Archive for the ‘Quora’ Category

What do police officers think of the current trend of “military-grade” equipment being issued and used by local and state police agencies…   no comments

Answer by Tim Dees:

Much depends on context. Most cops would be reluctant to go on patrol in a Lenco Bearcat tactical vehicle, as it would make for a barrier between themselves and the public. Cops find it difficult enough toi approach citizens (and vice versa) with the usual patrol uniform and vehicle. Tactical gear would make it worse. Helmets, long guns, heav6y external body armor, night-vision goggles, etc., have their place with tactical teams, but not so much for patrol work.

In a tactical scenario, whatever it takes to get the job done is acceptable. If you’re going in to an active shooter situation like the North Hollywood shootout, the more armor and guns between you and the shooters, the better. These incidents seem to be happening more frequently, and not just in large cities. Local PDs have to maintain the same level of preparedness as big city outfits. These incidents evolve rapidly, and there is seldom time to wait for a team to arrive from a distant location. In fact, current doctrine says that you go into the active shooter situation quickly, with whatever you have on hand, as delaying usually means loss of more lives. This was demonstrated most graphically in the Columbine High School massacre.

Police sidearms are properly augmented with a shotgun and a military-style rifle, both carried in a rack in the patrol car and ready for immediate deployment when needed. Active shooters frequently arm themselves with military-type rifles. It is unreasonable to ask police officers to face off with people like this while armed with a .40 caliber pistol.

Traditional police uniforms are giving way to less formal, more rugged attire for practicality. This doesn’t mean military ACUs/BDUs like infantrymen would wear, but does mean trading wool and polyester slacks and shirts for wash-and-wear low-profile cargo pants and shirts with a tucked-in shirttail. The traditional uniforms are expensive and have to be dry cleaned. The wash and wear uniforms are just more practical for someone who has to climb fences, crawl under cars, and wrestle combative drunks on a daily basis. Tailored properly and kept up, they can produce a professional appearance and not look like your burglary report is being taken by G.I. Joe.

All these things have to be balanced between being able to oppose threats and maintaining a decent relationship with the citizenry. Open communication about what the cops are doing and why they’re doing it helps accomplish the mission.

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Written by Tim Dees on June 26th, 2014

Why is the field officer probably best qualified to handle the initial phases of a criminal investigation?   no comments

Posted at 11:51 pm in Criminal Justice,Law Enforcement,Quora

Answer by Tim Dees:

Unless the law enforcement agency is flush with experienced, specialized investigators to respond to every allegation of crimes relevant to their specialty–and none I know of are–someone has to be the first responder who will assess the situation. For example, if someone reports a bad odor coming from a house, it could be caused by multiple decomposing murder victims inside, or it could mean that their sewage line has backed up. If not for the patrol officer making the initial assessment, homicide detectives would be rolling on incidents better served by a good plumber.

Well-trained patrol officers know what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do at a possible crime scene. One of those duties, and sometimes the most difficult job, is to keep spectators out of the crime scene.

When it gets out that there’s a homicide or other major crime scene, cops and news reporters flock to the location. Some people need to be there and have to be admitted, and others should be turned away. When the person who wants in is an academy classmate, the officer who does what he is supposed to do can be accused of being an unreasonable, irrational rule-follower. When it’s a senior police executive, they will often try to intimidate the officer into admitting them, and then not mentioning they were there.

Most agencies have a policy that requires anyone entering a major crime scene to be logged in and out of the scene, and for each person on that log sheet to write a supplemental report of their actions at the scene. The buddy or executive will often tell the log keeper, “Don’t put my name on there,” and hope that peer pressure or fear of retaliation will force their compliance. This sort of thing aggravates detectives to no end, as they have a highly legitimate reason for knowing who was at the scene and what they did while they were there.

I’ve heard police supervisors and executives criticize a patrol officer for requesting specific resources at an unusual incident. It’s usually something like, “He can’t ask for that! He’s only an officer!”  (as opposed to a sergeant, lieutenant, etc.) I’ve reminded a few of those that, at this moment, that “only an officer” is the world’s foremost authority on the incident at hand, and if he says he needs something, you should have sufficient confidence in his training and experience to provide it for him.

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Written by Tim Dees on June 26th, 2014

What is it like to do angel dust?   no comments

Posted at 11:49 pm in Criminal Justice,Law Enforcement,Quora

Answer by Tim Dees:

I’ve never used phencyclidine (PCP or angel dust), nor do I have a desire to. I can tell you what I have observed of people who have taken the drug.

One of the formerly legitimate uses of PCP was as a veterinary anesthetic. It makes pain all but irrelevant to the user. This lack of pain response is what leads to the myth that PCP gives people superhuman strength. PCP doesn’t make people any stronger than they are normally, but it does keep them from feeling the pain associated with overworked muscles and bones subjected to extreme stress. This is how PCP users have occasionally broken out of handcuffs. Many people could do so, but not without causing themselves extreme pain and possible wrist fractures. PCP users do not feel the pain associated with these until they have recovered from the effects of the drug.

PCP also tends to make people extraordinarily sensitive to light and sound stimuli, hallucinatory, and psychotic. They will see dragons, demons, all sorts of things that aren’t there. A PCP user might sit by himself , staring off into space, and seem very peaceful and tranquil. If he is subjected to a loud sound (such as clapping of hands or a door slamming) or a bright light, even turning the lights on in a  room, he can go off and become extremely violent. Because of the lack of a pain response, it can take several large people to restrain a PCP user, even if the user is of small to average build.

The drug drives up body temperature. Users can get unbearably hot, and may take off all their clothing and dive into any body of water–or anything that looks like water–in an attempt to cool off.

When I was undergoing training to become a drug influence recognition expert, I spent a couple of shifts working out of a Northern California police station that got lots of drug user traffic. I was going over the symptoms of PCP use when a local cop saw me and laughed. “PCP user? If you see a wet, naked guy in the station, wearing two pairs of handcuffs, that’s a PCP user.” Sure enough, within two hours, I was conducting an exam on a wet, naked guy who had been brought to us wearing two pairs of handcuffs.

I’ll underscore what Sed Chapman said: you don’t want anything to do with this stuff.

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Written by Tim Dees on June 26th, 2014