Saturday, February 28, 2015


Firearms trainers should have a working knowledge of how firearms function.  I think they should be an armorer for the basic duty handgun, the patrol rifle and the shotgun.  If your agency permits more than one duty handgun, then your firearms staff could split up the armorer duties.

By being able to repair firearms the rangemaster can help to diagnose problems.  They can determine if a problem is mechanical or if it is the shooter.  Sometimes the same symptom can be due to the shooter or the weapon.

If there is a minor repair needed the rangemaster can fix the problem and avoid spoiling the course of fire.  Rangemasters should be sent to the official school given by the firearms manufacturer.  Each gun company offers courses and they are usually not expensive or take more than a day.  It's a good investment in time and money; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 27, 2015


When applying for a job with a police or security agency, it is important to tell the truth on the application.  It is likely that any significant falsification will be discovered.  A background check will be made and your friends, relatives, and associates will be interviewed.

Having a small blot on your record is no where near as important as telling the truth.  If you lie on your application, there is a concern that you may lie on police reports, or worse, in testimony you give under oath.

Certainly you are not required to provide information that is not requested.  You can also be careful to phrase your responses to applications in a truthful, but favorable manner.  It is also a good idea to work on repairing any damage to your reputation and to try to learn skills or information to help you to overcome previous failings; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Once in a while a call comes out that you just know is going to cause you to look stupid.  A pair of alpacas were on the loose in Arizona and police had a hard time rounding them up.  Some calls can be a challenge, even if they are not particularly dangerous.

When you receive such a call, spend a moment to think about what is going on and how you will respond to the incident.  A minute or two probably won't make any difference in the response.  Remember your first goal is public safety, how much danger is the public in from a couple alpacas?  Not much really.  The next goal is the safety of property and here certainly alpacas are a form of property.  How much do you know about alpacas?

Still, your main responsibility is to keep people away from the animals and wait for either animal control, or the owner respond to capture them.  Block off traffic to prevent cars from hitting the animals.  Keep well meaning but clueless civilians away from the scene.  Don't let the urge to "do something" cause you to take actions that are ineffective and even dangerous; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Illegal Aliens

While the President talks about giving amnesty to perhaps tens of millions of illegal aliens, in the meantime local police are being murdered.  An illegal alien, who has been deported before is a suspect in the murder of a police officer.

He is a career criminal who has been in and out of jail for decades.  This is why we need to check the citizenship status of every person arrested and deport those who are here illegally.  There are 800,000 police in the USA.  If every officer arrested one illegal alien per month, in less than two years all 20 million illegal aliens could be deported, with very little expense.

Fingerprint readers should be standard gear in every police car.  Then everyone who is cited, or detained can be checked for legal residency and positive identification.  How often have you had suspects with no or poor identification?  The 9/11 hijackers were also illegal aliens too; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

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Three men have been arrested for a terrorist plot to go to Syria.  They were also discussing several other terror plans.  One plan was to shoot a police officer, take his gun and body armor, and then raid an FBI office and shoot everyone.

The terror model often being used is that of a leaderless group.  They subscribe to the ideology and that causes them to implement plans to create terror to forward that ideology.  In this case they were considering murdering police, attacking an FBI office, or even shooting the President.

This means that even sitting at our desk we need to be aware that an attack may come to us. Several times per year there are attacks on police departments in the United States, usually by deranged individuals.  Is your agency secure, it should be; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Shades of Grey

A college student was inspired by the movie 50 Shades of Grey.  He convinced a girlfriend to come to his room, then tied her up and raped her and beat her.  His roommate came back and the girlfriend was released.  She called the police right away.

The police responded, located him and arrested him for a number of charges.  It is important to be aware of recent crime trends in your area and nationally.  Copy cat criminals are an old phenomena.  Now in the age of instant media, many criminals are being inspired by actions in TV shows and movies.

It is important to stay current on crimes in the news, in the media.  Trends of dangerous behavior are also important.  Years ago several students were killed because they saw a show with kids laying down on the yellow line in the center of the road.  Kids saw recent movies showing cars driver under the trailers on 18 wheelers, and they emulated those behaviors.  Keep up with popular media; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Cell Phone

Do you carry a cell phone on duty?  I used to be opposed to officers carrying cell phones but now I have changed my mind about that, with a caveat.  Officers should carry a work cell phone.  They should only use it for work purposes, to include calling home to the spouse.

Officers should not spend time on the phone except to contact each other, or dispatch.  It is a very good tool to use when using the radio would tie up too much air time.  I have used it to explain a complex situation to dispatch or to the watch commander.

It's much better to use the police phone than to try and borrow a phone or use someones house phone.  They key is to have the phone on a setting that won't make noise when it rings.  Searching a house or conducting an interview while the phone is humming, or buzzing is at least annoying and can even be dangerous; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


I have been doing firearms training since I was in tenth grade, and fifteen years old.  In those 40 years many new techniques have been developed.  Still there are many truths that have been consistent.  Learning these things will help to insure survival in a shootout.

Most shootouts happen fast.  They happen unexpectedly.  They have few rounds fired.  They are at close range.  Cover is often nearby.  The ability to identify the target is critical.  Being able to use the sights is also important.

Officers should train to win shootouts that are the most likely to happen to them.  They should also be able to respond properly to those unusual situations that also happy regularly.  Training is essential for officers to win.  Officers should train regularly and frequently to stay sharp; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Thousands of people from all over the world are flocking to the Middle East and other parts of the world to join ISIS.  The good news is most of them go to other nations to join the Jihad.  Some of them are not leaving.

Some of them are staying here and planning Jihad from the comfort as their own homes.  They will go to work, or to school, or to the mall, or to the local newspaper or magazine and start shooting.  They will build bombs and plant them at hometown targets.

We need to alert to their presence.  We need to be unafraid to gather information and act on tips, because these people are out there and in growing numbers.  Some of them are in responsible positions of government, some are unemployed losers, or just kids.  We need to be able to protect or nation from all of them; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Firearms Safety

1.1 Treat firearms as if they are loaded
1.2 Point the muzzle away from non-targets
1.3 Keep fingers off the trigger
1.4 Be sure of the target and of what is beyond it

If officers always follow the firearms safety rules they are less likely to have a firearms related accident or negligent discharge.  If you treat all firearms as if they are loaded, then you don't make the assumption that the gun is unloaded when it is loaded.

If officers keep the muzzle pointed away from non-targets, if the gun does discharge then any rounds will not directly hit a person.  The concept of keeping the muzzle in a safe direction is a final protection if the firearm discharges unintentionally.

If officers keep their fingers off the trigger they are unlikely to have the weapon discharge.  The vast majority of firearms discharges are due to the trigger being pulled.  Sometimes a sympathetic grip as an officer starts to fall or struggle may cause a finger to tighten and pull a trigger.  Follow the rules of firearms safety; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gun Safety

Every year since 1943 at least 100 police officers have been killed in the line of duty in the United States.  My agency has had two of them, one in a motorcycle accident and the other of a heart condition during a training exercise.

About half of those officers are killed in accidents and the other half are typically murdered.  About once a year an officer is killed with an "unloaded" gun. 

1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
4. Know your target and what is beyond.

If you follow the safety rules the chance of an accidental discharge resulting in a death or injury is greatly reduced; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


In the Bible, in the Gospel According to St. Matthew, chapter 5, verse nine it says: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."  In the United States police are often called Peace Officers.

This comes from that part of the Bible.  The concept is that the police will come and restore order and peace to a broken and disrupted situation.  Are you doing police work with the intent of being a peacemaker?

The job of law enforcement sometimes requires the use of force to complete our duties, sometimes even lethal force.  Still our goal is to to restore peace.  Our job is to return the circumstances to normal and allow the law abiding, the meek to live in peace.  Be a peacemaker, act as the children of God; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Coffee With a Cop

The agency I work for does a Coffee With a Cop event.  They advertise that police will be at a local coffee ship for a couple hours one Saturday morning.  It allows members of the public to chat with a police officer in a non-confrontational setting.

The average citizen only talks to the police when he is a suspect or a victim in a crime.  This is a setting where he can talk to the cops about police issues that might be a concern to him.  It's a clever way to bypass the media and get the word out to the citizens directly.

People have questions about use of force, but don't know who to talk to about it.  They wonder why police take certain actions and yet don't know anyone who can answer their questions.  This is a cost effective way to directly talk to people who will serve on juries, vote in elections and interact with their neighbors; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


What kind of training do your officers need?  One way to find out is to check and see what kind of lawsuits your agency has had in the last five years.  Your city attorney should be able to tell you the nature of the lawsuit and a general idea as to the validity of the issues involved.

If you have complaints about officers using excessive force than it could be that your officers need to do a better job of deescalating situations.  It may also be that your officers don't write good reports and so they give the appearance of using too much force.  It may be that your officers need to use better verbal commands so that the suspect, and witnesses are more aware of the officers intention and the possible consequences. 

Your officers may be involved in a large number of traffic collisions.  Sometimes it's little things like trouble backing up the large police car that cause problems.  With a gun rack, cage, and radio antennas it can be difficult to see out the back end of a police car.  Maybe the installation of a rear facing camera could help to reduce traffic collisions.  Identify the problems, then find solutions; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Where do you fit in this study of obese workers?  It says police officers are the most obese workers in the nation.  Do you exercise on a regular basis?  Do you keep your weight in check?  Do you over eat and eat things that are bad for you?

I think there are many reasons for this problem.  When we were in the police academy, physical exercise was used as a punishment.  Someone made a mistake, do pushups.  Someone else made a mistake, go for a long run.  The physical exercise portion of the academy should be to train us to get into shape and to stay in shape for the rest of our lives.

Shift work makes for poor eating habits.  Working long hours at odd hours means we often have to snack on donuts and other high calorie foods.  Police should work more foot patrols and bike patrols.  Police should be able to work out on duty, or have free gym memberships so they can keep in shape.  Cops in better shape mean they use less force, use force more effectively, and recover faster from injuries; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 13, 2015

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Police in Cleveland were involved in a shooting a few years ago.  They were placed on modified duty for an extended time.  Many of them claim they were denied the ability to apply for transfer and to be promoted.

Agencies should have a process in being to handle police officers who have been involved in police shootings or other major use of force incidents.  They need to balance the rights of the officers with the right of the public to know what happened and the ability to prosecute a case; as well as implement disciplinary actions against officers who use excessive force.

Officers who followed the law, and agency policy and did nothing wrong should not be penalized for doing their jobs as they are expected to do them.  Officers should not be treated any differently due to their race or sex, just like the citizens should expect the same from officers; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

End It

Using force never looks good.  No matter how justified, how legal, how much of a last resort, it always looks bad to the general public.  That's one reason why if force needs to be used, it should be used swiftly, and be done right away.

Don't prolong the incident.  Use enough force to end it, as quickly as possible.  It's better to have ten officers swarm a suspect, knock him down, grab his harms and be done with it in ten seconds than is it for two officers to strike the suspect with batons for five minutes.

Ending the incident quickly actually reduces the likelihood that the suspect, the officers or civilians will get hurt.  If you can overwhelm the suspect it is harder for him to deploy a counter-move or go to a weapon.  You are less likely to have the incident continue so that passers-by become involved.  End violent encounters quickly if reasonable; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mentally Ill Woman

In this video a 16 year old teenager goes into a police lobby and shows the person at the window a sign that says I have a gun.  A responding officer talks to her and a fight is on.  The officer gets her down at some point but does not or cannot handcuff her.

The teenager stands up as two more officers arrive.  The teen pulls a knife and one officer fires his Taser, for whatever reason the Taser does not subdue her.  Two officers fire their duty guns and she dies on scene.

The teen had been suicidal and was under treatment and had been prescribed medications for her mental condition.  It is not known if she was taking the medications.  The teen had said she was going to try and get the police to commit her.  This seems a tragic case all the way around; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


A police officer was attacked by a man with an ax.  An ax is a combination knife and hammer.  Either weapon could easily kill you.  The officer suffered non-life threatening injuries and the suspect managed to escape.

A man armed with an ax is nothing to fool with.  It is very quickly a deadly force situation.  Like with any edged weapon, keep distance from the suspect and try and keep a barrier between you two.  An ax can be used to destroy a barrier, even a car window or a door.

If you deploy a Taser, you are unlikely to have more than one chance before he can get to you.  Unless you have a firearms armed cover officer a Taser may not be the best choice.  Due to it's weight, even a thrown ax can be a danger; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cold Weather

Recently two little kids were found inside a car on a freezing day.  They were found and rescued before they were injured but they had been there for over an hour.  I often write about the need to check parking lots for children in cars in the summer, well check them in winter also.

Cars don't hold heat well.  Only when the heater is on does a car get warm and stay warm.  The metal conducts cold very well and the car will cool down quickly.  Children left in a car will get uncomfortably cold very fast.

If they are left alone long enough or if it is cold enough, they can die.  Child endangerment, child neglect, child abuse are serious crimes and I think that depending on the weather, and age of the child you may have these crimes if kids are left alone in a vehicle when it's cold; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


My old FTO used to say to write 2 parking tickets, 2 fix-it tickets, 2 moving violations, and make one arrest every day.  He said if you did that, you would show your supervisor you were out there working.  You would find real criminals when you make those traffic stops.

You will educate the public on traffic safety and generate revenue for the city.  You would have kept busy and provided some measure of value for your employer.  You will have documentation that you were doing something that day, even if there were no calls for service.

This was not intended as a quota.  It was intended as a personal measure of performance and public service.  It's a good way to keep yourself busy, looking to get that many tickets per shift.  Generally, I only write the most obvious and dangerous driving behaviors.  There is no reason to write bad tickets to be able to write a couple per day.  Stand on a busy street corner for ten minutes and you will see all kinds of dangerous and unsafe driving.  Do the work you were hired and trained to do; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Brian Williams is the news anchor for NBC news.  He says he 'mis-remembered' being shot down in a helicopter in the Iraq War.  I believe he did not mis-remember, I think he was simply lying to make himself seem brave.

The same main stream media that holds police officers to a standard of truth, ethics, and Monday Morning Quarterbacking has been found to have lairs in it.  This is not the first time the media have intentionally gotten things wrong.

Still, we in law enforcement must strive to do the best we can do to serve the public.  We should make every reasonable effort to insure we perform our duties in an ethical manner.  It is important to note that a mistake in fact or an error in judgement is not the same as an ethical lapse.  Mistakes and errors can be changed by training, education, better equipment.  Ethical lapses are more difficult to correct and are more serious; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, February 6, 2015


Sometimes the weather itself becomes a police problem.  Many parts of the nation are subject to flooding and police are often the first public agency involved.  Upon initial notification of a flood, assess the direction and nature of the water flow.  Is it a water main break, a river overflowing, or is it a dam breaking?

Will evacuation be necessary?  Block off streets, even a few inches of swiftly moving war can knock over a man or sweep away a car.  Check for possible hazardous material or toxic substances getting into the flood waters.  Gasoline stations, tanker trucks, pesticides, waste oil storage call all contaminate water.  Fuels can even catch fire as they float on top of water.  Notify your local fire department and health department if there is a hazardous spill.

Are there people stranded?  Will they need rescue?  A small boat can rescue most people, but police seldom carry those.  Helicopters can pull people off of rooftops, but not everyone can easily get to a roof.  Don't jump into the water to save people in swift water, that's a highly specialized skill; most likely you will just become another victim.  Your local harbor patrol, or fish and game might also be able to help.  Use all your resources; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Where you park your police car is important.  When responding to a fire, don't park in front of the place on fire.  Don't park near the fire hydrants.  Don't park were the giant fire trucks will block you in so your car is stuck there for five hours.

When responding to a routine call for service, like a cold burglary, try and park your car in a safe and legal location.  Don't park in red zones, don't park in handicapped stalls, don't park in front of fire hydrants.  You don't want a routine call to become a citizen complaint about your parking.

When sitting in the car writing a report or other mundane task, don't park where you can't just drive away.  I like to be able to drive off should I be attacked, or receive a hot call.  In residential neighborhoods I try and park so the front of my car is at a driveway, so I can just pull away from the curb.  In a parking lot, I try and pull through the stall so I can just drive forward to get away.  Where you park has ethical and tactical consequences; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Commercial Burglary

Commercial burglars often have experience as burglars.  The also sometimes carry weapons and are not simple drug addicts looking for a quick score so they can buy drugs.  They are sometimes highly organized criminals who operate crime rings, sometimes even across state lines and even internationally..

A commercial burglary ring might even include employees who are working with them.  They may include lookouts, and even hold out suspect.  The hold out suspect will appear as an innocent bystander, or employee and then strike at an opportune moment.

When checking a commercial property for burglary, bring enough officers to check it properly.  Noe the vehicles nearby, are they warm?  If you contact someone, perform a records check to see if they have a record for burglary.  Commercial burglars can be dangerous, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Commercial Burglary

Commercial burglars sometimes try to pretend to be employees of the business they are stealing from.  Since a large business can have many employees and a responding officer is unlikely to know them, it can be an easy ruse to pull off.

If you find people in the business, ask them if they have an employee ID card.  Ask for some indication that they actually work there.  Ask them the address of the location, most employees know where they work.

If the people are loading a vehicle, ask to see a shipping invoice, or receipts.  Perhaps ask your dispatcher to call the emergency contacts for the business to see if these people are authorized.  Sometimes you can call another branch, or their may be an emergency number near the business front door.  Commercial burglars may be smart, don't fall for their tricks; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Commercial Burglary

Commercial burglary is a little different from residential burglary.  Most residential burglars are just opportunists who take little time to case the location, and very little craft to enter.  Enter via an unlocked door or window, break a window, pry open a door.

Commercial burglary is different for several reasons.  They can result in a take that is huge, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.  That requires a lot of planning to dispose of it profitably. 

Commercial burglary is often against a building that is almost certainly going to have a burglar alarm, and will usually have decent lighting, locks, doors, and other security precautions.  Sometimes even guard dogs or security guards.  Commercial burglary requires a more careful response, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Burglar Alarm

When responding to a burglar alarm at a residence, on concern is that the owner may have a dog on the premises.  The first thing to check is to stop and listen before you enter the yard.  Most dogs will bark at the burglar, or at you.

Look for a beware of dog sign.  Look for dog poop and for dog toys.  Dog runs and other evidence that there is a dog on site.  If there is a bad dog in the yard, don't go in the yard unless you have compelling reasons to go in the yard.  Most burglars don't want to confront dogs.

Many dogs will allow you into the yard of you just talk softly to them.  Let them smell the back of your hand.  Don't get excited or show fear.  Usually these are house pets and not trained killers.  If there is a dog that you can't safety deal with, just check the front of the house; that's what the SGT Says.