Sunday, November 30, 2014


If you did not write it down, it did not happen.  My agency no longer does paper daily activity reports.  In fact the officers don't keep any kind of log.  Unless you take paper, get dispatched to something or write a ticket there is little evidence you even came in to work.

Dispatch, however, does log everything you tell them on the radio.  So I make it a point to try and contact them at least every 30 minutes with something of value.  Make a traffic or pedestrian stop.  Go out on an open garage door, or other suspicious circumstance.

Do a foot patrol of a local business, or even just walk up to the counter of a shop and say hello.  Do a drive in of the golf course, or one of the parks, just to let them know I am out and around and patrolling.  Sometimes I just give the hundred block of the street and let them know I am extra patrolling the area.  This is particularly good if there has been recent crime on that block; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fleet Management

I used to be in charge of a fleet of patrol vehicles.  Every officer, every shift had to do a full inspection of his patrol car. That included all the fluids, oil, radiator, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield wiper fluid.  I kept a supply of each on hand and they had to add them as needed.

I made a deal with a local car wash and anytime a patrol car was dirty the officer only had to drive in and sign a sheet to verify the wash was done.  No one was allowed to drive a dirty car.  The fleet looked good and officers had clean window glass.  Every beat was assigned a full time car and a part time car.  The beat supervisor was responsible for keeping them in good shape, and reporting any problems.  By having assigned cars, the same people drove them frequently and could tell if there was a problem.

Officers had a checklist to use to insure there were flares, a fire extinguisher, a full size spare tire, jack, and lug wrench, and first aid kit.  Officers could go to the storage room and get a replacement any time theirs was out of service.  It helps keep your cars in good shape if everyone can keep their car running right; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Current Events

How many friends do you have that are not cops?  Do you have friends at church?  Do you go to church?  Do you tell your friends you are a cop?  Have you stayed away from relatives because you are a cop and don't want to here them complain about cops in the news?

If you don't have non-police friends then who will tell the public the truth about police work?  If you don't go to church then who will show the people who go to church about the peacemakers?  If you don't want to engage in conversations about your profession, then who do you think they will talk to about police work?

Recently I have had several conversations in person and on line about several high profile police incidents. I made it a point to read up on what happened from a number of sources so I could get a pretty good idea about the full facts of the incidents.  Then I stuck to those facts and to those specific incidents and explained the law, the agency policy and the standard of reasonableness, and finally asked the other person for options.  I think I did a good job of education, even if I did not actually change everyone's mind, I at least made them think. Sometimes that's enough of a start; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Off Duty

Do you carry a gun off duty?  Where do you carry it?  Is it in the car?  In your briefcase?  Can you get to it quickly?  Do you only carry it when you think you will need it?  How good are you at predicting the future?

Do you carry extra handcuffs off duty?  Do you carry extra ammo?  Do you carry a phone so you can communicate?  Do you wear body armor off duty?  Do you have a way to identify yourself off duty?  Do you carry a badge and ID card?  How about a raid jacket?

I carry a gun all the time off duty if I am outside my house and off my property.  I keep extra ammo, handcuffs and a raid jacket in my car.  I carry a cell phone to call for help.  My first intention is to call for help and be a good witness.  Only if there is a major threat to safety do I have any intention to get involved more that that; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


We have all seen the comedy routine where a city working shows up at a curb an installs a no parking sign.  Then a cop rolls up and writes a citation for illegal parking for a car that was parked there prior to the sign installation.

Does this happen in your beat?  We have a policy of not ticketing or towing unless the sign has been up for at least three days.  When we have an event, like a parade or a road race we have the city crews put the signs up three to four days ahead of time.

Then about two days ahead of time we have an officer go by and insure the signs are up and in the right place.  We want to be able to say we gave everyone a chance to move their cars before they had to be towed.  Even then we will run the license plates, honk the airhorn and even go door knocking rather than cite or tow a car on a temporary no parking zone.  We really don't want people to have an excuse when we tow their car away; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


It is an unusual year that a police officer in America does not have his gun taken away and used to kill him, often from inside the holster. Brown was wanted for robbery and he attacked the officer, punching him in the face and running away only after the officer shot at him. How many times can you be punched in the face before you pass out and are helpless? 

The officer chased Brown to arrest him and only shot at him again when Brown turned and charged at him. Six witnesses testified under oath that the officer shot in self defense. All of the rounds the officer fired were probably fired in less that two seconds after Brown started to charge him. Police are trained to shoot until the threat stops, it does not stop until the suspect decides to stop. 

There were over 110 police officers killed in the line of duty in America this year, can you name any of them?  The news media does a poor job of showing America the true face of violence in our nation.  Too often the thug is the focus rather than the innocent victim or the hero; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Choosing a new handgun can also be an opportunity to construct a full weapons system.  Many handguns like the Glock, have both full size and compact versions.  The advantage is that if your duty weapon gets taken, dropped, lost, damaged, you can continue the fight with your compact gun.  The compact gun will accept the full size magazines and allow the individual to fight on.

Guns can also increase in size, you may be able to find a carbine that will take the same size magazines as the duty weapon, and operate in the same caliber.  This gives greater range and accuracy than the regular handgun.  Three guns, same magazines and same caliber.

Finally, think about cleaning kits and how hard or easy the guns are to clean.  Look into the availability of magazines.  Each officer should have at least five magazines for his duty weapon, and two for his back up gun.  Sometimes magazines can be expensive, or hard to get.  There is a lot to think about with a new duty gun; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


When looking for a duty handgun, look for things beyond the initial purchase of the guns.  Can you get factory authorized armorers training?  Can you get a supply of spare parts so your armorers can fix any broken guns?

Can you get holsters in the style and color your department authorizes?  New guns especially often don't have duty holsters from all the major companies.  Don't forget holsters for use by your tactical teams, bike patrol, boat patrol, K-9 handlers and other special units that use a particular duty holster.  Also your detectives and off duty carry will require holsters too.

Don't forget transition training to the new weapon for all those who will carry the new weapon.  It does not matter how similar it is to the old weapon, transition training needs to be done so that the officer will be fully able to deploy the weapon.  Plan on extra ammo for that training too.  Along with that, does your duty ammo come in a caliber that you use?  New guns mean more expenses; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Duty Handgun

A duty handgun should be totally reliable under the conditions you intend it use it.  Officers seldom like to clean their guns and so you have to inspect them from time to time.  That means you need to have a staff of armorers who can check out the guns and do minor repairs.  Armorers should be trained by the company that makes the gun.  They should be re-certified as often as the maker says they need retraining.

Duty handguns should not be brand new designs.  As tempting as being cutting edge technologically may be, guns are not fully broken in until they have been carried on duty by either a large military force in combat or a number of large police departments have used them for a few years.

Sometimes hidden defects or poorly designed features are not obvious until the guns have either had some wear or been fired many times or carried by a large number of people.  After a few years of service, most gun makers will review their designs and update them in response to reports from the field.  You don't want to field a gun with a hidden flaw that appears at a bad time; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Best Handgun

What is the best handgun to use?  The best handgun is the one that suits your purpose, perfectly.  To discover the best handgun, answer some important questions.  A duty firearm for a large department should have adjustable grips so that officers large and small can hold the weapon properly and easily.

A duty firearm should be at least .38 special or 9mm in caliber.  Larger calibers are good too, but there are extreme handgun calibers that are not appropriate for duty weapons, like the various .50 caliber handguns.

Firearms for personal defense, on or off duty, should be manufactured by a reputable firearms maker.  They should be made in the USA for American law enforcement, so that parts and repairs can be made easily and quickly.  You don't want to have to wait for a spring to come from Sweden or Brazil to fix your gun.  American taxpayer dollars should be used to buy products made in America; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Best Handgun

What is the best handgun?  That is like asking what is the best automobile?  The best handgun depends on many factors.  One of those factors depends on what you are going to do with the handgun. 

Just as you would not use a Corvette to move a piano, you don't use a .380 as a duty weapon.  Will the weapon be carried in the open or concealed?  Will the weapon be for your personal use or will it be a standard for a large and diverse group of people?

Navy SEALS can be expected to be large men, who train frequently and who will take excellent care of their weapons.  They will practice until they get the maximum performance out of their firearms.  They will need guns that can get wet and that will withstand extreme conditions of weather and temperature.  The best gun for them, may not be the best gun for you; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Modern handguns are generally revolvers, semi-automatic and high capacity.  Typical handguns for the last 100 years include the S&W Model 19 dates from 1899 and is still in production.  M1911 dates from about 1911 and is still in production and the Glock 17 dates from 1982.

These are the military and police style handguns that would be popular in the USA and much of the Western world the last 100 years.  Other handguns are similar in design, range and accuracy.  All three weapons have a range of about 50 yards with a skilled shooter. 

The revolver holds about 6 rounds and is the slowest to reload.  The semi-auto holds a couple more rounds but is usually faster to reload.  The high capacity will hold 12 to 20 rounds depending on the specific model.  It can be reloaded as fast as the semi-auto.  Under most conditions these three classes of handgun are not that different.  I am an expert in all three and the shooter is the greatest variable; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Walking Around

When patrolling residential neighborhood look for things that appear out of place.  Very small children outside after dark, particularly if they are not really dressed.  Sometimes little children wander away.  Sometimes they open the door and go outside when everyone else is asleep.

Dogs running loose can be a safety hazard in many ways.  They might bite someone.  Drivers might run them over or swerve to avoid hitting them and crash into someone else.  Contact animal control and in the meantime perhaps you can round them up or notify the owners.

People carrying unusual burdens.  When was the last time you walked down the street carrying a television set or a full pillowcase?  Burglars often steal televisions and pillow cases make great bags for loot.  Those folks are probably good for at least a field interview card, if not an arrest.  You can see a lot by just looking; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Crime or Irritation?

All over the nation cities and states are passing silly laws and expecting the police to enforce those laws.  No skateboarding in the school parking lot after school.  No leaf blowers that use gasoline.  No construction before 7:00 a.m.  No 32 ounce carbonated beverages can be sold in the city.

Not everything that is a good idea should be a law.  People drive cars, have children, vote, join the Army and do all kinds of very resonsible things every day.  I don't believe that the government needs to be involved in the mircomanagement of everything people do with their lives.

As police we get tasked with enforcing these laws. Then when someone becomes irate about it, we are suddenly the bad guys for doing our jobs.  Perhaps before any law becomes law, responsible legislators will ask local law enforcement if this is a good idea or not?  I did not become a cop so I could enforce law that are not only victimless crimes, but in many cases hardly come to the level of minor irritation; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


What do you look for when on patrol in a residential neighborhood?  Open garage doors, open house doors and open gates can all mean trespassers or even burglaries and home invasions.  Stop, notify dispatch and investigate.  Be ready for anything, but also be aware that the most likely scenario is that the homeowner left the gate or door open.

Look for cars with the keys in the trunk or the door look.  Cars in the driveway sometimes have the car keys in the trunk.  Busy housewife comes home from the store and has to deal with bringing in the packages and the kids and just gets distracted.  That makes it easy for a car thief to steal that car. 

Don't assume the owner will be back.  Sometimes I just stop in front of the driveway and wait for a minute and usually the owner will return.  If they don't I either honk the air horn or park and walk up to the house to tell them the keys are in the car or their trunk is open.  I don't remove the keys or close the trunk.  It's just another way to show people they get value for their police services; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Crooks and Good Guys

If you keep your public happy, they are more likely to trust you.  If your public trust you, they are more likely to support you when you ask for a raise in pay.  If they trust you and something bad or questionable happens they are more likely to either side with your agency or forgive the mistake.

Some officers drive around with a frown on their face and the only time they contact the public is when they respond to a call for service or stop someone to write them a ticket.  Every contact they have is at best professional and neutral or hostile.

Those officers end up disliking people and hating their jobs.  They are not much fun to be around.  Sometimes I think they are likely the ones to be involved in bad police work.  When you see everyone as a threat, rather than as a person, it's easy to react to threats that are not there or overreact to real threats.  Not everyone is a crook, even in the worst neighborhoods; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Open Garage

The agency I work for does predictive policing.  We field an extra officer to provide extra patrol were the computers say crime is predicted to happen again.  I sometimes work this detail.  I usually does not take the whole shift to perform the extra patrol, so I always do a few extra things.

When cruising the residential areas where burglaries have happened recently, I look for opportunities to speak to people.  If I see an open garage door, it could provide access to a burglar.  An attached garage door is an open invitation for a burglar to enter, close the door behind him and use the garage tools to open the door to the house.

I call off to dispatch that I am out checking on the open garage and then after a quick check, it could be a burglar after all, I knock on the door.  I explain to the resident that the open garage is an invitation to burglary and advise them or recent crime trends in the neighborhood.  The typical reaction is a very happy homeowner; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Eye Protection

A friend of mine sent me this photo of a Glock.  It has apparently suffered a cataclysmic internal explosion.   The original caption said it was the result of reloading ammo.  I suspect that is true.  Som people who reload ammo have little or know idea about the kinds of pressures that can build up in a bullet.  Unless you know a lot about ammo, reload to factory specifications.  Better still, use only factory ammo in your duty guns, even for practice.

This exploded gun is a Glock, but this happens to all kinds of guns, even those without any plastic in them at all.  This is one reason why we always wear eye protection at the range, even if someone else is shooting.  An explosion powerful enough to blow this gun apart is powerful enough to send bits pretty far to hit your eye.

I have even been wearing eye protection on patrol.  A traffic collision may result in glass in your face.  A shooting on duty might result in a need for eye protection.  Wear quality eye protection to insure it can take a hit from something like this; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


In Long Beach, CA a DHS agent pulled a gun and shot his supervisor.  A second DHS agent fought for his gun, and then ended up having to kill the initial shooter.  A deadly force incident that involved blue on blue workplace violence.

In this incident it took over a year for the officer to be cleared of any wrongdoing.  Why does it have to take so long in investigations like this?  A simple three minute discussion of what happened would clearly indicate that the officer did nothing wrong and is in fact a hero.

Justice delayed is justice denied.  This officer had to face the stress of having to fight for his life twice.  Not only to save himself in the initial attack, but then again in the legal battle.  This legal battle was at least quick compared to many others.  We need to be doing a better job of streamlining the legal system; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


How secure is you department data network?  How secure is your city data network?  One tactic in use now by criminals, terrorists, anarchists, and foreign governments are now using against organizations in the United States is to hack their data networks.

Do you want criminals to have your home address?  Your HR department has that information, along with the dependents listed on your health insurance coverage.  How would your wife like to receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your department saying you were killed in the line of duty?  That's one of the things criminals can do with this information to harass you.

If they have your home address they can shoot at your home, or your family as you come and go.  They can vandalize or even burn down your house.  They can plant a bomb in your car to blow up when you start your vehicle.  Most local agencies have poor data security and most city governments are even worse.  Many experts recommend passwords for your computer that are at least 11 characters and even more is better.  How many of you have 1234 as your password?  Computer hacking is changing crime; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chop Chop

How do you defend yourself against a man with a hatchet?  A radical Muslim man attacked four New York City cops with his hatchet.  He injured two officers and the other two killed the suspect with gunfire.

A man with an edged weapon is very dangerous.  They don't run out of ammo.  They don't jam.  They don't malfunction.  Edged weapons only suffer from the need to be at close range.  A hatchet does have more range than the average knife.

A hatchet will also cut off an arm, or break bones; the head can be very heavy.  I think that the only reasonable way to deal with a man with a hatchet is to shoot him until he is no longer a threat.  Distance or some barrier may provide some protection, but once the protection is breached, batons, and arrest control techniques would likely be futile; that's the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Violent Attack

If you are in a fight for your life, do what you have to do in order to survive.  While the nature of police work is such that you might have to be involved in dangerous situations, there is nothing that says you have to submit to injury or death.

I carry a knife on my belt and another one in my pocket.  The one on my belt is in the rear, on the right.  The one in my pocket is on my left and in the front.  If I am struggling with someone and I need a weapon, I can extract either knife with one hand and open it with one hand.

I have taken classes in knife fighting and so I am skilled in my use of the weapons.  I also train with them so that I keep my skills up.  I don't want to hurt anyone, but I want to get hurt even less.  When faced with a violent attack, your actions have to be reasonable, but it is not reasonable to allow a criminal to kill you; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Stick It

Since the Rodney King event, the baton seems to have gone out of favor with many officers and agencies.  Still a good old stick is a good persuader of men.  Too often we leave our batons in the car and when we need it, it’s not there.

Every time you get out of the car, try to take your baton with you.  There are so many kinds of batons in use now that it’s hard to say you have a good excuse for not having on.  The collapsible ones can be worn on the belt all the time and take up very little space.

I wear a wooden baton and I try and take it with me every time I an outside the car.  Even on a report call, you never know when something will appear or spill over from another incident.  You can’t use it if you don’t have it; that’s what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Pepper Balls

Pepper balls are an interesting less lethal weapon.  It is similar to a paint ball gun, but rather than paint, the gun fires pepper balls.  Spheres that are filled with OC; or solid plastic balls are their projectile choices.  

The spheres hurt when the suspect gets hit with one and the OC can help to blind and incapacitate him too.  The range is much farther than just OC spray, and it works very well in a small space like a car.  The pepper balls can be fired in quick succession and can fill up a car with OC.

The solid projectiles are good for breaking car or home window glass.  They are also painful when they hit a suspect.  This is a good tool to use against rioters or people armed with a potentially deadly weapon like a knife, or stick, or in a standoff situation where officers with firearms are able to engage as needed.  It is a good addition to the tactical tool box; that’s what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Individual Riot Control

Some items we think of as usable for riot control, can actually be useful when faced with an individual suspect.  A single suspect armed with a deadly weapon, but in a standoff is very dangerous.  Typically, we respond with deadly force, and rightfully so.

Still there may be other options we should not overlook.  A suspect with a knife in a parking lot might be hard to hit with a stream of pepper spray, but perhaps a couple tear gas grenades, like those used against rioters, might be useful.

Withdraw a few officers and have them don their gas masks.  Then have them go forward and replace those on the line without masks.  Those officers in turn don their masks and return with tear gas grenades.  Toss a few grenades at the suspect and envelop him in gas.  It may incapacitate him enough that he will drop his weapon and can be taken into custody without injury.  Look for other options to deadly force when you can; that’s what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


If you have an incident with multiple officers pointing guns at a suspect, designate others to use less lethal weapons.  For example, an emotionally disturbed person is in the middle of a parking lot with a knife threatening to stab himself or others.

Four officers arrive on scene, have one of them deploy a less lethal weapon.  Perhaps a bean bag shotgun, or maybe pepper balls.  Even OC spray might be enough to stop the suspect, if you could safely get within range.

I am not suggesting that a single officer use pepper balls or OC spray against a man with a knife, but when there are multiple officers, you have multiple options.  Based on the threat, the cover, and the equipment available; look at other options besides deadly force; that’s what the SGT Says.