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Them the Light
When interviewing a
subject during evening hours, I usually stand with my back to the front
of the patrol car and I put the subject in front of me facing toward the
headlights of my car.
I find that this reduces
his night vision while maintaining mine.
If we're on a busy road, I
try and do the same but off to the side a bit, so if my car gets hit we
don't also get hit.
Him Run Out of Steam, Not You
When a suspect takes off
running, he or she usually explodes into a sprint and runs at full
speed. Often, this will mean that it won't be too long before they run
out of steam. Generally, at full speed he will die off somewhere within
30 seconds to a minute from where the foot pursuit began.
When taking off after
them, run at about 60%. This will give you a chance to use your radio,
keep them in sight, and keep going after they drop off. Also, you will
still have energy left for any physical altercation which might occur
when you reach them.
Senior Trooper, Oregon State Police
Your hit your lights, and
the car you are stopping begins to drift over to the right. It
eventually comes to a complete stop. The driver and passenger
remove their seatbelts, and the driver begins to reach for the glove
compartment to gather his paperwork.
Other than the reaching
for the glove compartment (which is actually quite normal), nothing to
worry about, right?
Here's a question.
Why is the passenger taking off his seatbelt?
While it could mean
nothing, it should at least register as a warning sign. On most stops,
the front seat passenger will not remove the seatbelt. When he or
she does, it could be a sign that he or she is getting ready to exit the
car which is a definite danger sign.
Senior Trooper, Oregon State Police
Officers attending a
recent street survival class were given two scenarios.
When stopping a known or
suspected outlaw biker, order the rider to keep the kick stand up and
his hands on the gas tank. This will hamper his/her ability to take any
aggressive actions against you and will telegraph his/her intentions,
giving you time to react.
Officers attending a
recent street survival class were given two scenarios.
In the first, officers
responded to a "man with a gun" call. Upon arrival, the man was
standing in the street holding a handgun.
responded with commands ordering him to drop the weapon.
In the second scenario,
officers responded to the same call, but upon arrival the man was
standing next to a table. Instead of him holding the gun, the gun
was situated on the top of the table.
Here, officers also gave
commands ordering the man to the ground. When the man reached for
the gun, officers fired.
The point brought out by
the instructors afterwards was very interesting.
In the first scenario the
man already had the gun, but the officers only responded with verbal
commands. They didn't shoot.
In the second, the man was
just reaching for the gun, and the officers did shoot.
In law enforcement there
are very few "always" and "never" situations. How you respond to
the above situations will depend on numerous circumstances.
But, the lesson from this
class is still very interesting.
The sense of smell has led
to many a good arrest, however many officers do not use this sense
nearly enough, especially when making motor vehicle stops.
On every stop, I make it a
point to subtly get myself into a position to take one good whiff on the
Also - and very important
- I always make it a point to smell the credentials. I've had a couple
of good pinches from doing this of subjects who keep (or have kept)
marijuana in the glove compartment.
Suggestion for Quiet Stop
By Cpl. Sandor, New Philadelphia Police Department
In response to the QUIET
There is an option
available through code 3 emergency equipment called brake light out. It
hooks up to the same box which houses your overheads, alleys etc. When
activated, it disengages the brake light allowing for stealth mode when
arriving on those type of calls where that is necessary for your safety.
Also works great when a violator passes you and you go to brake to turn
around. The violator assumes you kept going because he didn't see your
brakes come on.
By E Allen
Hendersonville PD, NC
Beware of shoplifters and
edged weapons. Most shoplifters carry some kind of edged device to cut
open packaging and remove tags. Whether it's a knife, scissors, razor
blade or fingernail file, it can quickly become a weapon if the suspect
When doing building
searches, we are always very conscientious about giving away our
position. We maintain radio discipline, sound discipline, light
discipline (at night), etc.
One thing we often
neglect, however, is our shadow.
Your shadow can extend
anywhere from a few inches to a hundred feet depending on the lighting,
time of day, etc.
When there are multiple
light sources, you may be casting several shadows.
Whenever possible, control
the lighting yourself to your advantage. When this is not possible, keep
a half an eye on how your shadow may be giving away your position.
By Kent, ISP
When arriving at some call
during the evening hours, many officers turn off the headlights as they
approach. However, as they are braking to stop, the brake lights
illuminate signaling their arrival with a bright red light. A good
alternative is to slowly depress the emergency brake instead of using
the foot brake. This way, the brake lights are not activated.
This technique should be
practiced in an empty parking lot before ever being utilized to ensure
that the brake works and that it doesn’t let off a squealing sound which
would defeat the goal of a silent arrival.
Man with a Gun
By Jimbo, MTPD
Whenever I respond to a
"man with a gun" type call, as I am about to enter the street where he
is suppose to be located, I remove my seatbelt. I do this for
First, if my car suddenly
comes under fire, I can easily crouch lower without being trapped.
Second, I have to quickly
bail from the car, not having to remove the seatbelt is one less thing
to worry about.
Finally, it is very
difficult to quickly unholster my weapon when the seatbelt is on.
If the situation goes
mobile (like a pursuit), I'll quickly get the seatbelt back on.
Speaking from the Car
Okay, so you pull up to a
group on a corner or perhaps someone waves you down on some road. Most
of the time, some words are exchanged and you're on your way.
However, what if the subject with whom you are speaking has other
When pulling up (or being
pulled up on) keep your car in drive. Should the situation go bad,
all you have to do is hit the gas. No fumbling with the gearshift or
depressing the brake to get the car out of park. Just keep the car
in drive for easy escape.
At Traffic Lights
By Officer Joe
P. Passaic County Sheriffs Department
At red light do not pull
the unit up too close to the vehicle in front of you- leave about a car
length distance between you. This will allow you to make a u-turn if a
violator goes by the other way or will allow you some maneuvering space
if a threat presents itself. Otherwise, you are boxed in.
Don't Get Trapped!
By Officer Jim
H. from GPD, NJ
A reminder when working in urban areas
where you are dealing with many high rise structures, apartment
Get into a habit if chocking the front
door open if the front door is operated by being buzzed in. You don't
want to be waiting for your backup to get "buzzed in" when your calling
in OFFICER DOWN. Also, easy accessibility for any medical or fire
department personnel help that may be on the way. Some public housing
areas may not be so inviting to buzzing in public safety members.
Chocking the door may be
done with any items found in the interior hallway once you have entered
including mail and sale advertisements that are left in the hall. Some
can be held open by using loose change, pens, or your notepad. They
only cost $.99!!
Positioning of Wheels
During Traffic Stops
By Officer Roger Mangum, San Antonio PD
Ok, all you police tactics instructors
Officer Roger Mangum here. Patrol
Tactics Coordinator for the San
Antonio Police Dept.
Frequently I fight the battle of
whether to turn the front tires of the police cruiser on low risk
traffic stops. One can argue the point either way.
Advantages for turning the front
- Some protection to your lower
extremities should gunfire develop. Especially "bouncing
- Cruiser supposedly gets thrown in
the direction the wheels are turned if police car is hit from behind
- Makes it harder for officer to
back and spin vehicle 180 deg. "evasive
technique" to escape threat.
- At high (expressway) speeds does
it really matter which way wheels are turned?
This last point I would like to get
some opinions on......especially if anyone has data concerning tests
done on wheels turned vs speed. If anyone cares to help please
e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are some
excellent books written on all aspects of police tactics.
Below are just some:
By Mike F. from
states tinted windows are perfectly legal. All states, though, have
people driving around with them.
couple of options for stopping a car with tinted windows:
- Using your PA, order the driver to open
all the windows before approaching the vehicle
- Using the PA, order the driver to step
out to the rear of the vehicle (Should only be used when at least
two officers are present)
- Using the PA, order the driver to turn
on the interior light of the vehicle
Emotionally Disturbed People (EDP's)
Handling a call involving an EDP is one of
the most dangerous and unpredictable duties of a law enforcement officer.
No two are alike, and they can range from the quiet and calm to the loud
A couple of thoughts for dealing with
- Their perception is their reality
- Distract them through dialogue to change
their behavior rather than ordering them to stop their behavior
- Maintain Distance
- Know your retreat routes
- Use a normal to low voice when speaking
Finally, don't take their comments, insults
or actions personally. Most of them have no control, and they really
can't help it.
Vehicle Pursuits - Broadcast
What is in Front of You, not What is Behind You
By Red from NPD
in a vehicle pursuit and calling the pursuit on the radio, it is of no use
to broadcast what you just passed. Let your fellow officers know
what you are approaching.
October 30, 2005
'Spot the Pursuit'
NJLawman.com Site Visitor
engaged in a MV pursuit at night, keep your spotlight on the back window
of the suspect vehicle. This will not only make the fleeing subject
encounter poor visual perception of his escape route, but it will
enhance the ability of a surprise PIT maneuver. The spotlight will
break-up the outline of your patrol car, making it very hard to see your
position. You can also see a lot that is going on inside the fleeing
October 30, 2005
Passenger Side Approach
More and more officers are adding the passenger side approach when
making motor vehicles stops to their tactics arsenal which is good.
One caution though.
When utilizing the PSA on a street with curbs, stand on top of the
curb instead of in the street. I do this because if the passenger were
to open the door while I were standing in the street, I would fall back
and trip over the curb. If already on the curb, I could just take a step back.
Point an Unholstered Weapon when Moving
By Mike S. from Philadelphia Police Department
On television a swarm of
moving officers always have their weapons pointed into the air while they
are moving. This came up in a class I was attending. The
instructor addressed it with a simple question: Which is worse, an
accidental head wound or an accidental foot wound?
It makes sense. You
obviously don't want to point the weapon at the back or the head of the officer in
front of you, so you are left with up or down. If, God forbid, there
is an accidental discharge, a bullet to the foot or leg is a lot less
lethal than a bullet to the neck or head.
With police firing ranges in
some states slowly becoming extinct, many of us don't even do real night
firing anymore. Instead, most agencies are using welder's goggles to
simulate low-light conditions. One of the many drawbacks of this technique
is that the shooter cannot even see or practice with the night sights on
When we say "night sight," we
are referring to those expensive night sights that your agency purchased a
while back for your service weapons. Do you know if your weapon's night
sights even still work?
A common misperception is that
the Tritium Night Sights are actually a liquid which is applied to weapon
sights to later dry and be used forever.
The reality is that these
sights are actually tiny glass vials of gas which are carefully attached
to the front and rear sights. These sights do have a shelf life (which
differs depending upon the manufacturer), and these sights can fall off.
If your agency doesn't do
realistic low-light firing, you probably do not even know if your sights
still work. Bottom line, Tritium Sights must be checked before every
Drawing Your Weapon with Your Support Hand
October 16, 2005
First the disclaimer: Only practice this technique with an unloaded
gun on a range under the supervision of a certified range instructor.
Also, make sure that practicing this technique does not violate any
policies or rules governing your agency.
Drawing a service weapon from a holster with your support hand is not
part of many firearms qualifications programs. This is
Can you do it?
This should be practiced in the event that your strong hand, for
whatever reason, becomes incapacitated.
When practicing this technique, make sure that you are not putting a
finger in the trigger guard and pulling the trigger as you attempt to
pull the weapon from the holster.
With today's holsters, it is tricky, especially if you have not done
it before. Learn it now so you don't have to learn it on the
October 2, 2005
Whispering between suspects or persons an officer has stopped should
immediately raise danger flags.
Whispering means planning, and the last thing any officer wants to do
is to allow detained suspects to plan.
Most of the time whispering will be an attempt by suspects to get
their stories straight, or it could be planning on how to discard CDS or
some other form of contraband.
Of most concern to us is when suspects are planning to launch an
attack on officers.
During all investigative detentions and motor vehicle stops, officers
should halt any communication between detained persons. If necessary
and safe, split up the stopped parties.
When it does happen, put a stop to it, and if the situation is not
fully contained, call for additional manpower.
Submit a Suggestion for this Page
Old Street Cop Trick
October 2, 2005
This one is more for the younger guys.
You have probably seen this done in the movies or maybe even by some
of the senior guys on your job.
When making motor vehicle stops and approaching the stopped car, push down on the trunk as you walk up from the
rear. This is done for two reasons.
First, it allows the officer to be sure that the trunk is fully
closed in the event someone is hidden in the trunk preparing to attack.
Second, by placing your hand on the trunk you are leaving your
fingerprints, assuming you're not wearing gloves, which can be helpful
later on if things go south.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
You hit the lights, toot the horn, and see that the driver of the vehicle
you are stopping begins to slow. However, he continues on more
than most driver do and makes a right turn onto a side street before
coming to a stop.
While this will raise many different flags, make sure that you backtrack
to the intersection and check the street.
Sometimes a driver wants to discard contraband. He knows he cannot
do it with you right behind him. However, if he makes a right
turn, his driver side will be out of the officer's view for a few
seconds giving him a chance to drop it out of his window.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
By Walt H.
One of our frequent readers, Walt, sent us this one.
It is a webpage on the Orange County Shields' website which catalogs a
large assortment of
hidden weapons and concealment devices.
There is some great information here. We will also be filing this on
Police Tactics section of this website.
When They Don't
By Sergeant Ryan Melsky, Clinton Township Police Department, Hunterdon
If, during an encounter (traffic stop,
investigative detention, etc.), the detainee is unable to
provide you with identification and there is reason to suspect
they are about to give you an alias, be sure to mix things up
when requesting their information.
For example, don't ask "first name,
middle name, last name, etc." People memorize their friends' or
relatives' information in this order.
Instead, start with their middle name.
Although this will be an easy answer for an honest person, those
giving a fake name will be caught off guard.
Second, ask for their date of birth.
Write it down.
As you continue to request information
in a random order (first name, social security number, last
name, address), do the math for the date of birth/age on your
notepad. Write the person's age down and circle it.
Also listen for the person to repeat
your questions to give them some time to think about it. "What's
my middle name?," they will ask.
Once all of the necessary information
has been obtained, change the topic of conversation for a few
moments. Then surprise the person by asking how old they are.
Now the person must: 1) remember what date of birth they gave
you, and 2) do the math in their head.
Again, although an honest person will
immediately know how old they are, the vast majority of liars
will get tripped up.
Use this technique over and over until
it becomes second nature. It will help you identify aliases very
early on during an encounter. Once the person lies, they are
under arrest for (Hindering Apprehension, False Information To A
Law Enforcement Officer, Obstruction of Justice, or whatever the
applicable statute is in your jurisdiction).
This, in-turn, will lead to greater
officer safety because you will not be conducting a curbside or
roadside investigation while face to face with a wanted person.
It will also give you a search of the person and their immediate
area incident to arrest.
Doors won't stop bullets.
Windows won't stop bullets. Seats, the trunk, and the roof
won't stop bullets.
The patrol car can give officers a
false sense of cover.
The engine is the only part of the
patrol car that will stop just about every round.
When approaching an encounter-type
call, situated the patrol car in a manner where you can take
cover behind the engine. Simply, put the engine between
you and the threat.
And, always remember that rounds can
still get through under the car.
It is required in just about every
jurisdiction that officers announce to
the suspect that he or she is under arrest. Not to do so provides a
variety of defenses to Obstruction, Resisting and other related charges.
When arresting, don't forget, "You're under
In Front or in Back
With the possible exception of a pregnant
woman, everyone placed under arrest should be handcuffed and handcuffed in
If a person is large, use more than one pair or a pair with
an extra long chain. If the person is considered very dangerous, use
a restraining belt (where you cuff the suspect to the belt) and a pair of
leg shackles. If your department doesn't supply them, purchase them
yourself. Your life is worth more than $29.99.
This should not even be up for debate.
Take their Shoes
By Justin from Sidney, Australia
A tactic which we use here when dealing with
young offenders who may run is that when speaking with them, get
them to take off their shoes and jacket (if they have one).
Most of our young offenders don't want to go
anywhere without their shoes or jacket, so it lowers the chance of them
House Search Checklist
You respond to a
call of a resident who returned home to find their front door opened.
They suspect that someone may be in the house.
All too often, the next step is the search of
the house. This is a mistake.
The resident should be completely debriefed before any officer goes in the
residence. Some questions you should ask are as follows:
- Are there any weapons in the house.
If so, what kind of weapons, how many weapons, the location of the
- Who else lives in the house? Are
all occupants accounted for, or is it possible that one of the residents
came home early or unexpectedly?
- Is there a basement? Attic?
- How many entrance and exit doors are
- What is the overall condition of the
house? (If it is suppose to be immaculate and the search reveals
that it has been ransacked, consider pulling out and waiting for
additional officers or a K-9 unit)
- Is there anything else we should know?
Based on the circumstances of the given
situation, you will be able to come up with additional questions.
Getting information first could help
prevent disastrous outcomes.
House Search - Should
You Knock and Announce?
In the situation
described above, it is determined from interviewing the wife that it's
possible that the husband could be in the house although she doesn't
think it is him.
Should you loudly
announce your presence before commencing with the search or should you
go in silently?
There are several
schools of thought here.
Normally, we do silent searches.
However, in this case it could be the husband inside. If you go in
silently and he hears you, he will not know that you are the police.
To make matters worse, if there are
weapons in the house, upon hearing an intruder (you), the husband may
arm himself setting the table for disaster.
In law enforcement, we seldom use the words
"always" and "never" when describing what to do in different situations.
So, it would be wrong to say to always announce or never announce your
In the given situation,
try having the complainant call the home from a cell phone first.
If that doesn't work, have her try to call her husband's cell phone,
work number or whatever to determine if it may be him in the residence.
If neither work, it may be an intruder. Consider calling for
additional officers and a K-9 unit.
If it is a situation where you clearly
establish that a burglar or intruder is in the home, the rules of the
game have changed. It should then be treated as a barricaded
MV Stop Position
best position to take when speaking with the driver of a stopped vehicle
is behind the crack of their door. This would put you next to the
door to the rear seat. From here, you can lean forward to speak with
This way, if the driver
were to suddenly open the door, it would not injure you or push you into
Also, if the driver
were to produce a gun, it would be more difficult for him or her to aim at
you as they would have poor line of sight.
Finally, should quick retreat be necessary,
you will only have a few steps to take before reaching the rear of the
MV Stop Retreat
An officer is on
a stop, and a belligerent driver begins to exit the car. Often,
officers will hold the door closed and give verbal commands ordering the
driver to stay in the car, and this will solve the problem. But,
what happens if the driver appears to have violent intentions and
overpowers the officer? In the battle and the heat of the moment,
which way should the officer retreat?
Well, there are three options: toward traffic,
toward the front of the car, or toward the rear of the car.
Retreating toward traffic is seldom a good
idea for obvious reasons.
Retreating toward the front of the
suspect's car is better the running into traffic, but it offers less
cover, excellent line of site for the occupant(s), and the officer would
standing in front of a car being operated by a driver with violent
intentions. Clearly, this is not the best choice.
Generally, the best direction to move would be
toward the rear of the suspect's vehicle.
First, it reduces line of site for the
vehicle's occupant(s) more than the other two options. It also
allows the officer to use the suspect's vehicle as temporary cover.
It puts the officer closer to his or her vehicle to use as additional
cover; it enables the officer to retrieve additional weapons should it
become necessary; and it puts the officer in a better position to use the
car's radio should the portable radio be in a dead area.
Of course we do not use "always and never" in
law enforcement, and each situation must be dealt with according to the
particular circumstances, but an instinctual move toward the rear of a
stopped car when confronted with danger will generally be recommended.
Conning the Keys
By Sean H. from
Utah Department of Public Safety
During the course of a motor vehicle stop, that feeling sets in.
Somewhere, somehow, something is wrong. Among the several concerns
that develop in your head is the concern that the driver might speed off
resulting in a pursuit which is about the last thing any officer wants.
This fear can be immediately rectified by
getting the keys to the car. But, how?
Try this. Go up to the driver's window
and ask, "hey, are those car keys to this vehicle?" He or she will reply
with a yes. Then ask, "Oh, okay, may I see them for a second?" or
"May I see them for a second, and then I'll get you outta here?"
By phrasing the question as above, nine times
out of ten they will think that by handing you the keys and proving that
they belong to the car, their problem of being stopped will be solved.
After getting the keys, pretend to talk
back to your radio as if you are replying to a broadcast and excuse
This technique has worked numerous times
for me. However, it should be used when practicable and when it
won't expose you to additional danger.
Effecting a Motor Vehicle
behind the suspicious vehicle, activate your lights, and slowly come to a
stop on the shoulder behind it.
Two things you should be watching for.
First, the vehicle's brake lights went on when it began to stop, but did
they go off? If they didn't, the driver may be waiting to speed off when
you approach. It might be a good time to use your PA and instruct the
driver to put it in park.
and less reliable, what about the reverse lights? While this only applies
to automatics, most cars, when being shifted into park, will shift pass
the reverse gear causing the reverse lights to quickly go on and off.
Remember though, this one is not always reliable.
Every encounter-type call
requires a careful response. How close you pull up will depend on a
number of factors including the type of call, the environment, the time of
Pulling up too close is the
most common mistake. If someone approaches your vehicle with a gun
while you are still inside, you are at a very bad tactical disadvantage.
Simply, you are trapped, and many officers have been killed while in the
On the other hand, your
vehicle offers a certain amount of cover. Pulling up too far and
walking a long distance in an open area can also be dangerous.
Every situation will require a
different tactic, but tactics should dictate how you approach, not
Also, position the engine
between yourself and the most dangerous threat.
Your Location Away
Cell phones, pagers, audible
watches and other such items should not be carried when conducting a
building search. This duty is difficult enough without having the
theme from Lucy come blaring out from a cell phone announcing
to any and all suspects your location.
Keep Radio Out of
Earshot of Suspect
Again, COPS. The radio
crackles, and the dispatcher advises of an outstanding warrant for the
person who you have just detained and who is standing right next to you.
This sets up a very dangerous situation.
If you run a warrant check
over the radio, you have to expect that the dispatcher's next
communication to you will be the result of the warrant check. Have
one officer (if out with a suspect, there should be several officers) fade
from the group and monitor the radio while the others turn their radios
Seasoned dispatchers will
often subtly signal before putting out such information, but new
dispatchers should be trained in this.
By Rudy from
Flagstaff, Arizona PD
You arrive at the residence to
where you were dispatched and are greeted by the lady of the house out
front. She called because when she got home, she heard something
upstairs. She is very scared and believes that a burglar may be in
Before beginning your search
of the house, take inventory. Who lives with her? Is it
possible that her husband or one of her grown children came home
unexpectedly early? When she was in the house, did she notice
anything out of order? From the outside, can you see any signs of
forced entry? How about this...are there any weapons in the house?
Here's a scenario. It is
her husband who came home early. He is upstairs moving some things
around when he hears someone coming up the stairs. That someone is
you and your partner moving as quietly as possible, but the husband
doesn't know this. The husband thinks that his wife is not due home
until later and now he suspects a burglar. He grabs his lawfully
owned revolver from his safe and waits. It is a recipe for disaster.
Perhaps when faced with the
situation of the husband possibly being home, announcing "Police!" in a
loud command voice would be in order. The husband would probably
respond to the commands and not retrieve his gun. If there is no
response, consider calling a K-9 unit if available to conduct the search.
Quick Peeks are an essential
tactics for any officer doing a building search.
Simply, when approaching a
corner of a hallway or room, with a quick tilt of the head, the officer
looks into the unknown area and snaps back. Literally, it should
take less than a second.
If a second peek is needed, it
should be done at a different height than the first. If the first
one was done while standing, the second should be done at knee level, so
if a shooter is trained on the original area, he or she will not have a
shot when the head peeks from a lower position.
Calling for Backup
without Calling for Backup
Like a good officer, you
called out on the radio when you made the vehicle or suspect stop.
During the encounter, you make
an observation which causes you to draw your weapon and train it on the
person or persons detained. Often, this is the point where officers
mentally debate whether to call for backup or focus on giving commands to
Your first focus must be the
danger. Begin giving the commands necessary while simultaneously
keying the microphone on your radio. This way, your other officers,
who already know where you are, will hear the situation. They will
know to immediately respond.
Knowing When to Stay
Off the Air
An officer in another sector calls out on
location at an alarm call to which he was dispatched. Too often,
someone else jumps on the air to run a driver's license or ask for a plate
There are certain times in a shift when the
radio should go silent. When officers are out on a call or with a
situation, the time has arrived.
House or Apartment
No one should still be doing the old "walk
up and knock."
When walking up to a residence on an
encounter-type call, look, listen, feel, and smell.
Look. Assess the door area before
approaching. Is the door open? Are there windows next to the
door? Is someone peaking out from an upstairs window? When is the
best retreat route off the porch should things go bad? Is there
blood on the ground? Is a window broken? Pry marks?
Listen. Is there arguing? Is
there a dog barking which tells you there is a dog in the residence?
Is there a baby crying which tells you to be concerned for the baby once in
the residence? Listen!
Feel. Is the porch shoddy which will
cause you to fall through should you quickly exit? Is the stairway
railing loose? Is the door open or unlocked? Is the door warm?
Smell. Marijuana? Alcohol?
Natural gas? Something cooking? Something burning?
If you follow this, you will have a lot of
questions answered before you even knock on the door.
One of the
most dangerous moments in law enforcement are the seconds between when
suspect realizes he is about to be cuffed and the moment he is cuffed.
He knows that if he is going to make a move, that is the time.
How fast can you unsnap, draw, and get both
cuffs on a suspect.
This is a great
drill that should be practiced during roll call. Even if only once a
week, everyone who encounters bad guys should be using this drill.
You should be as comfortable with your cuffs as you are with your
By Ramsey C. at Baltimore County Sheriff's Department
Chances are, if you are conducting a felony
stop, it is because you believe that the occupants of the car are armed.
After giving commands and ordering occupants
out one at a time, if I am still between the police cars and the suspect
car, I walk backwards and use the suspect as a shield between me and the
suspect car. This way, if anyone pops out and begins shooting, I'm
not going to take one in the back.
By Jim L. from Fort Worth Sheriff's Department
An extra handcuff key is not option, it is a
requirement for any street survival-thinking officer.
One can be kept in a pocket, at the bottom
of a glove case or even inside the cuff case. The best option,
though, is to purchase one of those keepers that has a cuff key secreted
Carrying an extra cuff key is not enough,
though. Officers should practice removing the cuffs using the key.
When the hands are cuffed in front, it's not that hard, but it is very
hard when cuffed in back.
Chasing a Suspect
into a House
Laws differ between states, but many allow
officers to chase fleeing suspects into houses in fresh pursuit under
Tactically, how wise is this? Should
a lone officer chase someone into a house or apartment? We say "no!"
Chances are, in the heat of the pursuit,
the officer is not going to be able to clearly advise over the radio the
exact address of the residence into which he or she is running. So,
the officer will be on his or her own once in the residence.
Now, the lone officer is left by himself or
herself to deal with the pit bull, the crying kids, the mother who begins
to block the officer, the brothers and cousins who begin screaming, and
the bad guy.
Plus, the suspect is now on his home turf
while the officer is in unfamiliar territory.
If it's for a warrant, is being exposed to
such danger worth it? If the suspect is holding a package, is it
worth it? Armed?
Absent four street crimes officers bailing
out together after a fleeing suspect, we find it hard to imagine any
scenario where going in would be worth it.
This is just a job. Your family is
your life. In a previous piece we talked about "over committing."
A lone officer chasing someone into a house it nothing less than over
Each year we are required to re-qualify
with our weapons several times at a range. Too often, officers view
this training as target practice. Instead, it should be combat
The goal should not to be to take long
amounts of time for each shot in order to make a pretty little grouping.
This is suppose to be combat. In a real situation where a gun is
being pointed at you, can you make the shot instantly?
While the target practice style is okay for
a few rounds in order to maintain accuracy, speed should be the goal of
the day. How fast can you draw your weapon? How quickly can
you get two rounds off hitting your target?
The next time you go, focus on speed.
If you practice enough, you will be able to have accuracy as well.
By Sgt. Robert D., North Hanover Twp. Police, NJ
Check jackets carefully!
Recently while searching a suspect, CDS
Crack Cocaine was found in between the inner liner of a winter coat and
the outer sleeve. The only way to access this spot where the CDS was
hidden was to go inside the jacket, go into the inside chest pocket, find
where the liner had been sliced or cut open to allow access to be able to
reach down inside the coat. Also, crack and heroin addicts like to hide
their CDS in small slices or cut open spots around the bottom seams of
There are many theories on the
best method of frisking a suspect.
The "against the wall frisk"
is becoming obsolete. New schools of thought suggest that the wall
or the squad car offers the suspect an excellent leverage point from which
to push off or from which to launch an attack. The wall or car can
also be used as a weapon by shoving an officer's head into it.
Some new techniques being
discussed and utilized are cuffing the suspect before the frisk or putting
the suspect on his or her knees before the frisk. Here is another
Have the suspect put his hands
behind his back and joined together as if he was praying or as if he was
clapping but obviously without the actual clap.
If flexible enough, have the
suspect turn his hands so his fingers are pointed up and his wrists are
facing the ground. (If not flexible enough, that is okay too)
From here, an officer can come in and either grab the fingers which are
pointed up or the thumbs which, if done correctly, will be pointed toward
the officer. Both give the officer a good amount of control.
Frisks should preferably be
done when more than one officer is present.
By an Officer
One other thing to consider
for those of you who wear the radio mic's attached with the coil cord, is
it makes a great weapon for someone to strangle you with. If you are ever
in a struggle and an actor gets that mic cord, it will only take a second
to wrap it around your neck, and things will quickly get even worse.
If you seek to remove
someone from a stopped vehicle containing
multiple occupants, always request additional officers. The number of
officers outside the car should always be greater than the number of
occupants inside the car.
to see how many foot pursuits result from one officer having several
subjects exit a car. But the foot pursuit is, by far, not the worse
case scenario. Multiple suspects means multiple attackers.
Keep them in the car!
By Dennis R.
So we stop this taxi with three
suspects in the back seat. We know they have heroin because
one of our undercovers just bought from them and saw a nice sized
We take them all out and find nothing.
We search again and find nothing. We pull every trick in the
book to get them to admit that they have it. Nothing.
After about twenty minutes, we figure
that they may have thrown it out the window after the sale.
One guy does a last search and finds the package. It was
inside the sleeve of one of the guy's jacket. It wasn't in
any pocket or hidden area. It was just dangling in the
sleeve of the jacket right by the elbow where hardly anyone
Morale of the story, check the jacket.
Making Them Think You
are not Alone
By Ohio State
A good place to store you hat is above the passenger seat against the
If situated correctly, from the vantage point of a stopped vehicle,
it will appear as if the hat is the head of a second officer. If
necessary, you could even refer to the second officer when speaking with
the occupants of the stopped vehicle.
Second Flashlight During
By Deputy A.M., Hardee County Sheriff's Office, Florida
My County is mostly rural with large
amounts of wooded land, pasture and orange groves.
I have found when pursuing a subject with
k-9's, it is very useful to carry two flashlights. I carry both a
rechargeable Mag light and a smaller rechargeable Stinger. There have been
some very long tracks, and I've have been in a position where the dog was
alerting on an area and the flashlights were almost too dim to use.
Caring that extra light has probably saved
our lives a few times.
Driver to Step Out of the Car
well-established case law that allows police officers to ask the driver of
a lawfully stopped vehicle to step to the rear of the car. You need no
justification to make such a request in most states.
This is an excellent tool that should be
used more often. It increases officer safety by removing the officer from
the roadway close to passing cars, it opens up the driver's seat area for
better visual inspection, and it is good for separating the driver from
other occupants of the vehicle to see if their stories match.
However, just because this is permitted, it
doesn't mean that you should do this in every situation. Absent
extraordinary circumstances, you should never have anyone exit the vehicle
unless you have additional officers present. Whenever possible, you should
always outnumber the bad guys. Safety comes first. This provision applies
only to the driver.
When a Search
With everything we have learned from
those who have fallen before us, it is inconceivable that an
officer can be hurt or killed due to a previous poor search.
The search of a suspect ends when all
possible area have been searched, not when something is found.
Too often, when contraband is located the search ends or it is
done half ass because the searching officer thinks that he or she
has found the suspect's hiding spot.
Use of the Radio
(Referring to Audio Footage Below)
This is communications nightmare!
SUPERVISORS! Don't hop right on the radio,
give the officer the chance to tell you what is happening... You ask a
question and don't give two seconds for an answer before asking again.
OFFICERS....slow down, calm down, settle down. Take a breath and think
about what is happening. I know that it is hard, but you have to listen to
what is being repeated to you. Call it off! Call it off! was heard
clearly, which could have prevented, at least an accident, but also a
public safety nightmare.
your Motor Vehicle Stops
By an Officer
When we decide to stop a motor vehicle, we
should not rush to the light car up. Pick the location that affords you
the most advantages over the suspect, and protects you from passing
traffic. Prior to turning on the lights, call in your stop. Project
where you want the motor vehicle stop to occur, and call in the
information. Begin your transmission with the location of the stop. If
your stop takes a sudden turn for the worst, dispatch and your fellow
officers will know where you are, and not just the registration number. It
doesn't hurt to provide dispatch with a brief description of the vehicle
and occupants as well.
Remember, when you put on your lights, the
bad guy's clock starts, if he hasn't already detected your presence. The
quicker you are able to get out of your car the better. If bad guy decides
to run, you need not worry about having to call the entire stop in to
radio. Stay safe, and never give up.
By D.S. - Jersey
City Police Department, New Jersey
First, please don't put the link below in
an email and send it out. Our site is only permitted a certain
amount of bandwidth, and if this clip makes it to an email leapfrog
frenzy, we'll have to take the clip down. Thanks.
Vehicle pursuits and other hot calls send
the adrenaline to crazy levels.
No matter how insane a situation becomes,
you have to keep your cool on the radio. You also have to give the
dispatcher a break.
Below is a link to an audio clip we came
across. It is from the 72nd Precinct in New York City. It
shows what happens when too many people are on the radio.
We are not criticizing these officers
either. We are learning from them. Every one of us could be
critiqued on how we handled a certain call and given tips on how it could
have gone better.
Always Know Where You
In the heat of a situation it is very easy
to loose your bearings.
This is especially true with foot pursuits
and cases where you drive up on a hot situation in progress.
Always check your location. If you
don't know the street, give a cross street or physical landmark.
Help can't get there if they don't know where "there" is.
Use of the Radio
When talking on the radio attempt to keep
everything as brief as possible. You all know in this line of work
anything can happen at any given moment.
Provide your communications with the
necessary disposition, then let the button go. It may save someone's life.
If you need to have a conversation with a co-worker call them on the phone
or meet with them somewhere.
Tactical Use of
By EA, Asheville Police Dept, NC
Most of us use the external speaker-mikes
on our handheld radios. I know several officers who attach the external
mike to the right or left shoulder. This is unsafe because it requires the
officer to turn his head -- and eyes! -- to the right or left -- away from
the suspect/situation -- in order to transmit. I can't count the number of
times I've seen officers turn their heads away from the very suspect they
are checking for warrants! It's just enough time to give a suspect the
opportunity to flee or attack. I attach my mike on the front of my uniform
right below my chin so that I can communicate without diverting my eyes or
head from my suspect/situation.
I keep my cuffs in a cuff pouch in front.
I always know which way they are facing, and I can pull them out and cuff
someone without even looking at them. This is called keeping your
Chances are, if you are in a situation
where you need to cuff someone immediately, it's probably not a very good
situation. Every officer should be able to unsnap, draw and cuff
both hands of a suspect in under five seconds.
I also keep a second pair in the back.
Everyone should carry two pairs of cuffs.
This is an issue that should be talked
about more. Over committing is when an officer goes to far into a
situation for which he or she is not prepared.
An example would be when the officer is the
first to arrive at a domestic and, instead of waiting for more assistance,
the officer goes inside, lets the door shut behind him or her, and moves
into an area of the dwelling where retreat is not readily available.
Over committing is when an officer makes an
MV stop and orders all four occupants to exit the car with no other
Over committing is when an officer is alone
and goes out with a subject who has a warrant and signals an intention to
arrest without having backup on the scene or close.
For every call, for every investigative
detention, for every MV stop, the words "Do not over commit" should be
floating around every officer's head.
Calibre Press Book, The Tactical Edge
I hope that Calibre Press does not mind us
using this, but it is too important to omit. In their book The
Tactical Edge, they created a systematic view of an officer's mental
condition on a given day ranging from patrolling around without a care in
the world to panic. Take a look:
CONDITION WHITE- This is a state of
unawareness, you are totally relaxed and unaware what is going on around
CONDITION YELLOW- A person is relaxed but
at the same time is alert.
CONDITION ORANGE- An officer in Condition
Orange is in a state of alarm. His training, education, common sense,
tells him that something is not right. He doesn’t know what the problem is
but he is constantly evaluating the situation and is planning a course of
CONDITION RED- In Condition Red danger is
obvious. Threat recognition is mandatory. You see the threat and then you
act upon it using verbal commands, physical force, or deadly force. You
are totally committed to neutralizing the threat in a controlled manner.
CONDITION BLACK- An officer in condition
Black has completely lost control of the situation. He is in a state of
panic, or mental paralysis.
The only area we would add to is Condition
Another symptom of Condition Black is when
an officer loses control of himself. He begins screaming at suspects
and is clearly not in control of himself. Every human being is
susceptible to this. It is important to recognize because this will
be the guy who lets loose uncontrollably on a suspect. This is also
the guy who will get you indicted.
If you spot this, save him from himself,
and have him disengage from the situation.
Call Out Everything
It is truly mind boggling that some of us
don't call out on the radio when making a motor vehicle stop or conducting
an investigative detention. God forbid, something happens.
You should call out on everything for
several reasons. First, it signals other officers not to tie up the
radio with non-emergent traffic should you need the air to call for
assistance. Second, your location will be known should there be a
problem. Third, if you are doing it right, you should also be
advising of the vehicle or suspect description should you not be able to
provide it later. Finally, if something drastic happens to you, at
least we will have some information with which to use.
HANDCUFF UM ALREADY!
The television show COPS is an excellent
training tool for both what to do and what not to do. Very poor
police tactics are often utilized.
It is mind boggling that in this day and
age we still search people who are under arrest before handcuffing them.
As soon as arrest PC rears its head, the cuffs should go on immediately.
More importantly, the United States Supreme
Court has upheld law officers handcuffing persons during investigative
detentions even when they are not under arrest when the officer can
articulate why he or she felt there was a danger.
This should be used! If you are getting
the slightest bad vibe from a suspect, put him or her in handcuffs, then
conduct the frisk or search.
Once a suspect is in handcuffs, the risk of
injury to officers significantly decreases.
CUFF UM ALREADY!
Of course, all officers
are subject to the rules of their
attorney or prosecutor,
State, Attorney General and other sources of
should be checked prior to
following any outside advice or recommendations.
Getting Caught Up in
Finding "The Package" Instead of Focusing on Safety
Everyone wants to find the mother load
whether it be in a vehicle trunk or it a backpack. However, too
often officers become preoccupied with finding contraband, and they lose
sight of what is really important which is safety.
You will have numerous opportunities to
find the package. You will have only one opportunity to avoid death
or serious injury.
Flashlight Kill Switch
Most flashlights today can be clicked
on or the button can be held down slightly to activate the
flashlight and provide a kill switch affect, meaning that if the
flashlight were dropped it would go off.
It is recommended that when handling
encounter-type calls, the kill switch method be used. One
danger to the flashlight is that it gives away your position.
If it were turned on and dropped, it could roll in a manner which
would light up the officer.
During my first month on the job, several
senior officers and myself responded to a fight. When I got there I
rushed right passed several people and jumped on the two subjects fighting
on the ground. My actions were done in front of the senior officers,
and I was happy that they would see that I was not afraid to jump into a
My happiness was soon knocked down by one
of the senior officers. After initially jumping on me, he explained
that I did not even take a second to assess the entire picture. Sure
there was a fight, but there was also a crowd. I did not notice if
anyone in the crowd was cheering one or the other on, if any of them were
armed, who else was around, if either of the combatants were armed, etc.
This was a very good lesson to me. No
mater what the call, assess before you commit. This applies to
everything from motor vehicle stops to domestics to alarm calls.
Retreat is an Option
In law enforcement, we are not taking the
hill that will change the war. In almost every situation when
contemplating a course of action, retreat should be among the choices
We're not saying to retreat every time a
situation goes bad. However, when retreat is available and death or
serious injury are facing you, retreat is a perfectly acceptable decision.
In fact, before committing to any
situation, a retreat route should be considered. For example, you
respond to a call of a verbal dispute at a residence. As you
approach the steps to the porch, you should be looking for a safe exit
route should someone answer the door holding a shotgun. Or, if
working in a prison mess hall surrounded by society's finest, you should
be asking your self "what is my way out if a a major disturbance erupts."
We all plan in our heads when responding to
situations. Planning a quick exit should be part of this process.
Strong Hand /
Weak Hand with a Flashlight
While this is so basic, so many
violate this simple principle.
Flashlights should be carried using
the support hand. (There is no such thing as a weak hand) The strong hand should be
available to draw and fire your service weapon.
When is it Time
to Call for Backup
Well, it's certainly not after you are
already in a fight.
Ninety-five percent of the time, the
suspect signals to you when you should be calling for additional
units. It is when you walk up to the car and he is
belligerent. It is when you stop him on the street and he
begins to get loud. It is when you separate him from the
party he is arguing with and his telling you to take your hands
off of him.
The call for an extra unit should go
out at the first sign of trouble, not the last sign.
Where is Cover?
handling any encounter-type call, you want to always be aware of your
closest cover. When initially arriving at a situation, you should
get in the habit of looking for cover in case it is needed.
And remember, there is a difference
between cover and concealment.
Since bullet proof vests all come with
expiration dates, every department has a stash of extra body armor lying
around. Usually it finds its way to the trash.
We heard of one agency making excellent use
of these old vests.
When a vest is retired, it is turned in to
administrators who hold on to it. Each time the agency gets a new
police vehicle, they have their vehicle maintenance people insert the vest
panels into the interior of both front doors of the car. While these
are old vests and there are no guarantees, it greatly reduces the risk of
an officer getting shot through the car door.
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Police Tactics for Stopping Motorcycles
You have probably seen reality law
enforcement programs on television where a motorcycle is stopped by an
officer, and as the officer approaches, the motorcycle speeds off from the
Here is a technique that can help you avoid
getting duped in a situation like this.
After executing the stop, order the rider
to turn off his bike, remove his helmet, and stand next to the motorcycle.
You might need to do this over the PA system so he or she can hear you.
Do this from inside your patrol car. After
he complies, then make the approach.
Fill in the Gaps
Your radio crackles. One of your fellow
officers is going out with a suspicious subject. You respond to assist.
Where should you position yourself?
Often, the second officer to arrive
approaches and stands right next to the first officer. Minutes later a
third officer responds. He or she then stands next to the first two.
Additional officers respond, and the shoulder to shoulder action
Too often the above scenario is the case.
When a second officer arrives, he or she
take a position directly behind the suspect. This way, the most obvious
path of flight is now blocked. If a third officer responds, he or she
should take a position to the left or the right of the suspect. The other
two officer should re-position themselves, so they are forming a triangle
around the suspect. With each responding officer filling in an empty gap,
the chances of flight significantly reduce.
When responding to back up a fellow
officer, FILL IN THE GAP! It is just good police tactics.
Passenger Side Approach
Using the passenger side approach of a
stopped vehicle is something we all know about but rarely employ. You
shouldn't use it just for high-risk situations. As with everything else,
it is necessary to practice and be familiar with this technique as there
are new considerations. For example, when making such an approach in an
area where there is a curb, you don't want to stand on the roadway between
the passenger door and the curb. You should stand on top of the curb.
Otherwise, if the passenger door suddenly opens, you would be pushed back
and could trip over the curb. The same applies with a drainage ditch.
To become more familiar with this
technique, use a passenger side approach on a more frequent basis when
circumstances allow. Use this approach every other stop for the next few
weeks until you are completely comfortable with it. After that, use it
every fifth stop to maintain your familiarity.
Realistic scenario training is the most
effective method of teaching police tactics for law officers new and old.
More and more agencies that utilize
scenario training are inserting Simunition rounds into the program. These
are non-lethal rounds that can be used in actual service weapons (after
they are temporarily converted to avoid inadvertent loading of real
ammunition) so scenario participants face the actual danger of getting
hit. After being fired, the cartridges leave a detergent-based, water
soluble inert color mark to denote hits.
The possibility of being struck changes
the whole feeling of scenario training. The result, hopefully, is a
better trained officer. Good police tactics begin with training.
Click here to visit the website for Simunition.
Note: No agency or officer
should begin using Simunition until receiving complete training in all
aspects of the rounds, conversion of weapons, and all other related
areas. Consult the manufacturer.
MV Stops - That Bad
On occasion, you walk up on a car you
have stopped, you immediately get a feeling that something is wrong.
Sometimes it is best not to reveal your hand until you have backup.
However, you want to maintain control over the situation.
A good tactic and bluff would be to
tell the occupants (before returning to your car) "Okay, my partner is
going to write you out a warning. He'll be with you in a second." Here,
you suggest that a second officer is already present. This technique
works best at night when their visibility is limited.
Handling Bank Alarms -
Send them out to us...
Bank alarms are the bane of those
trying to enjoy an otherwise pleasant dayshift. While most are set off in
error, ALL have to be treated as the real thing.
When a bank alarm comes in, the OIC
should instruct the dispatcher to first call the bank and ask if
everything is okay. Many agencies will ask the bank employee for a
previously given code which would indicate that there is no problem. Use
caution with this practice as, more often than not, the employees are not
properly trained and do not know the code.
If this checks out, officers should
pull up out of the view of the bank's windows. The OIC should have the
dispatcher direct the bank employee to walk out to the location of the
patrol car. If the bank employee seems okay, the officers should first
try and assess the situation inside through the windows. If everything
still seems okay, officers should escort the bank employee back inside and
make their own determination.
There is no reason that officers should
blindly walk into a bank upon responding to a bank alarm. Pre-designated
meeting areas should also be avoided as they are too difficult to remember
for officers who work in towns with many banks, and if the bank employees
weren't properly trained in the designated area, their walking out to the
wrong location could send false alarms.
Obviously, the rules and procedures of
your agency supersede anything written here, but this is an excellent
MV Stops at Night
When effecting nighttime motor vehicle
stops, upon approaching the stopped vehicle, start making a habit of
always asking the driver to turn on the interior light. This serves
several purposes. First, it illuminates the vehicle interior for you
observation. Second, should the driver come out of the car for any
reason, he or she will have reduced night vision which always occurs when
someone goes from a well-lit environment to a dark environment. This
is a good tactical practice.
A good place to store you hat is above
the passenger seat against the cage. If situated correctly, from the
vantage point of a stopped vehicle, it will appear as if the hat is the
head of a second officer.
When handling calls involving any type
of dispute, it is advisable to separate the parties. However, when this
is done, it should be done in a way where the officers on the scene still
have each other in sight.
MV Stops - Always
Outnumber the Bad Guys Before Removing Anyone
If you seek to remove the driver from a
stopped vehicle containing multiple occupants, always request additional
officers. The number of officers outside the car should always be greater
than the number of occupants inside the car. This is basic police
tactics but not practiced enough.
Your departments and agencies set all policy. Nothing
contained on this website should be implemented without express
written permission from your upper management. While legal in
some states, certain tactics may be illegal in others.