Friday, January 31, 2014


When performing riot operations maintain an operations log.  Be sure to note the time of every significant activity and note every important decision, and who made that decision.  A scribe should be tasked with keeping the log as the primary task. 

Use a dedicated frequency for the officers working the riot.  The command post should monitor both the regular frequency and the riot frequency.  Mutual aid units might need to be provided with a radio or perhaps they should stay on a separate riot frequency if there are a lot of them, but be sure the command post can talk to them directly.

Insure you have a secure pre-booking area for everyone arrested.  Flex cuffs or similar should be used for all arrested so officers don't have to worry about getting their handcuffs back.  Keeping track of who was arrested, who arrested them and why can be a problem in a mass arrest incident.  Don't forget you want good prosecutions afterwards and you want to avoid false arrest liability.  Keeping track of everyone and getting good reports written is essential, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Lose Lips

"said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity."  If the person is not authorized to speak publicly, then why are the talking?  As police officers we receive information that is confidential.  Sometimes it is information about how people live their lives or how a crime was committed.

It is important that we safeguard this information.  We should not be talking to the press about information we are not at liberty to disclose.  Families don't want to read about a tragic piece of information in the newspapers, before they are officially informed.

Suspects don't need to know everything we know.  Witnesses should be able to rely on our ability to keep secrets so that they won't be retaliated against by suspects.  Additional information may be lost, suspects may escape and further witnesses might be unwilling to come forward if we can't keep our mouths shut; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bomb Threat

When responding to a bomb threat if you decide there could be a real bomb don't handle the bomb.  Do not use your radio or cell phone within at least 300 feet of the device.  Ask for a bomb technician to respond, along with fire department and paramedics.  Both will need to set up and deploy at a safe distance.

Consider evacuation routes and get people out to a safe area.  Look for secondary devices, it is a popular terrorist tactic to set a bomb, then explode another bomb nearby where first responders will gather.  Keep people away who have no direct business with the incident, your perimeter should be very large to prevent detonation by radio from someone in the crowd.

Don't turn switches for lights or anything else on or off, it might trigger the bomb.  Have people who evacuate take their personal property with them, such as purses, medications, brief cases and such.  Try to find out information about the bomber, threats, time tables, motives.  The main concern is life safety, so keep people away from glass, and other secondary projectiles; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Specialized police agencies versus regular police are a continuing problem.  Schools don't see police patrol the schools and so they want school police.  There are few crimes at schools and so the schools don't want to pay for police officers.  School police get lower pay then regular police so they often leave to regular police departments or hire a lower quality of officer.

The same is true for railroad police, harbor police, airport police, and most other types of specialized police.  I think specialized police agencies are an excellent idea. They allow officers to gain specialized information that can be essential for providing proper police services to their specific agency. 

Specialized police do not always have to have the same skills as regular municipal police or sheriff deputies.  They often work on a campus and don't drive much, or they work indoors and don't have to deal with traffic collisions.  I think TSA should have their own armed officers to work security at the screening locations to work at airports in addition to the regular airport police.  I think the actual screening agents should not be armed, it's difficult to conduct careful searches while trying to protect your firearm. TSA should have armed officers who are a promotion from screener; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

LAX Shooting

The recent shooting at LAX took place as officers were on break, according to the headline, however, when you read the full article it's clear the officers were within their patrol area and not on break.  The TSA standard allows the officers to wander the terminal area as long as they can respond within three minutes and the officers did that in this case.

I think the problem is not the officers, its the standard.  The average police shooting is over in three to five seconds.  The police are allowed to be three minutes away.  Do the math, and you will see that three minutes away is about 2 minutes 55 seconds too long.

As usual, they are trying to do security on the cheap.  They need to have at least one armed officer at the screening location all the time.  Other officers need to be walking around the terminal, and sometimes at the screening location so the suspect will never be quite sure how many officers they will encounter at the screening location; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cold Weather

Before you go on patrol, inspect your vehicle.  In winter this can be very important.  Make sure the tire tread is good and the tires appear to be properly inflated.  Check on the headlights.  You should always check all your lights before you go on patrol, but headlights in bad weather are especially important.  If the lenses are fogged or there is condensation inside, report that so it can be fixed.

Check your windshield washer, and wipers, you need to see out and having poor wiper blades is a real annoyance on patrol.  If necessary, hose off the windows before you go on patrol.  Also check your anti-freeze.  Just because it's cold does not mean your car can't overheat.

Don't go out with a weak battery.  The last thing you want is to have your car die in the rain or snow.  Batteries don't work as well when they get cold either so a weak battery may not last the shift.  A dead battery might also mean you can't communicate if you have a large beat area.  A little cold weather preparation is important; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Winter Range

If you wear gloves or mittens when it is cold, can you shoot with them on?  The military have special mittens with a separate trigger finger in them so you can still shoot your rifle.  Do your mittens have such a device?

Have you practiced unsnapping your pistol and putting your finger in the trigger with gloves on?  How about reloading?  Can you unsnap your ammo pouch and withdraw a magazine?  Can you drop your magazine or strip it out of the magazine well of your pistol?

Are your gloves slippery and do they prevent you from holding a magazine?  Can you operate the safety and work the shotgun?  All these tasks become more difficult when you are cold and when you are wearing gloves.  You need to practice these skills now, before the winter shooting; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Winter Driving

With all the winter weather problems, driving can be dangerous.  Already driving accidents claim many police officers every year.  First of all put on your seat belt and slow down!  Driving on wet and snow makes it harder to stop, so drive slower.

Break slowly too, don't panic break and don't pump the break pedal.  Just a smooth steady pressure on the breaks.  Drive with your eyes up to look for problems that are still far away, so you have more reaction time.  With anti-lock breaks, steer in the direction you want to go if you start to skid.

Don't use your cruise control, you want faster reaction time on ice or snow.   Notice that most of this advice is about going slower than normal and also leave more space to stop than usual.  Wet pavement means stopping distances are much greater and you can be very helpless when sliding across an icy intersection; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 18, 2014


When re-holstering a semi-automatic handgun, place your thumb on the back of the slide.  The thumb can press on the slide to keep the slide from sliding to the rear.  Sometimes the grip of a tight holster can push in against the gun and bring the slide back a bit.  That can make it more difficult to holster the weapon quickly.

When re-holstering your handgun, be sure to keep your eyes on the target.  You should be able to holster quickly, but not have to watch what you are doing.  If it were dark, you would not turn on your flashlight to watch what you were doing, so practice putting the pistol away without watching.

When re-holstering your handgun, put the gun back in your holster with only your gun had.  The one hand holster technique allows you to re-holster if your other hand is injured or busy.  You may need to apply direct pressure to an injury to yourself or someone else.  You may need to talk on the radio, or use your flashlight, or wave or point directions.  The simple act of re-holstering is more complex than what most people might think; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kelly Thomas

Fullerton Police Officer Ramos responded to a call of a suspicious man near cars.  He and another officer arrived and contacted a homeless, mentally ill man named Kelly Thomas.  Ramos had contacted him before, this time they ended up in a fight and an officer needs help call.  In my opinion, Officer Ramos incited Mr. Thomas and inflamed him into fighting.  It was very poor police work.  The responding officers were simply responding to an officer needs help call.  In those types of circumstances, officers don't have an opportunity to go over the nature of the incident and how it started.

Between 1990 and 2011, Thomas had 92 encounters with the police. These encounters ranged from minor infractions such as trespassing to assault with a deadly weapon. He did not live with his family. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia which can produce paranoia, delusions and hallucinations. It was very poor police work, mostly on the part of Ofcr Ramos. A mentally ill man that does not want to go into handcuffs can be very difficult to control. I think Ramos should have been fired, and gone to jail, but not prison.

The standard to get fired from his police job was much lower than the standard to convict Ramos of a felony crime.  I think they should have charged Ramos with misdemeanors because it is usually easier to convict on lessor charges.  I don't think any other officers should have been charged, however, without reading all the initial police reports and other documents, it is difficult to say for certain if the other officers participated properly.  I don't think this incident will lead to any change in police tactics, but it does indicate that police need a better, more effective tool to immobilize people, without injuring them, than the Tazer.  While the Tazer is an excellent tool, it has limitations and incidents like this one will continue until we get something better; that's what the SGT Says

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Prisoner Escape

A man was arrested and ended up stealing a police vehicle.  There has been some discussion that he may have been handcuffed in front.  In general, suspects should never be handcuffed in front unless there is a very good reason.  Handcuffs are also only a temporary restraint and are not to be relied upon for any great length of time and should not be the only method of keeping a suspect in check.

If a suspect is injured, or infirm, or inflexible, and cannot be handcuffed in back, then he may have to be handcuffed in front.  If possible, slip the handcuffs behind the suspects belt so it limits their ability to move the handcuffs up to strike, to take your weapons or attack you.  If you have to handcuff a suspect in front, then they should be inside a unit cage as soon as possible.  They should generally not be left unattended.

Handcuffs are an excellent and time tested tool, but only work as well as any other device.  They are no substitute for a good search, common sense and careful police work.  Suspects can be very clever and can fake an injury to try and get you to handcuff them in front or not at all.  Don't let your suspects get away; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Fake Disability

Over 70 police and other law enforcement officers were arrested in a disability scam.  The claim is that they sustained psychological injuries in the 9/11 attacks or afterwards and suffered post traumatic stress and other injuries that left them unable to work.  They were later seen travelling to foreign countries, running a martial arts studio and doing other work and play that their applicants for disabilty say they could not perform.

It is reprehensible for officers to sully the good names of those officers who were killed and legitimately wounded in the 9/11 attacks.  Officers suffered terrible physical and psychological wounds as a result of those attacks, and to fake injuries and make claims for money is a terrible thing to do for police.

This type of crime just makes it that much harder every time an officer is really injured, this will be the first thing people will think about.  This hurts our reputation and makes our jobs harder.  If these men are found guilty they should have to pay back every cent and go to jail; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Car Theft

Car hackers are now able to steal cars by computer.  The newest cars are so controlled by computer that anything can be operated if you control the computer.  Even start the engine and operate the steering wheel is possible if you can hack the car computer.  We need new laws that make it illegal to access a car computer without the permission of the owner.  We need to make it illegal to possess such equipment unless you are a car repair shop or other user with a legitimate reason to have such equipment.

Car companies have been remiss from the beginning on auto theft prevention.  It should be very difficult to steal a car or for anyone to gain unauthorized access to your vehicle.  A car is often the most expensive thing a person owns, and is often the second most expensive thing that a family owns apart from their home.

Auto theft should be much more difficult, it should be almost unheard of in this country.  With computers controlling most of the car functions, they should be locked up like your data.  When people have $2,000 in their bank accounts and $35,000 in the value of their car, it deserves protection; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Police Cars

What's the deal with the recent American police cars?  Have the people who designed these things ever seen a police officer?  I am 6'2" and 175, a large, adult, man.  I wear a lot of crap on my uniform, body armor, gun, baton, Taser and such.

I take up a lot of space and with all that stuff on I am not very flexible.  The new police cars are so small it's difficult to get into and out of them.  On or latest Ford police cars I have to pivot to my side, put both feet on the ground and then stand up to exit.  I reverse the process to get back inside.

Once I am in the car, I can barely move.  The microphones, PAs, and computers are touching my legs and the rifle or shotgun is right at my elbow.  I am not looking for relaxing comfort, but I would like to be able to get in and out of the car and sit inside without bumping stuff; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Once rioters have been dispersed, your job is not done.  You must still insure they don't come back and they way to do that is to maintain a strong police presence in the area.  Units should patrol together, with four officers per patrol car and two to four patrol cars together.  They should operate as a team and if one stops, they all stop.

Patrol slowly and encourage people to move along.  Arrest anyone who performs an act of violence.  Monitor the radio so that if a large crowd starts to gather again you can respond quickly to disperse them.  Close parks and other public places to prevent people from starting to gather again.  Use barricades to block entry routes, even blocking pedestrian access. 

Make good use of parking control, they can cite illegally parked vehicles and tow vehicles that are illegally parked.  People don't like their cars being cited and towed and sometimes that can be enough to help break up a riot.  Make sure your parking control people have enough two trucks ready before they move into an area and be sure they have armed police to protect them if necessary.  It's best to tow cars after the people start to break up the event, it's hard to leave if your car is gone, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Radio Problems

A pirate radio station was blaring out rap music on a police department main frequency.  The problem went on for weeks.  The FCC did nothing about it but the local agency was able to get some help from other sources and tracked down the transmitter and the person operating it.  They seized the transmitter but did not arrest the person with it.

There are several problems with this incident.  First the FCC is charged with regulating the nations airwaves.  If there is a station bleeding over into another or intentionally broadcasting on an unauthorized frequency then it is their responsibility to deal with it in a timely manner.  The agency involved should have done a better job of due diligence to know what their rights and responsibilities are when they find the suspect.  In my opinion, if legally possible, the suspect should have been arrested.  Tying up the airwaves of a police agency is a danger to public safety.  How about if terrorists had done this before the Boston Marathon Bombing or on 9/11?

Agencies should have procedures in place to communicate when their primary frequency is down for any reason.  Jamming, bleed over from another frequency, sun spots or other problem can kill your ability to effectively use the radio.  Going to cell phones, have officers phone in on a regular basis, or even have some officers sit by a land line phone and wait for a call are some short term options.  Having the ability to switch to a different frequency, perhaps piggy back onto another agencies frequency for a short time might also work.  Using the in car computers for more dispatching is also another idea; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


If you are called to a riot and are there right at the beginning there are several factors to consider.  A very rapid police response that arrests most of those involved when it is small may be enough to head off a larger incident.  The problem with this approach is that it takes a lot of manpower very quickly to work.  A response that is too small or too slow will come across as weak and ineffective and may only serve to fuel the impression that the police are powerless to quell the rioting.

Monitor social media and determine what the scope of the rioting is, it may develop rapidly in more than one area.  Call for mutual aid, call your reserve officers, keep the off going shift overtime and call the next shift in early, call in officers on days off and call in officers from training, special details and court.  Put your detectives in uniform and your command staff too.  Even if they don't respond to the scene of the riot they can perform support duties.

Determine the nature of the rioting.  Are they setting cars or buildings on fire?  Is it safe for fire fighters and paramedics to respond or do they need escorts by police to respond to fire incidents.  Try to determine the level of violence, is the crowd attacking people, beating them or making sexual assaults?  Is there looting, blocking traffic and does the crowd seem to be localized or are they moving?  Each of these will require a somewhat different response; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


When officers are asked to respond to a riot they need the proper equipment.  Every officer should have their body armor, a riot helmet with face shield, gas mask, and riot baton.  At least some of the officers should have riot shields, tear gas launchers and tear gas hand grenades, and other less lethal weapons.

Pepper balls, rubber bullets, bean bag shotguns, Tasers and OC or tear gas dispensers are also important to have available.  Officers should be trained with these types of weapons and they should be ready to be deployed when needed.  Bean bag shotguns should be orange or otherwise marked in some way to indicate that they NEVER get loaded with regular shotgun ammo.

Officers that don't have all the equipment they need should not be deployed on the line.  They can be used for other tasks.  They can drive prisoner vans, secure the headquarters, and perform other essential tasks that don't involve direct contact with the rioters.  Riots can be very dangerous and only those with proper training and equipment should be deployed; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Barricaded Suspect

In the initial response to a barricaded suspect the responding officer has a lot to do and quickly.  First determine where the suspect is located, how many suspects there are and what type of weapons they have.  Is it one old man locked in his house or a gang of robbers holded up inside a bank?

Are there other people nearby, across the street, next door or behind the incident that need to be evacuated?  Do you have air support, and officers to watch the rear of the property, and set up a perimeter?  Notify EMS and call for a SWAT team, if possible.  As long as the suspect is just sitting inside and not shooting or hurting any hostages you do have some time to prepare.

Look for positions of cover where first responders can observe the location.  Get a command post in operation that is far enough away that it will not be directly involved in the incident.  See if you can get an armored vehicle, it may be needed to evacuate people, rescue wounded or assault the location.  Has the suspect fired any shots, do they have bomb?  Are they just interested in escape, making a statement or have mental problems?  Does the suspect have access to vehicles and are you ready if they go mobile?  There is a lot to do and little time to get it done, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Plane Crash

Planes crash every day and some day one may crash in your beat, what do you do?  The first thing to do is verify there has been a crash and exactly were the crash scene is located.  Crash scenes can cover several square miles as planes break up in the air or on the ground.  Next determine the extent of the crash damage to the plane and one the ground.  A small plane may actually make a landing on the freeway with no injuries where a super-liner might break up in the sky and spill hundreds on bodies all over the ground and kill people who seated on their couch.

Notify fire department and mutual aid, this site will likely take days to process if there is any loss of life.  Military aircraft will need military response and there is the potential for ammunition, bombs, even nuclear weapons on them.  Oxygen containers and fuel are dangerous and much of the plane interior is flammable so don't use flares or allow smoking near the crash scene.

Don't let people loot the scene, people will try and take souvenirs and also try to steal luggage and even rob the dead.  Small bits of wreckage can be critical to determine the cause of the crash or identity of victims.  Cargo, fuel, and smoke can be toxic so take care to evacuate people far enough away to keep them safe.  Notify dispatch of the aircraft numbers, and airline if possible.  Try and round up witnesses to the crash who can provide important information to investigators later.  Don't disturb wreckage or body parts until investigators give the okay, unless necessary for rescue efforts.  Plane crashes are rare, and are very complex incidents, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

End of Incident

Once the major incident is over there is still more work to do to finish.  Make sure all the officers involved document any injuries, however slight, before they go home.  Get them a check at least by paramedics so their injuries are documented, if a minor cut gets infected or a bruise turns out to be a broken bone, it's documented to have come from the incident.

Have your press officer thank everyone who helped, and the community for their patience and assistance; as well as other agencies that participated.  Thank people by name if possible.  Schedule a neighborhood meeting to thank people and answer questions that can be answered without compromising the investigation or prosecution of the case.

Keep your elected officials in the loop so they understand what the police did and why.  Have after action debriefings to insure all important information is captured and new policies, training or equipment are obtained if needed.  Replenish supplies used in the incident.  Send officers to mandatory post traumatic stress evaluations.  Refresh training to incorporate any new information obtained; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 3, 2014


At the end of a major incident, there is still much work to be done.  Get photographs of all your people for evidence.  It will show injuries or torn clothing or the absence of injuries.  Get photos of your vehicles, particularly if they have been damaged. 

Take pictures of the scene.  Use crime scene technicians to take and document these photos if possible, but if not, make sure whoever takes these photos documents their subject so that later you don't know who is in the photo or what the photo is supposed to show. 

Take photos of people against a plan background, a blank wall is good enough.  Document the suspects and victims and even witnesses, it makes it harder for them to change their stories later.  Documentation is your friend; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Crime Scene

After a major incident keep the perimeter set up.  Don't just let people back into the area.  People will want to go back home and to work.  Traffic will want the street open and the news media will want photos.  Officers on the perimeter will want to see what happened and to go home.

Keep your perimeter up and first do a final sweep to insure there are no more suspects, or victims.  Then check your perimeter to make sure you have sealed off only the area you need to do your work.  Let traffic flow, let people back in as much as you can, but don't compromise the work of your crime scene investigators and other people.

Make sure your CSI and coroners are safe and secure in their work environment.  Make sure that crowds or reporters don't interfere with their work.  Be sure those on the perimeter have proper relief for restrooms, for food, and even just to have a few minutes rest.  Don't let them stand on the perimeter for hours without a break.  Take care of your crime scene, take care of your people; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Stay Alive

A new year and a new opportunity to avoid being injured or killed.  Public and private law enforcement is inherently dangerous.  No matter what we do, a few officers will likely be killed in unforeseen incidents or in incidents that are unavoidable.

Still, there is much we can do to prevent most officer injuries and deaths.  Wear your seat belt.  Traffic collisions are a huge killer of officers, often single car accidents.  Wear your body armor.  Nearly all officers who are shot were hit by bullets that soft body armor will stop.

If you think you need back up, call for back up.  If you need back up, wait for it if you can.  If you don't need to rush in, wait.  Listen to your partners on the radio, and always know were to find them, how to get there and perhaps even drive in that direction until they are okay; that's what the SGT Says.