult times people will sometimes go on strike or protest various work and economic issues. It is the duty of the police to keep order, but not their duty to take sides in labor and political disputes. It is the duty of the police to enforce the law. When unions or companies act outside the law, then it is the duty of the police to make arrests, restore order and write complete reports. Too often in these major incidents, reports were poorly written, investigations were incomplete and most of these murders did not result in convictions.

In the event of significant labor unrest in your jurisdiction, it is important to flood the location with officers. It takes a lot of police to keep two groups apart and to watch a large group of unruly people. Police leadership should meet privately with the leaders of both groups and encourage them to make public statements that unequivocally renounce violence. Officers need to video tape any large rallies so that the start of any violence can be determined. Taping should be done in the open in public areas. Officers must stay impartial in these types of incidents; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What To Do?

One or more officers are accused of doing something bad, maybe even criminal, while on duty. What do you do about it? What are the options? Should you arrest the officer? Unless a supervisor catches the officer in the commission of a major crime this is not a good option. In the mind of the public it will presume guilt and will likely ruin the officers’ career, even if they are innocent. There may also be hard feelings within the department and resentment towards the supervisor. Still, a criminal is a criminal, even if they are in uniform and should be treated as such. Certainly this would be appropriate if the officer was caught on duty in the commission of a robbery, rape or murder that is obviously for their own personal gain.

You can suspend the officer from work without pay. Officers generally have ties to the community and are not a flight risk. Can you suspend someone who has only been accused of wrong doing without having had their day in court? Suspension without pay is a punishment. You should not punish someone until the investigation is concluded and hearings have determined liability and proper punishment if any.

You can suspend the officer from work with pay. Officers should not be punished until there has been a complete investigation and they have been found to be liable for violations of the law or agency policy. Only then should they be given time off without pay, fired or have prosecution go forward. Officers should not be placed on light duty and work at the station or in dispatch. There are too many opportunities for them to interfere with the investigation and so should not continue to work. Officer mis-conduct happens and we need to deal with it; fairly, impartially and properly; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Active Shooter Evacuation

If an active shooter incident is on going and there are already a large number of officers dealing with the shooter, there is plenty of work left for other officers. One task is to assist the paramedics with the wounded. Medical teams are often, understandably, reluctant to rescue victims in active shooter incidents. Officers can escort them and provide protection for them as they locate and stabilize the injured and evacuate them.

The key to this is to set of a response location where the responding medical personnel can both treat patients who can come to them and where they can link up with responding police. Once they link up the teams of officers and medics can enter the scene with the officers providing security. These officers should be in addition to those searching for the active shooter.

If the active shooter is in a stationary location and is continuing to cover the area where the wounded are located, then other measures need to be taken. Officers can use covering fire to keep the suspects head down while the wounded are rescued. Armored vehicles and ballistic shields are very helpful in these circumstances. The main issue here is we don’t want to have more people shot while recovering the wounded, that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Active Shooter Response

Active shooter response is very much like military combat rather than traditional police response. In a typical crime police will try and evacuate the injured right away, especially the wounded police officers. In an active shooter response the first goal is to neutralize the shooter. That takes priority over aiding the wounded.

To neutralize the shooter the officer must stop the shooter from continuing his deadly rampage. If the officers arrive and the suspect gives up, tosses down his weapons, holds up his empty hands and surrenders, take him into custody and he is neutralized. Until he has been handcuffed and searched, or obviously killed or obviously escaped then the first priority is the neutralization of the shooter or shooters. Some active shooter incidents have involved multiple suspects so don’t assume if you got one you have all of them until victims and witness reports confirm that fact.

Once the suspect is neutralized, then it is time for damage control. Bring in your paramedics and ambulances to evacuate the wounded. While chasing the active shooter follow on units can provide security for the evacuation of the wounded. Active shooters sometimes stay on the move and so the danger to follow on units can be low. If the active shooter stays in one location then other techniques need to be utilized, that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Active Shooter Response

An active shooter call comes into dispatch the first thing the dispatcher needs to find out is where is the shooter, how many shooters are there, and what type of weapons do they have? What does the shooter look like, male or female, young or old, black or white, tall or short, fat or thin? What are they wearing, light or dark, shorts or pants, long sleeves or short sleeves? The main thing we need to know is where the suspect is now.

Once we determine there is an active shooter incident we need to respond as many units as possible to the location. We need to know where the shooter is at so we can go there and stop him. Officers need to respond to a safe spot where they can gather a small group of two to six officers, don their tactical vests and helmets, charge their rifles, form a team and then make entry. All of this should happen in seconds, not minutes. As we are organizing the active shooter is killing. Officers need to have this gear in the patrol car ready to go, not waiting in an armory or back at the station or even in the supervisors’ car.

We can’t wait for a SWAT team. In Australia they waited for their tactical team and by then most of the deaths had happened. Officers must have the training and the mindset that they will respond to the active shooter and neutralize the threat immediately. Once two or three officers are together it is time to move towards the active shooter. More officers are better, but don’t wait for them. Speed of response is one of the most critical elements of active shooter response. Move rapidly towards the sound of the shooting, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Active Shooter Down Under

In April, 1996 an active shooter in Austraila murdered thirty-five people and injured another twenty-one people. The killer was captured by police after a long stand off. The active shooter killed two people at a hotel, then drove to a nearby tourist destination and murdered about thirty more innocent people. He then returned to the hotel, shooting people all the way back, kidnapped a man he later murdered. As police arrived he held them at bay for several hours. Eventually he set a fire that forced him to leave his hiding place and he was taken into custody.

Despite strict gun control laws, the suspect was able to obtain several firearms illegally and gather thousands of rounds of ammunition. His weapons included an AR-10 and AR-15. He did not have a driver license but did have a car and used it to carry him and his weapons to the site of his crimes. He was on a disability pension because he was mentally handicapped but was judged mentally fit to be tried. A civilian attempted to engage the suspect with his own rifle but before he could obtain and load the weapon the suspect had driven away. The suspect was a lone shooter with no religious or political agenda. The suspect was sentenced to thirty-five life terms, plus over a thousand years in prison.

An active shooter requires an immediate response. In this instance over 20 people were shot in less than two minutes. How long does is take for a call to come into your station and be broadcast to units in the field? Even a few seconds can make a big difference, in this instance the police were notified soon after the shooting but did not arrive on scene until almost thirty minutes later. The suspect was moving on foot an in several different cars so it was difficult to determine what was happening. Al Qaeda has been advocating the use of the active shooter for some time now. Is your agency ready? Are you ready? You better be ready; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Shooting Is Over

Once the shooting stops, the injured are tended to and it’s all over, what do you do? One of the first things you need to do is to talk to your union representative. Don’t talk too much to responding officers and don’t talk too much to your supervisor or to your detectives. Talk to your union representative and ask to speak to an attorney. The department will look at what you have done, the district attorney will review your case, maybe the state attorney general and perhaps the FBI will all review your shooting. Talk to your union representative and then talk to your attorney.

After a shooting is over and everyone is safe you need to begin the process of accurately reporting the facts of the incident. You will need to speak to your attorney so he can assist you in the proper reporting of the incident. Shooting incidents are very complex. Officers often have tunnel vision, tunnel hearing, disruptions is perceptions of time, distance, space, and sometimes get the sequence of events confused. A proper attorney can assist your efforts in getting your story recorded accurately and completely.

Even if you have not been hit by gunfire you may need medical attention. Your heart rate can be very elevated. You may be hyperventilating. You could be in danger of a stroke or heart attack as a result of your being involved in the shooting. You may need to seek medical attention before you do much else. Be aware of your rights and survive the shooting and the post-shooting; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saving Is Not Just Money

Part of being a first responder is knowing your family is safe when you are at work. Saving up food and other consumables is a way to save for the future. No different than investing in gold, stocks or putting money in the back. The difference is that a pound of pasta or box of batteries will never be worth zero and in good times or bad is still worthwhile to posses. When I shop at the supermarket or a general goods store I try to pick up a few extra things for the long term. I know people who have purchased dozens of guns for use in hard times. While I am all about the guns, once you have few for each adult, you are better off spending your money on food and other essentials than weapons.

Canned goods last for years. Dry pasta lasts for years. Batteries last for years. My family eats canned goods and dry pasta all the time. If we stock up on them when we have some cash then at times when we don’t have much money or when there is a shortage, then we can coast a big because we have stocked up on things in good times.

I don’t buy survival foods or freeze dried meals. I am not planning on living out of a back pack. I am planning to get through hard times or a disaster by staying in my home and using some of the products I have saved up in good times. That way I am eating many of the same foods I am used to and don’t have to radically change my diet because of an emergency, unemployment or another great depression. Save now, so you are ready when the hard times, hurricane, earthquake, riots, fire or flood happens; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


While on patrol you get a radio call of a robbery in progress at the bank. You are 200 yards away from the bank at the time. When you arrive seconds later there is a suspect in a van in front of the bank with the motor running and four men run out of the bank; they are armed with assault rifles and wearing camouflage clothing. The year is 1980, in Norco, California. Thirty years ago one officer armed with a six shot revolver and a twelve gauge shotgun with four rounds of 00 buckshot. That’s not very good odds.

The officer immediately took fire and was hit. Despite this he exited his patrol car, and returned fire with his shotgun, killing the driver of the van. As other units arrived the suspects fled in a second vehicle, their first was disabled when the driver was killed and he crashed. The suspects continued to fire at the responding units. Over the next couple days eight officers were wounded, one killed and two suspects killed in what became known as the Norco Shootout. Dozens of police cars were destroyed and even a police helicopter was shot down. It changed law enforcement for those agencies progressive enough to review and implement the changes needed to respond to this type of criminal.

Foreshadowing the advent of modern terrorism and active shooters, the Norco Bank Robbery suspects used military gear, automatic weapons, home made bombs, and planned to die rather than surrender. Since then many agencies have upgraded their communications and mutual aid procedures. Many agencies now put patrol rifles in each patrol car and most officers are armed with semi-automatic pistols with much greater magazine capacity compared to their revolvers. Many agencies use firearms simulator training and also more dynamic training to be ready for these types of crimes. More is needed to be done; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 12, 2011

More Kansas City

If you have to move a dangerous, high profile prisoner, don’t take chances. Set up a safe corridor between any transfer points. That means an area that is as secure as you can make it between buildings and vehicles. Officers should be stationed with the suspect, and at your vehicle and several places in between. You also should have a overview officer, that is, someone who can lay off and observe as much as the route as possible and intervene with direct fire. Essentially a sniper team on a roof who can see the whole scene and provide cover fire if needed.

All officers should be armed and there should be a team that is heavily armed with tactical body armor, helmets and patrol rifles. There should be an exit plan and alternate routes to follow if there is any disruption. The prisoner should be shackled, not simply handcuffed. The timing of the move should be confidential as much as possible. Any vehicle movement should consist of at least three cars, with the suspect in the middle vehicle.

Uniformed officers in marked vehicles can clear intersections and other traffic, at least in the initial stages of vehicle traffic. An armored vehicle for transportation is also a good idea. It is part of the responsibility of the officers to safeguard the life of the prisoner even if they are unsavory. Plan for an ambush, transfer points are the most vulnerable spots, that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States is in early September. Since then there have been record heat related deaths, huge floods over much of the nation, riots and flash mobs attacking people for no reason, drought and earthquakes here in the United States, and wars continue as well. Terrorist attack attempts and active shooters continue to plague our nation.

As an officer we need to be able to respond to all of these events, often with little or no advance preparation. If you had to stay at work for a week during one of these incidents, do you have the supplies in your personal gear bag to sustain you? If you had to walk home from work, could you get there? If you had to leave your family for a week to go to work, could they survive a disaster without you? Do you have a plan for the wife, the kids, and the dog?

We get bottled water delivered at home, once a month. I keep a months’ supply back so we can survive with a minimum one month supply of drinking water. When we shop at the grocery store, we always pick up an extra can or two or even a small case of food so we over time build up a month supply of the same foods we always eat. Many people buy special foods for emergencies but I think it is best to eat the same foods, it will prevent too much of a shock to your digestive system if you change your diet too much. You don’t have to spend a fortune to stock up on supplies. Just buy a little extra of what you normally buy when you go shopping. Over time, in only a few months you can build up at least a month’s supply of food, clothing, batteries and other goods. Preparation prevents a disaster from becoming a catastrophe; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Kansas City

In June of 1933 FBI agents and local police were escorting a dangerous felon and prison escapee back to Federal prison. Seven officers were escorting one prisoner, from a train station to a car waiting at the curb. They were ambushed by three or four men with various firearms. Several officers and the prisoner were killed in the exchange of gunfire. Several of the surviving officers were wounded.

The officers were seriously outgunned in the incident; they also were not all familiar with the guns they did use. There is some evidence that one of the officers may have shot two of his partners and the prisoner by mistake. Much of the shooting happened in less than fifteen feet range. There were several tactical changes the officers could have made to increase the security of their prisoner. At the time FBI agents were not officially armed; they were given authority to carry guns soon afterwards.

Their vehicles were parked in the normal passenger loading zone at the front of the station. For added security, park in the back, in the loading dock, clear the area prior to arrival of the suspect so there is not place for attackers to hide. Everyone on the transport team should be familiar with all the weapons used by the team. A prisoner that’s this dangerous could be transported in an armored car. He had escaped at least once before and had shot a man; so he was a dangerous criminal. Four officers were in the car with the suspect, bunching up like that makes for a better target and makes it hard to return fire. Plan for the worst; don’t just hope for the best, that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Famous Criminals

The movie promotion told us “they were young, they were in love, they were Bonnie and Clyde.” The media has continued to tell us how criminals are mis-understood, not really criminals, and are even victims of the police. The Barrow Gang murdered at least nine police officers and several civilians. They robbed both banks and gas stations and small shop owners. Sometimes they kidnapped their robbery victims and sometimes they murdered them. They often killed without warning and without provocation. While some people like to point out that Bonnie Parker never killed anyone, it is not because she did not try; she fired a Browning Automatic Rifle at police on at least one occasion. She was also an active participant in scores of major crimes including robberies, kidnappings and murders.

As officers we need to know the facts about particular crimes before we release information about them. We also need to know the facts of history concerning major crimes in our nation and our community. Bonnie and Clyde were not to star crossed lovers. They were terrible sinners who committed horrible acts against humanity. Bonnie was legally married and without bothering to get a divorce ran off with Clyde while her husband was in jail. They were both career criminals who cared only for themselves and their gang. At the time they were killed they were in possession of guns stolen from the military, over a thousand rounds of ammunition, and driving a stolen car. Those are not the acts of young lovers, that’s the actions of hardened criminals.

The best way to deal with the media is to stick to facts that can be proven with hard evidence. The suspects’ fingerprints were found on the gun. The suspect was arrested driving a stolen car. Those are facts that indicate the suspect’s guilt in a crime. It is easy for the media to try and move off topic to supposition, but harder for them if police spokesmen stick to established facts and avoid speculation. The media is seldom our friend; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


The Dalton Gang attempted to rob two banks at the same time in broad daylight. They were rather well known due to many previous bank robberies and train robberies. A citizen recognized them and when the robbers exited the banks they were met with a hail of gunfire. Four of the robbers were killed and the fifth was shot 23 times and taken into custody, but survived. All this in October, 1892. One town officer was killed and three civilians were killed too. These same criminals had previously been employed in law enforcement, including a brother who was a US Marshal.

The robberies were unsuccessful because a citizen saw the robbers enter the bank and recognized them. The robbers were even disguised and the citizen still recognized him from his picture in the newspaper. The citizen then notified others to prepare to respond to the robbery. “See something, say something” is not a new concept. Putting information out to the citizens gives law enforcement millions of helpers who can see things we will likely never witness.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms can be very helpful in an emergency. In this robbery the town only had one law enforcement officer and faced with five armed suspects he was outgunned and outnumbered. Even with that he killed one suspect before he was gunned down. The townspeople got the other four robbers. Let the public help find suspects, they often provide good intelligence; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Robert Peel wrote about 200 years ago “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.” In fact, quite the opposite is true. Police cars racing around, code 3, with red lights and sirens blaring is not comforting to most communities. Having a SWAT team on your lawn while they conduct a raid on the neighbors home does note make people feel better about their community.

People want to have efficient police services, but they don’t want to have to think about them. The want criminals to go to jail but they would rather have no criminals at all. It is important for us to inform the public when we make arrests, but people really want to see crime decrease and their communities to be safe places to live. If there is crime it is the duty of the police to suppress and control it. There is no point in a city having great schools if the kids are assaulted in the classroom. There is no reason to live near a park that is overrun with gangsters and drug dealers.

One way to reduce crime is to insure convictions of those we do arrest. The initial response should be quick, information gathered and the crime scene processed professionally. Too many crimes are not processed by a crime scene investigator. A car broken into in the driveway of someone’s home may not be the crime of the century to the responding officer, but it’s a big deal to the victim. Careful investigations lead to convictions and that gets crooks off the street; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Earthquakes in Washington D.C. and hurricanes in New York City, those are not supposed to happen, but they did. Who knows what other disasters await us before the year is over? News reports say 44 people were killed by Hurricane Irene and that there will be billions of dollars worth of damage. Some people are stranded as whole communities saw bridges washed away and roads washed out. Are you ready?

Most sources seem to recommend having enough to survive for three days without help. I recommend at least two weeks, if not a month without assistance. Water is the most important item. My family carries a case of water bottles in our cars. You never know where you may get stuck. My plan is to be able to survive for at least three days if I am out in the car and for at least a month if I am home. Having an extra pair of sturdy shoes in the car is helpful too, especial for women who tend to wear flimsy shoes much of the time.

Extra clothing and a blanket are important items as well. When we buy a new blanket, I save the plastic bag it comes in and put the old blanket in the new plastic bag. I then have an instant and free emergency blanket. It goes into a closet or into a car or storage shed that does not have a blanket. If it starts to rain after the earthquake knocks your house down, an extra dry blanket from the car trunk will come in handy; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Computer Information

Keep your public access information to a minimum. If you write something on the Internet it is likely there forever. Keep in mind that defense attorneys and background investigators my try and search the web to find out information about you to use against you. Facebook, blogs, and other social media are very helpful tools and can be a lot of fun, but they are also published documents. Just like printed media they say something about who you are and what you do with your life.

If you place information on your social media account with your home address, your phone number, your vacation plans then you may have unwanted people obtaining that kind of information. Make sure you don’t share sensitive information on line. Make sure you have good solid passwords on your accounts. Thirteen characters are recommended by many experts. Your password should contain letters, numbers, and special characters in it to make it harder for hackers to get into your system. Don’t use your date of birth, your officer number, your social security number, your street address as you password.

Talk to other family members about what they post about you on Facebook and other social media. It does no good for you to have sanitized your account when you kids are posting photos of you drinking beer, handling guns and quoting you out of context. Computers are great ways to communicate with friends, and family but when you communicate in public, watch what you say and what you reveal; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


One of the most common aspects of officer involved shootings is the speed at which the shooting happens. Most police shootings are over in only seconds. One of the important drills to do on the range is to aim and shoot quickly. The rangemaster can do this drill in several different ways. One common method is to tell the shooter he must come on target and fire two or three rounds in two or three seconds. That will induce some stress on the shooter and cause them to try to shoot quickly. The shooter should either draw from the holster or come on target from a low ready position.

The other way to perform this training is to have two officers on the firing line and have both of them shoot at the same command. The goal is for them to try and shoot faster and more accurately than the other. I like to do this drill from a distance that is close enough for the officers to see the target, so they know immediately if they are hitting the target and if they are getting hits that are as good as their competitor.

I like to run this exercise at least five times with each shooter. Officers stand at the 5 yard line, weapons at the low ready. On command of “Threat” they bring their weapons up on target and fire two rounds or fire a failure drill. They must get good center of mass hits and do so faster and more accurately than the other shooter. This provides some level of competition and encourages each shooter to do better than they would do alone. Teach officers to shoot fast; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Am The Law

Robert Peel wrote about 200 years ago that “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.” As police officers it is our duty to prevent crimes and arrest violators when crimes are committed. Cops sometimes get into trouble when it appears they are straying into the realm of the judiciary. Street justice is not justice; it is revenge or even just brutality.

When officers forget their role and step into the role of punishing suspects they are in great danger. They may be punishing the wrong person. They may be punishing someone who does not deserve the type of punishment the suspect is receiving. The criminal case against the suspect may suffer, even be tossed out of court if the officers overstep their roles.

The criminal justice system has several different components. Officers have their role to play. Judges have their role to play. The penal system has its role to play too. Each part of the system needs to focus on its unique roles and not stray into the area of the other. Officers need to remember that street justice is not justice, and it’s not their job; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Famous Criminals

The movie promotion told us “they were young, they were in love, they were Bonnie and Clyde.” The media has continued to tell us how criminals are mis-understood, not really criminals, and are even victims of the police. The Barrow Gang murdered at least nine police officers and several civilians. They robbed both banks and gas stations and small shop owners. Sometimes they kidnapped their robbery victims and sometimes they murdered them. They often killed without warning and without provocation. While some people like to point out that Bonnie Parker never killed anyone, it is not because she did not try; she fired a Browning Automatic Rifle at police on at least one occasion. She was also an active participant in scores of major crimes including robberies, kidnappings and murders.

As officers we need to know the facts about particular crimes before we release information about them. We also need to know the facts of history concerning major crimes in our nation and our community. Bonnie and Clyde were not to star crossed lovers. They were terrible sinners who committed horrible acts against humanity. Bonnie was legally married and without bothering to get a divorce ran off with Clyde while her husband was in jail. They were both career criminals who cared only for themselves and their gang. At the time they were killed they were in possession of guns stolen from the military, over a thousand rounds of ammunition, and driving a stolen car. Those are not the acts of young lovers, that’s the actions of hardened criminals.

The best way to deal with the media is to stick to facts that can be proven with hard evidence. The suspects’ fingerprints were found on the gun. The suspect was arrested driving a stolen car. Those are facts that indicate the suspect’s guilt in a crime. It is easy for the media to try and move off topic to supposition, but harder for them if police spokesmen stick to established facts and avoid speculation. The media is seldom our friend; that’s what the SGT Says.

Patrol Car

The patrol car is not very helpful in a shootout. What can be done to improve the patrol vehicle to make it more tactical? The seating should be a bit higher, about the height of a small SUV, so the officer can see better and can exit by moving laterally rather than having to move upward when exiting a low vehicle. The equipment must be built into the dashboard so that officers can exit from either side of the vehicle without having to move over a big hump.

The patrol rifle should be located where it can be obtained without having to reach far into the vehicle. I would put them either on the car door, barrel forward, and down at about a forty-five degree angle. Alternatively, they could be put on the outside of the front seat along the center post with the barrel facing down and magazine well facing to the rear.

Finally, the front end of patrol cars should be bullet resistant. The front windshield, two front side windows and the front end as well as the front doors should be bullet resistant. Since officers are most likely to take fire from the front, it’s really only necessary to armor the front of the vehicle. Armor in the front and in the doors should be strong enough to withstand hits from an AK-47 type rifle and the window armor should protect against most handguns. Companies that make police cars should be encouraged to keep the same front end style so that the armor package can be re-used from vehicle to vehicle to keep costs low. All marked patrol cars should have this done, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Using the Patrol Rifle

The patrol rifle should have a sling that will enable the officer to carry the rifle slung in front of their body in a position ready for use. The sling will allow the officer to retain control of the rifle even if he has to use his hands to transition to the handgun, Taser, handcuffs or even open a door, carry a box or other activity.

The rifle should have optical sights that are durable, long lasting and provide a quick method of obtaining a sight picture. My agency uses an AimPoint device for sighting. One of the advantages of the AipPoint is if the device fails, the officer can still use iron sights.

An optic that can be picked up rapidly is essential. It allows the officer to get a first shot very rapidly. In most shooting officers only have a few seconds to acquire a target and get their shots off. The officer must do that faster than the suspect and so having a optical sight is very important. Officers also need the 30 round magazine. Although generally I recommend placing only 28 rounds in a 30 round magazine Magazine springs can bind up and so having fewer rounds can help prevent that problem. Officers need good equipment. The patrol rifle is essential; that’s what the SGT Says.