Thursday, February 28, 2013

Stolen Cars

According to the AAA the ten most stolen vehicles in California for 2011 were:

1994 Honda Accord
1998 Honda Civic
1991 Toytoa Camry
1994 Acura Integra
2004 Chevrolet full size pick up truck
2006 Ford full size pick up truck
1994 Nissan Sentra
2010 Totyoa Corolla
1988 Toyota 4x2 pick up truck

While auto theft is down a few percent, vehicle recovery is down also.  You would think that with vehicle locator systems, automated license plate readers and other technology we would be doing a better job of catching stolen cars.

Older cars are on the list for several reasons.  They are often easier to steal than newer cars, they don't have the same smart systems to prevent auto theft.  They are in demand for parts, they have been around enough to have parts wear or get damaged in collisions.  When sitting at a red light, or driving through a parking lot when you have a moment on a slow day, run a license plate or two.  You might get a winner, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2,000 Pound Bullet

Protect & Serve posted this video link as a comment on a recent blog entry.  I don't know the circumstance apart from what's here on the YouTube video.

It's night time and you see an image taken from a moving police car dash camera.  You see a police car pulled to the side of the road.  A man is in a field to one side of the police car.  He has a handgun and is shooting in the direction of the parked police vehicle.  The moving vehicle stops in front of the parked police car as the shooter runs towards the parked police car and then into the street.  The shooter is firing at a police officer in the open, across the street.

As the shooter gets to the middle of the street the moving police car accelerates and runs over the shooter, who falls to the ground just prior to the police car hitting him.  You can hear what sounds like the police car running over the shooter as the car bounces apparently as a result of running over the shooter.  The suspect was using deadly force against a police officer and the back up officer responded with deadly force, in my opinion this was a justified use of force on the part of the officer driving the car; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Car Shooting

When firing from inside a patrol car there are several factors to take into consideration.  The first issue is that you need to be able to draw your handgun.  Seat belts, narrow seats and other gear may make it hard to get your gun out of the holster.  Where you are going to shoot is an issue too.  Shooting through a windshield or window could shower your face with glass and limit your effectiveness.

Shooting from inside the car should be done two handed if possible for greater control over the weapon.  Certainly one handed is acceptable if necessary.  Sticking the gun out the window or keeping it inside while firing is dependant on the need to get on target in a reasonable shooting position.

Reloading is an important skill too. Depending on the seat belt, steering wheel, and ammo pouch position can interfere with the ability to reload your gun.  I suggest that an empty magazine should not be dropped on the drivers side floor of the car, it may interfere with the brake or accelerator if you have to drive away.  Certainly exiting the vehicle or even ramming the suspect with your car also need to be considered as possible alternatives or supplements to shooting; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 25, 2013

In The Car

While the man hunt for Dorner was going on, he ambushed two Riverside Police Department officers, killing one and injuring the other.  The officers were inside the patrol car, sitting at a red light when he started shooting at them.  They did not return fire.  I suspect, but don't know they were hit before they were even in danger.

This month when I conducted range training we did an exercise based in part on this incident.  My agency has an indoor underground range; about three lanes wide.  I placed a ordinary office chair with the right side next to the wall.  I placed a target frame to the left of the chair.  I cut a rectangular hole in the cardboard in the target frame.  The shooter had to sit in the chair facing downrange.  Draw their weapon from the seated position, and fire out of the cardboard window at a target diagonally across the range.

The shooter has to be able to draw while seated.  The shooter has to be able to shoot out the window.  The shooter has to reload a fresh magazine.  Some shooters fired one handed, left handed.  Some dropped the magazine on the floor of the patrol car.  Some shooters had great difficulty getting on target.  This is a common scenario yet we seldom train for it; that's  what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


The military has developed a tiny helicopter drone that is not much larger than a pack of cigarettes.  Imagine looking for a burglary suspect in a back yard or large home by remote helicopter rather than looking by yourself.

Drones have great potential for law enforcement.  Helicopters are expensive, they require at least a pilot and observer and only stay airborne for a couple hours or so.  Drones are much cheaper to operate, are less dangerous if they crash, and can operate where full size helicopters can't go.

Drones should be regulated so that they don't violate peoples privacy.  Just as police helicopters don't get to go everywhere, drones should not go everywhere either.  Still they could be excellent officer safety tools if employed on patrol giving officers the ability to see before they go into a potential kill zone; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Eight police supervisors were arrested for corruption charges.  They are accused of taking money to guard shipments of illegal drugs.  The officers used their patrol cars and wore their uniforms during their guarding duties.  They were caught in a sting operation.

Drugs are one of the worst things in law enforcement.  The penalties for their trafficking should be much harsher. Drugs are destroying our nation and corrupting our police officers.  They generate lots of money and it is used to bribe officials.  Legalization is not the answer, that only makes destructive drugs more readily accessible.

I think officers who are involved in this type of corruption should be fired, forfeit their pensions, and go to prison for a very long time, maybe decades.  Those who bribe public officials should face long term prison terms, asset forfeiture and perhaps even the death penalty as it destroys the faith of the public in public institutions; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 22, 2013


Yesterday I linked to a video of a car hitting a full size police car.  The car was a Volkswagen Passant.  It was going and estimated 130 miles per hour.  The engine was ripped out of the patrol car, the engine, and both cars came to rest a block away.

The driver was being pursued by police.  The officer noticed the suspect vehicle had a partially concealed license plate. The suspect had kidnapped his five year old and was hiding him in the car.  The suspect was wanted out of state for child abuse. 

When you make even the most innocent traffic stop, you don't know who the driver is or what they are wanted for and what they have done.  Treat every traffic stop as a potential felon on the run.  Call in the traffic stop, don't be afraid to call for back up, don't have anything in your hands that can prevent you from drawing your gun if you need to; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Missing Patrol Car

Watch where you park your patrol car.  Police were in pursuit of a car at speeds of over 100 mph.  A police car had apparently set up a road block to stop the speeding suspect vehicle.  The police car was hit in the middle and as you can see from the video, just disappears.  The driver of the suspect car was killed the police car was unoccupied.

The suspect did not even appear to slow or swerve away.  It just rammed the police car in the middle.  Unlike movies this does not end well.  The suspect vehicle did not just jump over the police car and fly away.  It was crushed and fell apart.

Using your police car as a barrier is a good idea, it can stop another car.  It will not stop another car going 100 miles per hour without first being tossed a great distance down the  road.  If you do block the street with your car to stop a speeding vehicle, get a good distance away from your unit and away from the direction of travel.  You don't want to be crushed by your own car; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


I think police should be limited to using the same guns as the citizens of their state.  If you think about it, the police are civilians, they are not military.  The police are not fighting invaders or enemy armies, they are providing law enforcement services to a civilian community.

At first this may seem a rather limited arsenal would be available to law enforcement.  I think quite the contrary.  Police should be permitted to own high capacity magazines, patrol rifles, sniper rifles, small concealable handguns, Tasers, and many other weapons that are illegal, or highly restricted in many states.

I think if these restrictions were applied equally to police and everyone else, perhaps police unions and police officers would be more interested in fighting the corrupt politicians that take away the rights of common citizens.  Police and citizens should have the right to keep and bear arms; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


When conducting a raid on a location it is a good idea to gather as much information about the site and the occupants as possible.  Check out the history of the people expected to be inside the location.  Check out the nature of the complaint that is the basis of the raid.
In this instance someone posted a picture on Facebook.  The photo showed a man with a military mortar in the background of the photo.  The problem is the man was a GI Joe action figure and it was a toy mortar.  A quick inspection of the photo would show a game controller and wall molding that clearly indicate that it was a photo of toys.
The police raided the location looking for military weapons.  That is a high stress environment.  That could have led to the accidental death of the suspect, or even an officer.  A little more intelligence gathering would have been a good idea; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 18, 2013


There are lots of blogs out there on police work.  Here is one of them.

Police often gather a lot of information in the course of their careers and blogging is one way to pass on that information to other officers.  Some of us become trainers.  Some of us become FTOs, some of us work at the academy.

Knowing as much as possible is a powerful tool for officers when they are working in the field.  Being able to learn from officers who have worked the field and dealt with the situations common to police work is an excellent tool.  Pass on what you know, help your partners do their jobs better; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cyber Attacks

The Federal government is hardening their infrastructure to avoid cyber-attacks. Who does your information technology work at your agency? Is it done by contract workers? Is it done by city workers?

Other countries, independent groups and even gangs have used cyber-attacks against police and other government agencies. If your whole system were to crash, could you still dispatch calls and receive phone calls from citizens? If your system is hacked, can your personal information be made public? How about your city information? Your agency payroll system has all your data on it, where you live, how much you make, your social security number, how about identity theft of all your officers names as a way to get back against your agency.

Anyone who works on your computer and phone system should be subject to a background check. Your passwords and log in information should be be protected and changed often. Officers who leave the agency should be removed from the system before they are actually terminated. Some computers should not be on any system, they should be stand alone so that they can't be hacked. Computer security, it's the police work of the 21st Century; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


In this video a woman get hit with a Taser.  The officer, who I suspect is a security guard working for the business, has been removed from the establishment.  She refuses to leave and threatens the officer.  The woman then pushes the officer who finally Tasers her.

Note how rapidly the woman stops her assault and is incapacitated.  This is how the Taser is supposed to work.  Instantly stopping the suspect.  I generally recommend that you arrest anyone that you hit with the Taser and that you never Taser anyone who has not committed an arrestable offense.

The officer had the Taser and had a camera as well.  The camera did a good job of showing that he was not aggressive, only assertive and that the suspect was clearly in the wrong.  The camera did a poor job of showing us the surroundings, the officer seems to be surrounded by people who are unsympathetic to him, if not actually hostile.  The officer does a good job by retreating and preparing the Taser for another strike if needed.  Sometimes a tactical retreat is the best you can hope for; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Safe Training

Police trainees were training with an instructor with firearms.  The instructor picked up the wrong gun and shot a trainee in the head.  The trainee is in the hospital.  The academy training has been suspended as has the instructor.  Live ammo and loaded guns should never be around when doing gun take away training.

Never pick up a gun unless you clear it first.  I never use real guns in training unless we are using them to shoot with.  Deactivated guns can be used for simunitions and similar training but they should be painted in a distinctive color, such as blue and altered in such a manner as to preclude even chambering real ammunition.

I like to use Red Guns for training.  They are a solid one piece resin gun that has no moving parts, no sharp edges, and is the same size and weight as the real gun.  They fit in holsters and look just like real guns, only they are red.  They are excellent for gun takeaway training and other tactical training.  They are also much safer than real guns; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Active Shooter

A man entered a lobbying organization and started shooting people with the intention of killing as many people as possible.  He was stopped in the lobby by a guard.  Essentially anyplace were people congregate is a potential target for an active shooter.

Schools, shopping malls, churches, temples, clinics, insurance companies, lobbyists, elected officials, have all been recent targets of active shooters.  Almost any jurisdiction will have at least one of these places and usually lots of them.

Visit locations were active shooings might occur.  Get an idea of the lay out of the building, the entrances and the places where people might offer good targets for a shooter.  Speak to their head of security and find out what their plan is for dealing with an active shooter.  Have a notebook with contact information, site plans and other information to help you respond to such a place.  Use that information for roll call training and update it annually.  A resport that the suspect is in the third grade classrooms is of limited value if you don't know where those are; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

School Guns

A middle school student brought a gun to school.  He opened fire and wounded another kid in the neck.  An armed guard on campus was able to take the shooter into custody.  The school has metal detectors but the shooter was able to get the gun on campus anyway.

The school resource officer was off duty but was at the school and was armed.  Despite being off duty he responded to the incident and saved the victim from further injure and saved any other children from harm.

This shows that having armed officers on school campuses is a good idea, one that works even when metal detectors are in place.  The arming of school staff who desire to be armed and are willing to take reasonable training is also an excellent idea; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


The suspected murderer of three people was believed to be cornered in a cabin in the woods.  Officers were responding to a report of a stolen vehicle and were shot at, two of them were hit.  The police officers called for help and at least 100 and probably many more officers responded.  I would estimate at least 500 officers and perhaps over a 1,000 were involved in the response to this incident.  Officers were from city, county, state and Federal agencies working together.

The cabin was in a remote location, but there were many people in the vicinity at resorts or vacation homes.  The police decided to evacuate a large area around the cabin for the safety of the public.  In doing the evacuation, the wounded officers were air lifted out to avoid road traffic.

The police blockaded all the roads leaving the area and stopped every car and searched every vehicle, including the trunk.  The cut down the exit roads to one lane, and three officers searched each car.  Officers were with handguns in hand and were covered by several other officers with rifles standing by in case the suspect was found.  With someone this dangerous, you should take no chances; that’s what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Crime Alert

Wanted posters are an excellent way to spread information about suspects and suspect vehicles.  They should be done on agency letterhead with logos and contact informations.  They should have phone numbers, email and names to contact in the event the suspect is located.  They should indicate the nature of the offense, and if the agency will extradite the suspect from other states or other countries.

The biggest disadvantage to posters is they don't get spread around enough.  They need to go to every local agency, agencies that might have contact with the suspect and media.  Putting them on the department website and Facebook page is a must.

They should also be sent to blogs, and other social media for maximum exposure; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Patrol Cars

A patrol car from Riverside, CA police department shows bullet holes in the front windshield and the rear window blown out.  Two officers were in this vehicle at the time, both were hit in the chest, one was killed and his trainee was seriously injured.

I have always thought that the front part of a police car should be armored.  The firewall, windshield, and front doors and windows should be bullet resistant.  Those are the logical places to shoot at an officer and the logical places for officers to take cover.

Police cars should retain the same body style year after year so that the equipment can be transferred from one car to the next to keep the costs down.  The same body style should be used for at least six if not ten model years.  That will allow agencies to use a car for two years and then upgrade to the newer model and re-use the armor, and rear cage.  We need better police transportation; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cop Killer

A man got hired by LAPD.  A premier agency in law enforcement.  The best police officers I ever met worked for LAPD.  The worst police officers I ever met worked for LAPD.  Too often they let officers slip through the cracks who would never have made it on any decent agency.  An agency with a good background check, a good psychological evaluation, a good academy program and an excellent field supervisor program keeps out a lot of people who don't belong in police work, but sometimes large agencies allow them to slip through.

This man complained about other officers using excessive force and racial slurs.  His complaints were investigated and were found to be unfounded.  He appealed and lost his appeals.  He was found to have been untruthful and was terminated.  He held a grudge and he kept fuming about it and he eventually went off and started killing people he thought were responsible for his losing his job.

The suspect put out a manifesto and names the names of his potential victims.  LAPD and other agencies responded and deployed officers to protect those potential victims.  Still one family member was killed along with here boyfriend.  Agencies all over the state and even Federal agencies helped to protect potential victims as well as assist in the location of the killer.  As I write this two officers are wounded and one is dead.  Agencies are working together to find this killer.  We have to work together and find this evil man before he strikes again; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I saw a local news report on this incident yesterday.   There is a former LAPD officer who has said he will kill those he things are responsible for his termination.  There is an LAPD captain who lives in Torrance. Torrance PD was providing security for him at his home with officers in marked units. At about 4 am a pickup truck matching the description of the suspect vehicle was seen driving toward the captains house on the wrong side of the street with the headlights off.
Officers made a traffic stop and ended up firing 15+ rounds at the vehicle. There were two women inside delivering newspapers. Both were only slightly injured, one was treated and released and the other was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No indication as to why the officers actually started shooting but certainly a circumstance that would make officers very nervous.
The women appeared to be Hispanic so perhaps they did not speak enough English to comply with the officers orders and their actions appeared threatening in the low light conditions and stress of the circumstances. Probably an opportunity for the city attorney to fill a dump truck with cash and dump it on their lawn.  Be sure of your target before you shoot, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


A suspect targeted the families of officers he did not like, he is a suspected of having murdered a young woman and her fiance in Irvine.  Two officers were stopped at a red traffic light and the suspect opened fire and hit both, killing one. In a third incident he fired at a moving patrol car.
Other officers in two separate incidents shot and wounded people they thought where him because they were driving similar vehicles in a suspicious manner.  The suspect was an officer in the Naval Reserve, served in Iraq and was with LAPD for a short period of time with a rather rocky career.
He got divorced, fired from LAPD, lost his house and then just recently was out of the Naval Reserve, so he finally snapped and started shooting people.  Several officer safety tips we can learn from this incident so far:
You can be shot at any time for any reason, even doing nothing like sitting at a traffic signal. What would you do if that happened to you?  Work stress can be very harmful. What do you do to decompress? Drinking alcohol and taking drugs don't help. Do you visit a counselor, clergy or other trusted person? Stay fit, eat right, get enough sleep, and participate in activities with family and friends.  Don't ignore warning signs, if someone makes threats, take them seriously.  Wear your vest whenever you are in uniform; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The state of New York has passed a group of very strict gun control laws.  Those laws include registration of a large number of weapons.  Many New Yorkers love their guns and there is some evidence that tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers won't register their guns.

Those people who don't register their guns are committing a crime, but it is a crime with no real victim.  Having a piece of paper on file in a drawer won't prevent any criminals from getting guns or using guns.  The real criminals won't register their guns but most of the people who refuse to register their guns won't be anything but regular folks who want guns for protection.

When laws are being proposed it is important that police, as individuals and through their unions stand up against foolish laws that won't stop crimes.  When the average person fears the police because they have an unregistered gun the police become the enemy.  We should not be feared by regular folks; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Phone It In

Chicago police are no longer responding to several types of calls.  They are no longer responding to garage burglaries, auto thefts and many other low level crimes, if there is no suspect there is no chance for an immediate arrest.

Years ago crime was out of control in New York City.  The mayor and police came up with a new idea in police work, the broken window theory.  The concept was that they would enforce code violations and make every broken window get fixed, make every bit of graffiti get painted over, every minor crime get a citation.  Over time the bad guys would get the idea they are not wanted and would either move away or straighten up.

Chicago has given up trying to solve their crime problem.  They are making the victims be the initial investigator and giving up any attempt at forensic evidence collection at the scene of most crimes.  They seem to think this new procedure will save 44 man days per day.  I think it will simply increase crime; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 4, 2013

People Control

In general when speaking in an official capacity the police should tend to stay away from partisan political discussions.  There are times when the discussion has to do with matters that directly impact the police and so their can be times when it is important to speak out.  Police officials should support the death penalty for murder.  They should support laws that make our communities safer places to live.  They should oppose laws that might make some people feel good.  Most gun control laws fit that profile.

Rather than regulate the acts of people who are doing anything illegal, why not go after those people who do crimes?  Possession of an assault rifle should not be illegal.  Use of an assault rifle in a crime of violence, double the penalty.  Possession of an automobile should not be illegal.  Use of an automobile in a crime against a person, murder, rape, robbery, double the penalty.

We need better laws and better resources to control our mentally ill population.  It used to be easier to keep them locked up where they could not harm anyone.  Now there are dangerous and violent mentally ill people roaming the streets.  Everyday we read about someone being attacked by a mentally ill person.  Law enforcement is only one part of the treatment of mentally ill people.  If we could only have the other parts hold people in custody until they were safe to be around others, it would make every ones life better; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


What happens when your officers retire?  They have heads full of police skills and knowledge and it all just sits there fishing or drinking beer all day?  Officers who retire might consider several alternatives to full retirement.

A trend in my agency is for officers to retire from their full time paid positions and return as part time unpaid reserve officers.  One of those officers eventually was selected as chief of police!  By staying as a reserve he was able to keep his training current and able to keep in the view of those who make the hiring and firing decisions.

Another way to use those skills is to research important criminal cases.  You may not turn up anything new, but that further enhances the work of the original investigators. You might also want to work as a cold case detective.  Sometime retired guys can come in a few days a week and just go over the old murder and do some follow up.  Occasionally old evidence can reveal new clues or new methods of data mining can come up with leads that did not work out before.  Try and keep busy and use some of those skills you learned, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Off Duty Gun
A 70 year old off duty reserve officer was attacked by two men.  One of the men had a gun.  The reserve officer had a gun too and he was both faster on the draw and more accurate than the other guy.  He was able to draw and fire and kill one attacker and seriously wound the other one.
When you are off duty and outside your house, carry your gun.  In this incident they were leaving a junior high school, usually a gun free zone.  We can see how badly that worked out, a little sign is useless for protecting yourself and your loved ones.
You can never predict where or when the bad guys will attack.  I carry at work, at church, at school, at the movies, shopping, when I go for a walk around the block.  I never leave my house without a gun and I always have one nearby when I am at home.  Evil never takes a day off; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Active Shooter

A suspect went into an office building and shot three people.  None of them were killed but one was critically wounded.  The police say it was not a random shooting.  Naturally, the first few officers on site have to go in and look for the active shooter.  As soon as possible get a good broadcast out of the suspect information, description and weapons.

Further responding units need to gather the other people exiting the building and check them out.  One or more of them could be suspects.  Some of those exiting could be wounded and need treatment.  The suspect could be wounded, victims and cops often shoot back.  Outer perimeters need to be established.  You don't want people coming into the location, so block off the parking lots, but leave space for additional first responders.

Further perimeters may be needed too, suspects may fire outside the building, neighboring buildings need to be advised of the shooting so their employees can stay away from windows.  Relatives and news media may also respond and they have to be taken care of, they can't just be kept out.  Active shooter is complicated, and not just the entry team response; that's what the SGT Says.