Friday, July 31, 2015

Good Drones

Drones have great potential.  They can revolutionize industry and government and even travel.  Amazon is looking to have drones perform four hour delivery of product.  They are more and more capable and cheaper and cheaper.

Real estate agents like to use them to take pictures of large properties.  Tourists like to use them to take spectacular photographs of lakes, rivers, forests and monuments.  Farmers can use them to fertilize crops and distribute insecticide.

Private security can patrol large properties and police can patrol large cities.  Firefighters can scan the extent of a blaze.  The advantage is they can be sent in where it is too dangerous for helicopters.  Drones can be deployed almost instantly.  We need regulations, but not harsh enough to stifle the value of drones; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


An officer stopped a suspect for having no front license plate.  It escalated into a shooting and the officer killed the driver.  The prosecutor complained about the nature of the low level stop.  He complained about the probable cause for the stop.  Not because the stop was illegal, but rather because it was a low level crime.

If police are not supposed to make stops for low level crimes, then simply eliminate them from the criminal code.  Police are supposed to investigate activity that is suspicious and then arrest violators, or cite them or warn them as appropriate.

Too often recently I have heard people complain about the nature of a police stop.  They did not deny that the person was guilty of an offense.  They said the offenses were too minor for police to bother with.  How big of a crime should have to happen before the police should take action?  American police do a good job, people need to back off and let us do it; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Verbal Commands

What does someone who is aggressive look like?  What does someone look like who is threatening?  Can you describe those behaviors?  Those are behaviors that you need to recognize when you see them for your own safety.

You need to be able to describe what you see when you write a report.  You also need to speak to the person if you can.  You need to order them to stop, to take control of the situation.  You are the police and you are in charge.

If you are not in charge, then you need to regain control.  The steps you take to regain control are more of what you need to document so that you can justify your actions.  Verbal commands need to be simple, direct and clear; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Video and Report Writing

Just because everything is on video now does not mean your report writing skills are any less important.  Video only shows so much, there is much that is missing in video.  Often, just as the interesting things happen, the officer moves or bounces around and we see nothing but shadows, colors, and blurry images.

The video only shows what the camera sees.  The camera does not provide your exact view.  More importantly the camera does not interpret what you are looking at.  The camera will show a man with something in his hand.  The officer will interpret that something as a garage door opener or a handgun.

The video will be viewed in the comfort of an air conditioned room, in total safety. The video will be recorded in the field where anything is possible and bad things may even be likely.  That will greatly change the interpretation of what things look like, how you react to what people do and say.  It's important that your reports include what you saw, how you interpreted what you saw, and how it made you feel; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Report Writing

Report writing is a critical but often overlooked part of police work.  We spend far too little time learning how to write reports and how to put into words what happened in the field.  Since so many of our tasks are routine and repetitive we become complacent in our report writing and often leave out important information.

If we have a use of force against someone it is important to include those little details that might not seem like much alone, but can more fully explain the reasonableness of our use of force.  "The suspect came at me and I hit him with my baton, one time in the arm."  That is not much of an explanation.

"The suspect exited his car.  I ordered him in a loud voice to 'Get back in your car.'  He refused and ran towards me, screaming, 'I don't have to do what you say.'"  His tone of voice was angry, his face was red, and his right arm was raised in a fist.  I drew my baton and ordered him to 'Stop, get back.'   Then went he was almost on top of me, I struck him one time in the upper right arm with my baton, to prevent him from punching me.  He then stopped, and fell to his knees at my feet.  I handcuffed him without further incident."  The additional details make it much clearer why the suspect needed to be struck with a baton.  Two years from now in court, the second version will help you recall important details; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Even the most mundane encounter can be a life changing event.  A simple traffic stop for a loose license plate and the officer found the terrorist who blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  Don't let the job become so routine that you forget that.

Burglar alarms are always false.  Until they are not.  Until the burglary call is in the Watergate Hotel and it leads to the resignation of President Nixon.  Even the false alarm might be a real one some day and you have to be ready.

Officers who are killed in the line of duty often have five years or more in the field.  They get complacent.  They stop searching, expecting to find weapons, because they seldom find them.  They stop calling for back up because they never needed it before.  Don't let your guard down; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Things to Remember

Wear your seatbelt.

Wear your body armor.

Drive safely.

Call for backup.

Wait for backup.

Don't get in a hurry.

Watch the hands.

Always search anyone in your custody.

Look for danger cues.

Follow your instincts.

Don't be afraid to back off.

That's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Safe Gun Handling

Safe gun handling is best practiced on the range.  Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned with the target can be easily practiced on the range.  Do it dozens, hundreds, thousands of times.

Perform this task perfectly every time.  Even if you have to do it very slowly.  Your speed with come as you do it more and more.  Over time your perfect practice will become fast practice.  Don't go so quickly that you make mistakes.

It's more important to be smooth rather than fast.  Doing the movements smoothly will bring speed.  Once you learn your duty handgun, then practice on your patrol rifle, your off duty gun, and your patrol shotgun; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Gun Handling

All of us make mistakes. If you handle guns enough it is likely you will have an unintended discharge. It only takes a fraction of a second to make a life changing error. That's why the basic rules of firearms safety are so important. 

That's why they even overlap to some extant. All guns are always loaded. If you consider the gun is always loaded then you are unlikely to do foolish things with them because you think they are safe to handle. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to shoot. So even if you think it's unloaded and you have an unintended discharge, you won't hit anything important. 

 Keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on the target. Most guns discharge because someone pulled the trigger. Finger off the trigger prevents that. Always be sure of your target. I thought it was a deer is not the same as I was sure it was a deer; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Similarities in Employment

So how do you make your present job look good in the oral interview?  Does working at Starbucks have anything to do with police work?  Nearly every job has something in common with police work.  At a coffee shop, you deal with the public, everyone who shows up. 

Some have a good day, and some have a bad day.  It's your job to serve them without regard to your personal feelings about them.  You are responsible for handling money, so you can be trusted.  You have to follow health laws about cleanliness and sanitary conditions. 

You wear a uniform, and you have to be on time, every day.  You often work weekends and holidays, and often work early in the morning or late in the evening.  So even a job as simple as making coffee, does have some parallels to law enforcement; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Related Jobs

Related jobs to police are jobs that have some relationship to law enforcement, but are not police work.  Animal control officers can sometimes be full fledged police, but more often than not they are not.  Still they respond to emergencies, often carry a gun, make arrests, write citations, and conduct investigations.

Security guards are another good stepping stone to police work.  They wear a uniform, talk on the radio, often drive marked patrol cars, investigate suspicious circumstances, and sometimes even carry guns and make arrests.

What you are looking for are jobs that have similar responsibility to police work, but are not police jobs.  Many of the tasks are performed using transferable skills to police work.  Often these jobs are easier to get the police jobs.  When you get an interview for a police job, you can explain that you have performed some of the duties as a police officer.  It's better than saying you paint houses or bag groceries; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Other Information

There is other information that you need for your background check.  Get all of your addresses together, including the zip codes.  You need to have your banking information available, they will want to check your credit references.

Have information on a few people who have known you for a long time.  Long time family friends are good.  Name, home address, phone numbers, and email address are a must.  Sometimes having former co-workers are also good people to have on your list too.

Don't put people on  your list that you know will say bad things about you, if you can avoid it.  You want to provide a positive record of your past.  Still, you can't leave anything out.  If you got fired, or expelled from school you still have to put it down.  They will find out, and the worst thing you can do is lie; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Knowledge is Power

Get all your information together.  The name, address, phone number, email, and name of supervisor for every place you have worked in your life.  It is important to get all this information available for your background check information.  Phone numbers are good, because the investigator can call and get the information they need.  It can really speed up the process.

It will make things much easier for your background investigator, and make your background check go faster.  It also shows that you are responsible by having your data on the forms.  I keep business card from every location where I worked so that I have the correct information on hand when I need it.

When I fill out a background check form, I keep a copy for my own reference.  That way every form I fill out will have the same information on it.  It also makes it easier to fill out the next form, because I can simply transfer information from one to another.  Gather you information; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Back Door Jobs

Sometimes getting hired by a police agency can take as long as three years or more.  Many agencies don't have money to hire, they don't have a large applicant pool and it takes a while to work through them or other reasons they are slow.  What can you do in the meantime?

Most police work for agencies that have non-sworn employees and volunteers.  If you are young, you may qualify as an Explorer Scout.  Many agencies have Explorers, they don't get paid, but they learn a lot about the agency and police work in general. 

It makes the oral interview easier if you have worked there for a couple years already.  Other jobs include jailor, who handles prisoners and works inside the jail.  Police support jobs, like records clerk, CSI, report taker, dispatcher, and parking control are often a good job in their own right, but it can be easier to get these jobs than a sworn police officer.  They also make it easier to get hired as a police officer.  Many agencies give preference to existing employees before they hire from outside the agency; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 17, 2015


What do you look like?  If you are overweight, then lose weight.  The police academy is not the place to go to get into shape.  It's the place to excel because you are already fit.  If you are not a member of a gym, then join one and start working out. 

Tell the people at the gym you are going to the police academy.  You need upper body strength and aerobic fitness.  They will give you exercises to meet those goals.  Often you can find out the criteria for your local police academies final fitness standards. 

You should be able to meet those on your first day; it will make the academy much easier.  Many agencies have a physical fitness test to pass in order to get hired.  If you are in good shape, you will make that much easier; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Report Writing

Look at your reading and writing skills.  Many men who want to be police officers are great in every respect, but they can't write a simple sentence.  Basic English skills are critical to getting hired as a police officer.

Most agencies require a written test as part of the hiring process.  If you cannot read or write well, you are unlikely to pass the test.  If you go to the police academy they will teach you how to write a police report, but they will not teach you English.

If you pass the academy you still have to pass probation.  Police reports have to be brief, accurate, and make sense.  Basic English skill are necessary to write good reports.  I have known many officers that were great at handling calls, but could hardly write a report.  A simple incident should be a quick report and back in service.  Nearly every incident will require some kind of report.  You need to be good at writing; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Do you want to get hired by a police agency?  How's your love life?  How responsible are you?  How many times have you been married?  How many women have you lived with, without being married?  How many children do you have?  If you can't stay married, how can you stay on the job to retirement?

Do you make your alimony payments?  Do you pay your child support?  Do you take care of your kids even if you don't have to make child support payments?  Your kids, your responsibility.  If you can't take responsibility for what's yours, how can we expect you to take responsibility for the public?

It used to be that many agencies would not hire you if you had children out of wedlock or were not legally married.  The also would not want you to be divorce more than once.  All these factors weigh into how responsible are you?  Do you make good life decisions?  If you have poor decision making skills, you won't be a good cop; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

On Line

How's your Internet status?  Are you on any on line chat groups, or use the Internet for any reason?  Of course you are!  Be aware that some agencies will want your passwords and will check everything you write, publish, like, and send on line.

That funny cartoon, may also be racist.  That picture of your girlfriend, might be pornography.  Think about the information you post and send to friends.  If it is taken out of context, or viewed by someone you don't know, will it make you look bad? 

Do not send nude, suggestive, goofy, illegal, or immoral selfies or photos to yourself or anyone else.  If you would not send it to your mom or your grandma, then don't send it.  If you are sending text messages during work hours, you are not working.  Don't talk about your boss, or your coworkers in a negative way.  All this may be discovered during your background check.  In police work you see a lot of confidential information, we want to know you can keep a secret; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 13, 2015


How is your driving record?  If you drive with a lead foot and have all kinds of traffic tickets, how can you be expected to enforce laws you disobey?  If you drive in such a way that you get tickets, you need to change your driving habits.

Don't speed, don't run red lights or stop signs.  Don't drink and drive.  A single driving under the influence ticket will almost guarantee that you will never get hired as a cop.  All these behaviors are dangerous and are leading causes of fatal traffic collisions. 

If you have a couple tickets, you may have to wait a few years, with a perfect record, before agencies will hire you.  Your vehicle should be in top condition too.  Properly registered, smog and safety certificates if your state uses them, proper equipment, fully legal.  I have known agencies to do a vehicle inspection for applicants prior to hire; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Getting Hired

Get your financial house in order.  Get a job, pay your bills.  Even if you are flipping burgers you are working at something.  Police agencies like to see people are hard workers, because police work is hard work.

Police like to see that you have an income and manage your bills.  If you can't manage your bills as a cop, it brings discredit to your agency.  If you can't manage your bills, you make be more likely to steal or accept a bribe.  Those two will get you fired and prosecuted.

You need to show your hiring agency that you are a responsible, adult who can manage his own affairs.  Paying your bills is one of the ways that you do that.  It is a basic life activity that we all have to do, and you should be good at it; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Getting Hired

"Lots of my friends smoke weed and they never have a problem.  It's legal here and I don't think the cops should refuse to hire me because I use it sometimes.  Lots of cops drink and even get drunk, so they should not refuse to hire because I drink alcohol."

I hear that a lot when I talk to young people about getting hired.  Do you want the job or not?  Do you want to flip burgers for the rest of your live or do you want to be a cop?  It's not about what's fair, or right, or what you think should be done. 

It's about getting hired, getting off probation, getting promoted, and staying on the job until retirement.  That's difficult to do, most cops don't make it to retirement.  Many applicants never get hired.  Many don't make it off probation.  Many don't make it to retirement.  Alcohol and drugs are two of the most common factors in those who don't make it; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Drugs and Alcohol

If you want to be a cop, don't do drugs.  Even marijuana.  Even if it's legal to use it in your state.  Even if all your friends and relatives do it, don't use marijuana.  Nothing good will come from it, and most agencies won't hire you, even if it's legal to use it.

If your friends and relatives use drugs, drop them.  Don't hang out with them anymore.  If they live with you, move out.  Even if it's only sometimes, even if it's only once in a while.  It will eventually get you into trouble.  No agency wants you to spend time with drug users.

If you drink alcohol, stop.  While it is legal to use alcohol, and many officers do, it is possible to get in trouble using it.  A single 12 ounce bottle of beer with lunch, or a single 4 ounce glass of wine once or twice a week is okay, but working on your car on Saturday and drinking a six pack is not a good idea; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Getting Hired

If you want to be a cop, don't commit crimes.  It seems intuitive, but some people look on some petty crimes as "no big deal" and they disqualify themselves by doing these minor offenses.  If you have had an arrest as a juvenile, contact your attorney and see if your record can be sealed or expunged. 

If you have had convictions as an adult, make sure you don't commit any more crimes.  A minor offense might be overlooked if it was very minor, you did not do it again, you have a reasonable explanation, and it's been a long time since you did it.

If you have some minor offenses, you may have to take a "second tier" agency.  Some departments don't pay very much, or have poor working conditions.  Often it's hard for them to hire people so they may be willing to take someone who has a less than perfect record.  Ask around about such agencies, most officers will know one or two in your area; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Raymond Chandler

I don't know the context of this quotation, but I certainly seemed to me to be a good summary of what it means to be a police officer; that's what the SGT Says.

"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."--"The Simple Art of Murder" (essay) Raymond Chandler.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Police Jobs

If you want to be a police officer there are many routes to that destination.  Sometimes you simply apply at an agency that has an opening, you take the tests and they hire you.  Sometimes it's more complicated than that.

The first thing to consider is where do you want to work?  Most police departments are good places to work and the work is similar from place to place in a give region of the country.  Go on line and look for job openings in the agencies near your home.

Also look for unusual police agencies that are not a city police department, county sheriff, or state highway patrol.  There are school police, park rangers, airport police, university police, railroad police, game wardens, tribal police, alcohol beverage police, FBI, prison guards and many other kinds of police, don't overlook them in your search. Nearly every Federal and state agency has a law enforcement branch; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Free Stuff

Some shops, fast food places and restaurants offer free or reduced price goods to cops in uniform.  I never ask for free stuff and I always try to pay, and I always say they don't have to offer free stuff. I leave a big tip if it is free or discounted. 

 I found it often leads to arguments if I make a fuss. So many people think they have to give the cops free stuff, especially if their are from another country were law enforcement is less professional.  I try to balance between paying for products and creating a scene.

Police taking free stuff often creates a feeling of obligation between the officer and the gift giver.  Then when there is a call for service they often think they should get special treatment or special response for calls for service.  They sometimes think they should be allowed to commit minor crimes without penalty; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Run Them

In God We Trust, all others we run through NCIC.  Every person you contact in the field is a potential criminal.  Sometimes wanted persons go into hiding and say hidden for decades.  Mob criminals, terrorists, old time radicals and others often go undetected for a long time.

You never know who you may come in contact with at a simple traffic collision, as witnesses to a crime, or even crime victims.  Most of the time you have to gather simple identifying information from the people you contact.

Name, date of birth, driver license number are generally all you need to find out if someone is a wanted person.  It only takes a moment and sometimes you might find a person you contact is a wanted criminal; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Suspicious Death

The FBI has several other wanted lists.  One of them lists a woman who died as suspicious death.

"On June 29, 2001, at approximately 4:45 a.m., the Sacramento, California, Fire Department responded to a possible structure fire in the area of 14th Avenue and Power Inn Road. Upon arrival, firefighters located a dumpster fire just west of Power Inn Road. After extinguishing the fire, the remains of a badly burned female were found. The victim's cause of death was ruled to be acute thermal injury, which means that the victim was alive while the fire was burning and there were soot deposits throughout her upper and lower respiratory tracts. The victim remains unidentified.
It was reported that, just prior to the fire, a Seventies-era, orange Datsun 240Z or 260Z with a primer gray left front fender was seen in the area.
The victim may have been wrapped or carried in a comforter (see additional images). Her teeth were very well cared for in that there were no dental fillings, plastic/composite sealants were applied to the teeth, and all four anterior premolars were missing. In the past, the victim had a broken nose. She may have been wearing "Structure" brand jeans at the time of her death."

If you have information about this death, contact the FBI, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Missing Person

The FBI maintains a kidnapped and missing persons page too.

"On October 22, 2014, surveillance photos depicting an unidentified male and female were obtained by the Warwick, Rhode Island Police Department.  Authorities have reason to believe this male and this female may have traveled together through areas of Warwick, East Providence, and Pawtucket, Rhode Island, as well as Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. 
The surveillance photos of the female are of particular interest to the FBI because the picture of the unidentified female bears a strong resemblance to missing person Ashley Summers.  The FBI never closes a missing child’s case until the child is located, even if that child is now an adult.  While the FBI realizes that the unidentified female may have no connection to Ashley Summers, due to the physical similarities, it considers this a potential lead that must be followed.

If you have any information concerning this person, please contact your local FBI office or the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.
Field Office: Cleveland"

Keep an eye out for this young woman; that's what the SGT Says. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Joanne Chesimard

In addition to the Ten Most Wanted Criminals list, the FBI has a Ten Most Wanted Terrorists.  This one is an American cop killer who is likely in Cuba.  Now that President Obama is going to normalize relations with Cuba, she may return.

 Subject Headshot

Act of Terrorism - Domestic Terrorism; Unlawful Flight to Avoid Confinement - Murder
REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $1,000,000 for information directly leading to the apprehension of Joanne Chesimard.
Joanne Chesimard is wanted for escaping from prison in Clinton, New Jersey, while serving a life sentence for murder. On May 2, 1973, Chesimard, who was part of a revolutionary extremist organization known as the Black Liberation Army, and two accomplices were stopped for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike by two troopers with the New Jersey State Police. At the time, Chesimard was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery. Chesimard and her accomplices opened fire on the troopers. One trooper was wounded and the other was shot and killed execution-style at point-blank range. Chesimard fled the scene, but was subsequently apprehended. One of her accomplices was killed in the shoot-out and the other was also apprehended and remains in jail.
In 1977, Chesimard was found guilty of first degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of a weapon, and armed robbery. She was sentenced to life in prison. On November 2, 1979, Chesimard escaped from prison and lived underground before being located in Cuba in 1984. She is thought to currently still be living in Cuba.
She may wear her hair in a variety of styles and dress in African tribal clothing.

Keep an eye out for this person, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ten Most Wanted Criminals

The FBI has a list of their Ten Most Wanted Criminals.

  Eduardo Ravelo is one of them.  Despite the Internet I suspect most officers never heard of this suspect.

Engaging in the Affairs of an Enterprise, Through a Pattern of Racketeering Activities; Conspiracy to Conduct the Affairs of an Enterprise, Through a Pattern of Racketeering Activities; Conspiracy to Launder Monetary Instruments... 
REWARD: The FBI is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading directly to the arrest of Eduardo Ravelo.
Eduardo Ravelo was indicted in Texas in 2008 for his involvement in racketeering activities, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, and conspiracy to possess heroin, cocaine and marijuana with the intent to distribute. His alleged criminal activities began in 2003.
Ravelo is known to be a Captain (Capo) within the Barrio Azteca criminal enterprise and is allegedly responsible for issuing orders to the Barrio Azteca members residing in Juarez, Mexico. Allegedly, Ravelo and the Barrio Azteca members act as "hitmen" for the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Drug Trafficking Organization and are responsible for numerous murders. Ravelo has ties to Mexico and El Paso, Texas. He may have had plastic surgery and altered his fingerprints.

Keep an eye pealed for this criminal; that's what the SGT Says.