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Calm before chaos: 5 tips for 911 telecommunicators during an act of mass violence

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 13:08

Author: International Public Safety Association

By Dave Mulholland, Administrator, Arlington County Emergency Communications Center and member of the IPSA’s 911 Telecommunications Committee

Each day, 9-1-1 telecommunicators handle stressful calls involving law enforcement, fire and medical incidents. Telecommunicators are trained to calm highly distressed callers and gather the appropriate information within structured protocols and processes. Their training and the protocols they use have been developed and refined over decades. Coupled with strong training and defensible protocols, telecommunicators have become experts in handling high-stress calls through repetitious use of both foundational elements.

However, the 9-1-1 landscape has changed as acts of mass violence and other multi-caller/multi-victim high-threat incidents begin to increase. These acts have restructured in-the-field first response efforts. Police officers now arrive and directly enter the area to engage the threat, no longer securing exterior perimeters and staging until sufficient resources exist for team entry into the incident. Trained fire personnel and medical personnel now enter hot zones rather than waiting for a scene to become secure before they enter to render aid.

Similarly, acts of mass violence impact traditional 9-1-1 response. Telecommunicators, as the first of the first responders, play a critical role in determining the nature and extent of the threat and supplying the in-field responders with information to end the threat. During an act of mass violence, it is likely that the 9-1-1 center will be quickly overcome with calls. Triaging these calls to gather the most pertinent information is paramount. To successfully do this, the telecommunicator may need to deviate from traditional practices such as gathering detailed information about injuries and providing emergency medical dispatch protocols.

Below are five tips to assist the 9-1-1 center in handling mass violence events.

Tip 1: Gather information

During an on-going act of mass violence, the highest priority is to gather information to stop the threat. Law enforcement first responders must be provided with as much information regarding the type of threat and information to help identify the attackers and their location. High-threat trained fire and rescue personnel need to understand the environment to make informed decisions on when and where to begin their response inside the incident. The dispatcher is informing these decisions. Telecommunicators also help inform the response by identifying any additional information sources at the scene such as video feeds and determining if there are possible secondary threats at the scene.

Tip 2: Prioritize calls

It is essential that 9-1-1 lines be kept clear so that additional information may be obtained. This often requires truncating calls from victims and witnesses on the scene. It is hard to disengage with someone who is injured or next to someone who is seriously injured or dead. Calls must focus on stopping the threat, and until that happens, telecommunicators should not be triaging medical priorities or providing medical direction through emergency medical dispatch protocols. Jurisdictions could consider creating specially trained crisis personnel from other governmental departments (such as human services) who can be activated to communicate with callers during an active incident and provide direction and comfort to the callers. After the 9-1-1 telecommunicator obtains the necessary information from the initial call, the call be transferred to another phone bank staffed with these specialists.

Tip 3: Mobilize CISM teams

As soon as it is clear that you have a mass casualty or significant active shooter event, mobilize Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) or Traumatic Exposure Recovery Program (TERP) team members. When developing these teams, ensure that there are members not actively deployed as an event responder who can respond to on-going event to help begin help with stress management in the 9-1-1 center. Thus, the healing process can begin even as the incident is still ongoing. All 9-1-1 supervisors and managers must constantly communicate with and evaluate telecommunicators during the incident to gauge when they may be reaching breaking points. Be prepared to appropriately relieve an employee who may have reached maximum stress levels during the incident. A broken employee will not effectively contribute to incident resolution.

Tip 4: Train, train, train

As stress levels rise, thinking functionality begins to rely more on how the brain has been trained and conditioned to respond. The adage of you fight as you train is equally true in the 9-1-1 center. Telecommunicators must be trained on response to acts of mass violence, especially through repetitive simulation exercises. This will assist the telecommunicator in developing greater comfort to follow different protocols during a mass violence event. Time spent in continuous roll call and simulation trainings multiple times a year will reap large rewards should a mass violence incident occur.

Tip 5: Public education

Great efforts have been made to educate the public on responding to acts of mass violence, such as the “Run, Hide, Fight” educational campaigns. However, little has been done to educate the public on what information is important to relay when calling 9-1-1 during an act of mass violence or what to expect when calling. For example, the public should be prepared for the telecommunicator to quickly gather information regarding the active threat but not remain on the line to determine extent of injury or provide reassurance and medical direction. 9-1-1 centers should work collaboratively with their respective first responder agencies to expand education efforts to include communications with 9-1-1 during a mass violence incident.


The role of the telecommunicator is critical in responding to and resolving acts of mass violence. It is imperative to continually evaluate appropriate response to 9-1-1 calls during acts of mass violence through decomposition of prior events, adoption of best practices and lessons learned and development of new tactics and protocols in the 9-1-1 center. Telecommunicators prove their value in saving lives, providing hope to those in distress, and protecting first responders every day. Efficient handling of acts of mass violence amplify the telecommunicators critical role as part of the first responder team.

About the Author

Dave Mulholland is currently the Administrator for the Arlington County, Virginia, Emergency Communications (9-1-1) Center. He retired as a Major from the United States Park Police after 27 years of service. He has also served as the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator for the District of Columbia. Mulholland will be presenting at the IPSA’s Mass Casualty Incidents Symposium this Fall in Washington D.C.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Colo. city's 'youngest officer' celebrates end of chemo with family, fellow cops

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 11:46

By Stephanie Earls The Gazette

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Joshua Salmoiraghi, 4, was at Children’s Hospital Colorado for his final round of chemotherapy on Saturday and Sunday in Aurora. Salmoiraghi was diagnosed with Stage IV kidney cancer in 2017, and it returned in early 2018.

Joshua Salmoiraghi was 3 when he was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, the most common type of childhood kidney cancer. After surgery to remove a tumor and one of his kidneys last year, Joshua underwent what initially was thought to have been a successful round of chemotherapy and radiation.

But in January, a month after they were told that the youngest of their three sons was in remission, Amanda and Joseph Salmoiraghi learned that Joshua’s cancer was not only still there, but also was at stage 4. He would need more treatment, with stronger drugs.

Days before his second, six-month round of chemotherapy was set to begin at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, 4-year-old Joshua was sworn in as an honorary officer at a special mid-April ceremony at the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Some of the officers who attended that event were on hand Sunday for another special gathering honoring Joshua, who celebrated his final chemotherapy session amid family, friends and hospital staff with a 1 p.m. ringing of the “Warrior Bell” at Children’s Hospital.

Joshua is scheduled to undergo a course of radiation treatment in the coming weeks, after which the family will learn whether the cancer is in remission.

“We’re hoping it never comes back. Never, ever, ever,” said Joseph Salmoiraghi.

Update on Officer Joshua. Great news! Joshua completed his last round of chemo for liver cancer and got to ring the bell Sunday afternoon at Children’s Hospital in Denver! #cancersucks #StayPositive #staystrong #thoughtsandprayers #thinkingofyou #childhoodcancerawareness pic.twitter.com/4OOm7brvtq

— Springs Police (@CSPDPIO) August 19, 2018

The Gazette has been following the Salmoiraghi family’s journey since April.

The photo essay and story chronicling their experiences will be published in December.

©2018 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

Categories: Law Enforcement

Chicago's top cop: 'We cannot be on every street corner'

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 11:41

By Hannah Leone, Madeline Buckley and Jeremy Gorner Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Even with 600 more officers on the street, nearly as many people were shot in Chicago over the weekend as earlier this month, when a spike in violence prompted the boost in deployment.

At least 58 people were shot in the city from late Friday afternoon through early Monday, and seven of them were killed.

They included two boys, 16 and 17, found shot in death in a Far South Side field days after their mothers reported them missing; three men wounded during what witnesses said was a peace picnic at the Near North Side’s Seward Park; a woman and four men hit by gunfire hours after a Sunday afternoon softball game near a South Side grade school; and seven shot Friday evening in West Englewood, including a 3-year-old boy hit in the shin.

Two weekends ago, at least 74 people were shot. On that Sunday, Aug. 5, more people were shot in a single day since at least September 2011, when the Chicago Tribune began tracking every shooting in Chicago. At least 47 were hit by gunfire, 40 of them during a seven-hour period.

The bloodshed brought demands from community leaders for action, and the city responded by sending in more than 600 extra police to neighborhoods hardest hit by the violence.

A clearly frustrated Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson acknowledged Monday that his department “can only do so much.”

“Crime isn’t just about what the police do,” he said at a news conference at police headquarters to talk about the weekend violence. “Crime is about what the criminals do.

“Let’s not forget the police aren’t the ones out there doing it. We can only do so much,” Johnson continued. “We cannot be on every street corner … every moment of the day. We just can’t. That’s an impossibility. It’s unreasonable. There’s no police department in this country that can do that.”

Someone was shot in nearly every police district this past weekend, a Tribune analysis shows.

The hardest hit were on the South Side: at least nine shot in Englewood, another nine in Grand Crossing, five in Calumet and Chicago Lawn, four in Deering.

On the West Side, five were shot in the Harrison District, which has been one of the most violent areas of the city this year, according to Tribune data.

Johnson called the violence tragic, senseless and cowardly, and said he shares the “anger and frustration that many families are having today.”

As he has repeatedly done in the past, Johnson called for tougher punishment for those charged with gun crimes.

“The truth is, and I know you all are tired of hearing me say it, but as long as we fail to create repercussions for carrying and using illegal guns, or more importantly, hold repeat violent offenders accountable for their actions, we’re simply going to continue to have these discussions on Monday mornings,” Johnson said.

©2018 Chicago Tribune

Categories: Law Enforcement

Philly police fatally shoot man, 3 officers injured

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 11:28

By Robert Moran Philly.com

PHILADELPHIA — Police fatally shot a man who allegedly struck an undercover officer with a car Monday afternoon in the city’s Tacony section, police said.

The suspect, who was not identified, hit the officer with a black Toyota Camry shortly after 4 p.m. in the 7100 block of Hegerman Street, near Princeton Avenue, said Capt. Sekou Kinebrew, a police spokesperson.

Another officer who was not injured during the confrontation fired three shots into the Camry, killing the suspect, said Kinebrew, who briefed reporters a block from the scene.

The officer who was hit by the car suffered an injury to his right knee. Two other officers also were injured at the scene, but how they were hurt was unclear, Kinebrew said. All three officers were in stable condition at a local hospital.

Undercover officers with the Northeast Narcotics Field Unit had been preparing to serve a search warrant at a house in the 7100 block of Cottage Street when they saw the subject of their investigation driving the Camry, Kinebrew said.

The officers followed the Camry in their own vehicle for several blocks until it stopped on Hegerman.

The plainclothes officers exited their vehicle to approach the suspect when the Camry started moving and struck one of the officers, Kinebrew said.

The officer who fired the shots is 53 years old and has been on the force for 10 years, Kinebrew said.

Medics pronounced the suspect dead at 4:18 p.m.

Kinebrew said police knew the suspect from the investigation but were still trying to verify his identity.

Rita Grace, 31, said she was home with her husband, Jim Strahan, 36, when they heard the gunfire.

“Three pops. Three loud ‘pop, pop, pop,’ ” Grace said.

She went outside and saw the suspect slumped over the steering wheel of the car.

“It was pretty scary,” she said.

The couple said the neighborhood has a problem with drugs and prostitution, particularly coming from nearby Torresdale Avenue.

“I just want to move out of here so bad,” Grace said.

©2018 Philly.com

Categories: Law Enforcement

Family of teen who shot self during pursuit disputes suicide ruling

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 10:55

By Matthew Walberg Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — More than 120 people gathered to protest the death of 15-year-old Steven Rosenthal, who police say fatally shot himself on the back stairwell of his West Side home after he was briefly chased by officers who allegedly saw him holding a handgun.

Shouting “No justice, no peace,” or “Let us see Steve,” the crowd gathered Sunday at Johnson School of Excellence at 1420 S. Albany Ave. and marched to Mount Sinai Hospital a few blocks away, shutting down both lanes of Ogden Avenue at times.

A brief altercation ensued outside the hospital’s emergency room when a large group chanting “Let us see Steve” tried to force their way into the building and scuffled briefly with security officers blocking the doorway. A few people in the crowd wondered why the protesters went to the hospital rather than the Cook County medical examiner’s office, where the teen’s body was taken for an autopsy.

The protest later moved west down Ogden and continued along 16th Street as Chicago police officers in squad cars closed down streets to allow the marchers to pass unhindered by traffic.

Rosenthal died Friday evening at his home in the 1500 block of South Keeler Avenue in the Lawndale neighborhood, and the medical examiner’s office ruled his death a suicide from a gunshot wound to the head.

Police said the teen fled when officers tried to question him after spotting him with a weapon just before 7 p.m. Friday. A short time afterward, Rosenthal shot himself in the head, police said.

But Rosenthal’s family vehemently denies the teen would have ever shot himself and laid the blame on the officers, who they said they believe shot him based on what individuals who claim to have witnessed the incident have said.

“Steven was on the stairwell of his grandmother’s house on the West Side of Chicago when police officers stormed up the stairwell chasing,” the family’s attorney, Andrew Stroth, said at a news conference prior to the march Sunday. “Within moments, these officers, without cause or provocation, shot and killed 15-year old Steven. … Based on several eyewitness accounts, these officers ended the hopes and the dreams of a talented young man with a bright future.”

Rosenthal’s aunt, the teen’s legal guardian, sobbed as she made a public plea to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to order the release of any body camera recordings of the shooting.

“My 15-year old nephew Steven was shot and killed by the Chicago Police Department,” Terinica Thomas-Level, 28, said, weeping and shaking visibly as she stood before the news media. “I need the attention of Mayor Emanuel. I need to see evidence. Body cams. They need to release the video. My nephew would never commit suicide ever. … If he (Emanuel) even had the smallest compassion for our family, he’d get those videotapes released.”

On Sunday, police spokesman Michael Carroll said that the shooting remains under investigation and that the department “has not come to a point where the decision has been made to release the body cam video.”

Carroll said he was not aware of whether any formal complaint had been lodged by the family alleging police misconduct in the death of Rosenthal.

Stroth said that he and the family are demanding a “full, independent and transparent” investigation into Rosenthal’s death. So far, the family has not been able to view his remains, he said.

“The medical examiner has not released Steven’s body,” Stroth said at the news conference. “The family is demanding to see the body, the family is demanding to see the evidence, the family is demanding to see the supposed, alleged weapon that was on the scene. The family deserves justice, and that’s what the family is fighting for.”

©2018 Chicago Tribune

Categories: Law Enforcement

Agents with expired vests vented, prepared for 'misfortune'

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 10:41

By Julie Carr Smyth Associated Press COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents and supervisors raised repeated concerns about expired body armor for more than a year before a union grievance was filed this May, public records show.

Emails released by Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine's office shed new light on behind-the-scenes anxiety surrounding more than 50 bulletproof vests that had passed the five-year expiration date set by the National Institute of Justice.

"I WILL NOT ALLOW MY FOLKS TO GO THROUGH A SINGLE DOOR!!!," a BCI supervisor declared in one of the emails obtained by The Associated Press.

All vests are now on order, said DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney, following a report on the grievance by The Associated Press.

As he gathered statistics on the number of expired vests, one employee emailed he was "afraid to ask" how old one officer's vest was.

Another employee said the vest situation could "seriously limit personnel that are able to participate in search warrants and other law enforcement functions."

One law enforcement agent described a practice he'd started that he urged colleagues to follow: submitting a monthly photograph of his vest to management.

"This will create an e-mail paper trail that can be recovered by your spouse in case of any misfortune! (May the good Lord forbid this!)," he wrote.

As agents' concerns burgeoned, DeWine was scheduled to be fitted for a vest of his own. Tierney said the attorney general did not ask for — nor did he ever receive — that body armor.

"The attorney general did not request a vest, to our knowledge," he said. "The best we can tell, this was staff members being proactive." Tierney said two staff members who scheduled DeWine's fitting are no longer with the office and couldn't be asked how the appointment came about.

Body armor has become common in law enforcement, and special agent Larry McCoy told the Ohio Labor Council in his May 3 grievance that 53 of 99 special agents, investigators and personnel transport workers were assigned Kevlar vests that had expired.

Ballistic panels woven into the vests are designed to stop bullets for five years, even with heavy wear and tear. After that, though, manufacturers no longer guarantee their effectiveness in attacks.

Tierney said 95 special agents, two evidence security transport officers and two other bureau investigators are among 115 sworn attorney general employees assigned protective vests.

DeWine's office has said fittings for the expired vests already were underway when the grievance was filed, but DeWine, a candidate for governor, has faced intense pushback over the situation in his race against Democrat Richard Cordray.

Last week, DeWine announced he would partner with the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to make available safety grant funding to help local police agencies pay for bulletproof vests.

The Fraternal Order of Police said it was grateful for the added financial help but "dismayed" that DeWine appeared to be politicizing a police safety issue.

"DeWine has had seven years to take law enforcement officers' safety seriously, and he's waited until it's politically necessary and expedient to do so," FOP President Gary Wolske said last week, on a phone call coordinated by the Cordray campaign.

"As members of the FOP, we put our lives on the line every day to keep Ohioans and their families safe and we deserve to be treated with respect, not as political props."

Tierney said DeWine has acknowledged the vest issue and is working through the union grievance process to address it.

"To our knowledge, every individual who is not on a leave right now has been fitted and their vest has been fitted and the manufacturing process has begun," he said.

Categories: Law Enforcement

1,600 attend funeral for Detroit LEO hit by speeding SUV

Tue, 08/21/2018 - 10:36

Associated Press

UTICA, Mich. — More than 1,600 people attended the funeral for a newlywed police officer who was struck and killed by a speeding SUV outside a Detroit nightclub.

A requiem Mass was held Monday for 30-year-old Fadi Shukur at St. George Chaldean Catholic Church in Utica. He died Aug. 15 from injuries he suffered 11 days earlier while helping with crowd control near the club on the city's west side.

Shukur got married June 29.

The Detroit News reports that Detroit Police Chief James Craig described Shukur as a "true American hero."

Mayor Mike Duggan said officers like Shukur are helping Detroit in its turnaround by reducing crime and making it a "great, safe city."

A 19-year-old man is charged with reckless driving causing death and second-degree murder in Shukur's death.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Fixing the Rescue Task Force

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 21:58

Author: Mike Wood

The American law enforcement, firefighter and EMS communities are nothing, if not conservative, so changes tend to happen slowly in these cultures. Against this backdrop, it's actually rather remarkable to see how quickly many public safety agencies across the United States have adopted new protocols to respond to evolving active shooter threats, and how adaptable their training, tactics, techniques and procedures have become.

One of the evolutions in active shooter* response has been the concept of the rescue task force (RTF). In this model, fire/rescue assets are teamed up with law enforcement to allow them to enter an active shooter scene earlier in the response, even before the scene is completely secured. By getting fire/rescue into the "warm zone" with police protection early, instead of waiting until the scene is declared fully secured (or "cold" as fire/rescue has traditionally done), the treatment and evacuation of critically injured victims can be accelerated, which saves lives.

It’s a good idea, yet while the RTF concept is gaining traction in some places, several recent failures demonstrate that public safety agencies still have a lot of work to do coordinating response.

Two sides of an awful coin

Consider the June 12, 2016, attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. During this incident, the Orlando Police Department made rapid entry to confront a terrorist who killed 49 people and wounded 58 more.

Despite the fact that the police pinned down the attacker in a corner of the building minutes after entry, fire-EMS personnel were prohibited from responding to the scene by their chain of command, delaying critically needed treatment for victims. Although the attacker was isolated inside, and police were ready to provide force protection for fire-EMS crews, the Orlando Fire Department leadership refused to allow their personnel to respond to the warm zone casualty collection point located outside and across the street. Fire leadership also forbade their personnel to open the doors of a fire station located several blocks away from the incident (clearly in the cold zone), after victims fled to that location, despite the presence of police officers to provide force protection at the fire station.

The reverse of this drama unfolded in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, where an attacker killed 17 people and wounded 17 more in an attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. When Coral Springs Fire Department crews responded to the incident, they encountered unexpected resistance from the Broward County Sheriff’s Department Captain who was acting as the Incident Commander. This commander denied multiple requests from a deputy fire chief to allow his trained RTF personnel into classrooms that had already been cleared and secured by police. As a result, critical care was withheld from victims while law enforcement leadership struggled to establish command and control of the incident.

The biggest problem in rescue task force response

It’s important to note that the agencies involved in each of these incidents had previously conducted RTF training and had available RTF resources in place.

In Orlando, the police department had conducted four major joint training exercises with the fire department prior to the Pulse attack and had provided RTF training to fire personnel on multiple occasions. The police department had previously provided 25 protective vests and helmets for fire department use, but they remained in storage at the fire department headquarters at the time of the Pulse attack.

In Parkland, the Coral Springs-Parkland Fire Department had already formed and trained RTF teams, each consisting of three paramedics and three to four police officers. Two of these teams were on scene and ready to go during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The problem in Orlando and Parkland was not a lack of trained RTF assets. Neither was it a lack of initiative on the part of fire-EMS personnel. In Orlando, two paramedics took a great professional risk and violated orders to remain outside the scene, making 5 trips and rescuing 13 people. In Parkland, the deputy fire chief asked six times to deploy his RTFs and was denied each time by an overwhelmed and indecisive Incident Commander.

The problem in Orlando and Parkland was not equipment, and it was not personnel; it was a lack of good leadership.

Leadership tasks during an active shooter event

The RTF concept is still relatively new, and there are numerous “tactical” or operator-level details that teams still need to work through. Issues such as team composition, training needs, necessary equipment and tactics all require attention and effort to ensure RTF readiness.

However, the Orlando and Parkland examples show us that the most critical deficiency in public safety RTF preparations lies in the area of leadership, and specifically, command and control. In order to fix these weaknesses, law enforcement and fire leaders need to take action in several key areas:

1. Establish doctrine

The first task for police, fire and EMS leaders is to agree on a basic RTF doctrine. The doctrine will establish the fundamental principles and beliefs that will guide RTF operations for the respective agencies. It will define necessary terms (i.e., hot, warm and cold zone), detail the circumstances in which a RTF will be employed, and provide top-level guidance on the command and control responsibilities and duties of each agency.

If doctrine is clearly established and agreed upon at the command level, personnel at the tactical and operational levels will then have the necessary guidance to turn the RTF concept into reality.

For example, if the required level of security before a RTF will be inserted can be clearly defined in doctrine, then this simplifies lower-level decisions about equipment, tactics and training. If doctrine clearly establishes who will make the decision to deploy the RTF, and who will be responsible for their operational control, then this also supports RTF planning and preparations.

2. Train command staff

Once doctrine has been approved, key members of the command staff must be trained to assume incident command duties and use that doctrine to guide RTF operations.

Police, fire and EMS leaders must be capable of fulfilling their responsibilities as part of an Incident Command System, and be well-practiced in making decisions and exercising leadership during critical incidents. Potential incident commanders must understand:

Who is responsible for RTF command and control; What level of security is required to deploy a RTF into a warm zone; What conditions will preclude the deployment of a RTF.

They must be trained to effectively coordinate and work with their counterparts from other agencies and disciplines to solve the problem.

3. Train personnel

Once there is a clear doctrine and capable incident command leadership in place, police, fire and EMS leaders must organize, train and equip their personnel to conduct RTF operations. It’s vital that police and fire-EMS personnel have the opportunity to conduct realistic, joint training that will allow them to understand their roles in the RTF model, and gain confidence in their partners and their abilities to effectively operate as a combined team.

Fixing priorities

It’s ironic that many agencies that have moved toward the RTF model have placed those priorities backwards. They have focused on training and equipping their operators first but have neglected the development of standardized doctrine and the training and maintenance of leaders who are capable of managing RTF teams during critical incidents.

This is like building a house on sand, and the result is what we saw in Orlando and Parkland, where the troops were capable of getting the job done and eager to do so but were hindered by leaders and institutions that weren’t up to the task.

The RTF is a winning concept, but it cannot succeed without a commitment from police, fire and EMS leadership. Leaders must embrace the RTF and truly make it part of their agency’s culture and standard operating procedure, if it’s going to work. If they don’t, it will only guarantee more failures like those we saw in Orlando and Parkland.

*I prefer the term “rapid mass murder” coined by LE trainer Ron Borsch, which seems more accurate and comprehensive than active shooter.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Under inspection: A riot-ready checklist

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 16:07
Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

Forming and becoming a member of a “crowd control team” means that you have made a commitment to ongoing training. Team training should take place shortly before any anticipated event, and at least once a year. The latter can be an opportunity to officially have officers clean and inspect their tactical equipment.

Here’s a 10-point readiness checklist to go through before your team faces a hostile crowd.

1. Is your agency ready?

Does the agency have a plan?

Does an agency have a well-equipped and highly-trained unit to respond to such an event?

Does the unit have the equipment it needs to do its job?

Does the unit commander have the authority to order the actions needed to do the job?

Most agencies not only have no trained team, but they have no crowd control equipment either.

Some agencies are only in possession of the memory of equipment. That is someone remembers that they have it somewhere, buried away in a long-forgotten location. Are you one of those agencies?

The perfect storm of crowd control is when untrained officers are wearing equipment they have never even tried on before, much less trained with, along with an untrained commander, who are sent out to face highly-trained (yes, they do train) rioters. This is not the recipe for success.

2. Is the officer fit enough to wear the mask?

All officers required to wear a gas mask need to have a doctor declare them to be “OK” to wear a gas mask. Breathing through a mask is difficult and it should be determined in advance that wearers do not have a pre-existing cardio-respiratory conditions, or claustrophobia, which will make the wearing of a mask itself dangerous.

3. Does the mask fit the officer?

One other simple check that can be done in-house by a specially trained officer is a fit-test. During this test, an officer dons his/her mask and an identifiable smell is introduced into their environment. If the officer can detect the smell, the mask is not fitting properly. If not, the mask is fitting properly.

The fit-test should be done yearly since conditions change. Masks age, new helmets are purchased, and sometimes officers gain weight, grow beards or have longer hair. All of these circumstances can compromise the fit of a mask.

If you have just formed your team and have never done such testing, check with your local fire department. They will undoubtedly have someone in-house that can help you get started.

4. Are you special munitions ready?

Grenadiers absolutely must inspect their inventory on a yearly basis. Chemical munitions have an absolute shelf life. Munitions beyond the use-by-date should be replaced with new stock. Use old stock in training.

5. Are you equipment ready?

It is a good idea for every team to have a quartermaster, whose responsibility it is to conduct and assist with inspections of all equipment, conduct the fit testing of masks and check use-by dates on chemical munitions. There should be a yearly line-item in the budget for this grenadier to draw from to allow them to quickly purchase items and parts for equipment that need to be replaced/repaired.

The team quartermaster can conduct and standby with the “spare parts kit” as officers don and check all equipment at training. They can assist new team members with donning their protective gear. They also can replace or tighten the inevitable loose and missing screws in the helmets.

Protective gear that has broken straps should not be repaired but replaced. Flopping broken equipment can restrict or block access to your weapons under stress.

6. Are you shield ready?

Shields need to be a part of every yearly inspection, since they are often damaged in storage.

Another issue with shields can be corrected with a quick fix done in advance of an event. Determine if any shields have been set up for use by your left-handed officers. Most shields are designed to allow for changing shield-handle locations to accommodate the right-handed officer or left-handed officer. If you don’t accommodate the left-handed officer, the shield they are carrying will display police or sheriff upside down. It not only detracts from the continuity of the formation, but it also invites taunting/targeting by violent crowd members.

7. Are you baton ready?

Do all team members possess a police baton and carrier of the type your team trains with? Team members must be highly trained in the disciplined use of this valuable crowd control tool and have a carrier, or ring to retain it, when not being used. They must all be experts in the display and use of the baton.

8. Are you communications ready?

Being communications ready is a key ingredient during these personnel-intense events. Being communications ready can range from having enough radios to talk with each other to having a working long range acoustic device, as well as a trained operator to communicate with the crowd.

9. Are you transportation ready?

Transportation ready can mean having enough squads to carry your mobile field force teams. It can also mean having your mounted units and bicycle units trained to operate with your teams.

10. Are your team skills ready?

When you are certain your team members are fit enough, wearing properly fitted masks, and their equipment is in good repair, it is time to conduct their shared skills training.


Once you have done what it takes to answer “yes” to all of these questions, your team will be ready to police either passive or hostile crowds and not only be able to effectively handle both, but also look damn good doing it.

Categories: Law Enforcement

5 ways LE can prepare for a drone attack

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 14:16

By Tom Switick, P1 Contributor

The August 4 assassination attempt of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro brought the attention of the world to a problem the Department of Homeland Security and a variety of forward-looking security companies have been discussing for a while – the potential for a drone-based attack in the United States. Maduro was delivering a speech at an event celebrating the country’s national guard when two drones carrying plastic explosives exploded nearby.

While the threats from UAVs are not new, they have not yet been prevalent in the domestic US. Our military personnel have been under siege from UAV attacks for years. COTS (consumer off the shelf) drones are modified to carry and drop IEDs on our military almost daily. The DoD recently issued multiple RFPs seeking ways to counter UAV attacks overseas. They are throwing millions of dollars at the problem and still don’t have a firm solution.

Just a few minutes on the internet reveals the amount of planning and effort the “bad guys” put into executing their plans. But what are we doing in the continental United States where you are responsible for providing the security and safety of your citizens? What is your counter-UAV ops plan?

Preparing to respond to a drone attack

Terror attacks have been part of the national conversation since September 11, 2001. As a member of law enforcement who served at Ground Zero, I can assure you they have been part of my daily thoughts since that time. The good news is that when it comes to drone-based terror threats, there are many ways law enforcement officers, officials and others charged with maintaining public safety can prepare for and mitigate this threat.

Here are five things you can do right now:

1. Read the regulations.

Become familiar with current FAA regulations in regard to aircraft since drones – both fixed-wing and rotor-type – are classified as aircraft. Research your local airspace restrictions in the B4UFLY app, which is available for most smart phones. This app also alerts you to any temporary restrictions in your airspace, helping you identify legal drones versus drones flying in restricted airspace.

2. Spot the difference.

Learn the difference between hobbyist and commercial drone operations, and the regulations drone pilots must comply with. Neither hobbyist or commercial drones can fly over people, beyond visual line of sight, at night or above 400 feet.

3. Take the threat seriously.

Most accredited agencies have a standard operating procedure (SOP) for everything – including when to wear your cover and when meal breaks can be taken. Why should protocol for sighting a drone be any different? Know what steps to take in order to classify the drone operation you’ve sighted as legal or illegal and what to do next if the operation isn’t in line with the rules.

4. Get UAS and counter-UAS training.

Everyone should be on the same page when it comes to operating your own drones and handling unwanted or illegal drones. Work with local officials to plan accordingly and solicit training and guidance from experts in the field of counter-UAS on how best mitigate a potential drone attack.

Currently, there are several counter-UAS technologies being tested and developed, but none are legal in the United States if they interfere with flight or operations of the drone (since drones are considered “aircraft,” it is unlawful to interfere with or disable one.) That said, when public safety is at risk, your department may be willing to accept the legal implications of disabling a drone. That decision will be made by each department and may ultimately be regulated nationally.

It is the operator rather than the drone that is the problem. Your plans should revolve around identifying and locating the operator of any drone flying in a place it shouldn’t be, and those plans should follow a use-of-force continuum as you move toward disabling or destroying a threatening drone. If you do select a C-UAS technology or combination of technologies, remember that a box is just a box. To operate the box effectively, police UAS training is key.

5. Practice like you play.

Treat counter-UAS as you do every other threat you face. Don’t just settle on your SOP and call it a day. Practice employing your SOP, adjust what didn’t work and try it again until you succeed in creating a true plan that will prepare you for the real thing. Make sure your perimeter security personnel know what to look for and what to do when they see it. Investigate, test and deploy counter-UAS technologies and use a “red” squadron of aggressor UAVs to test your officers’ skills and responses. Then correct any deficiencies and test them again.


It is essential law enforcement agencies learn what drones are capable of their limitations. There is no doubt that UAS-borne threats are real and imminent. Prepare today to defend against this threat tomorrow.

About the Author

Tom Switick is a retired NJ police lieutenant and deputy OEM coordinator. He was part of the response at Ground Zero on 9/11 and has an extensive background in fire and EMS. Tom is part owner of redUAS, LLC a company focused on providing counter-UAS training, tactics and services.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Webinar to be held on Digital NG911 Readiness Checklist

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 14:04

By PoliceOne Staff

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A State of 911 webinar on the Digital NG911 Readiness Checklist is set to be held on Sept. 18.

According to a press release, the webinar, held by the Washington State Enhanced 911 Office, will discuss how the new digital version of the resource will be easier to use. Viewers will also learn more about the intent of the tool and get a progress status for its online development.

Presenters will cover the following topics and key issues surrounding the office’s ongoing plan to develop a statewide coordination solution:

Agreements & MOUs Governance Connecting to an ESInet Funding Shared & Joint jurisdiction

Speakers featured in the webinar will include:

David Furth, Deputy Chief, Federal Communications Commission Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Mark Buchholz, Director Williamette Valley 9-1-1 Communications Division and Chair of the Joint SAFECOM/NCSWIC NG911 Working Group Gerald Jaskulski, DHS Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and Federal lead for the Joint SAFECOM/NCSWIC NG911 Working Group Adam Wasserman, Washington State Enhanced 911 Coordinator

Click here to register.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Eighth circuit rules in favor of Iowa cop in excessive force case

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 14:03

Author: Mike Callahan

On August 3, 2018, the Federal Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed a favorable ruling by a lower federal court in favor of Cedar Falls, Iowa, police officer Bob Anderson. [1]

The Incident

Anderson was on routine patrol during the early morning hours of December 25, 2013, when he noticed a vehicle parked with its motor running. He found Zachary Church sitting in the driver’s seat and detected an odor of alcohol and burnt marijuana. After frisking Church and finding no weapons, Anderson escorted him toward his patrol car.

Suddenly Church, a 268-pound male, landed a roundhouse punch to the head of Anderson, who weighed 80 pounds less than Church. He knocked Anderson to his knees and continued to pummel him. During the attack, Anderson felt a tug on his duty belt where he kept his firearm. Feeling exhausted and lightheaded, Anderson feared for his life and told Church he would shoot him if he didn’t cease. Church continued, and Anderson shot him once in the abdomen from a distance of 18 to 24 inches.

Church drew back but started forward again, prompting Anderson to shoot him twice more in rapid succession from a distance of at least 4 feet. One shot entered Church’s front left shoulder and the second entered his back, right shoulder. During the incident, Anderson did not activate his vehicle’s audio-video recording system. Church had no memory of his altercation with Anderson.

Church survived and was subsequently charged with assault on a peace officer with intent to inflict serious injury. The criminal case jury returned a verdict against Church for the lesser included crime of assault on a peace officer. Church subsequently sued Anderson in his individual and official capacity [2] for excessive force pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983. The Federal District Court Judge ruled in favor of Officer Anderson and the unanimous three judge Eighth Circuit affirmed on appeal.

Valuable findings for LE officers

The court’s analysis of this case contained several instructive and salient points:

First the court rejected a claim by Church that there should be an evidentiary presumption against an officer (e.g., that he acted with excessive force) at the pre-trial stage of a case when the officer fails to activate his audio-visual equipment. If adopted, the presumption would have forced the case (and future cases) to proceed to trial. The court stated, “We decline to adopt such a radical solution.” The court determined that Anderson’s use of force was objectively reasonable pursuant to the Supreme Court’s test in Graham v. Connor. [3] The court ruled that Church posed an immediate threat to Anderson by resisting in the manner that he did. The court explained, “Weighing approximately 268 pounds, Church was far larger than Anderson. Anderson testified that he feared that he might lose consciousness and that Church could potentially access his service weapon and kill him. Given the size difference … and the ‘tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving’ situation, it was reasonable for him to use deadly force to defend himself.” Church claimed that Anderson should have used less lethal means to bring him under control. The court in response observed, “As for the availability of less lethal force, Anderson testified that he could not reach his taser or pepper spray --- which were on the opposite side of his duty belt … due to Church’s repeated punches. But even if we assume that Anderson could have used these alternatives, an officer need not ‘pursue the most prudent course of conduct as judged by 20/20 hindsight vision.’” [4] The court also observed that Anderson did warn Church before he shot him the first time and was not required to re-warn him before firing his second and third shots. The court explained, “Anderson was not required to warn Church before each shot and was permitted to use force until the threat had ended.” The court next rejected Church’s claim that Anderson’s third shot, which hit him in the right rear shoulder, involved excessive force. The court observed that the second and third shots were fired in rapid succession and the second shot hit Church in the front. The court explained, “This would be a different case if Anderson had initiated a second round of shots after an initial round had clearly incapacitated Church … but that is not what happened.” Conclusion

This case represents a significant victory for officers operating in the jurisdiction of the Eighth Circuit. [5] It also represents persuasive authority for other federal appellate courts in other sections of the country facing similar situations. Here a lone officer was sucker punched, knocked down and brutally attacked by a much larger man. Although unarmed, the court ruled that the man presented a serious threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer and determined that the officer’s use of deadly force to save his life was objectively reasonable. The court should be applauded for its clear and common-sense opinion.


1. Church v. Anderson, Individually and in his Official Capacity as a Police Officer for the Cedar Falls Police Department, (No. 17-2077) (8th Cir. 2018).

2. Suing an officer in his official capacity is tantamount to a suit against the municipality that employs him.

3. 490 U.S. 386, 396-397 (1989).

4. Quoting, Retz v. Seaton, 741 F.3d 913, 918 (8th Cir.2014).

5. The Eighth Circuit covers the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Gunman in wheelchair fires at off-duty cop

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:59
Author: Mike Callahan

By Rocco Parascandola , Catherina Gioino And Reuven Blau New York Daily News

NEW YORK — A gunman in a wheelchair fired at an off-duty cop at a Brooklyn party early Sunday — and was wounded when the cop returned fire, police sources said.

The cop was off duty at a party on E. 43rd St. near Linden Blvd. in East Flatbush when he saw that Kwame Dottin, 30, was armed, sources said.

Dottin was paralyzed four years ago when he was shot four times at point-blank range by a jealous romantic rival at a party, according to Dottin’s family.

On Sunday, Dottin appeared to have a brief argument with the off-duty officer before Dottin fired at the cop on the street, prompting the officer to return fire about 2:40 a.m.

Dottin, struck in the left hip, was taken to Brookdale University Hospital in stable condition.

Charges against him were pending.

The cop, who is assigned to the NYPD’s Detective Bureau, was not struck but was taken to Methodist Hospital for ringing in his ears. His name was not released.

Police say Dottin’s .38-caliber revolver was recovered at the scene. They released a photo of the weapon.

Dottin’s loved ones struggled to understand what happened.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s just a replay of what happened...several years ago,” said his uncle, Pastor Raphael Dottin. “It’s only by the grace of God that he’s alive.”

He was trying to get his life back on track and was going to college and looking for jobs, his uncle added.

“He was trying to make the best of his life,” he said. ”And then he’s in the wheelchair but he doesn’t let the wheelchair restrict him, so sometimes he goes out with his friends.”

He tried to visit him in the hospital but was blocked by a police officer guarding the room.

©2018 New York Daily News

Categories: Law Enforcement

Video shows man raising gun before Minn. LEOs fire fatal shots

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:54

Author: Mike Callahan

By Chao Xiong Star Tribune

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Body camera footage released by St. Paul police Friday shows that William "Billy" Hughes answered the door to his darkened duplex and raised a handgun before officers fatally shot him earlier this month.

Police Chief Todd Axtell said he released the video amid calls for transparency in the wake of the Aug. 5 shooting, when police were called to Hughes' apartment for a report of shots fired.

"I have the duty to our community, I have the duty to protect the integrity of this investigation and I have the duty to make sure our officers are not put in harm's way due to misinformation being spread on our streets," Axtell said shortly before playing footage from officers Matthew Jones and Vincent Adams, who have since returned to duty.

Axtell released the two videos even as the case remains under investigation, and said his "greatest goal" is to establish enough infrastructure and resources at the department to release future videos within 72 hours.

The footage shows the officers walking up to the house in the 900 block of St. Anthony Avenue at 2:30 a.m. after a 911 caller told a dispatcher, "Multiple gunshots, 905 St. Anthony on the second floor."

They enter the enclosed front porch and briefly confer in the dark before knocking on the door to determine whether anyone had heard anything.

"I will kill you," a man is heard saying from the other side of the door.

"I just heard 'I will kill you,'?" one of the officers says.

Hughes, 43, opens the door and walks onto the porch with a handgun in his right hand. The officers scream at him to put his hands in the air multiple times as he stands facing them. Hughes raises the gun into the air, the muzzle pointing at the officers briefly as the gun moves in an arc and comes to a rest pointing at the ceiling. The officers fire at him several times.

Hughes falls to the floor, the gun still in his hand.

"Goddammit," one of the officers exclaims as they report shots fired.

Axtell released the videos after viewing them earlier in the day with Hughes' family. He also waited until the BCA had interviewed all key witnesses.

The chief said Hughes' sister left behind a card for each of the officers. Hughes' family was saddened and "heartbroke," he said, but also shared stories about "his kind heart."

"I want to close today by saying to the family of Mr. Hughes, I am so sorry for your loss. To the officers and their families, I am sorry that this situation chose you, and your lives now will forever be altered," Axtell said. "And to our community, I hope these videos will provide context, perspective and clarity."

Hughes' family could not be reached for comment.

Mayor Melvin Carter issued a written statement commending Axtell for "setting a new bar for transparency."

"The body camera footage of Billy Hughes' death is heartbreaking," Carter said. "I extend my sincere condolences to the Hughes family, to every grieving member of our community, and to Officers Adams and Jones, who were called last week to respond to a situation no officer would ever hope to encounter."

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, who has historically resisted releasing such videos during an active investigation, said his office is expediting the process of determining the legality of the officers' actions.

The county attorney's office is reviewing the case simultaneously as the BCA investigates, and is "receiving information from them daily," he said. Choi's office is also consulting an independent expert on use-of-force and police procedures.

"The death of William Hughes, captured on video, is difficult to watch," Choi said in a statement. "My heart goes out to Mr. Hughes' family and friends and the two police officers who were involved in this shooting."

St. Paul Police Federation President Dave Titus issued a statement that said the footage shows "professionalism and dedication to protecting innocent lives in our community."

"However, we also believe the department should not have released this video outside of the context of a complete and thorough investigation," he said. "The officers, family, and society deserve the complete story and not a piecemeal release of evidence."

Axtell and Carter both announced last week that the videos would be made public before the BCA completes its investigation. The move came after Hughes' family members, friends and supporters protested the previous night and demanded the release of footage, data from 911 calls and a third-party investigation into the shooting.

Search warrant affidavits filed earlier this week showed that the day he was killed, Hughes reportedly fell out of his "elevated bed," grew angry, fired two gunshots in the apartment and pointed the gun at his roommate's head.

Court documents also show that Hughes reportedly texted relatives this past spring that he had contemplated suicide. They explained that Hughes "had an ongoing medical condition that limited his quality of life. [Hughes'] medical condition was diagnosed as a terminal illness," the affidavits said.

Family members said Hughes was a member of the White Earth Nation, and a cousin to Philip Quinn, who was fatally shot by St. Paul police in 2015.

©2018 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Categories: Law Enforcement

Police: Man uses patrol car to commandeer school bus, gets jumped by students

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:46
Author: Mike Callahan

Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A man who allegedly stole a California Highway Patrol car, drove it onto a college campus and used it to commandeer a school bus was arrested Friday after students on the bus jumped him, authorities and witnesses said.

The 35-year-old Vallejo man was taken into custody by Sacramento police.

A CHP officer was investigating a two-car crash on Highway 50 at about 12:30 p.m. when one driver jumped into the patrol car and drove off, the agency reported.

The thief drove the cruiser to California State University, Sacramento, where he used it to pull over a bus containing 10 student government participants from San Joaquin Delta College.

The bus driver, Mary Speck, thought the man was an officer.

"He got a little aggressive and he demanded that I get out of the bus now, so he jumped in and took off with my bus," Speck told KTXL-TV.

The man drove the bus off campus and onto Avenue J, where authorities managed to pull him over.

"When he stopped one of the guys grabbed him and choked him. When he choked him, I just started hitting him, took the keys, turned it off and threw the car in park," San Joaquin Delta College student Marsha Fernando told the station.

The students fled while bystanders held the bus doors closed so the suspect couldn't escape.

The bus passengers were passing through Sacramento State on their way to a student-government retreat at Lake Tahoe, Delta College officials told KCRA-TV.

"We are relieved that there were no injuries, and we are thankful for the brave actions of our students in reportedly subduing the driver," said a college email to the station. "We are also thankful for the prompt response of law enforcement."

Categories: Law Enforcement

Teen steals AR-15 from deputy, dances with it on Instagram

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:43

Author: Mike Callahan

Associated Press

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — An Instagram video tipped off police looking for an AR-15 that had been stolen from a sheriff's deputy's unmarked car.

An arrest affidavit says a 17-year-old teen is accused of taking the weapon and tactical gear on Aug. 14. Boynton Beach police arrested him Saturday night after he was seen on an Instagram video holding the AR-15 in the air as he danced to rap music. Investigators say the social media video gave them grounds for a search warrant. The rifle was found under the teen's mattress.

The deputy told police the items, including two loaded magazine, a Taser and a ballistic helmet, were taken from his car while it was parked outside a shopping center.

The teen is charged with grand theft and burglary.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Training Day: Body armor donning for tactical response

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:23

Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

You all know the first rule of a gun fight: “Have a gun.”

The second rule of a gun fight could reasonably be: “Wear your body armor.”

If criminals would be so courteous as to make appointments for their deadly assaults, it would allow you to arrange for a safe bystander-free location, where you would have adequate assistance and superior firepower, would be wearing the proper threat-level vest, have a ballistic helmet top-side, possess the proper mindset, and even arrive at a position of advantage viewing the threat through the gun port of an armored rescue vehicle.

The problem is many potentially lethal attacks are of the sudden assault variety.

Therefore, police officers need to report to work most days overprepared for a gunfight that won’t take place just to ensure they arrive underprepared for that one shift when the gunfight does occur.

The low-threat “routine” convinces some officers to not only set aside their survival mind-set, but also to set aside their body armor. If you find yourself arriving at this level of complacency remember the North Hollywood shootout, Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, Virginia Tech, Parkland, Las Vegas and Dallas…the list goes on.

Wear your vest and train with it

Witnessing my body armor-wearing partner take a 20 gauge slug at a violent domestic and survive convinced me to dedicate my life to encouraging other cops to, “Wear your vest!”

Vests have evolved considerably since the early days of drape and strap models. Now every officer or administrative vest-purchaser must be a learn-ed student of vest(s) before the purchase.

Even though there are only two categories of vests, overt and covert, the variety of makes, models, levels of protection and capabilities can make one’s head spin. There are vests that will protect you from knife slashes, handgun rounds, rifle rounds, shotgun blasts, fragmentation and even facilitate swimming if you work on water.

Vests have become at once more comfortable, adjustable, adaptable and flexible, allowing for more coverage while being much more functional. Overt tactical vests are all of these things. However, once an officer receives a tactical vest, they need to be trained in their use to be able to knowledgeably and quickly add or reduce coverage by adding/removing/adjusting:

    The throat protector; The deltoid protectors; The nape protector; The front/back/top/side protective panels; The groin protector.

Vests can be further individualized by adjusting the cummerbund for the perfect functional fit.

As you can imagine, each change in a vest’s configuration might slow, or restrict movement a bit, but the trade-off is you get considerably more coverage. Officers must also be trained to properly clean and store both their covert and overt vests, because improper cleaning and storing of a vest can compromise its effectiveness.

A personally set-up tactical vest not only can give you additional coverage, but enhance the officer’s response capabilities because they are also designed to serve as carriers equipped with:

    Wire restraints allowing for quick communication(s) hook-up; Drop pouches for equipment like tourniquets and chem lights; Ammo carriers; Pen holders; Weapon retention restraint for securing a long gun; Agency identification area.

An officer’s preference can make the set-up vary drastically. An officer can’t decide, however, how to set up his or her vest unless they are trained in the possibilities their tactical vest offers by an experienced training officer.

One operator who had experienced gun fights in war as a soldier and in peace as a police officer preferred to set up his vest so that only flat things such as ammo magazines and handcuffs were stored in the front of his vest/carrier. He said he had learned that when bullets are flying he preferred to be as close to the ground as possible by “staying slick.” Bulky items in the front of a vest will lift a body up into the path of incoming rounds.

Vest training skills should be ongoing

Once acquired, a vest needs to become an integral part of an officer’s training.

Too many officers wear a cool logo T-shirt or polo shirt to firearms training. This is neither tactical nor practical. To train like you will fight, you should wear the vest you will be wearing to your gun fight. Specific training should be experienced to develop an officer’s skills so that during events like an active shooter response, he or she can quickly:

    Don the tactical vest. Add rifle panels quickly, strike plate facing away from the body, when appropriate if they are not yet in place. Acquire equipment from and return it to the vest without taking eyes off the threat. Set up communications. Fire both handguns and long guns from strong and support (reaction) side accurately while wearing the vest. Many tactical vests have a specially designed no-skid surface for long gun stocks to better secure in place while shooting. Secure your long gun to transition to hands on activity and transition back to firearm reacquiring it from the retention position. Run, hit the deck, climb, perform subject control and fight with the vests on.

I should mention that active shooter armor kits are now available that allow an officer, who suddenly finds themselves at an in-progress active shooter, to quickly don their vest while on the move and over whatever they are wearing.


Training and continual use of your body armor will beget continual use of your body armor. This will ensure it will embrace and protect you during your gun fight, enabling you to prevail so that you might continue to embrace and protect your family.

Categories: Law Enforcement

How technology is integrated into armored vehicles

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 12:06

Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

By James Careless, P1 Contributor

Not so long ago, police armored vehicles were all about brute force and little else.

“I remember our department’s first armored vehicle,” said Captain Ron Taig, investigative division commander at the Livonia (MI) Police Department (part of Metro Detroit), instructor at Tactical Encounters, Inc. and a 30-plus year police veteran. “It was an old Patriot military vehicle that came with a PREP (handheld) radio, and not much else.”

Today, things have changed at the Livonia PD – and definitely for the better when it comes to armored vehicles equipped with advanced technology onboard.

“We now have cutting-edge quality armored vehicles,” said Taig. “As a result, we’ve gone from having really no technology onboard to having an infrared camera for detecting and tracking body heat outside; night vision cameras for seeing in the dark; and sensors on the vehicle to test air quality for toxic substances. We have computers onboard with navigation systems; we’ve just come so far.”

If this isn’t enough, the Livonia PD’s armored vehicles can remotely control robots, sending them “to safely occupy perimeter positions where we couldn’t put operators without risking harm to officers,” said Taig. “These machines range from small reconnaissance robots to our larger ICOR-type robots for delivering chemical agents and going into unsecured areas where previously we could only send human operators.”

That’s not all: “Our armored vehicles can connect to real-time footage from overhead drones to get layouts and observations of things that we could never see before,” said Taig. “This gives us tremendous situational awareness of what is happening outside, even though we are inside an armored vehicle.”

The vehicles also serve as mobile “protective walls” for advancing officers, protecting them from hostile fire as they close in on active incident scenes.

Taken as a whole, the broad range of technologies supported by the Livonia PD’s armored vehicles allows the department to diffuse dangerous situations more effectively, with less harm to officers and the general public.

This was certainly the case earlier this year, when a hostage incident at a local bank was resolved with the robbery suspect eventually surrendering to police, and the four hostages being released unharmed.

“To accurately observe the area using our robots and drones, as viewed inside an armored vehicle, made things so much safer for everyone,” said Taig. “In this case, we were able to do our job better, ending the hostage-taking and apprehending the suspect without anyone getting hurt. To have eyes on your people when they are calling in their positions also eliminates the risk of blue-on-blue crossfire.”

Today, Taig cannot imagine dealing with serious incidents without access to one or more modern, well-equipped armored vehicles on site.

“If you have more than one armored vehicle in your fleet, the vehicles could be used to block in a vehicle that you do not want to go mobile,” he told PoliceOne. “We had a suicidal subject stopped in his vehicle in an extremely busy intersection during rush hour. We closed all traffic and were afraid a pursuit could start. So we blocked in the vehicle on both sides with our armor vehicles and sent a robot up to the vehicle to deploy chemical agent into the car. This ended with a peaceful surrender of the suspect. The vehicle was pinched in and could not flee.”

“We have also used our armored vehicles to search open air areas where we could drive and look for an armed violator while our operators were inside of the armored car,” Taig added. “Obviously, areas had to be searched on foot, but the armored vehicles allowed us to cover a bulk of the ground protected inside the mobile shield. In the past, that ground all had to be taken on foot. We have also used our vehicles to hold perimeter positions during call-outs for a wide variety of calls”

The bottom line? “Armored vehicles save lives, no doubt about it,” Taig concluded. “You need to have one or more technologically advanced armored vehicles in your police department’s fleet to deal with threats safely and effectively while keeping casualties to a minimum.”

About the Author

James Careless is a freelance writer with extensive experience covering computer technologies and law enforcement topics.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Police: Employee opens fire at Texas warehouse, killing 1

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 11:59

Associated Press

MISSOURI CITY, Texas — A female employee opened fire at a Houston-area food distribution center early Monday, killing one person and wounding another, police said.

The unidentified shooter was also killed in the attack around 2:30 a.m. at the Ben E. Keith facility in Missouri City, about 15 miles (25 kilometers) southwest of Houston.

Police Chief Mike Berezin said the woman walked outside the warehouse after the shootings and was confronted by a responding officer.

"We actually had an officer that engaged the shooter," he said. "Whether or not the shooter actually was hit by one of our officer's bullets or if it was self-inflicted, we're not totally sure at this point."

The shooter was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Authorities have not released the names of the victims and shooter, nor confirmed that the victims were also employees at the facility.

Berezin said it was too early to discuss a motive and that investigators will review the woman's social media postings for clues.

Berezin said during a brief news conference that the attack happened during the overnight shift, when fewer workers are on duty. Officers are conducting interviews with the 20 to 25 people working in the area at the time, he said.

Several workers had spoken with the shooter before the gunfire began, he said.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Fla. SWAT team arrests 2 fugitives who shot at NC cop

Mon, 08/20/2018 - 11:41

Associated Press

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. — Police say two fugitives who fired on a deputy in North Carolina are in custody after a standoff with a SWAT team in Florida.

The Tampa Bay Times reports 50-year-old Donald "Alfred" Billings and 26-year-old Alton Smoot had an AR-15, a machete and a pipe bomb inside an apartment near St. Petersburg.

Authorities say a deputy in Alleghany County, North Carolina, let them go after they opened fire during a traffic stop this month.

Scene where fugitives from N Carolina were apprehended on Treasure Island. Read more: https://t.co/YQ6EIPa6ZM pic.twitter.com/Pqlw3jlvzT

— TBTphotog (@TBTphotog) August 19, 2018

Pinellas sheriff's investigators learned that Billings had an ex-girlfriend in Treasure Island, so they began watching her home. They found Smoot first and arrested him Saturday. Billings was hiding out in the apartment. Officers eventually used tear gas and then set off flash bangs. A fire broke out and officers found Billings on the floor.

Categories: Law Enforcement