Monday, August 31, 2015

Small Crimes

People who do big crimes, don't generally care about little crimes.  People who do bank robberies don't care about their car registration.  When on patrol, look for minor crimes, they often lead to major criminals.

The Watergate burglary eventually lead to the resignation of President Nixon.  It was discovered by a security guard who found the door latch taped open.  The Oklahoma City Bomber was captured by a police officer who stopped a man for a loose license plate.

Minor offenses often lead to major discovers.  Run everyone you stop to see if they have a warrant.  Sometimes criminals will be on the run, even for decades.  By looking for tiny violations, you can often unravel string of crimes that will get a very bad person off the streets; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


Use of force can sometimes be avoided if the officer can maintain control from the beginning.  Stay focused on the issue.  If the contact is due to a traffic violation, don't get distracted by the suspect saying he does not have to comply.

If the suspect says he does not have to comply, that's a danger cue.  A foreshadowing that the suspect is unlikely to comply with other instructions.  That means you may need to insist that he complies with the traffic violation protocols or you need to move on.

The officer would do well to call for back up.  He should have his less lethal weapons ready to hand.  Too often we see videos of officers wrestling around on the ground with people, their pepper spray, their baton, their Taser unused.  Be ready to escalate if needed, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ask, Tell, Require

Police use of force can often be prevented from escalation if use of force is applied sooner, rather than later.  When contacting a subject, in general, they should be asked to perform a act.  If they do not, then they should be told to perform the act.  Finally, they should be forced to perform the act.

I always try to be nice to people.  I ask them to give me their license, or to put their hands up.  My preference it to not be confrontational.  I would rather talk someone into handcuffs than hurt them and I see no reason to start off hard, making people angry or resentful.

Still, I expect compliance to my lawful and reasonable instructions.  If I don't get compliance, I become concerned that they may be planning to attack me, or distract me.  I don't beg people to do what they need to do; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Side Handle Baton

The type of impact weapon you carry is irrelevant.  Side handle baton, straight baton, nun-chucks, or any other kind.  The key is that you carry one, and carry it all the time.  The other important factor is to practice with it.

Frequently I see officers on video where things go badly and they don't have a baton on their belt.  They then are forced to wrestle around with people, often on the ground.  Sometimes they have to shoot people they might have avoided shooting if they had a baton.

How often do you train with your baton?  We train with ours at least annually and often twice a year.  I try to train a few extra times at home on my own time.  I carry a hard wood straight baton, but have carried a side handle, in plastic and metal expandable, soft wood straight baton, and nun-chucks.  They all have their advantages, but they are all useless if you don't have them with you; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


What is your agencies pursuit policy?  What is your agencies use of force policy?  If you can't rattle them off, perhaps there is a problem with you not reading them enough.  Maybe your supervisors don't review it enough.

Or perhaps your pursuit policy and use of force policy are simply too complex.  The law, agency policy, and best practices, as well as training need to flow together.  If your policy is too complicated for people to remember, it is a major problem.

If people don't know policy, it will be serendipity if they actually follow it.  Policy needs to be easy to understand, and easy to remember.  A policy that tries to cover every potential eventuality is only there to keep the lawyers busy and protect the agency; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I carry an insulated bag with a few snacks and water and Gatorade with me on patrol.  It also have prescription medications, antacids, Kleenex, and sun screen.  I also have a small first aid kit too, just a little one for paper cut size injuries.

This bag is very helpful if I get stuck at a perimeter or other long time call where it can't easily leave.  It allows me to stay fresh and ready to do the work.  Police work often requires you to delay your break, or even not take a break.  Heat injuries while wearing body armor are a real danger.  Having a drink of water can really help you stay hydrated.

Crime does not wait for you to get a drink of water, or have a snack.  Having supplies with you allows you to keep in service longer.  I find it makes a long shift easier and makes me more productive; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Ideally a back up gun should be the same caliber as the duty handgun you carry.  If you carry a patrol carbine it should confirm to that caliber as well.  Ideally they should all have interchangeable magazines.

In a long term shooting, having lots of ammo and interchangeable magazines can be very important.  In a major shootout officers have been known to fire dozens, even hundreds of rounds.  Think about how quickly you can fire off a full magazine.

Most officers carry one magazine in the handgun and two or four on the belt.  You can go through those in about a minute without even trying much.  Having a back up pistol and a patrol carbine with the same magazines can give you a few more moments of firepower.  It's also a reminder to slow down and be more aware of your ammo supply; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Shift work is hard on the body.  You need to get your rest when you are not working.  I try and keep the same schedule off duty and on duty.  Try and sleep like a normal person, even if your shift is not normal.

If you get off work at 3 a.m. don't go home and go to sleep at 3:30 a.m. and then get up at noon for a shift that does not start until 7:00 p.m.  Stay up for a few hours so that you are getting up only a short time before you have to go to work.

It also makes it easier if you have to work overtime to have a bedtime that is not an hour after your regular shift time.  Sleep in a dark room.  Get very dark shades so you can sleep even during the day.  I actually got a roll down security shutter on my bedroom to block out heat, light and noise.  Get some rest; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sleeping on Duty

Sometimes you can be faced with an ethical dilemma.  Is is right to allow officers to sleep on duty?  Of course, the answer is no.  Officers are supposed to be on patrol, looking for criminals or people in trouble.  Writing reports, giving testimony.  Sleeping on duty is unethical.

I have allowed officers to sleep on duty.  Scenario.  Your shift is very short handed.  People are working mandatory overtime and coupled with their commute and preparation time are sleeping three or four hours per night.  I don't do it if it is their own fault for staying up late or partying.  I only let them sleep if it serves the interest of the agency.

How many shifts can people be expected to work like that until the make mistakes, crash the car or hurt themselves?  It situations like this were officers were dangerously tired, I have allowed them to sleep at the station, in uniform, including Sam Browne, for an hour.  I figure it's better to have them available for a major incident than not have them at all.  Often, even an hour of sleep can mean the difference between being able to finish a shift safely and falling asleep at the wheel; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


When writing a report, officers should be permitted to view any video of the event prior to writing a report or making a statement.  The purpose of a police report is to provide accurate information for prosecution or as a record of the event.

Not being allowed to watch the video prior to making a statement or writing a report is simple a way for defense attorneys or supervisors to play "gotcha."  It's a way to try and entrap an officer who is confused, has a faulty memory or even is trying to avoid certain aspects of the event.

Video is evidence, no different from fingerprints or property.  There is nothing wrong with an officer inspecting other evidence prior to making a report.  There should be no reason for the officer to not be allowed to watch a video; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Does your agency use video?  Who can watch the video and when can they watch it?  If you are writing a report, can you watch the video first to insure all the details in your report are accurate?  Can you watch it if there is a major incident?  How about if there is a complaint about your behavior, can you see the video before you watch it?

How long is video saved?  Is it saved forever?  Is it taped over or otherwise erased at some point?  How secure it is?  Is the video in a location where it can't be tampered with?  Is is someplace where hackers can't get to it?

When can the public see the video?  Do suspects get to view it?  Can anyone walk in off the street and watch video?  Can you make copies of the video for your own use?  What happens if the video is interesting, can it be sold?  Who gets the money? Under what circumstances will it be on social media or television?  Video makes a lot of questions; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


Stockton police responded to a robbery.  The suspects were armed, and took a hostage.  One of them had an AK-47 fully automatic rifle.  The suspects got into an SUV and drove at a high rate of speed in a reckless manner all over the city.

They were firing at people and the police and were very dangerous, many patrol cars were hit by bullets.  The suspect vehicle eventually stopped and jumped out of the vehicle with the hostage and their weapons.  The police shot them and killed the suspects and the hostage.

An outside investigation said the officers fired too many bullets.  They also said that the crime and circumstances were unprecedented.  I think that officers who were involved in this incident did as good as they could given what happened.  Wild and extreme incidents are difficult to control and it is unreasonable to think that the number of bullets fired is an indication of how well this agency did; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Safe driving is very important as a police officer.  People see you driving poorly are likely to report a complaint.  People get tickets from police, they like to see police driving legally when they are driving around.

Use your turn signal.  Stop at stop signs.  Stop at red lights before making a right turn.  Don't speed.  Cops have to drive in an unusual manner often enough without driving poorly all the time.  Sometimes we drive slow so that someone we want to see will pass us.

Sometimes we drive at night, blacked out so we don't give away our position.  Sometimes we respond to a call quickly in order to keep citizens or officers safe.  We have good reasons to drive poorly.  Don't drive poorly if you don't need to; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Burglar Alarm

Every burglar alarm is a real alarm.  Every time.  You can't let yourself become complacent when responding to burglar alarm.  There are two million residential burglaries reported in the United States each year.

One of those burglaries may be your next burglary alarm call.  About 95% of the time when a burglar alarm sounds, it's not a burglary.  With statistics like that, most officers think they won't find a burglar inside when they respond.  Today, most alarm companies will phone the house and try and cancel the police response if it was tripped accidentally. 

Drive quietly and turn your lights out as you get close.  Park down the street.  Close the door softly.  Approach the location without being seen.  Look for people in parked cars who may be the get away driver. Use your flashlight sparingly if at all.  Check all around the location, every door and window.  Treat them like they are real, sooner or later, one of them will be; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Illegal Aliens

An illegal alien from Belize has been charged with the murder of three relatives in Florida.  He was already wanted in Belize from crimes he committed there, including murder.  Why are cities allowed to give sanctuary to illegal aliens?

Why do police unions and police organizations not complain to elected officials that illegal aliens are allowed to come here, commit crimes and not get deported?  Every crime committed by an illegal aliens is a crime that never should have happened, because the person who committed that crime should not be in this country.

As police we bear a part of the responsibility because we don't lobby against illegal immigration.  We too often support politicians who are willing to give illegal aliens a pass.  Typically it is big police unions who care more about raised and pensions then about crime.  We should care about crime first; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Vehicle Approach

When I work as the passenger officer, I try and get out of the car right away on a traffic stop.  I unlatch the door and push it open with my foot.  I get out rapidly and walk forward to the vehicle we have stopped.

I turn on my flashlight if it is night and I check the trunk as I approach.  I bump the rear quarter panel because I want them to know that I am there.  I am taking their minds off the driver officer.  I want to check the rear seat and be up at the door post by the time my partner is out of the patrol car.

My intention is that they look for the driver side approach, then realize the officer is on the passenger side, then again divert their attention to the driver side.  It keeps the people inside the car guessing as to our location and our intentions.  It gives us a bit more of an edge; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Two Officers

I often work patrol with a partner.  It's a little different than working alone.  If the two of you work as a team, it's much safer and you can see a lot more of what's going on.  It takes some practice, but it's well worth it.

The driver drives, the passenger navigates and talks on the radio.  That keeps the driver focused on operating the car.  It allows the passenger to contribute, rather than just sitting there.  The passenger also can look to the right as they approach an intersection and warn the driver if it is unsafe to continue.

If there is only one long gun in the vehicle, the one who is best with it should take it, if needed.  If there are two, then each of them should take a long gun as needed.  I like the passenger to get out first on traffic stops.  I actually open the door as the vehicle is stopping.  I get out and approach the vehicle first, while the driver is putting the car in park and adjusting his spotlight; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Law

When writing a major report, take a moment to review the law the suspect is alleged to have violated.  Every law is different and has different elements.  You want to make sure that the suspect has met all the elements of the crime.

You need to put each act in the report that shows the suspect violated each element.  The law is very specific and lawyers, the DA and others will look for these elements.  It can be embarrassing to miss putting one in your report that the suspect did.

It is also embarrassing to have charged the suspect with the wrong crime or worse, charging the suspect with a crime they did not commit.  Knowledge of the law and report writing are basic police skills; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


How well do you know your agency use of force policy, and pursuit policy?  Most officers who are killed in the line of duty are killed in use of force incidents, or driving events.  Knowing your policies are a good way to avoid problems.

When you contact suspects it's important to be guided by the law, your agency policy and officer safety practices and your training.  If you don't know your policy, you may not be able to act within your policy.

Just as training, officer safety and the law changes, so does policy.  The agency I work for has officers review their policies every year at annual review time.  At least then officers will have an opportunity to see them periodically; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Watch the hands most of all.  It is the hands that hold weapons that can kill.  It is the hands that themselves can be a weapon.  If a suspect has his hands in his pocket, order him to turn around and face away from you before he removes them from his pockets.  If he has a gun in his pocket, he can draw the gun and shoot before you realize what he is doing. 

If you have someone with his hands behind his back, have him turn around and face away from you rather than have him pull them out towards you.  If he has a gun, it is the perfect time for him to shoot you.  Guns concealed in pockets, or in the waistband or in the hand are a common danger.

Drawing a gun from the waistband and firing it takes only a second or two or even less.  With even a little practice that time can be cut greatly.  Can you draw and fire your duty handgun and fire in less than one second?  Two seconds?  You should be able to do that; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stay Alive

Wear your seat belt.

Wear your body armor.

Drive safely.

Watch the hands.

Don't be afraid to tactically retreat.

Don't become a statistic; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Safe Driving

In a typical year just about as many officers are killed in traffic collisions as are killed by gunfire.  Sometimes officers don't wear their seat belts.  They make all the same excuses that civilians make.  It rumples my uniform.  It's hard to get in and out of the car.

Officers should always wear their seat belts.  New officers should be required to wear their seat belts when on training.  Training officers need to wear their seat belts all the time too.  Officers need to be required to drive at a reasonable speed.

Even when officers are responding to an emergency call, they should not drive too fast.  Many officers are killed, often in one vehicle traffic collisions.  They drive too fast and run off the road, or hit another car.  You can't help if you can't get to the call; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Regular Customers

Every beat has their "regulars."  Those people who are arrested or at least contacted as suspects on a frequent basis.  Often they are homeless, drug users, gang members or associates, and other minor criminals.

Officers tend to view regulars are predictable.  Regulars are no more predictable than any other person.  Has your wife ever surprised you?  Did you mother ever surprise you?  How about your co-workers, did they ever surprise you?

People can be very unpredictable.  The town drunk that you arrested last month, last week, even yesterday that you have responded to again is different every time.  He is as much of a potential threat as any other subject you contact in the field.  Don't relax just because he is a regular.  Many times people one day wake up and decide they are "not going to take it anymore."  Then the regular pops up with a knife or a gun and attacks you.  Don't let your guard down; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


When investigating a crime it can be helpful to take notes.  One thing I do sometimes is take a paper crime report and take my notes on that.  It helps me to remember to gather all the information that is specific to that particular crime.

I also try to remember that many forms are behind the times.  I always try to get cell phone numbers, in addition to home numbers, and work numbers.  I also try to get email addresses, particularly work and home, as well as a text number.  It's important to be able to contact people later so getting these pieces of information is important. 

Police reports need to be complete and by having a copy of the actual report form, it can be helpful to aid in asking the right questions.  A copy of the penal code can be useful too, so you can insure the witnesses or evidence supports a particular charge.  Gathering data is an important part of your job; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Danger Cues

Every traffic stop is a potentially life changing experience.  You might get killed.  You might kill someone else.  You might stop a major criminal and take them into custody.  You might get in a fight and get permanently injured.

Watch for danger cues.  Anything that is outside normal behavior is a potential danger cue.  A lack of cooperation is a major danger cue.  Every danger cue is a sign for you to be more careful.  As the danger increases, you should consider increasing your safety.

Back off and treat the traffic stop as a barricaded suspect.  Call for backup.  Prepare to use or increase your force level.  Tactically retreat.  Let the suspect go and follow them.  There are always options you can use, don't just bumble along without taking some action; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Police are being accused of all kinds of bad things.  People are filing false internal affairs complaints.  They are posting incomplete and edited videos on social media.  They are posting false or misleading stories on social media.  They are talking to police investigators and telling them lies.

Police should be held accountable.  Police should perform ethically, and properly.  People should report honest instances of police misconduct.  Officers should be retrained, disciplined, demoted, or fired for evil acts.

People who lie and slander individual police officers should not get away with that activity.  Knowingly posting libelous items on social media, making slanderous reports to police supervisors and internal affairs investigators is usually a crime.  People should be prosecuted for these crimes.  Officers should individually or through their unions when people lie about their job performance.  Often prosecutors have been reluctant to prosecute people who make complaints, so they don't discourage legitimate complaints.  I think things have gone too far in the other direction; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thanks Indiegogo

Derek, Aug 5, 09:29:
Hi Mcreek25,
Thanks for your inquiry.
Our Trust & Safety team regularly conducts verifications and determined this campaign did not meet our trust and safety standards. As a result this campaign has been shut down.
Trust and Safety
 Thanks to everyone who contacted Indiegogo to put a stop to the crowdfunding of a possible cop killer.  Thanks to Indiegogo for shutting this down; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dirty Money

Indiegogo is being used to raise money for the family of a man accused of murdering a police officer.  I think this is inappropriate for criminals to use to raise money.  This suspect is a career criminal who just got out of prison for bank robbery.

I think they need to revise these crowd funding sites to prevent criminals from using them to raise sometimes vast sums of money.  Crowd funding sites were intended to bring new products and services to market so that free enterprise can prosper.

Instead they are being used, at times, to provide money from misguided people to criminals.  We need to respond to these projects and complain to the companies that perform these services.  I did; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, August 3, 2015

False Accusation

A police officer stopped a vehicle for a traffic infraction.  The officer videotaped the incident.  He wrote her a ticket and explained it to her.  She complained in writing to his agency and to a number of elected officials.

She signed paperwork saying he racially profiled her, did not explain the ticket.  She wanted him to apologize and to be disciplined.  The officers video tape showed he acted properly and she lied about him in writing and orally.

The police issued a warrant for her arrest.  I think the officer should sue her.  She works for a college as a professor and I think they should fire her for her illegal, immoral, and unethical behavior.  She is a poor example for college students, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Police dogs are very helpful.  They are really good at searching large buildings in response to a burglar alarm.  Imagine searching a Wal-Mart store with just a few officers.  A nearly impossible task and it could take hours, you would never really be sure if anyone had been in there.  A dog would do it quickly and better.

What about a dog on a traffic stop?  Sometimes you get someone who does not want to exit their car.  This sometimes happens after a pursuit.  Don't rush up to the car, instead send in the dog.  Using a bean bag or solid pepper ball to break out a couple windows the dog can easily get into the car.

A dog will be really fast and can get in and bite the suspect and even drag him out, typically without anyone else getting hurt.  Always consult with the handler before deploying the dog.  Make sure he is okay with the deployment and that his dog can handle the assignment.  Dogs are great tools; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Officer Death

If an officer is killed in the line of duty on your agency, you should immediately ask neighboring agencies for mutual aid.  Unless your agency has thousands of officers too many of your officers will be personally involved with the incident.

You will also want to have your officers stop handling calls for service.  Let neighboring agencies take those calls.  Your officers will be upset.  Some may even be looking for revenge.  You want your officers to be professional.  You want them to have time to mourn.

Your officers should be able to go back to work in a couple of days.  If individuals need more time then it should be granted.  Counseling should be available for those who need it or want it.  If your officers were involved in the incident that led to your officers death, counseling should be mandatory; that's what the SGT Says.