Sunday, March 29, 2015

Murder Suicide

Someone who commits a murder and then threatens suicide is very likely to kill themselves, or to try and get you to kill them.  Suicide by cop does happen several times per year and it is a tragic event.  It is bad that someone wanted to die and got killed and it's bad that an officer had to kill them.

When faced with a suicidal person, try to create physical distance between the both of you.  Don't get close if you can avoid it.  Space gives you more options.  If the person is inside their home, and alone, you don't have to hurry. 

If they are outside they need to be contained so they don't draw other innocent people into their drama.  Often I see photos of ten or more officers who have responded to a suicidal suspect.  They are generally all facing the suspect with guns drawn.  That may not be the most effective tactic; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Murder Suicide

Police responded to a report of a man threatening to kill his wife.  He also threatened suicide.  People who threaten to kill themselves or kill others need to be taken seriously.  You really can't know how serious they are until you are placed in danger.

If you respond to a call of a suicidal man or a man threatening to kill a family member, assume he is serious.  Have dispatch ask if there are weapons in the house, and what kind.  Ask if the suspect has the weapons and if he has made any attempts both recently and ever in the past.

Don't walk up to the house.  Contact them by telephone and have them come out of the house.  Treat them like a barricaded suspect if they won't exit.  People who make threats sometimes carry them out and sometimes don't.  You can't afford to take chances that they won't; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, March 27, 2015


A duty handgun policy should require that every officer carry a department issued handgun of a particular model and design.  Their should be a selection of handguns and they should be in a variety of calibers.  I support 9mm, .40 caliber, and .45 ACP as police duty handgun calibers.

.380, .38 special, and 357 magnum should be permitted for back up and off duty weapons.  Your standard duty handgun should be available in as many of those calibers as possible.  It should also be adjustable, so that it can be utilized by different size hands.

The Glock series of firearms meets these criteria, but there are others that are also excellent firearms.  The important thing is for your agency to obtain samples of different firearms, check the prices, and find out what works best for your agency; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


The perfect duty gun is the one that works best for you.  Some agencies have a standard that says everyone will carry the same department issued duty handgun.  I oppose this policy, unless it is flexible enough to allow for individual needs, wants, desires, and experience.

People are different sizes, they have big hands and little hands.  People with little hands can't readily handle every gun, and people with big hands may have trouble with some guns too.   Some people are big and strong and will practice frequently.  They can handle the recoil of a powerful handgun, some people cannot.

Duty handguns should usually be in a common caliber.  Ease of purchasing ammunition is facilitated by having common calibers.  Some people have substantial experience with a particular gun and may have difficulty transitioning to a new gun.  Officers needs should be accommodated in your duty handgun policy; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


The weather is warming up, time to start looking in parking lots for children left in cars to die.  Every year children are left in cars and they die.  Drive through parking lots in the morning when people first get to work, they forget to leave the kid at day care.  Drive through shopping center parking lots after 3:00 p.m. when the kids are out of school and mothers go shopping.

About 40 kids per year die after being left alone in cars.  If you suspect heat stroke, call the paramedics, remove the child from the car and into a shady space or air conditioned room, put cool water on them, and have them drink water if they can.  Fan them with paper

In California it is illegal to leave a child six years old or younger alone in a car on a hot day, or if the motor is running or keys are in the car.  Even older children and adults can suffer from heat related illnesses in a hot car.  Don't let any more kids die in cars; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Silence Is Blue

How much noise do you make when you walk around?  Put on your full uniform and equipment and jump up and down.  Do you rattle or jingle or clunk?  Do you have a pocket full of keys, coins or other bits?

Does your baton rattle when you walk?  Does your flashlight make noise as you walk around?  Do you have taps on your shoes?  Does your leather gear squeak when you walk?  How quiet are you?  Have your partner stand around the corner of your building.  Can you walk up to the corner without him hearing you?

Is your radio turned down, or do you wear an earpiece?  Is your cell phone turned off, or left in the car?  If you are on a response, what kind of phone call are you expecting?  Your ability to move in silence can be a huge tactical advantage when moving around; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Local Control

Police are a function of local government.  That means that local government should control them.  The police should answer through their chain of command to the chief of police, to the city council and the mayor.  They should not answer to the courts, the Federal Government or other governmental entity. 

The Federal Government should stop giving money to local police for any purpose.  They should only give them surplus materials and equipment.  Those items should not have any strings attached.  The ownership of those items should transfer to the local government and should never return to the the Federal Government.

Local control of police has been a hallmark of law enforcement since the beginning of police in America.  Beyond the state level there should be no interference with the policing of the nation.  Local people should decide what is important to them, police or fire, parks or roads, buses, or schools.  There is never enough money for everything.  Let local governments determine what the local people want, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Shooting Unarmed Suspects

I read all the time about police kill and "unarmed man."  Sometimes it is necessary to shoot a man who is unarmed.  Each year several hundred people are murdered by "unarmed" men.  In fact, more people are murdered by unarmed killers than are murdered by killers armed with rifles!

Before you shoot an unarmed man it is important that you perform an internal checklist of your options.  You can do this in an instant and you will likely be performing much of this as soon as you enter the incident.  How large is the suspect?  How large is the suspect compared to your size?  How physically fit is the suspect? 

How close is the suspect to you?  What is the suspects demeanor?  Is the suspect threatening?  How is he threatening?  Has he injured you?  Has he responded to verbal commands?  Is a baton, OC spray, or Taser unlikely to be employed successfully?  Are arrest and control techniques unable to give you the advantage?  Shooting anyone is the choice of last resort; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Shooting a dog, is not unlike shooting a person, it should be a last resort when all other attempts to subdue them have failed or likely would have failed.  OC spray works very well on most dogs, spray the nose, mouth, and eyes; all but the most determined dogs will go away after being sprayed. 

Use your baton to fend off a dog that is attacking you.  Don't swing the baton at it, poke the dog with the end.  Poke at his face, particularly at his mouth.  Let him bite the end of the baton, if he is biting the baton, he is not biting you!

If the dog bites the baton, force it down his throat.  Press it hard and you can injure and choke the dog.  Most dogs don't like to get hurt and if you injure they they will go home.  If the dog has not bitten your baton, smack him in the face, or in the head.  Don't try to hit the legs, they are too low and hard to hit.  When you strike, hit hard; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Dog Shootings

I have owned several big dogs, I love dogs, and I am good with dogs.  Sometimes, however, you just have to put them down.  In this instance, a Rottweiler dog attacked two small children and their mother.  It bit all three of them and the owner was nowhere to be found.

Police responded in a timely manner and shot the dog to death.  There are several factors to consider if you have to shoot a dog.  Even a big dog is a small target.  Dogs are fast and low to the ground, all these make dogs hard to hit with a gun.  A wounded dog can be very dangerous. 

If you have to shoot a dog, I would recommend using your shotgun, loaded with buck shot.  You want to shoot the dog and not injure anyone else, you want to shoot one time and not have to fire way, round after round.  Get as close to the dog as you can, and fire center of mass, in a downward direction, if possible to prevent a stray pellet from hitting someone else.  Try to get bystanders and others to stay away so they are neither injured nor outraged by witnessing the shooting; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


A police officer has rights, the same rights as any other citizen.  In many states police have even more rights due to the nature of their occupation.  It is important that you know your rights and that you be prepared to exercise your rights when necessary.

If you are involved in a major incident, it is particularly important that you are aware of your rights.  In that instance, even if you believe you did everything perfect, or even if you believe you may have made errors, it is likely that you should seek professional counsel.

Police officers have constitutional rights, including the right to counsel and the right to remain silent.  Sometimes the manner in which you explain your actions or your motives can be misunderstood and can be used against you.  It is important that you know what you are able to do and to say, not to delay or prevent justice, but to perform your job well and to respect your rights as well; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Keep Quiet

After a significant use of force, and the situation is under control, be certain to control yourself.  While it is your duty to answer questions to insure that additional suspects are captured, and a proper report is made, it is also your right to insure that you do not incriminate yourself.

It is important after a major incident that you don't get yourself into trouble, not for what you did, but for what you said afterwards.  After the Rodney King arrest, one of the officers made comments to Mr. King that were considered later to be inflammatory.  Don't speak to the suspect if you don't need to talk to them. 

Don't make remarks that are insulting, demeaning, crude, disrespectful, or rude.  Don't make jokes to other people.  Don't speak badly about the suspect or the situation unless necessary to perform your duties.  As SGT Friday used to say, "Just the facts" that's also what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Police need to consider that they are being video'd whenever they are outside the locker room.  Nearly everyone over the age of five years old seems to have a cell phone.  Nearly all those cell phones have a camera in them.

Any incident, however trivial, is fodder for the cell phone camera.  In a society were people take a photo of their lunch and send it out on the Internet for the whole world to see, people can't help but take a picture of police work.

Any trivial police activity is worthy of the camera.  A simple traffic stop is an exciting activity compared to the sleeping cat video they usually take at home and post to the Internet.  Whenever you are outside your locker room, behave as if you are on camera, it may serve you well some day; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, March 16, 2015


The standards of police performance are being called into question every day.  There is a simple solution to this problem.  We need to, once again, upgrade the professionalism of American law enforcement.

We should require a two year training period to be a police officer.  We should pay our officers better and provide them with the equipment they need to do their jobs.  Every officer should have a Taser, baton, OC spray, body armor and two handguns, a patrol rifle and a patrol car that is at least partially armored.

Our officers must have higher physical standards, and should be better able to perform arrest control techniques and employ other less lethal weapons.  We need to be able to prepare better reports, and conduct more complete investigations.  We need more continuing education so that we keep up on new technologies, legal questions, and the latest procedures; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Academy Training

Police Science should be a two year degree that culminates in the last six months being the police academy.  It should be open only to those who meet the minimum requirements to be a police officer in that state.

In California that means they must be a US Citizen, or legal resident, have a drivers license, be at least 18 years old and have no criminal history.  I would not want the class to be open to gangsters, illegal aliens, or other criminals.

They should have a year and a half of classroom training that prepares them to work the streets.  The law, Spanish, report writing, fitness should be part of every semester, because these subject take a long time to master.  The training should include military discipline, team building and the students should be required to cut their hair and wear a uniform; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Academy training needs to be a long time to teach what we don't teach now. A month is not long enough to get people into shape. We should train people how to stay in shape for life, not punishing them with exercise. 

We need to teach every officer how to swim, how to speak enough Spanish to write a ticket, their use of force training needs to start with verbal judo and incorporate progressive use of force, with a unified use of force staff. 

Report writing should be based on role playing, the academy need three to four months, then six months field training, then another month or so in the academy, followed by more field training.  Our officers need more initial training; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, March 13, 2015

First Aid

When responding to a medical call, go straight to the location and park as close as possible, leaving proper space for the paramedics and ambulance.  Remember to protect yourself.  Wear eye protection to avoid bodily fluids in your eyes.  Wear gloves to protect your hands from contamination.

Check out the area to insure you are safe.  Downed power lines may be active.  A crime victim may have his assailant nearby.  Diving into swift water is too dangerous to attempt without proper gear and training.  A dog attack victim might be near a dangerous dog.

Make sure there is no new danger to the victim.  A building or car on fire means you may need to move the victim right away.  How many victims are there, maybe some can self evacuate.  Direct other first responders, and even bystanders can be helpful; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

DOJ Report on Ferguson

MARCH 4, 2015

Page 78 Page 79

IV. Legal Analysis
The evidence discussed above does not meet the standards for presentation of an
indictment set forth in the USAM and in the governing federal law. The evidence is insufficient
to establish probable cause or to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 242
and would not be likely to survive a defense motion for acquittal at trial pursuant to Federal Rule
of Criminal Procedure 29(a). This is true for all six to eight shots that struck Brown. Witness
accounts suggesting that Brown was standing still with his hands raised in an unambiguous
signal of surrender when Wilson shot Brown are inconsistent with the physical evidence, are
otherwise not credible because of internal inconsistencies, or are not credible because of
inconsistencies with other credible evidence. In contrast, Wilson’s account of Brown’s actions,
if true, would establish that the shootings were not objectively unreasonable under the relevant
Constitutional standards governing an officer’s use of deadly force. Multiple credible witnesses
corroborate virtually every material aspect of Wilson’s account and are consistent with the
physical evidence. Even if the evidence established that Wilson’s actions were unreasonable, the
government would also have to prove that Wilson acted willfully, i.e. that he acted with a
specific intent to violate the law. As discussed above, Wilson’s stated intent for shooting Brown
was in response to a perceived deadly threat. The only possible basis for prosecuting Wilson
under Section 242 would therefore be if the government could prove that his account is not true –
i.e., that Brown never punched and grabbed Wilson at the SUV, never struggled with Wilson
over the gun, and thereafter clearly surrendered in a way that no reasonable officer could have
failed to perceive. Not only do eyewitnesses and physical evidence corroborate Wilson’s
account, but there is no credible evidence to disprove Wilson’s perception that Brown posed a
threat to Wilson as Brown advanced toward him. Accordingly, seeking his indictment is not
permitted by Department of Justice policy or the governing law."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


How to give a description of someone.  First, give a description that will allow an observer to detect the subject from a distance.  The color of their eyes is not helpful from 100 feet away.  Then give a more detailed description that will allow a more positive identification of the individual.

Sex, race, age, height, weight, upper half of body, lower half of body.  Male, white, adult, tall, thin, white tee shirt, blue jeans.  That's enough to weed out a fair portion of the population.  Anything else that is particularly descriptive and noticeable from a distance is helpful.  Shoulder length blonde hair, for example.

Start from the top of the person and work down.  Get every detail, hair color, length, and texture, skin tone, skin condition, acne, scars, freckles, tattoos, piercings, jewelery, hat, shirt, pants, belt, socks, shoes.  Color and condition of clothing, are they wearing layers of clothing?  Layers can be stripped off to give a different look.  Also ask about speech patterns, an accent is hard to disguise.  It's all in the details, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Homeless and Mentally Ill

The United States needs a new method of dealing with people who are homeless and people who are mentally ill.  Often, mentally ill people become homeless.  If they were dogs, we would round them up and put them in a safe place where they would be cleaned up, given medical care and housed and fed.  In the meantime they would be trying to find homes for the dogs.

We should be doing no less for our homeless and mentally ill populations.  In California anyone who is a danger to themselves or to others or is unable to care for themselves can be committed involuntarily.

People who live in a tent in the park or who live under a bridge are not able to care for themselves.  We don't need a change in the law, we need a change in the interpretation of the law.  We need minimal security facilities where people can live and be treated.  These are not generally bad people they are sick, lost, and in need of assistance; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, March 9, 2015


The Los Angeles Police shot and killed a homeless man.  The incident was caught on video.  We have been told that every police officer must have a video camera on his body so that we can understand everything that happens in the field.  Still people are claiming the man was shot for no reason.  Police are saying the homeless man was going for an officers gun.

President Obama has pledged millions of dollars to put cameras on local police.  This is a fools errand.  Just because you have video does not mean you have understanding of an incident.  We have several videos of the assassination of President Kennedy.  Do we have a full understanding of that incident?  Does everyone believe that official reports? 

I believe the Warren Commission Report, but despite the video millions do not.  It is a perfect example that having video does not explain an incident.  Video shows what the camera sees, not what the participants see or believe.  It does not show what they smell, or report what they heard, or explain their emotions.  Video is not a magic bullet, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, March 8, 2015


The US Justice Department cleared Officer Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.  They could find no credible evidence that Officer Wilson did not tell the truth about his version of events.

They found no evidence that Michael Wilson had his hands up when he was shot by Officer Brown.  People lied, made up stories and then told them to the police and the media.  No one is being prosecuted for their lies or their slanders.

Officer Wilson was doing a difficult job, being a police officer in 21st Century America.  He did his job well and was persecuted for that.  It is a testament to his professionalism and that of his agency that he and they documented everything properly and showed how well he did his job on that fateful day.  It's a shame our Federal Government won't stand behind local police officers who are just trying to do their jobs; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


The manual can be an excellent training tool for new officers.  Everything they need to know for field operations should be in the pocket manual. The manual should be no more than fifty pages long, with print that is large enough to read in low light.

There should be a list of your radio codes, and frequently used penal and vehicle codes.  Municipal codes with a short explanation should also be in the book.  Every time the large manual is updated the pocket manual should be updated too.

In today's modern world, an app that has all this information would also be an excellent tool.  The app should not replace the pocket version, but should be a copy of it.  Information is power, and having information disseminated to your officers in different formats is a way to increase your power; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, March 6, 2015


Agencies should have a small pocket size version of their policy manual.  It should cover those policies that officers would have to deal with in the field.  They should cover driving, use of force, data collection and weapons.

Sleeping on duty, taking breaks, care and use of the patrol vehicle are all important items that should be in a pocket manual.  The pocket manual should also include select sections of the penal and vehicle code.  Those that are common and significant crimes.  Burglary, robbery, murder, are all important to include.

Pocket manuals should be small.  They should be pocket size to fit in the shirt pocket.  It should not be a 200 page manual.  It should be handy and easy to use.  A giant manual will not be read by anyone; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Termination rather than prosecution can have several substantial advantages for the agency, for justice, for the public and for the officer.  For the officer, it keeps him out of jail.  Some offenses are not substantial, but the officer should no longer work as a cop.  For these policy violations termination is best.

The agency will get rid of the officer in a timely manner and be able to put the incident behind them quickly.  For the public they won't have to deal with that officer in an official capacity any longer.  The termination is not only faster, but cheaper, so it also serves the public.

The officers file should reflect that he was fired rather than prosecuted for his violation of policy; so that his chances of being hired by another agency are low.  This would be proper for minor violations such as a petty theft, or other misdemeanor type crime; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


Policy that is law enforcement specific should provide officers with the greatest latitude, commensurate with the law in your jurisdiction.  Use of force policy, for example, should not unduly restrict officers to substantially less force than the law permits.

Language used in policy should be similar to that used in the law, and based on best practices.  Use of force should be reasonable.  Use of force should stop when resistance has ceased.  These are reasonable actions and are similar to the law and case law in most states.

Significant violations of policy can be used to fire, demote, discipline, or retrain officers.  Often the termination of an officer is preferable to arrest and prosecution of an officer who has violated both a policy and the law.  This is particularly true when a member of the public would not likely be prosecuted for a similar offense; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Having good policies is an important part of having a good security company or good police agency.  In general, policies should function as a guideline to behavior in the field.  They should not try to address every specific situation, but rather give general information.

A violation of policy is not the same as a violation of the law.  If an agency has a policy against using a choke hold and an officer uses a choke hold that use should be judged based on the law and the reasonableness of his actions.  The policy should take in the totality of the circumstances, and not require strict unthinking obedience.

Policies should be divided into several parts.  Administrative actions common to all kinds of employees, such as sick time, attendance, vacations should be separate from those that are law enforcement specific.  Policies that are law enforcement specific should be contained in the full department manual, but there should also be an abridged version that contains the most important polices for field operations; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Asset Forfeiture

Some agencies have used asset forfeiture to line their own pockets.  They have seized cars and kept them for use in patrol, or more typically, for special units.  They have seized real estate and then kept the property for their own use.  Sometimes they have seized property and then used it as a lever to gain control of property, even if people are never convicted of a crime.  Any property seized that is held in escrow should be part of a probable cause hearing to show that someone has been arrested for a crime and his being prosecuted for crimes that can reasonably bring asset forfeiture.

Some agencies have gone after specific criminals because they had assets the agency wanted to seize.  That is not how law enforcement is supposed to work.  Law enforcement is supposed to be for the good of the public, not for the enrichment of the agency.  One of the reasons I am opposed to red light cameras is that they are used as a revenue source, rather than as a real law enforcement tool.

Asset forfeiture is a powerful tool.  Like any power it has a potential to corrupt.  Police agencies need to have oversight and should have procedures in place to prevent them from simply taking goods from people who have not been convicted of any crime.  Criminals should not be able to profit from their evil and so we should continue to use this tool, but more carefully; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Asset Forfiture

I am in favor of asset forfiture.  If criminals are running a criminal enterprise and with the money they get they are gathering huge sums of money, and cars, real estate and other goods they don't deserve to keep them.

There is a problem with the program as it is administered in most areas.  The items seized should be held in escrow until someone is convicted of a crime.  Then the items seized should be shown to a judge to be fruits of that criminal activity.  Only then should ownership of the items transfer to the government.

The items seized should not go to the agency that does the seizure.  Assets should go to the parent agency.  So if a local police department seizes a million dollars the money should go to the city and be placed in the general fund, county sheriffs seizing property should have the property go to the county.  Real property, and physical assets should be sold at auction.  Police departments don't need Lamborghini DARE vehicles; that's what the SGT Says.