Wednesday, November 25, 2015


I write three blogs.  One on toy soldiers and one on politics and current events, and of course, this one on law enforcement.  They each are published officially at 9:11 a.m. Pacific Time.  I commemorate the 9/11 attacks in this small way.

Ask the younger officers with your agency where they were on 9/11 and see if they even remember it at all.  That was over 15 years ago.  Some of your new guys might only have been five or six years old then.

Still, it changed police work in the USA for a long time.  We now have to worry about response to terrorism, something often common in other countries, but new here.  Still, think about the basics, wear your vest, wear your seat belt, drive carefully.  All of these are just as important in the response to terrorism as they are in response to daily crime; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Chicago Shooting

In this video, Chicago Police respond to a call and one of the officers shot a teenager to death.  The officer fired 16 times in 14 seconds.  Most of the rounds were fired after the suspect fell the ground.  There were several officers on scene, but they did not fire.

The person shot was 17 years old.  According to reports that I have read he was two weeks away from his 18th birthday.  The autopsy found PCP in his system and that he was under the influence of PCP at the time.

He was carrying a knife, when he drew while walking down the middle of a four lane street.  The police ordered him to drop the knife and he did not.  Once he was shot and on the ground, he picked up the knife again.  Although this incident happened about a year ago, there have been few details released so some of this information may be in error; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Officer J.D. Tippit

Today is the anniversary of the murder of police officer J.D. Tippit by Lee Harvey Oswald.  J.D. Tippit was a hero in World War Two, a US Army paratrooper and combat veteran in the fight against Nazi Germany.

He was on patrol looking for the suspected assassin of President Kennedy when he came across Oswald.  Officer Tippit stopped his car and Oswald walked over to him and spoke to him.  As Officer Tippit started to exit his car, Oswald pulled a gun and shot him three times in the chest.

As he was laying on the ground, Oswald walked up to the officer and shot him a fourth time in the temple, killing him.  A few minutes later, officers discovered the body of their partner and arrested Oswald soon afters.  Godspped Officer Tippet, that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cell Phone

I carry my cell phone in my pocket on duty.  In the past, I did not carry my phone on duty, but I have changed my mind about them since then.  The cell phone should be on mute so that it does not give away your position by flashing lights or sounds.

Sometimes the radio does not work well due to any number of reasons.  Sometimes you may need to transmit a large amount of information and it's easier on the phone than on the radio.  Sometimes the radio may be busy with a number of incidents and so by using the phone you keep the air clear.

The cell phone also has a camera built into it.  It can be used to document the crime scene or other evidence.  I use my cell phone almost exclusively for police work.  I don't load embarrassing photos or have a lot of phone numbers programmed that are not work or home.  I think that agencies should even issue cell phones for work use; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Back Up

Carry a back up gun.  The ideal back up gun should be compatible with your duty gun.  That is, it should function the same way, have the same caliber, and use the same magazines.  In a time of stress you will likely fall back on your training. 

Having the back up gun be as close to identical to your duty gun will help you to remember how to shoot it.  You should train with your back up gun regularly as you do with your duty gun.  At least annually, but quarterly or even monthly is better.

When training with your back up gun, draw it from the place you keep it on duty.  If you wear it on your ankle, then wear it on your ankle at the range, and draw it from there.  A back up gun is part of your uniform, don't leave it in the locker.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I am about as old as you can be and still be too young for the Vietnam War. My Army Reserve unit called up everyone who was higher ranking than me for Desert Storm and then war ended. I have worked private security, US Army Reserve, and police reserves for almost my whole adult life. I have never been in a shootout.

 I am not sure if I have actually saved anyone's life. I don't think I have made a lot of difference. But I still have two or three years left. And I know that on the way back to the station on my last shift something major could happen.

 It is our responsibility to be ready, even when no one else is, even when everyone else says we are wasting our time, even when it seems so many are against us. Be the sheepdog; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Campus Police

It is not unusual, in California, for junior college and community college campus police to not carry guns.  They sometimes carry OC spray, or batons, but seldom firearms.  They have full police powers, and attend full police powers.  I even know of some agencies that issue CCWs to the officers so they can carry off duty, but not on duty!

Their role was intended to be more in the nature of security guards, rather than police officers.  Their typical day was locking and unlocking doors, and setting burglar alarms.  They reported burned out lights and enforced traffic rules on campus.  It says POLICE on their cars, badges and uniforms.

Today the campus environment is not the safe, placid, worry free place it once was in years past.  Now there are gang members, radicals, and other criminals on campus.  There are neighborhoods around the schools that have gotten bad since the campus was founded.  There are also fears of a crazy gunman and of terrorism.  It's time to arm campus police, that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Some places are legalizing marijuana, even for recreational use.  I think this is a very bad idea for many reason.  Legal or not, police should not be permitted to use it, on or off duty.  It can lead to liability issues for the agency or the officer.

Marijuana stays in the system for a few days and if an officer is involved in a shooting or traffic collision he should not have it in his system.  No agency needs that kind of liability of a questionable shooting done by an officer with marijuana in his system.

Agencies need to put policies in place that forbid the use of various drugs, without regard to their legality, rather the policy should focus on the effects of the drug.  Officers who have a prescription should also not be using it, marijuana is simply not compatible with good police work; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Child Custody

Child custody issues are not always a police problem.  Still sometimes police can be helpful in resolving them.  Often parents have difficulty when it is time for estranged or divorced parents to swap a child that they share custody.

Some agencies allow people to use the lobby of the police station to exchange the child.  This has several advantages.  It reduces the likelihood of a parent creating a disturbance if they are in the police station. 

It can also be a good idea to have videotaping going on in the lobby area.  Video of the exchange can help to prove or dis-prove a problem when the exchange is made.  It also makes police response very fast if the exchange takes place in the police station, and lessens the chance of injury to the child; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Police are not being militarized.  Police have carried automatic weapons and driven armored cars since at least the 1920's in the United States.  Criminals carry all kinds of weapons, and often travel in groups.

Having automatic weapons give police the ability to confront multiple suspects with a greater chance of success.  Armored vehicles are strictly defensive in a police context.  They don't carry cannons, and they don't mount machine guns, like military vehicles.

Police don't use artillery or fragmentation grenades.  They are under strict rules on engagement based on the law and case law, not military rules.  Police have the intention of taking criminals prisoner, all the suspect has to do is give up and the police force stops; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Just Say No

If you can avoid it, don't drink alcohol or use drugs.  They will not enhance your career as a police officer.  Many officers each year get into off duty fights, domestic violence, or drunk driving incidents and lose their jobs.

Some states are making marijuana legal.  This will also not enhance your career in law enforcement.  The Federal government still considers it illegal.  Most states still consider it illegal.  Just because it is legal in your jurisdiction does not mean it's a good idea.

Many agencies are still likely to consider significant marijuana use to be a dis-qualifier for working as a cop.  There are no advantages to using it and the disadvantages are significant.  If you use marijuana on your time off and then get involved in a major incident the next day it may still show up in your system and cause you to loose reasonable doubt about your actions.  Don't use drugs, that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Basic Stuff

Wear your body armor every time you are in uniform.

Take your baton every time you get out of the car.

Call for back up as soon as you think you may need it.

Check everyone for warrants that you contact, suspects, victims; because you never know who has one that's valid.

In a 30 year career as a cop, you have to win every fight.  Fighting fair is an invitation to lose, take every advantage; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Resisting Arrest

In this video a police officer is attempting to arrest a man.  The man says he wants to go on his own.  The man says he is not resisting.  The man is lying, he is resisting.  When told he was under arrest, the man should have put his hands behind his back in preparation of being handcuffed, as instructed.

Pulling away from a police officer is resisting arrest.  Failing to obey a verbal command is resisting arrest.  Too many people today have the opinion that they have no duty to obey the commands of an officer.

Too many officers also have that opinion and don't force their will upon those who fail to do as they are told.  Officers are given authority to do their jobs.  Failure to use that authority when needed only leads to suspects thinking they can get away, and often then requires more force than would have initially been needed; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Watching the many videos on the Internet of police activity, I find several disturbing things in common.  Police fail to take control of the situation.  It is the job of the police to restore order when order has broken down.  Give firm, clear instructions. 

If the instructions are not followed, then give them a second time more forcefully.  If they are still not followed, then implement your plan to bring the subject into submission.  Use enough force to win the fight right away, in the least amount of time. 

Hitting the suspect one time, very hard, is much better than hitting them softly five times.  Too many officers don't have a plan of action.  They don't command, they ask, over and over again.  They use force, but not enough to solve the problem; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


The Internet is full of police videos.  Many times they make the police look bad.  Often the officers use force against people and the text that comes with the video says something about the officers were responding to a very minor crime, loud noise or jaywalking.

These videos require a little detective work sometimes to consider what is going on.  If the video starts with police action, then it is likely that the reason for the police action is likely been left off, or edited out. 

While many incidents may start with a minor offense, it escalates when the suspect refuses to cooperate.  The Oklahoma City bomber was captured due to a loose license plate.  It is the duty of a citizen to submit to the authority of an arresting officer.  Typically the people in these videos passively, and verbally resist and often actively resist.  That's a lot more than a loud noise or jaywalking; that's the view from the Hysterical Right Wing.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Help Your Partner

Police need to be alert to one another.  Some officers have poor officer safety skills.  Those of us who have good officer safety skills need to work with our weaker comrades.  Their skills might be the ones that save us or don't save us one day.

So if their skills are poor, they might get us hurt or killed, not just themselves.  Some things are as simple as making sure they call in their traffic stops.  Calling them before they stop the car is best.  Making sure that they check in at least every hour when on patrol, so they don't just disappear.

Dispatch needs to know were everyone is all the time.  Officers need to know where each other are also.  We can't back you up if we can't find you.  Make sure the slow officers know that too, and they should look up locations if they don't know them.  Help your partners, that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


The use of deadly force must be judged by the standard of a reasonable person.  If a reasonable person in the same circumstances would have used deadly force, then the force is usually considered to be lawful.  Fear alone is not enough to warrant deadly force.

There are some police shootings, typically where a large number of officers are shooting, that some officers later state they were firing their guns because other officers were firing their guns.  If you don't have a specific target and if the target is not a reasonable deadly threat, then you should not be shooting.

Simply shooting because other officers around you are shooting is likely to be considered unlawful.  You must be able to articulate the threat that you saw or heard or experienced.  A vague fear because others were shooting at a car or building is not enough reason to shoot.  If six, or eight, or ten, or more officers are shooting at a suspect, that's generally enough; that's what the SGT Says.

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Two police officers were involved in a pursuit and shooting of a man and his six year old son.  When the pursuit ended at least the two officers opened fire on the stopped vehicle.  The child was killed and the driver was injured.  No weapons were found at the scene.  After 72 hours of investigation, two officers were arrested.

The police have released very little information about the nature of the pursuit, the reason for the pursuit, or why the officers thought they needed to shoot the two people in the vehicle.  In general, officers should only shoot in the defense of their lives or the lives of other innocent persons.

The conclusion of a pursuit can be a very traumatic experience.  Officers get excited, worked up, even angry.  It is important for officers to control themselves and for supervisors to control their officers.  Shooting into an occupied vehicle with a child inside is very dangerous and ill advised unless there are very good reasons to do so; such as receiving fire from the driver.  Still, officers are responsible for every round they fire; that's what the SGT Says.

Friday, November 6, 2015


An officer was involved in a fatal shooting.  He approached a man, who grabbed his baton, and shot the man, dead.  The officer was fired for failing to follow the department procedures related to his response to the call.

The officer was cleared from any criminal wrong doing in the shooting.  The officer suffered from post traumatic stress and claimed disability as a result of the shooting.  The agency approved his disability claim.

All actions taken at work will be judged in a variety of ways.  First, was it legal to do what you did?  Did you follow department policy?  Did you violate civil law?  Does the public think you did the right thing?  Do your coworkers and family think you did right?  Do you think you did the right thing?  All of these judgements are independent of each other and any of them can be fatal to your career; that's what the SGT Says.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pepper Spray

The weapon you don't have is the weapon you can't use.  For years many of us carried pepper spray but with the Taser it seems to have gone out of style.  The Taser is an excellent weapon.  To take down a single suspect it is unparalleled.

The only problem with the Taser is that it is essentially a one suspect weapon.  If you zap one guy, his three friends might just stand there, or run away, or they might rush you.  The advantage of pepper spray is that you can use it on a group of people.

Zap one suspect with the Taser.  Get the guy who is the largest, the closest, the greatest threat.  But then take out your pepper spray and hose down the three guys with him.  It does not always work perfectly, but it can give you enough of a tactical advantage to be useful; that's what the SGT Says.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


A police officer embezzled thousands of dollars from a youth program.  There is no doubt about his guilt.  He stole the money by falsifying documents and some of that money he used to buy pornography.

He pretended to be chasing criminals and then he faked an attack on himself and committed suicide.  As a result of the fake call, a thousand police searched for three criminals who never existed for several days.

He violated his oath of office by stealing.  We are all weak, sinners, and subject to temptation.  Still, he should have turned himself in and taken his punishment.  He may have been able to make a deal with the DA and avoided jail time.  Instead he killed himself and frightened a lot of people.  He also made a lot of officers have to race around looking for killers that did not exist.  He dishonored his badge and dishonored his memory; that's what the SGT Says.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Generally when officers are assigned to a call for service, or have self initiated activity, it is their call to complete the assignment no matter who else may respond.  Generally, only if a senior officer takes charge does the officer relinquish control of the incident. 

Such change of command should be done with a formal statement so it is clear who is in charge.  In a major incident this change of command should be recorded by the scribe or at least made clear on the radio so that it is recorded.

In the event a senior officer gives a command that is illegal, immoral, unethical, or a violation of department policy, ask them for clarification.  If they give it again, explain the problem and as for further clarification.  You are responsible for your actions and the excuse of following orders will seldom relieve you of responsibility; that's what the SGT Says.

Monday, November 2, 2015


What licenses and training are legally required by your agency?  Are you in compliance?  Does your agency know if you are in compliance or not?  Meeting the legal standards of police work is a basic minimum that some agencies don't do well.

Most of the time officers have to go to a police academy, but what about continuing education?  Does your state require officers to go back to the academy or go to other classes to keep current?  How often do they require this and who tracks it?  What happens if you are out of compliance?

Nearly all police are required to have a drivers license.  Does your agency check on that after you are hired?  Would they know if you got a few tickets or a DUI, or if your license was suspended?  Do they check?  Just because someone was good when they were hired does not mean they are okay ten years later.  Agencies should do a computerized check of training, driving and criminal history on every officer to insure continued compliance and every few years agencies should update the background check; that's what the SGT Says.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Due Process

A school resource officer was called into a classroom to deal with a disruptive student.  The officer has a physical confrontation with the student and the video is posted all over the Internet.  The student was arrested, and was no injured. The sheriff fires the officer soon after the incident.

The FBI and other agencies almost immediately started to investigate this incident.  Local incidents should be investigated by local police or one level above.  So a county sheriff should be investigated by the state if the county does not investigate or asks for help.  There is no need for the FBI to investigate such a minor incident as this one.

The sheriff also seems to have been quick to fire the officer.  Police officers have rights and they have the right to be presumed innocent, even if there is a video that looks bad.  Police have a right to due process, just like everyone else; that's what the SGT Says.