Friday, February 28, 2014


In October a man when on a rampage and shot four police officers, and stole a police car.  He was chased all over the city and eventually killed by the police.  There is footage of the incident from a lapel camera.

Cameras are a great idea, but we need to remember that they only tell a portion of any story.  Watching this video, you don't have any idea what's happening.  Most of the time the video shows the dashboard of the patrol car or the back of someones shirt.

This video does show that an armed confrontation is very confusing.  Things happen fast and they happen all over the place.  The officer wearing the video display is right up there in the action and you still can't figure out what's going on.  Video is good, but it does not show everything; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Police Car

LAPD is shopping for a car.  I was hoping that Carbon Motors would eventually come up with something but their's turned out to be a pipe dream rather than a practical car.  Police cars need to be large enough to handle two full size manly police officers, that means tall, easy to get in and out of and wide. 

Putting all that gear and controls inside the center seems a good idea, but often it's just too much.  I think we need to rethink a lot of how things are displayed and stored in the car.  I think the front of the car, the firewall and both front doors should be bullet resistant.  The shotgun and rifle should be stored in the door, or maybe recessed alongside the outside of the driver and passenger seats.  I don't like them in the middle or along the top of the seats.

The electronic bits are often in the trunk, but are not always well protected, sometimes the other gear bounces into them and damages them.  The cars need even more lights, I have seen some lights underneath cars, and I think that's a good idea too.  We need to improve police vehicle survivability, and habitability, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The FBI Miami Shootout is a microcosm of lessons for all police to learn.  It was a transition time in law enforcement.  Some officers were taking some of the lessons and some had not.  We learned many things studying that shootout. 

First, wear your body armor.  Carry a back up gun.  Carry a high capacity handgun as your primary gun.  Know how to operate your handgun and your shotgun with one hand in case you are wounded.  Wear your seat belt.  Keep plenty of ammo on your person.  Have a first aid kit handy and know how to use it.

If you are likely to have a shootout, bring plenty of help.  Notify other local agencies.  Bring a long gun and have all your backup bring a long gun.  Even at very close range a long gun is much more accurate than a handgun.  Shoot until the suspect is no longer a threat.  One round or fifty, what matters is stopping the threat; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Pursuits are very dangerous.  Not only do you have to drive at a high rate of speed, and talk on the radio, but the termination of the pursuit is only the start of a whole new range of problems.  Police supervisors like to limit the number of officers in a pursuit, but you still have to remember at the end there may be a need for a lot of officers to handle the problem.

If you would send six officers to a call of two armed men robbing a liquor store, then you need six officers at the termination of the pursuit of those two suspects.  Just at the suspects might come out of the liquor store shooting, they might come out of the pursuit shooting too.

I think police should outnumber armed suspects by at least three to one as a minimum.  There are many examples of one suspect shooting two officers and of two suspects shooting four officers.  That tells me that we need at least a three to one advantage of officers at any scene were suspects could be armed; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 24, 2014


An officer saw a patrol car race past her vehicle at over 100 miles per hour.  After a seven minute pursuit the officer stopped the speeding patrol car and investigated the driver.  The driver was an off duty officer who was late to an off duty job.  The officer who made the traffic stop made it with her gun drawn and handcuffed and disarmed the speeding officer.  The speeding officer offered no resistance.  She returned his weapon and let him go, but did file a report.  The speeding officer was fired.  Later over 88 different officers from 25 agencies accessed her drivers license information and she started getting threatening phone calls and various police cars lurking near her home. 

This type of behavior is inexcusable and makes all police look bad and stupid.  The officer who stopped the speeding patrol car could have handled the incident differently, but she did nothing wrong.  The speeding officer was endangering lives by driving that fast for no reason.  That's how agencies lose the right to a take home car is after a foolish traffic collision or because officers drive like maniacs.  The speeding officer deserved to get fired.

The officer who made the stop could have simply radioed into her dispatcher and had the dispatcher contact the agency of the speeding car.  She could have informed them that unit adam-12 was driving 100 miles per hour and let them handle it.  The result would probably have been the same, the speeding officer would probably have been fired, and rightly so.  There is no reason to blame the officer who made the stop.  She is not the one who fired the officer and the speeding officer brought this problem on himself.  The officers who accessed her drivers license information should be disciplined unless they can show some need to know her information.  Police should more ethical than this; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


A police officer attempted to stop a vehicle that was being driven by a man on a cell phone.  The man failed to yield and the chase was on.  The vehicle came back as being wanted in a drive by shooting.  During the pursuit the man stopped his car and let his female passenger out of the vehicle. 

Once the vehicle stopped, the suspect brandished a handgun and four officers fired at him.  The man died at the scene.  There are many things that can happen at the conclusion of a pursuit.  One of them is that the people in the car will bolt and run.  One is that they will obey commands and exit the vehicle without incident.  Or they might pull out a weapon and attempt to fight it out.

Officers need to be able to respond to any of these eventualities.  It is important to have enough officers at the termination of the pursuit, but not too many.  Sometimes officers surround a vehicle and that makes them vulnerable if there is shooting.  Occasionally supervisors will be not permit enough officers to be at the end of the pursuit and the officers might not sufficiently outnumber the suspects.  Despite the adrenaline rush of a pursuit, careful planning is important; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 22, 2014


The Federal Government is conducting roadside checkpoints to survey drunk and drug intoxicated drivers.  They set up what looks like a DUI checkpoint and direct drivers into a parking lot.  The drivers are asked about participation in a voluntary survey.  Local police participate in these events.

This survey has raised serious questions about the Fourth Amendment and the right of the Federal Government to conduct these surveys.  This type of checkpoint generally creates a wave of citizen complaints and even lawsuits.

This is exactly the type of activity that local law enforcement should probably not get involved in with the Federal Government.  If the Federal Government needs this type of information there must be other less intrusive methods to gather it; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 21, 2014

RIP Officers Juan Jaime Gonzalez and Brian Mitchio Law

Two CHP officers were killed in the line of duty in a traffic collision, it was a single car collision.  The vehicle ran off the road as the officer swerved to avoid debris from a traffic collision he was responding to; the officers Crown Victoria hit a guard rail and a traffic sign.

In a single car collision of a civilian vehicle my first thoughts are that it was alcohol related or that the driver fell asleep at the wheel, or the driver was going too fast for conditions.  Of course, there are many other potential causes, the Driver may have swerved to avoid something in the roadway, like in this incident.  The driver could have been suicidal and drove off the road intentionally.  There may have been mechanical malfunction in the steering or breaks.  It could even be a murder or the driver could have had a heart attack.

For a police involved traffic collision it could be any of these too, but the most likely one tends to be driving too fast for conditions.  Officers want to help someone else and they forget to be careful.  They get in a hurry and they press their driving ability and go too fast for conditions.  You can't help anyone if you crash on the way to the crash; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Youths are playing the Knockout Game.  It works like this, you find an old person, or a weak person.  Then you get a friend to videotape your actions.  You then sneak up on the "player" and you hit them one time as hard as you can.  The intention is to knock them unconscious with one mighty blow.  Anyone is fair game, and even if they are ninety years old or ten years old, it still counts as a win.  It's even okay if they are killed or severally injured.

This "game" is actually a well planned, well organized, and highly documented criminal act.  It is not a game.  It is not fun, it is unmitigated cruelty and evil.  This crime when left untouched is not deterred, it continues, and gets worse.

These crimes need to be vigorously prosecuted.  The community leaders need to be shown the video and the inappropriate reactions of the participants.  They generally don't rob or molest the victims, but they do dance, and sing and smile about the attack.  These criminals have no remorse, and that's very dangerous; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Police agencies never seem to have enough money for salaries, equipment, or facilities.  So, many agencies are taking money from the Federal Government.   When the Feds have surplus equipment, I can understand police agencies taking or buying armored cars, helmets or other gear at a discount price.

Still, every good thing comes with a string attached, and that string goes all the way back to D.C.  Police are supposed to be locally raised, locally funded, and locally controlled.  Every time we take money from Washington and pick up another string, we lose some of that concept.

Local control is the final bulwark against tyranny in a free society.  Local police, under local control can protect the people they serve if the state or national government chooses to infringe upon their liberties.  As law enforcement officers are are there to protect and serve; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Police officers are not immune from having to deal with disasters.  What is your personal disaster plan and how does it fit with the police department disaster plan?  I plan to work at my agency in the even of a major disaster and to stay there until the conclusion of the disaster.  My wife often comes there with me and so she is a familiar sight to the other officers and staff of the agency.

Still, that begs the question, what happens if the disaster lasts for months?  What happens if the wife is at home and I am at work when the disaster strikes?  I live 50 miles away from my agency and those are 50 Los Angeles freeway miles.  So in a major disaster I may not be able to get there or to get home.

My intention is to get home or to my agency, whichever makes the most sense at the time.  We have had big earthquakes, major rioting, blackout, massive wildfires in my lifetime the National Guard have been called out at least four times for civil unrest.  You too should have a plan in the event disaster strikes, because it probably will at some time during your career; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 17, 2014


Video is an excellent tool for law enforcement.  It can also be a big problem.  In a free society people should be permitted to video police as they go about their duties.  I think there should be some reasonable restrictions on their ability to video police in action.  Sometimes the act of observing can interfer with the acts being performed.  When some criminals or gangs are on film they suddenly begin to misbehave to show off for the camera.  Sometimes when people are filming they get involved in the action, or get in the way of the officers in order to get good footage.

I think people should be required to stay a reasonable distance away from police while filming.  Perhaps 30 to 50 feet is a reasonable distance.  People should not be permitted to film while standing in the street or in other places were people normally should not be walking or standing.

If someone gets action on videotape that includes criminal activity, then the police should have the power to seize the video from the person doing the filming.  They should be required to provide the owner with a receipt and the should copy the information, not delete it and return the camera within one to three working days.  In fact, agencies that do this a lot should develop a method to download copies of the information in the field; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


When confronting someone it's often a good idea to explain what they did wrong.  It also clarifies that you are authorized to take action.  If someone screams they did not do anything wrong, you need to scream, stop resisting, you are under arrest!

Think about how your citizen contacts might look on video.  Do you come across as professional?  Sympathetic? Strong and brave or overbearing and annoying?  Police often seem uncaring or harsh when they don't intend to give that impression.

Video can make an officer look foolish and after it goes viral it's difficult to overcome the damage that has been done.  Officers can do better by remembering that they are on camera all the time.  Even at night, even in remote areas officers are typically on video.  If you behave like you are always on video, you won't have to explain what happened later; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


You are going to be filmed on duty.  Remember, however that video does not tell the whole story.  It often does not capture audio well and sometimes not at all.  Sometimes the video quality may be poor.  No matter where the video is located, it won't see everything that you see.

Video also can be slowed down, sped up and enlarged, unlike your realtime view of the world.  People will judge your actions based on what they saw by watching the video twenty five times.  There are things you should do to insure that the video is an aid to your job.  First, be ethical in all your work.  Bad police work looks really bad on video.

Say what you what the suspect to do, even if you are fighting.  Say, stop resisting, put your hands behind your back, you are under arrest.  Identify yourself, Police Officer!  That way the suspect can't say he did not know who you were and so he resisted.  Warn people if tactically appropriate.  Stop or I will pepper spray you, or shoot you, or hit you with my baton!   These sayings help clarify your state of mind at the time the video was shot; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 14, 2014


As soon as you put on your uniform and exit the locker room you may be on camera.  Consider yourself to be on camera until you return to the locker room.  Much of what you do will be recorded somewhere by someone.

I cannot believe that officers are so stupid to use excessive force, violate peoples civil rights, conduct illegal searches and frame people for crimes, all on video.  Most of the time the video is the very one in our patrol cars!

Everyone carries a cell phone these days and every cell phone has a camera, usually a video camera.  You cannot escape being filmed by someone.  Never do anything you don't want seen on YouTube by your mother, your wife, or your chief of police or the district attorney; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Back Up Gun

Around the first of the year we always do a range training exercise using back up and off duty handguns.  The use of firearms is a perishable skill.  Just like professional baseball players go to spring training every year in order to bring their skills back up to their last season level.

While officers don't have to fire their weapons very often and they are even less likely to fire their back up or off duty weapons.  Still, officers need to train with all their weapons, and training with off duty and back up weapons is important.

The course of fire for back up and off duty ones is a simple one.  We carry the handgun in the same location as we do on duty for the back up gun or off duty for the off duty gun.  The officer then draws the weapon and fires at a target while backing up to cover.  The officer reloads and fires again.  The learning points empathize being able to draw the weapon as it is usually worn, and retreating when faced with an armed attack, to a position of cover.  Practice with all your weapons; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Less Lethal vs Gun

An officer shoots someone who turns out to be unarmed.  The officer says he thought the subject had a gun.  The question I pose is was the officer absolutely sure the suspect had a gun?  Was he certain that shooting was the best response?  What danger cues caused the officer to know the suspect had a gun?  No matter what the reason, it always looks bad when police shoot an unarmed suspect. 

There may be alternatives to shooting if you think, but don't know if the suspect has a gun.  Taser, pepper ball, bean bag gun, rubber bullets, pepper spray might be useful.  If you have one suspect surrounded by four or five officers with guns drawn, perhaps on could use less lethal methods. 

The good thing about that is you can use them right away.  Even if the suspect has a gun their ability to shoot will be stopped or degraded.  This should not be attempted without at least a three to one numerical advantage for the police, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

TV & Movies

Before a movie is filmed in your area, once a permit is obtained, no parking signs should be set up for at least a couple days to warn people not to park in certain areas.  They will need space to park their many big trucks, and may need some areas to kept clear for filming. 

This will minimize traffic disruptions on filming days.  Private guards can provide physical security of the sets and equipment but police should stop traffic, block roads and direct traffic.  Dispatch needs to be informed of road closures and simulated gunfire or explosions.  The film board should provide police with a filming schedule and times and locations. 

The film board should shut down those productions that don't comply with the conditions of their permit.  Ease of traffic flow and public safety are important and filming should not significantly impact either; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 10, 2014

TV & Movies

Television, movie and commercial production is big business.  Sometimes they shoot on location and often this involves law enforcement.  The first thing is to have good local laws in place.  You should require a filming permit to film in your city.  This should require advanced notification of all filming of at least a week and the nature of the filming. 

Simulated gunfire, explosions, pyrotechnics, and people running or fighting can create panic for people unaware that it's a movie.  Blocking roads or sidewalks can be quite a disruption to business and travel if it's not properly controlled.  Having a permit can allow cities to plan for these events and make them go smoother.  Film crews can also include hundreds of people and dozens of vehicles, big trucks and noisy generators.

The permit should not be expensive and should not be based on the editorial content of the filming.  Film permits should require a medic on scene and police and firemen depending on the nature of the filming.  At least one police officer should be there to insure compliance with the permit, movie people often change their minds during filming and require monitoring to insure compliance with the permit.  The permit should charge the film crew for the cost of the police; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Initial Reports

When watching a major incident unfold on television, it is interesting to hear the initial reports and compare them to the final report.  Its a good way to learn how to filter what we hear in initial broadcasts and what to consider what may actually be happening.  When the 9/11 terrorists attacks happened we just accepted the first plane strike into one of the tallest buildings in the world in broad daylight on a clear day as an accident, no one reported it as terrorism.  Only when the second plane hit the other World Trade Center did we realize it was terrorism.

The Sandy Hook Shooting was reported as being done by a man armed with a shotgun, then an assault rifle, then a shotgun, then an assault rifle.  The suspect was said to have purchased his rifle despite being mentally ill and not being eligible to buy a gun.  Then it was proved he stole the rifles and pistols used from his mother.  He was said to have been turned down when he tried to buy a gun because he was mentally ill, but then it was discovered he never attempted to buy a gun.  While the man was mentally ill, he had not been reported as dangerous and could have legally purchased if he want to buy one. 

It was reported he was on illegal or prescription drugs and that's why he attacked the school children.  The autopsy showed no drugs in his system, legal or illegal and all his acquaintances said he never took drugs.  The first Officer to respond to Sandy Hook School reported a suspect with a handgun outside the school.  The suspect was detained but turned out to be a parent with a cell phone trying to call the police.  Initial reports can be very wrong, so be careful, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Right to an Attorney

Judges who are in no physical danger, who are under no time constraints, and who have a staff of assistants to help them, mull over decisions for days, even weeks that officers must make in seconds, often alone and usually with incomplete information, and sometimes in danger of their lives.

I have no sympathy for police ho knowingly do evil.  The good cop hates the bad cop.  Police who steal, rob, rape and even murder belong in jail, even deserve the death penalty for the worst crimes.  Cops who commit crimes, are criminals and should be treated like criminals, but ever criminal gets a defense.

Officers should not be bankrupt for trying to do their jobs.  Unlike a plumber who steals a gold ring from a house, a police officer will not only go to jail and get fired, but he will never work as a cop again, at least the plumber still has a career.  Officers who were making some kind of effort, however poor, still deserve representation, even if they deserve some level of punishment, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Legal Defense

I am not big on police unions, but the one I belong to has a legal defense fund.  If an officer is disciplined, fired, or even prosecuted, the legal defense fund helps to provide legal services to the officer, everyone is entitled to a defense.  Even the worst criminal, so certainly officers should take advantage of the legal system too.

Every year officers are disciplined, fired and even arrested, prosecuted and sued.  I think the vast majority of those officers were generally trying ot do a good job but due to carelessness, poor training, poor supervision, or even fear, they end up performing poorly.

Law enforcement is one of the few jobs that if you do a bad job, even with no evil intent, you can get arrested. The people who make our laws or interpret our laws generally suffer no consequence from making a error, or writing a law that is vague or even contradictory to other laws or actually illegal.  It is the cop on the street who has to try and cope with the chaos that can ensue; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


The California Highway Patrol and Chula Vista Fire Department responded to a roll over accident on the freeway, two people were injured.  At some point a CHP officer asked the fire department to move their fire truck.  For some reason the fireman did not move the truck and the CHP officer ended up handcuffing the fireman and detaining him in the back of a patrol car for 30 minutes before he was released.  All of this was caught on video tape by local news reporters.

When at the scene of an accident, fire or other incident with the fire department, let the fire department do the fireman work and let the policemen do the police work.  If there is a problem with the firetruck, mention it to the firemen or to their battalion chief and then let it go.  The responsibility is on them if something bad happens after they have been put on notice.

Firemen are generally very professional and they have their own way of doing things.  Let them do their jobs without interference from the police.  Don't escalate an incident or misunderstanding into a detention or arrest.  No one will look good in an incident of this type and this is the sort of thing that causes agencies to go to war against one another, sometimes for decades.  Firemen see things differently than police because their job is different, let them do their jobs; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Traffic Stop

A man convicted of arson and murdering four people during a robbery managed to escape from prison.  People like this are an excellent example of why we need the death penalty.  Someone like this should have been put to death less than a year after they committed their crimes, rather than be alive to escape from prison.

Soon after his escape, he kidnapped a woman, and stole her car, later he released her and stole another car.  The police spotted the second stolen car and took him into custody after a short pursuit.  This brings up an important issue for police, you never know who you are chasing and who you are stopping.

Police sometimes are complacent and allow themselves to fall into a routine of thinking nothing bad will happen.  As a result they don't take the proper precautions when making a traffic stop or even when in a pursuit.  We need to be aware of the potential dangers on every traffic stop and be ready for anything; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Suicide Prevention

A police officer from a small police department in Utah murdered his two children and his wife and then killed himself.  Suicide continues to take the lives of too many officers.  Suicide is preventable and we should do more to prevent it from happening.

According to theSuicide Prevention Lifeline there are many risk factors for suicide and police actually fill many of them.  As you read the list, think about officers who might work for your agency and consider if anyone of them fits multiples of these risk factors.  We need to take care of our partners especially if they are under stress and unable to care for themselves; that's what the SGT Says.

  • Alcohol and other substance use disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • History of trauma or abuse
  • Major physical illnesses
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of suicide
  • Job or financial loss
  • Loss of relationship
  • Easy access to lethal means
  • Local clusters of suicide
  • Lack of social support and sense of isolation
  • Stigma associated with asking for help
  • Lack of health care, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment
  • Cultural and religious beliefs, such as the belief that suicide is a noble resolution of a personal dilemma
  • Exposure to others who have died by suicide (in real life or via the media and Internet)

Monday, February 3, 2014


“History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline.  There has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster.”  Gen. MacArthur, 1951

Is your agency in a spiritual decline?  Does your agency have a chaplain?  Does your agency chaplain have any credibility with the line officers?  Do the officers who most need his services seek him out when they have a problem?

Police officers have a high divorce rate and a high suicide rate.  What is your agency doing about keeping officers married and keeping them from suicide?  If an officer gets in trouble does your agency abandon him to his own devices and leave him to get divorced, or kill himself?  Police work is difficult and stressful and officers make mistakes and bad judgement calls.  Proper disciple is essential and officers who perform criminal acts must be punished.  But we must also remember they were are brothers at one time and they should not be abandoned; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


When responding to a protest, at first it is best not to come across as heavy handed.  Some groups want confrontation with the police, but it is best to avoid that if possible.  Respond a limited number of officers and try to make contact with the group leaders.  Try to determine what they want to do and see if that request can be reasonably accommodated.  If a hundred people want to walk down the street a half a mile from a park to city hall that may be reasonable and it might be better simply to block off the streets and let them walk for thirty minutes.  Videotape the event for later use if there are complaints or if it becomes violent.

If a thousand people are breaking store windows, overturning cars, and setting them on fire, that's clearly unacceptable and you need to respond differently to that situation.  Make an announcement and declare an illegal assembly, warning the people they are subject to arrest if they don't disperse.  Make this announcement at least three times and make it in languages other than English if necessary to communicate with the crowd.  Have officers stationed at the back of the crowd to make sure everyone can hear the announcement.  Be sure to videotape the announcement.

Have officers ready and in place to break up the crowd.  Set up a perimeter to keep people out, you don't want more people to hear about it on social media and respond to the incident.  Take control of streets that will cut the group into smaller more manageable sections.  Always leave an escape route for those involved parties who want to obey the commands to disperse or third parties trapped in the incident.  In general your goal should be to get the people to disperse and go home, rather than to make mass arrests, but be sure to identify and arrest those who commit crimes of violence whenever possible; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


An officer is in pursuit and the suspect vehicle is going over 100 miles per hour.  A second officer is standing by at a nearby intersection.  The car drives by in front of him and moments later goes under the gate arm and hits a moving train.

The second officer responds to the site and tries to get the woman out of her car.  She refuses, and he uses his baton to break a window and try to get her out of the car.  His partner notices two things the officer does not.  First, the suspect car is sitting on railroad tracks and second there is another train coming too fast to stop. He warns the other officer who just manages to escape being hit by the train, unlike the suspect and her car.

When dealing with stressful situations, like traffic collisions, train wrecks, pursuits, suspects who refuse to exit the vehicle, it is easy to get tunnel vision.  It is easy to become so focused on what you are doing without realizing what else is happening.  Sometimes it's second or third suspects, sometimes it's danger cues the suspect has a gun, and sometimes is a train wreck waiting to happen; that's what the SGT Says.