Archive for the ‘Police Procedure’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Foot Pursuits: Follow The Knob…say WHAT?

“I’ve got a vehicle stopped at 5th and Mockingbird Lane. Driver just tossed something from the window. Request back up… He’s running! I’ve got a runner!” Suddenly, the radio goes silent, but everyone knows exactly what’s going on. They’ve all been there and done that.

The patrol officer was in the midst of a traffic stop when the driver decided to abandon his car and head for the hills, or wherever it is they think they can go to avoid an arrest. So, Officer I. M. Fast (Well, that’s what’s on his name tag) shoved the shift into park and took off after the wiry, tennis shoe-clad thug. For the record, runners (rabbits, foot-bailers, the guys with happy feet, etc.) are always young, thin, in shape, and wearing tennis shoes. It’s never an easy-to-catch old fat guy in HushPuppies.

A foot pursuit typically begins in an instant. A flash. A blink of an eye. Faster than you can say “diddly-squat.” There’s no time to think things through. No time to plan. No time to run through the mental checklist. No time to remind yourself to do important things, like tell someone which direction you’re heading. Or even to think about routine things, like grabbing your portable radio from the charger. Yep, after twenty strides into total darkness the officer will also remember the flashlight he left lying on the passenger seat next to…dammit, he left his cellphone lying there, too! Therefore, besides the obvious, officers often find themselves alone in what can be a very dangerous situation. Why?

– Bad guys tend to bail out in familiar territory, meaning they know where they’re going, and they often have friends in the area—friends who’ll protect their buddies at all costs, even if that means hurting or killing a cop.

– Unless the officer is in great physical shape (how many older cops have you seen who could win a marathon?) he/she’ll quickly become winded, possibly after only a couple of blocks. Sure, adrenaline will take you a few steps beyond your normal capacity, but not too much further. What that translates into is a cop who’s sucking wind like an antique church organ when he does finally catch the suspect. Believe me, it’s extremely difficult to restrain and cuff someone when you can’t breathe.

– The officer is wearing a ton of gear and sometimes those goofy, shiny shoes. And let’s not forget those spiffy bus driver hats. Think about it…could you run wearing all that? Why would you even want to run while wearing those cool duds?

So what should officers consider before taking the first step in pursuit of a runner?

– Why did the guy run? Is he wanted? Is he dangerous?

– Where are we? Is the area dangerous? What’s around me? Who’s around me? WHY are THEY suddenly around me?

– How far away is backup? Is there backup?

– Did I call for backup?

– What did the guy do? Is it even worth the chase?

– Am I healthy enough to do this?

– What’s around the next corner? Who’s around the next corner?

– What am I going to do with the guy when I catch him? Will I be able to manhandle him all the way back to my patrol car?

– Why not call a canine unit and wait for them to arrive?

Even though any pursuit, foot or vehicle, can be unpredictable, there are are few things that are a bit predictable. Like…

A crook who bolts through a doorway will most likely turn to the doorknob side of the door—doorknob’s on the left side of the door, the suspect headed left. Doorknob on the right, suspect ran to the right. Therefore, an open door and no suspect… Turn toward the knob and set your feet in motion. After, of course, making sure the bad guy isn’t hiding beside the door waiting for you to poke your head through the opening.

Most fleeing suspects, when not running in a straight line, will make one left turn and then all right turns thereafter, if not all right turns. Therefore, when the officer finally reaches a dead end and needs to pick a direction, a right turn will probably be the correct choice.

The cool part of the right-turn habit is that IF the suspect is forced to make several left turns, his only option, then he’ll soon stop to hide. Running counterclockwise is not natural to them. And…those same suspects are more apt to hide on the right side of a roadway (in the bushes, a ditch, the woods, etc.).

Wait, it gets better. If two suspects bail on you and they run in the same direction, the chase won’t be a long one. Two guys almost always stop to hide before they get very far. So, if you catch one guy behind a stack of pallets, stay alert because his partner is probably laying low inside the nearby dumpster, under the rotten cabbage.

Oh, if the driver runs and the passenger remains in the car, forget the chase. Go for the guy in the car. He’ll snitch. Besides, you’ve got the idiot’s vehicle.

– Discarded evidence? They almost always toss it on the right-hand side of the road, path, sidewalk, alley, train tracks, etc.

Lastly, lay off the doughnuts and hit the treadmill. Or, send the rookie after the guy. You can always follow along in your patrol car…

PostHeaderIcon A Cup of Coffee, a Newspaper, and a Bloated Body…

A cup of coffee, a piece of toast, a glance at the morning paper, and a leisurely stroll through a bloody crime scene. Sometimes, though, there’s no time for the coffee. Instead, the morning begins with a brisk, adrenaline-filled scuffle with suicidal man who’s crazy-high on methamphetamine, or a lovely peek at a bloated body that’s teeming with hundreds of writhing maggots. That’s how some cops start their day. How about you?

Maybe they’ll drop the kids off at school before heading to the office to finish up a report or the beginnings of a search warrant.

The rest of the day is a piece of cake—chasing drug dealers, shots fired, lost children, crying mothers, abusive parents, hungry children, murder, suicide, shoplifters, pursuits, fatigue, crack cocaine, addicts, prostitutes, burglars, no lunch, robbers, spit on by abusive citizens, battered spouses, drunks, rabid animals, lost pets, remove wild animal in citizen’s garage or basement, bad checks, autopsy, trip to crime lab, traffic accident, speeders, question witness, peeping tom, search woods filled with tons of poison ivy, serve warrants, miss child’s play at school, citizen can’t get furnace to work, dog stuck in drain pipe, citizen locked keys in car, citizen locked herself in bedroom and doesn’t know how to turn button on doorknob to get out, pull unconscious man from burning house, citizen hears prowler, kids throwing water balloons at elderly people, check homes for people while they’re on vacation, testify in court, 4-12 officer calls in sick…must work 8 more hours.

Drug dealers, shots fired, fighting, lost children, crying mothers, catch rapist…

Dog bite, punch in face, take knife from wife-killer, kid accidentally shoots best friend with father’s gun, woman jumps from overpass, teens fire shots at patrol car, third-grader struck by drunk driver…

Man with knife, woman with meat cleaver, boy with gun, teen with poison, attacked by people who simply hate cops…

Training for the day when, well, whatever can and will happen…

Search for drugs, search for weapons, search for explosives, search for people who want to kill you…

Anthrax, ricin, and other small things that kill…

Murder scenes decorated with blood, brains, and human tissue…

Working all night and then sitting in court all day the next day while waiting to testify about the guy who killed and butchered his neighbor’s child…

Destroying the dangerous drugs that destroy the lives of many…

Autopsy. Collecting fluid from the eye to determine if the dead guy had been drinking or on drugs when he collided with the school bus, the crash that killed nine little kids.

Transporting the most dangerous people in the country to and from various appointments—doctor, jail, prison, court, etc.

Running DNA test to determine the identify of a serial killer, the guy who raped and strangled mothers, daughters, cousins, and friends.

Standing guard over the people in your community who’ve raped, robbed, and killed your neighbors and friends…

Entering homes to search for violent offenders who’ve killed other cops…

Comfort a stranger whose loved one died in a car crash…

Hamilton One 161

Trying to leave it all behind at the end of the day so you can spend a brief bit of quality time with your family, knowing you’ll do it all over again the next day. Because it’s what you do.

Hamilton One 124


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