I Got Pulled Over

SheriffCarThe other evening I ran out to the store for some supplies.  On my way home, I saw blue and red lights in my rear view mirror. Aaaaah.  I blinkered into the right lane, turned on to the first side street, and coasted to the curb.  When was the last time I was pulled over?

The sheriff’s deputy made a driver’s side approach.  I was actually a little nervous as I kept both hands on the steering wheel; I’ve been on his side of the traffic stop, too.  The deputy stayed safely just behind the B-pillar and said, “Sir, I need to see your license and registration.”  I replied with a chagrined smile, “Yes, deputy.”

After I had produced the documents, he stated, “You rolled through a stop-before-right-turn-on-red at that last intersection.”  Thinking back, I had checked for cross-traffic and proceeded slowly through the right turn.  Yep, I’d have to agree with him.  He said he would be right back.  In my side view mirror I watched him walk back to his cruiser.

No, I did not “badge him,” nor did I tell him that I was an off-duty officer.  Although I am normally Continue reading

Posted in Officer Safety, Street | 2 Comments

New FLIR One Thermal Imager

FLIR OneFLIR Systems, Inc. is producing a new low-cost thermal imaging system that mates to an iPhone 5 or 5s and lets the user view heat signatures through the cell phone’s display.  The new device is called FLIR One and will sell for about $350 (iPhone not included).

I mention this product, not because I see it as a cutting edge law enforcement tool, but because I see this as a precursor to some exciting technology coming to a cop shop near you.  I predict cost-effective thermal imaging will make infrared night vision obsolete as an LE search tool.

A few SHOT Shows ago, I previewed FLIR’s latest handheld thermal units–the PS series for public safety and civilian use.  I played with a PS-24 and had a blast pointing it around at people and marveling at its clarity and magical illumination. Continue reading

Posted in Officer Safety, Technology | Tagged | 4 Comments

Public Sevice Message

Don’t worry, I am not going to dump a bucket of ice water over my head like everybody else.

Randall

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Yet Another Day in the Pressure Cooker

ThinBlueFlorida
It is almost Midnight and I just got home from a regular eight hour shift followed by just over seven hours of OT on a series of surveillance and arrests for one of our specialized units, working in conjunction with other local and Federal agencies.

I do not pull this kind of duty nearly as much as I had in days past.  It reminds me that this kind of adrenaline-infused work goes on around-the-clock in our country.  The challenges made me respect those who are on the front lines taking criminals off the street every day because the reality is that after nearly 27 years on the job I now drive a desk for the most part.  It is the way of things.

But I like keeping my skills sharp and running my part of this Op brings back memories of the hundreds of buy-busts and SWAT calls with which I was entrusted.  I could not help but noticed that after all these years, safety was still the mantra with our guys.  Protect our UC’s and keep ourselves on the “high ground.”

A few arrests and one “pursuit” later, I could relax again.  My detectives were going home safe to their families, no innocents were put in harm’s way, and the offenders will have their dates with the court.

We accomplished the mission.  All things considered, an above-average day in law enforcement.

Randall

Posted in Detectives, Street | 3 Comments

Militarization of the Police–A Cop’s View

Militarization of the Police copyI get a little miffed at the argument that the police are becoming “too militarized.”  Detractors say that law enforcement has no need for the equipment that the U.S. Government has been distributing from its arsenal of aged or obsolete equipment.  This controversial military equipment comes mainly in two flavors:  weaponry or protection.

As to weaponry, we are talking rifles.  My agency just took possession of two dozen older Colt M-16s from the Department of Defense at a very low price per unit.  Before the naysayers get in an uproar, understand that we already have more authorized fully automatic rifles for our SWAT team.  Our street officers also field semi-automatic civilian model AR-15′s.

This is representative of most police departments and sheriff’s offices around the nation.  Rifles have been recognized as a more appropriate weapon for modern police officers than the traditional shotgun to counter today’s violent offenders.

Back in February of this year, I published the results of an FBI study into Active Shooter Events from 200-2012.  The recommendation by the FBI was that, “Officers ought to have firepower at least equivalent to what they will face if they go in harm’s way.”  The study urged that today’s police officers should have access to patrol rifles and protective armor.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the DoD lets police agencies have “grenade launchers.”  Actually, they are old M79 40mm launchers that the cops can only use for less lethal gas and distraction munitions.  Police cannot even acquire deadly anti-personnel rounds for them.  “Grenade launcher” is intentionally used for its inflammatory connotations.

The Department of Defense, under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997, is not giving police departments hand grenades, anti-tank rockets, crew-served heavy machine guns, or phased plasma rifles in the 40 watt range.  They are Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics, Street, SWAT | 6 Comments

Raven Concealment Systems ModuLoader

Raven ModuLoaderRaven Concealment Systems has come out with a product that made me think, “Duh!”  Raven’s ModuLoader Pocket Shield is perfect for the discreet carry of knives and other like equipment.  There are times that I would prefer to hide my blade, especially when in dress or business casual clothes.  A metal knife clip dragging on the pocket edge of an expensive pair of slacks will not do.

I ordered a Pocket Shield primarily for knife carry.  It arrived packaged with a nifty Raven sticker, a short length of small nylon cord, and six Chicago screws for affixing accessories.  I ordered a gray Pocket Shield instead of black, well, just because I could.

The Pocket Shield’s scalloped top edge and horizontal slots provide mounting points for clipped gear and, as a bonus, give ventilation to the area.  If you’ve ever pocket-carried a large, bulky holster in the heat of summer, you know that it can be uncomfortable.  The ModuLoader piece is flexible, light, and cool.

Photos on their website show small fixed blade knives, flashlights, and pistols bolted to the Pocket Shield for pocket carry.  Its flexible shape masks bulky objects.  Raven credits MDTS Training Systems’ Chris Fry with conceiving Continue reading

Posted in Concealed Carry, Detectives, Firearms, Flashlights, Knives, Off Duty | Leave a comment

Prepaid Card Scams

Prepaid Card ScamPlease spread the word to your friends, family, co-workers and anyone else who may be vulnerable:  Do not fall for prepaid card scams!  Every week I read cases where victims have been tricked out of money by suspects on the phone posing as anyone from a local power company, to the IRS, to law enforcement.  It is a national problem.

The scam occurs when an unscrupulous ne’er-do-well calls a victim.  It goes something like this, “I’m Supervisor Smith from Duke Energy.  Your business account is in arrears and you need to make a payment by prepaid card before 11 a.m. today or your power will shut off.”

Prepaid cards are available from most major credit card companies and financial institutions.  A consumer “loads” the card with money and uses it as one would use a credit card.  The card numbers and PINs are given to the official-sounding bad guy over the phone and the money goes poof.

Often the suspect will have background information on his mark to make the call seem legitimate—such as previous payment dates, account numbers, personal information, or even names of relatives.  These are obtained over the Internet or through illegitimate means.

We first started seeing this fraud late last year at local restaurants.  The manager would receive a call shortly before lunch service from Continue reading

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New Troy Defense Pump Action Rifle

Troy Pump Action RifleTroy Defense’s new pump action sporting rifle reminds me of the Remington 7615P patrol rifle, that was marketed to law enforcement as an easily transitioned rifle that was identical in workings to a police 870 shotgun.  The Troy model is obviously more AR-15 than pump shotty, but you get the idea.

Troy Defense says their sporting rifle “is complaint in areas where legal ownership of standard semi-automatic rifles have been legislatively limited.”

I don’t see this as something that is a replacement for the standard semi-auto AR-15′s used by law enforcement, in fact, if you can think of a reason a department should buy them for duty use, leave a comment.  I would be interested to see if a justification can be dreamed up. Continue reading

Posted in Firearms | 4 Comments

K9 Team Fired Upon

Jason Michael Lopez

Jason Michael Lopez

This incident from Pinellas Park, FL gave me chills and reminded me of the 2006 shooting death of Polk County Deputy Matt Williams and K9 DiOGi.

Tracking desperate criminals, and since they are on the run–they are desperate, is very dangerous work.  Anyone who has been on the non-dog end of the leash in the dark knows this.

K9 teams in my day worked alone.  Nowadays, the dogs and handlers are often joined by a second trained handler as a back-up.  I have worked as the trailing officer and have been there to assist in arrests.  It is a sound tactic.

I am glad the Pinellas Park K9 team won the day.  I was once asked, Would you rather be good or lucky?  I say, Both.

Randall

Here is the official press release:

SHOTS FIRED AT POLICE K9 AND HIS PARTNER

On July 31st, 2014 shortly before 10:00pm officer responded to a disturbance call in the 9100 block of 54th Way N. in Pinellas Park. It was reported that a male subject was grabbing and pushing a female.

Police made contact with the victim and the suspect in the 5500 block of 92nd Place N. As officers approached, the male suspect fled into the
rear yard of a private residence. The woman told officers that the male
battered her, and that she was pregnant with his child.

Other officers and K-9 units responded to the area to aid in the apprehension of the suspect. Continue reading

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FBI Going Back To 9mm

FBI sealContinuing a trend to steer away from larger handgun calibers for law enforcement, the FBI will be soliciting vendors, i.e. firearms manufacturers, for commercial off the shelf (COTS) semi-automatic pistols chambered for the 9 x 19mm round for future test and evaluation.  The FBI currently fields the .40 S&W caliber for standard use.

A movement toward 9mm and from .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and  .357 Sig comes down to ballistic effectiveness and training issues, in my opinion.  The Wonder 9′s modern bullet technology and increased magazine capacity make it attractive.

And let’s face it, today’s generation of cops rarely have had a traditional firearms upbringing–especially with handguns.  Teaching and maintaining pistol skills for groups of inexperienced shooters can be expensive and institutionally frustrating with the larger, harder kicking rounds.

Over the last few years, I have gone to the range with many officers who said they had no handgun experience prior to the police academy.  While they inevitably Continue reading

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Remington R51 Update

Remington R51Remington Arms released the following statement today:

July 25, 2014

Remington R51 Pistol Product Update

Earlier this year, we launched the innovative R51 subcompact pistol to critical acclaim. During testing, numerous experts found the pistol to function flawlessly. In fact, they found it to have lower felt recoil, lower muzzle rise and better accuracy and concealability than other products in its class.

However, after initial commercial sales, our loyal customers notified us that some R51 pistols had performance issues. We immediately ceased production to re-test the product. While we determined the pistols were safe, certain units did not meet Remington’s performance criteria. The performance problems resulted from complications during our transition from prototype to mass production. These problems have been identified and solutions are being implemented, with an expected production restart in October.

Anyone who purchased an R51 may return it and receive a new R51 pistol, along with two additional magazines and a custom Pelican case, by calling Remington at (800) 243-9700.

The new R51 will be of the same exceptional quality as our test pistols, which performed flawlessly.

We appreciate your patience and support.

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Swab-Its, Bore-Tips, and Gun-Tips for Gun Cleaning

I saw Swab-Its® brand Bore-Tips and Gun-Tips at SHOT Show this year.  They are reusable firearm cleaning products Made in the USA.  Some advantages to Gun-Tips are:

• Gun-tips® foam swabs are reusable and replace cotton swabs.
• Fiber free, does not shed or leave lint behind.
• Perfect for cleaning and lubricating hard to reach places.
• Available in a variety of shapes, sizes and packages.
• Economical, washable and reusable, just like Bore-tips®.
• Made in the USA.

Pam over at Swab-Its sent me the story below, which explains their products better than I can.

This is the story of an innovative American company, Super Brush LLC, which, through its Swab-Its® division changed the way people have cleaned their firearms for the past 200 years.

For 60 plus years, the company has been developing and manufacturing products in the USA for the high tech, electrical, medical, cosmetic and aerospace markets around the world.

Because their employees were having problems cleaning their own firearms, the company decided to apply its high tech engineering staff to these problems and to engineer a solution and bring it to the rest of the world.

The first firearms cleaning products, Swab-Its® Bore-Tips® – were launched three years ago at the Las Vegas Shot Show and were deemed by bloggers at the Shot Show to be one of the best new products of the year. The Swab-Its® Bore-Tips® garnered similar accolades at the following NRA Shows.

Continue reading

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Marion County Sheriff Employs Crime Kiosks

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has unveiled a new method for distributing criminal information to the community in the form of stand-alone kiosks.  Modernizing a concept used by Sheriff Chris Blair decades ago when he was a detective, a trio of video screens mounted in a secure housing shows crime alerts, Amber and Silver alerts, missing persons, sexual predators, and public service announcements to citizens within minutes of their posting.

crime kiosk

Photo: AG’s Office

The kiosks are connected to the Internet and information is uploaded to them by crime analysts.  In addition to general crime trends, bulletins can be surgically sent to selected kiosks where it is determined the criminals or threats are specific to an area, such as a wave of auto burglaries in a mall parking lot.  They can also be pinpointed to where the search for a missing child may be underway.

MCSO will be working with the local police departments to determine the best high foot-traffic areas for the kiosks.  An initial version was unveiled last February at the Paddock Mall.  All area law enforcement agencies will participate in the uploading of bulletins and Continue reading

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Pistol Training Video on a Treadmill

Okay, my first reaction was, “Wow, that’s gonna be unsafe as hell.”  At 1:24 minutes into the vid, I was a bit mesmerized, though.  Nice shooting, Mr. Harrington.  This is not a training method I would advocate, but it shows an excellent degree of skill.  Mr. Harrington’s pedigree:

Dave Harrington (a.k.a. “Super” Dave) is the President of Combatspeed LLC which is located in Tampa, Florida. Dave is a two time retired senior weapons instructor from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He has 23 years of military experience, the last 16 of which were spent in the Army’s Special Forces. He qualified as an expert infantryman, conventional and HALO (high altitude, low open) paratrooper, Ranger, and finally combat weapons craft instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Fort Bragg, N.C. Some of the nation’s most elite counter terrorist fighters trained under Harrington there.

Again, I think this is unsafe, but I enjoyed watching the steel fall.  If you have ever done any shooting on the move, you should appreciate the marksmanship.

Randall

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TruGlo’s Tritium Brite-Site for Duty Use

TruGlo Rear SightFriends don’t let friends go on duty with stock Glock sights. Look around and you’ll see the friendless ones.  For goodness sake, get those plastic things off your pistol!  Tell your co-workers.  Mine were switched out steel tritium night sights posthaste.

I have nothing against the “dot and U” Glock sight picture.  I have shot quite well with the plastic and paint atop a Tenifer slide.  However, my issues are twofold.  First, there is zero durability in a standard set of Glock sights.  They cannot take the abuses of police duty use, period.

Our guns get banged around miserably in uniform, and just somewhat less so in plainclothes.  A handgun is a tool of the profession and must stand up to the rigors thereof.  Having one or both sights knocked off or out of alignment could be fatal in a critical incident.  And in the event you are forced to run a Glock’s action with one hand, the fragile rear sight will not work against a gun belt, holster, or boot heel.

Secondly, the ability to acquire a target in low light or no light is not optional on the street.  Even those working day hours will find themselves in dark places on calls.  We need tritium night sights on our guns.  There are many good brands Continue reading

Posted in Firearms | Tagged | 4 Comments