Monday, October 31, 2011

Is Your Agency Ready for Occupation?

The Occupy Wall Street group has spread out over many cities in the United States. While they are few in number, a couple thousand people protesting in a city as large as New York or San Francisco/ Oakland is not a very big group, they are getting a lot of news coverage. With social media the protesters are using video and the Internet to get their version of the story out as well as the information in the main stream media.

In this video we see a protester is apparently wounded and laying on the ground near the police lines. The narrator implies the wounded man was hit by a tear gas canister, but the video does not show how he was wounded. The police don’t appear to be making an effort to provide him with any aid. About a dozen of the protestors surge forward towards the injured man and police toss a device that explodes near them; driving most of them away. Some of the protesters pick up the man and eventually he goes to the hospital.

Is your agency ready for significant civil disobedience? Does your agency have policies to control the use of tear gas canisters or flash bang devices? How recently has your agency trained with these pieces of equipment? Does your agency have the equipment on hand to respond to any civil unrest? What is your training and procedure to deal with an officer or protester who gets injured? If you don’t have these in place and ready to go, it’s probably time; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuck In Shirt

A friend of mine sent me this video. I don't know where he got it from. It is not my intention to infringe upon anyone's copywrite, I show it here only for educational purposes. Certainly if anyone objects contact me a and I will take it down.

This video shows how easily it is for a suspect to hide a weapon from an officer and how dangerous it can be to allow suspects to reach into pockets or under their clothing. I have performed a similar training session, and I don't use any holsters or special techinques for hiding the weapons. Stay alert and stay alive, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


The FBI Agents who participated in the Miami Shootout in 1986 were good agents, and brave law enforcement officers. I commend them for the good job they did and for their candor in helping the rest of us understand a complex shooting incident. As a result of this shootout many agencies, including the FBI made significant changes to their tactics, equipment and training.

The .40 S&W bullet was eventually developed as a result of this shootout and many of us carry it today. Most agencies adopted high capacity semi-automatic handguns as a result of the lessons learned from this event. Many officers started carrying back-up guns and wearing body armor while on duty after what we learned from this shooting.

Finally, the most important thing to remember is that the robbers were not on drugs, but even with fatal wounds they both continued to move, to shoot, and to fight. The agents, even when wounded, continued to fight and ultimately prevailed against two evil and vicious criminals. As an officer your will to fight and to conquer evil is your greatest asset; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 28, 2011


During the FBI Miami shootout nearly 150 round were fired. Only about 100 of those rounds were fired by the agents. Only two robbers versus eight agents and the robbers fired a third of the rounds fired! The agents had plenty of ammunition, but much of it was loose in boxes under the car seat, in the glove box, and in the car trunk. Agents had to try and return to their vehicles to obtain more ammo.

Officers should carry a minimum of two magazines and really should carry four. That assumes high capacity magazines of twelve rounds or more and a loaded gun. I recommend a minimum of forty rounds per officer on their person and at least another 40 in their gear bag. If you are working a detail where you can reasonably expect a shootout, then officers should have at least 60 rounds for their duty gun, a long gun and a back up gun.

If the long gun is a rifle or submachine gun, then you should have 5 magazines to include the one in the gun. If the long gun is a shotgun then you should have two full loads available, one in the magazine and one on a side saddle or butt pouch. Since an average shooter can fire off a full magazine in only a few seconds more ammunition just makes sense; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Animal Patrol,0,6973271.story

A man who owned a private exotic animal collection killed himself and let all his wild animals loose. They included tigers, lions, and bears. These are huge, dangerous, man eating animals. There were over fifty of them released into the rural community and four officers responded to the call. When they arrived they were confronted by aggressive animals hovering over the body of the owner.

The officers had to shoot several of the animals just to get to the side of the victim. One deputy later was attacked by a bear and stopped the bear with one shot from his handgun from a range of only seven feet. The sheriff gave the order to shoot all of the animals that had escaped. He took an important political risk to keep his public and his officers safe. I am glad that he took the initiative to insure public safety and shoot these dangerous carnivores.

One of the reasons to have a patrol rifle is to be able to shoot wild animals. Few of use will have to deal with tigers or lions, but even here in Southern California, we get the occasional bear or mountain lion. While the sheriff called wildlife officials and zoo officials, it was hours before they could deploy and begin darting animals. A few of the animals were saved, but most had to be shot. It is sad that endangered species had to be killed, but public safety is more important; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Glock Armorer Training

Glock is the most popular police handgun in the US with about 65% of agencies using the Glock. My agency has used the Glock for well over a decade and it has served us well. The Glock is inexpensive, lightweight, durable and easy to shoot. They make them in most police calibers and the small back up gun versions will accept the full size magazine. Most of the parts work in all the versions so that parts inventory is easy for the armorer.

There have always been a few things I did not like about the Glock. The grips were too big for small hands and the slide lock was too small to easily operate. The gun was a bit too smooth and I never liked either the standard sights or the night sights. The new Gen 4 Glock has a rougher texture so its better when your hand is wet or God forbid, bloody. The back strap now comes in three sizes so the gun can better fit smaller hands.

The slide lock is larger to facilitate using it as a slide release. They also have a reversible magazine catch for left handed shooters, and a dual recoil spring. Maybe the next generation will upgrade the sights. They are not bad; I just have trouble picking them up quickly but the night sights are fantastic when it very dark.

My agency has carried the .40 caliber Glock model 22 but in recent years we have purchased a few .45 ACP Glock model 21 handguns. We are in the market for a few more and I am hoping to get one of the new ones in .45 ACP. Glock supports the shooting sports and have a great buy back program. For less than $200 and your old Glock trade in they will give you a new gun. Too bad I can’t do that for my car, that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Glock Armorer Training

In mid October I attended Glock Armorer training. This was, I think, my fourth time at Glock Armorer School. It is a one day, eight hour training class. They use the full eight hours and don’t waste a minute. There is not a lot of registration, advertising, break time and other time wasting events, we worked on Glock pistols, learned how the function, malfunction and get fixed when they break.

The class was hosted by the city of Corona, California, Police Department. They have a massive and excellent modern police training facility. There were over thirty of us in the class taught by Dennis Tueller of Glock, a former police officer in Utah. His presentation was excellent and made great use of PowerPoint slides. The slides used color coded computer generated pictures of Glock parts to show the relationship between the parts and their functions.

Rather than tell us war stories all day long, we worked on taking the Glock apart and putting it back together. The Glock only has about three dozen parts and they go together easily. Everyone should have their Glock inspected and cleaned by an armorer at least annually to insure safe and proper functioning. The full Glock handgun is now made in the USA and they make over 50,000 per month! That’s a lot of happy shooters, that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review

I was given a free copy of the book to review. Confessions of a Catholic Cop, by Thomas Fitzsimmons, published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC, New York, 2006. The book is a fictional story of a cop working in a very bad part of New York City, fighting a arson ring. Fire is always a terrible danger in big cities and arson is an especially terrible crime. The author was a New York cop so he writes about life on the streets and on the job with authority that you don’t get from civilian authors.

The author does an excellent job of weaving many tiny stories into the larger picture. Many characters appear in the book but there are no throwaway characters, no red herrings. Each minor character plays an important role in the story and helps to wrap up the story line. I like it when an author can take a seemingly minor player and give him the pivotal role later in the book.

While I work in greater Los Angeles and am no stranger to big city life, I have never worked in or even visited New York City. I imagine some of it as being the toughest place in the world to police with characters as strange and dangerous as anywhere in the world. I imagine the work takes a terrible toll on the cops who have to work there. In the book some find solace in alcohol, money, and women and in dedication to their jobs. Many cops in NYC have a multi-generational commitment to service to their department. All these aspects of the job are covered in this book as part of the larger story. The book was a good read, that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Local and International Crime

The DEA uncovered a plot by Iran to use members of a Mexican drug cartel to murder both Saudi Arabian and Israeli officials here in the United States. This shows how much local law enforcement is involved with the War on Radical Muslim Terror. Local police contact drug dealers and drug uses on a frequent basis. This just shows that we must be open to the possibility that they may be involved in international terrorism as well as simple drug dealing.

An assassination of this type could have lead to war between Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Iran. This shows the importance of enforcing our border security and our drug laws. Illegal drugs are fueling these drug lords with money and that money gives them power and abilities to murder both other drug lords but now also international officials.

Local officers need to receive better training in drug recognition. They need to more actively look for users, unravel drug sales networks and make more drug arrests. Every time we seize drugs from a distributor we make it harder for drug cartels to make money and to do business. We need to do more of this and cripple these drug lords who cannot operate except for American money paid by drug users. Fighting the drug war is now also fighting the War on Radical Muslim Terror; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

FBI Shootout XI

One of the difficulties faces by the FBI agents was the inability of all the agents to deliver accurate return fire on the suspects. Two agents lost their guns. Other agents were poorly positioned. Not all agents were on scene when the actual stop happened but arrived during the incident. This really put the FBI agents at a disadvantage compared to their potential combat power.

One agent, who was an expert shot, had his glasses fall off in the traffic collision. He was unable to retrieve them. While he was able to return fire, his shots were probably much less accurate than they would have been if he had his glasses. People who wear glasses need to practice on the range with their glasses. They need to practice on the range without their glasses. They need to practice on the range with contact lenses.

Ideally, they should wear contact lenses while on duty and have a pair of back up glasses in their pocket in case they lose a contact lens. Glasses should be held in place with a strap so they can’t easily fall off in a crash, foot pursuit or even a fight. Someone who has very poor vision should simply not be working in the field. In the dynamic environment of the field someone with very poor vision is just not safe; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 21, 2011

FBI Shootout X

Once the agents determined they were going to stop the robbers the agents rammed the robbers’ vehicle. Some of the agents were across the street from the robbers. Some of the agents’ vehicles were behind the suspects and others were actually alongside the suspects. These were poor positions for officers to be in when confronting armed suspects.

Two of the agents in preparation for the armed encounter removed their guns from their holsters. They placed their guns on the car seat next to them. When they came to a stop, they crashed their units. Their guns bounced off the seat and onto the floor. The agents were unable to retrieve their guns in the confusion.

One of the agents was able to deploy his back up gun, the other one was out of the fight with no weapon. If you carry a firearm on duty then you should also carry a back up gun. Firearms are mechanical device. Mechanical devices fail. Handguns are small, and it is easy to drop them. Back up guns are essential, that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

FBI Shootout IX

The agents made the decision to stop the suspect vehicle in a residential neighborhood. They did not want to allow the suspects to escape onto a crowded commercial area. This was not an unreasonable decision. There are other factors to consider. Back up was still on the way to the location. The agents did not have overwhelming numbers yet, so it may have been better to wait.

The agents hand was forced to a certain extent in that the suspects had obviously made them and knew that law enforcement was following them. While I think their hand was forced and they probably did need to make the stop there, were there other options? Could they have backed off and followed them from a distance? Could they have had an air unit monitor the suspects’ progress? Probably not in both cases.

In 1986 in Miami the agents probably did not have the ability to call for air support. The agents vehicles were on both sides of the street and the suspects were essentially surrounded. It would have been difficult to allow the suspects to leave and make the stop elsewhere. Again, poor coordination with the units involved put agents in the wrong place to make the stop in a coordinated manner at the location of their choosing. Whenever possible, officers should make stops where they want the suspects to stop, no permit either the suspects or circumstances force you into a bad location; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

FBI Shootout VIII

Once the FBI located the robbers’ vehicle they called for back up. They should have coordinated better with the local police so that back up from them would have been more readily available. The FBI agents were not all wearing body armor. Some of them had their armor in the car and tossed it over their shirt when the incident started. They should have been wearing their armor and it should have been strapped on properly.

The agents were wearing a variety of business casual clothing. They were driving unmarked cars. They had no distinctive attire or markings on their vehicles of any kind. Responding uniformed officers had no way to know who the agents were. The responding officers had no way to determine the suspects from the FBI Agents.

When working this type of stake out it is important that responding officers be aware of who is a good guy and who is a bad guy. The agents should have been wearing a windbreaker type “Raid Jacket” that would immediately identify them to civilians and responding back up officers. This will minimize the friendly fire concerns of responding uniformed officers. A group of people shooting it out in the street could be cops and robbers or it could be drug dealers. Proper planning would address this issue, that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The FBI Miami Shootout VII

The agents who were on the lookout for two armed robbery suspects had plenty of time to plan their stakeout. One of the most important factors is weapons. Each officer carried his usual duty handgun. Some carried revolvers and some carried semi-automatics. I won’t criticize either choice. Both the revolver and semi-automatic have served the police and military well for over a hundred years. Both were common choices in 1986.

The agents also had MP-5 submachine guns and pump action shotguns available to them. Only a few of them were qualified to use the submachine gun but none of those agents made it to the scene prior to the completion of the shooting. They stored the long guns in the trunk of their vehicles where the racks were located.

Knowing that they were intending to confront dangerous robbers they should have placed those long guns in the front of their vehicles. By leaving the long guns in their trunks they significantly delayed and restricted their ability to get to their long guns. Every unit should have had at least a submachine gun or shotgun so that at least half the agents could have had a long gun. Bring all the weapons you have, especially when you are facing armed and dangerous suspects; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The FBI Miami Shootout VI

The agents planning the stake out had fourteen agents at their disposal to confront and take into custody two heavily armed robbers. When planning always ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?” The criminals did worst; they identified the agents and responded with a shootout.

The agents could have done more to prepare for a shootout. Each agent should have been wearing body armor and should have worn it properly. Several of them were not wearing armor and several were wearing armor but it was being worn externally and was not strapped on properly. Certainly body armor won’t stop everything, but these suspects did include handguns in their attacks on the agents and so they would have some value there.

The agents should all have carried at least four reloads for their handguns on their person. A revolver only provides six rounds and four reloads in speed loaders or moon clips would have provided 24 more rounds for those agents with revolvers. The officers with semi-automatics should also have been carrying at least four additional magazines. Under stress or with good training a shooter can blast off a full magazine in only a few seconds. Having the proper protection and proper weapons is critical; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The FBI Miami Shootout V

At ten to one odds most suspects will see the array of guns pointed at them and simply give up. It is clear they can’t win, so unless they intend suicide most criminals will surrender. If the suspects don’t surrender but choose to make a fight of it, then they have ten rounds coming at them for every round they fire. Assuming a 10% hit ratio to rounds fired, the suspects fire five rounds each for a total of ten rounds and they would hit one officer. The officers would fire five rounds each for a total of fifty rounds and get two or three hits per suspect, probably ending the shootout.

Odds of ten officers per suspect give the officers other advantages as well. The most important is the psychological advantage over the suspects. It will usually make the suspects think they cannot win and cause them to surrender without incident and that’s the best outcome. The other big advantage is the officers will feel safety in numbers and will have greater confidence they can win the fight.

Since the FBI agents only had 14 agents and there were two suspects they could have coordinated differently. They could have asked for local Miami Dade officers to take one or two of the banks and the FBI agents take the others. They could have asked Miami Dade to station units nearby but not actually in the stake out area to be a ready response team to supplement the agents. They also could have asked for more agents, or at least ran only three and four agents per unit and covered only two branches. Sixty blocks and four banks is just too much for fourteen agents to cover; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The FBI Miami Shootout IV

The agents had a reasonably good plan but they did not factor enough resistance to their attempt to arrest the robbers. These were bad guys, probably murderers, who where known to carry long guns and to shoot people. The first problem was the agents were trying to cover too much with too little.

If you have two armed robbers you need at least twenty officers. I always consider you need at least ten officers for each armed suspect to insure a win for the police. There are plenty of armed encounters of two or four officers taking on one or two suspects and the officers taking casualties and the suspects getting away. In this shootout the Bureau got eight agents on scene against two suspects. Four to one odds is not enough to insure victory over the robbers. In the event, seven of the eight agents were wounded or killed. While both suspects were killed it was not a clear win for law enforcement.

Certainly we all know of shootouts where one officers kills, wounds or takes into custody a large number of armed suspects alone. That certainly is possible but not likely. My basis of having a ten to one advantage for the officers is in incidents like this one where a reasonable man can predict there is a strong likelihood of a shooting we need to stack the odds in our favor; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 14, 2011

FBI Miami Shootout III

Good intelligence is extremely valuable when dealing with criminals. The FBI does a fantastic job of gathering and analyzing information. The Miami robbers were no exception to that reputation. The agency was able to determine that these two men were robbing banks, car jacking people at a local gravel quarry, probably murdering those they car jack, and that they were very willing and able to shoot people to accomplish their criminal goals.

The FBI knew the suspects had both handguns and long guns. They also had the license number and description of the robbers’ vehicle. The agency also had a good theory about how the suspects operated. The robbers would hit banks and armored cars along the same main highway. They would wear military style clothing and were not afraid to shoot and even use smoke grenades in their crimes.

The agents devised a plan to capture the robbers. They had 14 agents, mostly working in pairs, watching 4 banks that were 60 blocks apart. The plan was to wait for the robbers to initiate a robbery then move in and capture them. In the event, that’s just what happened, but it did not work out exactly has planned; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

FBI Miami Shootout II,_1986

The agents who participated in this shootout are all heroes. One of them, Agent Mireles was Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his heroic actions that day. I have nothing but respect for the FBI and the agents who were there that day. This shootout has been carefully studied by many agencies. As a result we know more about this shootout than most other law enforcement shootings.

We can study this shootout and determine what when right, what when wrong and how we can apply these factors to our own survival. By studying this shootout we can learn lessons from real life that can help us avoid their mistakes, and follow their good examples. The agents involved in this incident have been very open in their willingness to help others. Two agents gave their lives in this shootout.

I believe if we learn from our history, we can achieve even greater things in future. We can avoid those mistakes others made and provide better service to our communities and go home at the end of the day. Officer survival is more than not getting killed. It is not getting hurt, not getting arrested, not getting fired, not getting sued. I think we dishonor these brave men if we do not take the lessons they have given us, that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

FBI Miami Shootout I

On April 11, 1986 FBI agents were involved in a shootout with two bank and armored car robbers. The robbers where known to carry long guns and to shoot people. Both suspects were killed and two agents were killed also. One robber fired 6 rounds and the other fired at least 43 rounds. The agents averaged 5 to 12 rounds each. There were a total of almost 150 rounds fired.

The suspects used handguns, a shotgun and a Mini-14 rifle, in .223. The Mini-14 was fired at least 40 times. The ranges were from so close the agents and robbers could touch to about 20 yards away. Of the six agents involved, four were not wearing body armor.

The agents conducted a traffic stop on two high risk, armed robbers. They knew the robbers had a long gun because they saw the suspects load it before the stop. The agents were worried the robbers might get onto a crowded highway if they did not stop them right away so they stopped the robbers in a residential neighborhood before all their back up arrived. In this series I will include a large number of links to various sites that discuss the shooting. I think it is important to review incidents like this from many points of view. I don’t endorse any particular one, but there are interesting facts and opinions about his case and I think we can learn from many of them; that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Local and International Crime

The DEA uncovered a plot by Iran to use members of a Mexican drug cartel to murder both Saudi Arabian and Israeli officials here in the United States. This shows how much local law enforcement is involved with the War on Radical Muslim Terror. Local police contact drug dealers and drug uses on a frequent basis. This just shows that we must be open to the possibility that they may be involved in international terrorism as well as simple drug dealing.

An assassination of this type could have lead to war between Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Iran. This shows the importance of enforcing our border security and our drug laws. Illegal drugs are fueling these drug lords with money and that money gives them power and abilities to murder both other drug lords but now also international officials.

Local officers need to receive better training in drug recognition. They need to more actively look for users, unravel drug sales networks and make more drug arrests. Every time we seize drugs from a distributor we make it harder for drug cartels to make money and to do business. We need to do more of this and cripple these drug lords who cannot operate except for American money paid by drug users. Fighting the drug war is now also fighting the War on Radical Muslim Terror; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shooting Fast

Officers perform a traffic stop and before the suspect even puts the car in park, he is out and shooting. The officers return fire and eventually the suspect is hit and stops shooting and trying to escape.

In this incident the officers are shooting very fast. Shooting very fast is a good thing in a shootout. It is particularly important to fire the first rounds or at least fire the next rounds. Once the first few rounds are fired, if the suspect is not down, it's time to re-assess the shooting.

Are your rounds hitting the suspect? If not, you may need to slow down, aim carefully and get good hits. Is the suspect under good cover? Maybe you need to gain some better cover for yourself, or perhaps move so his cover is not as effective. If you seem to be getting good hits, maybe you need to move your point of aim. We often train for the failure drill, two rounds in the chest and if that fails, one round into the head. Perhaps you need to consider aiming at the feet, ankles, knees so the suspect will fall to the ground. Suspects generally don't wear armor on their legs. If what you are doing is not working, maybe you need to do something else, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Professional or Not?

Memphis police officers took a pay cut of nearly 5%. Times are tough and many of us have had to cut back. Where my wife works they have cut their pay twice in the last two years for a total of over 10%! As a result of their pay cut, Memphis police have cut their ticket writing by about a third.

A professional does not let his personal circumstances interfere with his work performance. If you have an argument with your boss, you don’t take it out on the public. If you have a disagreement with the city over your pay, you don’t fail to perform your job to the best of your ability. As a professional you perform you duties in a dispassionate, appropriate manner.

If you agree to take your pay and benefits, it is proper to perform the work in the manner expected. That means even if the pay is less than you want, you still must perform the job correctly. Officers must not permit wage and benefit negotiations to interfere with their job performance. Just as officers don’t go out and write more tickets because they get a raise, they should not write fewer tickets because of a pay cut; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

FBI Miami Shootout

On April 11, 1986 the FBI was involved in a shootout with two dangerous bank robbers. It is one of the most well studied law enforcement shootouts in history. During that shootout both robbers were killed and FBI Special Agents Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan were murdered by the robbers. Five other FBI agents were wounded and barely escaped death.

The agents were staking out banks along the Dixie Highway hoping to intercept the two robbers. The criminals had been hitting both banks and armored cars along that highway for some time. The agents knew the criminals had stolen a car and were looking for that vehicle. The agents had coordinated with local police and had been running a similar rolling stakeout for a long time looking for the suspects.

The criminals were known to be shooters and were at least suspected in five deaths. They carried both handguns, and rifle and even used a smoke grenade in one robbery. The agents saw the criminals in their car, and made a high risk traffic stop. There were ten agents versus two armed criminals. Other agents and local police were on the way but had not yet arrived when the shootout began. It was an incident we would do well to study in detail; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Form Follows Function

In a recent article on active shooter response, the author was critical of the diamond formation often trained as a method to use to respond to an active shooter. I also share many of his concerns about the diamond formation. The diamond formation typically involves four officers with patrol rifles who are advancing with one in front as the point man, one on each side as flankers and one at the rear as the rear guard. The rear guard is often expected to walk backwards or at least look frequently to the rear.

In an active shooter response, the offices need to rapidly locate the shooter, go to a location where he can be stopped, usually by shooting him to death. While it is not the intent of the offices to kill the active shooter, it is generally the necessary outcome needed to get him to stop killing innocent people. Imagine an active shooter jogging through a large shopping mall shooting people at random. How quickly can you catch up to him if four of you have to stay close enough to touch each other and one of you has to walk backwards? I suspect that suspect can never be caught by officers in that formation, because that formation is simply too slow moving.

If the suspect is seen to the front, and the point officer seeks to engage the suspect, you have three other officers who are simply standing in the kill zone not doing anything to neutralize the suspect. If the two flank officers decide to shoot they are firing their rifles with their rifle muzzles next to the head of the point officer. I support a more military style tactic of two officers as a fighting pair, using cover and even fire and maneuver. Tactics need to be simple so they require little refresher training and they need to be flexible enough to respond to different kinds of threats; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

No Gun Free Zones

Some areas like airport waiting rooms are gun free zones. In these areas you pass through inspection, metal detectors, and are protected by a mighty host of armed guards. Everyone is vigilant and only those authorized to carry firearms are carrying guns. The people in this gun free zone are very safe and secure because of all these precautions.

Fifteen years ago the Congress passed a law intended to make schools safer by creating gun free zones for schools. Not only were guns prohibited in schools, but also for a thousand feet around a school guns were prohibited. Signs were erected and people were informed that the public or private school was a gun free zone. How’s that been working out? Have we had a sharp decrease in firearms violence in schools since 1996? No, firearms related murders have not been curtailed by the simple posting of signs saying a school is a gun free zone. Laws that are unenforceable only make respect for all laws decline.

A sign on a pole will not stop a murderer from bringing a gun onto a school campus. Just as we don’t simply place a sign at the airport, hoping airplane hijackers won’t bring guns onto planes, we can’t expect that to work on a school ground. This law has been a total failure. It is unreasonably expensive to think we can turn every school into a secure area, as we have done with airports. It would take millions of guard and cost billions of dollars. Instead we should repeal this useless law and empower adult students, and school teachers and administrators to exercise their right to self defense as insured under the 2nd Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Baggy Clothing

People wearing their shirt untucked and baggy pants can conceal a number of weapons along the beltline. This video shows a man taking twelve firearms from his beltline. They include a full size pump action shotgun. The weapons are essentially invisible until he reaches for them.

The most important thing is to watch and control the suspects’ hands. In each instance it was the hands that removed the firearms. That video only lasts for 42 seconds. That means he gets these guns out in about 3.5 seconds each. About the time it takes to sneeze is about the time it takes him to deploy a gun.

When you approach a suspect who has his hands in his pockets, ask him to turn away from you. Then take a giant step left or right, towards cover if possible, and then tell him to slowly take his hands out of his pockets. That gives you more opportunity to observe and makes it harder for him to draw and shoot at you. By stepping to one side, you make it harder for him to know exactly where you are located. Control the hands and you make yourself safer, that’s what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Officer Down

An officer from Terre Haute, Indiana was killed in the line of duty while serving a warrant at a suspect’s home. Other officers at the scene shot and killed the suspect. The officers K-9 partner was shot, but is expected to recover.

Warrant service can be very dangerous. Proper preparation is essential to make certain everything goes will. First, have everyone involved be aware of the location, and their role in the warrant service. Make sure everyone has the proper equipment. Those making entry should have tactical vests and helmets. Ballistic shields can be very helpful too. Suspects frequently have firearms in their homes and so extra protection is a good idea. The entry team should include at least one officer with EMT skills and a small first aid bag so he can stop bleeding of a gunshot wound. Paramedics should be on site at a secure location nearby so they can respond if there is a shooting victim.

Officers should know the location of the nearest emergency rooms and how to get there if someone is injured. Helicopter evacuation should be considered if it is a significant distance away or if traffic is bad. Helicopter landing sites should be evaluated before the warrant service. Warrant service at a home or apartment is complicated and can go bad quickly, plan for the worst, that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Unmeasured Strength

Unmeasured Strength, Lauren Manning, Henry Holt and Company, LLC, New York, NY 2011, ISBN 978-0-8050-9463-3

Sometimes companies send me books for free so I can review them. This is one of those books. As police officers we sometimes forget who we work for and what they have to deal with after we finish our reports. There were thousands of people killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, not just police officers and firemen. There were thousands more injured and Lauren Manning is one of those thousands.

As she was walking into one of the buildings, the plane hit and she was covered in fire. The book describes her battle with the pain and injury of severe burns. Burns are some of the most devastating injuries because of the disfigurement and pain that comes with them. It took her years to come back to something approaching normal.

The War Against Radical Islam is a war fought on many fronts, including law enforcement. Unlike other wars, the enemy is not just thousands of miles away but also down the block or across town. Lauren Manning gives us the perspective of someone who was severely injured by terrorists and the hurtles she had to overcome to return to normal. This book is an interesting perspective on crime and terrorism; that’s what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Perp Walk II

What alternatives are there to the Perp Walk? The first consideration when moving a prisoner begins with the design of the police station or jail. I like an underground sally port with vehicle access. The police van drives up to the sally port. The gate is opened and the police van pulls inside. The gate is closed behind the police van, which is stopped at a second gate. The second gate opens only when the first gate is closed and the area is secure. The van then drives into a prisoner transfer area. The prisoner is removed from a holding cell, walked down the hallway to the van and loaded in a secure area. This area is part of the jail and only authorized personnel are permitted there. The van then continues straight ahead and has to exit via two separate gates. The public never sees the transfer take place which happens underground in a secure, police only, area.

If the building was not designed this way there are still options. Take the prisoner out the back door. Let the press and public stand by the front door and then hustle the prisoner out the back. Use a helicopter to take the prisoner from the roof. Naturally, this is expensive and may not be practical in every case. If the suspect is highly dangerous, part of a gang or drug cartel, or has aroused the hatred of the public, it might be worth the expense.

If none of this is practical given the layout of your facility, then you have to develop another plan. The easiest thing to do is bring in a few officers very early in the day and cordon off the street. At least fifteen to twenty yards from the police station entrance, set up barriers, police line tape and a line of officers and deny anyone entry to the area. You may have to do these hours before the actual event. Have the police van pre-positioned in front of the station. Have the sidewalks delineated so that pedestrians can’t enter and block the roadway. It is a public safety issue to have crowds of people rushing to get a look or perhaps attack your suspect. The vigilante who tries to murder your suspect may spray bullets on everyone or the gang may try to free your prisoner. No more Perp Walk, its good officer safety; that’s what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Perp Walk

We have all seen it on the news. A high profile suspect is walked in handcuffs down the police station stairs to the waiting police vehicle for transportation to court or to jail. The cameras roll and the flash bulbs flash. Dozens, even hundreds of reporters and citizens crowd the door to get a glimpse of the perpetrator of the crime of the century. Officers line the stairs and push back the press of humanity. In recent years the suspect is often seen wearing body armor.

The Perp Walk should be a thing of the past. There are many good reasons to avoid this procedure. In the American justice system, suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty. If the perp has not yet been convicted of the crime, then they should not be shown to the public as a criminal by having them paraded in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit in front of the whole world.

The second reason is more practical. You are responsible for the safety of the prisoner. If the crime is very bad, people from the crowd may attempt to murder the suspect. A hand holding a gun reaches out from the crowd and fires three rounds as close range and kills the suspect while in police custody. It happens once in a while and it makes police look really incompetent, that’s what the SGT Says.