Tag Archives: Law Enforcement Blogs

than to speak and to remove all doubt: Miranda Warnings

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.

If I had a dime for every time I heard it…..you need custody AND interrogation to require Miranda. That means Miranda only matters if I have arrested or detained you against your will AND I start asking you questions that I plan to use against you in court.

If you are free to go and/or I didn’t ask you a question, Miranda isn’t needed.

Anything you say to an officer before you’re taken into custody—and read your Miranda rights—can be used in a court of law, which includes interviews where a person is free to leave the premises, and things said at the scene of a crime.

Even if I interrogated you without Miranda, all that really means is that the stuff you said can’t be used as evidence. It doesn’t “make your arrest invalid”. If the words you said are essential to my case it can kill any chance of a conviction, but it’s not a “magic unarrester”. So..don’t embarrass yourself in Court by telling the Judge that he has to let you go and dismiss all charges because the Police Officer didn’t read your your rights.

The state of affairs

Well. After a little hiatus I’ve decided to start writing again. We will see how long it lasts. One of the last drafts I typed was over two years ago and you can read it below. Sadly, much of what I was trying to express in 2016 is still in play in early 2019.
Alright. This may be long and I don’t know if anyone is going to bother reading it but here it goes.
This week marks the 16th anniversary of the day I was sworn in as a police officer. I managed to work one year before the world changed in 2001 and almost 14 years before the shooting in Ferguson started the social/political/media narrative my profession currently finds itself in.
In that time I’ve seen many things, experienced many things, done many things, and have at least a small amount of insight into the LE side of the current “conversation”, if you can call it that. Unfortunately the media, the public (influenced by media) and the politicians seem to be the dominant voices.
First off, let me say unequivocally that there are “bad cops” out there and sometimes there are just inept cops…or what I call “delivering the mail” cops. There are poorly trained cops and there are cops that don’t take their training seriously. Anyone who has ever been in the military has seen the spectrum of “soldiers” that serve…anyone who has ever worked with any large group of people knows that no profession is immune from the “screw-ups”.
BUT. This whole “they”-thing and “THE Police” and all the other universal adjectives in play are a load of crap. A different conversation with words like “those people” or “your people” or “those types” associated with race or sexual preference would immediately be jumped on as racist, sexist, or some other “ist” and rightfully so. But everyone (seemingly) seems very willing to say “The Police” have some sort of universal responsibility for the actions of individuals, or even entire departments other than their own. It’s the bizarre “logic” that leads people to “understand” how a guy in Dallas winds up shooting PEOPLE for actions neither they nor their employer had any responsibility for.
It seems like folks believe “WE” are some sort of uniform, nationalized force…and that when one officer #$%&@’s up that somehow means we all do, or would do, the same thing. Police service is very local in terms of quality. Large Metro PD’s are nothing like my Mid-Size agency which is nothing like a small 8 man PD.
But. One thing people in LE do have in common is that we all have to deal with people in fairly similar situations. While how we may handle it may differ, taking an armed person into custody is what it is. Walking up to a car occupied by a guy you think may be an armed robbery suspect feels the same to a cop in Anchorage as it does to one in Miami.
Why do I say this? Hopefully to help people understand why most cops wont knee-jerk declare some of these recent shootings as “bad”. Many of us know that what we see on the television or the phone/computer screen (or in the Ferguson case simply a false narrative pumped out incessantly by the media)  is not the entire story. We (cops) can often times see how a shooting that appears unjustified to the uninitiated could POSSIBLY be justified.

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.


twist and shoot

Deutsch: Züge einer 9mm Pistole (selbst aufgen...
Deutsch: Züge einer 9mm Pistole (selbst aufgenommen, FDL) (Original text : Züge eine 9 mm Pistole vom Patronenlager aus gesehen) Weitere Nutzung: WaffenWiki (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rifling twist rates can be another head scratcher for the new AR owner. The internet is full of different opinions of what is “best”…often times based on what the writer has purchased and is now trying to justify. 🙂

Like any topic of a technical nature, “best” is a relative term. For the beginner, what you need to learn are some simple rules of thumb to help you base a decision on.

Gun makers realized rather quickly that the accuracy of a firearm improved when the projectile had a “pointy end” and was spun. The “point” gives the projectile a streamlined shape that slices through the atmosphere more efficiently and groves machined into the gun barrel impart spin. The spin keeps the bullet stable along its path of flight and prevents it from wobbling or tumbling end over end, both of which would be bad for accuracy. Anyone who has used a gyroscope in HS science class recalls that a spinning object likes to stay in one place and resists change. That’s what you want in a bullet.

The groves in the barrel, as we all know, are called “rifling”.

A rifle barrels rate of spin is expressed as 1:(X) with 1= “One full 360 degree rotation of the bullet” and X= Inches of barrel length.

The most common “Combat AR” twist rates you will find “off the shelf” these days are 1:7, 1:8, and 1:9. Some AR owners like 1:10 and 1:12 barrels and other variants, but in my experience you will find most guys who “run and gun” using one of these three.


If you do the math of dividing barrel length by twist you see that in the common 16″ barrel length a 1:7 twist will spin a bullet twice with 2 inches of the barrel still to go. A 1:8 about twice even, and a 1:9 will spin it once with 7 inches of barrel to go…so “almost twice”. Based on manufacturing variations that’s all approximate but there you go.


So “whats the point?” you are asking?

Well… bullets of any given caliber (AKA: diameter) come in various sizes. Differentiated by weight (measured in “grains”), there is an entire rainbow of  .223 caliber bullets ranging from tiny 40 grain bullets up to 80 grain whoppers. Because the diameter of the bullet is fixed, what you get are longer projectiles as the weight increases.

Rules of thumb regarding bullet weight:

  • Lighter bullets can achieve faster velocities and shoot with a flatter trajectory. Their lack of mass means they wont stay stable at longer ranges and wind has more effect on them at long range.
  • Heavier bullets will stay stable over longer distances but have a more “arched” trajectory. Wind has less effect on them at long range.
  • The terminal effect of a bullet, or its “striking” power, is due to a combination  of it’s mass and velocity.
  • Heavier bullets cost more.

Like barrels, for the purposes of discussion I will use the three most common (as I see it) bullet sizes; the highly common 55 gr, the “medium” 69 gr and the “large” 75 gr.


Due to a lot of math/physics and stuff I can’t explain, it’s really the length of the projectile and it’s velocity that determine how much spin it will need to fly straight and stable, not the weight. However, we talk about bullets in “grains” so when pairing bullets to rifling twist you just have to consider two facts.

  • Lighter bullets need less spin to get them into a stable flight.
  • Heavier bullets need more spin to get them stable in flight.

So..1:7 is 2 full twists plus a little more out of a 16″ barrel which means MORE TWIST and a 1:9 is 1 full twist which means LESS TWIST. The 1:8 splits the difference.

You would think that “more is better” when it comes to twist, but what happens when small/light bullets are overspun is that they fly to pieces once they exit the barrel. Heavier bullets will “overstabilize” if spun too much. That means the point of the bullet wont come down on the decent end of it’s trajectory.

So which should you get? Well what do you want to do and what size bullet do you want to do it with?

The 1:9 is a common twist rate “off the shelf” when you buy an AR. It will work fine with the commonly found 55 grain bullet up to “medium” sized projectiles like 69 grain. Depending on your particular barrel it MAY even stabilize “heavy” bullets…or it may not. Even if it does, variations like temperature and air pressure MAY make it inconsistent with heavy rounds. So out to 300 yards or so 1:9 should be fine. 400-500 yd shots? Probably not so much.

The 1:7 is the current military standard on the M4/M16 and as such is also a commonly found option. It will throw the medium to heavy rounds out past 300 yards. It can also “sufficiently” stabilize 55 grain rounds. You wont get exceedingly small groups with 55gr, and while it MAY stabilize a lighter round for farther shots, you are also at the mercy of your individual barrel and environmental factors.

The 1:8 slides the options to the center. Some praise it as the best of both worlds while others deride it as the “Jack of all trades, master of none” option.

As you can see, in the end all of them can work fine as a general use option. It’s when you want to specialize in a specific range or hunting environment that a specific combination of bullet/twist becomes the optimum choice.

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use of force and burglary

As always:

Cat Burglar
Cat Burglar (Photo credit: Feral Indeed!)

  • I am not an attorney. This is for informational purposes only and is NOT to be mistaken for legal or professional advise.
  • Any opinions I write here are my own and do not represent the views of any agency that employees me.
  • If you have any personal legal concerns, contact a qualified attorney. 
  • I’m from New York and am only familiar with NY Law. These writings are based on that experience. Other States have different laws but many similarities at the root.

As stated in my previous post, some burglary situations can authorize the use of Deadly Physical Force. Section 35.20 of Article 35 spells out the use of force in defense of “premises”.

Premises in general terms is defined as  land and the improvements on it, such as;  a building, store, shop, apartment, or other designated structure.

35.20 Justification; use of physical force in defense of premises and in defense of a person in the course of burglary.

1. Any person may use physical force upon another person when he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate what he or she reasonably believes to be the commission or attempted commission by such other person of a crime involving damage to premises. Such person may use any degree of physical force, other than deadly physical force, which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose, and may use deadly physical force if he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of arson.

Subsection 1 tells you that you can use “Physical Force” (not DPF) to stop someone from damaging your property. This means you cant shoot a kid who is spray painting the side of your house or egging your windows.

Arson however is another matter. Because burning down a building that contains or may contain people could result in their deaths or serious physical injury, Article 35 authorizes DPF to stop it.

 2. A person in possession or control of any premises, or a person licensed or privileged to be thereon or therein, may use physical force upon another person when he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate what he or she reasonably believes to be the commission or attempted commission by such other person of a criminal trespass upon such premises. Such person may use any degree of physical force, other than deadly physical force, which he or she reasonably believes to be necessary for such purpose, and may use deadly physical force in order to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of arson, as prescribed in subdivision one, or in the course of a burglary or attempted burglary, as prescribed in subdivision three.

Before I get into this subsection it’s important to understand the difference between “trespass” and “burglary”.


  • By legal definition, trespass is when: a person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises.
  • Simple trespass is only a violation. In NY a violation is not considered a “crime”. Crimes are misdemeanor’s and felonies.
  • Criminal Trespass of varying degrees are crimes. These occur when a person does things such as trespassing in a fenced in area, trespassing in a school, trespassing in a dwelling (which is different from burglary), or is trespassing while carrying a weapon.


  • Burglary is defined as when someone knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein.
  • Burglary in essence is: Trespassing Inside a Building + Criminal Intent=Burglary.
  • Burglary increases in criminal severity when participants are; armed, threaten someone with a weapon, injure somebody or burglarize a dwelling (which means a home/ place where people  usually sleep at night).

So….like as subsection 1 says about damage to property, this subsection says the exact same thing about trespass/criminal trespass. You can use any degree of “Physical Force” but not DPF to stop a trespasser. As in subsection 1, Arson is an exception but this subsection adds burglary as an exception as well…when the conditions in subsection 3 are met.

 3. A person in possession or control of, or licensed or privileged to be in, a dwelling or an occupied building, who reasonably believes that another person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary of such dwelling or building, may use deadly physical force upon such other person when he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to prevent or terminate the commission or attempted commission of such burglary.

If you own, are in charge of or allowed to be in a dwelling (in simple terms…a home) OR any occupied building, you can use DPF if you reasonably believe it to be necessary to stop a burglary.

Note the subtleties…it says “a dwelling” OR an “occupied building“. It did not say “an occupied dwelling“. So if it’s a dwelling DPF is authorized regardless of your knowledge of it’s current occupancy. A building other than a dwelling and you have to know it is occupied.

A local incident illustrates this law in operation and is a case that showcases what “reasonably believes” means:

YNN has learned that 31-year-old David Park’s BAC was .18, more than twice the legal limit for drivers in New York state, when he walked into an Amherst home around 1 a.m. on March 28th.

According to Tom Burton, the home owner’s attorney, David D’Amico repeatedly warned Park to leave and even told him he had a gun and would use it. When he ignored the warning, D’Amico fired one shot. He told police he believed Park was a burglar.

See more at:

In early 2013 a man from out of town was visiting friends at their home. He had been drinking and for whatever reason decided to leave the house. He later came back to what he most likely thought was the same house he left. When he found the front door locked and the lights out he went over the fence to the rear yard and entered through an unlocked rear patio door. The homeowner, hearing someone in his home, grabbed his shotgun. He states that the intruder came to the foot of the stairs and started climbing ignoring commands to stop and warnings that the homeowner was armed. It’s stated that the intruder said nothing at all. The homeowner shot and killed the intruder.

In the aftermath, as the truth is discovered that  the intruder was an unarmed school teacher with no criminal history, all sorts of second guessing the homeowner began. Some people seemed to believe that because the homeowner left his patio door unlocked, or that this was “just a lost drunk”, that somehow this was an unjustified use of force. To the contrary, this is exactly a situation this law was crafted for. Remember, reasonableness is defined as what an average person in similar circumstances might believe at the time of the event. The law requires only a reasonable, not necessarily correct, judgment of the situation.  An intruder in your home at 1 AM who advances on you while ignoring all warnings and commands is presumed to be committing a burglary by any reasonable person.

What the facts turn out to be later doesn’t change the justification to use force if ones actions are reasonable under the circumstances at the time the incident happened.

 4. As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(a) The terms “premises,” “building” and “dwelling” have the meanings prescribed in section 140.00;
(b) Persons “licensed or privileged” to be in buildings or upon other premises include, but are not limited to:

(i) police officers or peace officers acting in the performance of their duties; and
(ii) security personnel or employees of nuclear powered electric generating facilities located within the state who are employed as part of any security plan approved by the federal operating license agencies acting in the performance of their duties at such generating facilities. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “nuclear powered electric generating facility” shall mean a facility that generates electricity using nuclear power for sale, directly or indirectly, to the public, including the land upon which the facility is located and the safety and security zones as defined under federal regulations.

This last section covers definitions and where they can be located elsewhere within the law. It also gives police and other security personnel the powers of “being licensed or privileged” to use DPF to stop a burglary of a dwelling or occupied building. Otherwise they wouldn’t have the legal authority to do that part of their job.

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what they say…what it means

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


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.


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.


tactical preschool 51

Take todays lesson more as a “rule of thumb” rather than a hard and fast rule, but I recommend that when you are stacking on a door that all operators have their muzzles pointing outboard or away from the wall. This allows everybody to immediately engage a threat that may exit the door or approach from outside the structure.

If you have your muzzle staged “inboard” you run into the issue of possibly having your weapon pinned if the guy in front of you backs into your arms. You also have the danger of “lasering” the man in front of you if you try to transition over to the opposite side.

As I said this is just a tip; you may have a situation where you find stacking “to the inside” advantageous. I have done it on occasion when I knew I was going to make entry to a particular side. If the guy in the above illustration knew that he was going to move to the right upon entry than he may find it “flows” smoother to stack inboard because he wouldn’t have to perform a “U” sweep to avoid lasering the man front of him. The most important thing here is that you at least consider the issue. It is always better to make a conscious decision than to be caught by surprise.

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