Monday, June 30, 2014


A motorcycle officer made a traffic stop on a black pickup truck with two men inside.  As the officer approached the vehicle, the driver stuck his arm out the window and shot the officer seven times.  The officer was able to return fire.  An off duty officer stopped and rendered aid to the wounded officer who is expected to survive.

Wear your body armor, even when it is warm.  You cannot predict when you will be attacked.  Even the simplest call can result in a shooting.  An ambush is hard to prevent and difficult to counter.  If you are ambushed there are several courses of action to take. 

Return fire, rapidly, make the attacker suffer loss and think about their own safety.  Seek cover or assault the ambush.  If you are right on top of the attacker it might be better to move closer and end the fight rather than risk moving to cover taking fire all the time.  Whatever you decide, you have to move immediately; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Child Safety

About once every ten days or so in the United States a child dies in a car seat because the driver forgot the kid in the car.  This device attaches to the car seat and to the drivers car door as a reminder to take the baby out of the car seat. 

It's sort of like what the phone and cable companies do when they park their vans and put a cone at the front and rear of their vehicles.  It reminds them to check the vehicle front and rear for safety before they drive away.

Police departments like to give away safety related stuff.  This might be a good item to give away at safety fairs, and day care centers.  They could be manufactured pretty cheaply, they are little more than a bungee cord.  It might save a few kids; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Another Dog Shooting

Police were searching for a missing child.  During the course of the searching an officer when into a backyard.  A dog in the backyard came at the officer and he felt compelled to shoot the dog to death for his own protection.  As is often the case, a dog is protecting his property and an officer is protecting himself and tragedy results.

When checking a backyard for lost children, burglary or other reasons, rattle the gate a bit before you open it up.  Knock on the gate, or otherwise make some noise.  Most dogs will bark or charge the gate in response to the noise.

If you are checking a property, be alert to signs that there is a dog on the property.  Dogie do, dog paths in the dirt along the fence line, dog bowls and dog toys are good indications there is a dog.  If there is a dog, have your pepper spray ready, or your baton to fend off the dog.  Your Taser without the darts is a good tool too.  Just the testing mode is enough to scare away many dogs, without even touching them, they hate that electrical crackling noise; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 27, 2014


In hot weather take it easy.  You can't do the same things when it is hot you can do when it is cold.  Even cops overheat.  Take a second uniform to work and if you are outside a lot or have long shift, change your whole uniform, tee shirt, underwear, everything.

You need to be comfortable to properly do your job, and doing your job includes wearing your body armor.  Too many officers leave off their armor because it's too hot.  It's never too hot to wear your armor and it's always too dangerous to leave it in the locker.

Drink plenty of water and take plenty of breaks.  Drinking coffee, tea and soda is less effective at hydrating you than water.  Taking a cool down break so you can keep from overheating.  Drink water even if you don't feel thirsty; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Knife Attack

A man was recently awarded a psychology degree and then went to a party and murdered five people using a knife, to methodically stab four men and one woman to death.  He was the son of a police officer. 

The people involved say there was no apparently motive for the killings.  Another mentally disturbed young man finds an outlet for his rage by murdering people in Canada.  This is the worst mass murder in Western Canada.

Active shooter is now often active stabber.  A man with a two inch knife can cut your juggler vein or stab you in the lung.  A Taser is not a proper response to a man charging you with a knife in his hands in most cases.  The best weapon to use is typically going to be a gun.  Your body armor provides only limited protection from knives so don't rely on it to protect you; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Unusual Call

A woman came all the way from Germany to meet a man she met online.  The man took her cell phone and threatened her if he ran away from him.  She was kept essentially as a slave to him for a short while.  The woman was able to get to a computer and asked her ex-husband for help.  He called the police in North Carolina from Germany.  The police investigated and freed the woman.

This shows us an important thing to remember, that people can communicate all over the world and people travel easily from place to place.  It's easy to dismiss a phone call from another country about a strange activity in your jurisdiction.

In this case the police took the man seriously and investigated.  As a result they were able to free a captive woman.  They even used cadaver dogs to check for bodies, since the man told the woman he had killed some people.  Don't dismiss reports just because they come from an unusual source; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


This youtube video discusses the value of using .380 and .22 caliber handguns as concealed carry permit gun.  The information directly carries over to the use by police of a small handgun as an off duty gun or a back up gun.

I have always carried a .380 as my back up gun.  My Walther PPK/S is a great little gun, it is very accurate and has held up for 30 years as my back up gun.  My theory is that having a small gun that you can shoot accurately is important for concealment and stopping the attacker.  While it does have a small bullet, the hollow point ammunition helps to overcome some of that problem.  I also don't anticipate firing my off duty or back up gun at any significant distance. 

On duty my patrol rifle or my duty handgun are my first and second choices.  Only after those failed, were taken away or ran out of ammo would I go to my back up gun. Off duty, I try not to get involved in incidents unless I am compelled to do so to, I would rather be a good witness.  If I know I am going into a bad area or if I am working in plain clothes, then I carry my duty gun concealed, rather than my back up gun, in most cases; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 23, 2014


A family learned their son was a murder victim 36 years ago.  DNA testing was used to identify the bones of the victim found 30 years ago.  The murderer died a few years ago, and was never charged with the crime, but did serve prison time for auto theft and possession of stolen property in association with the murder. 

The father of the victim returned to the site were his son's remains were found.  He placed a small white cross and cried.  He thanked the detectives for giving him closure.

This shows the value of DNA for use in the identification of murder victims and of unidentified remains.  We need to do better about collecting DNA from families and victims when there is a missing person or a murder.  We tend to think of a murder as a "case."  But to the family and friends of the victim the murder involves a person; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Body Armor

Stephanie Kwolek was a lady chemist working for DuPont and she created the synthesis of the first liquid crystal polymer and the invented DuPont Kevlar.  As a result thousands of police and soldiers have had their lives saved when they have been shot.

This inventor died recently and I think it is fitting that we remember this woman who saved the lives of many of our brothers in blue.  Soft body armor has been a revolutionary development in law enforcement.

Despite the development of soft body armor, there are still some officers who will not wear armor.  It's too hot, it's too inflexible, it's too expensive.  I agree with all of those complaints and yet, I always wear my armor.  It's better than taking a bullet; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Police were in pursuit of a suspect who was driving over 100 miles per hour.  The suspect was forcing cars off the road and he rammed police vehicles.  Despite this the suspect still kept trying to ram police out of his way to escape.

Police fired fifteen rounds into the vehicle, killing both the suspect and his passenger.  The Supreme Court held that their actions were objectively reasonable.  The police used videotape to help explain what happened that night.

Complete and accurate reports are so important in cases.  It helps to paint a word picture of events to people who were not there who might have to revisit the incident, even years later.  In this instance the agency preserved the videotape from the car dashboards and was able to use it later in court.  Cops nearly always do the right thing in the field, but we need to make sure our documentation is just as good; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hidden Gun

Police arrested a man for smoking meth.  He had a history of violence and weapons violations.  Police officers searched him three times.  They did not find any weapons.  When they got to the station the suspect pulled a .25 auto from his butt cheeks and shot twice at the officers.  One officer returned fire and hit the suspect once in the stomach.

The suspect was combative the whole time.  The suspect said he did not want to return to jail.  He was dangerous and violent.  Yet, three officers searched him three times and the suspect still had a gun.  It was just pure luck that the handcuffed suspect did not actually hit anyone when he fired two rounds before his weapon jammed.

When searching a suspect make sure you search the groin and buttocks area.  Suspects know that officers are reluctant to search those areas and so they often hide weapons and contraband there.  The suspect later confessed to having drugs in his rectum too.  It was a dangerous night for those officers, learn from their example; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mental Health

I believe that a police mental health paramedic officer program would pay for itself over time.  It would pay for itself quickly in large agencies that deal frequently with mentally ill people.  The costs associated with one shooting of a mentally ill person, not to mention the loss of life, would likely pay for the program for years.

Since police are already being sent to deal with mentally ill people, this program is a logical extension of what police do already.  It fills the gap between doing nothing, which is what police often do in these circumstances, and an involuntary commitment to a mental hospital, which most of these people don't really need.

Being able to recognize mental illness and being able to contact an mental health professional, like paramedics do for physically ill or injured people, would make these officers a valuable resource.  The mental health system in this country is broken, I believe that a police mental health paramedic officer program would help to fix it; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mental Illness

My concept is that once an officer is off his field training and passed probation, he would be elegible to become a police mental health paramedic officer.  The program would consist of about six months classroom and hospital training for the officer.  He would learn how to deal with mental health emergencies, the drugs typically prescribed for mental health issues and how to administer them.  He would be specially trained in suicide intervention and be able to provide limited medical treatment for common methods of attempted suicide.

The officer would receive a small increase in pay and would be priority dispatched to calls for service that involve mentally ill persons.  Since police spend a substantial amount of time dealing with people with mental illness having officers on duty who specialize in this type of response would be a great benefit to the public, the mentally ill community and even their fellow officers.

Too often police respond to a mentally ill person and have to resort to violence to resolve the incident because we lack the training and tools to properly deal with people who have mental illnesses.  We don't always recognize that the person we are dealing with is unable, rather than unwilling to respond to our commands.  Just as we have SWAT teams to deal with dangerous criminals, having a police mental health paramedic officer can help us deal with dangerous, but sick, individuals; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mental Health

Decades ago fire departments were responsible for rescuing people from burning buildings and who were trapped in car crashes.  They transported all kinds of people for medical emergencies but they did not treat them.  Generally it was just a grab and run to the hospital.  Sometimes the victim might get some very basic first aid, and sometimes not even that.

Despite getting rescued from their accident or saved from being trapped in a burning car, many victims died before they got to the hospital or arrived too late to be helpful.  Some very smart people looked at the problem and they devised the paramedic program run by the fire department.

It was a logical extension of what the fire department was already doing.  They already responded to the traffic collision or medical emergency to transport the patient.  Rather than rely solely on speedy transportation to save lives, the fire departments realized if they could provide some minimal level of treatment, beyond first aid, but not to the level of a trauma center, they could save many more people.  I think that's what police departments could do with a police mental health paramedic officer program; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mental Illness

How much police time is wasted on crazy people running naked down the street at three in the morning?  How much police time is spent on talking to someone who says they want to kill themselves?  How much police time is not dealing with criminals as such, but rather dealing with people who have drug abuse or mental health problems?

We all know the answer, a lot of time.  Sometimes it seems like we spend the whole shift dealing with people watching shows that are not on TV and are listening to shows that are not on the radio.  Mental health and drug abuse issues are a huge problem for law enforcement.  Most of us signed up because we wanted to help people but we wanted to help them by catching crooks, not dealing with the insane.

I think there are several solutions to these problems and I have been addressing them the last few days, and I have a new solution I have not heard before that I will share with you.  I think we need to use police resources in a different way and look at mental health problems from a new angle.  I think we need to consider the police mental health paramedic program; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mental Illness

Many mentally ill people if they take their medications can live normal lives.  They sometimes become a police problem when they fail to take their meds and then act out in ways that are scary or even really dangerous.  There is a huge shortage of mental health doctors in this country and that contributes to the problem.

We need another way to insure that people who need medications for mental illness can receive them on a regular basis and be monitored to insure they are taking them as indicated.  One method is for science to develop new technologies to deliver mental health prescriptions.

Some people take an injection that contains a time release birth control medicine and it lasts them for months.  If mentally ill people only needed four shots a year that might help them to maintain their medication schedule.  Other people have various types of implants that deliver medications around the clock.  Perhaps the medications used for mental illness can be developed in forms that don't require a daily dose; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Mental Illness

In the 1960's there were 500,000 beds in mental hospitals in the United States.  Today there are only 100,000 beds in mental hospitals in the United States.  With the advent of new drugs to treat psychological cases many people could be released into the community and lead normal lives.

The problem with this is a break down in the delivery of the medications.  Some of them are expensive and sometimes mentally ill patients don't have insurance or the ability to pay for their medications.  More frequently the mentally ill person takes there medications, feels better and then comes to believe that they don't need their medications any longer.

As a result, in either case, they stop taking their medications.  After a time off their medications, some mentally ill people act out in ways that cause them to become a police problem.  In extreme cases they commit terrible crimes, even mass murder.  We need a better system of administering medications of mentally ill people; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Roll Call Training

Supervisors, very day at the start of your shift, unless there is an urgent call holding, make sure your officers get a training tip.  Ideally, every week your agency should publish a short training topic that will take about five to twenty minutes to present.  Then every roll call the officers who have not done the training for that week will sit through the training class.

Make sure there is a short quiz, two to five questions, fill in the blank types, that require the officer to fill in a critical bit of information.  Example:  Section 459 Burglary requires that a person enter the specified structure to commit theft or any felony.  The officer fills in the world "enter" in his own handwriting, signs and dates the document.  The tests are then corrected and remedial training is given until everyone achieves 100% correct responses.  The tests are then filed in the officers training file.

This way the agency has an on-going supply of documents that show they are continually reminding officers of various topics important to the safe and effective performance of their jobs.  It helps to inoculate the agency, the supervisor and even the officer from an inadequate training lawsuit.  At the end of the year, everyone will have been trained or refreshed on four dozen topics or more; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


A woman in California called police and told them she was concerned about her son.  She said she thought he might be suicidal.  Several police responded to his apartment and spoke to him.  He told them it was just a misunderstanding.  He said that he was not suicidal.  Police were told he had posted some videos on YouTube that were disturbing but they did not watch them.  Police said the man was polite and shy, and did not seem suicidal to them, so they left after about ten minutes.

Six weeks later the man stabbed three people to death, shot three more to death and injured a number of others.  Police have been criticized for not watching his videos and not detaining him or searching his apartment.  The man was under the care of a therapist.  The therapist did not contact police to warn them.  He did not commit the man as a danger to himself or others.  There is no real evidence that watching the videos would have lead to the man being confined.

Psychologists and other mental health care professionals say that they cannot with complete accuracy the future behavior of people under their care.  They will tell you that past behavior is a good indicator of future behavior.  This man did not have a history of violence.  It's unreasonable to expect police to predict the behavior of mentally disturbed individuals with any great degree of accuracy; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


A decade can go by on the job without you even missing it.  You should consider your career and try to make some headway in remembering what happened.  On my first day, my friend Randy took a photo of me in uniform, next to a patrol car.  That's probably the only photo of me in uniform for ten years or more.

A few years ago, I started carrying a digital camera and taking photos of police work, vehicles, and equipment.  I have been taking photos of my co-workers too, and then sending them to my co-workers by email.

I don't take photos of persons arrested or crime scenes.  I try to take photos of officers doing things, but nothing that might be of an evidential nature.  I don't want my photos to be a bone of contention in any court case.  It can also be appropriate to take copies of police narratives that you write, in keeping with your agency policy, as a personal record of your activities; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Every organization has it's own institutional memory.  Most police departments do a poor job of recording it for posterity.  Even large agencies like LAPD and LASO have museums, but they are not staffed by full time historians and curators.

Every agency should have someone who has as part of their job, maybe even their full time job, to record all important events in the agency.  Every murder and every police shooting should be recorded, and the police reports retained forever.  Every officer death on duty and at least a short history of every officers career should be retained forever too.

A sample of every type of weapon used by the agency should be retained in full working order, along with a duty supply of ammunition.  Photographs of every type of patrol car in every type of markings ever used should be retained too.  Cars should be photographed from all four sides and the top.  History is something to be proud of and should be saved; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Major Incident

When working a major incident, don't forget all those extra things that may need to be handled.  A gas leak, or a major structure fire, or an active shooter requires lots of work to handle well.  Local transit companies might need to be notified, buses, light rail may need to be delayed or detoured.  Heavy freight trains might need to be stopped too.

Aircraft flights might need to be moved, airspace management might require a no fly zone.  School buses might need to be diverted, and schools might need to be locked down, or even closed.  Hospitals, nursing homes might need to be evacuated, even local high rise buildings might be at risk.  Contacting their security forces can be useful, and they can often perform the evacuation, at least until they are off campus.

Police from distant locations might have to be guided in to your location.  You might need to have multiple staging points for incoming police, fire or medical units.  You may even need to coordinate food and lodging for these units too.  Major incidents can go on for days, even when the actual shooting is over in a few minutes and the suspect is in custody or dead.  Major incidents require a major commitment; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


This narrative is based on preliminary reports and may not be fully accurate, but it's based on the best information I have available at this time.  Two officers went to lunch on duty, in North Las Vegas.  North Las Vegas was named as the second most boring city in the nation on a recent on line survey.   Two officers eating lunch in one of the most boring cities in the country.  What could be safer?

A man and a woman walked inside the restaurant, a gun free zone, and shot the two officers to death.  The criminals then took the officers weapons and ammo and went next door looking for more victims.  While next door at Walmart the criminals were confronted by an armed citizen who shot one of the criminals.

The criminals returned fire and killed the citizen.  The two criminals then killed themselves with no further injuries.  Sometimes the police can be on scene and still not win the fight.  We must always remember that anything can happen at anytime, even if you work in a boring city; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Major Incident

When you have a major incident and you don't get to be directly involved, remember there are many tasks that should be done.  Crime and accidents that require police protection will still continue and so you will have to handle those, perhaps with little or no back up compared to your usual routine.

If everyone else is tied up on the bank robbery gone bad, hostage crisis, and you have to work patrol, it's a good time to remember to stay focused on your work.  Don't hang out watching television at the station, watching the news, trying to find out what else is happening at the incident.

Try to stay available for calls.  Don't do traffic stops unless they are unavoidable.  Try to handle basic calls for service quickly, but completely.  Be sure to stay focused on your work, don't let the incident distract you.  Notify the family that you might have to work overtime to cover the city during the incident.  Major incidents often mean we all have to work more, even if we are not there; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I have a holster that I wear with my Glock duty weapon that is designed for concealed carry.  Sometimes I have to work a special undercover detail or a plain clothes assignement so it comes in handy.  Other times I just like to have a full size gun on me when I am out and about on my off duty time.

The holster is made in the USA by a company called Aker International, Inc.  I noticed the snap had broken and I phoned them to ask about a repair.  They said to mail the holster to them and they would take care of it.  My wife sent it first class mail on Monday and a brand new holster arrived UPS on Friday.  That's great customer service.

Aker International, Inc.
2248 Main St., Suite 6
Chula Vista, CA 91911
(619) 423-5182 or (800) 645-AKER

Thanks Aker for a job well done, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


I carry my .40 caliber Glock duty weapon.  I have two additional magazines on my belt.  I carry a folding Buck utility knife in a .45 ammo pouch behind my pistol holster.  I carry a hand held radio, and an epaulette microphone on my chest.  I have a short can of OC spray, and a small Pelican flashlight on my belt.

I have one pair of handcuffs, I wear them on the front, on my gun side.  I figure it's unlikely I am going to handcuff someone with a gun in my hand.  I wear a key keeper at the back, with the keys tucked into my hip pocket.

On my key ring, I have a large handcuff key, and a traffic signal key, in addition to unit keys.  I carry a second folding knife in my left front pocket, I can open either knife with one hand, either hand.  I also carry a PR24, all plastic, side handle baton.  I also carry a small Surefire flashlight in my pocket.  I have changed around my gear over the years as I have changed what I do, or how I do it; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Seat Belt

Wear your seat belt.  When you train new officers make them wear their seat belt.  One of the largest cause of death of police officers.  In a typical year, more officers are killed sitting in their cars, in a traffic collision than are shot.

You won't let your rookies go on patrol without body armor, why would you let them go on patrol without a seat belt on?  I think that it is the law in every state that drivers wear their seat belt.  Officers should have to comply with that law.

As a supervisor you should encourage your officers to wear their seat belts.  If they don't wear their seat belts, you should write a memo to them and put it in their file that you observed them without a seat belt on while operating their patrol car.  You should mention it in their annual evaluation also.  Officers who won't wear their seat belts are doing something dangerous; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Traffic Deaths

An officer had stopped a car along the freeway and a truck changed lanes and the driver intentionally ran over the officer, killing him.  The truck drove away.  The driver was found not long afterwards, naked in the forest.  He was tracked down by police dogs.  The suspect admitted to intentionally killing the officer.

This is an excellent example that anything we do can get us killed, even doing nothing.  This officer was doing what most officers on patrol do every day, making a traffic stop.  Nothing unusual, and nothing out of the ordinary.

Even while we watch for the danger cues from the driver and passengers of vehicles we stop, we have to watch for other traffic.  Leave a safety lane between our vehicle and the violators vehicle.  Stop back at least a little bit so that if your vehicle is hit from behind it will not immediately hit the violators car, giving you some warning.  Watch out for anything, because almost anything can get you hurt or killed, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Drug Bust Gone Bad

Police received a tip that a man had sold drugs from his home.  Police SWAT executed a no-knock raid at 3:00 a.m. using a flash bang.  The flash bang went off inside a baby's crib and badly burned the child's face.  The suspect was not at home and was arrested later at another location.  Police said they did not know there was a child in the home.

Intelligence collection is one of the most important things about a raid.  You have to know who is in the location, what kinds of weapons they may have and other factors, like the presence of dogs, children and uninvolved parties.  In this instance the police did not know there was a child present.  They did not know the suspect was not home.  There is no indication there were firearms or other weapons.

Why did the police have to conduct a raid at 3:00 a.m. if there was no history of violence or weapons at the location?  Why did the police raid the house if they were not certain the suspect was home?  This was a simple drug arrest.  They could have monitored the house for a day or two to make certain the suspect was home and to get a better idea who was inside.  They could have done a controlled buy to see if they could detect anything of importance inside the house.  They could have tapped the phone or used other electronic means to find out what was going on.  Instead they ended up with a burned baby and a public relations nightmare; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dog Shooting

Police responded to a report of a large Mastiff dog on the loose.  The responding officer claimed it was attacking several women and he shot four times, hitting the dog one time.  The community has raised almost $6,000 to help the pay for the dogs medical care.

This is typical of dog shootings by the police.  The cops claim the dog was attacking and the owners, neighbors and community claim the dog is gentle.  The problem is that dogs are sympathetic characters and police who have to shoot at one are always seen as wrong.  Unless the dog has actually bitten someone, the community has a tendency to side with the dog.

Police need better training to recognize aggressive dog behavior.  They also need to learn the difference between a scared dog who might bite and an aggressive dog who might bite.  Scared dogs will usually not attack unless the are cornered or feel immediately threatened.  Aggressive dogs will actually run out and attack.  This particular incident where four shots were fired at close proximity to a dog and other people, and only one non-fatal hit in the leg happened demonstrates that it's a poor idea to shoot at dogs' that's what the SGT Says.