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Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

FBI Agent, MD State Fire Official Killed in Crash

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 19:09

An FBI agent and a state fire marshal's office official died Friday night after they were struck by a car at the scene of a crash on Interstate 270 in Montgomery County, Maryland State Police said.

State police said Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Sander Cohen, 33, called the Rockville barrack around 10 p.m. to report a single-vehicle crash in the fast lane of southbound I-270 near Gude Drive. Cohen blocked the crash scene with his personal vehicle and activated his emergency flashers, reports WBAL.

The driver of the damaged car was FBI Supervisory Special Agent Carlos Wolff, 36. Both men moved to stand in the shoulder while waiting for assistance to arrive, state police said.

State police said an oncoming car swerved to the left, apparently to avoid the stopped vehicles, and struck both men on the shoulder of the highway. Both men were thrown over the jersey wall onto the northbound side of I-270, where Cohen was struck by another car.

"They were standing there when a southbound vehicle swerved onto the shoulder and struck both of them and propelled both of their bodies over the jersey wall into the northbound lanes of I-270," Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. William Pallozzi said.

 

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Video: FL Deputy Fatally Shoots Man Who Attacks, Drags Officer

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:39

VIDEO: FL Deputy Fatally Shoots Man Who Attacks, Drags Officer

Broward County, FL, Sheriff Scott Israel said Friday he wanted to share video of an officer-involved shooting last Wednesday to be transparent and to correct what he called "misinformation" about the fatal shooting of a man who attacked deputies.

On Friday afternoon, the sheriff's office took the unusual step of releasing video from surveillance cameras, two deputies' body cameras, and 911 recordings from the open investigation to defend the actions of Deputies Sean Youngward, 48, and Steven Briggs, 49, when they met Jean Pedro Pierre, 42, Wednesday at the Sunset Hills Condominium in Lauderdale Lakes, FL.

The decision was made after a citizen's video of the incident appeared on social media, reports the Orlando Sun-Sentinel.

"There is information on social media that is just untrue and are actual lies," Israel said. He said Pierre was shot three times, not seven, and he did not die at the complex, as was rumored. "He was given CPR, our firefighters transported him to Broward Health Medical Center and he died [there] hours later," Israel said.

Youngward was the first deputy to respond at 4:50 p.m. to a report of a disturbance at the complex. "It was a violent encounter," Israel said. When Youngward's Taser did not stop Pierre, the deputy falls on his back onto the ground, and Pierre kicks him multiple times. He also grabs the deputy's foot.

The cellphone video also recorded the voices of onlookers who were standing on an upper floor of the four-story complex. Youngward had called in a Code 3, signaling he was in great danger, and as approaching sirens grew louder, the bystanders urged Pierre to let go of the deputy.

Then Briggs arrived as backup. "Mr. Pierre chose the path of non-compliance," said Israel. Then, the sheriff said, Pierre "charged at Deputy Briggs. Deputy Briggs had his firearm. He shot three times."

 

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Video: Deputies Help CA Girl's Christmas Tree Wish Come True

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 18:14

VIDEO: Deputies Help CA Girl's Christmas Tree Wish Come True

An 11-year-old Lynwood, CA, girl wrote a letter asking only for a Christmas tree for her family. She waited outside her home for four days at the beginning of December, hoping for someone who could help. Her wish was eventually answered by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies, reports KNBC.

While on patrol, deputies were flagged down by a little girl.

"She started asking us about a program that the department has where they help a needy family during the holiday," Deputy Pedro Valencia said.

Andrea Rodriguez said her father is the only one working and they didn't have a lot of money. So she wrote a letter to police asking for a Christmas tree for her family.

"The fact that she said they have never had a Christmas tree kind of humbled us a little bit," Valencia said.

The deputies picked up a seven-foot Noble fir and stuffed it in a patrol car. They also put the ornaments and lights in the trunk, and asked other deputies to help them deliver the surprise.

Andrea said the house now smells like Christmas.

 

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SC Highway Patrol Seeking to Equip Troopers With Rifles

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:53

A South Carolina law enforcement agency is seeking to purchase and arm personnel with semi-automatic rifles in the upcoming year.

Recent shootings in Las Vegas and Texas have prompted this initiative, said Col. Chris Williamson of the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The need for an upgrade in weaponry has been overlooked in past years, he said. But as state legislators are expected to review its annual budget in January, Williamson said, he hopes they consider approving more than a half-million dollars to buy more than 600 semi-automatic rifles.

"From the highway patrol standpoint, we've already decided that this is a necessity," he said. "We're just hoping that the budget request is honored."

Currently, 600 of 800 troopers are armed with shotguns. Williamson said the budget approval will allow remaining personnel to upgrade to semi-automatic rifles, which provide longer range as well as coverage of a larger area, should an active shooting situation arise.

 

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NYC Bomber Was Inspired by ISIS Christmas Attacks, Officials Say

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:45

A would-be suicide bomber detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his body in the heart of Manhattan’s busiest subway corridor, rending the early Monday commute with a blast that reverberated up through the city’s sidewalks, caused transit chaos, and terrified thousands of travelers who fled headlong through tunnels choked with smoke.

He chose the location because of its Christmas-themed posters, recalling strikes in Europe against Christmas markets, he told investigators, and set off his bomb in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and elsewhere, several law enforcement officials said.

But his makeshift weapon sputtered. The attacker himself was the only one seriously injured, reports the New York Times.

A suspect, identified by the police as Akayed Ullah, 27, an immigrant from Bangladesh who lived in Brooklyn, was in police custody. He suffered burns to his hands and abdomen, and was at Bellevue Hospital Center, according to Daniel A. Nigro, the commissioner of the New York Fire Department. Three other people had minor injuries, he said.

Ullah acted alone, Mayor Bill de Blasio said, adding that no other devices had been found.

Related: http://www.policemag.com/channel/patrol/news/2017/12/11/suicide-bomber-attacks-ny-bus-terminal-paper-says.aspx

 

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NE Sheriff No Longer Required to Live in Courthouse Apartment

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:34

The sheriff of Adams County, NE, will no longer be required to live in an apartment inside the county courthouse, reports the Associated Press.

The Hasting Tribune reports that Adams County supervisors approved a measure earlier this week getting rid of the county's longtime requirement.

Beginning with the term in January 2019, the county will no longer provide living quarters for the sheriff. The new resolution says the county board should set the sheriff's salary accordingly.

 

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IL Officer Hit at Stop Light Eligible for Disability Benefits, Court Rules

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:27

Ever since a Shiloh, IL, police officer was injured when another car hit him while sitting in his squad car, the village of Shiloh and the officer have been battling over whether he was injured in the line of duty, reports the Belleville News-Democrat.

Officer David Martin suffered cervical spine injuries in his back and neck in May 2012 while on duty when a car rear-ended the unmarked squad car he was a passenger in at a stop light, according to the appellate court decision that came down Nov. 29. Martin ended up with permanent disabilities that prevented him from returning to the field, which neither party disputes.

However, the Board of Trustees of the police pension fund of Shiloh maintained that Martin did not have a line-of-duty injury, which under the Illinois pension code is considered to be an injury suffered while on an assignment approved by the chief of police. At the time of the injury, Martin was returning from the St. Clair County courthouse where he got copies of subpoenas for an investigation and filed traffic tickets and other citations, according to the appellate court decision.

Because Martin was injured while performing his duties as a detective and had to direct his attention toward "being prepared to deal with any eventuality" from his squad car, he was injured in the line of duty, according to the appellate court.

 

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Havis Introduces Upgraded Universal Laptop and Tablet Cradle Line

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 16:51

Havis Inc., a leading designer and manufacturer of in-vehicle mobile office solutions for mobile professionals, has announced a new, upgraded line of universal cradle solutions for a wide range of tablet and laptop models. The new generation of Havis universal cradles, which includes the UT-1000 Series, the UT-2000 Series, and the UT-301 Cradles, are made to be lighter yet still ultra-rugged and allow for more mounting options.

The new Universal Cradle line is made from high-performance, injection-molded materials and some feature a durable, powder coat painted top plate. The thin, low-profile design of the cradles maximizes mobile office space and enhances visibility. The rugged construction of the Havis Universal Cradles allows for longer service life and future redeployments, according to the company.

The UT-1000 Series adjusts to fit a wide variety of 11-inch to 14-inch (approximate) laptops and convertible devices, while the UT-2000 Series adjusts to fit a wide variety of 9-inch to 11-inch (approximate) tablets. The newly patented UT-301 can handle 7-inch to 9-inch (approximate) devices, as shown in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7prS18zi5E.

The Universal Cradles also feature:

  • Smooth glide functionality for easier stationing and removing of computing device for ultimate portability.
  • Rounded corners to add safety and minimize risk in potential accidents & airbag deployment.
  • Sliding hold-down lugs allow for flexibility and access to computing device ports and inputs.
  • Unique strain-relief holes provide organized cabling and secure connectivity of peripherals.
  • Enhanced security and safety with built-in locking mechanism for peace of mind against theft and uncradling.

The current Havis Universal Line can be combined with a broad selection of Havis mount and motion accessories for the ideal mobile solution. Havis Universal options allow use in most any mobile application including road vehicles, forklifts, carts, and more.

Havis offers online configurators to identify mobile office solutions by device or vehicle, and consultations with Havis representatives to guide customers through the process of building a safe and successful mobile office solution.

For more information on Havis' Universal Line of mounting and docking solutions, visit http://www.havis.com/catalog/Universal-51175-1.html or contact your Havis representative.

 

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Fatal Shooting of PA Cop Killing Suspect Justified, DA Rules

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:20

A district attorney ruled Monday that state police acted properly a year ago when they shot and killed a man they suspected of murdering Trooper Landon Weaver in a rural area of central Pennsylvania.

Huntingdon County District Attorney David Smith issued his decision in the Dec. 31 death in Hesston of 32-year-old Jason Robison, reports the Associated Press.

"Troopers at the scene ordered Robison numerous times to drop his gun, which he refused to do," Smith wrote. "Robison moved as if to advance from the camper while still holding the pistol in his hand. After Robison began to move, members of the state police fired shots at Robison, who was struck in the head, torso, arms and legs."

Related: PA Trooper Killed Responding Alone to Domestic Call

A .32-caliber Beretta pistol was recovered beside Robison's body. It contained eight live rounds, and there were two other bullets in the pocket of his jacket.

The prosecutor deemed the killing as justified and said authorities will not release the names of troopers involved.

 

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MO Cop Killer Suspect Won't Face Death Penalty

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 15:09

St. Louis County prosecutors said Friday that they would not seek a death sentence for Trenton Forster in the shooting death of St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

A judge Friday set Forster's trial date for Feb. 4, 2019.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said in a statement that his decision came after "a complete examination and reexamination of all evidence in this case." He said he "cannot elaborate on the decision," citing ethical rules for prosecutors. He said he had met with and discussed his decision with Snyder's family.

Snyder's widow, Elizabeth Snyder, said Friday that she was outraged by McCulloch's decision.

"What message is being sent to society, to law enforcement and criminals by not seeking the death penalty? It's saying police officers' lives are cheap and unimportant and don't matter," Elizabeth Snyder said.

Related: Slain St. Louis Officer's Widow Recounts the "Worst Day In My Life"

Related: Video: Wife of Slain MO Officer Thanks Community for Support

Related: MO Officer Killed Responding to Domestic, Suspect Critically Wounded

Related: Video: Fallen MO Officer's Brother-In-Law Gives Emotional Eulogy

 

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DHS Issues Statement on Attempted Terror Attack in New York City

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 13:40

Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen spoke with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James O'Neill regarding the details of the attempted terrorist attack in New York City. Secretary Nielsen released the following statement on the Department's role in coordinating a federal response to terror-related incidents.

"The Department of Homeland Security is taking appropriate action to protect our people and our country in the wake of today's attempted terrorist attack in New York City. We will continue to assist New York authorities with the response and investigation and we urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity. More broadly, the administration continues to adopt significant security measures to keep terrorists from entering our country and from recruiting within our borders. The enemy we face is persistent and adaptive. But they should know this: Americans will not be coerced by terrorism, and we will not allow it to become the new normal. We will fight back aggressively and bring terrorists to justice."

 

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Twitco Announces Parmarlow Foam Eartip

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:40

The Parmarlow ATFM Noise Reduction Foam Eartip is one of the most comfortable sound tube tips on the market today, according to Twitco. It's designed so that the ATFM fits securely in the ear, the incredibly soft foam conforms to the ear, and it blocks out ambient sounds.

Made of super soft gray polyester and polyurethane, the ATFM is made to be easy to insert and stay in place without irritation. The tip can be used in either ear.

Sold in packages of 3 and boxes of 50, the Parmarlow ET-ATFM is available now from Twitco Distributing. You can order online at www.earphones4u.com.

 

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McCarthy Completes Construction of $26 Million Justice Center for MO City

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 11:29

McCarthy Building Companies and the City of O'Fallon, MO, recently celebrated the grand opening of the new City of O'Fallon Justice Center that includes the O'Fallon Police Department and Municipal Courts.

The new $26 million Justice Center features more than 96,000 sq. ft. of space and includes state-of-the-art technology and training spaces, an underground garage and sally port, and ample space for expansion as the City of O'Fallon grows over the next 30 years. The building was paid for by bonds from a property tax increase supported by more than 60% of O'Fallon voters.

"This building is truly a testament to how much our residents and businesses value public safety," said Mayor Bill Hennessy. "As our Police Department outgrew its previous home in City Hall, we knew we had to ask our residents to fund the construction of a new facility through a tax increase. We are so grateful for their overwhelming support of this project, and I cannot wait for our residents to see this great new facility. The O'Fallon Police Department has proven year after year to be one of the best departments in the country. Now, they have a home that also is among the nation's best."

Special features include a seven-stall indoor firing range and a firearms training simulator, a state-of-the-art training tool that supports marksmanship and judgmental training needs of law enforcement personnel and is one of the first in the area to be 300-degree surround. The project also includes 15 holding cells with separate cells for men and women, as well as two ADA accessible cells and one large group holding cell.

Lecture and presentation spaces feature a 70-seat tiered training room, a mechanical and emergency power system to serve the building, a 911 center, CSI lab space, offices, evidence storage room, and a courtroom. The building will also contain a FEMA-rated storm shelter. Specially designed duty lockers provide maximum security for storage of the specialized equipment police officers carry while providing ventilation for body armor.

"McCarthy was honored to collaborate with the City of O'Fallon on this important project," said Ryan Freeman, vice president of operations at McCarthy. "As a national leader in justice projects and a local leader in construction, we understand the challenges facing municipalities and local governments. Our construction management approach delivered significant cost savings due to proactive preconstruction and construction planning, ongoing open communication with city officials, and careful review of detailed subcontractor specs and cost estimates."

Cost savings enabled the police department to build out nearly 9,000 sq. ft. of additional space on the second floor for future expansion to meet the anticipated growth of the community. By building this additional space concurrently with the scheduled construction, the city will save time and money, as well as reduce disruption to ongoing operations when the space is customized to accommodate a future use. Cost savings also enabled the City of O'Fallon to upgrade the facility to include better finishes, ceramic tile, carpet, and vinyl wall covering, as well as additional outdoor space, a breakroom for employees, and an outdoor canine training space.

The O'Fallon Justice Center was designed by Wilson-Estes Police Architects (now known as Police Facility Design Group) and built by McCarthy Building Companies. More information is available at http://www.ofallon.mo.us/PD/the-new-o-fallon-justice-center.

 

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Fechheimer Brothers Company Celebrates 175 Years in Business

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 10:10

Fechheimer Brothers Company (Fechheimer), the parent company of the uniform brand Flying Cross and low-profile apparel and gear brand Vertx, celebrated its 175th year of service to the U.S. Military and Public Safety markets at the annual IACP Conference and Exposition. Fechheimer has been designing and manufacturing uniforms since 1842, and is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio.

"It is extremely momentous for us to be celebrating such a huge milestone in our history, as well as a huge milestone for uniform design in public safety," said Bob Getto, President and CEO of Fechheimer. "We have been celebrating with our employees all year long and were happy to extend the celebration to our customers at this year's IACP."

Fechheimer began its journey as a dry goods and wholesale clothier in Northern Kentucky. By 1865 it was awarded a government contract to manufacture uniforms for the Civil War, thus standardizing men's uniform sizing for the first time in history. Throughout its history it has been instrumental in the design and manufacture of uniforms for World War I, World War II, the U.S. Postal Service, National Parks, every branch of the U.S. Military and various military academies, as well as a number of state and local law enforcement agencies nationwide.

In 1980, Fechheimer acquired B. Lipman's Flying Cross brand and began marketing Flying Cross as its key brand. In 2009, it established the Vertx brand which was a design collaboration with an elite federal agency to manufacture the market's first truly low-profile tactical pant. Fechheimer is a Berkshire Hathaway Company and is one of the oldest running companies in the Berkshire portfolio.

During the IACP, Fechheimer shared moments in history at its Flying Cross/Vertx booth during several video presentations. In addition, it shared a commemorative lapel pin with all booth visitors featuring its specially designed 175th anniversary seal.

For more information about Fechheimer and its brands, visit www.fechheimer.com.

 

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SandCat Stormer Armored SUV Designed for the Fight Against Terror

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 08:00

As a response to the growing domestic terror and violence seen over recent years, Plasan is launching a new variant of the SandCat Stormer for police and counter-terrorism units.

It is fitted with Plasan's all-new SCAT (Safe Crowd Attenuating Technology) system to control crowds using non-lethal means, preventing civilian casualties. SCAT is a roof-mounted remote system with night and day cameras, light and sound dazzler, and smoke launchers.

The SandCat offers optimization between protection, payload, and cost, to defeat threats once only encountered in warzones, but now seen in attacks on city streets. It is the lightest tactical armored vehicle providing such a high protection level, according to the company. It is designed to serve in various mission profiles requiring a highly maneuverable and protected vehicle, such as urban law enforcement or site security.

Low cost of ownership is achieved by using a commercial Ford F550 Super Duty chassis with a powerful engine and four-wheel-drive, and staying safely within the Ford certified GVW.

The armored cabin is made to comfortably accommodate up to 10 passengers with great attention to the design and ergonomics to allow the team to fulfill their missions safely.

The Plasan SandCat Stormer is made to be the ultimate armored SUV.

For more information, visit https://www.plasan.com.

 

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CSU Names PA Police Chief Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional of the Year

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 07:42

Columbia Southern University (CSU) recently presented student Matthew Bartal, police chief for North Annville Township in Lebanon County, PA, with the award for 2017 Outstanding Law Enforcement Professional of the Year.

The award was established as part of National Crime Prevention Month and to recognize CSU law enforcement students and graduates for their commitment to safety, professionalism, and their accomplishments in the industry. News of the win was a mixed bag of surprise, humbleness, excitement and more for Bartal, who has worked in law enforcement for approximately 17 years.

"I am extremely honored to have been selected," said a jubilant Bartal. "This award tops everything right now."

Over the years, Bartal has worked for various law enforcement agencies near his beloved home county of Lebanon, PA, including the Berks County Sheriff's Department in Reading, the Laureldale Borough Police Department, and the Cleona Borough Police Department, where he still holds a position as a police officer since joining in 2007.

"My inspiration to go into law enforcement was watching my uncle who served with the Lebanon Police Department for 13 years before he moved to Florida," said Bartal. "I got to see him in action and it just seemed like that is what I wanted to do."

Bartal worked with the North Annville Township and Cleona Borough in 2013 and early 2014 to craft a unique agreement that allows agencies to share resources and improve their call coverage. He describes it as "a cross-coverage, multi-jurisdictional" pact that allows North Annville and Cleona to cover calls for each other and share five officers. The agreement has been so successful that officials decided to renew with a three-year contract for the two small agencies.

"It's rewarding to see we are making steps toward becoming a full agency to meet the needs of both communities," said Bartal, who juggles both jobs as a police chief and patrolman.

Bartal also juggles a busy family life with his wife and children, serves as a track and wrestling coach for the area high school, participates with the local Civil Air Patrol Squadron, and takes numerous law enforcement certification classes in addition to attending CSU.

A strong advocate for education, Bartal has earned his associate and bachelor's degrees in criminal justice with the online university and is currently seeking an online master's degree in criminal justice.

"All experiences with CSU faculty have been very helpful and have motivated me to continue my criminal justice education through the open lines of communication and their encouragement for my success," said Bartal.

His additional accomplishments include:

 * Community Service Award, Cleona Borough Police Department, 2011

 * Officer of the Year Award, Lebanon County Fraternal Order of Police, 2013

 * Police Officers Hall of Fame, Criminal Investigations, 2013

 * Top Cop Award, 2014

For more information about Columbia Southern University, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu.

 

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Suicide Bomber Attacks NY Bus Terminal, Paper Says

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 07:22

A suicide bomber set off a device at the Port Authority bus terminal Monday morning, law enforcement sources have told the New York Post.

The suspected bomber – who had wires attached to him – was armed with a pipe bomb and a battery pack, sources told the paper.

A suspect was taken into custody after the device partially detonated inside the passageway to the N, Q and R trains, according to sources.  He was reportedly wounded. There are no additional reports of casualties at this time.

 

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SC Officer Killed in Single-Car Accident

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 07:22

A Johnston, SC, police officer was killed Friday night in a single-vehicle accident. Corporal James Eric Chapman was responding to an emergency call at the time of the accident.

Chief Robinson writes the officer joined the Johnston Police Department in July 2015 and was promoted to the rank of Corporal.

Before the officer was with the Johnston Police Department, he was in the United States Marine Corps and was deployed to Afghanistan, WRDW reports.

 

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Police Product Test: KE Arms SLT-1 Trigger

Sat, 12/09/2017 - 23:18

KE Arms is one of those great American success stories. It's a small shop in Phoenix, AZ, that is family-owned and operated by a bunch of guys who have made a life out of knowing all about guns. They build quality guns, parts, and accessories right here in the USA.

I met up with Russell Phagan at his shop to pick up the new SLT-1 trigger for this review. Now, usually review products are just shipped to me with some paperwork and maybe a business card. Not the case with KE. Russell insisted that I come to their shop; not because he wanted to save on the shipping but because he wanted to show me why their products are truly top notch.

Not many manufacturers will let you peek behind the curtain but KE actually encouraged it, and in my opinion there is no better way to show faith in your product. After a tour of the shop, a demo of their products, and a firm handshake, I left with the company's new SLT-1 trigger.

Now the SLT-1 isn't just another drop-in AR-15 trigger. It was designed from the ground up to be a completely different animal. Like its competition, the SLT-1 is designed to fit any mil-spec receiver pocket. It is a single-stage trigger with a trigger weight of around 4.5 pounds.

Unlike its competition, the SLT-1 incorporates what KE has dubbed "sear-link technology," which basically means there is no disconnector and the trigger sear is in constant contact with the hammer. This reduces the amount of force transferred to the internal parts, which means less wear and greater service life. It also means that you can activate the safety no matter which position the hammer is in. Nothing wrong with that, right? But does it work?

Yup, sure does.

I swapped out my Noveske MK18's standard trigger with the SLT-1, paired it with KE arms' ambi-selector, and spent a little time on the range to see if it lived up to its claims.

The first thing I noticed about the SLT-1 was the light and crisp trigger break. It is what I would consider somewhere in between a combat and competition trigger; smooth and crisp but with a very positive pull and no surprises.

KE Arms SLT-1 Sear Link Technology Trigger

  • 4.5-pound single-stage trigger pull
  • Minimal take-up and overtravel
  • Ultra-crisp break
  • Drastically reduced split times
  • Simple drop-in installation
  • Patent Pending

Price: $199.95

www.kearms.com

Reset was equally crisp and overall trigger travel was very short, especially compared to standard AR-15 combat triggers. I banged through a couple of magazines making sure to do plenty of selector manipulation and the SLT-1 didn't stumble once.

The build quality of the SLT-1 is top notch and I would have no hesitation putting it into service for duty use. In fact, KE Arms is so sure of the SLT-1's quality they recommend it for use in harsh blow-back pistol caliber systems and even the SIG MPX. Not many aftermarket triggers can stand up to that kind of abuse.

For a retail price of under $200 you can take your AR-15 to the next level and support a great local American business at the same time.

A.J. George is a sergeant with the Scottsdale (AZ) Police Department assigned to the Technical Operations Unit, Special Investigations Section. He has more than a decade of law enforcement experience in patrol, field training, and traffic enforcement.

 

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What Law Enforcement Needs to Know About Criminal Snipers

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:43

The horrific events of Las Vegas have sparked discussions about the impact of a criminal sniper and how law enforcement should respond to the next one. Interestingly, the American Sniper Association has been providing information and training on this issue in classes for nearly 20 years. Looking back, everything in our training materials is still relevant. This article includes some updates reflecting the lessons re-learned in Las Vegas, but for the most part remains unchanged.

University of Texas Tower Shooting

On the morning of Aug. 1, 1966, Charles Whitman walked out onto the clock tower observation deck at the University of Texas with an arsenal and a plan. From his barricaded vantage point, he proceeded to shoot at targets of opportunity on the campus below. In less than 90 minutes he would kill 12 people and wound another 30.

As police resources responded, they immediately found themselves at a disadvantage. Not only did Whitman's position provide him a wide kill zone and ample ballistic protection, he also possessed weapons superior to the handguns and shotguns available to the police. Whitman's rampage wasn't ended until two Austin city police officers were able to get up on the observation deck and confront him face to face.

It Can't Happen Here

What happened that day in Texas should have served as a wake-up call to law enforcement agencies worldwide. This incident, however, was treated as an anomaly, a once-in-a-lifetime event which couldn't possibly happen again. Whitman's use of strategy, superior firepower, and positioning stymied police resources. Still, the law enforcement community has chosen to ignore the lessons of the past, rather than learn from them.

More than 50 years later, agencies everywhere are still reassuring themselves by saying, "It was an isolated incident. It can't happen here." A philosopher once told us, "Those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." Ever since that August afternoon in Austin, criminal snipers have been carrying out similar attacks, and in most cases, police response has not changed. The result has been casualties, both civilian and police personnel.

A Sad History

Here's a quick look at some tragic incidents of criminal snipers in America.

  • Louisiana - A criminal sniper attacks police headquarters and a downtown hotel, eventually killing nine, including five police officers, and wounding over a dozen more.
  • Indiana – A sniper shoots and kills a police officer responding to a shots-fired complaint in a trailer park.
  • Mississippi – From a sniper hide in a shopping center, a concealed shooter kills one and wounds 10 before killing himself.
  • Australia – Seven die and 19 are wounded by a sniper hiding in a landscaped median.
  • England – Part sniper, part active shooter, this individual terrorized a neighborhood for nearly six hours, killing 15.
  • Arkansas – A pair of snipers attacks their school, orchestrating an ambush to kill five, including a teacher, and wound 12 more.
  • Washington DC – A pair of snipers paralyze a portion of the country during their three-week campaign of calculated death and terror. This unprecedented pair of hit-and-run snipers kill 10 people before they are finally arrested.

Make no mistake about it. A sniper incident is not your usual call for service. If you and your agency approach it as such, the consequences will be tragic. Nor is it the rare, isolated event you may think it is.

Points to Consider

Administrators, tactical team leaders, and supervisors, as well as the people they command, should be aware of the following points regarding criminal sniper incidents.

A criminal sniper incident is different from an active-shooter incident. An active shooter moves among his victims in a systematic attack. This is the person who shows up at a school or workplace with weapons, committing his violence at close range. A criminal sniper will be shooting from a position of concealment and/or cover, removed from his potential targets by distance. These differences alone will make the much practiced active-shooter tactics less effective.

A criminal sniper incident can happen anywhere, anytime. History offers no statistical protection to any certain type of jurisdiction. Sniper incidents are not limited by county, state, or city limits. Everything from huge metropolitan areas to rural stretches of highway has been victimized by this type of incident.

This means your town is a potential target for the sniper incident that will take place somewhere tomorrow. Thousands of sniping incidents have taken place since Whitman. In this age of jaded media and viewers, only those resulting in large body counts make the national news programs. As a result, most of these incidents go underreported and unknown.

Sniper Types

Criminal snipers fall into one of two broad categories: the hit-and-run sniper and the barricaded sniper. The hit-and-run sniper is the more prevalent of the two. Every call of random shots fired is a possible hit-and-run sniper. These individuals take up a position of concealment, fire a few shots, and then withdraw or move to another hide. Their targets may be buildings, streetlights, or passing cars. In some cases, they will attack people. As people or police begin to recognize his presence and respond to it, the hit-and-run sniper will retreat. His escape will allow him to attack again, at a time and place of his choosing. Mark Essex , who targeted New Orleans police officers in 1972 and 1973, is a prime example of the hit-and-run sniper. The most recent shooters in the DC area followed this pattern as well.

The other category is the barricaded Sniper. This is the one who makes the Six O'clock news. This sniper sets up his firing position, attacks his targets, and is still there when the police arrive. He has planned to continue his killing spree until you find a way to stop him. He represents the most dangerous threat police officers will ever face. The Las Vegas shooter is the latest example of this.

Responding to Snipers

Preparation is the essential element necessary for a safe and effective response. This means developing plans ahead of time for the probability of having to deal with a sniper call, and taking the time to practice them. As the bullets are flying and the bodies are falling is the wrong time to be making up a strategy. Recognize the probability. A sniper incident is going to happen. You have no control over when or where. However, it is going to happen. It is your responsibility to be ready and equipped to handle it quickly, safely, and effectively.

Potential sniper encounters should be anticipated in any of the following scenarios:

  • Riot situations and events of civil unrest. Some individuals take advantage of the chaotic circumstances surrounding riots to take pot shots at the crowds or emergency personnel on the scene. Review the after-action reports of any large civil disturbance, and you will find stories of firefighters and police officers who have come under fire from undetected snipers.
  • Dignitary and protection details. Every time your agency is tasked with providing security for a visiting dignitary, politician, celebrity, or other high-profile individual, you run the risk of someone trying to kill your protectee. Remember, two of the most famous assassinations in recent American history were perpetrated in this fashion. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy were killed by snipers. Abortion clinic doctors have recently been the targets for this type of attack as well.
  • Ambushes. Planned attacks on police officers have become an alarming trend. Many of the most recent sniper incidents have been carefully executed ambushes of police personnel. The standard tactic is to make a bogus call to have police respond to a specific location. As the unsuspecting officers arrive on scene, they are systematically attacked. A graphic demonstration of this tactic was employed several years ago in Texas, where three officers were killed, one by one, as they arrived to handle a phony domestic dispute call.
  • SWAT Calls. Special Operations teams are used to responding to a hostage situation, or a barricaded subject. The standard response in those circumstances is to contain and contact. The culprit is usually passive and defensive, and content to negotiate. On rare occasions, the culprits have turned offensive, actively attacking responders in their containment positions. At that point, standard SWAT logic goes out the window, and a different approach needs to be adopted.
  • Any large-scale public event. As we recently saw in Las Vegas, outdoor concerts and similar events are now potential targets for a criminal sniper. This represents a security nightmare. Since this scenario provides a contained, target-rich environment, I'm surprised someone hadn't taken advantage of this before.

These are not the only situations that may lead to a sniper incident. Crime is limited only by the imaginations of the people perpetrating it. Tomorrow, a new sniper may create his own initiating event.

Inside Their Heads

There is a distinctive attack profile associated with the criminal sniper. First, a sniper attack is rarely a spontaneous event. The perpetrators do not simply wake up one morning, grab a rifle, and go on a shooting rampage. On the contrary, many sniper incidents are the final product of extensive planning and practice. The culprits have been known to do site visits to choose their kill zone. They have purchased weapons and ammunition in advance. Many have done extra training specifically for their "mission." A number of them have written about their intentions in journals and letters, well in advance of the actual event.

Apart from a SWAT incident that evolves from a domestic call, there are usually no hostages involved. As a result, there are no demands from the shooter, and negotiations are pointless. His agenda is strictly offensive. Stopping to talk takes away from shooting time.

Usually, the shooter does not personally know his targets. They are faceless strangers chosen at random by where they are, or with whom they associate on the day he initiates his attack. The exception to this is the deliberately chosen assassination target.

Executing the Attack

Criminal snipers attack with a plan. In looking over the hundreds of documented sniper incidents from the last two decades, a method to their madness appears.

The sniper will choose a kill zone. As pointed out earlier, many snipers pick out locations familiar to them, or they have taken the time to scout out a perspective kill zone. Charles Whitman was familiar with the campus of his university. He knew where to position himself to best take advantage of his target-rich environment. Others since have followed suit.

The sniper will use some method to draw targets into his kill zone. In Jonesboro, AR, the snipers pulled a fire alarm to bring their targets out to the playground. Others have set fires or made false 911 calls. One favored tactic has been around for a hundred years. Snipers have been known to wound one person, and then lie in wait to attack anyone attempting to rescue or render aid to them.

At some point in time, the sniper decides to stay and continue to kill, or withdraw undetected. Sometimes this decision is made on the spot. Usually, though, the sniper knew when he left home whether he was planning to come back.

The Sniper's Advantage

At the beginning, the sniper has the upper hand. He is initiating the attack at a time and place of his choosing. He has scouted the area and knows the approaches and escape routes. He is familiar with your expected response practices and is anticipating your every move. (Anyone doubting this has only to read some of the interviews granted by surviving snipers after their surrender. They knew what they were doing, and what they expected the police to do. They could predict and counter most police tactics as they were employed.) He is operating from a position of concealment and cover. He sees responding police units long before they can see him. He is often equipped with weapons that give him ballistic superiority to anything the police may have in their holsters. The police will just be more targets of opportunity.

One of the frightening differences in Las Vegas was the use of weapons modified for high-volume fire. Since he was firing into a large crowd, slow-fire accuracy wasn't necessary. The shooter achieved his hideous level of carnage by being able to fire hundreds of rounds into a confined space in a short timeframe.

There is a tendency to underestimate the sniper. Admittedly, barricading oneself in a building and shooting at everything that moves is an act of complete madness. It is not something a rational human being is noted for doing. But don't make the strategic gaffe of thinking this person can be dealt with like your average nut case. Crazy does not equal stupid. That person may well be better trained, better equipped, and better prepared for this encounter than any of your responding personnel. To treat him as anything less because you doubt his mental capabilities invites disaster, because it gives him yet another tactical advantage.

Your Best Response

So, with these facts in mind, what should law enforcement do to handle the next major sniper incident? They should begin with a proactive approach to the potential problem. Take the time to learn from the snipers of the past. Books and articles written about the Who's Who of sniping will reveal a wealth of valuable lessons. Today, we have the advantage of studying the cases of Charles Whitman, Jimmy Essex, James Kristian, Julian Knight, Brenda Spencer, and others like them, from the last 50 years. The attack profiles and tactics of the shooters continue to be repeated; likewise, the responses and mistakes made by law enforcement. These case studies provide a textbook for all of law enforcement to study in preparation for their confrontation. Become a student of history. Knowing your history will predict your future.

Agencies must establish policies dictating responses of all involved resources. Such policies are already in place for major accidents, natural disasters, and large events. A sniper incident, especially a barricade, requires the same level of involvement and coordination of responding resources. Police, fire, EMS, and others may all be called in during a major sniper call. If no policy is in place today, then you will be making it up on the fly tomorrow.

(One strategy now being discussed is the employment of "anti-sniper teams" as a deterrent at public venues. Take a deep breath and think this through before reacting. There are logistical and tactical issues to be overcome before this can be viewed as an option. This deserves an article of its own to do it justice.)

Plan for the worst-case scenarios, and train for them on a departmental level. It may be a major task to coordinate, and it will be costly and time-consuming. However, training is the only safe place to try out the elements of your proposed plan and make corrections. Training is the time when mistakes can be made without sacrificing lives. Without a planned, coordinated response, which has been practiced and perfected, the lives of everyone on scene will be at unnecessary risk. Approaching an active criminal sniper cold is inviting catastrophe.

Take special care to properly prepare your patrol personnel. In all sniper incidents, they will be among the first to make contact with the shooter. They will often be counted among the first casualties. They need to know the potential threat they will be facing, and how to respond to safely contain the shooter. They also need to be equipped with weaponry that will give them an equal chance in fighting the sniper. Handguns and shotguns are no match for a barricaded sniper with a scoped rifle. But upgraded equipment is useless without upgraded training to match.

Develop a structured operational sequence for locating, isolating, and neutralizing the sniper as quickly as possible. This plan will be put into motion by the first responders, but as the incident goes on, it will have to be continued by arriving SWAT personnel. Classroom instruction, provided by qualified and knowledgeable personnel, is the best starting point for this process. Practical exercises help to fine-tune the plan and reinforce the details.

A criminal sniper incident is like nothing else in police work. Safely resolving it requires planning and training. Realizing the probability of such an incident taking place in your jurisdiction, and not taking immediate action to prepare your personnel to handle it, borders on deliberate indifference. The chief of the Austin (TX) Police Department at the time, Robert Miles, gave a news conference shortly after the Texas Tower shootings. He sounded almost prophetic when he said, "This could have happened in any city in America, or in the world for that matter."

For the last 50 years, he has been right. The question you have to ask yourself and your agency is, "Are you ready for the next Charles Whitman?"

Derrick D. Bartlett is a veteran of law enforcement, with more than 20 years in SWAT. As director of Snipercraft Inc., he has provided instruction for snipers and supervisors for more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. In addition to dozens of magazine articles, he is the author of several books. Bartlett is also the president of the American Sniper Association. He can be reached at derrick@snipercraft.org.

 

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