Saturday, January 31, 2015

Burglary Alarm Response

When responding to a residential burglar alarm as you approach the location, look for a lookout.  He might be on the corner, or even down the street, or across the street.  Sometimes he may be in a car, often in the driver seat.  The lookout can use a radio, Nextel or even a cell phone to alert those inside.

I like to walk down the side of the building nearest where I park.  Then I check the gate and go inside if it is unlocked.  I check the perimeter of the building working back to my starting location.  Don't forget to look both up and down. 

Check for footprints in the mud.  Look for spider webs that have been disturbed.  See if window screens have been removed.  Look for pry marks on doors and windows.  Check window sills for dust that has been disturbed.  Burglars leave signs, look for them; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Alarm Response

When responding to a burglar alarm at a residence, two officers should respond if possible.  If you find a suspect inside the home, it is too late for much back up to be helpful.  As you approach the location, look for vehicles that might belong to the burglars.  They could be driving away trying to escape, or they make still be parked at the scene.

Park a couple homes away from the location, without driving past the location.  Approach the location in your car with your lights turned off so you don't give away your arrival.  Notify dispatch of your arrival just before you actually get there, so your radio noises won't give you away.  Unbuckle your seatbelt so you can hop out quickly.

Close your car door softly, so you don't alert the suspects to your presence.  If it's nighttime, try inspecting the location without your flashlight or by using it sparely.  I often cover the light with my hand and only allow a sliver of light out.  Surprise is a great asset in a burglary response, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Less Lethal Shotgun

If the shotguns are all stored away, what can we use for less lethal baton rounds?  If you want shotguns for that purpose, a dedicated shotgun for bean bag or wooden or rubber rounds is best.  It's not a good idea to mix lethal and less lethal rounds in the shotgun.

It's very east to mix up rounds and have a lethal shotgun round in a shotgun when you intend to use a less lethal round.  My agency uses shotguns for less lethal but we have taken special precautions for their use.

The less lethal shotguns are stored in the armory, and not deployed on regular patrol like the patrol shotguns.  The less lethal shotguns have had the wooden / plastic parts removed and replaced with orange plastic parts.  They are also configured differently to give a different feel to them.  Keep your shotguns separate to avoid a major problem; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


If your shotguns are retired from active patrol service, what should you do with them?  I would suggest that before they are retired, you perform an inventory and an inspection of all your shotguns.  Before they are withdrawn, purchase a safe or build an armory large enough to store them all inside.

Clean, repair and refurbish all your shotguns.  Make certain they are all in perfect condition.  Store them in a controlled and secure environment.  Insure you have a variety of ammunition for them.  Slugs, OO buck, and a small supply of birdshot.  You should have at least 50 rounds of each per shotgun.

Keep a few shotguns out for training.  About once a year run your officers through a short shotgun training class.  Your officers should know how to use the shotgun in the event they need to be re-deployed in the future; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


If your agency removes the shotgun from general use, it should be kept in reserve.  There are still some tasks that the shotgun is very good at doing.  One is the ability to fire a variety of rounds.  Specialized shotguns can fire bean bags, and rubber, or wooden bullets.  These are good for times when severe riot control is needed.

Shotguns can fire breaching rounds to break open door locks and hinges.  For a SWAT team or other special unit this can be very important.  Shotguns can also fire slugs.  Shotgun slugs are able to penetrate walls, and body armor.

Shotguns are also good for use against animals.  The presence of large and dangerous animals in an urban environment requires a rapid end to avoid the danger to human life.  A shotgun can be very helpful in stopping such creatures; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Shotgun vs Patrol Rifle

Is it time to retire the trusty old shotgun?  I think just about every police agency should have patrol rifles in the patrol cars.  The patrol rifle has a very long range.  It is very accurate.  It is easy to train people to a high level of skill with the patrol rifle.

The patrol rifle is an excellent and precise weapon.  It is durable and gaining more an more acceptance with the public.  The shotgun is being used less and less.  Many officers dislike the shotgun.  It's heavy, it has a harsh recoil and only carries a few rounds.

The shotgun does not have the precision of the rifle.  At may agency we train less and less frequently with the shotgun and that time is being used for the rifle.  I suggest it might be time to withdraw the shotgun from general police service, it may be past it's prime; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Police deaths in 2014 included fifteen ambushes.  Ambush had been in the decline for a long time, and only recently seems to have made a substantial comeback as a method of attacking police.  Often the ambush is intened only to kill police,it's not part of a robber, or other crime.

If a call is put out that just does not seem right, take precautions to insure it is not an ambush.  Gunshots reported by only one person, even in a dense urban environment is not impossible, but it is unusual.  That's the type of call that could be an ambush.

If you suspect an ambush, don't respond directly to the location.  Respond from an unusual direction.  Have other units respond from different directions at the same time.  Call for an air unit to check the location prior to your arrival.  Park a greater distance than usual and approach on foot.  Use binoculars to observe the location from a distance.  Be aware that an attack can from from any angle, even behind you; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


NYPD arrests reportedly plummet following assassination of two officers -

Usually I don't support job actions by police.  Police swear an oath to serve and protect the public.  That is important and it means that officers have to do their jobs, even when it is unpleasant.  Still, their agency has certain responsiblities too.

The City of New York and it's mayor have not been supportive of their police department in recent months.  If you want your police to do a good job, you have to support them.  Police need the backing of the city government and officials.

The Mayor has not been supportive of the police.  He has made statements that were inflammatory towards the police.  When police officers were killed in the line of duty, he had been siding with those protestors.  He has done a poor job of standing up for the police.  The police are even working without a contract and yet are still doing their jobs.  I support NYPD; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Police Unions

Someone accused me recently of hating unions.  I don't hate unions.  I hate it when unions disregard everything other than the most narrow needs of their members and disregard everything else.  Police unions often forget they are police and act only like unions.

Police want to serve and protect their communities.  No one becomes a cop to become rich.  Still, police unions time after time endorse candidates that are soft on crime and even anti-police because they are big government politicians.

As such they want more government spending, more laws and regulations, more government solutions to problems.  The unions only care about the spending and their political power.  They only want to insure their raises and their pension are ever growing.  Even in times of economic downturn, even when the middle class are struggling.  That's not in keeping with the values of most cops; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Police Union

Police unions need to act like more like police and less like unions.  When an officer gets into trouble the union should provide representation for him.  It is not their job to determine his guilt or innocence of a charge or allegation.

Police unions should stand for ethical and moral and legal behavior in their members.  They should not work to create rules that prevent the punishment of illegal, immoral, or unethical police behavior.  They should not be creating work rules where procedural technicalities get bad officers back on the street.

They should not be shielding officers who do a poor job.  They should allow good officers to receive merit pay.  Officers who do a good job should be rewarded.  Officers ability to do a good job should be enhanced by the union, not stopped by the union, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


There is more to live than just police work.  When you are not at work, don't spend all your time doing and thinking about work stuff.  You need to relax your body and your mind.  I have read that your blood pressure goes up when you put on your uniform and armor.  It stays elevated for 24 hours.

That means when you are off, you could still have a heart attack or other medical incident related to your job.  Be sure you spend some time to relax.  You need to bring your heart rate and blood pressure back to normal.

Don't worry about work.  Don't drink too much.  Don't forget to get some good exercise.  It's important to take care of your body.  Police work can be a very physical job and you need to be in good shape; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Patrol Rifle

Terrorists attacked the offices of a magazine in Paris, France.  They showed up and shot the guard, members of the magazine staff, and responding police.  There were only a couple of terrorists, but they created havoc in the city.

Later, several terrorists held hostages at another venue and murdered more people and shot at police again.  One or more of the suspects may have escaped the dragnet.  The attackers were armed with assault rifles.

Police in any city in the United States need to be able to respond immediately to this kind of attack.  A terrorist can be in Iraq or France one day and only hours later can be anywhere in the USA.  A few days of training in firearms can make any determined terrorist very lethal.  There is no time to return to the station to pick up patrol rifles or wait for SWAT to arrive.  Patrol rifles are a must for every officer; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Old Shotguns

Why keep your old shotguns if they are retired?  I think there are several reasons to keep them.  Why retire them if they are so useful?  I think the patrol rifle is a better choice than the shotgun for day to day law enforcement.  Easier to use, more accurate, more precise.

We generally think about day to day operations under normal conditions.  What happens in extra-ordinary conditions?  In a riot a shotgun can be more intimidating.  In a major incident, you might need officers or even civilians to guard prisoners, or protect infrastructure.  Shotguns can be pulled from inventory and issued to those guards.

When planning for the future, look to the past.  In the last 100 years we have been concerned about invasions from both Mexico and Germany and Japan.  Terrorists have threatened us and we put guards out at many locations.  Every few years we have had to call out the National Guard somewhere in the nation to keep order.  Having a few extra serviceable guns might be a good idea; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Old Guns

If your agency replaces their existing handguns, what will you do with your existing guns?  Will you sell them to your officers, or give them away?  Will you trade them in or sell them to the public?  Will political correctness require their destruction?

Will you store your guns in a locker so that you have them in event of a major emergency or other problem requiring guns?  Perhaps you can adopt another agency and give your old guns to them?  There are many things you can do with your old guns besides just trade them in.

Consider your old cleaning gear and your old spare parts.  You also need to dispose of them as well.  You should replace all that when you buy new guns.  Don't try to make do with the old stuff, if you are spending tens of thousands of dollars or more on new guns, don't scrimp on the ancillary gear; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


All things mechanical can break.  So will your new guns.  If you buy a new design by a new manufacturer you may have manufacturer or design defects.  There is nothing worse than having all your guns recalled to fix a problem. 

You also need to consider gun repairs.  Guns get broken, people drop them, they fall in water, things happen.  You need to have your staff trained as armorers.  The range staff needs to be able to take the guns all apart and put them back together.  They need to be able to diagnose and repair common problems with the guns.

That means they need to have a reasonable supply of repair parts.  If you buy the newest thing will there be repair parts available?  Sometimes a new model gun will be very popular and repair parts won't be available because they are all being used to make new guns.  Plan on sending your armorers to school prior to fielding the new guns, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 16, 2015


Practice, practice, practice.  Perfect practice makes perfect skills.  If you buy new guns, you gotta practice with them.  That means you buy some guns, and lots of ammo, and lots of extra magazines.  Then you have everyone come to the range and practice, and then demonstrate proficiency with the new gun before they are issued the new gun.  Once they are issued the new gun, they test fire the new gun with their new magazines. 

They have to know how to shoot it safely, how to draw if from the holster quickly and return it without looking at the holster.  They need to be able to disassemble the gun and clean the gun.  Then they have to put it back together. 

Those are a lot of skills to demonstrate and it takes time to learn them.  Both time in the classroom and time on the range.  You have to arrange overtime for training and field coverage for officers in the class.  All that costs money, so you need to factor that in when you buy a new gun.  Even a very similar gun requires familiarization training, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bean Counters

What do the bean counters want in a new handgun?  How much money can you spend per officer, per gun?  Will each officer in your agency get a new gun?  Will you grandfather the new guns in over a period of years?  Will officers be able to continue to use their existing guns?

Will you need to provide guns for new hires, is your agency going to expand soon?  How many magazines come with each gun?  Usually it's one to three magazines per gun.  Will you issue more?  How many more? 

I think each officer should have at least five magazines; one in the gun and four extra magazines on his person.  Four more magazines in his gear bag or call out vest is not unreasonable.  What about cleaning kits, holsters, spare parts and other accessories?  How much will they cost, and how many do you need?  Buying new guns is not just about buying new guns; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Special Needs Guns

Besides your on duty detectives in plain clothes, and your uniformed patrol officers, who else will be using your new handgun?  Do you have special units that may have special needs?  Animal control in some parts of the nation need big guns to kill a rouge moose.

A marine unit might need a gun that is highly resistant to rust, because salt water is hard on guns.  A K-9 unit might want a gun that is easy to operate one handed since they might have a leash in the other hand.

A SWAT type unit may want interoperability with other local agencies or might want ultra large capacity magazines.  Some might even want a fully automatic handgun, or a carbine that uses the same magazines and caliber as the handgun.  Consider special units when buying a new gun; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Different people are different sizes.  That may come as a shock to you, but it's true.  That means that the gun that fits my large, manly hands may not fit the hands of a small delicate police woman.  We need guns that fit everyone.

When selecting a gun, make sure that your largest, ham-fisted, moose boys can operate the little controls and that the smallest officer on your department can hold the gun and pull the trigger easily.  Many guns have a separate package of bits to make the weapon grip smaller or larger to fit different size people.

Sometimes after market accessories may be needed to help certain officers to eject the magazine, lock the slide to the rear or otherwise operate the controls.  There are also aftermarket grips and grip accessories that make the gun easier to hold.  Consider the need and availability of these items if you have a diverse workforce, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Plain Cothes Equipment

Even plain clothes, uniformity is nice.  Consider the availability of holsters and other leather products that your plainclothes officers will wear.  Does the same company make an ammo pouch?  Will your officers want to carry one or two extra magazines?  Does the same company make a variety of holsters to fit all the guns your plain clothes officers are authorized to wear?

Will they carry handcuffs, a radio, a baton, or other gear?  Can you get it so that it all matches the holster in color and style?  This is a small thing, but it does make a big difference in the appearance of the officer if he has to wear two or more colors or styles of gear.

Does the gear come in more than one color?  By having gear in a variety of styles and colors the plain clothes officer can wear gear that fits the rest of his attire.  It will make him look better and perhaps even look more like an armed civilian rather than an officer.  Is the leather made in the USA?  I am a firm believer in buying police equipment made here so that we can always get it even if there is a war, or trade dispute or other issue.  I also think it's a bad idea to spend American taxpayer dollars with foreign companies to keep American jobs in America.  That way we have more taxpayers; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Plainclothes Holster

Plain clothes officers need to carry a quality holster.  Gun retention is less of an issue for plain clothes carry, since the concealment factor is supposed to prevent anyone from knowing you are carrying a gun.

Still, you want a gun that will carry the gun securely.  That means when you are standing, sitting, running and every on the ground fighting and wrestling with a suspect your gun won't fall out.  Many plain clothes guns are open topped and that's not necessarily a good idea.

You will also want the holster to ride up a little higher than the average duty holster.  That makes it harder to notice when it 's being warn under a jacket and easier to retain by locking your elbow over the gun.  A long holster can stick out from underneath a jacket and risk exposure; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Plain Clothes Carry

A gun for uniformed duty carry versus a gun for plain clothes carry has a few items to consider.  A duty gun can be large, and bulky, since there is no effort to conceal it.  A plain clothes officer will generally want a gun that is smaller and thinner so it can be concealed on the body while wearing civilian clothing.

A lightweight gun is also better for plain clothes carry because it will be less likely to disturb the hang of the clothing on the body.  A thin civilian belt, and thin civilian trousers are not good for holding a heavy duty weapon.  The weight to consider is the fully loaded weight.  Some unloaded weapons weigh a lot less when unloaded.

A plain clothes officer needs to be able to draw his weapon without it snagging on clothing that might be covering the pistol.  Hammer-less guns, or guns without big sharp sights are a good choice.  Plain clothes officers generally don't need rails on their guns, since they are less likely to want flashlights, or lasers or other accessories mounted on their guns; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Which Gun Is Best?

What gun is best?  Which piece of silverware is best?  If you are eating soup, a butter knife is not a good choice.  If you are eating salad, a soup spoon is a poor substitute for a salad fork.  Even by selecting the correct utensil, there is still the question of what is your price range, you personal tastes and what does everyone else want?

The perfect police gun is one that has a range of 500 yards, requires very little training, never misses the target, and instantly incapacitates the person shot for about an hour, with no after effects.  This gun does not exist.  So any firearms choice we make will be a trade off.

There are many concepts to consider when purchasing a firearm.  Is if for duty?  Will it be for a large agency, with a diverse population?  Will the officers all be expected to carry it?  Will it be carried by plain clothes, undercover, and uniformed officers?  So much to look for, that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Report Writing

Writing a report narrative should be just like talking to your mother or your girlfriend.  Write in the first person.  I received a call from Dispatch.  I arrived at the scene.  Start at the beginning and continue to the end.

Write the report as you experienced the events.  I spoke to the witness, she told me what she saw.  I than spoke to the victim, he told me what happened to him.  Simply write down what they told you.  Use quotations if they say anything especially important.

Reports should either not use police codes or the code should be explained in the text.  If your agency changes codes, or you forget the code and have to testify several years later, it's nice to have the definition handy.  The plain English version is also easier for juries, and attorneys as well as judges to understand; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Report Writing and Use of Force

A long time ago, I arrested a young man for battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest.  I was able to get behind him and take him to the ground.  He was so surprised that about halfway to the ground he shouted "I give up, I give up, and he went limp."  I held onto his arm and rather than body slam him with my knees, I knelt down slowly and handcuffed him without further incident.

On the way back to the police car, other subjects asked him if they should "help" him and he declined their offer.  I put all this in my report.  Later, he and others claimed we had used excessive force while taking him into custody.

I was able to show in my report that there was no need for any significant force because he not only gave up right away, but refused the aid of his friends.  I pointed out he had not sustained any injuries and that since I was at least 100 pounds heavier than him, he would have been noticeably injured had I intended to harm him.  I explained that I only used that force that was reasonable and once his resistance ended so did my use of force, beyond the minimum needed to handcuff him.  The complaint against the offices was found to be false and he was convicted; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


When a suspect refuses verbal commands to comply with your lawful arrest, they are resisting.  Even if they only step back, pull away, or just stand there and don't comply.  Resisting arrest is not just fighting, it is any refusal to comply with your reasonable instructions to conduct a lawful arrest safely.

Whenever possible, tell the suspect they are under arrest and what crime you believe they have committed, as well as your authority to make an arrest.  "I am a police officer and you are under arrest for burglary."  Verbal commands are important so that later, video evidence, and witnesses can show your actions were lawful and reasonable.

Persons arrested are required by law to submit to arrest.  Running away, pulling away, or arguing are not signs of submission.  When writing your report, insure you include that you told the person they are under arrest.  Include the nature of their resistance.  "I grabbed the suspects right wrist to handcuff it and he violently jerked it from my grasp."  Make certain your report is complete so that there is no question your actions were reasonable; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Patrol Car

We need a purpose built police car.  There have been some attempts but they were too ambitious.  A purpose built police car needs several feature to differentiate it from regular cars but it need not be so different that it can't be based on a regular car.

It needs a superior cooling system to keep the engine cool even when sitting parked and idling on a hot summer day.  It needs superior air conditioning, even on a hot summer day in a parked car the inside of the vehicle should be cool, right away, not after driving around for thirty minutes.  We wear body armor and if we have to wait for the car to cool down, we are sweaty before the air conditioning works.

There must be a superior braking system.  The car has to stop on a dime, and do so in all kinds of weather and terrain.  The car must have superior handling, even on wet or even icy surfaces.  The inside of the car should be large enough for the biggest police officers.  They have to be extra wide so we can get in and out with all the gear on our belt.  The front and two front doors should be bullet proof so we can use our car for cover on a high risk traffic stop and expect the car to provide decent protection; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, January 4, 2015


People have been protesting the police use of deadly force.  They protest when the suspect is unarmed saying that he could not pose a threat when he has no weapon.  They protest when the suspect has a gun, saying there was no need to shoot.

They protest when the suspect shoots at the police, saying that the police should have shot the gun out of his hand.  They protest when the officer is hit, even killed, saying that police need to die.  The protesters don't care for reason, for logic, or facts.

We still have a job to do.  We still have to respond to calls and help the helpless.  We also have to take care of ourselves and to take care of each other.  We must decry the politicians who support those who are anti-police; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Traffic Direction at Night

When out in the street wear your yellow reflective traffic vest.  A dark police uniform is very difficult to see, especially at night.  A dark blue uniform is almost black and very hard to discern. The yellow traffic vest is highly visible.

Have a second flashlight on your person.  You need to have two because only a flashlight will allow you to see in the dark.  A flashlight can be essential for directing traffic in the dark.  It can let others see you better than without one.  It can get driver's attention.  I have a traffic cone for mine that allows it to display the light as a lighted tube.  Very good for traffic direction.

Position your police car to provide light, protection and direction.  The emergency lights can give warning to approaching traffic.  Your spotlights can help to light up a road hazard.  Your vehicle can block a lane and help keep you from getting run down.  Use your tools, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, January 2, 2015


You physical presence is enough to stop crimes in progress, and to make arrests.  When criminals see a patrol car they often run away.  When you approach them they often run away or surrender to your authority.

Just being there, without having to say or do anything other than show up is a powerful tool.  If you can do anything to enhance your appearance can increase your ability to do the job safely.  Is your hair cut and are your shoes shined?

How is your leather gear?  Do you wear only one kind of gear on your belt?  Mixing leather and nylon is tacky, as is wearing chrome or brass colored metal.  Is your holster shined up and looking good?  Or does your uniform look shabby?  If you can't shine your shoes, perhaps you can't make a good arrest.  Is your patrol car clean?  An agency that does not care about it's equipment may not care about crushing crime; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Short Version

Happy New Year to all of you.

Wear your body armor.

Wear your seat belt.

Call for back up.

If you do these three things, it will be a much happier new year than last year was; that's what the SGT Says.