Memorial Monday

A Brother Was Killed Today

I’ve been in this job for almost 10 years. I’ve been around cops since the day I was born. I grew up hearing stories from my Dad about cops he knew who had been killed in the line of duty. Men he respected. Men he admired. Real cop’s cops. The kind of men he loved working along side. In my 32 years, I’ve never known a cop who was killed in the line of duty. Maybe that’s a blessing in itself. All the men my Dad talked about died years ago. All the cops I heard about in the news died so far from here. The cops that died near me always died in the city. I always knew it could happen here. I’m not stupid. But a part of me thought we were too lucky, too blessed to have that happen.

Today, Deputy Jacob Pickett, Boone County, Indiana, was shot while in foot pursuit of a wanted suspect. He had no chance of recovery. I’ve known Jacob for years. We went to school together. We worked together briefly. Even after he left, I responded to a call and, lo and behold, he was on scene. I tried to talk him into coming back to us. I wanted him with us, in our home county, but he was too loyal to Boone and too loyal to his K9. We shook hands that night and parted ways with a promise to grab a beer sometime. We never did.

He leaves behind a wife and two children. He left behind a broken hearted department. He leaves behind a community recently rocked by tragedy.

He also left behind a legacy. A legacy of bravery and dedication. A legacy of hard work and determination. And a physical legacy in the organs he promised to donate if this ever occurred. Somewhere today, lives were forever changed for the better because Jake was a giver. Tonight, Jake’s lungs will help someone breathe a little easier and his heart will beat in someone else’s chest, continuing his legacy of service. If only his liver could go to his brothers, who will no doubt join me in a solemn moment of reflection and an evening drinking to his memory.

In a true testament to the men and women of this profession, his coworkers will don their uniforms tomorrow, before the sun comes up. They’ll pull their vest on, buckle their duty belt, and holster their weapon. They’ll patrol the same streets where it all started today. They’ll do the same job Jake did today. And god willing, they’ll come home. Why do they do it? At some point in our lives, we’ve all realized how important the job is. If we don’t do it, if guys like Jacob don’t do it, who will? We don’t want a world without Deputy Pickett’s willing to give it all for the greater good. And we better be damn thankful.

Rest Easy, Jake. Let’s grab a beer sometime.

Memorial Monday

Deputy Floyd Tommy Settles, Marion County, IN. Memorial Monday

Deputy Floyd T Settles, a 26 year old Marion County Deputy, was killed responding to a bank robbery 46 years ago this week. This one hits a little closer to home because it’s literally, closer to home. I’ve met friends and family of his over the years and even now, the heartbreak of his loss lingers.

Deputy Settles was a Marine with two combat tours to Vietnam. He came home to his hometown and joined the Marion County Jail before transitioning to road patrol after a few years. He was a member of the SCUBA dive team.

On the morning of February 24th, at approximately 1100hrs, two men entered a bank and disarmed a private security guard. They rounded up the occupants, moved them behind the counters and began restraining them. Along the way, someone tripped a silent alarm. When the call went out, Deputy Settles responded immediately.

Upon his arrival, he was seen by the bank robbers. They took up positions of concealment and waited for him to enter. Deputy Settles bravely entered the bank alone to confront the suspects. Seeing one, he was remembered as shouting, “Drop it, you’re covered!” He was answered with a barrage of gunfire. The suspects then fled in a stolen vehicle with a hostage from inside the bank.

The second officer on scene had seen Deputy Settles enter the bank. He heard the shots and ran in only to find Settles already wounded. He called for assistance. Despite first aid rendered on scene and quick transport to a local hospital Deputy Settles succumbed to his wounds.

The suspects fled, eventually releasing the hostage by having her jump from the vehicle. Both were subsequently captured, convicted, and sentenced to life. Large letter writing campaigns to the parole boards over the years have thus far ensured no early release.

Deputy Settles was laid to rest with a 2 1/2 mile procession through the city of Indianapolis on a beautiful February day. A 10 minute radio silence was observed in honor of his life and service.

Deputy Settles left behind an ex-wife, his parents, 3 siblings, and an unborn child.

Take a moment this Monday to remember the bravery and sacrifice of Marion County Deputy Floyd Tommy Settles. A man who when he knew people were in danger chose to make entry into a dangerous situation to save lives. May his memory be a blessing.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/12042-deputy-floyd-thomas-settles

http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPS/IMPD/About/Memoriam/Pages/FloydSettles.aspx

Firefight Friday

Norco, California, 1980, Firefight Friday

NorcoWe’ve all heard about the North Hollywood shootout in 1997. Have you ever heard about the Norco, California shootout in 1980?

In Norco, California, on May 9, 1980, FIVE bank robbers attempted a robbery of a Security Pacific Bank. Heavily armed with shotguns, handguns, an AR-15, an HK-91, an HK-93, and even IEDs, 4 men made entry on the bank, while one waited outside. Before it was over, 1 Deputy and 2 robbers would be dead. Nine officers were wounded, over 30 police cars were damaged, and a police helicopter had even taken fire.

Their plan started going wrong when an employee at a competing bank observed the robbers go in. She called the police immediately. Glyn Bolasky, a Deputy with Riverside County, arrived first. The lookout alerted the men inside and they exited and immediately started firing at Bolasky. He was able to put his vehicle in reverse and withdraw. He took cover and immediately returned fire. The robbers fled the scene in their van, but did not cease firing at Bolasky. Bolasky was able to fire a shot into the vehicle and strike the driver in the back of the head. The vehicle lost control and crashed. The robbers then had to proceed on foot. With over 200 rounds fired in Bolasky’s direction, his vehicle was struck 47 times. Bolasky was also shot multiple times in the face, shoulder, forearms, and elbow.

Two officers arrived on scene and while one engaged the shooter, the other successfully evacuated Bolasky. After commandeering another vehicle, the remaining 4 robbers engaged in a shootout with officers eventually damaging 33 cars and a helicopter with their small arms and their improvised explosive devices. Managing to get a significant distance from the officers, they stopped and established an ambush point on the road. Responding officers were only armed with .38 revolvers and 12 gauge shotguns, the standard loadout for officers of the time. Prior to the attack, Riverside Deputy James Evans radioed to other officers that he sensed an impending ambush. Evans, a Green Beret Veteran of the Vietnam War, did what he could with what he had. He attempted to engage the suspects with his revolver at a distance of over 50 yards. After reloading, and exposing himself to continue firing, he was shot through the eye with a rifle and died instantly.

Not until San Bernardino Deputy DJ McCarty brought an AR-15 to the fight did the suspects disengage and flee the scene. They fled into the woods and were captured the next day. One of the remaining 4 was killed in another shootout before capture.

The remaining 3 were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

A few lessons learned from this incident still affect law enforcement today. After the ammunition limitations of the 6-shot revolver proved to be a problem, many agencies in the area began the transition to semi-automatic 9mm and .40 caliber handguns. The limitations of the shotgun brought about the issuance of Ruger Mini-14’s and AR-15/M16’s to patrol officers. Even the helicopter that received small arms fire during the incident brought about additional training for air units. In recent years, this training was even used by San Bernardino deputies to bring a pursuit to a close by providing effective fire from the air.

Does your agency issue rifles? Rifle rated armor? If not, do you supply your own? What do you think still needs to be done to prepare for incidents like this?

In an effort to better organize and provide my blog some direction, I’ll be using Fridays to detail some of law enforcement’s most significant shoot-outs. Any suggestions for lesser known incidents?

I sourced Wikipedia and a Massad Ayoob article for some of these details.

 

Memorial Monday

Officer Gail Cobb, Memorial Monday

Standing just 5 feet tall, Gail Cobb was only 24 when she was killed in the line of duty while working for the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. A single mom, she surprised everyone when she applied to be a police officer. Her father was a correctional officer and her mother was a crossing guard. Gail could only apply after minimum height standards were lowered. Although she was small, she was described as hard-working and well liked. She was one of 13 females in her 34 member academy class.

Officer Cobb was the first female police officer to be shot and killed while patrolling in the line of duty in the United States. On September 20, 1974, Cobb was just 6 months into her probationary period. Plainclothes officers had thwarted a bank robbery but the suspects had fled. Shortly after, Cobb was alerted to the location of an armed man in a garage. She courageously responded and located him inside. She ordered him to place his hands against a wall but as she reached for her radio, the suspect turned and fired his weapon. The bullet went through her wrist, destroying a wrist watch she had received from her mother, through her police radio, and then into her heart. She died at the scene. Both suspects were eventually apprehended.

Cobb was not buried in uniform. Instead she was buried in a green dress with styled hair, dolled up makeup and gold hoop earrings. Forbidden by uniform regulations, these special touches allowed her to be buried with a personal flair.

May we take a moment to remember Officer Gail Cobb, the family she left behind, and the legacy she leaves for us to carry on.

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Supporting our Veteran’s Families

I’ve spoken before in another post about the respect and admiration I have for our veterans. They do a job most of us haven’t, in places we’ll probably never see, for people they will never meet. My fiance is from a military family and she knows the pain of holiday’s away from her deployed Dad. Today, I was given the opportunity to support a local event supporting the families of those deployed. There is a huge Christmas party and presents and Blue Star families are invited to come partake. They may not have their loved ones but they have each other and the event is a way for them to know they’re not alone. Probably the coolest part of the event is when Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive in a 1960’s Bell UH-1 Iroqois “Huey” helicopter. Flown by Vietnam era pilots, the whomp whomp whomp of the rotors can be heard before the chopper can even be seen. Santa does a fly by waving from the open door. (I can’t imagine how cold he gets.)

After touchdown, several squad cars from several local agencies come around the chopper with our lights and siren blaring. We had some technical difficulties but we got it done. We couldn’t stay for the party because we had pending runs, but I hope the families had fun. So thank you to those who serve. Thank you to those deployed this time of years. Mostly, thank you to all the families left behind for all of the sacrifices you make.

Several years ago, a friend of mine who is in the army came up to me and thanked me for my service. It felt backwards. I thanked HIM for HIS job which was worlds more dangerous than mine. He explained as hard as it is leaving his wife and girls behind, he takes some comfort in knowing there are men and women back home willing to protect his family in his absence. It was very humbling. It definitely helped me view my duties from a different perspective.

Stay tuned for the next amazing opportunity this job provides!

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Police Courtesy: On Duty

Back again with Oscar Olander’s chapter on Police Courtesy.

Olander suggests there are specific main virtues for police that are all interwoven with each other. He includes “courtesy, good manners, confidence and ability.” Shorting yourself on any one undercuts the support for the others. Our behavior, because we are in such a public role, is monitored more closely than the average citizen. Therefore, we should all strive to enhance the image of the law man. Every action reflects not only on you, but on the very image that people hold for law enforcement in general. “Remember always that there area men wearing your same uniform who have walked into death to maintain the honor and good name of the service they represent.”

Show your strength in how you operate under stressful conditions. Your calm is paramount when those around you are losing their composure and become distracted and excited. Calmness breeds confidence. Olander warns against “officiousness.” I like to think of myself as being well read, but I had to look this word up. Dictionary.com gave me this definition:

Officiousness: objectionably aggressive in offering one’s unrequested and unwanted services, help, or advice; meddlesome:

How many times in our careers do we find ourselves intervening in situations that might work themselves out without our intervention but we still step in and try to help. I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to want to help, and to offer to help, but it’s worth it to consider if some of our customers even WANT our help.

“Officiousness,” Olander warns, gains us only ill will. He suggests officers cultivate an ability to meet people with tact and consideration, and to maintain poise. He goes on to affirm that the “gospel of police courtesy is built on respect.” Giving respect invites respect. Make sincere efforts to understand other points of view to better your ability to make good judgments.

Don’t speak definitively on things you are unsure of, and “When in doubt, keep still.” (While this might be recommended in speech, it might be terrible tactical advice. If you’re ever in doubt in a gun fight, move, get off the “X”.)

Don’t talk about religion, politics, or other’s personalities. (Nobody cares.)

“Learn to take constructive criticism without justifying yourself. It is a good way to learn what people think is wrong with you.” If you read my review on The Trident, by Jason Redman, you’ll know how much weight I put on that advice. Lack of interest in conversation is a breach of courtesy. Focus when you’re being spoken to.

Respond to requests for information with “a cheerful willingness and with a desire to be helpful.”

If you have to call or talk to someone while they’re busy, respect their time and be brief.

We come into contact with all sorts of people, with all sorts of weird behaviors. Olander recommends ignoring a lot of these behaviors, unless they amount to insults. (However; he doesn’t recommend, yet, what we do when insulted.

“Be strictly punctual.” I’ll admit punctuality has been a problem for me throughout my career. I was raised by late parents. I’m not sure we ever left on time. I keep a box of my Dad’s old things and one of them was the minutes from a police meeting from 15 years ago. Noted was his late arrival. Recently, I listened to an episode of the Jocko Podcast with Jocko Willink, a Navy SEAL. He talked about the disrespect that comes with tardiness. When I’m late, he says, I’m showing disrespect to everyone who had to wait for me. I’m telling them their time isn’t as important as mine. It’s something I’m striving to fix.

Olander argues you should preface a request for identification with the reason why you are requesting. Some might argue that this has changed over the years. I’ve been trained to obtain the ID prior to explaining the reason for the stop so you don’t wind up arguing over the reason before you have what you need. On a case by case basis, maybe the introduction and explanation first is more diffusing than requiring ID first.

“Never engage in long sidewalk or curbstone conversations.” There you have it folks; when you get cornered in the gas station by the guy asking incessantly if “you know if they ever caught those guys doing that stuff over yonder,” you can say Part 1, Chapter 5 of Elements of Police Science, Section B prohibits me from engaging in this.

Olander warns against leaning or having a loafing attitude while speaking with people.

He cautions against leaning through car windows, or resting a foot on a running board, during a traffic stop. Despite the terrible tactical position this puts you in, it was viewed as a mild form of trespass.

He recommends furthering your knowledge on topics you know will eventually be brought to your attention. It’s difficult to anticipate every question, but being well read and well versed in a variety of things will never be a hindrance to you.

Mind the chain of command. Failing to do so is “a manifestation of disrespect or ignorance.”

Olander phrases this next point carefully. “Policemen are obligating themselves when accepting extended accommodations or costly gifts.” I’ve heard some agencies argue that any discounts, free food, free coffee, or gifts from the public should be forbidden and that accepting any of those is paramount to corruption and bribery. Any officer who has worked the road has probably experienced an offer of coffee or food while in a restaurant. You’ve had your meal anonymously purchased. In smaller Mom and Pop shops, the proprietors are often so grateful we’ve come in they want to offer us a discount. Trying to decline is almost offensive to them. Olander used those words “extended” and “costly” for a reason. I think it’s important to determine just what the motivation behind the gift is and what the benefit is. Is a free coffee enough for you to change your enforcement behavior? Is a free coffee worth your career? Also, ask yourself why the offer is being extended. Is the clerk asking for favors when you get your coffee? The very second you detect an expectation coming with the coffee, you should decide if it’s a clerk or establishment you want to continue patronizing.

Olander calls a pleasant facial expression an asset. Smile, don’t grin. Don’t boast about or inflate your accomplishments.

Hold your fellow officers in the same esteem you hold for yourself. (I might go one step further and argue you should hold your brothers in higher esteem than you hold yourself. These men will fight and die beside you and they deserve that recognition from you. )

Maintain unshakable loyalty to your agency.

Whenever in uniform, whether on or off duty, the public presumes you to be on duty. (The same could be said about driving a take home car.)

“What the future holds for you depends on what you hold for the future. Avail yourself of every opportunity to learn more about your chosen profession.” One of the things I have been most grateful for over the years has been the ability for me to continue my training over the years. When training has been trimmed back a little, I have sought out books, training videos, and speakers who could help me improve on my own.

Don’t interrupt. (Unless you have to)

“It is possible to be pleasant and courteous without any semblance of familiarity.”

The next section is “Conduct at the Desk.” There are some key points for the desk officer that than can apply to the road officer and I’ll summarize and address a lot of those.

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Detection of Counterfeit Money, Wilson

Frank J Wilson, Chief, United States Secret Service, Treasury Department

I won’t summarize much of this chapter because of the dramatic changes in our currency. I will, however, address a few interesting points and facts.

One major complication in counterfeit detection education came from the fact we had three kinds of paper money: Silver certificates, United States Notes, and Federal Reserve Notes. Getting people to recognize and identify the differences was the main hurdle to overcome. There were also printed denominations in 11 different dollar amounts ranging from $1.00 up to $10,000 bills.

Because of Wilson’s role, his opinion may have been biased but he states, “I do not know of any type of thief lower in the scale of human equations than the counterfeit passer and manufacturer, who rob the small shopkeeper, who counts his or her profits in pennies.”

In speaking of counterfeit coin detection, he recommends “ringing” your coins on a hard surface. “Genuine coins have a clear, Bell-like ring. Counterfeit coins have a dull thud.” Since 1965, your coins have thudded because they removed the silver from them. In the 1940’s making worthless coins was a crime. In 65, it’s still a crime, just not for the mints.

What methods of counterfeiting are you seeing in your area? How long has it been since you’ve seen a counterfeit coin? Like, share, comment, message. I’d love some feedback.

Chapter 5 will cover Police Courtesy. It should be a little more interesting and I think I’ll have more to contribute.

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