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