Saturday, October 31, 2015


Halloween is a particularly dangerous night for police.  People dress up in masks and try to prank other people.  Sometimes they try to prank the police.  An innocent prank can turn deadly if an armed officer is confronted by someone trying to scare them.

The high volume of nighttime pedestrian traffic is another problem.  It's difficult to drive fast when loads of kids are darting out into the street.  Often they are so excited they pay little or no attention to where they are going.

Then there are those who take advantage of wearing a mask, and attacking others, even police on Halloween.  It is much easier to blend back into the crowd when streets are filled with trick or treaters.  Extra patrol the residential streets.  Watch out for perverts who want to pick up kids.  Drive slower than usual.  Be extra careful tonight, it's Halloween; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Public or Private

A public place is anywhere a member of the public could generally go and not be stopped or challenged.  If a person could be there and not be trespassing, then they are in a public place.  A public place can be private property, even a private residence and still be a public place.

The walkway up to the front door of a house can be a public place, as long as there is not a fence that prevents public entry.  Even the driveway and the front lawn is accessible to the public unless there is a fence to keep them out, and those spots may be considered a public place.

If a person lawfully going door to door selling products or soliciting religion is able to go there, without entering gates or doors or otherwise entering a private area, then it is likely a public place.  This is important when trying to determine if a person who is in possession of a gun or is intoxicated is in a public place or a private place.  People usually have more rights in private than they do in public.  Your local laws or case law my vary and always follow your agency policy; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Running on Empty

Several times in recent days I have read about officers who talk about Israeli police and soldiers carrying guns on duty that don't have a round in the chamber.  Now I have even heard about officers here in the United States who are picking up that practice.

The purpose of carrying a gun with an empty chamber is to avoid having an untended discharge.  This is done because soldiers generally carry their firearm in their hands or on a sling.  Carrying an empty chamber in the military is done because you might reveal your position to the enemy.  Such a revelation might cause the death of many soldiers. 

In police work, the police should be so well trained that they won't have an unintentional discharge.  The other difference between police and soldiers is that our guns are in a holster, we don't have to handle them until we are likely to have to shoot.  An empty chamber in a duty weapon is a bad idea for police officers, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Your Presence

The mere presence of a uniformed officer can prevent crime, stop crimes in progress, and cause criminals to surrender, even if you are not aware of their presence.  The officer in uniform is highly visible and criminal know who you are as soon as they see you.

Criminals are not always apparent as a criminal.  They may be participating in a crime that is not obvious or they may have stopped just prior to your seeing them.  Still, they will typically think you saw them.  Often, they will run, or even surrender.

This can be a bit of a problem because you might not actually know what they have done.  Sometimes only by careful observation of their persons, the surroundings can you figure out what they have done.  If nothing else, conduct a permissive encounter and gather their information for use later if you let them go; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Use of Force

Force can usually only be used to stop an unlawful attack against you or another innocent person, to overcome resistance to a lawful arrest, or to prevent escape.  Force should not be used as a form of punishment.  It is the duty of the court system to determine punishment.

Force must always be objectively reasonable and must cease once resistance has been overcome.  If you use deadly force it must be used only to counter a deadly threat or a potentially deadly threat.  You need not be injured or struck first in order to use force, including deadly force.

If you use force you should make a reasonable effort to arrest the person you used force against.  If they have not committed an arrestable offense, then there is likely no lawful reason to use force against them.  It is a good idea to use verbal commands to order the suspect to stop resisting or to drop their when, even while using deadly force against them; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Respond Or No?

When trying to determine if you should intervene in an incident carefully assess the risk involved to yourself versus the likelihood of your success.  In an active shooter situation, the shooter will usually flee, surrender, or kill himself when threatened by an armed responder.  In that case, your prompt intervention, even alone, will usually result in stopping the active shooter.

In a gang fight of dozens of gang members fighting each other in the street, they will often turn against the officer rather than flee.  It may be better in that case to make your presence known by the use of siren, air horn, and lights from a safe distance, instead of jumping out of your car and rushing in to stop the fight.

If you can't be effective in an incident, then use your time to coordinate and wait for back up.  That is more important then rushing in without enough manpower to do the job, only to get yourself hurt.  Then you become part of the problem; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Suspicious or Criminal or Nothing?

Officers need to look at self initiated activity differently then they do to a call for service.  A suspicious activity may only be your interpretation of events.  There may not be a crime or emergency at all.

If two people are standing on the curb, screaming at one another, do they need police assistance, or are they just animated?  I like to honk the air horn at such people.  It lets them know the police are there, and the police are aware of their activity. 

If one of them is in need of help, it allows them to wave or shout for assistance.  Usually they will return to a more normal way of conversation.  Many times suspicious activity is not a problem and your intervention is not needed; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Traffic Collision

If you drive long enough, you will crash or someone will crash into you.  What do you do at an accident scene if you are involved in the collision?  Stop the vehicle in a safe location.  Notify dispatch even before you get out of the car, you may pass out or otherwise get distracted. 

Determine the extent of injuries and damage; call for paramedics if needed.  Care for injured parties and ask for a supervisor to respond.  Get identifying information from all parties involved.  I like to take pictures of everyone and the vehicles. 

Not just the damage, and not just those injured.  Later they can't claim new damage or new injuries if you have documented in on camera.  Do no apologize nor admit liability to anyone, even your own supervisor.  Just state the facts as you know them.  Get a medical check for even the slightest injury or complaint of pain.  It may turn out to be a major injury and you want it documented; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Patrol Driving

When driving a patrol car there are always a few things to remember.  Unless you are taking a law enforcement action in compliance with the law and agency policy you should not exceed the speed limit.

Take your car keys and lock the vehicle if you are going to be away from the car.  Sometimes criminals do steal police cars, for transportation, escape, or to get the patrol rifle or shotgun.  Park the car in a safe an legal manner unless the tactical situation dictates otherwise.

Don't carry passengers in your car unless you have a legitimate reason to do so, and then only after you have notified dispatch.  Many agencies require that you report mileage and note the time of any transportation of civilians.  Make sure they wear their seat belts; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

St. Michael

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl around the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Saint Michael is the patron saint of police officers.  We have a rough job and it's hard to do it alone.  Having faith in God is a big help.  It allows you to have a quiet confidence that despite all the evil and crime we see, it's God who is charge.

 Sometimes we see bad things happen to good people.  Knowing that God is in charge is a great relief.  All things work to the good for those who believe in Him.  A child who gets run over by a car, may be saved from a future cancer or other bad thing.  We can't know the whole picture but we don't need to know everything.  We just need to know everything will be okay; that's what the SGT Says..

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Patrol Car

When I take a car out on patrol I often take a quick photo of the vehicle.  One front quarter and one from the opposite rear quarter.  It shows any significant damage to the vehicle.  I also take close up photos of any significant damage.  Anything that looks new gets reported to the watch commander.

I quick inspection of the car is in order.  Headlights, fuel, oil pressure, and tire pressure and condition get a quick check.  I adjust the mirrors before I move the car.  It is hypocritical to drive a police car that has equipment violations.

At the end of the shift I always make sure to refuel the vehicle that I use.  I also remove any trash from the vehicle.  I double check the vehicle to make certain all my gear, baton, go bag and other gear goes back into the station with me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shooting Technology

There is a new rifle out.  It uses electronics to help the shooter to hit his target.  The shooter identifies his target, and the computer recognizes the target and holds on to that image.  The shooter then pulls the trigger and the rifle fires when the bullet will strike. 

The rifle automatically maintains zero by the use of laser and computer.  The rifle can send the target view and data to a remote Wifi connection.  The shooter can even use the Wifi connection to see over obstacles and shoot around corners.  The gun costs about $15,000.00.

This is a new technology.  It will likely come down in price and go up in durability.  This kind of technology makes it easy to shoot on the move and to shoot moving targets.  Think about what happens if gangsters doing drive-by shooting can always hit their target.  Think about criminals who can always hit you; something to think about, that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 19, 2015

It's Never Too Late

Did you do something this week besides police work?  Did you hang out with people who are not on the job?  Did you stay after work and have a beer with the guys?  Why not go home on time and have a beer with the wife?

Police wives often feel neglected because it's the nature of the job that it comes first much of the time.  We have limited control over our schedules and have to work on birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Take your wife out to dinner to make it up.  Go to Denny's or some other low cost place.  It's not about the place, it's about the company.  It's not about spending money, it's about spending time.  Many officers get divorced because they ignore a perfectly good woman.  Remember why you married her in the first place and take care of her; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lies and Statistics

A newspaper says that the crime rates in Los Angeles are higher than reported by the police department because the police have been categorizing crimes into lessor categories.  By making the crimes seem to be less serious there is a false sense of safety in the city.

Crime statistics are used to justify gun control, police budgets, real estate prices, police deployments and many other things.  It is unethical to falsify police crime statistics.  These data points are important to many people.

It is even important to the police.  Less crime often means fewer officers.  No one is served by the false economy of false police crime reports.  Only the criminals and corrupt politicians benefit from that; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Car Check

When first reporting for duty on patrol there are a number of things to do before you start.  Check the patrol car.  Make sure your overhead and other emergency lights all work.  Make sure your spotlights work.

Lock and unlock your patrol rifle and shotgun.  Make sure they can be easily removed and check the status of the ammunition and safety.  Check the radio and your handheld radio.  Make sure you have a fresh battery.

Check the car for cleanliness, weapons and drugs or other items in the prisoner transport area.  Check the trunk and glove box.  Insure the fire extinguisher is charged, that you have flares and rubber gloves.  A quick check is a good idea before you go on patrol, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Agency Role

One of the first things a manual should cover is the role of the specific agency.  For most police departments it is simply to provide police services to those who live in the city or county.  But there are many other specialized agencies that provide police services too.

A fish and game agency would want to discuss the importance of focusing on laws that relate to wildlife management.  So stopping people who have expired vehicle license plates is only a means to checking the car for fish or deer, not because that is their primary role.

School police should explain that their intention is to keep the kids safe in school.  Those officers should generally not allow themselves to be drawn away to incidents that happen away from the schools.  It can be difficult to focus on specific types of policing when other interesting things are happening, but often that is our role; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Two police sergeants are flagged down by a man who says a homeless guy is throwing bottles into the street.  They contact the man and he attacks them.  One of the officers is knocked down and the suspect beat him and took the officers gun.

The second officer shot the suspect two times, the suspect was dead at the scene.  Sometimes a routine call can seem like it's nothing, but it can quickly get out of hand.  Never pre-judge a call as easy, or simple, or safe.  Your are never really safe until you are home, in your easy chair, with your dog and slippers.

When you get out of the car, take your baton.  When you leave the station, take your Taser.  Don't forget your OC spray.  When dealing with suspects, keep your distance, and watch his hands.  Keep your guard up and keep your gun side away from the suspect, that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Abridged Patrol Manual

An abridged patrol manual is a good idea for every agency.  It is difficult to communicate all the most important information for officers by simply providing them with a 300 page manual.  Most will not read it at all and few will read it more than once.

I think an abridged manual with the most critical items in it is a useful tool to get officers to read the agency policies and procedures.  It is something they can take in the field with them and they can review it on slow days.  They can also quickly look up something in the field if then are unsure of an action to take.

Today the abridged manual might be better in a PDF format that can be loaded onto a computer application.  Perhaps something officers could carry in their smartphone.  In any case, an electronic version of the abridged manual officers could have with them all the time would be very helpful to get officers to learn agency policy; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Abridged Patrol Manual

Many years ago I worked for a large private security company called Westec.  They were very innovative in those days and I still see a need for much of what they did 20 years ago in today's police work.

We published this abridged patrol manual.  It contained all the most important information for a patrol officer to know when out in the field.  It was specifially sized to fit inside the shirt pocket of an officer.  Manuals were dated and updated as significant policies changed.

Every officer was issued one during their initial training along with an unabridged manual.  They were required to carry this one with them at all times when on duty in uniform.  Supervisors always had a few on had to replace those that went through the wash or were lost.  Supervisors would check periodically to insure officers had one.  This is a good idea, even now; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Snap It Up

Most police shootings happen in three seconds or less.  Many police shootings happen when you don't expect them, like on a traffic stop.  You walk up to the car window, the suspect sticks a gun out the window and you have to draw and shoot.

In that rather common scenario, you only have two seconds to draw and shoot.  You should be able to draw and shoot at least three rounds from the gun snapped in the holster position.  You should be able to fire six rounds in five seconds, from the holster.

If you cannot fire fast and accurately, then you may lose the gunfight.  Too many officers go to the range and they unsnap their holster before they stand on the line.  Or they put their hand on their gun to be ready.  Most of your range training should start with your hand off the gun and the gun snapped into the holster.  You should train to get a good grip, unsnap, and come up on target rapidly so that you can do that in a real shootout; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Armor and Seat Belt

It's hot and muggy.  Did you wear your body armor today?  Officers still get shot when it is hot. 

Did you wear your seat belt?  It's uncomfortable.  Officers still get killed in traffic collisions.

If it's hot, then try and stay in the shade or the air conditioning.  Drink plenty of water and other beverages without caffeine.  Change your tee shirt every couple hours, if you can.  Use powder to try and keep dry and comfortable.

There have been over 100 officers killed in the line of duty this year.  It's a very bad year.  Wear your seatbelt, and wear your armor; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Shooting on the Move

In this video a man is on an outdoor range shooting at a variety of targets from his left to his right.  He is using a handgun and reloading as needed.  He is doing this while he is walking quickly on a treadmill.
This is an interesting variation on the shooting while walking idea.  It has several advantages over actual walking.  The first is the space needed to shoot this course of fire is not large, he can stay in one place and still "walk" towards the targets.  He is forced to walk all the time and can't stop to reload or to aim.  The targets are all a fixed distance and direction from him, so the shooter can't get too close to the target.
It does require electricity and that's not always available on an outdoor range.  It could be a safety hazard if he falls down with the gun out.  I would have him practice with a blue gun and simulate firing the course and reloading once or twice before I let him go with a real gun.  A used treadmill is not too expensive and this might be a good idea for those with limited space.  Be aware an unintended discharge to the treadmill, especially the controls could bring back shrapnel on the shooter and range staff; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Kids Shows

Sheriff John Rovick was a TV actor who did a kids show in Southern California.  He presented a positive role model for children.  He invited real police and firemen onto his show and passed on safety tips to the kids.

They would pray before they shared a lunch with the kids and the said the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the show.  The values presented were American values of law, order, Christianity, truth, and justice.

Many children grew up with a positive attitude towards law enforcement because of this actor.  Today we seldom have shows like this on television anymore.  Instead everything is about questioning authority, and doing what you want.  We need our society to go back to a culture of law and order; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Officers walk up the stairs and are confronted by a man with a gun who shoots the first officer walking up the stairs.  The officers perform a tactical retreat.  There are at least four officers on scene and they call for more help.

The officers go back upstairs with the officer who was shot in the lead of the group.  They get to the top of the stairs and stop and negotiate with him.  The man pulls up the gun and the officers shot him to death.  It was ruled a justified shooting.  Were there other options?

The officers may have wanted to deploy a shotgun or patrol rifle before they returned to the top of the stairs.  I would not have let the wounded officer return, he had already been shot and while apparently not disabled, he certainly would have been upset to say the least.  These officers did a good job, but we should always look for learning opportunities; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Use of Force

A suspect is stopped by the police at the end of a pursuit and then rapidly approaches the officers car.  The officer shot and killed him.  The officer was in fear of her life due to the aggressive behavior of the suspect.

The grand jury used the standard of a reasonable man.  What would a reasonable man do in the same instance?  He would have shot the person, that's reasonable.  Agency police and state law for police use of force should follow federal guidelines.

Many agencies try to restrict the officers ability to use force, particularly deadly force, to a degree much greater than required by law.  I think this is a mistake.  Officers should be trained to a high standard and then be allowed to use their own judgement; that's what the SGT SAys.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


The media like to run headlines about the police killing of unarmed suspects.  In 2014 there were about 12,000 murders committed in the USA.  Of these murders, over 600 were committed by criminals who were unarmed at the time of the murder.

Unarmed is not the same as not dangerous.  Unarmed is not the same as safe to be around.  Unarmed is only a transitional situation.  A suspect may be unarmed, but he may take the officers gun.  An unarmed man can pick up a stick, a rock, or a brick, and use it as a weapon.

An unarmed man is a deceptive term.  Thousands of martial arts studios teach people every day how to conduct unarmed combat.  An unarmed man still has his feet and his hands.  Every year people are killed by the use of feet hand hands, unarmed is still dangerous; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Driving in the Dark

People watch you as you drive around in your patrol car.  Your driving should be in conformance with the law whenever possible.  Sometimes when you have to drive in an unusual manner due to an investigative reason, or a tactical reason, keep it to a  minimum.

When approaching the location of a call at night, it can be good tactics to turn off your headlights.  To keep that to a minimum, ask yourself if the suspect might already have you under observation.  It may draw attention to you to turn off your lights, no one intentionally drives around at night with their lights off, except criminals and the police.

Maybe you can stop a little farther from the location and approach on foot.  Maybe you can stop on a side street.  Sometimes you can follow a civilian vehicle to the location and the park quickly before you are seen.  Always weigh the tactical advantage of driving without your headlights on to the driver safety advantage of driving with light; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


"You can't impose your morality on other people."  I hear and read that all the time and it's simply a lie.  As a society we impose our morality on people all the time.  Every law we make is an imposition of morality.

Is is moral for police to take cash bribes to ignore minor offenses?  No, it is immoral.  That's why bribery is illegal.  Is it moral to take things that don't belong to your?  No, it is immoral.  That's why we have laws against burglary and robbery and theft.

As police we impose the morality of society upon the members of the society who refuse to recognize that morality.  In some places it's okay to beat your wife, but not here.  In some places it's common practice for police to take bribes, but no here.  That's why it is important for police to exhibit a high moral standard; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


In response to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Hermosa Beach Police Department has remarked one of their police cars from black and white to pink and white.  They have also placed special markings on the car relating to breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a terrible disease, but why is is more terrible than other forms of cancer, or heart disease; which actually kills more women than breast cancer?  There are many other worthy charities; suicide prevention, prostate cancer, POWS, SIDS, AIDS, PTSD, are all worthy of support.

There is no direct correlation between breast cancer and police work.  I think this is a distraction that is unrelated to police work.  Police public relations should focus on crime prevention and the prevention of illness and social ills that impact law enforcement.  Missing children, homelessness, mental illness, suicide prevention, are all good examples of this; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, October 2, 2015


What kind of gun should you carry?  I know an officer who used to carry a lot of guns.  He carried a patrol rifle whenever possible.  He knew that the rifle was much more accurate than the handgun.  It also was better able to penetrate body armor.

He carried a duty gun of course.  It was .45 caliber.  While there are many other calibers that are just fine for police work, the .45 ACP is the standard against which all other guns are measured.  So why not just carry that caliber?

He carried a back up gun, the same caliber as his handgun. 45 ACP and it had a compatible magazine with the duty gun.  He also carried a derringer as a hide away gun.  It too was a .45 ACP.  His intention was to use it if he was taken hostage.  Always carry in accordance with the law and your agency policy and your training.  Always carry a gun that you have confidence in; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Most officers seem to wear their handcuffs in the back.  Many wear them in the small of the back.  Wearing handcuffs in the back can be a health risk.  Having to pairs of handcuffs pressing on your kidneys all shift can do long term damage to your kidneys.

A friend of mine used to wear a double handcuff case.  He carried it in the center of the rear of his back.  He confronted a suspect who pushed the officer over backwards.  The officer fell back and landed on his back.

His back was injured and his police career ended because of the injury.  The presence of a large, hard handcuff case in the back is dangerous.  Move your gear around the wear your handcuffs in the front or on the side; that's what the SGT Says.