Monday, December 31, 2012

Traffic Stop

Sometimes you do a traffic stop and the other driver does not stop where you told dispatch you were doing the stop.  If you can, update dispatch on the new location.  That's not always practical.  Sometimes you need to get out of the patrol car right away.  You can wait outside your patrol car and use your hand held radio to call in the new location.

What happens if you don't know for sure where you are?  There are several options at that point.  At first you should give dispatch as best of a description as you can about your location.  Two blocks north of 1st street.  Two blocks west of Main Street.  Three blocks north of the Jack in the Box.

Leave your overhead lights on so your vehicle is easier to see.  Turn your spotlight straight up so that it can be seen from a distance.  If you are really unsure about your location, you can ask the other drive to turn around and go back to a main street, or you could even just let them go.  Another violator will come along; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

License Plate Readers

California has passed a new law to prevent people from obscuring their vehicle license plate so that the numbers and letters can't be picked up by cameras at red lights, toll booths or read by license plate readers.  I oppose red light cameras, I think that enforcement should be done by people not by machines.  I think it is important that officers be able to use discretion when writing a ticket, I don't believe it is appropriate to use criminal offenses as a way to raise money.  It leads to official corruption where the innocent are charged just to earn money.

I am in favor of license plate readers.  It is just a mechanical version of the old hot sheet and it gives officers an ability to capture criminals, wanted persons and recover stolen cars that is unprecedented.  Auto theft costs billions of dollars per year and stolen cars are often taken to be used in other criminal enterprises.  I do think the information gathered should only be released to law enforcement for legitimate investigative purposes. 

I think the data should be deleted as soon as it is no longer needed.  I see no reason to keep the information collected for more than a month and in most cases no more than a day or two.  It is no ones business who is parked in front of a pharmacy, their girlfriends house, their church, the job the moonlight at, and the information should not be used for those purposes.  I don't want the information given out of new media, tabloids, ex-wives and others who are not using it for law enforcement.  People should not be able to hide their license plate information from the police, but the police should safeguard that information from others; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Situational Awareness

Next time you are on the range try this scenario.  Two officers, side by side, firing at one target each.  The officers have to walk forwards towards the targets while they engage.  The officers should start at about the 20 yard line and move forward at a reasonable pace while they fire at the targets.  Officers should fire about a dozen rounds.

There are several challenges with this range training.  The first is to keep both officers moving, and moving at the same rate.  Many people instinctively stop when it's time to fire.  That means the other officer has to stop also or risk getting too far ahead.  Many officers move too slow and don't pay attention to their partners position.  Other officers run ahead like a cavalry charge.

The rangemaster must keep the two officers together and encourage them to keep moving.  Walk behind them and keep them no more than arms reach away so you can grab one if he moves too fast.  Don't be shy about calling a cease fire.  Officers build situational awareness in this type of exercise so they don't just focus on the target; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Zip Factory Guns

There is a new line of guns out by a company called Zip Factory.  They are part of a new niche in the gun market, the fun market.  There are people making guns now that are fun to shoot and fun to collect and fun to modify.  These new guns can be made in almost any color, from green to hot pink.  They can have any accessory adapted to their use.  This means that guns can look like almost anything.

This presents an additional officer safety challenge for officers.  We don't want to go around shooting everyone with a garage door opener or purse, but we can't always expect a gun to look just like a traditional six shooter either.  Guns are changing as new technologies change and as different demographics get into the gun market.

Twenty years ago there were very few women buying guns.  Now many women buy guns.  So many women buy guns that companies are actually marketing specific model guns for women.  I have even seen assault rifle type guns in hot pink colors, just for women.  Officers need to be aware of these trends and not dismiss something that could be a gun, just because it does not look like a typical gun; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Self Driving Cars

Self driving cars are becoming a practical reality.  Google and the Auto Club have sponsored laws in California to regulate self driving cars.  Most traffic collisions are the result of human error, so taking that out of the equation might improve both traffic speed and safety.

I think that at least for the first few years all vehicles should have a driver on board, with a drivers license who can be held legally responsible for the operation of the vehicle.  Only after the technology has proven that it can function with complete autonomy, with total safety would I want vehicles driving around with no driver and no one responsible for them.

In the more distant future, I think a responsible person should be assigned for the operation of each vehicle, but that if the technology were mature, that even empty vehicles could be driving around our streets.  Delivery vans without a driver could drop off a pod for unloading at the loading dock.  Kids could be sent to school without an adult in the car.  I think we are still a while away from that right now; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Police Operations

This is a disgrace.  There are many ways that communities can keep themselves safe and laying off their police is not one of them.  The first thing they have to do is look at their retired officers compensation package.  If they are paying a high retirement then they need to consider a renegotiation.  The purpose of a police department is to provide safety to the citizens, not a retirement for the police.

Then look at police pay and benefits.  Can they be cut to a lower level?  It is better to cut pay 15% than to cut officer strength by 10%.  The officers still have a job and public safety is not endangered.  Cut police administrators and staff positions.  Make your captains into lieutenants and your lieutenants into sergeants.  Freeze promotions or limit them to only a few per year and don't replace all your positions with people of equal rank when a position becomes open.

Look at moving jail operations to a private company or contracting with another agency.  Jail operations can even become a income producer.  Have a small upscale jail and invite rich people to stay there at their own expense.  It's worth a couple thousand dollars a day to avoid the general jail population to some people.  Drunk drivers serving weekends and other similar offenders might be willing to pay for a room upgrade.  Don't lay off officers, it's bad for the department and it's bad for the community; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Isaiah 9:6-7

King James Version (KJV)
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

John 1

King James Version (KJV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Did you go to church today?  Your authority as a peace officer comes from God.  This is a nation founded on Christian principles.  Remember, you work for not only a city or county or state, but for God. 

Matthew 5:9

King James Version (KJV)
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

That's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 24, 2012

School Security

There has been a lot of press in recent weeks about mass school shootings.  The most important factor is to keep the children safe.  There are two ways to do that.  One way is to make the schools a secure area.  Putting up a little sign and passing a law does not provide a secure area for schools anymore than it did for airports.  That means lots of guards, police, guns, metal detectors and fences.  This is very expensive.  The other way is to recognize that people have a right to self defense and allow the school employees to be armed if they so desire to carry a weapon.  It works in Israel and they are under greater terrorist threat than any other place on earth.

In the meantime, what can we do to help keep the kids safe?  My agency has started paying Reserve Officers to work at the schools.  They get paid up to 20 hours per week and have to still contribute their reserve time for free.  One officer at a large high school is not going to catch every criminal, still it is better than doing nothing.

I suspect it is much better than nothing because it will create uncertainty in the mind of a potential attacker.  The officer could be off duty, or could be just around the next corner.  It creates a significant risk factor for the criminal.  It may be enough to deter the criminal so he either does not strike the school or he selects another target.  Our schools are physically not very large so even one officer on site would be very close to any attack, and would almost certainly be able to respond to the sound of gunfire.  A giant campus, like Virginia Tech, did not have that advantage; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


An officer in Alabama was in the hospital assisting EMS.  A lone gunman showed up and shot the officer and several others.  A second officer shot and killed the gunman.  The officer and the other people did not suffer life threatening injuries.

As soon as you put your uniform on and leave the station you are on duty.  The whole time until you return to the locker room you must consider that you are subject to attack by a suspect who might want to attack an officer.  This can happen anywhere, in jail, in the hospital, on the street or in a restaurant.

You have to keep your guard up all the time.  You have to keep an eye out for your fellow officers too.  If there are two of you, try to stand or sit so that you face in opposite directions.  Try an select a location where you can see the door if you are inside a room.  Wear your armor, wear your seat belt, and take care of yourself; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Too Fat

An inmate was sentenced to death for murdering a woman.  They have had him on death row for over 20 years.  Now the criminal has gained so much weight they claim he will suffer physical and psychological pain if they try and execute him now.

Justice delayed is justice denied.  The state should have limited his caloric intake to prevent him from gaining this kind of weight.  What kind of prison mismanagement is that?  The criminal was due for execution his weight should have been controlled if that was an issue.

If the weight gain was voluntary on the part of the inmate, then he made his bed, let him lie in it.  Just as voluntary intoxication is not an excuse to commit crimes, then voluntary weight gain should not permit criminals to evade execution.  Police unions need to act like police and lobby to insure this type of behavior does not stop the execution of criminals.  They need to lobby for issues that police care about, police want murderers to be executed, not escape because they are too fat; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Check Cashing

A criminal tried to rob two undercover New York City Police who were arresting a man for drugs.  The criminal pulled a pellet gun and the police shot him.  Use of force depends on the mindset of the officers at the time of the shooting.  What would a reasonable person do in the same situation.

If someone points what appears to be a firearm at you and apparently is intending to rob you, it is not unreasonable to shoot that person.  I am a terrible poker player.  I don't bluff well and I therefore just assume that no one else is bluffing either.  I call their bluff all the time.

I tend to work that way in the field too.  When someone tells me they are going to kick my ass, I believe that is there intention.  If they assume a karate stance, then I presume they are competent in martial arts.  If someone were to act as if they were threatening me with a gun, I would react as if the threat were valid.  Suspects should know that they should not let their mouth write checks their body can't cash; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Kansas Officers Murdered

An officer responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle.  He called for back up, there were at least two people in the vehicle.  Two officers responded as back up and one suspect shot two of the officers in the head, they died soon afterwards.  The third officer was not injured, the suspect fled. 

Suspicious vehicles are an unknown trouble call.  Anything can happen.  A suspicious vehicle can be an abandoned stolen car.  It can be someone waiting to pick up her husband when he gets off work.  It can be a couple having sex in the car, a couple of teenagers drinking alcohol, it can be a car bomb, or a major drug deal going down.

When you have multiple suspects, split them up and interview them one at a time.  The same person should interview them all and the other officers should perform security by watching the other suspects and watching the surrounding area.  Watch the suspects hands, pat them down if you have probable cause or permission.  Don't just chit chat with the other officers because the persons contacted seem young, or non-threatening; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

School Protection

A terrible tragic crime has happened at an elementary school in the East.  Crimes like this have happened since the beginning of the nation.  The protection of our children should be one of our most important duties.  My opinion is that we should permit trained teachers and school administrators to carry concealed firearms and protect themselves and their students.  I also think that schools should be secure areas that are well protected.

Having thousands of children together is a target worthy of protection.  School districts should have officers on staff who can protect their students.  Schools should have metal detectors and armed security guards or police on site at schools.  It's the only way to keep the kids safe.

Since that is unlikely to happen any time soon there are some things we can do on patrol to help secure the schools in our areas.  Drive by schools at the beginning and ending of the school day.  Be highly visible to the kids and visitors.  Check out occupied vehicles near the school or on school property during class time.  Get to know the school staff and the layout of the school.  Make sure the staff knows to call 911 at the first sense of anything unusual; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Training should start out easy so that officers can become proficient at basic skills.  Once they become profieicient at drawing their handgun, hitting a target, reloading and other basic firearms skills the trainer should increase the requirements.  Greater distances, low light, moving and shooting, shooting one handed, off handed, multiple targets are all additional skills that should be practiced.

As the student becomes more and more proficient with these additional skills, they can be moved to more advanced work.  I like to have two officers perform the same course of fire at the same time, but have them work against one another.  Encourage them to shoot faster than the other officer.  Encourage them to reload faster than the other officer.

Higher level skills include transition to long guns or from pistols to long guns.  Firing guns with dummy rounds included in the magazine will require the shooter to have to stop and clear the induced malfunction.  This is another advanced skill that should be taught as shooters become more proficient.  Just keep making it harder and harder, and then the real shootings will be technically easy; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gun Free Zone

An active shooter attacked an elementary school after murdering his mother and stealing her guns.  The school was a gun free zone.  Placing a sign at the front door and passing a law that says gun free zone does not make it so.  Courtrooms, legislative offices, and airports all are gun free zones.  Unlike schools, they have someone there to insure it is truly a gun free zone.

In order to properly call a place a gun free zone, you must have a secure environment.  That includes high fences, limited access, metal detectors and armed guards.  Having anything less than that and you don't have a gun free zone.  Every mass school shooting in the US has taken place in a gun free zone.  Columbine, Virginia Tech and the most recent one in Connecticut have all taken place in schools without armed guards, without teachers or administrators who are armed.

In Israel they have an ongoing terrorist problem.  Yet, they don't have mass school shooting.  Why is that?  Why is it that the nation with greatest problem with terrorism of any nation is able to conduct education without mass school shootings?  They have armed guards at every school.  Parents, teachers and school administrators are permitted to carry guns at school.  The schools are not gun free zones.  They are safe zones.  Locations where children can go and be protected by more than just a little metal sign.  If teachers are responsible enough to care for our children, maybe they should be able to protect them during an attack; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tactics and Gear

Any tactic or piece of gear you use should be up to date.  Tactics get our of date as suspects learn what we are doing or as we discover what we have been doing is ineffective.  In the past, first responders were told to wait in an active shooter situation.  We set up a perimeter and called for the SWAT team.  Now we know that time is essential and as soon as we can get a few officers on scene we need to go inside and track down the shooter.

We used to carry revolvers, the .357 magnum was state of the art when police started using them in the 1930's and they were excellent weapons.  Now we carry high capacity semi-automatic pistols.  They are reliable and in .40, or .45 caliber can still hold over a dozen rounds. 

It is important to keep up to date on our tactics and equipment as it is on the law.  There are many new products that could be useful for law enforcement.  Night vision devices and unmanned flying drones could become commonplace in police work in a few year.  Stay up to date, make changes as needed to keep current; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Never give up learning and always keep informed about what is going on in law enforcement.  As a use of force instructor I have tried to attend at least one training class each year, and I also try and attend at least one non-use of force training session per year.  The only way to keep current is to constantly train.

I belong to several law enforcement and firearms groups on the Internet.  It is the fastest method of obtaining information.  It permits me to learn about trends, weapons and crimes that are happening all over the country and all over the world.  Blogs like this one, are helpful to provide up to date information and good reminders of basic principles.

This blog is designed to provide information to new officers and to give reminders to experienced officers.  It is good for role call training and for field training officers.  I think every day officers should get a few minutes of training before they go out to work.  Even just a few minutes training can be helpful; to remind officers of their enormous responsibility and the potential danger they face; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Learning to Reload

When training, train like you intend to behave in the field as much as possible.  Use your own magazines, not range magazines.  I remember an officer took his magazines out and as soon as he took out the third duty round the remaining 11 rounds just fell out.  His magazine spring had gone bad and he did not know. 

When you reload, drop the used, empty magazine to the floor.  Don't hold onto it.  Don't put an empty magazine back in your magazine pouch or in your pocket, or even guide them to the floor, just drop them.  Officers often remove their empty magazines and don't let them go right away.  The shooter should have to remember when to reload, the range master should not have to tell the shooter.

Shooting practice should be less concerned with the number of rounds you fire than the number of hits you get.  Ideally, they should be the same, but I often see courses of fire that are so confusing the officers have to spend all their mental energy trying to remember the course rather than concentrate on the learning points.  Draw, fire, get good hits, reload and concentrate on learning; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Back Up

When you anticipate a problem always call for back up.  Even if you don't need them right now you might need them in a few minutes.  A use of force incident typically only lasts a few seconds, a minute of fighting is a very long time.  If you wait until you need back up, you probably won't have time to call for it and when it arrives it is likely you don't need it any longer.

There are things you can do to make it easier for your back up to find you.  While you want to make a hidden approach when responding to most calls, you don't want to hide from your back up.  If responding to a burglary alarm for instance, you can leave your vehicle parked three or four addresses away, but leave your parking warning lights flashing.  Or if you make a traffic stop, leave your rear overhead lights on.  Both of these techniques can allow you to alert those coming to aid you of your position.

I always try and park the patrol car where it can easily be located.  When I go inside a building, I notify dispatch first so they know where I am.  I also leave the front door open so that others can follow me.  Leaving locked doors behind you is not helpful for a rapid response; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Some officers train with their firearms frequently, but seldom train with their other weapons. The duty handgun is one of the tools that we carry that has some off the greatest liability. It is the tool most likely to cause death or great bodily injury, but not the only one. The patrol rifle, the shotgun, the baton can all cause death. OC spray has been implicated in some deaths too.

Officers should train with their other weapons on a regular basis too. That includes transition from one to the other. If you run out of shotgun rounds, can your smoothly move to your handgun? What do you do with the shotgun? Do you drop it on the ground? Do you have a sling so you can leave it dangling from your neck? Have you shot the handgun while the shotgun dangles from your neck? Do you hold the shotgun with one hand and shoot with the other?

Can you move from OC spray to handgun? Do you drop the OC spray and go to the handgun? Can you transition from OC spray to baton to handgun?  The selection of weapons is an important decision.  One you need to practice in your training.  In the field is not the first time you need to practice these skills; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Old Murder

A former Washington State police officer was convicted of a murder that happened in 1957.  He was sentenced to life in prison, he is now 73 years old.  I hope he dies in prison.  The victim was a little girl who was strangled and stabbed to death and her body dumped a hundred miles from her home.

This case has several important lessens for those of us in law enforcement.  The first is that we should never give up on a murder investigation.  Every murder should be investigated until it is solved.  Even if it is just given a short review every year.  I think every police agency should have a website with information on every murder case that can receive updates from the public.  At least it would keep the cases alive.

The other important bit of information is the need to conduct a complete background check on everyone who applies for a job as a police officer.  I think there should be a second review of an officers background just before they get off probation, to insure nothing was missed the first time and to update their information.  I also think officers should have their background updated every few years; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Active Shooter

The holidays draw large crowds at shopping malls and big box stores.  Large crowds also form up as special holiday movies are shown at movie theaters and so large crowds gather there.  Many churches have special holiday services and often have larger than normal crowds.  Airports, bus and train stations all have large crowds while people are going home for the holidays.

Historically, these kinds of places have been excellent targets for terrorist bombings and active shooters.  There are also active shooters that are also bombers.  The Columbine attacks were made using guns and bombs, but the bombs were ineffective.  How many areas in your jurisdiction are prime targets during the holidays?

The time to determine a response to an active shooter and bomb attack is now, before the attack.  Remember, a bomb technique is to set off a bomb, and then plant a second bomb where the terrorist expects the police or EMS will park their vehicle or set up a command post.  Then detonate the bomb to kill first responders in a group.  Discuss with your partners how to best respond to a terror attack at your large locations; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Do Your Job

Do your job and let it go.  In police work we see and do a lot of things that are not fun, are not pretty, are not something you want to see.  We respond to traffic collisions where people are injured badly.  We see people who are victims of every type of crime.  It's really hard when the victims are children.

Do your job and let it go.  We can't catch every crook.  Some will have made a get away and we won't capture them.  Some will leave no witnesses or the witnesses will refuse to testify.  Sometimes the evidence collection just won't work right.  Sometimes we can't legally get what we need to put someone behind bars.

Do your job and let it go.  Criminal justice is a system.  Police are one cog in that system.  The people elect officials who make the laws.  The judges and juries determine guilt or innocence.  Jailers and prison guards warehouse the suspects and convicted criminals.  Only one small part of the system is yours.  Just do your job and let the outcome go.  If a jury finds the suspect innocent, if the suspect escapes from jail, if your detectives can't locate the suspect; don't let it drive you to drink, drugs, divorce, or post traumatic stress.  Just do your job and let it go; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


"Lord, let my hand be fast and my eye accurate… that my aim be true and my draw faster than those who would seek to destroy me… Grant me victory over those who would wish to harm those that I love… Let not my last thought be, “If only I had had my gun.” And Father, if today is truly the day in which you call me home… let me die amidst a mountain of brass, with my enemies and yours, piled high throughout my field of fire."

Someone sent me this prayer, I don't know who wrote it or where it came from.  Still, it's a good prayer, and one for those who rely on firearms for their protection and the protection of others.

It is a good reminder to always carry our gun.  It is a good idea to practice regularly with our weapons.  It's a good idea to remember we carry a gun to protect ourselves, and others who rely upon us; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ammo Storage

This video is from the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Institute.  They are the organization that sets the standards for ammunition and have for over 80 years.  They made this video to show what happens to ammunition in a fire.  Since we often operate firearms ranges, store ammunition at our police stations and homes, this is important information to know.

Ammunition exposed to high heat, as in a fire will usually not burn, except for the packaging and the plastic in shotgun shells.  Since most ammunition is metal on the exterior it typically is not effected much by fire.  The ammo may cook off, but the power of the projectile is very diminished by the lack of a chamber or barrel.  Ammo fires pose no particular threat to firefighters.   

The only real threat in a fire from ammunition is ammo in the chamber of a weapon.  A loaded weapon with a loaded chamber may cook off from the heat and if it does, it will fire just like the trigger had been pulled.  Loaded guns are dangerous in a fire.  Something to consider when you store your weapons at home; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oral Board

The oral interview is often one of the last steps in getting hired.  They key is to tell the truth and to be consistent in your answers.  Preparation is important.  Get the flier for the job you applied for and read it.  Learn about the job description and the working conditions.  Learn to speak about your training and experience in terms that are used in the flier.  Learn about city or jurisdiction you will work in if you get hired.  Be able to name the chief of police and talk about the city for a little bit.

When asked a situational question,what would you do if this happened; give an honest answer.  They are trying to determine how you handle difficult problems.  Don't make assumptions and give a full and complete answer.  If your partner goes into a shop and takes a candy bar without paying, what would you do about it?  At first glance it appears he has stolen a candy bar.  But maybe he paid first and then took the candy, perhaps it's a small local place and he maintains a credit balance.  Maybe his brother, sister, mother, father owns the shop and they don't charge their relative.  Voice those possibilities, but also mention what you would do.

I told them I would leave a dollar for the candy bar and then ask my partner why he failed to pay.  Maybe he has a legitimate reason, maybe he forgot, maybe he's a crook.  If he can't give a good reason, then take it up the chain of command.  There are cameras in most shops and you don't want to be caught up in a scandal when the video of him taking a candy bar goes viral and you're standing there doing nothing.  Your report may lead to his career being ruined, but it was his choice, and your duty; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Patrol

At Christmas time people often carry a lot of cash and valuables on their person and in their cars.  When you are on patrol its a good time to patrol places where these people will be located.  Drive around in shopping centers and near bank ATM machines.  Strip malls and supermarkets and big box stores are easy to patrol by vehicle.  At night it's a good idea to part in front and walk inside and down the row of cash registers.  That allows you maximum visibility to cashiers and potential robbers and purse snatchers. 

If you have a large shopping mall, park the car near the center of the mall and walk the mall.  Notify dispatch that you are on foot patrol in the mall.  Take your time, but don't loiter too long at any business or chatting with shoppers.  Always stop and visit with mall security briefly before you leave.

Large shopping malls with large parking lots are good places to use alternate methods to patrolling in a car.  Horse patrol is great in a parking lot.  They can see a long distance away and move quickly.  A Segway, T-3 Motion or bike patrol is also a good way to patrol a parking lot.  You can also watch the lot from the roof with a pair of binoculars.  Christmas time is often a high crime time, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Parties

Christmas is approaching and it is often a time for holiday parties.  It is a good time for officers to review a few suggestions for behavior at these parties.  The first rule is to remember that  you work with these people at your agency Christmas party.  All work rules or at least most work rules, are still in force.

If they permit the consumption of alcohol, limit yourself to one drink.  If you drink more that one alcoholic beverage people may question your ability to carry a gun or drive a vehicle.  You may say something that you would ordinarily not say and embarrass yourself in front of the chief of police or mayor.  Those are not good career moves.  Think of the Christmas party as a business dinner, discuss business, be on your best behavior and don't say or do things you would not do while on duty.

Don't take this as a time to make a move on the cute dispatcher, records clerk, officer, explorer or whatever.  It's another opportunity to get yourself into trouble.  Again, consider all the normal work rules are in play.  Just because you are at a restaurant or banquet hall does not mean you can do anything you want.  Also, avoid the after party party.  Some folks might want to go out to clubs or bar hopping after the more sedate Christmas party is over.  Go home, go to bed, so you can be clear headed and awake and employed the next day; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, December 3, 2012


It's cold in New York City and a cop there was kind enough to buy a homeless man a pair of boots and some socks.  It was a kind, Christian thing to do, helping a homeless man.  As police we deal with the homeless all the time.  We are the only social service agency that has to deal with them every day, 24/7. 

There should not be a homeless problem in America.  Years ago it was illegal to be homeless.  Homeless people were called vagrants and if a cop came upon someone without a couple dollars in his pocket you could arrest him.  The "homeless" person could typically be held for three days on a first arrest, and up to a month, maybe even a year on subsequent offenses.

They were usually kept in a jail ward until they dried out from the booze or drugs, then after that they were held in low security work farms.  Not much more than army barracks with fences and guards.  The vagrants did their own laundry, prepared their own meals and then tended to crops during most of the day, they ate what they grew.  It gave the homeless a chance to clean up, live in a safe environment and maybe start over.  It also kept them off the streets so they were not victimizing others.  It might be a good idea to bring that concept back; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


A Memphis police department officer was arrested for rape and incest with a 16 year old girl.  When I went to the police academy almost thirty years ago they said "booze, broads, and bills" would bring down most officers who had problems on the department.  Certainly after 30 years, nothing seems to have changed.

Officers get into trouble by drinking alcohol or doing drugs.  They drink too much after a long or difficult shift and then drive home drunk.  They get pulled over or worse, they get involved in a traffic collision.  Sometimes they are killed or kill someone else. Other officers can't manage their money or circumstances happen and they can't pay their bills.  Particularly today when officers are getting laid off or taking pay cuts or not getting raises it becomes harder to make ends meet.  Then the officers either work themselves to death trying to get some overtime or they steal money or take bribes for the money.

Finally, officers have sex with an explorer scout, a dispatcher, another officer or sometimes a suspect, victim or just another person they know.  They are not married to them and either the spouse complains, or the other person complains or maybe they end up in a murder / suicide incident.  All these three types of incidents are very tragic and very predictable and yet we do almost nothing to train or supervise our officers to avoid these types of incidents.  It is a predictable crisis for all law enforcement one we need to work on, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Norman Nathan

A child has asked that police and fire and EMS to send him Christmas cards.  Some agencies are sending him patches and other small trinkets.  Sending the little sticky badges cops give to kids as junior officer would be a good idea too.  Some agencies have baseball card type cards of their officers, I am sure those would be great too.

I know that often these requests are ten years old, or false or otherwise not legitimate.  I have done some quick research and this one appears to be recent and real.

As police we sometimes have a chance to do something besides capture criminals.  Sometimes we can make a very sick little boy happy.  All it will take is one Christmas card with an indication of your agency.  Maybe a business card inside would be nice; that's what the SGT Says.

Nathan Norman, 81 Dunivan Drive, Rustburg, Virginia, 24588

Friday, November 30, 2012

Record Police

Courts have said that it is legal to record police officers.  I have no problem with people recording the voice or image of police in public in the performance of their duty.  We are public servants and the people have a right to know what the government in the form of police are doing.

What I do object to is people who do things that are nominally illegal to record the police.  I don't like it when people stand in the middle of the street to record police.  They block traffic and endanger themselves and the drivers.  I don't like it when I am trying to conduct and investigation or take someone into custody and people are running around in the way with their cell phones and cameras trying to be the next Internet star.

I think that people should be able to record the police but they should have to stay out of the street.  They should have to stay back a certain distance, perhaps 25 feet from the officer while recording.  They should not talk to or contact the suspect when they are recording as long as the officer is still on scene.  I think these are reasonable restrictions for officer and public safety; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Noise Complaint

A woman called the police to complain that the Salvation Army was ringing their bells and disturbing her peace.  When on patrol not every call ends in a gun battle or a car chase.  Most are pretty routine and many verge on the stupid.  As peace officers responding to this type of call is certainly something we want to address.  While on the face of it, this call is a silly waste of an officers time.

What happens if we don't resolve the problem and the complainant decides to take matters into their own hands and assaults the Salvation Army worker or worse still, gets a gun and shoots them?  Unfortunately these are considerations in today's society.  The main issue here is to resolve the problem if possible and avoid having to go out to this problem again and again.  I certainly would not want to make an arrest, or issue a citation based on a single complaint of noise on an otherwise lawful activity.  I would suggest several things that might help.  The first thing is to meet with the reporting party and find out their side of the problem and particular hours or days when it is the worst.  Then meet with the Salvation Army worker separately and ask if there is some way to mitigate the noise. 

Perhaps they can move a few feet down the street.  Sometimes even a few feet of movement may make a big difference on how sound is perceived.  If you are unable to resolve the problem, perhaps you can refer the complaining party to the Salvation Army workers supervisor or management for further follow up.  Sometimes if everyone seems otherwise reasonable you can have both parties discuss options that might resolve the problem.  Often charities have to get a permit to solicit money, the reporting party may be able to consult with the agency that issues the permit and seek relief that way.  The key here is even if you can't resolve the problem, at least give the complaining party the feeling that they have other, non-violent and lawful options and that you did something to assist them; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

When Clowns Attack

An officer is dispatched to a report that a local "activist" dressed as a clown is squirting people with a squirt gun.  The officer responds and when he speaks the the subject a fight ensues and they both go to the ground.  The officer manages to get the upper hand and the suspect is taken into custody.  A local man sees the incident and rather than help the cop in a potentially life threatening incident video tapes the incident and sends the tape to the TV news because it's funny.

A back up officer arrived only a couple minutes later than the first officer.  When responding to incidents that involve local "activists" officers should approach the subject at least in pairs so that there is at least one witness to the incident.  People like that often will say or do things that are confrontational because they enjoy the publicity of an arrest or the possibility of a lawsuit for excessive force. The first officer arriving could wait and observe the behavior before making contact.  He could then approach with a partner and lessen the likely hood of a physical confrontation.

Sometimes when facing "activists" it can be very helpful to audio or video record the incident.  When the officer acts properly the tape can be used to impeach the suspects behavior.  The vast majority of time officers act in a manner that is reasonable and so the video will often show that behavior.  This video shows the officer on the ground with the "clown" on top of him.  The officers gun was exposed, but the officer kept fighting and eventually gained the upper hand.  Never underestimate the clowns you have to deal with on the street; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Traffic Direction

Traffic direction is a skill that is easily learned.  There are several principles, the first one is the safety of yourself and the drivers.  Use traffic cones, barriers, lights and road flares to help block off lanes and direct cars where you want them to go.  If possible park a patrol car with all the lights on where it can alert drivers to your location.

Stand in a location where you are readily visible.  Wear a hat if possible to make you look more official.  Wear white gloves to make your hands more visible.  At night use a flashlight with a cone over the end of the light to make it more visible.

When in doubt, make everyone stop in each direction.  Take your time and direct cars to go where you want them to go.  Try not to let anyone sit too long in any direction.  Watch for emergency vehicles or tow trucks so that you can clear cars out of the way as necessary.  Take extra care around pedestrians.  Traffic direction is important and with a little practice you can do it well; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Crime Scene

In November, 2009 a US Army, Major went to Fort Hood, Texas and opened fire on a group of US Army soldiers.  They were planning to deploy to fight the War on Terror.  The attacker killed 13 people and injured 32 others.  One of the injured had six gunshot wounds.  Area police officers responded and took the suspect into custody.

Thirteen murder victims.  That is a large number of victims and a huge crime scene.  Treat a massive crime scene like this as both thirteen separate crime scenes and a single crime scene.  The prosecution should be able to prosecute each individual victim as a separate crime.  A smart prosecution will prosecute a few of them at a time to be able to prosecute a second time on new victims if there is some kind of procedural error that prevents a conviction.

Have thirteen separate teams and another to coordinate the overall crime scene.  Call for whatever resources you need to make sure that you have enough evidence collected to convict the suspect for every murder.  Don't assume one conviction will be enough.  Often multiple convictions are best to insure a major suspect will stay in prison for a long time, or that the suspect will get the death penalty.  Careful crime scene investigation is well worth the result; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Smoke Marijuana at Work

Recently some states have legalized marijuana use for recreation.  I think this is a terrible idea, particularly for law enforcement.  Is your agency going to let you smoke marijuana for recreational use when you are off duty?  How will your agency treat prior arrests for marijuana now that it's legal?

Will your agency allow officers to deal marijuana as a part time job?  How about smoking marijuana for recreation all the time, even when at work?  If it's legal, what are the restrictions?  Will non-sworn police employees be able to use marijuana?  Certainly a dispatcher does not drive or carry a gun?  How about police records clerks?

When applicants come in from other states and say they smoke marijuana all the time because it's legal will you hire them if they say they will stop when they move to your state?  How about when your officers go on vacation, can they vacation out of state and use marijuana and then come home and still have a job?  How about if you are on the border and maybe they live out of state but work in your state?  A lot of questions and no good answers; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Up Close and Personal

When drawing the handgun from the holster, flip up the barrel so that it is parallel to the ground as soon as possible.  You want to be able to engage a suspect who is so close to you that you are practically touching.  Most police shootings happen within six feet of the officer and yet we often don't train for the close encounter.  They are different from shooting farther away.

Stand so close to a target that your feet are touching the target.  On command draw the handgun and fire two rounds into the target.  You will find that after years of practicing to shoot suspects who are three or five yards away it is disconcerting to shoot a target that close.  A suspect with a knife may very well be right on top of you.

As you draw your handgun, you may want to reach across your body and grasp the weapon with two hands to prevent the suspect from grabbing it.  You may want to take a step back or to the left or right to gain some distance, especially if it is a knife attack.  You even want to use your non gun hand to push the suspect back as you draw.  Just get that hand out of the way before you fire; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 23, 2012


There are many resources for police that are not specifically police related.  One of them is the Disabled American Veterans organization.  They have been around almost 100 years.  One of the documents on their website is a brochure about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Police often face the same kinds of stress faced by soldiers.  They have friends killed at work.  There are terrible accidents in their work environment.  They have to face dangerous, unusual and uncomfortable situations over a long period of time.
The brochure indicates these four factors that could indicate PTSD:
"This could include:
• Not being able to get memories of the traumatic event out of your mind.
• Dreams about the event.
• Becoming anxious, angry or depressed when you are exposed to cues that remind you of the event.
• Feeling guilty about the event."

If you or a co-worker have these symptoms, then you should consider treatment for post traumatic stress, that's the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Thanksgiving is the day with the largest number of traffic fatalities that happen on a single day.  That is because so many people are out driving to grandmothers house and not thinking about where they are going or what they are doing.  There are also a lot of people going home from grandmothers house who had too much to drink and are driving while intoxicated.

This is a good day to field a large number of traffic officers to keep traffic moving in a safe and orderly manner.  Give tickets to everyone who commits a moving violation.  It will remind them that they need to pay attention to their driving on holidays just like they do the rest of the time.

Special attention needs to be paid to those driving under the influence.  A DUI checkpoint would probably gather up a good number of suspects.  There should also be weeks of public service announcements on local TV and radio as well as billboards to make the public aware of the dangers of driving on Thanksgiving.  Holidays can be fun, but they can also be deadly; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We Need

In Kenya a gang of cattle rustlers ambushed and killed thirty-two police officers.  Think about the nature of police work in the USA and we have thirty-two officers killed in six months.  They had that many killed in a day.  The United States has very effective police and we do a very good job of breaking up gangs and putting violent criminals in jail.  I think there is still more we could do, however.
We need a fingerprint data base that is fully centralized.  Every person in the USA who gets fingerprinted should be in that central data base.  Every officer in the field should have instant access to that information. It should tell us if the person is presently wanted for any offense and if they have been convicted of any crime of violence, any felony, or if they are on a terrorist watch list.
We need better crime scene investigation.  Just as we see on television every week on several TV shows, crime scene investigation is complex and expensive.  We need to spend the money to train and equip enough crime scene investigators to respond to every murder, major violent crime and significant property crime.  That will help us to get more and better convictions; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Check it Out

People have been calling 911 over strange lights in the sky.  I have been sent on UFO calls.  Barking dogs.  Possums on the roof of a home.  Skunks at the front door of a house.  Strange lights, strange sounds, strange smells.   Doing patrol you see it all eventually.

Sometimes it's nothing.  Sometimes a strange smell is just a strange smell.  Sometimes it's a car fire, or a dead body. Sometimes that skunk at the front door is a cat, and sometimes it's a skunk.  Either way, leave it alone and it will go away.

Don't pre-judge your calls.  When you get a call, start making a plan, call for whatever assistance you might reasonably need and then check it out.  You never know what it will turn out to be, and so go and investigate it with an open mind.  Don't leave the scene until you are certain that everything is okay.  Those strange lights in the sky might be stars, an airplane, or an airplane from the stars.  You never know until you investigate; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Heart Attack

The American Heart Association says some heart attack warning signs include both sudden and intense but also some that start slowly, with mild pain.

Chest discomfort.
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
Shortness of breath
Other signs can include cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

When someone has these symptoms, they need to go to the hospital immediately, or have paramedics respond right away.  These symptoms can happen to one of your partners.  One of your command staff, or even yourself.  If it is one of your partners, put them in your police car and take them code 3 to the nearest trauma center, once you clear it with dispatch.  Heart attacks kill officers every year, don't let it happen on your watch, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ticket or Lecture

My old FTO used to say that you should write someone a ticket or give them a lecture but not both.  In general, I agree with him.  When you perform a traffic stop for a simple moving violation either give the person a lecture about traffic safety or give them a citation.

People who seem upset that they got pulled over and honesty sorry for what they did probably don't need a citation to insure they will change their behavior.  The point of writing tickets is to get people to drive safer, or if they simply refuse to change their behavior, then to give them enough tickets over time that they will have their license to drive revoked.

Writing tickets to people who make an honest mistake and are sorry for it, does not necessarily provide any greater educational experience than the lecture alone.  When giving someone a lecture it is best to make it short, respectful but make sure the are aware of the potentially serious outcome of running a red light, or failing to signal a turn.  Of course, some violations are so dangerous they almost always require a citation; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


A police car and a Honda were involved in a traffic collision.  Then an MTA bus hit the Honda.  Then twenty people were transported to the hospital.  Sometimes when there is a traffic collision with a city bus, people try to actually get onto the bus to pretend that they were on the bus and injured.  They want to try and get money as a result of the collision.

If you respond to a collision with a bus there are several things to do to avoid this problem.  The first thing is to try and watch the doors to keep people from entering.  When interviewing people on the bus, ask them when they got on the bus, how much fare they paid and ask them if they can show you a bus pass, or transfer slip, anything that would verify they were really on the bus.  Ask the other passengers to verify the other passengers.

Interview the bus driver and try to to identify everyone on the bus too.  Check the bus schedule and bus stop locations.  Many transit systems often have their own police but if you are nearby you may be tasked with writing the report or at least lending a hand.  It's always a good idea to assist another agency when you get the chance.  You never know when you will need them to provide you with assistance or even a job; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bullet Proof Car

Scientists are working on a new bullet proof material.  It simply absorbs the bullets when they hit.  The material is clear, like a windshield.  This is the type of product that police need to be developed to protect officers in the field and at the station.  Every police patrol car should be enclosed at least the front and front sides should be bullet proof.

Officers should be safe inside their patrol cars.  They should be able to sit in their patrol cars, on patrol or on a traffic stop, and be protected from firearms assault.  In the past, bullet proof protection has been too heavy, too opaque and too expensive to be built into every patrol car.

I hope this new material will be inexpensive enough that it can be used in all patrol cars.  Patrol cars should also remain the same shape and size year after year so that ancillary equipment can be handed down from car to car, reducing the amortized price.  New technology is needed to prevent officer deaths, a bullet proof patrol car is only one item; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


How many friends do you have who are not cops?  How do you get along with your kids?  How are you and the wife getting along?  What do you do besides police work?  What do you do outside of work without doing it without other cops?  When was the last time you went to church?

Many police over time lose all their non-police friends.  They don't understand police work and rather than explain it, most officers just dump their non-police friends.  Many cops have difficulty doing shift work and weekends as well as long hours.  As a result they have relationship difficulties with their families.

Officers often alienate themselves from society.  They drift away from all their friends.  They drift away from their kids and their wife.  They leave the church.  Eventually they only have their on duty relationships.  When they retire they have no family, no friends, and no church.  Often, retired officers will contemplate suicide, and sometimes even kill themselves.  We need to do a better job of preventing that; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Active Shooter

The second or third team in at an active shooter response should still head for the location of the active shooter.  Historically, officers have had to face one to four shooters.  One team facing four shooters is poor odds.  A ratio of at least five or six to one is recommended to outgun the opponent. 

After about the third or fourth team is deployed, additional responding units should begin to evacuate the wounded.  They can escort paramedics or can bring wounded out themselves. It's better if firemen bring out wounded while police provide cover.  Paramedics can set up in a secure area, so more police will be needed in the command post area. 

Officers should assist in triage and those wounded who are very badly injured may have to be left to die so that the others may be saved. One critical patient can take a lot of resources and take up paramedics who could otherwise save a number of others.  Treating the wounded is the second most important part of active shooter response; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Active Shooter

When responding to an active shooter call, don't go in alone.  It's usually a poor tactic.  One suspect versus one officer is poor odds.  Certainly time is essential, but there is no point in simply having one officer after another going up against the suspect.  It not only does not give the officer much of an advantage, but it can cause officers to shoot at each other. 

Wait until their are at least two officers, and three or four is better.  Once you have four officers, then go in as a team, no more than five officers together.  They should be in a diamond formation, three officers can bring fire in any direction and the fourth officer facing to the rear.  The officer in the center can direct the group.

Officers should wear ballistic helmets, hard armor over their soft armor, and carry long guns, patrol rifles if possible.  Officers should move fast, but not run.  They should go towards the sound of the guns of the active shooter.  If an officer goes down, he should be expected to treat himself and evacuate himself.  In an active shooter incident, officers have to press forward and take down the shooter; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Active Shooter

Several local agencies coordinated with a shopping mall to conduct active shooter training.  Once security had everyone out of the mall for the evening at about 11 p.m. the mall was used as the venue for this training.  A dispatcher would radio a request for mutual aid on a training channel and ask for officers to respond to a shooting at the mall.

Officers would leave their city and go to a command center where they would be disarmed and given blue guns for training.  No handcuffs, no knives, no pistols, no back up guns, no Taser, no pepper spray.  They were cleared by SWAT members.  The officers then responded to the mall command post.  There the officers were cleared again and sent into the mall in small groups.  Each group had at least one SWAT member in a yellow traffic vest as a controller.  Other visitors and people not in play wore yellow traffic vests too.

The officers were greeted inside the mall with actors playing mall patrons who were scared, or wounded and they had to deal with that problem as they searched for the shooters.  Two people were in the mall acting as the active shooter with blue guns firing blanks.  There was one controller with each shooter.  It was a great way to train officers; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mutual Aid

Los Angeles County is divided into areas for mutual aid.  Each city pledges that in the event of a major incident and mutual aid request that they will send at least 50% of the on duty patrol officers immediately to any area mutual aid request.  They won't wait to ask the chief, they won't try to evaluate if it meets their standards of a major incident, they won't wait to see if the officers are really needed or if they can spare them.  The officers report to their agency, collect their gear, get signed off by the watch commander and off they go to the mutual aid command post.

The area I work in can send at least 100 officers within a few minutes of the request.  My agency is expected to send three officers since we field six patrol cars most of the time.  I suspect that every time we have had a mutual aid request we have actually send more that three.  Typically, we will call in Reserve Officers to back fill the Regular Officers in the city.  Sometimes we have also sent Reserve Officers to the mutual aid request. 

Other officers who are on duty are also sent to a major incident.  Detectives are put in uniform and either back fill the Regular Patrol Officers or are sent as additional responders to the mutual aid request.  Command staff might go and we have sent clerks and dispatchers too so they can assist with those duties.  We have held over an shift that is about to go home and called people in on their day off.  These procedures need to be approved, planned and practiced before a major incident happens.  It makes life much safer for the officers and the general public; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blue on Blue

Two officers were serving a search warrant and they were attacked by a large dog.  As one officer was being attacked the second officer drew his firearm and shot at the dog.  Instead he hit his partner and seriously injured him.  Dogs are relatively small, and fast and are very difficult to hit with a handgun, even at close range.  We seldom train to fire downward at a small fast moving target.

Officers serving a search warrant should try to gain intelligence about the location.  One important thing to find out about is the presence of a dog.  Ask your dog license agency if their is a dog at the location.  Park an undercover vehicle across the street and watch the location for a period of time or drive by and take photos to detect dogs.  Have a helicopter fly overhead during the day and take photos to look for dog evidence.

Doggie doo in the yard, dog bowls, dog toys, kennel, dog house, or dirt patches from the dog running around can provide evidence of a dog.  Ask the mailman, ask the neighbors, kids in particular will know if a dog lives in the house.  Deliver a mock package to the site to see if a dog comes to the door.  Have animal control accompany your warrant team if there is a dog or have them train you on how to avoid the dog; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 9, 2012


A female officer got plastic surgery and lost 85 pounds.  She looked so much better that officers started asking her out, driving past her house and accessing her drivers license number.  She had 140 instances of officers getting her drivers license information. 

She worked for two different agencies and sued them because of the behavior of these officers.  The got over a million dollars in settlements from those cities.  A million dollars would pay for twenty officers for a year.  That is money wasted from police department budgets because these officers could not control themselves.

Police officers need to have high moral standards and that includes treating a woman like a lady, even if she is not much of a lady.  Just because a woman is attractive or works for the agency does not mean it is okay to keep trying to go out with her after she says no.  Rather than pay this woman a million dollars they should have disciplined 140 officers and maybe even fired a few.  This incident was a failure by the officers and a failure by supervision too; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Naked Truth!

(Link displays nude suspect.)

A woman disrupted a city council meeting by taking off her clothing.  She then yells at the police who arrested her for public nudity and claimed they were violating her civil rights.  She claimed they were in violation of the Constitutional right to be nude.  The officers did not engage her in a pointless discussion, which is very good.

The officers were very professional and they got the subject out of the council chambers right away.  The placed her in a control hold and moved her to a hallway.  It would have been better if they could have had a female officer secure the suspect, cover the suspect with a blanket and move the suspect to a room or hallway without access.  Once people are arrested, I don't support their right to talk to other people, the press, passers by or their friends and family.

The officers may have been able to move the other people back and I certainly would have maintained her stance towards the wall.  Not only to cover her nudity but to keep her from talking.  What I don't want is to have to fight her and other people behind me who may support her or who may become enraged by what she says.  Know the law, this woman had committed a crime and was being lawfully arrested for that crime.  Her rights were not violated; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Extra Gear

Extra gear is important gear. I always have a complete uniform in my locker, even if it is an old crummy uniform.  At least one extra tee shirt and two pairs of socks are in my locker.  I have an extra set of footwear too.  At any time you can step in a puddle of water and it's miserable to wear wet shoes and socks all shift.

I keep an extra flashlight in my gear bag.  You never know when the primary flashlight is going to die on you.  Sometimes you get stuck on a call that requires heavy flashlight usage and it can just die you.  I always carry at least two pens on me and another one in my gear bag. 

My gear bag also has a couple towels, a pair of binoculars, and extra handcuffs.  I also carry my riot helmet with face shield.  I don't handle many riots but rowdy teenage parties can result in rocks and bottles being thrown.  I have a snap link and a short length of rope.  A bottle of hand sanitizer, rubber gloves, a pair of pliers and a couple screw drivers and wire cutters all go on patrol with me too.  Extra gear is important gear; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Get a Life

What have you done that was not related to police work this past week?  Police often become so focused on their work that they leave time for little else.  Work graveyard shift, testify in court during the day, then go home and go to sleep in time to get up for work.

On days off work an extra shift to pay for kids, school, a jet ski or other bills, or simply because it's mandatory overtime.  Go to a department Christmas party, have a bar-b-que and only invite other cops.  Spend time off at cop bars, uniform shops, gun stores and pistol ranges.

Eventually the job becomes you whole life.  Then when you retire you have nothing.  Your kids are estranged, your wife has left you and you have no other hobbies.  Go to church this Sunday.  Take the kids to a movie and the wife out to dinner.  Remember you are a cop 24/7 but you are a person for three score and ten; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 5, 2012


A little girl got lost on her first day of school.  Police officers in her small town found her and had lunch with her before she was able to be returned to school. Then a few weeks later the officers returned to her home to find her and a sibling stabbed to death with dozens of stab wounds.

The officers are receiving mandatory counseling because of the incident.  Officers like to pretend that they are immune to the problems of stress related to the job.  I read a study a few years ago that said just putting on the uniform and body armor will increase blood pressure in most officers.  That is a measurable instance of the job causing stress.

Officers who retire from the job often commit suicide.  There are many reasons for this but I suspect that one of them is the officer no longer has to do the job but has time to think about all the bad things they witnessed over the years.  Every officer sees murder victims, car crash victims and other unpleasant sights.  They have to do things the average person would never have to do in our society.  It can be very damaging to the psychological health of the officer.  I support mandatory counseling after traumatic events, that way the officer does not have to be embarrassed that he has asked for counseling, because he is required to go; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Agencies need to look to expand or create reserve officer programs.  Agencies should have at least as many reserve officers as they have regular officers.  In the event of an emergency, reserves can respond and double the size of your regular staff.  Reserve officers should have the same screening as the regulars but only need about two thirds as much training.

Reserves should be given a generous uniform maintenance and equipment allowance every year.  They should have the ability to work paid details occasionally, but should not be paid for their training, regular patrol or even every special events.  They should be issued guns, ammo, holsters and some of their other equipment.

The reserves should run their own organization with the assistance of the regular staff.  They should train monthly and qualify on the range as often as the regular police.  They can work patrol with regular officers and assist with special events security at high school football games and other occasions.  They are much cheaper than regular officers but are no replacement for regular officers; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gun Fight

If you're in a gun fight:
1. If you're not shooting, you should be loading.
2. If you're not loading, you should be moving.

I got an email today with these words in it.  Sound wisdom.  If you are in a gunfight, you need to be shooting until the suspect is no longer a threat.  If he has given up, run out of sight, or is down and out then you can stop shooting.

If you are out of ammunition they you need to reload.  If you have fired a few rounds from a magazine, then you should reload if there is a lull in the battle.  It is very difficult to determine how many rounds you have fired in the stress of combat.  Retain the partial magazine but a fresh magazine is always better.  Give verbal commands, even if you give them while shooting.  Identify yourself and tell the suspect what to do, it verify your authority.

If you are moving, lateral movement to cover is a great idea.  It is difficult for suspects to track you left or right and so it is best to move if you can.  Don't just move, move towards cover so you can obtain an advantage.  Cover is often only one or two steps away.  If you need to advance or retreat doing so behind a wall of bullets is an excellent way to insure you can get there.  Officers often fire too slowly when they move so they don't keep the aspect's head down.  Shoot, load, move, three pieces of good advice for a gun fight; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fast Car

Texas is testing a new Chevrolet that goes 200 miles per hour.  That's very impressive.  A police car that goes 200 miles per hour is probably useful once in a while in the wide open spaces of the Western United States.  There are few occasions where the average police car even needs to drive 100 miles per hour.

A police car driving 200 miles per hour would kill the occupants with essentially any traffic collision.  Even a dip in the road, a bit or road hazard or debris could cause an accident at those speeds.  The slightest problem with the suspension, steering, brakes, or other components can also cause an accident.

The other problem is that officers don't generally have the skills to drive a car 200 miles per hour.  Most officers can't drive a car 100 miles per hour either.  The officers who drive this vehicle will have to have extensive training so they can operate the vehicle safely.  I would be more impressed if they could instead invent a police car that would always allow an officer to survive a traffic collision at any speed below 65 miles per hour; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Death Penalty

A man in Texas was executed for the murder of his live in girlfriend.  He said he killed her because she would not give him money for drugs.  He later confessed to a previous murder in Louisiana, some ten years before.  He continually was involved in crimes of drugs and violence and made threats, even to kill other inmates in his cell in prison.  He is exactly the type of criminal who deserves to die in the death chamber.

Too many people tell us that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime.  In this instance the person put to death has had a lifetime of criminal activity and has even killed at least two other people.  If the first murder had been discovered and he had been executed for it the second innocent person need not have died.

The death penalty is neither cruel or unusual punishment.  It is cruel to lock someone in a tiny cell for twenty or thirty years, and it is cruel to the guards to have to guard them and the trustees to have to feed them and do their laundry.  It is cruel to the victims and their loved ones to know that everyday the person who did the murder is still permitted to live, despite overwhelming evidence that they are guilty.  We need a death penalty and we need to use it to kill murderers, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Range training should be frequent, fun and realistic.  If the range training fails in any of these then you are doing it wrong.  Officers should look forward to going to the range because the rangemasters should make the training interesting and challenging but without making the officers feel bad or have to endlessly go over and over the same material.

Once officers have learned basic range safety, reasonable firearms handling skills and achieved basic firearms proficiency, it is time to move to more advanced training.  Officers should shoot at targets other than just paper tacked to a board.  There are companies that make three dimensional foam mannequin targets.  It shows perfectly that a hit on the "edge" is not a hit that will bring down the suspect.  They also show how to shoot at people from the side, the back, the top and other angles.

The rangemaster can use an old tee shirt and pair of pants filled with balloons to simulate a body if you don't have the money for 3-D foam targets.  Then the shooter has to shoot the target and pop some of the balloons to bring down the suspect.  It makes the range more interesting and provides some degree of immediate feedback to to the shooter.  It's cheap, clean and easy to do and you can use cadets or others to help with the balloon work; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Halloween night approaches and with it more police problems.  People spend more money on Halloween than any other holiday except Christmas.  That means more parties, more people out trick or treating and more police issues.  Starting about an hour before dark, officers must begin patrolling residential areas to provide extra coverage for people taking their children out door to door.  Look for possible drunk drivers and possible child molesters out to snatch a kid.  It is a great PR time so have foil badges for the kids if possible.

Officers need to be extra alert in all areas for people driving under the influence.  Halloween parties, and particularly teenagers partying can put more drunk drivers on the road.  Drunk drivers kill people and injure many more.  DUI enforcement is a life saving duty.  Extra officers during Halloween can certainly be used for that duty too.

Reports of tampered candy deserve careful investigation.  Officers need to conduct careful interviews and try and get good information on the person who may have offered the tainted product.  Officers should make every effort to find the house where the tainted goodies came from and should do so Halloween night if the reports come in that early.  Having detectives on duty for this purpose is a good idea too.  Halloween is a good time for many and a great time to have extra officers on patrol; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Rioting gets out of hand very easily.  As soon as a crowd realizes that they can break windows, set cars on fire without consequences, then they will do just that.  The more time this continues the more rioters will join the riot.

As social media, the news media and other sources of information get out that the authorities are not responding to control illegal behavior, there will be more people arrive to the venue simply to participate in illegal behavior.  Just as the police call for back up the rioters will call for back up.

Officers need to have plans in place at large venues in case the situation turns ugly.  Individual officers and agencies need to be willing to call for help right away in the event of a riot.  Allowing things to burn out on their own will not solve the problem and will often only make it worse.  This is especially true of the scene is not contained, others will arrive from outside to continue the rioting.  It can take hundreds even thousands of police and sometimes even troops to contain a riot; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I carry a gun.  Off duty, on duty, at work, at church, at the store, at the movies, shopping, driving, walking.  If I leave the house I always take a gun with me.  I serve the altar at my church and when I am there I am carrying a gun.

We cannot predict when we will be involved in a traffic collision.  As a result, we wear our seat belt for every trip in the car, no matter how short.  I cannot predict when I will be involved in a shoot out and so I carry a gun all the time, every day.

Criminals are everywhere the general population is at, they are indoors and outdoors.  In the last year we have read about shootings at churches, supermarkets, movie theaters.  All of those places were once thought safe, no longer.  Carry your gun all the time; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


People who work in an all night gas station often are in an armored booth.  A small box of bulletproof material to keep them safe while they provide fuel at all hours of the day and night, often in bad neighborhoods.  Police officers work in an office that moves. 

The average police car provides no protection beyond that provided by any other automobile.  Police cars should provide protection for the officer.  They need to be fireproof, bullet proof and accident proof.

Race car drivers wear special uniforms and wear special equipment to keep them safe in a collision.  Police are expected to drive at high speed, not on a closed track but in public while responding to calls or chasing suspects.  They get no helmets, no four point restraints and no flame retardant uniforms.  That needs to change; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Police Uniforms

The police uniform must be instantly identifiable as a police uniform.  Too many agencies are going to uniforms that look like soldiers and not police.  Police are not soldiers and their uniforms should not have a military appearance.

Police uniforms should always have a badge on the chest, a name tag, agency patches on the shoulders as minimum identifiers.  "Police" in large letters on the back and even the front is also a method to make police look less like soldiers.

Some aspects of law enforcement must use weapons and equipment that is similar to that of soldiers.  Despite this police should make an effort to look like police.  Part of the nature of American law enforcement is that it is carried out by local civilian police, not soldiers from the central government.  That's something worth preserving; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Officer Injury

An officer injury requires a lot of work for an agency.  The first thing is to insure proper care for the injured officer.  Once that has been taken care of there is still much to get done.  Call in reserves or other off duty officers to cover the open shift and have a supervisor create a shift to cover any projected future openings.  Notify the family.  It is best to notify the officer's family in person if possible.  If he lives close by, a member from his agency can make the advisement.  If he lives a distance away, see if the local agency is willing to perform the notification.

In a critical injury, it may be best if the family member does not drive to the hospital themselves.  An officer should drive them if possible so they can arrive quickly, get updates on the radio and get the VIP treatment when they arrive.  If they live far away other agencies may be willing to drive them or you may even consider bringing the next-of-kin by helicopter if death may be close.

The officer may want a spiritual advisor nearby.  Your agency should have a chaplain who can assist him or call others to help.  The media will want to know and you need to both keep them informed without compromising your investigation or your notification of relatives.  Your chief and your workers compensation carrier will need to know immediately of major injuries.  Your state OSHA may also require immediate notification in event of serious injury.  All of your staff members will need to be screened for post-traumatic stress to insure their mental well being afterwards.  Officer injuries are serious in many ways; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back Up

At a critical incident there are many resources that you can call upon to help you.  Public transit and school buses can be used to move large numbers of victims, suspects, evacuees and even officers as needed.  Your county sheriff, state police and large nearby agencies can provide dozens even hundreds of extra officers to assist you.  Your own agency can provide intelligence about the suspect or the location.  Gang and narcotics teams often have good intelligence but often don't share unless you ask them for it.

Specialized bits of gear may be necessary.  Your city crews can provide dump trucks to block roads, or bulldozers to knock down fences that might protect the suspect location.  You may need a bomb robot to sniff out the location, or an armored car to help you get close in security.  The FBI may be able to help you to monitor telephones or Internet traffic.

The fire department can provide hazmat assistance, ladders, and fire hoses for washing down locations.  They also have ropes, hammers, pry bars and loads of other heavy gear for making entry into secure locations.  You may also need to call for tow trucks.  Suspect vehicles may need to be impounded, vehicles might simply be in the way and have to be moved.  Don't be afraid to call for as much back up as you need; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Major Incident Ending

At the conclusion of a major incident there is still a lot of work to do.  The suspect is in custody, the victims are at the hospital, the area is all secure.  Hold the perimeter and have the CSI and detectives review the scene.  Have them take video of everything that could be of interest before the perimeter is opened.  Open the outer perimeter as soon as possible. 

Once the CSI people, coroner and detectives have cleared the scene close out the inner perimeter.  Make sure that the real estate is secured by the owner or that you have closed and locked everything.  Call for a board up service to secure broken windows or doors if necessary.  You don't want to have criminals return and do additional damage after you leave.  If there has been a fire you may need to coordinate with the owner of the property for private security guards.

Prepare a final press release to inform the public that the area is now safe and that they can return to conduct their lawful business.  Patrol officers can even go door to door in the local area to notify the neighbors that everything is now back to normal.  Have supervisors make a check on their people and equipment to insure everything made it back to the station okay.  It's embarassing to have to return to look for a missing radio or gun other bit of gear; that's what the SGT Says.