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10 things about the entertainment industry that piss me off (revised)

English: Silent Single 8 Movie Camera
Image via Wikipedia

Ask my wife and she will tell you, I can get out of control when I am watching any television show or movie about the military or law enforcement. The constant, recurring mistakes and misinformation that these industries put out just get in my craw and I have to yell “BULLSHIT!!” It makes me wonder, don’t these shows have advisers? If they do, what the hell are they getting paid for? Or is it that the directors think that they have better knowledge on these topics? The following are at the top of my WTF?!?! list:

1. Give me that before you hurt yourself:Cops and soldiers are constantly “racking” their weapons. I mean come on! I carry with a round in the chamber all the time. If I had to constantly rack my weapon every time I drew it there would be brass flying everywhere and my co-workers would think I lost my mind. I know that directors love the “click clack” of weapons being cycled but use your goddamn head! SWAT teams don’t stack up on a door and THEN load their weapons. FBI agents don’t have to charge their pistols after they draw them and they definitely don’t have to do it two more times in the same incident! Racking your shotgun just before you kick down a door is f$#%ing STUPID!! Going into an apartment after a serial killer, knocking on the door, hearing him run out the back and THEN racking your pistol and giving chase…F#$%ING STUPID!!!

Addendum: Lets see what else have I seen…oh yeah.

FYI you director types, there is no “safety” on a Glock pistol so a character telling someone with a Glock “turn off your safety” makes no sense. And what is up with that “clickety clack” sound every time someone draws a pistol?? Is that supposed to be the safety disengaging (if it’s a Glock refer to my previous comment)? Is that supposed to be a hammer cocking? Cause it doesn’t sound like that and hell…nobody really thumb cocks an automatic that often.

OH! And another thing, when a Glock (or any striker fired pistol) runs empty, and if by some chance the slide fails to lock back (why do so few television pistols reach lock back?), it will only “click” once. These shows where an empty Glock runs out of ammo and goes “click…click…click..” well…whoever made that creative decision…YOU ARE AN IDIOT!!!

2. Oh what the hell why not?:Every Tom, Dick and Harry stacking up with the SWAT team, I think not. If my blood pressure went up one mmHg every time I saw some “CSI”, “FBI Investigator” or “Detective” stacking up with the tactical team to go in and get the bad guy my head would F’n explode!

News Flash. If I saw some “CSI” getting in my stack on a high risk entry he would get a boot up his ass. No SWAT team leader worth is salt is going say…”OK you FBI Profiler with no tactical training I am aware of, or experience with MY team, go right ahead and get in the stack.”

The only thing that gets me more pissed off is when the SWAT team rams the door and Horatio Crane in his shades is the first guy through the door! Hello numbnuts director, the way it works is the SWAT team goes in ALONE!! and when its secure they call the eggheads and Detectives in.

3. Uniformed Cops as props:Every Detective/Profiler/CSI show or movie out there has uniformed cops as “background”. They walk aimlessly here there and everywhere with clipboards or magically appear to conveniently slap the cuffs on the bad guy that the dweeb from the “crime lab” ran down in a raging gunfight…please.

Or its the “dumbass uniform” who screws up the investigation that the star detective has to deal with.

Then…like in #2, when some “hot call” goes out I don’t know why TV cops bother to even show up. You know its the hot detective from the crime lab that is going to go in first and fight mano y mano with the serial killer. Where the hell the uniform cops went nobody knows, they just show up to haul off the bad guy to the station. They must have stopped in the kitchen for some coffee while the hero did all the work.

4. Hello I’m with the Gvt and I’m here to help:CSI and Criminal Minds…you always hear “were just here to help with your investigation, not take it over…” yet somehow its always some profiler that takes over the investigation and gets involved in the shooting or the apprehension. I know it wouldn’t be exciting if the agents sat in the office all day and the local cops were the ones making the arrests, but that’s how it is. By and large FBI agents are investigators, accountants, lawyers and lab techs.

And these CSI teams..it always impresses me how CSI works local, county, state, federal and hell even international cases. Who the hell do these guys work for anyways?

5. Kill em and Leave em:The “profilers” arrive like the cavalry…light up some scumbag and then hop back on their jet and fly off into the sunset. Yeah when an on-duty shooting happens that’s pretty much how it goes..no investigations, lawsuits or court appearances necessary. If you are “with the crime lab” or a “profiler” you can just holster up and walk away.

6. Nuclear Grenades: Some Delta Operator tosses a fragmentation grenade into a window and the whole floor erupts into a raging inferno of a fireball like a suitcase nuke just went off….uhhhhh…no. A loud BOOM! a puff of smoke and a lot of little bits of metal flying about is about it.

7. Crappy Salutes: Need I elaborate? Some of these actors salutes would make a Drill Sergeant break out in hives.

8. Weird Science:No we don’t have computer databases of every matchbook from every club in the tri-state area. No we cant piece a broken bottle together and get a fingerprint that comes back instantly to a known felon (that gets picked up in 20 seconds). NO DNA TESTING IS NOT A “WHILE YOU WAIT” PROCESS!

These shows have gotten so out of hand with their “stretching” of real forensic science that juries have been clearing criminals of their charges because the proof wasn’t “as conclusive as they see on CSI”. Prosecutors even have a name for this phenomenon. “The CSI effect”.

9. Tuck that thing in: Military movies where everybody is walking around with their “dog tags” outside their shirts. Or dress uniforms with improper ribbons or improper wear of a uniform. Come on guys there are books on this stuff. Read one! Then there are the hot women detectives in clothes so tight I can count the change in their pockets. Not that there are no attractive women in law enforcement, but if one of my subordinates came in with her cleavage and belly button showing she would be going home for a wardrobe change.

10. Cover me I’m going in:Nobody ever waits for back-up, sets up a perimeter or gets on the radio. It sucks to share the glory with some dumbass “uniform”. I’ll just go down into that basement with the serial killer in the “woman suit”, only pussy’s would back out and call for back-up.

I know, I know, its just entertainment, but it pisses me off… deal with it! Keep reading for my next installment. This is just me warming up.

NEW!!! 11. Tin Cans and Strings: The woeful lack of realism with movie/television communications devices is reaching WTF?? proportions. First off there are these things known as frequencies and channels. Not all radios can communicate with each other simply because they are radios. So when you crawl into a tank to escape the zombie horde (Yes “Walking Dead” I’m talking to you), the dude on the roof top with a police portable radio isn’t going to be able to communicate with you. Convenient to move the story along, but flat out never gonna happen…even in a world where flesh eating zombies walk the earth.

And then there is the good ole “watch me talk to my wrist” scene. This is where all of our heroes simply have to talk to their watchbands and they magically can communicate with each other. Now…I have actually used one of those wrist mikes operationally. It is a microphone and switch that is run through your sleeve and pinned to your cuff. The switch dangles in your palm AND there is an earpiece that runs up your neck to your ear so you can hear any reply. Most importantly, the whole affair is ATTACHED TO A FRIGGIN RADIO!!!

What exactly is Mr. CIA transmitting with when he talks to his Rolex? Am I to believe that our FBI agents now have wristwatches that are full fledged radios that can transmit and receive? I’m pretty up on current tech…they don’t exist. Some sort of bluetooth device that connects to a radio/cellular system? Maybe, but how exactly is he hearing any reply? I never seem to see any of these “secret agents” wearing an earpiece…hell even a bluetooth earbud would give the scene at a scintilla of possibility.

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what they say…what it means

This is a repost from early 2009, I’m hearing these more often lately.

mouth-teeth-black-424203-l1

Due to the popularity of “reality television” shows like Cops, Wildest Police Videos, Stories of the Highway Patrol and the rest, many people are being exposed to the “language of the street”.

In this language there are many phrases and customs that the unitiated may have difficulty understanding. Some viewers may become confused by the actions of officers when the person they are dealing with seems to sound perfectly reasonable.

Therefore, as a public service I am providing this easy to understand guide. With it the viewer can have a better understanding of what exactly the police officer and his “customer” are saying to each other. Be reassured that in most cases each party knows exactly what the other is saying:

When he/she says——–He/she really means:

That’s not mine!——-That’s mine.

I don’t have my ID on me.——- Im going to lie about my identity.

I didn’t do anything!——- I did it.

I swear to God!——-I’m about to lie.

That’s not my purse——- I have drugs in my purse.

I don’t know his name/I know him as…——-I’m about to lie about my friends identity because he probably has a warrant.

I swear on my child’s life!——- I’m about to lie.

I’m just driving around——- I just came from a drug house.

I don’t have my drivers license on me——- My drivers license is suspended or revoked. The judge took my license away from me.

 I’m not going to lie to you officer!——-I’m about to lie.

I did what? What did you say?——- Im trying to think up a lie.

These aren’t my pants!——-That’s my dope in the pocket.

“As far as I know” (usually in response to a question about warrants, licenses, presence of illegal items)——- I don’t know if the warrant was issued yet. I can’t remember when the protective order expires.  I’m unsure if the suspension took effect yet.

I swear on my mothers grave!——-I’m about to lie.

I paid for that!——- I stole that.

I just got paid/ I won it at the casino/I just sold my car.——-That’s my drug sales money.

Why are you hasslin’ me?——- Why do I keep getting caught?

This is bullshit!——- I hate getting caught.

You only stopped me because I’m (insert group here)!——-Yes, I rolled through that stop sign in my tinted up hoop-de with the one headlight out, the door lock punched and a cloud of marijuana smoke emitting from the windows.

I’m just driving around——- I just came from the scene of a crime.

I only had 2 or 3 beers——-I’m drunk.

I was driving to the store when my old lady called and said that her friend needed to be picked up from the bar, but first I had to stop for some gas so I was going to the station over there when I saw my buddy…..——-Im a “verbal diarrhea” liar.

There are people killing each other out there and you guys are arresting me?——- I did it.

This car? This car belongs to my friends girl…I don’t know her name——- This car is a “crack rental”.

I think I’m having a heart attack! (while in a cell)——- I want to spend the night in a hospital bed instead of on a concrete slab with a roll of toilet paper for a pillow.

You didn’t read me my rights!——- I’m clueless about criminal procedure and really think that this means my arrest is invalid and you have to let me go.

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Recognizing the Signs and Signals of Crime and Danger

Repost from March 2010 

An “Internet friend”, LE colleague and fellow FBINA alum Fred Leland and I were recently discussing a post and video I had authored on Threat Indicators .

Fred is a blogger and the founder of Law Enforcement and Security Consulting, Inc (LESC) and he directed me to an excellent article that he had authored on the subject of threat indicators and the recognition of suspicious activity. It is titled Recognizing the Signs and Signals of Crime and Danger. Here is a short excerpt:

Crime and violence do not just happen. There are signs and signals presented long before the crime is committed or the assault take place. Seeing a man approach you pointing a gun at you, is an obvious sign of danger. A man getting out of a vehicle after being stopped for speeding and angrily demanding to know why you stopped him is a clear sign of high anxiety. When he continues to shout and closes distance with you after repeated commands to get back, is a clear sign of impending attack. After an assault by this man he disengages, goes to his vehicle and retrieves a firearm! The answer to what’s about to take place, based on the context of the situation is obvious. This is a worst case scenario of a person about to inflict deadly force and your orientation, decision and action should be clear.

Obvious signs and signals of crime and danger can be clearly seen to the trained law enforcement and security professional. Yet they all too often go unseen or are seen too late. The most common danger signs experienced, however are subtle feelings, a hunch, you intuitively know something is wrong. The alert observer that listens to his intuition based on facts and circumstances presented at the time can seek advantage and prevent crime and dangerous circumstances from unfolding. The ability to observe these subtle signs and signals and orient to what they are telling you, can give you the clear advantage in dealing with conflict.

I recommend you go and read the article. Fred explains many of the threat indicators I had touched on in my post to greater detail and  he has described some indicators I did not cover. More importantly, he gives the officer tactical guidance in how to deal with these indicators when he/she sees them. Important stuff.

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cop musings

I remember…years ago, days after I returned home from Basic Training  at Ft. McClellan Al, I went out to my car to discover a window broken and my radio stolen. I called the police and an officer showed up to take a report. He was a decent enough guy but I recall distinctly thinking “well he’s not going to figure out who did this”. I sort of interpreted his attitude as simply “delivering the mail”.

Now, many years later, I find myself on the other side of the equation and know full well the differences in expectations that exist between the police and the people we serve.

As in my example, theft from automobiles is an extremely common occurence. Valuables left visible in vehicles, even a significant amount of loose change, can attract a thief’s attention. What attracts them even more are unlocked doors. By and large most of the “carpoppings” (as we call them here) are thefts from vehicles left unlocked overnight. Now…forgetting to lock your car door on occasion is excusable, what is less excusable is leaving your purse, wallet (with all of your credit cards/ID, etc.), laptop, powered up GPS, I-Pod, cell phone etc. in plain view…in your UNLOCKED car…on the street…overnight. How people get in the habit of leaving $100’s of dollars and all their personal ID and credit cards in an unlocked car is beyond me…but anyway…

Sometimes, when we get there we are greeted with an attitude of “how could you let this happen??”. Look. There are a LOT of streets in Town and not a LOT of officers. It’s simple math. If there is a known problem in your area we will do our best to try to catch these people “in the act”; but when all some kid walking down the street has to do is pull on door handles till he finds an open one, odds are that we are not going to be sitting right there when it happens. Not that “it’s your fault”, nobody has a right to take your stuff, but lets say you try locking your doors and not leaving all that crap in your car and I will try my best to try to catch these guys in the act.

We are most likely NOT going to break out the CSI unit for your stolen I-Pod.  If there are obvious fingerprints I may tell you to garage the car till a detective can get to it later in the day or the next day, but a detective getting called in at 0300hrs on OT to dust your car for prints just isn’t going to happen and the mess that print powder makes will probably bother you more than your stolen stuff did. No DNA swabs, no alternate light sources, no tracking dogs.

And, as cold as it sounds, unless I immediately catch someone who is carrying your stolen property, your stuff is most likely GONE. If I catch someone the following week with a ton of stolen property in his car (some of it yours), and I can’t determine who it all belongs to it does you no good. To do that we need the SN# to put in the computer system and hardly anybody knows their serial numbers. If you don’t know the serial numbers of your property (or have it marked with something like a personal code) odds are you wont be seeing it again. I admit that I myself don’t keep track of them. It’s somethhing I plan on doing something about ….someday. I have had some luck with GPS systems and cell phones as long as they haven’t been “wiped”, but that’s rare.

Now you may ask, “why should I call the police if they are not going to get my stuff back”. Well, for starters you may need a report to give to your credit card company or  for your insurance. But more importantly because it helps us to know where the problems are, what time and days the crimes are happening, the method of theft and what sort of stuff is being stolen. This helps us to zero in on who is doing this and when. Believe it or not, we ARE interested in stopping these people from doing this to other residents even if odds of charging anybody in YOUR particular incident are slim. People would be shocked to discover how often that report the cop did, even though they never heard anything more about it, helped catch someone down the road.

So I guess that in conclusion I am trying to say, don’t think that I am uninterested in solving YOUR particular crime. I would love to lock someone up and get your stuff back. But unless there is some decent information to follow up on there is not much that I can do, other than file a report and hope that the data may eventually lead to an arrest in another case.

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you only get one chance to make a first impression

Spartan Phalanx / 300 the movie
Image by Σταύρος via Flickr

Scott has put up another great post over at Spartan Cops; it’s called “Why Police Use Locks: Reinforcing Internal Barriers For Officer Safety”. It discusses the various cues that bad guy’s look for when they are contemplating fighting with, or fleeing from, the police.

Many bad guys have similar internal barriers about attacking officers. They are willing to hit most people but not a cop or they are willing to hit a cop but only if they have an opportunity to get away.

Scott’s article then goes on to point out what exactly the bad guy is looking for while he is seeking that opportunity. Well worth a read.

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on pistols and holsters

Post ressurection from 2008

glock

After the flame wars over caliber effectiveness and autos vs. revolvers, the next most discussed pistol issue would have to be holster choice. The options for discussion are numerous; inside the waistband our outside? Ankle carry, shoulder rig or waist? Retention or scabbard? Leather or Kydex? and on and on.

IMO many people get too far into the weeds when talking about holster choice. As I see things, the primary concerns for civilian carry should be finding a holster that safely retains the weapon and prevents accidental discharges.  It should present the weapon consistently and be comfortable and convenient enough that you will wear it. The “top of the line” holster you never wear is a waste. Having the weapon on you when needed is first and foremost.

Many people confuse law enforcement retention requirements with what a “civilian” CCW carrier is likely to face. Uniform cops or detectives that “open carry” have to be concerned with gun grab attempts because the bad guys know that you have a gun on you somewhere. Undercover cops and civilians don’t typically have the same concerns. Decent retention and ease of access from under clothing are larger issues. I own a number of holsters; from pricey leather to cheap polymer. My pistol pictured above is in a Fobus, polymer holster. A few years ago an “issue” with these holsters came up:

This caused a big stir in the gun nut community. People were afraid that while walking through the grocery store some tweaker or terrorist was going to attack and break their weapon off of their hip. My problem with this whole hullabaloo is that the holster wasnt designed for external, level III style carry. It’s a beautiful holster for when I’m carrying under a sweater and my Buffalo winter overcoat. It’s fast on the draw with no straps or levers to deal with. It has a positive “click” retention that wont let the weapon bounce out on its own. But Id never carry it exposed on duty or working a plain clothes detail simply because it’s a paddle holster, nevermind the possibility of it breaking off in a struggle.

You must choose your equipment with the purpose you intend to use it for in mind. If you want a holster for range carry or casual low-risk concealed carry, you can use these less expensive holsters. If you are in a  job where a real possibility of a struggle over your weapon exists, you should get a high-end holster and belt rig with added security features.

Keep in mind however that even a level IV holster can be defeated given enough time and intellect on the part of the BG. Safety features only buy you time to try to prevent the disarm.

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a police officers christmas poem

Santa gets arrested - Santacon 2008
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

by Denise at CopDevotionals

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the streets,
Not a person was stirring, ‘cept an officer on the beat.
As he quietly patrolled the city with care,
Children and parents slept peacefully there.
The officer was clad in his blues and his vest,
Gun on his hip, always looking his best.
He’d just pulled aside for a quick bite to eat,
When all of a sudden, out on the street,
A bright light appeared from out of nowhere,
He shielded his eyes from the brilliant glare.
‘Twas an angel of the Lord at the car’s rear,
He smiled and spoke, “Dear Officer, don’t fear.”
“I’ve been sent by God with a message for you
Who faithfully serve while wearing the blue.
He wants you to know that He loves you all,
He’s pleased with the way you’ve answered His call.
“To protect and serve others, so selfless you’ve been,
Your bravery and kindness have known no end.
Even in tragedy, when nights became long,
You’ve helped countless strangers by just being strong.
“God sees your heart, the joy and the pain,
He knows the profession can often bring strain.
So he sent me down here to let you know,
That as you patrol, you are never alone.
“As you protect others, your Father protects you,
His angels go with you, His Spirit does, too.
No bullet’s too fast, no bad guy too strong,
I’m sent to make sure that your life will be long.
“So fear not the night, and fear not the day,
fear not the threats that might come your way.
I’m sent to accompany you on your beat,
There’s not one moment you’re alone on the street.”
The officer sat stunned by the love of His God,
He bowed his head, with a tear gave a nod.
As the officer said thank you, the angel took flight,
“God’s got your back, carry on, and goodnight.”

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are you properly focused?

Another great post over at Spartan Cops.

Just because you’ve never seen a train on a stretch of tracks doesn’t mean there never will be one. Yet that is how many officers behave when it comes to low probability / high consequence events. Even though we haven’t seen one in a while, inevitably they will occur and we need to prepare for them.

If you mishandle a shoplifting case, it is not a big deal. If you screw up a murder, it will haunt you, the police department, and the family of the victim. If you do a bad job on an interview, life will go on. If you do a bad job using force, it can have immense consequences.

Scott is dead on target here. We tend to prepare ourselves for the stuff that always happens because…well it’s what always happens. There is a tendency to neglect preparing for the stuff that seldom happens but has a huge impact when it does.

How do you prepare?

Go read it.

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