Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Indiana K-9 gunned down while trying to protect injured handler

Police confronted a man with a gun, and the man shot a dog handler in both legs.  The man later killed himself.  Other officers tried to help the injured handler but the police K-9 bit one of the officers.  Another officer shot the police dog to death so they could render aid to the handler.

A terrible tragic ending to a K-9 police career.  I cannot blame the dog for defending his master, or can I blame the officer who felt forced to shoot the dog.  Still, are there other ways to handle this situation?  Perhaps, as there are several methods for defeating a dog attack.  On the other hand. a police K-9 is often very determined and is more difficult to subdue than your regular pet dog.

Sometimes the handler will carry a bite sleeve in the K-9 unit, that might be used to distract the dog long enough to render aid to the handler.  A CO2 fire extinguisher will produce a huge cloud and it will be very cold, few dogs and deal with that, most fire trucks will have one on board.  Pepper spray works well on dogs, but probably won't work on a police dog.  Officers who work regularly with a dog handler should discuss how to subdue the K-9 in the event of an emergency; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Perhaps someone should write a little song for all police officers to learn to sing in the police academy.  Something to remind them that every thing they do is being recorded on video.  Two officers escort a group of rich people with expensive high speed cars who wanted to road race.
Road racing is illegal for a reason.  It's illegal because it's very dangerous.  Just because some guy can afford a 200 mph sports car does not mean he knows how to drive it.  Imagine the liability for the agency if one of these cars went out of control at a corner and hit a van full of kids and killed five or six people!
The supervisor ordered a subordinate to assist him in the road race.  Illegal orders do not need to be obeyed, and this was certainly a very bad idea.  Now passers by have provided their agency with video of the officers escorting the road race.  Two careers down the drain for a few minutes of excitement and a few dollars; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


When officers deploy to the scene of a riot they need to remember the techniques they use for other responses.  In the video the police cars drive right through the rioters.  If it was a active shooter response, officers would not drive through the kill zone to respond to the scene.  Set up a command post away from the scene of the riot.  A large parking structure is a good place, limited access, and lots of space.  Have responding officers go to that secure command center.
Officers should wear the proper uniform.  I saw officers in blue jeans, shorts, with and without helmets and other non-standard uniforms.  Officers should wear a riot uniform or at least a normal police uniform that is immediately recognizable as law enforcement.  Officers should have a briefing and they rules of engagement should be made clear.  Who goes to jail, where they are to be taken, how will reports be written, who provides security for the command center, and the holding area for suspects.  A curfew should be established and those outside their homes in the riot zone after the curfew should be subject to arrest.
Officers should not simply wander in a gaggle in the view of the rioters.  Officers should be deployed to specific locations for specific purposes.  They should march to those locations.  It shows much more determination when officers appear disciplined and coordinated.  Skirmish lines of officers should sweep down streets either pushing everyone away from them or arresting them.  The skirmish lines should be followed by arrest teams, and vehicles to take the arrestees or provide back up, equipment, medical aid and water to those on the line.  Much of riot control is like theater, intimidate the rioters by showing that you are trained, disciplines and planning on taking control and you are less likely to have to hurt anyone; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Police in Anaheim, California have shot and killed several young Hispanics in the last year.  The most recent shooting has lead to rioting that has gone on for several days.  This is not about the shootings, those investigations are on-going.  I have been disappointed by the police response to the rioting.
In my lifetime there have been major civil unrest incidents in Southern California every decade of my life, and often more frequently.  Minor rioting is becoming almost common place in some areas.  Anaheim police have called for mutual aid from both within Orange County, Los Angeles County and even the state Highway Patrol.
Agencies should train for civil unrest at least once per year.  Reserve officers should practice response to civil unrest at least several times a year since they are likely to be called out in times of rioting.  Officers need the proper equipment, and should also train with neighboring agencies so their responses can be coordinated.  Everyone wants to practice active shooter training, which is important, but we need to train for things that happen often; that's the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Traffic Collision

If you are on the way to a disaster and you crash your patrol car, you can't save anyone.  In this instance a citizen had a dash camera and it shows an apparent traffic collision in the distance. The incident is on the other side of a divided highway and rather far away.  The citizen stays in the center lane and does not appear to slow down until a big chunk of debris flies through the car window.
Each year about the same number of officers are injured by criminals and in traffic collisions.  Often, single vehicle collisions.   If this vehicle with the dash camera had been a police car, what would you have done?  Turn on your emergency lights, move at least one lane to the right and slow down.  You can't be sure what's ahead and so slowing will give you more reaction time.  Slowing down will also slow the traffic behind you, in case they have to stop.
Notify dispatch of the incident and be prepared to put out a fire, or render first aid.  Making an assessment of the situation is one of the best things you can do before you become too involved.  You may need more officers, paramedics, fire department, tow trucks; but slowing down and arriving five or ten seconds later will not likely make a difference, except that you took the time to be careful and call for the proper assistance; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 26, 2012



While the world looks at the death of twelve people in a movie shootout, traffic deaths are up over a thousand for the year.  A thousand deaths, mostly one here, one there, sometimes two or three at a time.  They go barely noticed and hardly reported.

So far this year the United States has had over 7,630 people killed in vehicle collisions.  Many of these are as the result of alcohol or drug abuse.  Some are the result of poor road maintenance, and bad roadway design.  Others are caused by poor vehicle maintenance.  Many are the result of unlicensed drivers, often illegal aliens who drive poorly and are unable to control their vehicles.

As police officers in the last ten years we have been gearing up for that next big terrorist attack.  We bought patrol rifles, and new radios and armored cars.  Meanwhile, we slacked off on traffic enforcement.  We eliminated motor officers because they were expensive and got injured occasionally.  We need to remember out basic police work, the traffic stop.  We need to enforce traffic laws, get people to slow down, don't drink and drive, and stop for red lights and stop signs; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


One of my best young officers forwarded this to me recently.  It is a hidden belt buckle knife.

Simply unbuckle the belt, unsnap the buckle.

The extract the buckle and you have a knife.  This hidden weapon has been around for years, but it is just as dangerous as it has always been.  A poor search will fail to detect this weapon.   A suspect who has been brought back to the station and unhandcuffed for booking may be able to access this weapon, either to attack an office or another inmate.  I am in favor of taking suspects belts when they go through the booking process and booking it with their personal effects; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eye Protection

I read an interesting article by Lucky Gunner Labs.  They took a number of different types of eye protection and tested them at the range.  Rather than rely on what the rating is for the eye protection, they went to the range and fired tiny shot and even .22 caliber bullets at them.  The eye protection was mounted on Styrofoam heads, like would be used for holding wigs. 
Eye protection is a must on the range.  I have been hit in the temple by a ricochet, and have been hit in the face by all kinds of bits of stuff.  I have also had guns and ammo blow up when fired and throw stuff.  I have had revolvers that were shaving bits every time the pistol was fired because the cylinder was out of time and did not align with the barrel.
I have even taken to wearing eye protection most of the time in the field.  I think that is one major over site for police is we don't wear eye protection in the field.  I have had people throw stuff at my face, I have had brush whack me in the face as I was searching at night or even chasing someone.  Imagine what can happen to your eyes in a traffic collision.  Eye protection is very important; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Large Suspect


A 340 pound shoplifter pepper sprayed the store employees trying to stop her from leaving the store with beer and food.  The police responded and took her into custody.  The suspect spit on the employees and struggled against them to try and escape.

Never underestimate a suspect.  Even a female suspect can kill you.  Even a 340 pound suspect can kill you.  Even a young suspect can kill you.  Even an old person can kill you.  Officers have been murdered by fat people, thin people, little kids, old people.  There are about 60 officers feloniously killed in the line of duty every year.  Don't underestimate any suspect.

Control the hands of the suspect.  Handcuff the suspect as soon as they are under arrest so when you can search them their hands are restrained.  Always handcuff suspects hands behind their back, use two sets of handcuffs linked together on a large or inflexible person, if necessary.  Watch your gun, so the suspect does not take it from your holster, even a handcuffed person can take items, gun, knives, off your duty belt.  Career criminals come in all sizes, and all demographics, be careful of all suspects; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Private Prisons

Some states are using private prisons to hold prisoners. I have no problem with the concept at all. Companies want the states to maintain a 90% occupancy rate because there will be a mix of public and private prisons and the private companies don't want the government unions to insure the states will leave the private prisons empty and fill public prisons first so that they don't lose government jobs. The private prisons don't make money without prisoners in them because they are paid per prisoner.
Violent crime has been on the decline because incarceration is up. Three strikes laws have locked up repeat offenders so career criminals are not out doing more crimes. Drug offenders have to do a crime nearly every day to pay for their expensive drug habits. One criminal can do hundreds of offenses per year.
California has almost a thousand prisoners on death row alone and we are letting prisoners go because the prisons are full, and then they go out and do more crime. I have seen private run jails and public run jails and the private run jails were just fine. Would this read any different if it were private run hospitals? Because then you are put into the creepy position that more people would get sick. Privately run prisons make sense, particularly for low level inmates of limited danger. Drunk drivers are only dangerous when they are driving. Low level drug dealers are not very dangerous but belong in jail. Private prisons can save money and should be a part of the corrections mix; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Fatal firearms accidents in the United States is at an all time low down to less than 600 per year.  Firearms accidents are a smaller percentage of fatal accidents than falls, fires, poisoning, drowning, bicycles and tricycles; among others. 

The all time recorded high death rate for accidental death by firearms was in 1904, and the largest number of deaths by firearms occurred in 1934.  This continued decline in accidental firearms deaths therefore cannot be attributed to the various gun safety laws imposed in many states, like California, in the last few years.

The population is vastly larger, and the number of guns sold every year is over four million.  There are enough guns in the US to give one to every adult in the country.  There are more people carrying guns with concealed permits in more states than ever before.  The fact that accidental gun injury and death is declining is due to careful gun handling and training.  Teach your children the difference between real guns and toy guns.  Teach your children never to touch a gun that they find, but rather to leave it in place, and go find an adult and tell them about the gun, immediately. Record your firearms information so if they are stolen you can report the theft.  Keep guns stored safely so it is difficult for burglars to take them when you are not home.  Firearms safety is an important aspect of police work; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Armed Citizen

Two armed robbers enter a business and begin threatening the customers.  A seventy-one year old man gets up, sees the robbers and draws his gun.  The man is carrying a .380 pistol.  He immediately begins shooting at the first suspect as he attempts to close the range between himself and them.
The suspects flee in terror and literally fall over each other as the exit the front door. The man continues to fire because the suspects never surrender, and never drop their weapons.  Continuing to fire until the threat is stopped is a basic principle of firearms engagement.
The shop is pretty croweded, but only the suspects are hit.  By moving closer to the suspects the man lessens the chance of hitting an innocent person and increases the chance of hitting a suspect.  The man appears to be using his sights, but does not acheive any fatal wounds.  That could be due, in part, to his ammunition or the small caliber of the pistol.  Had this man not taken action, the suspects could have murdered, raped, robbed any number of people in the business before the police could arrive.  This is an excellent example of an armed citizen responding to a dangerous situation; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

ATV Accident


An officer patrolling our southern border was killed in an ATV accident.  As officers we often have to operate different kinds of vehicles.  As supervisors it is our obligation to insure our officers are properly trained in the operation of those vehicles.  Driving is a perishable skill. Officers should have their driving skills refreshed periodically.

Officers should be sent to a driver training course every few years.  At the very least they can have a short review of the rules of the road, and safe operation of a patrol car.  Alternate vehicle types require special training and often special equipment.  The Segway, T-3 Motion and ATVs all require a helmet because they are not enclosed vehicles.

All vehicles should be in safe, legal operating condition if they are going to be used.  Officers should perform a pre-patrol vehicle inspection before they go on duty.  Vehicles that are illegal or unsafe should not be operated.  Proper vehicle maintenance is mandatory, peoples' lives depend on it; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Officer Killed in Pursuit


An officer was killed when a suspect vehicle in a pursuit struck his patrol car and killed him.  Vehicle pursuits are very dangerous, to the suspect, the public, and the officers.  When engaged in a pursuit, try and get a helicopter to follow the suspect vehicle.  It can follow and allow you to hang back and drive a little slower. 

When engaged in a pursuit, be sure to call off the suspect vehicle location, direction of travel and speed as frequently as possible.  That way other officers will have a better idea where the suspect is located.  Sometimes the second vehicle in the pursuit can use the radio to call off the pursuit so that the first vehicle can concentrate better on driving.

Every time you are operating a motor vehicle, wear your seat belt.  Every time you are in uniform, wear your armor.  Those two things will minimize your chance to get killed or injured.  When driving at high speed look farther ahead, remember it takes a longer time to stop your car.  Watch cross traffic, they often can't see you or hear your emergency equipment.  It's okay to break off the pursuit if it becomes too dangerous, few criminals are that dangerous that we have to risk innocent people's lives to catch them; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DUI Cop Killer

A motor officer was killed by a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way on the street.  Drunk drivers kill people.  They kill lots of people.  It is imperative that we get drunk drivers off the street.  Every drunk driver you arrest is potentially saving a life.  Drunk drivers are involved in as many deaths as murderers every year.
In this instance it was a police officer killed by a drunk driver.  Often it is a woman driving home from work, a couple kids in the crosswalk with their grandmother or just a guy sitting waiting for a light to change.  The randomness of drunk driving death is part of the nature of the tragedy.
Watch for drivers who are weaving when they drive, or have trouble turning their car around a corner.  Watch for drivers who don't maintain a constant speed, but rather speed up or slow down, or who stop far back from the limit line.  Sometimes a drunk driver will sit through a red light, or stop in the middle of the street.  Their impaired judgement, impaired depth perception and slowed reaction time make them dangerous and unsafe drivers, that's why they kill people.  Look for the signs, do the traffic stop, get them off the road; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 16, 2012

MTA Attack

Anything you do can get you killed, even doing nothing.  A transit police officer was standing around talking to a taxi dispatcher when a man walked up to him and started stabbing him, in the face!  The officer identified himself as a police officer, told the suspect to drop the knife and since the suspect continued the attack the officer fired until the suspect was no longer a threat.
The officer did a fantastic job!  He did exactly what you should do.  Give verbal commands and respond to the threat with a level of force that is appropriated.  A suspect who has stabbed you in the face is trying to kill you.   A stab wound to the face will bleed badly and may impair your vision.  The officer had very little time to react once he was struck.
Anytime you are in uniform you are a target.  Of gangsters, of crazy people, of criminals doing crimes, of terrorists and you need to be prepared.  Anyone can be caught unawares, it only takes a moment of inattention or to have your attention directed elsewhere.  Congratulations to this officer for his will to survive and my prayers go out to him and his agency.  Good job, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Make Them Pay!

Yesterday, I posted a video of a police officer who in my opinion was behaving poorly.  In my opinion, based on what little I know of the case, he should probably be fired, and his employer should probably apologize and pay a small sum to the individual arrested to compensate him for lost wages, legal fees and embarrassment.  I think an amount equal to one or two years pay should probably be more than generous.

It is good to place this even in context however.  No one was actually physically harmed.  The agency took action against the officer.  There was some evidence that the accused did violate the law, that was to be determined by the courts.

It does not seem reasonable for the person arrested to be awarded millions of dollars.  He was not physically harmed or physically impaired.  The incident did not continue for years.  The officer was acting within the scope of his employment, however poor his job performance was during this incident.  I do not think it is necessary to involve a Federal investigation for civil rights violations.  I think too often these events get blown far out of proportion to what they were.  The officer performed his job poorly.  No one was hurt.  The officer should be fired and never work as a police officer again.  The arrested person should receive some moderate amount of money, remember, money that will be paid for by the taxpayers.  That should be enough; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 14, 2012



Two officers make a traffic stop.  They discover the driver of the vehicle has a handgun.  They arrest the driver but find out the driver has a concealed weapons permit.  Under their state law people with a concealed carry permit must mention it right  away to law enforcement when contacted.  So they arrest him for failing to notify them.  The suspect says he attempted to notify them, but each time he did, the officers interrupted him.

The whole stop was captured on dashboard camera and audio recording.  The officer who approached the vehicle and made initial contact swore at the suspect and threatened to shoot him.  The officer was very upset that he could have shot an innocent man.  I understand that he might have been upset.  I can understand giving the citizen a lecture on proper concealed carry etiquette.  The suspect was wrong, the officers even more so in this instance.

I don't understand arresting the suspect for a very minor offense, then swearing and threatening him.  I don't understand swearing at and threatening a suspect who is already arrested and in the patrol car.  I also don't understand lying and saying the dash camera was turned off at the time of the stop.  The second officer failed his partner by not restraining him from making a fool of himself at least and getting fired and prosecuted at worst.  Keep in mind that chances are your actions are being filmed and your voice is being recorded; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shooting Incident

An off duty officer texted his ex-wife and said he was going to kill himself.  Police responded to the threat and were met with gunfire.  The local agency put out a call for mutual aid and dozens of officers from other agencies responded.  They used an automated alert system to notify the residents of the area.  They evacuated people to a safe area and found them food and lodging as needed.
The local agency brought in a SWAT team and armored vehicles.  They kept visitors out of the area with an excellent inner and outer perimeter.  They brought in a negotiator, but when the suspect fired at them the officers returned fire.  The officers even brought in police from the suspects agency to try and talk to him.
This incident was handled very well.  There were no significant injuries and the suspect surrendered.  The citizens were kept safe.  The media was kept up to date, but were not given too much information.  Responding agencies kept off the radio because they thought the suspect might be listening in on their conversations.  Congratulations to Doylsetown PD for handling this incident well; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Verbal Judo

It's good stuff. As a cop working 30 years on the beat, you have to win every fight, every encounter. In a bad neighborhood, that could be a lot. If you can convince people to not fight, then you win every time.

I play the fat, stupid, old cop. Mostly because I am overweight and over 55. Most criminals think I am non-threatening in that mode. What they don't know is I am highly experienced, well trained, and thinking constantly. I win if they go to jail or get their ticket without me or any of my officers getting hurt. I lose if me or any of my officers get hurt, but they will still go to jail.

I watch their hands, I handcuff them at the earliest opportunity, I call for back up and often just stall until it gets there before I do much. I get their ID right away so they are not inclined to run away. I control the contact, but I say Sir, Thank You, and so on. Good people appreciate it, bad people then underestimate you and don't think they need to attack or run away.

It's much easier to ramp up than to cut down the tension and command presence. I always pretend as if everything I say or do is being recorded. As I explain the traffic stop, speak politely, and ask rather than command, it really makes the bad guy look bad if he attacks me. I still maintain my distance, keep my weapons handy and determine where the contact will take place, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bat Man

When something odd happens, people don't know who to call, so they call the police.  Sometimes we have to respond to bat calls.  That is to say, people find a bat in their house. What to do?  There are several problems with bats.  The major one is that they carry rabies.

If you find a bat indoors, it should be captured by animal control and tested for rabies.  Sometimes animal control is not readily available.  That means you may have to capture it. The good thing is that bats are generally small and not too hard to capture. First, put on protective clothing.  At least a hat, and long sleeves and gloves.  Leather gloves are best.  You don't want the bat to bite or scratch you.

Capture the bat inside a container, such as a plastic box or jar.  Most bats are very small and can be captured in rather small containers.  The main thing is to not be in a hurry, take your time and think about the problem before you attempt the capture.  Once captured the bat should be turned over to animal control at the earliest time.  Anyone who came in contact with the bat, who was bitten or even scratched should be checked by their doctor.  Even the tiniest wound can be very severe; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The photo of this truck driver shows a man who has spent his adult life behind the wheel of a truck.  He has his left side exposed to the sun all day as he drives his truck.  Just as you in the police car have your left side exposed to the sun all day as you drive your police car.  The left side of his face is worn compared to the right side.
Police work has many obvious dangers.  It also has many hidden dangers.  While we wear body armor and our seat belt, how many of us wear sun screen?  Skin cancer and various other skin conditions are dangerous and can even be fatal.  I wear sunscreen, in the spf 50 range most of the time.  I also wear long sleeves and a hat.
Police work is outdoors most of the time.  The hidden dangers of sun exposure are so subtle that most of us don't even think about it.  Working outdoors for twenty or thirty years can really take a toll on your skin.  Taking proper care of yourself is important in your long term career, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Campus Security

Police at a university campus are handing out small devices that when a pin is pulled flash a light and sound an alarm. They are trying to get students and faculty to use these devices in the event of a robber or other attack or even suspicious circumstance. I have seen devices like this and unless the user is a small child or a very old person they are nearly useless in my opinion.

 There is a lot that can be done for crime prevention on a school campus, handing out devices to create a false sense of security is not one of those things. A 24/ hotline and escort service for anyone on campus to phone and receive an escort from an officer is a much better idea. It's labor intensive and costly, but it is also effective. A small shuttle bus or van to drive students to their parking lots can also be helpful.

Security guards, armed with at least a baton and aerosol weapon on constant foot, bike and T-3 Motion or Seguway patrol are also excellent ways to keep a campus safe, particularly if the guards are backed up by police officers with full police powers, training and firearms. Campus security is an important consideration and not one to trust with little toys; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Terror Attack

Islamic Terrorist Schoolhouse Killer Shot Dead During 32 Hour Police Standoff In France

An Islamic extremist murdered seven people in France over a period of a week.  The murders were seemly random people killed in public places.  Eventually they police found him at home and were in a stand off for over a day.  The police fired tear gas into the building and the suspect responded with a hail of gunfire.  The suspect was killed soon afterwards.

If this can happen in France, it can happen here.  French police are very good at what they do and they get a lot of anti-terrorism training.  If that suspect was in your town, could your agency deal with an armed standoff against a determined terrorist with automatic weapons?  Today, no agency can afford to be ill prepared for potential terrorism.  There are so many opportunities in a free nation for Islamic extremists to create terror.

Officers on patrol need to be able to respond immediately to an active shooter, or armed suspect holed up in a secure location.  Even a few minutes can mean death to many innocent people.  We can no longer wait for a SWAT team from a distant agency to come and rescue the situation.  Patrol rifles and small unit tactics are a must for every agency; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Ride in the Car

Bi-polar woman, 20, kills herself inside police car with the cop's own GUN on her way to the hospital | Mail Online

Police offer a ride to the hospital to a woman who is known to have psychological problems.  The officer allows her to sit in the front of the police car with him.  The supervisor approved the transportation, she was known to the police from prior contacts.  It was a hot day and she did not want to sit in the back of the police car, and she was not handcuffed because she was not in custody.

The woman grabbed the officers gun and used it to kill herself.  The officer was not injured.  He probably did not realize it until it had happened.  An officer who is driving is certainly distracted from protecting his firearm.  This officer did not do anything wrong, he did what many officers do everyday, he tried to help someone and it turned out badly.

Unless the person is on a ride-along I don't let people, particularly women sit in the front seat.  I don't want any complaints about harassment and if the person is in the back seat that minimizes that problem.  If the person wanted a ride, they should have been in the back seat.  If the person needed medical care and could not sit in the back in the heat, then call the paramedics for transportation.  Be careful about who is in your car; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Officer Down, Disturbing Video

An officer responds to a report of a traffic collision on a rural roadway.  He arrives and sees a car in the grass off the roadway to his left.  Off to his right is a truck that has jackknifed and the trailer is on it's side.  The truck is a large canister with wheels on a framework.  He notices a body in the middle of the road.

The officer calls it in to the dispatcher and EMS and fire are on the way.  He gets his first aid gear.  He runs through the smoke coming from the trailer and to the side of the victim.  He begins to cough and dies before EMS can arrive.  The tank contained anhydrous ammonia.  It is used for fertilizer and is very common.  Even I as a city boy recognized what it was, but I had no idea it was that dangerous.

This is one of those things that we as police have happen and there is not much we can do about it.  There was probably no safe way for the officer to rescue that down man in the street and no way the average officer would stand there and wait for EMS.  Officers need better training in dealing with first response to chemical and fire emergencies and we need the gear to permit us to work in those environments.  All we really need is a hood and gloves that will allow us with our regular uniform to run into the bad zone for three minutes to pull out someone who is down while EMS is on the way.  My heart goes out to that brave officer who did not hesitate to put himself in harms way to protect a civilian; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Officer Involved Shooting

An officer observes a vehicle go straight through an intersection in a turn only lane.  The officer makes a traffic stop and approaches the vehicle.  At the driver side window the officer engages the motorist in conversation about the nature of the stop.  The motorist pulls a gun, points it in the officers face and pulls the trigger.  It happens faster than I can write it.

The officer tries to knock the gun out of the line of fire, and the hammer falls on an empty cylinder.  The officer moves back towards the cover of the rear of the suspects vehicle as the suspect pulls the trigger and this time the weapon fires.  The officer draws and returns fire as the suspect drives away.

The officer calls for help and reports the shots fired.  The officer reports the suspect crashed into an utility pole down the street.  Use of deadly force incidents can happen very fast.  When the officer approached the vehicle he could have had his hand on his handgun.  He could have approached from the passenger side which might have given him the ability to see the gun.  He did a great job and I am glad he is alive; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sheriff Andy

Actor Andy Griffith played the Sheriff of the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina.  In that small town he was sheriff and he had one full time deputy and sometimes would swear in two or three part time deputies.  They  had so little crime in town that the sheriff did not regularly carry a gun.  His moral authority as sheriff was normally enough to allow him to prevent crime and arrest violators.  When major crimes threatened his community he was not adverse to arming himself, even with the patrol rifle.

There was a simpler time in America.  A time when police had moral authority and the vast majority of people obeyed the law.  In 1910 there were 237 murders in the United States, in 2010 there were over 500 murders in New York City alone.  Crime is down in the last few years, but it is still at historic highs.

Rather than television shows and movies supporting the police, law order, and conformity to social norms, the media portray police as corrupt, and glorify gangsters in music, video games and popular culture in general.  God bless you Andy Griffith for your portrayal of small town American values and of reminding us about how law enforcement should be; that's what the SGT Says.

Badge image courtesy of my friend Terry Byrd.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Traffic Court

When going to court on a traffic offense, take time to review the citation.  Read the citation front and rear so that you are familiar with the case.  Sometimes a traffic offense can take months even years before they get to court.  Notes on the back of a ticket should be professional.  They may be read by the court and so remarks should not be too casual or embarressing. 

If the driver exhibited a poor attitude towards the stop there are several ways to express that accurately.  The driver was unhappy, or verbally abusive, aggressive or rude.  Write a quotation if you can of what the driver said that made you think their attitude was poor.  Make notes on their appearance, clothing, hairstyle so that you will be more likely to remember them.

If you really don't remember them or the incident, then you should not try and fake your way through your testimony.  Simply tell the judge, "I do not remember this case and I make a motion to dismiss it."  Don't get emotionally involved in the case, if you don't remember, then it is not justice to pretend to testify to what you don't recall; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Traffic Court

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with Judge Copeland who spoke about how officers can improve their testimony as it relates to traffic offenses. He was a very wise judge and I think the information he gave was excellent. I will provide several posts on what he had to say about courtroom testimony in traffic court, along with a few tidbits of my own.

The most important thing is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It does not matter if the driver made you angry, or might get away in court with his offense going unpunished. Don't make up things so that you can get a conviction. As a professional, convictions are not a part of your job as such. Your job is to observe violations, write citations, make arrests, and testify in court. Your courtroom testimony must be accurate and given with complete integrity. Testimony that violates your integrity for a minor traffic violation can end your career and is certainly not worth a conviction for any offense, particularly a minor traffic violation.

Speak of the defendant as a motorist, rather than the violator. He is only a violator if he is guilty. It is the judges call to determine guilt or innocence. Also most traffic offenders are regular folks who perhaps drive badly or maybe got caught doing something atypical for them. They are seldom actually evil, and may even be generally pro-police. There is no sense in getting them angry over such a simple criminal offense. Maintain your professional demeanor in court. Don't get angry. Show respect to the judge, the bailiff and the accused. This is not the place for snappy comebacks or the time to tell off the judge. You will probably see them again, and you don't want to have a bad reputation in court; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lethal Weapon

Some police weapons are lethal.  A rifle, shotgun, or handgun are likely to cause great bodily injury or death if they are applied to a suspect.  Other weapons are unlikely to cause death or even great bodily injury in a police setting but could under some circumstances, even if properly applied.
Less lethal weapons, like pepper spray, Taser, baton and such are generally used on suspects who either don't have a weapon or if the officer is covered by another officer who has his firearm ready to shoot. A man can charge and stab or club an officer in less time than the officer can draw and fire the Taser or pepper spray. That's not a good trade off for the officer.  OC spray and baton blows often take some seconds before they are fully effective.

Even a suspect without a weapon can be very dangerous, sometimes they even take the officers gun away and then nearly always shoot the officer to death, if they do get it away from him. In the past officers were forced to either beat the suspect with their batons, or shoot them with guns. Now with pepper spray, the Taser, officers rarely have to shoot people they know to be unarmed.  These weapons are still not quite effective enough to always be used against suspects armed with clubs, knives or other potentially lethal weapons; that's what the SGT Says.