Thursday, April 30, 2015

Police Pursuit

When the pursuit ended everyone got out of their patrol car and ran forward.  The first few officers should draw their weapons and be ready for a gunfight at the pursuit of an armed suspect.  Certainly you want overwhelming superiority in numbers too, but a couple seconds of thought might magnify the effect of those numbers.

Was dispatched notified of the termination of the pursuit?  Is your car parked in the most advantageous position?  Would it be a good idea to deploy your patrol rifle or patrol shotgun?  Is there a less lethal weapon that might be helpful?  If the suspect jumps out of the vehicle and is apparently unarmed, but uncooperative a bean bag shotgun might be useful.

If you are a canine officer, is it best to bring the dog, or leave him in the car?  I suggest that the canine officer should bring the dog, and wait in the back and let the other officers get involved in any actual shooting.  Stand by to deploy the dog as needed; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Police Pursuit

Police go in pursuit of a man who robbed a financial institution and kidnapped a woman and stole her car.  At one point he stopped and stole another car, but the hostage got away.  The police chased him for a long time in a rural area and he stopped on a lonely highway.  The officers ended up shooting him to death.

When the officers stopped the pursuit, they all jumped out of their cars at once and ran forward.  Many of them could have taken a moment and turned off their sirens.  It's hard to give a suspect verbal commands over the sound of a siren.  It's hard to hear the suspect shooting at you over a siren too.

If you are not one of the first three officers, don't instantly leap out of your car and run forward.  Think about what is important.  Perhaps you should move your vehicle to a better location.  Officers were standing the open to the side, maybe a car should have been moved onto the shoulder as cover or to further block the road.  Think for a moment; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Watch video tape of any major American riot and sooner or later you will see protestors breaking windows on police cars.  Police cars with $4,000 worth of decals, $8,000 worth of radios and computers, and shotguns, patrol rifles, and emergency gear can easily be $50,000 worth of publicly owned equipment.

Frequently the vehicles have the windows smashed, body dented, vehicles get overturned and even set on fire.  As part of your crowd control and riot response strategy you need to protect your police vehicles.  No police vehicle should be parked alone.  No police vehicle should be left unattended.

You need to plan on several locations where officers can park their vehicles in a safe location.  The vehicles should be out of public view if possible.  A sufficient number of officers should be left with the vehicles to insure an immediate response to anyone trying to damage the cars.  Allowing your police vehicles to be destroyed due to a failure to plan is poor police work; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Police often have to respond to protests and sometimes to rioting.  It is important to have a plan of action ready if you know there will be protests happening in your jurisdiction.  Then that plan must be communicated to all of the officers. 

Will your intention be to contain the protest?  Is it to stop physical attack or stop damage to property?  Are you willing and able to make arrests, even large numbers of arrests even for the most minor offense, or is there a threshold that participants must reach before you make any arrests?  Are your chief of police, county sheriff and local politicians in accord with your plan?

Do you have the ability to record the behavior of the protesters and the officers?  Do you have air support and mutual aid ready?  Have you performed liaison with the local news media so you can get copies of their raw video as evidence?  Is your fire department and local EMS system ready? Have you informed other local agencies of a potential requirement for mutual aid?  Even a small protest can get out of hand quickly and pre-planning can make a big difference; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Officer Attacked

In this video, a handcuffed suspect is sitting in the back of a patrol car.  He is handcuffed in front and the handcuffs are over his clothing as well.  Handcuffing in front allows the suspect to use both fists together.  Handcuffing over the clothing can make it easier to slip off the handcuffs.

The officer is standing in front of an open rear car door.  The officer is standing to the front of the seat.  The officer should roll down the window and keep the door closed.  The suspect is constantly looking around, front, back, and sides.  Looking around like that is a danger cue, the suspect is looking for witnesses, other officers, and escape routes.

The officers camera shows that the suspect attacked her.  It shows little beyond that.  Camera displays like this show the limited value of cameras mounted on the officers body.  They are not the panacea that many people expect them to be.  This also shows that even a low level offender may attack an officer; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Pistol Range

During the course of the year an officer must practice a wide variety of shooting stances and positions.  Standing, kneeling and prone positions are useful.  Shooting close up, with the muzzle of the pistol nearly touching the target to as far back as at least 25 yards away.

Officers should fire very rapid strings of fire and should take careful aim with unlimited time available.  Officers should practice transitions to and from the handgun and the patrol rifle as well as the patrol shotgun.  Officers should practice reloading, with both hands and with each hand individually.  Officers should shoot left and right handed, with a two and one hand grip.

Officers should fire using ambient light, low light, and their flashlight.  They should practice moving forward, laterally, and backing away from their target.  Officers should practice shoot / don't shoot target shooting and multiple targets, both pairs and three or more.  There is a lot to do at the range; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Militarized Police

Most people don't know much about police work.  Most people support their local police.  It's important to keep their support.  One way is to not do things that unnecessarily frighten people.  When people read that the police are being militarized they are concerned. 

When they see their local police in black military uniforms, carrying assault rifles, driving black, unmarked armored cars, they think the police are becoming militarized.  By attiring ourselves in uniforms that look more traditional, and marking our vehicles in ways that don't look like military vehicles we help the public identify us as police, not an occupying force.

Police don't call in air strikes.  We don't use artillery.  Police don't use machine guns and lay down covering fire as we maneuver.  Police don't use tanks and fragmentation grenades.  Police lay landmines and ambush people.  Police use force is highly controlled and the intention is to save lives rather than kill the enemy; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Militarization of Police

Police sometimes give the impression that we have become militarized because we are dressing in ways that don't look like police and we are painting our vehicles so they look like military vehicles rather than police cars.

Police, even SWAT teams, should look like police.  They should wear uniforms that look like the regular patrol officers uniforms.  They should wear a metal badge.  They should wear the same colors as the regular police.  Even if the SWAT guys need jump suits, or BDU pants and shirts, they should be in the same colors and with the same patches as the regular uniforms.

Police armored cars and rescue vehicles should not be black, or camouflaged or substantially different in markings from regular police cars.  A simple black and white with POLICE and other department markings on them is best; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Militarization of Police

The police are not being militarized.  The military is increasingly taking on roles that have been done by the police, so that gives the illusion that the police are more like the military.  As a result of the drawdown of troops from overseas, many pieces of military hardware have become surplus. 

People see the police with assault rifles and armored cars and helmets and think we have suddenly become like the military.  Police have used rifles since the cowboy days.  Police have used automatic weapons, the Thompson submachine gun and Browning Automatic Rifle, since at least the 1920's.

Police have worn helmets since the 1840's and have used armored cars since at least the 1930's.  Police have done these things because criminals have often used similar weapons against them and the helmet and armored vehicles have provided protection.  There is no militarization of the police, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Run Him Down

A suspect participated in the theft of a rifle, a home invasion robbery and he shot at police officers.  The police followed the suspect as he walked along the side of the road, pointing a gun at his own head.  One officer warned the suspect to not to shoot himself.  A second officer drove up and intentionally ran over the suspect.

The video of the event looks bad.  A man walking down the street is run over by a police car.  That is horrifying.  Video often only tells part of the story.  If the suspect had stopped and pointed the gun at the officers, the suspect would likely have died in a hail of gunfire.

Any action the police take has to be weighted against other potential actions or doing nothing.  Clearly, allowing an armed suspect walking down the street in a residential neighborhood is a bad idea.  Also having a shootout in the same neighborhood is a bad idea.  The officer came up with an unusual, but effective solution to a dangerous problem; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Off Duty Carry

Officers should carry off duty.  They should carry off duty all the time.  Every day, all the time, everywhere.  You never know when an incident will happen so that you have to be ready all the time.  When incidents happen there is no time to return to your car to get your gun.

I carry whenever I leave my home.  I carry at church, the mall, or when I go out for a walk.  When danger strikes, the officer has to be prepared.  I don't get involved in minor instances.  I don't get involved in things that are not my business.  Recently at a restaurant I left rather than spend time in an establishment with gang members present.

I have only intervened in one incident in the last ten years.  An on duty uniformed officer was trying to take a suspect into custody and he needed help; the suspect was not obeying commands and was putting up a fight.  I helped the officer get the suspect into handcuffs.  My gun was, fortunately not needed, but you never know; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

One or Two?

Should police officers work alone?  There are good reasons to work alone.  Officers can spread out over a large area.  That enables them to see more and be closer to calls when they come out.  Officers can do their work their own way.

What happens if they work with a partner?  There are good reasons to partner officers.  Officers don't have to wait for back up on dangerous calls.  Suspects are less likely to challenge two officers than one officer. 

Having two officers work together all the time can create an opportunity for people to get two close.  My thought is that officers should work with partners but they should rotate around the shift so on one works with the same partner all the time.  Changing partners minimizes complacency; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Training Hours

In California there is a requirement to train for 1,600 hours to become a beautician with an additional 3,200 hours of apprenticeship to get your full license to style hair.  That's three times or more the requirement to become a police officer in most states.  We sent officers into the field with minimal training and then we wonder why they do foolish things. 

Some agencies work ten or twelve hour shifts.  That means if they have to split a shift and work overtime they have to work fifteen to eighteen hours.  When people work that many hours it's difficult to make good decisions and to drive safety.

Most agencies do a pretty good background check on their officers and then assume they will never change.  They work for five or ten or fifteen years and no one checks their driving record, their drug use, their home environment.  Yet everyone agrees that police work changes people and often wears on them over time.  We need to do a better job of preparing and supervising our people; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Taser Training

Officers on the range could be confronted with either of two targets.  One that requires a Taser and one that requires a handgun.  The officer should be surprised by a turning target and be required to make a quick decision as to which weapon to select.

The officer should have to run the course three times.  The officer should fire one of the two weapons twice and the second weapon once.  Some should fire the handgun twice and some should fire the Taser twice.

When the officer fires the Taser he should shout "Taser" as he draws his weapon, but before he fires the Taser.  The officer should also practice the contact Taser and the reloading of the Taser cartridge.  The Taser should be worn on the non-handgun side and fired with the non-handgun hand; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Talking and Shooting

When training firearms, encourage your officers to issue verbal commands before or during their shooting.  It's okay to shoot and issue verbal commands at the same time.  Officers might miss and the commands would be important.

Officer might hit the suspect, but may not be stopped by gunfire alone.  Giving them a verbal command may be enough to push them over the edge to obey.  Verbal commands should be clear and short.  Commands should be usable in several types of scenarios.

Drop the weapon.  Stop.  Don't come any closer.  Put your hands up.  These are four good, clear, short phrases to use when confronting an armed suspect.  They are easy to shout and easy to understand.  Drop the weapon works for a gun, knife, club or any other kind of weapon.  It makes training more useful; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shooting and Breathing

A good range drill is to have an officer use his baton against a heavy bag for thirty seconds.  The officer should be direct vigorous, rapid blows against the bag.  The officer should be winded when time is called.

The officer then returns his baton to the ring and moves into a shooting position, ten to fifteen feet from the target.  The officer performs a typical firearms shooting drill at the target.  The officer should have to fire a rapid string of fire, perhaps as many as ten rounds in ten seconds.  The should start firing within ten seconds of hitting the bad.

The concept is that this drill will simulate the stress and exhaustion that can come from having to fight a suspect, or chase him on foot.  The officer should examine his target with the rangemaster.  The rangemaster can explain techniques for controlling breathing when shooting.  The officer should repeat the exercise a second time to practice these new techniques; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tactical Shooting

The police often train annually, quarterly, even monthly on firearms.  Firearms are dangerous and officers need to be highly skilled in their use.  Generally this training consists of shooting various guns at targets and computing a score.

We need to do a more complete job of firearms training.  Officers should have good technical skills with their guns, but also good tactical skills.  Range qualification should include tactical decisions like moving to cover, creating distance and loading under stress.

Officers should shoot from very close up, just a couple feet from the target to as much as 20 yards from the target.  Officers should have shoot targets and don't shoot targets.  Officers need to be used to making decisions when they shoot, not just trigger pulling; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Police were watching a suspect make an illegal gun sale, the suspect was a career criminal.  They move into apprehend the suspect and a fight ensues.  During the fight an officer pulls a weapon and announces "Taser."  He then fires one round from his duty handgun.

The reserve officer pulled his duty handgun, thinking it was his Taser.  There are two things wrong with this incident that cause these things to happen.  The first thing is officers should never wear their Taser on the same side of their body as their duty handgun.  It's too easy to confuse them in a stressful situation, and it has happened several times nationwide.

The second problem is the Taser design is too much like that of a handgun.  The Taser should be designed so that it cannot be confused with a handgun.  The grip should not feel like a handgun grip.  The configuration should not be like that of a handgun.  A new design would make it impossible to confuse the two weapons; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Officer Involved Shooting

If you are involved in an incident and you make a mistake, document the mistake.  A mistake is not always a criminal offense.  In this incident we don't know why the officer fired at the running man.  Certainly there is no obvious reason for the officer to fire.  By the officer moving the Taser from the place it was laying to a place near the body of the man is evidence the officer is attempting to place blame for the shooting on the man.

If you cover up your mistake, tamper with evidence, and lie on your report, you then move from an error in judgement to a probable criminal offense.  We all make mistakes.  We all make errors in judgement or in perception.  Those are seldom criminal offenses.  Even if they are crimes, trying to cover them up will only provide further evidence of guilt, and increase the severity of the offense.

Your reports should be as accurate as your can reasonably make them.  If you tell the truth from the beginning it is easier to get credibility for your explanation that you made a mistake.  Changing the scene and lying about what happened causes you to lose credibility and creates an atmosphere that you knowingly performed a criminal act; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Police Shooting

What can we learn from this video?  There is so much apparently wrong in this video it is difficult to address it all.  One thing this proves is that which I have always said, cameras are everywhere.  If you are not wearing a camera, or if one is not on your patrol car, there is still likely one filming you someplace.  In this instance a passerby videoed the incident, from close range, with sound.

Don't do anything that you don't want seen by your sergeant, your chief of police, you wife and your mother.  This is not 1950 where cameras are rare, cameras are ubiquitous.  Every business, every individual, traffic signals, ATM's, and many other places have cameras.

Your actions not only will be recorded on camera, but also the video will be compared to your report.  In this instance the officer reported the suspect fought for his Taser.  Clearly, that did not happen in proximate time and space to the shooting.  Also the officer tampered with the crime scene by moving the Taser closer to the injured man.  None of these behaviors are acceptable; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Police Officer Shot Unarmed Man

A police officer shot an unarmed man in the back as he was running away from the officer.  When can officers use deadly force and when would this be legal?  Officers can use deadly force generally, when it is reasonable, to prevent great bodily injury or death of themselves or another innocent person. 

In the event of a suspect who has tried to grab an officers Taser, it would be reasonable to us deadly force to prevent him getting the Taser or from using the Taser if no other reasonable option was likely to succeed.  In this instance, that does not appear to be the case.

If this man were an armed robber, if he had just shot someone, if the officer was concerned a possible killer would escape, then the use of deadly force by the officer may be reasonable.  This incident does not seem to meet that criteria; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Shot in the Back

This video shows a man running away from and officer and the officer fires a number of shots at the man, who falls to the ground.  The officer handcuffs the man and calls out a shots fired call on his radio.  The officer then backtracks his steps and picks something up off the ground, he walks back to where the man is laying on the ground and drops the item on the ground next to the man, as another officer approaches.

The second officer calls for a first aid kit and begins to render aid to the man, the officer is apparently uninjured.  The man later died of his wounds.  The officer said that he stopped the man for a minor traffic violation, they fought over his stun gun and the officer had to shoot the man to prevent him from getting the officers stun gun. 

The item the officer dropped next to the man was apparently a stun gun.  The officer was not disheveled as if he had been in a fight and he had no obvious injuries.  I find it difficult to imagine a scenario where it would be legal, moral, or correct for the officer to have been shooting this unarmed man in the back as he ran away after a minor traffic violation, and even if he had fought over the stun gun; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Getting Hired

Attire yourself in a conservative manner.  You want your appearance to be like that of other police.  Most police don't have tattoos that are visible when wearing a tee shirt and shorts.  Don't have body piercings or other body modifications. 

Your clothing, lifestyle and vehicle should all be nondescript, main stream and conservative.  Police are generally not involved in controversy, so don't have a car bumper with offensive or controversial bumper stickers.

Get along with your neighbors, employers, co-workers and relatives.  Police have to get along with the general public and so you want a reputation that says you are not argumentative, or mean.  Getting hired with an agency is difficult, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Getting Hired

Physical fitness is important in police work.  Keep yourself in good shape to be able to pass the physical fitness testing and the academy.  Save your money.  The police academy does not pay a lot and you may need more cash to make it easy to pay all your expenses.

Learn to read and write well.  Failure to write good police reports is often a cause of failure with recruits.  Take basic English skills courses at your local community college.  Take creative writing to become better at expressing your thoughts in writing.

Consider joining the military service.  Veterans often get a preference when they apply for civil service jobs.  The military training will be similar to the police academy.  The discipline and physical fitness will be similar to the police academy.  Competition for police jobs can be fierce and so everything you do can help; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Getting Hired

The first thing you need to do to get hired by a police agency is to have a good background.  Graduate from high school.  If you did not, then either go back to school or get a GED.  Get good grades in school so that your record is clean.  The police academy is difficult and the police employer would want to know you can pass the academics.

Have a good employment history.  Don't change jobs frequently, and if you have to change jobs, then you should have an excellent reason, it is difficult and time consuming to hire you and the police don't like turn over.  Your personal life should be clean too.  Don't break the law, if you are going to enforce the law, you should not be breaking it.  Don't take drugs or use alcoholic beverages.  Don't smoke marijuana, even if it is legal in your state.

Your credit should be good, your use of money should indicate you are responsible.  You also don't want to be subject to bribery because of high debts.  Your social life should be conservative.  Police need to get along well with others, but they should not be bouncing between relationships frequently.  It shows a lack of maturity and responsibility.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Murder Suicide

When dealing with a murder suicide suspect, once you have containment, you may be able to use less lethal weapons to subdue the suspect.  Taser, OC spray, tear gas may all be useful depending on the circumstances.  If you have a suspect threatening deadly force, and you have several officers prepared to respond in kind, it is not unreasonable to attempt to use less lethal weapons if possible. 

Unusual weapons can sometimes be used to gain an advantage.  In some cases a fire hose or water cannon could be used to knock the suspect down from a distance.  Pepper balls, rubber bullets, bean bag shotgun shells and other "riot control" devices may be helpful to distract or knock down a suspect threatening suicide. 

Implementation of these tools may take time, so conversation may be your best method to delay the suspect.  Be sure to keep your other team members updated on the plan, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Murder Suicide

Naturally when dealing with a murder and a suicidal suspect you want trained professional negotiators to talk to the suspect.  Still, until they arrive, you are it.  The outcome we want is for the suspect to lay down his weapons and surrender peacefully, without hurting himself or anyone else.

Try to establish a rapport and ask him who he is and what he wants.  Tell him who you are and what you are trying to accomplish.  That no one else has to get hurt and that's the outcome you want.  Be realistic and don't promise him a helicopter and a million dollars in five minutes, since you both know that's not going to happen.

Discuss the options for surrender, don't just demand, toss out your gun and come out with your hands up.  We all want that, but that may not be the best way to phrase that option.  Leave your gun in the living room and come outside with your hands visible so we can talk.  Keep your people informed about anything the suspect says he might do that could alarm them, like exit the building.  You don't want a nervous officer to shoot the suspect just as he is giving up; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Murder Suicide

If the suicidal suspect is inside a home or other small building, surround the building as soon as possible to prevent him from going mobile.  If he has a car in the driveway, disable the car by parking a unit behind it, or even flattening the tires.  Your duty knife can cut the tire stem and release all the air in seconds, cut two tires if possible.

Clear the surrounding buildings of people so that others are not caught in a crossfire.  This is where those armored cars are helpful.  Deploy officers with patrol rifles and ask for a tactical team.  In the meantime, try and talk to the suicidal suspect.  If they are talking they are not hurting themselves or others.

Call him on the house phone if possible, it helps to keep him in once place.  Call him on his cell phone if you have to, anything to open a line of communication.  Sometimes after the initial rush, the suspect can calm down and be convinced to give up; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Murder Suicide

There are many ways to contain a suspect who has made it into the open.  Sometimes surrounding him with police is not the best idea, it gives him too many options to attack you, so less can be more.  If he is out in the open, surround him with cars, block him into a corner or against a wall.

Even putting out cones or police tape can create a psychological barrier he may be reluctant to cross.  If the suspect is armed with a deadly weapon, you will want officers to have him covered with firearms, but you don't likely need ten or twelve officers pointing handguns at him.  Have a two or three officers with shotguns at the ready. 

The shotgun will likely stop him with one shot and is less likely to over-penetrate like the patrol rifle might do.  The shotgun also has a certain intimidation factor that could work in your favor.  Have the other officers back up and put their handguns away.  You don't need the suspect to be shot with 50 times by handgun bullets; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Murder Suicide

If a suspect threatens suicide, always take them seriously, even if they don't seem serious.  If you have a suspect in public with a weapon threatening to kill themselves, be aware that they may try to hurt you or others in order to force you to kill them.

Respond as many units as you can get to the scene.  Set up an immediate perimeter around the suspect.  Set up an inner perimeter around the surrounding officers.  You don't want friends and relatives showing up at your back and getting involved without your permission.

Set up an outer perimeter to keep the public out of harms way.  If the suspect is armed with a gun, that could be a large distance.  Too often I see video of large crowds across the street from a man with a gun or knife.  Your goal should be to control and isolate the individual so he can be talked back from the brink; that's what the SGT Says.