Saturday, June 30, 2012

Use of Force

Certainly police are human and make mistakes, and even do evil on occasion. The Fullerton incident where a homeless mentally ill man was beaten to death in an excellent example. In my opinion based on what I know of the incident the first officer to arrive probably should go to prison for a long time for that beating and the second officer should probably be fired. I believe there was malice on the part of the first officer, and incompetence on the part of the second officer. There were four other officers who eventually arrived on scene and I don't know the extent or nature of their involvement so I don't have an opinion on them.

In general force incidents are precipitated by the action of the suspect. If a police officer tells someone to put their hands up and instead they reach into their pocket, what is the officer to do? Wait for a gun or shoot? It is a difficult decision but it was initiated by the suspect who for whatever reason decided not to comply with the officers commands.

The perfect police weapon is the Star Trek phaser, on stun. Shoot the guy from 100 yards away and he gets better in a few minutes after he is arrested without harm to anyone. I look forward to that day.  Until then officers will have to make do with the weapons we have; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Use of Force

All police force must be lawful, within the agency policy and objectively reasonable based upon what the officer knows at the time force was used.  The vast majority of times police use force it does meet those criteria.

Locally there was a shooting at a Carls Jr fast food place, I have studied it, watched some of the video and in my opinion the officers were justified in their shooting the suspect. The suspect was armed with a deadly weapon, a pipe, he had been breaking windows, threatening the officers with it, refused to obey their commands to submit to their arrest. One hit in the head with that pipe could easily have killed the officer.

In the Zimmerman case, I also think his shooting was probably justified under Florida law based on what I have read about the case so far. However, Zimmerman was not a police officer and was neither trained or equipped like the police.  In both the Carls Jr and Zimmerman cases I think there were better ways to handle those incidents, however, hindsight is always 20/20, we were not there and don't know all the facts in either incident. I am only basing my opinion on what I know; that's what the SGT Says.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dog Vest

Military technology has great implications for police work.  This is one of those products.  Presently police working dogs often become fatigued or overheated because they are working on a hot day.  This new project is to develop a vest that dogs can wear to keep them cool. 
Dogs are very important in police work.  They can search for lost kids, look in packages for drugs, and capture suspects running away.  I have worked with dogs many times and I know they save lives of innocent people, cops and even suspects.
A vest that can be worn by dogs and even human cops and keep them cool, work as body armor and even work as a floatation device would be a fantastic advance in law enforcement.  This is a project that needs support; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gun Buy Back Program

An agency decided to have a firearms buy back program and were offering up to $300 each for any guns, no questions asked.  So people were actually making guns out of scraps and turning them in for the $300.  No one was saved in that program from gun violence.
These programs are so wrong on so many levels.  A murderer wants to dispose of the murder weapon.  Turn it into the police, no questions asked, and get money for it.  An old widow lady wants to get rid of her husbands old gun collection, she turns it in to the police station and gets $300 for a gun that's might be worth $50,000 to a gun collector.
It is the job of the police to prevent crime, detect crime and solve crimes.  Gun buy back programs are a complete and total waste of time, money and resources and do nothing to solve crime.  They are an excellent example of politicians who want to be seen to do something about crime without actually doing anything that helps solve the problem.  Spend $300 on overtime for your crime scene investigator to look at some fingerprints.  Spend $300 to train neighborhood watch people how to effectively watch out for criminals in their neighborhood.  Spend $300 to provide bicycle helmets or car seats to needy kids.  There is a lot you can do to cut crime, but buy back programs are not one of those things; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crime Prevention

Switzerland has about 4 million people with 53 murders last year.
The City of Los Angeles has about 8 million people with 291 murders last year.
So Switzerland has a very impressively low rate of murder.

In Switzerland nearly every household has a military style assault weapon because nearly every male is part of their military. Most cantons permit additional firearms ownership and concealed and open carry of firearms.  In Los Angeles it is nearly impossible to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm, openly carrying even an unloaded gun is illegal, and military style assault rifles are illegal.

 A recent survey in Switzerland showed that immigrants from the former Yugoslavia and Africa have up to 600% greater crime rate than native born Swiss. That is because their morality and culture are different from Swiss people who, like the Japanese and the people native to the UK generally follow the law and social customs make criminal acts shameful to most people.  Police unions need to be tough on illegal immigration, support candidates who support the right to keep and bear arms because both of those positions help keep the rate of crime low, as shown by the example of Switzerland; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Marine has been saying inflammatory things about the President of the United States.  He has been posting them on Facebook.  He has been charged, and convicted of violations of the law in connection with these postings.  As a member of a uniformed service, in time of war this Marines freedom of speech has been restricted.

Police officers have a duty to their agency.  They should not write or speak ill of their agency in a public forum unless they are acting as a "whistle blower."  Even then, they should try their internal affairs section, or higher law enforcement agencies, such as state or federal law enforcement or even the district attorney.

Private conversations are not the same as public utterances, such as a blog, newspaper article, or social networking site.  In private on your off duty time, out of uniform, officers should have the right to speak their minds on any subject the same as anyone else.  Don't bite the hand that feeds you; that's the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Drug dealers function like a business.  To us, it's crime.  To them it's business.  They function like a business and do everything for money.  Drug dealers deal death, despair, and destruction.  They destroy lives, families, and sometimes even nations. 

In this article they mention getting drugs into the United States is one of their most difficult tasks.  They also say that they can get border guards to pass up a car for a couple thousand dollars.  That's not much money to lose a career, go to prison for ten years and destroy some lives. 

Police should be paid a decent rate of pay to avoid the need to earn extra money using corrupt practices.  They should not be paid so much money that they are taking the job because they are motivated by money.  Those who will do the job just for money are very likely to do that "extra" job for money.  Officers who violate their oath and allow drug smugglers to do their business should be subject to the death penalty in the most extreme cases.  Drugs and drug dealers kill people, cops, government officials so I have no sympathy for cops who help them with their dirty work; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Firearms Safety

Gun safety is very important.  As a firearms instructor I look at these videos and I cringe every time I see them.  Anyone can make a mistake but there are several safety rules we all need to know and follow all the time.  Treat guns as if they are loaded, always point guns in a safe direction, keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire, know your background.  These few basic directions will help to minimize a firearms accident.
Use red guns or other simulated guns for training whenever possible.  It makes it easy to avoid having to handle potentially loaded weapons in a training environment.  If you keep the real guns pointed in a safe direction, then even if it fires it won't hit anything bad.  If you keep your finger off the trigger the gun is unlikely to discharge.
Many of the young women in the video were given large handguns and rifles to fire without having been given proper training.  Someone probably figured it would be funny to see some small woman fire a gun with a huge recoil.  It is not funny, it is potentially deadly.  How many of those women became anti-gun people that day because their boyfriend or husband failed to teach them how to properly fire a gun and then laughed at them when they were hurt?  Never take anyone to the range to fire a gun unless you know they are properly trained in the safe use of that gun; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 22, 2012


A strong, young, large man who does not want to go to jail will require police to do things that don't look good on camera. That does not mean they are wrong, evil, bad or poor police work. Use of force by police always looks bad, no matter how justified it may be in the particular circumstances.

If the Federal Government needs to prosecute a case, then they should coordinate with the State or local authorities and then only the Federal case should proceed, not both. I understand some issues are Federal issues, but they did not take Rodney King across state lines, they did not smuggle him into the country, they did not operate as agents of a foreign government when they confronted him.
The officers who handled the arrest of Rodney King did not do a good job, but what they did was not criminal either.  The Taser they used had bad batteries, and so it failed.  The logistics system of LAPD failed because they did not buy new batteries to replace old ones.  The officers failed to deliver hard baton blows to the suspect, if you hit someone with the baton, generally you should hit them as hard as you can.  The main culprit in the incident was Rodney King himself.  If he was not speeding the Highway Patrol would not have tried to stop him.  If he had simply pulled over there would not have been a large number of police there a the scene.  If he had simply submitted to a lawful arrest like his two passengers did, then there would have been no baton blows; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

King of Video

This is an excellent example of why police should be under local control. When the State of California prosecuted the officers they were all found NOT GUILTY because they followed their procedures. When the Federal Government stepped in they were found guilty of a violation of his civil rights. I have always believed that it was double jeopardy to have two trails for the same incident, despite the two argument that both the state and national governments are sovereign and therefore each can try the officers separately. They almost never do that with regular criminals, and should not do that with local police.

The full video shows much that the TV version does not show. Many of the TV versions were edited to show baton strikes in quick succession that were actually spaced out over time. Some are even looped to show the same baton blows over and over. Most of the problem was that elected officials did not call for calm or for an investigation. The decided the police were wrong from the beginning and then made remarks based on that false premise.

The proper thing for the Chief of Police, Mayor and President to say is that they are concerned and there will be a full and open investigation and if any wrong doing is determined to have happened then those responsible will receive the appropriate corrective action. No one can know the facts after simply watching a video. Police work is complex and video only shows one point of view. The Rodney King video did not have usable sound, there was a police helicopter overhead and that's almost all you can hear other than the cameraman's reaction to what he is seeing.  Always assume everything you do in the field as an officer is being videotaped; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The City of San Jose, California has lost about 400 officers out of an original force of about 1400 over the last twelve years.  The city government claims that they cannot afford the pay and benefits paid to those officers.  The police union says the officers have offered a 10% pay cut but that was not enough for the city.  I think it was incumbent on the city to counter-offer with a number that could have avoided lay offs.

I have long warned that police unions and governments need to resolve their differences.  Government has become so expensive that many taxpayers are no longer interested in continuing to pay ever higher taxes for lower levels of service.  In California, most police make better than average wages and have excellent retirement and benefit packages compared to people in private industry.  Police should not be comparing their retirement to the next agency across the county, but rather, compare it to what most taxpayers get, Social Security.  It makes high police retirements a difficult sell to the average tax payer.

If you became a police officer to protect and serve the public then you became a cop for the right reason.  Police officers, like everyone, deserve a decent salary, decent benefits and a reasonable retirement.  What is forgotten is that police work is a community service, not unlike a doctor, nurse, teacher or fireman.  Police should be doing the job because they want to serve their communities, not because they can get a 3% at 50 retirement; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I liken drones to police helicopters. I think they should be used like police helicopters are used. They should be used by law enforcement, not the military. They should be used for lawful law enforcement purposes only. They should not carry weapons. They should not be used to fly low over your house and look into your windows.

They should be allowed to fly over cities and patrol, just like police now do with helicopters. Every year two, three, four police officers crash their helicopter and are killed due to poor weather, mechanical problems or bad weather. I think they could be used in a safe and reasonable manner, but they should not be used by the military.

Along the border the could be used by the Border Patrol and for a reasonable distance inside the country to watch for and interdict illegal aliens, drug smugglers, terrorists and others who are crossing the border for criminal purposes. Certainly when they are following individuals around for longer than a few minutes they need to go before a judge to certify that such individual attention is warranted. Unlike a helicopter a drone could follow someone for days, even weeks. Helicopters are typically limited to no more than a few hours in service. This is one more reason why I support law enforcement as a local function and not a function of the Federal Government. It is also why I generally oppose the Federal government giving money directly to local agencies, with Federal money comes Federal control, and that can be dangerous to liberty; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rodney King, The King is Dead

Career criminal Rodney King died in a swimming pool at his girlfriends home, he was 47 years old.  Twenty years ago while speeding on the freeway the California Highway Patrol attempted to stop him, but rather than simply pull over he chose to flee.  He endangered the public and officers by racing onto city streets, and running red lights.  The pursuit was eventually joined by Los Angeles Police officers.
When Mr. King finally stopped his two male, Black companions submitted to arrest and were handcuffed, searched, and placed in the back of patrol cars without incident.  The vehicle driver, Mr. King ignored verbal commands to lay face down on the ground with his hands out to his side.  At one point the female Highway Patrol officer considered shooting King.  As the officers approached him he rose up and threw two officers off his back and punched one in the chest.
Despited numerous baton strikes and two attempts to subdue him with a Taser King continued to resist.  At one point he even pulled the Taser darts out of his body.  They officers eventually were able to beat him to the point where they could take the ex-con into custody.  A local resident video taped most of the incident and highly edited versions where shown on television almost daily for months.  Several of the officers were suspended and fired, and several were prosecuted and found not guilty at a California state trial.  Rioting ensued that killed over fifty people and cost over a billion dollars.  The Federal government tried the officers again and found them guilty.  In my opinion, this incident was handled badly by nearly everyone involved up to the President of the United States, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Shooting Aftermath

After a shooting there is much to do.  Call for help, lots of help.  You need supervisors, officers and paramedics.  The paramedics need to check the person who was shot and should check you too.  Officers sometimes get hit and don't realize it.  They sometimes have a heart attack or other condition flare up as a result of the stress of the shootout.

Make sure responding officers watch the suspect, even if he is obviously dead.  Contain the crime scene to keep other suspects out, and minimize officers wandering the crime scene just to visit.  Location security to keep fellow gangsters, family members and other criminals from picking up the suspects' gun, or attacking officers.  Have officers clear a path for the responding paramedics and if someone is to be transported, keep a pathway open for them to rush officers or civilian victims to the hospital.

Responding officers may need to look in the area for additional suspects.  They may need to set up a perimeter to contain other suspects.  One officer needs to take command of the scene.  One needs to be his scribe who can write down everything of importance that transpires, this record will be important later.  The officer who did the shooting needs to be checked by paramedics, asked about any continuing danger and may need to speak to a union representative or lawyer; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


A Los Angeles County Sheriff deputy and his trainee stopped to check on a car in a red no parking zone.  They noticed a woman driver and a male passenger in the car.  The male passenger seemed evasive so the deputies elected to make contact with both of them.  The male passenger pulled a gun and shot the trainee, once, in the face.  The training officer struggled with the suspect and eventually shot and killed the suspect.

The deputy who was hit was still standing but had an extremely serious wound.  The training officer called for help, and paramedics but received no response.  He realized his radio was on the wrong channel but was too excited to be able to adjust the radio back to the right station. He used the car radio to call for help again.  Fine motor skills often disappear when officers are in highly stressful situations.

The other deputies arrived soon but the paramedics were delayed because the closest unit was on another call.  When they finally arrived they had to fight traffic.  In a major medical situation, use units to block intersections, so the paramedics can arrive quickly.  Particularly near the scene too many police cars will often create traffic jams as responding officers just park anywhere and block streets; there is a lot to do after the shots are fired.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gun Video

In this video, a man is walking down the street.  He is stopped by the police.  The man takes a gun out of his clothing and places it on the top of a tire, under the wheel well.  The suspect is there with the gun for some time before he is finally taken into custody.

When dealing with suspects, you pick the time and the place for the contact.  If the suspects puts his hands on a car trunk them move him.  Don't let him select the place for the contact.  The officer needs to keep the initiate, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Planting Evidence

Speaking for California, quotas are illegal and I have never heard of them being used here formally or informally. There are plenty of crooks out there, if you want to catch crooks, it's not too hard.  Recently, in New York some cops have been accused of planting evidence.

If cops are planting evidence it's usually one of two reasons. Either they are trying to look good by making what appear to be a large number of very high profile arrests because they are ambitious and want to appear like someone to promote. Or they are trying to convict real criminals who have been too smart or too lucky and have been able to evade arrest or avoid convictions. Some LAPD cops were caught doing that about 20 years ago. About 70 officers out of a department of 7.000 sworn were implicated in the scandal.

 Both of those instances are reprehensible, immoral, illegal, unethical and are not tolerated by the vast majority of police in my over 25 years of police experience.  Officers who are involved in planting evidence need to go to prison.  Offiers who know of such instances need to notify their supervisors or internal affairs officers immediately; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Police need to take more advantage of technology. FLIR is a terrific example of that type to technology that can make police work safer and more effective.  The military uses night vision devices regularly when on patrol, why don't the police?
When checking a back yard or business after a burglar alarm a night vision device can be a tremendous advantage for the officer.  I think officers should do such checks in pairs, one with night vision and the other using regular vision.  Night vision has limitations but there are things you can see that are impossible with regular vision or even with flashlights.
Because FLIR uses heat you can actually see where people have been recently.  So a suspect standing next to a building for a few minutes will leave a heat signature next to the structure that a FLIR can pick up.  I think we need such devices so we can capture more criminals in the act of doing their crimes; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Police Unions

Unions can be a good thing.  Unions can be a bad thing.  Your police union needs to be a force for providing officers with the protections they need, the ability to make a decent living and for helping to keep the public safe.  When you became a cop you were glad it paid a decent rate of pay, but good cops become police not for the pay, but for the job itself.

You wanted to help people, to prevent crime, to make the community safer.  Part of that safety is not bankrupting the city.  Police deserve a decent rate of pay.  They deserve a decent retirement.  So does every other hard working American.  Don't allow your union to negotiate your job away.  Too many unions in hard times are refusing to negotiate in good faith and as a result officers are losing their jobs.  When agencies are faced with cuts the only real place to cut is payroll.  That means smaller retirement, lower pay or fewer officers.

There needs to be enough officers on the street to keep the city safe.  Officers who are unwilling to make a small financial sacrifice in difficult times are not keeping faith with the public. In California we have had horrible unemployment, even worse than the national average.  Taxes are already too high to raise anymore.  Police unions need to realize that police may need to forgo a raise, lower their retirement expectations or otherwise take less money; that's what the SGT Says.

Bath Salts
Back in the day LSD was legal.  People were taking it and hallucinating and there was little police could do but round them up, take them in as a danger to themselves and let them go when the sobered up.  Back in the day, PCP was new and people were getting high, going wild, running naked down the street, screaming.  Officers would show up and the people would be so numbed that when the officers hit them with their batons, the subjects would not feel it.

Officers would break the suspects arm and the suspect would continue to use that arm to hit the officer.  Often officers would get injured and frequently it would take many officers to subdue one suspect.  PCP was a terrible scourge of American cities and I am glad it is generally far less than it once was.

Now we have a new and even more terrible problem.  So called bath salts.  They are sold in convenience stores and are not expensive.  Marketed as if they are simply a bath salt, in reality they are smoked, injected, snorted and cause wild hallucinations and other effects.  This is a dangerous new trend in drug use, use caution when approaching subjects who appear to be on drugs, don't approach them alone if possible.  Keep your Taser handy.  Treat them like a felony suspect, prone them out, get them handcuffed right away.  Watch your gun side.  These people are dangerous; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Private Cell Phone?

There is new case law in the Western US that says that if an officer uses his personal cell phone at work that the defense attorney may be able to discover his cell phone records.  Even if the department does not pay for the cell phone.  Even if the officer is using is personal cell phone primarily for personal reasons.

Do you use your cell phone at work?  Do you use it to call dispatch and get an update on an in progress call or to ask for additional information?  How many times have you used the cell phone to call another officer to have them meet you without having to use the police radio? 

Who else do you call on your cell phone?  Do you call your girlfriend?  Does your wife know?  Do you want your personal cell phone records to be revealed in open court?  I have two options for you.  First get a cell phone and use it only for work.  Don't call home, your friends, your buddies, just make official police business calls on it.  Or have your union negotiate a cell phone as part of your police gear and have the agency issue you a cell phone like they issue you a police hand held radio.  Again only use it for official business, not for any personal calls.  That will keep your private business private; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Guns and Toys

Years ago a criminal with a toy gun that looked like a real gun held some TV news people hostage.  As a result California passed a law that required toys to have an orange tip so they would be immediately recognized as toys.  This was a useless, stupid and dangerous law.

Children sometimes like a realistic gun, so they bring out the spray paint and they paint their gun black.  It takes about three minutes to accomplish.  Now they have a gun that looks like a real gun.  Since, by law, only real guns can look like real guns, then logically we can shot children with real looking guns.

Criminals sometimes like to disguise their real gun so it does not look like a real gun.  All the criminal has to do is bring out the spray paint and paint an orange tip on their gun.  Now we can't shoot at the criminal because only toy guns have orange tips.  When confronted with a subject with a gun, give them verbal commands to drop the gun.  Move to cover.  Draw your weapon and point it at the suspect.  Fire if you reasonably believe they are a deadly threat to you.  The color of the weapon pointed at you is only one indicator that a weapon is real and a very poor one at that, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bad Law

New York City has a ban on large soft drinks.  They have made it illegal to sell large size sodas.  What do you do if you are sent to enforce this type of law?  Too many elected officials have been making laws in recent years that are of limited value to society and they don't seem to think that it is law enforcement that is stuck with these laws.
The city I work for passed a law that prohibited leaf blowers that were gasoline powered because they pollute and are noisy.  It was actually illegal and a gardener blowing some leaves off a newly mowed law could actually go to jail.  The department developed a program to educate and warn the gardeners.
Since most of them did not live in town and most were non-English speaking Hispanics we developed a flier that explained the law in English and Spanish.  On every leaf blower call, yes we got a lot of them, we gave the gardeners a flier so they would understand the law.  We did this for several months before we began actual enforcement.  Once we began enforcement we warned people first, kept a list of those we warned and only cited those who had been previously warned.  That at least gave people plenty of time to comply without having to be overbearing; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Child on Car Roof

Summer is approaching and it's getting hot out there.  Parents who are impaired or who are otherwise distracted may leave their kids on the roof of a car and drive away or inside the car and walk away.  Several kids die in hot cars every year. 
Drive into parking lots and look for child carriers inside the cars, see if there is a kid in the carrier.  A child inside a hot car can die in only minutes from the heat.  When you speak to security guards who patrol parking lots, mention to them it's a good idea to check parked cars for kids.
A kid locked in a hot car can die very fast.  Check out the condition of the child and turn on your overhead lights and siren to try and bring the parent.  You need to get the door open very fast, if you can't find the parents, check the doors to see if they are unlocked.  The fire department may be able to unlock the door, but if needed, break a window with your baton.  The side window farthest away from the child is the best window; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action

Once you walk out of the locker room, just assume that you are on camera.  Every arrest, every use of force, every time you are in the field you can reasonably assume you are being filmed by someone.  Every ATM machine has a camera.  Every cellular phone has a camera, and nearly everyone carries a cell phone.  Every convenience store has cameras.  Every fast food store has cameras.

A camera will provide a record of what the camera will be able to see.  The camera can't see what you saw.  The camera can't see from every angle.  The camera will record dispassionately the actions that happen before it's lens.  The camera will not lie for you.  The camera may show things you did not see.  The camera will allow others to view the images over and over again and again. 

The camera can give the illusion that you may have been able to make a better decision because the camera image may be better that your image of the event.  The camera may remember better than you will.  The important thing is to avoid doing anything that you don't want recorded, because nearly everything you do in the field is being recorded; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Hospitals have a surprising amount of crime.  In this instance a woman was shot and her child was kidnapped.  Child kidnappings from hospitals are not uncommon.  Hospitals take extreme precautions to prevent babies from being taken from the pediatric wards. Extra patrolling hospitals is not a bad idea.
Hospitals have lots of dangerous drugs inside.  Drug addicts often try to steal from hospitals.  Sometimes the employees steal from the hospital too.  Hospital emergency rooms sometimes get drug addicts in them trying to scam the doctors into prescribing drugs.  Hospital emergency rooms sometimes have violent, dangerous criminals, gangsters who act out in the hospital.
Hospitals have big parking lots full of cars.  Those parking lots are in use 24/7 and are often frequented by nurses and other female staff can are at risk for rape, kidnapping, and even simple robbery.  Extra patrol of the parking lot, emergency rooms and even maternity wards is a good crime prevention routine; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Read the First Sentence Aloud

Read this sentence aloud; it will take you about three seconds to read this sentence, which is not very much time.  Three seconds is how long the average police shootout takes from the first shot to the last shot.  How long does it take to recognize a handgun in the had of a suspect?  How long does it take to realize the suspect is a deadly threat?

Once you realize that there is a deadly threat, how long does it take to move your hand to your gun?  How long does it take to draw and present your handgun?  How long does it take to review the law, Supreme Court Decisions, agency policy, and your moral code?  How long does it take before you are SURE you need to shoot?

How long does it take to weigh other options?  Could I wrestle the gun from his hands?  Could I knock the gun out of his hand with my baton?  Could I zap him with my Taser?  Could I kick the gun out of his hand with my masterful kung fu feet?  Your agency will take days to review your actions.  The District Attorney will look at it for weeks.  The FBI may spend months reviewing your case, the courts could mull it over for years.  The main stream media will glance at it and report right away.  You have to make the decision and you have to live with the consequences; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Naked Attacker

A man is on top of another man and is chewing on the face of the victim.  The victim has had most of his face chewed off.  The responding officer gave verbal commands and the suspect did not stop.  The officer shot the suspect one time and when the suspect still did not stop the officer shot him several more times.  This is a terrible incident, but the officers seemed to handle it well.  Just because the suspect is naked does not mean he is not dangerous.
There are those would might say the suspect should have been wrestled away from the victim.  The suspect could have been hit with batons, or pepper sprayed.  The victim had his face chewed off.  That means the victim would have been bleeding heavily and with major facial damage he could suffocate in his own blood, blocking his throat and nasal passages.  The officer had to subdue the suspect rapidly so that first aid could be given to the victim.  The officer did use verbal commands, but rather than instant compliance the suspect continued his assault. 
The officer fired his duty handgun one time into the suspect and still did not gain compliance.  He shot again, and again until the attacker stopped his assault and the victim could be rescued.  Based upon what we know from the initial news reports, I think the officer acted properly in a terrible situation; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


A man with a concealed weapons permit got into an argument with Costco employees about his carrying a gun on their property.  Eventually, one of the Costco employees called the police and the responding officers got the impression that there was a dangerous armed confrontation going on inside the store.  As the man exited the store, the police shot and killed him.
There are many things for us to learn from this incident.  When we carry off duty, we need to be aware that we are the good guys, but others don't necessarily know that.  Avoid any confrontation when off duty unless it is to stop a potentially life threatening event.  If a store asks you to leave because their policy is that they don't allow guns, then I would suggest that you not only leave, but that you never go back. You should send an email to them and explain why they will never get your business due to their anti-police business practices.
When responding to an incident with a potentially armed suspect, make sure you don't just rush in.  Set up a perimeter.  Take good cover.  Use your patrol rifle or your shotgun.  You want to have every advantage.  This incident was not an active shooter so there was no reason to rush inside.  Not everyone who carries a gun is a criminal.  Make sure dispatch has asked what the suspect has done, what crime has been committed?  Who has the suspect hurt or threatened?  Did the reporting party see a gun?  Was it in the suspects waistband, or in his hand?  Was he brandishing the gun, or pointing it at someone, or in a holster?  People can be good or bad, guns are just tools and are morally neutral; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Cut the Delay

A new prison has been built for people waiting to have hearings to see if they will be deported.  They have a soccer field, salad bars and unarmed guards.  Since these people have not been convicted of any crime the concept is that they should not be treated like criminals.  While that might be true, my concern is why do they need soccer fields?  How long will these detainees be in this facility?

It seems to me that they should be running the immigration courts 24/7 to process these detainees and either let them go or send them home.  Too much of the criminal justice system has forgotten the adage that justice delayed is justice denied.  I believe that people have a right to a good defense.  I know it can take a while to put a case together.

Once someone is in custody the wheels of justice need to move into high gear.  People who are arrested should be tried and found not guilty or guilty within a few weeks in most cases, or at most in a few months.  Trials should not drag on for months as both sides delay hoping for a miracle.  As law enforcement officers we need to be working closer with both the district attorney and the legislatures to get the system moving.  In California we have over 700 people on death row waiting for appeals, we have death row inmates dying of old age every year at a faster rate than they are being executed.  That's not justice for their victims and not how they system should work; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 1, 2012


After a stressful event officers may forget details of the event.  Sometimes they may remember the details later after they calm down and have time to think about the incident.  As a result, a report submitted immediately after an incident may not be as accurate as a report made a day later. 

Major events require at least some level of immediate reporting.  A vehicle pursuit, a fight, a shooting are all important, critical incidents that may lead to liability on the part of the agency or officer, public concern, prosecution of the officer, suspect or others.  I have often been in favor of getting an initial verbal report at the scene to insure there are no outstanding suspects, victims or other issues that need immediate attention and then waiting for the officer to return to the police station before requesting more information.

Once at the station I like to have the officer relax and organize their thoughts before they write their reports.  I want the best, most complete, most accurate information possible and if it takes a while to get that, in my opinion, then it is worth the effort.  Sometimes I have had the officer write out an outline for the incident, and wait a day before converting that outline into a report.  It allows them more time to think about the incident, compose their thoughts, and insure accuracy.  I also have asked officers to review the Penal Code, and agency policy so they can be certain to cover those points in their report.  The vast majority of officers do the right thing, nearly every time.  Many of them, however, don't always write good reports off the top of their heads; that's what the SGT Says.