Controversial Legislation: The California Compromise

Posted on June 14, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Golden State politicians wanted to make "necessary" the standard for police to use deadly force, but they settled for "reasonable."

Video: Comedian Jon Stewart Blasts Congress Over Treatment of Sick and Dying 9/11 Heroes

Posted on June 12, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

One of the 9/11 first responders who attended the hearing was retired NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez. The cancer-stricken bomb tech told the representatives that he would be returning to New York after the hearing for his 69th round of chemotherapy. "I should not be here with you, but you made me come," he said.

Instagram Video of CA Officers Detaining Suspect Raises Claims of “Excessive Force”

Posted on June 10, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Police say the suspects argued with employees at the gas station/convenience store about returning a purchase. The incident reportedly progressed into a strong arm robbery and an assault on a cashier. Another employee was reportedly hit in the face by a trash can thrown by one of the suspects.

Video: Gunfight Between Officers and VA Beach Gunman Lasted More Than 10 Minutes

Posted on June 3, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Virginia Beach Police Chief James Cervera said the gunman opened fire on four of his officers immediately after they made contact with him on the second floor of the building and the exchange of fire between officers and the suspect was "double-digit minutes" long.

Armoring Your Rolling Office

Posted on May 30, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Officers are getting shot and killed in their cars and SUVs. Vehicle armor manufacturers and their law enforcement agency customers are hoping to make that a thing of the past.

Video: Trump Praises Courage of Fallen at Police Week Ceremony

Posted on May 15, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Trump closed out his speech, saying: "Your loved ones were the finest and the bravest. They did not run. They did not hide. They answered the call."

K2 Solutions: Bomb Dog Training in a Box

Posted on May 6, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

K2 Solutions' new Canine Scent Kit helps handlers and agencies maintain the capabilities of their bomb dogs.

Great Cops are Both Helpers and Warriors

Posted on May 6, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Progressive politicians want to turn you into social workers; someday when they need a warrior they will regret that decision.

Hybrids Ready for Patrol

Posted on April 26, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Police vehicles with hybrid gas-electric engines will save law enforcement agencies money and cut emissions. More importantly, they can do the job.

Banning Warrior-Style Training

Posted on April 25, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Progressive politicians want to turn you into social workers; someday when they need a warrior they will regret that decision.

Less-Lethal: The Guinea Pigs

Posted on April 12, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

A team of Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies tests less-lethal weapons and restraints, even letting themselves become the targets so that they can determine effectiveness.

Georgia Deputy Collapses and Dies in Training

Posted on April 5, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Deputy Sheriff II Spencer Englett, 29, suffered a "traumatic medical event" during training and collapsed, the sheriff's office said on Facebook.

Killing Urban Shield

Posted on April 2, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Last month activists and politicians in Northern California pulled the plug on America's best scenario-based SWAT training exercise.

Training Simulators: The Human Factor

Posted on March 4, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE, Uncategorized

The most important element in simulator training is a qualified and knowledgeable instructor.

Was the Stephon Clark Shooting a “Suicide by Cop?”

Posted on March 4, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

The night before the fatal officer-involved shooting, Clark reportedly started searching the Internet for "easiest ways to kill yourself." He also sent a text to his girlfriend that included a photo of 10 pills in his hand and the message: "Let's fix our family or I'm taking all of these."

Jussie Smollett Case: In the Trick Bag

Posted on February 28, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

The Jussie Smollett case put the Chicago PD in an untenable situation, and it may not be over.

First Responder Networks

Posted on February 14, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

In an emergency when the cellular systems are overwhelmed, public safety priority networks can provide you with voice communications and high-speed data transfer.

First Responder Networks

Posted on February 14, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

In an emergency when the cellular systems are overwhelmed, public safety priority networks can provide you with voice communications and high-speed data transfer.

Product Test: Hanes’ TEC-Comfortgear

Posted on February 7, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Hanes' new compression gear is designed to be warm, lightweight, and breathable.

Product Test: Hanes’ TEC-Comfortgear

Posted on February 7, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Hanes' new compression gear is designed to be warm, lightweight, and breathable.

Motorola’s Dynamic Duo for Digital Evidence

Posted on February 3, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Motorola Solutions' new Si200 body-worn camera is designed to work seamlessly with the company's digital evidence management suite for end-to-end efficiency and security.

Patrol Vehicles 2019

Posted on February 3, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

This year the Big 3 are offering new SUVs, new engines, and new features for law enforcement fleets.

The Wounded: Officers Injured On Duty

Posted on February 1, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

We need a better accounting of the number of officers who are maliciously injured on duty.

Police Protective Gear 2019

Posted on January 31, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Manufacturers are bringing to market a number of innovative armor products this year.

Tactical Value: Propper’s EdgeTec

Posted on January 31, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Propper's new EdgeTec line of tactical apparel offers great features at a budget-friendly price.

Law Enforcement Firearms 2019

Posted on January 30, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

From precision rifles to pocket pistols, gun makers will be offering a wide variety of new police tools this year.

Force Multiplier: Off-Duty Carry

Posted on January 10, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Off-duty officers who carry firearms are not just protecting themselves; they are protecting the public.

Exclusive POLICE Survey: Backup and Off-Duty Handguns

Posted on January 9, 2019 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

An overwhelming number of POLICE readers are carrying backup guns on duty, and they carry firearms and other police gear off duty.

IACP 2018: Report from the Aisles

Posted on December 25, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

A wide variety of new law enforcement products were on display at the annual IACP show.

The Tactical Technology Show

Posted on December 17, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Operation Convergent Response demonstrates the latest first responder technologies in live exercises, including active shooter attack.

Hurricane Response: Weathering the Storm

Posted on December 10, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>New Bern officers dealt with flooded and tree-blocked streets as they tried to help residents affected by the storm. Photo: New Bern (NC) PD</p>

Immediately after Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach early on the morning of Friday Sept. 14, public safety officials in the coastal cities and communities of North Carolina believed they had dodged a bullet. As the storm had approached the Southeastern seaboard it had been measured with sustained gusts of 130 mph, a Category 4 on the overused and little understood Saffir-Simpson scale. But it hit the beach as a Category 1, a dangerous storm capable of serious damage, but not the monster that they had feared.

Storm surge had flooded the beach towns and people had to be rescued. Trees were down. Power was out. But overall, the effect wasn't nearly disastrous. "That first day everybody was thinking the damage was minimal, and we felt a great sense of relief," says Michael Fanta, a lieutenant in the city of Wilmington just upriver from the beach cities where the storm came ashore.

By the time Florence blew into Wilmington, a city of around 100,000 people, she was much diminished. But then came the rain.


Florence stalled over the southern coast of North Carolina, moving no faster than a slow walk of 3 to 4 mph. Within two days she had dumped as much as 40 inches of rain on the area. That might not have been so bad, but the area is crisscrossed with rivers, tributaries, and creeks, and they were already swollen by earlier summer storms. Adding to the recipe for disaster was the fact that the ground was saturated and could not absorb more water.

The intensity of the rain and the fact that Florence just wouldn't leave caught many of the public safety officials by surprise. They had never seen anything like this, and they hope to never see it again. "We watched the storm on the map over a 12-hour shift, and it barely moved," says Fanta.

In accordance with their agency's policy, officers of the Wilmington PD were back on the street on Sept. 14 after the storm was downgraded from a hurricane. Because the policy allows for response to life-and-death calls, some of the officers had also been dispatched on priority calls in the teeth of the hurricane, including a domestic violence case that led to an arrest, but mostly they took shelter until the storm weakened.

The wind speed weakened but the effects of the storm intensified. Fanta says that for the officers of the Wilmington PD, the night that followed was much worse than when the hurricane force winds were blowing in the city. There was no power, no streetlights, tornadoes were touching down, and torrential rain fell in blackout conditions. "Officers said they couldn't see over the hoods of their vehicles," he says.

The rain came down so hard and so quickly that the Wilmington PD lost seven patrol vehicles to the rapidly rising waters. Fortunately, no officers were injured.

But conditions soon deteriorated to the point that the department's command had no choice but to take their officers off the street. "We had to withdraw police services," Fanta says.

When Wilmington officers went back out on the streets, they quickly discovered that their city had changed.

The heavy rain had flooded almost every access road into the city, including I-40 and U.S. 74-76, which connect the Wilmington area to the rest of North Carolina. The city was virtually an island. Which meant getting aid and personnel in and out was extremely difficult.

Worse, many of the city's streets were flooded or blocked by fallen trees. So officers responding to calls had to find new ways around town. "It was a maze," Fanta says. "Officers had to find ways to navigate through it, and it was very frustrating. Sometimes they had to start over again trying to get to their destinations."

New Bern

Days before Florence made landfall, the public safety officials in the city of New Bern could follow the storm track and predict that Florence was coming for North Carolina. They also knew the historic coastal city of 30,000 people was likely to get some flooding.

New Bern Chief of Police Toussaint E. Summers Jr. says there was even concern that police headquarters would flood. Accordingly, the department relocated its function to two different locations on higher ground with one on each side of the river just in case the other was disabled by the flooding. The New Bern PD also moved its emergency vehicles to an area that flood waters were not expected to reach. "The only thing we kept here at headquarters was the communications center. They are on the third floor," says Summers.

The predicted flooding did not hit police headquarters. But much of the city, which lies just upriver from Pamlico Sound and at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers, was inundated. By the end of the week, swift water rescue teams had saved 800 people in some 400 different incidents just within the New Bern city limits. The primary police role in these rescues was security. Each team went out with an armed officer in the boat, just in case of hostile action. Fortunately, no one attacked the rescuers.

New Bern and surrounding jurisdictions had one advantage that agencies in the Wilmington area did not. Because access to New Bern was not disrupted by the flooding as it was in Wilmington, officers from other agencies were able to help. Officers and firefighters came from as far away as New Jersey and New York to assist in rescues. Officers from other jurisdictions in North Carolina came to help with police duties.

Summers explains that New Bern has mutual aid agreements with other area agencies, but they were dealing with their own hurricane-related issues and could not lend assistance. "We were very fortunate that the North Carolina Chiefs Association has a very good network," he says. The officers from other North Carolina cities helped New Bern officers patrol, provide security at shelters, enforce the curfew, and guard the barricades that protected flooded communities from looters.

Effects on Officers

In both New Bern and Wilmington and in other areas of the North Carolina and South Carolina coast, officers worked while their own homes were damaged by the storm and subsequent flooding.

New Bern Chief Summers says about 40% of his force lives in the city, and as much as 10% suffered damage to their homes from Florence. Officers who lived outside of the city in rural areas of Craven County also suffered property damage. One officer's home outside of New Bern was destroyed along with all of his possessions, according to Summers. "It was seven or eight days before he could get home to see the damage," the chief says.

Wilmington officers were also hit hard by the storm. Several lost their homes, according to Fanta. "One officer was on duty while his house was flooding, and we had to set up a rescue for his family," he says. Wilmington SWAT was able to make that rescue with the assistance of Cajun Navy volunteers, according to Fanta.

Fanta says one of the department's priorities during the storm and subsequent flooding was to let the officers go check on their homes. "We knew it was weighing on their minds, so when at all possible we let them go do that."

What Worked

Before Florence hit, the Wilmington PD realized that fuel could be an issue. With the power out, the pumps might be disabled. Also, there might be a run on fuel by the populous. So the planners took steps to ensure that public safety personnel had fuel to respond to calls for help after the winds died down.

Fanta says the city closed its public safety fuel center days before the storm arrived. Officers were told to fuel at local commercial service stations using city fuel cards. The result was that the city's fuel supply was held in reserve for after the storm. This became critical when flooding cut off fuel resupply to the city.

Both the New Bern and Wilmington police took steps to protect their vehicles by moving them to high ground. New Bern officials say they used historic flooding records and GIS analysis to determine where to position their vehicles, and they were not damaged by flooding.

Mutual aid agreements with the state chiefs association were extremely helpful for the New Bern police. The Wilmington PD could have availed itself of the same assistance, but getting personnel, equipment, and supplies into the city was extremely difficult because of flooding on access roads and highways.

What Didn't Work

The preplanning for such a disaster was lacking in Wilmington, according to Fanta. He says he was "surprised" the department did not have a template for hurricane response. Fanta was assigned to help produce a plan as Florence was still far out at sea. He and other officers met daily to assign duties, allocate resources, and establish policies.

While Wilmington's fuel allocation measures ensured that their vehicles had gas, New Bern went through some challenges in this area. City pumps were down, according to Summers, but local gas stations were sporadically operating. Eventually, a tanker was brought into the city and stood by to fuel public safety vehicles.

The types of patrol vehicles available to Wilmington officers proved to be a great issue during the flooding. All of the department's squad cars were traditional sedans, and Fanta says their lack of clearance led to some of them being destroyed by water. He hopes the city will be able to soon acquire some patrol SUVs or trucks to respond to future hurricanes. But that may not be possible, as the city budget is now strained by storm recovery.

Wilmington also experienced a communications issue in the aftermath of Florence. After the 911 center lost power, a generator was used to get the center back up and running. Then the generator caught fire and comms went down again. Fanta says the response plan anticipated this possibility and had set up access to some state run VIPER (Voice Interoperability Plan for Emergency Responders) channels. But that didn't work out as planned, and soon all of the city's public safety agencies were operating on one VIPER channel. Fanta says that could have led to a major disruption of communications, but the same catastrophic rain and flooding that had taken out power to the 911 center also made the single VIPER channel a non-issue. "We had made the decision that we couldn't deploy. So there wasn't that much radio traffic," Fanta explains.


Both the Wilmington and New Bern police departments said their operations were back to normal when they were contacted last month. Fanta says the Wilimington PD is still affected by the loss of some of its vehicles and by damage at some of its facilities but those facilities are operational.

The cities these departments serve, however, are still recovering and will be for months to come as the citizens try to rebuild their lives and their property. "We had as many as 4,000 homes damaged by the storm," Summers says. Some of those homes belonged to officers who responded to help others while suffering their own losses.

Hurricane Florence Lessons Learned

The experiences of the Wilmington, NC, and New Bern, NC, police departments during and immediately after Hurricane Florence offer a number of lessons for agencies facing impending hurricane impact.

  • All hurricanes regardless of category strength can lead to devastating flooding.
  • It's important to have mutual aid agreements with agencies outside your immediate region. In a major disaster all of your neighboring agencies could be too busy to help you.
  • A major storm can cut off your resupply of food, water, fuel, and other necessities. If you can, conserve resources before the disaster strikes.
  • Have a detailed plan for what to do in case of disaster in your region. The plan should emphasize what to do in case of your most common disaster.
  • Protect your vehicle fleet from flooding. It's also a good idea to have a variety of vehicle types in your fleet.
  • Know what the federal bureaucracy will require of you before the disaster strikes. New Bern Chief of Police Toussaint E. Summers Jr. says it's important to have access to the right forms and to know how to fill them out and submit them when working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Expect the unexpected. No matter how well you think you've planned, things can and will go wrong.


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Hurricane Response: Weathering the Storm

Posted on December 10, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

By the time Florence blew into Wilmington, a city of around 100,000 people, she was much diminished. But then came the rain.

Police Supporters

Posted on December 3, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)</p>

We are constantly told in this country that the public does not support the police. You may even feel like the people you serve don't have your back. But I believe that the vast majority of people do. And I have anecdotal evidence to back up that belief.

Here at POLICE we have a keyword tag on our website that reads "police supporters." There are a lot of news stories that we have posted to the site about police supporters. So let's take a look at some of these stories and people from the past year.

Police supporters can be found in professional sports.

Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a grant program for public safety K-9 units. Since 2007 he has donated nearly $2 million to K-9 units. He made multiple donations this year.

While we're in Pittsburgh, it's a good time to mention hockey's Penguins and their fans. In late October the team invited two of the law enforcement heroes who were wounded in the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting—Anthony Burke and Mike Smidga—to perform the ceremonial puck drop before the game. The crowd gave the officers a standing ovation.

Police supporters can also be found in Hollywood.

In October actor and Texas native Matthew McConaughey teamed up with Wild Turkey to serve Houston officers and firefighters bourbon and turkey. McConaughey said the gesture was to thank first responders for their lifesaving work during last year's Hurricane Harvey.

During Police Week in May, Erik Estrada—who played Ponch on the TV Show "CHiPs"—led a motorcycle ride through Virginia and Tennessee to raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is one of the busiest actors in Hollywood. But in January, after learning that an officer who was wounded in a Colorado shooting was a fan, he sent a message via Twitter. The Rock told Deputy Jeff Pelle of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office: "I've been tracking your story…. I heard about the scenario you went through and I'm sorry about your loss. I heard you lost a brother named Parrish." Pelle was wounded in a New Year's Eve shooting that killed Deputy Zackari Parrish.

We can't end our discussion of celebrity police supporters without bringing up Donald Trump. The president of the United States is known to call the loved ones of fallen officers, insists that the White House be bathed in blue light during Police Week, and is constantly expressing his admiration for officers.

Businesses also showed their support for law enforcement professionals this year.

Scientific Games, a technology-based gaming company, gave $100,000 to Bay County, FL, law enforcement officers who suffered losses in Hurricane Michael.

In September, 850 Olive Garden restaurants delivered meals to public safety professionals nationwide.

Darren Domingue, owner of Lafayette Roofing & General Contractors, constructed for free new roofs on the homes of two local law enforcement officers.

And in August, a Southern California businessman set up an appreciation festival for area law enforcement. Allen Alevy, the 80-year-old founder of Westland Industries and Westland Real Estate, invited more than 5,000 officers and their family members to attend the event in Huntington Beach. In addition to the appreciation festival, Alevy also supports spouses and children of fallen area officers by holding events and providing them with gifts.

Of course you don't have to be rich or famous to show support for officers. This year POLICE has posted numerous news stories on our site about civilians coming to the aid of officers under attack, sometimes at great peril to themselves. For example, last month citizens rendered first aid to a Florida officer who was shot by a rifle-wielding suspect.

Finally, kids may be the greatest of all law enforcement supporters. For years now, a young boy named Tyler Carach has been touring the country to give officers donuts. Now an 8-year-old girl from Louisiana named Rosalyn Baldwin wants to give officers from all 50 states a hug.

I know that the holiday season is a tough time to be a cop. You may have to work when others are enjoying the festivities. You may see the worst of humanity when most people are wishing others glad tidings and peace on Earth. You may feel unloved and unappreciated. Just remember that most Americans support you and respect you. And somewhere out there a little girl wants to give you a hug.


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Training the Bomb Hunters

Posted on November 16, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>K2 Solutions is one of the largest providers of explosive detection dogs in the United States. (Photo: K2 Solutions)</p><p>&nbsp;</p>

Last May a suicide bomber detonated a bomb vest full of shrapnel inside the foyer of England's Manchester Arena while a crowd was leaving an Ariana Grande concert. The carnage was extreme; 23 concertgoers (and the bomber) were killed, and 800 concertgoers were injured, 112 of them severely enough to be hospitalized.

The Manchester Arena attack led to an increase in security at concerts and sports venues around the United States and throughout the United Kingdom. It also led to demand for a new type of explosives detection dog, one that can trail a person carrying or wearing explosives in a crowd.

"The Grande concert bombing taught everybody we need to do something for the crowds. We can search a venue all day long, but it's that 65,000 people bringing in coolers and backpacks and stuff into a stadium that is the unknown," says retired law enforcement K-9 handler Karl Smith.

According to Smith, searches by explosive detection dogs have until recently covered primarily static objects. "We checked trash cans, cars, desks, closets, and things like that," he says. "Now we have developed a dog that's capable of finding the odor of explosives and trailing that odor on a moving object, including people."

That may not sound like a complicated capability for a K-9, but experts say it's one thing for a dog to find planted explosives in a building, which are giving off steady olfactory clues to their presence, and another for that same dog to follow the scent of the explosives through a crowd of moving people. "The dogs were not trained to do that," says Smith, program manager for K2 Solutions. "They did not have a recollection of what they were supposed to do if they found that thing that was here and then it's gone. They needed to know how to put that two and two together of it's here, it's gone, and now I need to find it."

<p>Person-Borne Explosive Detection Dogs can find planted explosives or follow a bomber walking through a crowd. (Photo: K2 Solutions)</p>

K2 Solutions is one of the nation's largest suppliers of explosives detection dogs. The North Carolina-based company has trademarked its Person-Borne Explosives Detection Dogs. The term means the dog can detect explosives being carried on the body of a moving person. The company also provides dogs for patrol, corrections, narcotics, and security operations.

Early Training

Smith says all of K2's explosive detection and multipurpose dogs are provided by select breeders or bred at the company's Jackson Springs, NC, facility. "We start training the puppies at nine, 10, or 11 weeks old, and build their capabilities from the ground up," he says.

Much of the training in this early phase focuses on socialization—getting the dogs to "play nice" with other animals and to bond with humans—and introduction to a variety of environments. Part of that environmental training involves exposing the dogs to a variety of surfaces that they will need to walk on once they go operational as law enforcement and security K-9s. For example, one of the training buildings at K2 includes a room where puppies get used to walking on linoleum, tile, wood, carpet, cement, and a variety of rugs. The young puppies are also trained to navigate stairs, which can be a challenge with some dogs.

Throughout the training process at K2, the health of the dogs is monitored. As they are being raised to maturity and trained, K2's veterinary staff, including the company's full-time vet, makes sure their medical needs are met.

Once the dogs grow out of their early puppy phase, they are evaluated for their prey drive. Smith explains that for the dog to be an effective law enforcement K-9 it has to learn to hunt. "Their job will be all about hunting, whether it's explosives, narcotics, or cellphones." Some of the dogs trained at K2 will also be hunting people, as multipurpose patrol K-9s. K2 trains and delivers a wide variety of dogs for its clients, including Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds, hybrid Mal-shepherds, golden retrievers, and Labrador retrievers.

Floppy Ears

But much of the company's K-9 work now involves Labs. Labrador retrievers are in demand for explosive detection dogs, Smith says. The reason Labs are well suited to explosion detection is they have a strong desire to hunt, they bond well with their handlers, and they offer an attribute that no pointy-eared dog can—people don't freak out around them.

<p>Labrador retrievers are excellent for bomb detection because they have a strong prey drive and they don&#39;t scare most people. (Photo: K2 Solutions)</p>

"Labs are a really good choice for this job, and they are good at it," says Smith. "People see a shepherd or a Malinois, and the first thing they think is that dog is going to bite me; even some cops think that. But you bring out a Lab and people think, 'Aww, look at the puppy.' Most people don't try to avoid a Lab because they don't see it as a threat. They see that nice fluffy dog with the floppy ears and they walk right by it, giving the dog a closer odor source and a better chance of detecting the odors you are trying to detect."

According to Smith another benefit of working Labs for explosive detection in places like airports, concert halls, and sporting venues is they are great ambassadors for the agencies that use them. "It's pretty good PR," says Smith, who handled explosive detection Labs when he worked on the Charleston bomb squad. "People are a little more open to the officer. People will tell the officer, 'That's a good looking dog you have there.' There's a lot more stress with a shepherd or a Mal. People can be hostile toward those dogs."

The first phase of the specialized training for the Person-Borne Explosive Detection Dogs produced by K2 is static explosive detection. Some of the dogs excel in their explosive detection capabilities and prey drive, and they move on to become Person-Borne Explosive Detection Dogs. Others prove to be more suited to static explosive detection, which is still in high demand. "It takes extraordinary drive for a dog to follow an odor that is moving. The dog that has that is a special dog," Smith says.

Building a Team

Person-borne explosive detection is not just about the dog. It's about the dog and the handler working as a team. The final stage of K2's program is eight weeks of training for the handler.

Smith says the first step of this training is matching the dog with the handler. K2's retired law enforcement and military experts study the backgrounds and experience of the handlers before assigning them dogs for the training. "That dog will be with the handler more than the handler is with his or her spouse, so it's important that they are a fit. We need to know if the handler is laid back or the kind of officer who runs three miles every day before breakfast," Smith says.

Handler experience is critical in that equation, even for the Labs used as Person-Borne Explosive Detection Dogs. Smith says it's a myth that all Labs are calm dogs and not hyper like some of their pointy-eared cousins can be. "I have seen some that are so energetic that they are Mals in Labrador bodies. They're like golf balls teed off in a tile bathroom, just go, go, go. You can't give a dog like that to a green handler unless they have a strong background working with dogs outside of their law enforcement assignments."

Not only are the dogs and handlers paired during the eight-week final training program, it's during this period that the dog's skills are honed. Smith says it's important for the handler to finalize the dog's training. It builds a strong bond between the dog and the handler, he explains. "The dog needs to trust the handler for this to work. It's truly a team effort. The handler has to lead the dog to the right location for it to find the explosive."

One of the things handlers learn in this final training is how to read what the dog is thinking. "The handler needs to learn to recognize a change of behavior (COB). A COB is the dog indicating that it is on something that it is trained to detect. The behavior change could be something as minute as an increased wag of the tail or you may notice the dog inhaling differently. You can actually hear their nostrils going thump, thump, thump. That's their way of closing off their nostrils to keep from dispersing the air in front of them."

Smith says that even experienced handlers are stunned by the detection skills of Person-Borne Explosive Detection Dogs. Often they tell the K2 trainer, "I didn't know a dog could do that," he says. "The capabilities of these dogs far outweighs what we can even determine that they can detect. We don't have any instruments that can detect what a dog can detect. Yet we can prove that this works."

K2 Solutions

Located in the Sandhills region of North Carolina, K2 Solutions ( is one of the nation's largest providers of K-9s for law enforcement and security. The company's headquarters are in Southern Pines and its training facility is in a rural area about 15 minutes away.

<p>The K2 Solutions training facility covers 125 acres of grounds. (Photo: K2 Solutions)</p>

The training facility covers 125 acres of grounds and includes kennel space for more than 350 dogs, training and program staff offices, a veterinary hospital, training areas, runs, and a wide variety of terrains. In addition, K2's trainers have access to 55 satellite training venues such as schools, hotels, airports, arenas, and warehouses. The company is licensed for explosives manufacture and narcotics handling.

K2 breeds many of the dogs that it supplies to clients, but it also sends out teams to find qualified breeders and suitable animals. All dogs are screened by veterinary staff and their backgrounds and bloodlines are studied by K2 subject matter experts.

Instruction at K2's training facilities is not just for the dogs. Handlers and even K-9 unit supervisors attend classes at the company.

Handlers train with their dogs before both the dogs and the handlers graduate the program. Supervisor classes cover the limitations of what K-9s can do and what they can't. But much of the supervisor instruction includes classes on budgets and liability. "When you have a K-9 unit, your budget now must include all the needs of your four-legged friends," say Karl Smith, K2 Solutions program manager.

K2's law enforcement clients include the FBI, New York Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, and Philadelphia Police Department among many others. The company also supplies dogs and handlers for clients who rent their services to provide security for special events.


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Apple’s Double Standard

Posted on November 1, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)</p>

Apple has a long history of preventing digital forensic investigators from legally collecting evidence stored on its mobile devices, all in the name of protecting the data of its customers from hackers. This puts Apple in direct conflict with American law enforcement. But thanks to some new forensic technology, there was an uneasy peace between police, the FBI, and the Cupertino, CA-based company. Then last month, the war commenced again when Apple updated its software and blocked an exploit used by forensic examiners.

A little background. The most common way that digital forensics experts use to break into a password-protected device is called a "brute force attack." Basically, you connect the device to a computer and it starts cycling through password combinations until the lock is picked. Apple shut down that exploit a few years back. Now, if you start typing in the wrong passwords into an iPhone, you can very quickly "brick" it and make the data unrecoverable.

Apple's password encryption tech was at the crux of a fight between the FBI and the company back in 2015. The FBI asked Apple to help it break into the phone of deceased San Bernardino Massacre terrorist Syed Farook and Apple refused. The whole thing got really heated. Then, suddenly, the FBI dropped its lawsuit. What happened is the FBI paid an undisclosed Israeli expert to crack the Farook phone. Soon after that, two companies—Cellebrite and Grayshift—were offering iPhone cracking tech to law enforcement agencies. But now Apple has reportedly shut down this exploit, once again blocking American investigators from accessing data on iPhones and iPads, even under warrant or subpoena. (Neither Grayshift nor Cellebrite has publicly responded to these reports.)

It's stunning how much effort Apple puts into frustrating American investigators. It's also stunningly hypocritical when you consider how the company recently bent over for the Chinese.

This year Apple agreed to comply with Chinese law and transferred all of the iCloud data for its Chinese customers to a Chinese company with servers in China, Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). This transfer reportedly includes the encryption keys that give the holder access to all that personal data. Even if GCBD isn't at least partially owned by the Chinese Communist Party—which it probably is—you can bet that no one at this company is going to refuse a request to supply the Ministry of State Security with all that Apple customer data.

So why did Apple make their Chinese customers' data available to the secret police on demand? It had no choice. It was either that or stop operating in China. And the Chinese Communist Party has Apple by the shorthairs. The company cherishes its share of the Chinese phone market, even though that market share is rapidly declining as domestic Chinese companies undercut Apple's prices. But what it really cherishes is access to Foxconn's massive production facility in Shenzhen. Almost every iPhone that Apple sells worldwide is assembled in that factory. The low-cost labor of people working and living at that facility is the primary driver of Apple's profit margins. If the Chinese government were to shut Apple out of Foxconn or even reduce Apple's access to it, then things would get really tense in Cupertino. For the record, Apple denies its Chinese cloud partner could compromise the privacy of its Chinese customers. Which is utter nonsense.

In contrast, Apple prides itself on protecting the privacy of its American customers, even to the point of foiling law enforcement investigations. Which is dangerous for public safety. Blocking the password limit exploit last month was not at all necessary to make the iPhone more secure from hackers. All it did was make it harder for American police to pursue their cases against murderers, human traffickers, drug dealers, child pornographers, and other heinous criminals.

The good news is that cyber forensics experts will soon come up with a new exploit that will allow them to access evidence from iPhones. The bad news is Apple will surely shut that one down, too. That's the way this game is played. And it stinks. No American company, even one with a trillion dollars in market value, should be allowed to foil the lawful investigations of American police operating under warrant or subpoena. This is especially true when that company plays by totally different rules in an oppressive Communist country, just to protect its bottom line.


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IACP 2018: Watching Trump’s Speech to Law Enforcement

Posted on October 10, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

Monday afternoon President Donald Trump addressed the members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police at their annual conference in Orlando, FL. I was sitting in the overflow room watching the speech on video and here are my impressions.

Trump is not a skilled orator. His speeches are partly prepared statement, partly off-the-cuff remarks, and partly campaign rallies.

One thing you can definitely say about the president is that he is not afraid to spark controversy. During his Orlando remarks he suggested stop and frisk as the solution to the murders that have plagued Chicago for much of this decade. He said the police tactic helped transform New York City into "the safest major city in the country." A federal judge ruled that the tactic was discriminatory as practiced by the NYPD in 2013, and Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped the city's appeal of that decision in 2014. Still, Trump believes it works. The audience at IACP did not display support or rejection of the idea. The national press led many of its reports from the speech with Trump's support for stop and frisk.

Trump also said his administration opposed the new consent decree reforming the Chicago PD, and he blamed earlier reform agreements between the ACLU and the city for handcuffing the police and allowing the violent crime rate to soar. Trump said he wants the crime problem in Chicago straightened out, and added if the city will accept our help and let its officers do their jobs, "We'll straighten it out fast." On Tuesday Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed opposition to the Chicago PD's consent decree. He wrote in part: “Chicago’s agreement with the ACLU in late 2015 dramatically undercut proactive policing in the city … with homicides increasing more than 57% the very next year. Now the city’s leaders are seeking to enter into another agreement. It is imperative that the city not repeat the mistakes of the past — the safety of Chicago depends on it. Accordingly, at the end of this week, the Justice Department will file a statement of interest opposing the proposed consent decree. It is critical that Chicago get this right.”

Trump praised new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. As he started to mention the judge, the audience cheered, one of its loudest responses during the 35-minute address, and it cheered again as he said the judge's name. Trump noted the audience's approval. "I told Brett it would be a piece of cake to get him confirmed," Trump joked. He praised the judge, slammed the Democrats who opposed the nomination, and thanked the Republican senators who helped get it approved. "It was very unfair what happened to him," Trump said.

The president also discussed crime statistics nationwide. He said there "was a historic surge in violent crime before I took office. We are now turning that tide and taking back our streets." Surely, his opponents will dispute Trump's statistics. But they might actually agree with him on some of his ideas about reducing America's crime problem. He said his administration is working with Congress on a comprehensive prison reform bill, and he said the best way to prevent people, especially non-violent offenders, from reoffending was to give them the opportunity to work and earn a living. Accordingly, he touted the nation's drop in unemployment as a crime-fighting tool. It was an interesting show of mercy toward criminals from a man who is often painted as cruel.

That mercy does not extend to cop killers. As he does often when he speaks to law enforcement officers, Trump called for capital punishment for criminals who murder officers. Calling the murder of an officer "a wound inflicted on our entire nation," the president said he wanted convicted cop killers to be executed as rapidly as possible.

Officer safety was the focus of a significant portion of the president's IACP speech. He said that every nine minutes in America an officer is assaulted. Then he talked about the incident in Florence, SC, that killed one law enforcement officer and wounded six others. He said: "We pray for the loved ones of Officer Terrence Carraway (who was killed in the incident) and for the six wounded officers and their loved ones."

Trump talked about measures his administration has taken to give officers the tools to enhance their safety and public safety. He specifically said he was a big supporter of the Pentagon's 1033 Program, which helps law enforcement agencies acquire military surplus. (An armored vehicle, reportedly acquired from the military, helped save the six wounded officers during the Florence incident.) Trump slammed the Obama administration for restricting law enforcement's acquisition of military surplus equipment based on concerns of militarization. He called that "a very strange reason" for keeping life-saving equipment away from officers. "People are shooting at you and some people are worried about how you look," Trump said. He added that military surplus was used to rescue 9,000 people during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey last year.

Police safety was a major focus of Trump's address, as was public safety. He talked about the opioid crisis. And he said he was authorizing an additional $42.4 million in funding for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program to be spent of grants for programs to address the opioid issue. He also said he wanted increased sentences for people convicted of drug trafficking, and he praised the role of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Border Patrol in interdicting drugs. Saying that ICE needed our support, he called attacks on the agency and calls to abolish it "shameless."

Trump praised the officers nominated for the 2018 IACP/Target Officer of the Year award, and he called them individually up on the stage after telling the audience about each of the heroic actions that led to their being considered for the honor.

* Officer Taylor S. Rust of the Plano (TX) Police Department saved the lives of four civilians when responding to shots fired in a residential neighborhood.

* Patrol Officer Mark A. Dallas of the Dixon (IL) Police Department stopped an active shooter in a high school before the suspect could harm any of the students. He was named the IACP/Target Officer of the Year.

* Washington State Patrol Trooper Nathaniel Dawson's involvement in a high-speed vehicle pursuit of two armed suspects led to the confrontation and eventual capture of the suspects.

* Sergeant Luis Celis of the Doral (FL) Police Department played a key role in stopping an active shooter incident at the Trump National Doral Resort when he pursued and apprehended the shooter. Trump expressed much gratitude to Sergeant Celis for his actions protecting his employees and resort guests.

In fact, Trump expressed much gratitude to all American officers and their loved ones. "You don't hear it from the media, but the people of America love you," he said. "I love you.” Closing he said his administration would always back law enforcement. "God bless you. God bless your families. God bless America."


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Police Product Test: TRU-SPEC Women’s 24-7 Series 24-7 Xpedition Pants

Posted on October 5, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>TRU-SPEC Women&#39;s 24-7 Series 24-7 Xpedition Pants (Photo: TRU-SPEC)</p>

More and more manufacturers of law enforcement and tactical apparel are making products specifically for women. TRU-SPEC's latest product in its for women line is the Women's 24-7 Xpedition Pants.

TRU-SPEC's 24-7 Xpedition Pants are high-end tactical pants designed for rugged wear. Both the men's and women's versions of the Xpedition Pants are made of 6.5-ounce polyester and cotton rip-stop fabric with a DWR water repellant coating and double weave 91% nylon and 9% Spandex accents.

The Women's 24-7 Xpedition Pants are cut specifically for women. They have a lower rise with a women's cut in the hips and thighs. Other features include: the usual collection of tactical pant cargo pockets, including a left pocket with a zipper closure under the flap for secure storage; dual mesh zippered cooling vents on the legs; back pocket with zipper closure; adjustable snaps on ankle cuffs and boot hook; additional layer of nylon webbing for reinforced durability from boots; and integrated soft flex panels for ease of movement. Available in Coyote, black, and green with black accents. Sold in sizes 2 through 14 with inseams ranging from 30 inches to 32 inches.

POLICE Magazine asked two veteran female officers to wear the 24-7 Women's Xpedition Pants and give us their reviews.

TRU-SPEC Women's 24-7 Series 24-7 Xpedition Pants

  • Poly/Cotton rip-stop fabric
  • Lower rise with women's cuts in hips and thighs
  • Integrated soft flex panels for ease of movement
  • Cargo pockets, including back and front pockets with zipper closure
  • Dual mesh cooling vents on each leg
  • Adjustable snaps on ankle cuffs and boot hook
  • Colors: Black, Coyote, and green with black accents
  • Sizes: 2 through 14 with inseams from 30 to 32 inches
  • Price: $117.95

Tester One wrote: "These pants are definitely more rugged than other tac pants I have worn. The combination of the rip-stop type of material with some kind of stretch material woven into them make them durable yet comfortable. The fit and the comfort were the two things I liked most about these pants. I wore them all day on the range in 105 degree temps and was very comfortable. Although I definitely sweated, the pants did not look wet with sweat, which is a nice bonus. I would wear these pants on the firearms range, in hands-on training, and to teach physical skills classes. They are well suited to both indoor and outdoor wear and for hiking and everyday casual dress."

Tester Two wrote: "Compared to other tactical pants I have worn they are more comfortable and more durable. The rip-stop is obviously stronger and the reinforced areas are definitely a bonus. The Spandex blend seems to make them really flexible so the comfort level is very high. I would definitely wear these teaching on the range, teaching officer survival schools, and in the classroom."

Our two reviewers loved the pants but the big question about the TRU-SPEC 24-7 Women's Xpedition Pants is the price. They list at $117.95 (the site has a standard discounted price of $93.95 and through October is selling the pants for $70.46). That October sale price would be great news for our reviewers who both said after wearing the pants they would be willing to pay full list for them.


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10 Things to Know About FirstNet

Posted on October 5, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>Because FirstNet offers dedicated bandwidth to first responders, it can handle heavy data throughput that would choke commercial networks. (Photo: FirstNet)</p>

This year FirstNet, the first responder cellular communications network, is coming online after nearly 15 years of development. This will mean a major change in the way some law enforcement agencies and officers conduct their communications.

As FirstNet matures it has the potential to end cellular logjams that block critical first responder calls at events and incidents, lessen the impact of communications interoperability problems that plague public safety operations, and improve real-time situational awareness for officers. But first will come the baby steps as more agencies adopt this communications tool. Here are some things you need to know about FirstNet that will help you decide if this communications tool is for you or your agency.

  1. Born of 9/11

In the months and years after the 9/11 attacks, the ability of various public safety agencies to communicate with each other when responding to major incidents became a major concern. Interoperability was the buzzword of the era. A proposal for a dedicated first responder network grew out of the need for interoperability.

  1. The TV Connection

About 10 years ago most of the television broadcasters in the United States were required to switch from analog to digital. (You may remember having to acquire a digital converter for your analog set.) This freed up a large amount of broadcast spectrum in the 700 MHz band. Much of this radio spectrum was auctioned off to cellular phone companies. But some of it, Band 14, was reserved for FirstNet.

  1. Public-Private Partnership

FirstNet is short for the First Responder Network Authority, which was created in a 2012 tax bill and is operated under the Department of Commerce. Last year FirstNet held an auction to determine which cellular provider would gain access to the FirstNet spectrum in return for building the first responder network. AT&T won the auction. So FirstNet is now a public-private partnership.

  1. The Core

Earlier this year FirstNet announced the launch of its nationwide core, which means essentially the system is now live. The FirstNet core is built on entirely separate hardware from the standard AT&T cellular system. This separates all FirstNet traffic from AT&T's commercial traffic. "It's like having a superhighway that only public safety can use," FirstNet says.

  1. 56 States and Territories

Each state and territory was given the opportunity to opt in to the FirstNet network or build its own. To no one's surprise, none of them chose to build their own. FirstNet service was selected by all 50 plus the District of Columbia and five territories.

<p>In addition to individual officers signing up for FirstNet service, whole law enforcement agencies can choose to implement a FirstNet communication system. Photo: FirstNet</p>

  1. Signing Up

Now that so many states and territories have opted in to FirstNet, just about every law enforcement officer in the country can sign up for the service. This can be accomplished one of two ways: either the entire agency can sign up (more about that in a minute) and/or the individual officer can choose a FirstNet plan for personal cellphone service. In order to qualify for individual FirstNet service, each officer's status must be verified by his or her agency. Cost of the service depends on the individual plan selected.

  1. Agencywide Implementation

In addition to individual officers signing up for FirstNet service, whole law enforcement agencies can choose to implement a FirstNet communication system. A good example of this is the Brazos County (TX) Sheriff's Office.

Very few law enforcement agencies have as much experience with FirstNet as Brazos County SO, which shared access to a 2017 first responder LTE experiment in neighboring Harris County that coincided with Houston's hosting the Super Bowl. So when Texas opted in to the FirstNet network Brazos County SO was one of the first agencies to sign up.

Sgt. Josh Hearen says the agency's desire for FirstNet capabilities was driven by its experience with communications issues during Texas A&M football games. During and after the games, cellular service experiences a significant drop off in the stadium area as an additional 50,000 people try to access their providers' networks.

Rather than have each individual deputy sign up for FirstNet (something they are still free to do), Brazos County SO chose to build an agencywide FirstNet solution. Each of its patrol vehicles now has LTE modems that provide a mobile broadband network for a variety of devices, including computers, tablets, in-car video systems, and ticket writers. "Each one of our patrol vehicles is now an LTE hub," says Hearen. He explains that this gives patrol deputies and investigators the ability to have their own dedicated Wi-Fi network at any scene. They can even stream video from car to car or from their patrol vehicles to a command center and deputies on the scene can access the live feed from any of the county's surveillance cameras.

<p>In the months and years after the 9/11 attacks, the ability of various public safety agencies to communicate with each other when responding to major incidents became a major concern. A proposal for a dedicated first responder network grew out of the need for interoperability. (Photo: FirstNet)</p>

  1. Priority and Preemption

Perhaps the most important thing to know about FirstNet is what makes it different from any other cellular provider. The answer is priority and preemption. AT&T's agreement with FirstNet allows the company to use the spectrum for traffic from its commercial customers but first responders have priority. A special SIM card in the FirstNet subscriber's phone or other cellular device tells the network that it has priority. At high traffic incidents or events, this priority can even result in preemption, meaning the non-FirstNet user loses access to the network if the bandwidth is needed for FirstNet customers.

  1. Capabilities

Because FirstNet offers dedicated bandwidth to first responders, it can handle heavy data throughput that would choke commercial networks. For example, FirstNet users can live stream video from one officer's device to another without fear of buffering or signal failure. This means officers can share real-time intel with supervisors. Perhaps more importantly supervisors, dispatchers, and other sources can send information such as building floorplans and other critical data to officers in the field. An officer from one area of an incident can even stream video of that scene to an officer at another area of an incident. This enhances situational awareness and officer safety.

  1. The Future

FirstNet is just now launching, so we really don't know all that it's capable of yet. But we do know it has the potential to change the way many law enforcement operations are conducted. Truthfully, the hardware—the phones, tablets, and cameras—has yet to catch up to FirstNet's potential. The first thing that is sure to come from this is more streaming video capability from body-worn cameras. And somewhere down the line could dedicated first responder networks and cellular devices supplant the standard police land mobile radio? That's a question that remains to be answered. What we do know is that a dedicated first responder communications network such as FirstNet has great potential to improve public and officer safety.

To learn more about FirstNet, go to


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Nike’s Blood Money

Posted on October 1, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)</p>

Failed NFL quarterback and successful anti-police activist Colin Kaepernick is now the star of a Nike Inc. advertising campaign that reads: "Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. Just do it." It's enough to make you retch. It's certainly enough to have some Nike products leaving my home and heading for donation to hurricane victims.

There are two parts to this ad: belief and sacrifice.

The ad is Nike's declaration that it has signed on to the beliefs of Colin Kaepernick. And here's what he believes:

American law enforcement officers are racist and brutal and they should be insulted as "pigs." Cop killers like Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) should be honored and little black girls should be taught to follow in her radical footsteps. Failed NFL quarterbacks can render better judgment on officer-involved shootings than trained investigators and use-of-force experts just by absorbing journalistic accounts of what happened and listening to propaganda. All killings of black and Hispanic suspects by law enforcement are "legal lynchings," regardless of the circumstances. Finally, young black men have much more to fear from police than from criminals.

I could refute each of these beliefs, but I just don't have the space or the energy. And it would be preaching to the choir. You already know the answers. I will say this, though: Kaepernick and his followers use grains of truth—such as the fact a very small number of officers are racist and/or brutal and some police use of force is suspect—to condemn the entire profession. It's the worst kind of stereotyping, and I believe it is getting officers, criminals, and innocent people killed.

Which begs the question of why Nike would sign on to this movement and help Kaepernick espouse these distortions of the truth. Was it a political decision or a business one? From a business standpoint, the company took it on the chin the week it announced its Kaepernick campaign. People burned Nike products; others swore to never buy them again; the National Association of Police Organizations declared a boycott; the Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement calling the campaign an "insult;" and conservative pundits produced opinion pieces slamming the company. Consequently, the company's stock dipped. Unfortunately, it all turned around quickly. Nike stock is now at a record high and the company is moving much more Swoosh-bearing products than it ever has before.

Nike launched this campaign because it realized two things: Kaepernick is popular with a large segment of society who think he represents the "resistance" to Donald Trump, and you can't buy the kind of publicity this stunt generated. Nike clearly believed there was money to be made in appealing to young people who hate Trump and believe Kaepernick is a hero, even if it royally pissed off its more conservative customers. This may have been the most cynical and successful marketing move in history.

Which brings me to the discussion of the second part of that abhorrent ad. Sacrifice. Did Kaepernick sacrifice anything? You could argue he sacrificed his NFL career for his beliefs and activism. But it was a career on a downhill trajectory anyway. And any money he has lost as a result of failing in his professional football career he has more than made back in his contract with Nike. So I would argue Kaepernick has not lost anything for his beliefs.

One of the most popular conservative responses to the Nike ad was to superimpose the ad's copy about sacrifice over photos of flag-draped caskets of military and law enforcement heroes. It's a valid commentary; the men and women killed in service to this country have strong beliefs and have made great sacrifices. They and their families sacrificed for their beliefs, not some journeyman professional athlete who stereotypes police.

I believe Nike is collecting blood money from this ad. And I say that because it helps perpetuate the slander that all law enforcement officers just want to murder minority suspects with impunity. That is repugnant. Worse, it instills a fear in African American offenders that police would rather kill them than arrest them. Which is a dangerous lie. Already we are seeing more and more young black men who are willing to shoot it out with law enforcement over minor offenses. And I believe that is a direct result of the propaganda that Kaepernick helps spread and Nike is now profiting from.


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Exclusive Police Survey: Body Cameras

Posted on September 4, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

It can be argued — and with much validity — that the introduction of body-worn cameras in the last decade has had more impact on American policing than any other tool since the car radio. They have changed the way evidence is collected, the policies of many law enforcement agencies, the way the media covers controversial police incidents, the way the public interacts with officers, and, in some cases, the way officers interact with the public.

The editors of POLICE Magazine wanted to know more about the impact of body cameras on our readers, so we sent them a survey last month. Response was not strong enough to be definitive, but it does provide some insight into how body cameras are being used, where they are being used, their upside, their downside, and how officers feel about the devices.

The first question was an elimination test. It asked respondents if they have had experience wearing body cameras while serving as law enforcement officers. And it showed that body camera usage has yet to reach critical mass. Out of 779 respondents, only 422 or 54% said they have worn body cams on the job. The rest of the responses came from those 422 officers. <p>Despite the increasing popularity and usage of body cameras, they have yet to reach critical mass. (Photo: POLICE File)</p>

Body cameras have become so important in contemporary law enforcement in a very short time that of the readers who responded that they are using them, 81% said they were required to use them by their agency. That puts these devices in the same category as uniforms and radios and duty guns. They are mandatory kit.

We also wanted to know how long the agencies where our readers work have fielded cameras. The most popular answer was three to less than five years, followed by one year to less than two years. This shows that the technology became widely accepted in the last five years and many agencies have only recently implemented their body cam programs.

<p>This shows that the technology became widely accepted in the last five years and many agencies have only recently implemented their body cam programs. (Photo: POLICE File)</p>

But some officers were using body cameras on the job even before their agencies started mandating them. Nearly 20% of respondents said they had used a personally owned body camera before their agency provided one. In addition, 59% of respondents said they had used a personally owned or agency supplied audio recorder in the field to capture evidence other than interviews and protect themselves from false claims.

<p>Most officers cited&nbsp;a difference in public-officer interaction with the use of body cameras.&nbsp;(Photo: POLICE File)</p>

There's no doubt that body cameras have become a standard piece of equipment for American law enforcement. And the vast majority of the respondents, 88%, said that's a good thing.

Our survey also shows there is some truth to the belief that body cameras have affected the way both officers and civilians interact. Asked if wearing a body camera on duty has changed the way they interact with the public, 23% of respondents said "yes." Asked if it's changed the way the public interacts with them as officers, 38% of respondents said "yes."

We wanted to dig a little deeper into this issue so we provided the respondents an opportunity to anonymously tell us how body cameras have changed such interactions. From the officer side, here' s a few responses. "It is a constant reminder for me to be professional," one officer wrote. Another was considerably more blunt: "It has stopped me from being rude at times," the respondent wrote. Another wrote about how the camera has changed the process of doing the job. "You ask questions you wouldn't have asked before because you want that information recorded," the respondent wrote, adding that it has become routine to narrate the actions taken by the officer and to hold up documents and evidence in front of the camera to capture them on video.

<p>Wearing your body camera in&nbsp;certain areas can eliminate human error when activating them under stress. (Photo: POLICE File)</p>

Evidence capture was on the mind of another respondent who wrote: "When dealing with difficult individuals, I will stand there longer to be berated to enhance the case against them." Perhaps the most disturbing statement by any of the respondents was: "I feel less safe because I am afraid of using force because of how it will look on the camera."

We also gave officers an opportunity to tell us how body cameras have affected how the public reacts to them. Some said they gain more compliance and face fewer enraged subjects. Others said that effect can be temporary. A common implication was a body camera has a calming effect on more rational individuals; it doesn't on drunks, subjects on drugs, and people who are just generally belligerent. One effect that multiple respondents mentioned is that some people who might have spoken with the officers in the past won't do so on camera. Many agencies have policies that allow officers to turn off the cameras in such situations. But the presence of the camera, even if it's off, is enough to make some people hesitant.

Despite such concerns, most officers who responded to our survey said they like wearing cameras. And the reason why became very clear when we asked if evidence captured by a body camera has ever cleared the respondents of a false claim. A whopping 45% said their body cams had saved them from such claims.

This is another issue that we wanted to explore more deeply. So we let officers tell us what happened. There were claims of racial slurs, sexual misconduct, unprofessionalism, rudeness, excessive force, and many other false allegations. A supervisor wrote: "I have yet to substantiate a claim against an officer after reviewing their camera."<p>It&#39;s common for officers to forget or remember to turn on their&nbsp; body cameras when patroling. (Photo: POLICE File)</p>

For the flipside of officers being exonerated by body cameras, we asked, "Has a body camera video ever caused you or a fellow officer from your agency to get into trouble?" More than a third of respondents answered yes to this question. We did not ask them to elaborate.

From the beginning of the body camera era and especially post-Ferguson, agencies have faced a lot of concerns about drafting body camera policies acceptable to officers and the public. We asked a series of questions on this topic. Most respondents, 80%, say their agencies require them to turn on their cameras during all calls and traffic stops. On another policy issue that is often controversial, 93% of respondents said their agencies allow them to review their body camera footage before writing their reports.

Documenting police response with body cameras is not a perfect science. Many people do not consider the human factor of having to remember to turn on the camera often in situations of great stress. Human error happens and often at the worst times, which is why 86% of the respondents to our survey say they have forgotten to turn on their cameras when policy would require them to do so. And the reverse is true as well; 81% of respondents say they have forgotten to turn off their cameras after a call or contact. This can be a cause of great concern for body camera wearers because there is no way for the wearer to delete the file. So officers have accidentally recorded private conversations, moments of personal exasperation they would never want the world to see, and even trips to the toilet. 

<p>Reviewing body camera footage can be helpful for officers refuting false claims. (Photo: POLICE File)</p>

To eliminate human error when activating body cameras under stress, some companies have developed products that automatically activate the system when the officer draws his or her duty weapon. In our survey, a slim majority of 37% of respondents thought this was a good idea and they would want to have it available. But an almost equal number of respondents, 36%, said they were not sure if they wanted a holster to activate their camera when they draw.

Another technology that is starting to gain some traction in the world of evidentiary video is the gun camera. We asked our readers: "Would you want a camera on your duty weapon if it didn't interfere with draw, holstering, aiming, or the balance and feel of the gun?" The "No" voters were in the majority on this one at 37%, but it was a very slim margin. Coming in second at 32% was the "Maybe" vote. And those who approved of the concept tallied 31%.

<p>The emergence of gun cameras could potentially prevent any instances of body-worn cameras falling off. (Photo: POLICE File)</p>

The single greatest expense and technological headache for agencies implementing a body camera program is file storage. So we wanted to know how they are storing their data and the issues they are having with it. Even though the cloud is often more discussed in body camera presentations and articles, most of our respondents, 52%, said their agencies use in-house servers for video storage. The cloud was used by 41%. Some officers, 7%, did not know how their agencies store the videos.

As for issues with storage, we were not surprised that cost was the most common answer. Another issue that was mentioned a significant number of times was speed, both of downloads and of access. One respondent wrote: "Our videos have to upload wirelessly to the server, then 'rescramble' the data, and then encrypt the data. It can take hours before we have access."

<p>The footage review process can sometimes cause fellow officers to get in trouble.&nbsp;(Photo: POLICE File)</p>

The final question we asked in this survey was about the benefits of body cameras. It was clear from the answers that even though many respondents believe body cameras can be a hassle and they do have drawbacks, that the benefits far outweigh the downside. Clearing officers or false accusations and reducing liability was a common response to this question. Others praised the evidence capture capability of the devices for their crime solving ability, saying their devices have recorded at the scene confessions. A number of respondents said the cameras help officers de-escalate situations with more rational subjects because they don't want to be recorded acting up. Officer safety was another respondent's answer: "I can focus more on potential threats, while the subject/suspect is talking instead of taking notes and focusing on minor details."


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2020 Ford Police Interceptor Utility with Hybrid Powertrain

Posted on September 4, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>Ford says the 2020 Police Interceptor Utility hybrid is more powerful and more economical than the current gasoline-only models. (Photo: Ford Motor Company)</p>

Last summer Ford introduced the first pursuit-rated patrol vehicle with a hybrid powertrain. Response was excited curiosity with numerous agencies buying the vehicle for its fuel savings and performance. But the minute Ford rolled out the Police Responder Hybrid Sedan, the company's police fleet sales reps started hearing one key question: "Are you going to make an SUV?"  

The reason for that question is easily understood. Ford's Police Interceptor Utility is by far America's most popular law enforcement patrol vehicle. The company says the PI Utility, which is based on the Explorer, holds 65% of the market. So fleet managers wanted to know when they could get a PI Utility hybrid and the Ford reps had to bite their tongues because the answer would reveal corporate strategy and secrets about the next generation of consumer Ford SUVs.

Now Ford's police fleet reps can stop biting their tongues and start talking to customers about the PI Utility hybrid. The company announced in June that it would be making a PI Utility with a hybrid powertrain and all-wheel drive for the 2020 model year. "We're so happy to be able to announce this," says Stephen Tyler, Ford Police brand marketing manager.

But even with the announcement, the company is not providing a lot of detail on the new vehicle. Ford has not unveiled the 2020 Explorer yet, so photos of the 2020 PI Utility hybrid are set in fog and lights to obscure body detail and Ford has yet to reveal specs on the vehicle or the engine.

What the company will say about the 2020 PI Utility hybrid is that it's going to be a beast in terms of performance. Tyler says the hybrid pursuit SUV is going to have more horsepower and more torque than the current 3.7-liter V6 of the 2018 PI Utility. The increased horsepower and torque will also give the hybrid a boost in top speed and greater acceleration.

"With hybrids people are used to making some kind of tradeoff; I can be green or I can do this," Tyler says. "The most exciting thing about this vehicle is there are no tradeoffs. You don't lose any interior passenger or cargo room. You get greater horsepower, torque, and top speed. In addition, you get significant fuel economy. The days of 'or' are behind us. These are the days of 'and.'"

Fuel savings from the hybrid PI Utility are significant. Ford says the combined highway and city MPG is 24 compared with 17 for the 2018, a 40% increase in mileage. But increased MPG is not the only way the hybrid PI Utility can save agencies on fuel costs. The real fuel expenditure in law enforcement patrol operations is leaving the vehicle running while it's parked at a scene so that it can keep the battery charged to run lights, radios, air conditioning, computers, and other stuff that draws current. The PI Utility hybrid can do that without the engine running. It uses the hybrid batteries and if the charge starts to get low on the batteries it will run the engine just long enough to give them a boost. Ford calculates that the savings over idling a gas engine combined with the MPG increase will save agencies that adopt the PI Utility hybrid $3,500 per vehicle per year. You can go here for more information.

There are other ways beyond fuel economy that the PI Utility hybrid will save agencies money, according to Tyler. The savings are derived from less maintenance on the vehicle for things like brake pads and oil changes.

Ford's New Police Telematics

In June, Ford Commercial Solutions introduced two new telematics products to help law enforcement fleet managers gain insight into the performance of their vehicles.

The new Data Services product gives fleet managers direct access to OEM-grade vehicle data, allowing them to better manage their fleets. The service takes advantage of Ford vehicles’ built-in modems to transfer vehicle data directly from the vehicle to the cloud. 

Utilizing Data Services, fleets can gain access to Ford vehicle information such as GPS location, mileage, fuel use data, vehicle health alerts, driver behavior, and more. Because Ford designed the vehicle — including its electrical architecture, data systems and vehicle technology — the company is able to provide the newest updates and vehicle signals as soon as they become available, and deliver insights as quickly as agencies need them. 

A second telematics product designed specifically for police fleets takes data collected through the Data Services product and distills it into information that can help improve fleet efficiency and driver behavior. The application translates information from Ford vehicles to provide insights on fuel usage, carbon dioxide emissions, vehicle health, and driver seat belt usage. That data is shared through an intuitive Website that provides law enforcement operators with an easy way to check how their fleet, or a particular vehicle, is operating.

Ford says it can retrofit modems onto Ford police vehicles back to model year 2012. All 2019 model year Ford police vehicles come with factory-installed modems and a two-year subscription to the telematics products.

"The focus of these telematics products is to keep police vehicles up and running on the road and in top shape," says Stephen Tyler, Ford's Police brand marketing manager.

Hybrids use a dual system to slow down and stop the vehicle. The electric motor of a vehicle like the 2020 PI Utility hybrid reverses its spin when the driver applies the brakes. This braking action turns the motor into a generator that helps keep the vehicle's batteries charged. Automakers call this regenerative braking, and it's enough to stop the vehicle under some circumstances. But the braking system also includes friction brakes with calipers, pads, and rotors for more sudden stops. Tyler says fleet managers for agencies that field hybrid vehicles will have less cost and less downtime for brake pad replacement.

Another way that hybrids save on maintenance is oil changes. The electric motor does not use the crank case oil for lubrication. And since the gasoline engine only runs during certain types of driving conditions the hours on the engine are reduced and oil life extended. Like the brake pads, this saves both money and vehicle downtime.

Ford says that with its fuel savings and reduced cost of maintenance the 2020 PI Utility hybrid will pay back the additional cost of the hybrid powertrain in two years. Tyler adds that the vehicle will be a great value for agencies because it comes with $2,000 of standard equipment that is not available on the current standard model.

Part of that standard equipment is a factory-installed Ford modem and a two-year subscription to the company's new telematics service. "This is manufacturer grade information telematics," Tyler says. "We know how to access all the signals in the vehicle and provide the information that agencies have been asking for. We've been working with agencies across the country in developing this and making it right for law enforcement fleets."

Other standard equipment of note on the 2020 Ford Utility hybrid includes: Bluetooth capability with pass through voice commands for Android and Apple phones, factory-installed wig wags, user-programmable steering wheel switches, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, and deep sand and snow traction control. A standard feature that many officers will appreciate is that the automatic on/off headlamps revert to the last used position. On Ford's consumer vehicles the lights revert to automatic and turn on. "Officers don't want to start up their vehicles on a surveillance and have the lights come on," Tyler says.

Ford plans to offer a number of innovative officer safety options on the 2020 PI Utility hybrid. Ford's new Police Perimeter Alert system is an improved version of the Surveillance ambush alert system developed by Ford and InterMotive. The new version is factory installed and it also features better threat awareness. The older system had a hard time distinguishing between a jogger running parallel to the patrol vehicle and someone running right at it, according to Tyler. "The improved version uses an algorithm to determine if someone's movements present a possible threat," he says.

Another officer safety option that will be available on the 2020 PI Utility hybrid is Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). This system automatically applies the brakes if the vehicle is about to hit another car. The police version features a disable switch that allows officers to intentionally hit another vehicle when necessary. "If the officer disables the system, for example, to perform a PIT maneuver, it won't stop the vehicle," Tyler says. List price on the AEB option is $145 extra per vehicle. "AEB is a technology we really want to see police agencies adopt because we know the value of it. So we kept the MSRP on that option really low," Tyler says.

The hybrid with all-wheel drive will be the standard powertrain on the 2020 PI Utility, Tyler says. But customers will have the option of a gas engine if they prefer.


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2018 Dodge Durango Pursuit

Posted on August 31, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>The 2019 Dodge Durango Pursuit features&nbsp; a new front end design that helps cool the brakes during intense driving. (Photo: Dodge)</p>

Almost exactly a year ago, Fiat Chrysler America (FCA) brought a very interesting Dodge SUV to the Michigan State Police law enforcement vehicle evaluations. Dodge reps were very cagey about it but everyone at the MSP test speculated the vehicle was the company's entry into the law enforcement patrol SUV market. "We characterized the vehicle as 'unpublished, pursuit-intended,'" says David Callery, FCA's program manager for police and emergency response vehicles.

All the speculation about a Dodge pursuit-rated SUV ended in May when the company announced the availability of the 2018 patrol Durango. Dodge says it was answering customer demand by releasing the new patrol SUV. "Unofficial testing results at the Michigan State Police 2018 model-year vehicle evaluation event created such a stir among law enforcement agencies that we simply had to find a way to build this vehicle," says Steve Beahm, head of passenger car brands for Dodge, Chrysler, and Fiat for FCA America. "The Dodge Durango is already known as the Charger of SUVs, so it is only natural that the new Durango Pursuit complements the Charger Pursuit in police fleets around the country."

Sales of the 2018 Dodge Durango Pursuit were limited by its late in the model year release. Callery explains why the company felt it was important to produce a 2018 Durango Pursuit and announce it in May even when orders were only open for a few weeks. He says the company wanted to be on record that it had the vehicle, that it was pursuit rated, and that it was ready for market. The 2019 Dodge Durango Pursuit is definitely ready for market and orders are now open.

One big change between the 2018 Durango Pursuit and the 2019 models is that buyers now have a choice of engines. The 2018 was released with one engine, the 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI. The 2019 is available with the HEMI or with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. Dodge says the 5.7-liter HEMI generates a "best in class" 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. The 3.6-liter Pentastar is rated at 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. At last year's Michigan State Police testing the V-8 HEMI version of the Durango Pursuit achieved a top speed of 120 mph. Its acceleration was equally impressive reaching 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds and 0 to 100 mph in 17 seconds.

All-wheel drive with an eight-speed electronic transmission is standard on both versions of the 2019 Durango Pursuit. The vehicle also features a two-speed active transfer case for better traction. "The active transfer case truly gives you low range performance if you need to go off road," Callery says.

<p>The 2019 Dodge Durango has an active transfer case for better low range traction during off-road driving. (Photo: Dodge)</p>

Another benefit of the active transfer case is improved fuel economy. Estimated fuel economy on the highway for the Pentastar V-6 Durango Pursuit is 25 miles per gallon and 22 mpg for the V-8 HEMI. Fuel economy for the V-8 is improved by FCA's Fuel Saver Technology, which shuts down four of the engine's cylinders when driving conditions permit. The Pentastar V-6 Durango Pursuit features engine stop start. "When you pull up to a stop sign and stop, the engine shuts off and the creature comforts like air conditioning run on the battery. When you take your foot off the brake, the engine starts," Callery explains.

The 2019 Dodge Durango Pursuit comes standard with 13.8-inch pursuit-rated brakes in the front and 13.0-inch pursuit-rated brakes in the rear. To improve brake performance in the 2019 Durango Pursuit, Dodge added a new front end with integrated air ducts designed to help cool the brakes.

Another addition to the 2019 Durango Pursuit that you won't find on the 2018 model is an improved control and stability system. The pursuit-rated SUV now features performance-tuned, load-leveling NIVOMAT shocks. Other pursuit-rated stability hardware standard on both the 2018 and 2019 Durango Pursuit includes front and rear stabilizer bars and electronic stability control.

Standard features on the 2019 Durango Pursuit include:

  • Spot lamp wiring prep package
  • 220-amp alternator
  • Heavy-duty oil cooler and water pump
  • Eight-way power adjusting driver seat controls
  • K-9 friendly tri-zone climate control

The Durango Pursuit is well designed and equipped for hauling the gear needed for law enforcement operations. Payload capacity—the ability to haul people and gear—for the V-6 is 1,640 pounds and 1,650 for the V-8. "If you think about all the gear officers have to put in the vehicle and all the things they need to accomplish their missions that payload is very stout," says Callery. Cargo space in the Durango Pursuit is substantial. And the designers made it easier to find more room for gear by mounting the spare tire under the vehicle, freeing up the well in the cargo area. If you need to haul more gear than allowed by the payload or the interior space of the Durango Pursuit, you can tow up to 7,200 pounds. A trailer towing package is available as an option.

A standard safety feature on the Durango Pursuit prevents officers from backing into people, objects, and/or vehicles. FCA's ParkSense works with the rearview camera called ParkView to alert drivers of impending impact with a beeping noise. As the vehicle gets closer to impact, the beeping becomes more urgent.

The new 2019 Dodge Durango Pursuit V-8 AWD is available for order. For more information, law enforcement agencies should call (800) 999-3533.


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Making Superheroes

Posted on August 30, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>Comic book costume players interact with the public at last year&#39;s Superhero September event. (No children from the Child Advocacy Center are pictured.)</p>

Phoenix Crimes Against Children detective Sean Reavie is a self-described comic book "nerd." And in recent years, the two-time Arizona Police Officer of the Year has channeled his love of superheroes to help the city's most needful kids, the ones who are physically or sexually abused and the ones who are neglected.

Reavie is the creator and organizer of a charitable effort called Superhero September, which raises money to provide toys and apparel as well as other comforts for the children his detective unit is tasked with protecting. The program is named for the types of toys it provides.

Superhero September was inspired by wall art of Batman and the colorful villains that plague Gotham City that Reavie saw back in 2015. That art started him thinking about the fact that many superheroes have tragic back stories of childhood trauma, and their stories are ultimately about rising above that trauma to become heroes. Batman's parents were killed in front of him when he was a boy. Spiderman is an orphan who saw his beloved Uncle Ben murdered by a robber. Thinking about that, Reavie decided to inspire the kids coming to the Child Advocacy Center, where he works, to see themselves as superheroes. "The little kids who came here were sad and afraid and they would leave here sad and afraid," Reavie says. And he wanted to change that.

With cooperation from Childhelp Children's Center of Arizona, a charity that also operates from the Child Advocacy Center, Reavie set about adding some comic book touches to the facility. At first his plan consisted of decorating the walls of the playroom with superhero art. Then he decided to take the next step. He had the magazine racks filled with comic books. After that he got a bunch of capes and masks so that the kids could play superhero. Which led to giving the kids superhero stuff they could take with them when they left the center.

Reavie says he put out a request to fellow officers for kid-size superhero T-shirts and superhero action figures. "What I wanted was 100 T-shirts and action figures. I shared what I was doing with my police friends and pretty soon I had a desk full of the stuff," Reavie says.

All of this effort led to the first Superhero September four years ago. That was a fairly low-key event. The public wasn't invited, just first responders. But some of those first responders dressed up like comic book heroes, which sparked the interest of Phoenix's TV3news.

The TV3 story led to huge growth of the event. Local store managers donated gifts cards, the public got involved, and there was more press. Last year Superhero September raised $22,000.

This year Reavie and the other volunteers working to produce Superhero September: The Fantastic Fourth are planning to raise $50,000 in cash and products. Reavie says this year's effort includes 20 fundraisers, nine events, and a big celebration Sept. 8 featuring 45 hobbyist costume players from AZ Heroes United in full superhero gear, an Infinity Stone scavenger hunt presided over by Thanos (villain of the Marvel blockbuster movie "Avengers: Infinity War"), face painting, and much more. Throughout the month the superhero actors will also be going on shopping sprees in area stores.

Reavie says Superhero September needed to grow because he realized the mission had to expand. "It’s great to give a kid an action figure of their favorite superhero to change their outlook. It's even better to have that kid leave here (from the Child Advocacy Center) clean with a full stomach and in new clothes and shoes," he says. Superhero September is now providing the children who come to the Center with food, clothing, shoes, school supplies, plus the toys and comic books. Some companies are even donating diapers, according to Reavie.

"We are really resonating with people," Reavie says. "I had a good idea and above average people said, 'That's a great idea. How can we help?'" Those "above average" people include the Phoenix Police Sergeants and Lieutenants Association, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association,  the United Phoenix Firefighters, Childhelp, the professionals and volunteers who work at the Child Advocacy Center, local businesses, and even the Phoenix Police marketing team.

Through that marketing, Superhero September has been the subject of numerous TV news items and print stories in the Phoenix area and beyond. But so far no other city has tried to copy the Superhero concept. Reavie would like to see that happen and he would be glad to discuss it with fellow officers. But his focus is Phoenix.

Reavie sees the charity as an extension of his duty. "Uncle Ben in Spiderman said, 'With great power comes great responsibility.' By being sworn as a detective to take care of children and defend them, I have a great responsibility and it goes beyond the criminal case I am investigating. We have the power and the responsibility to protect these children. And while they are here at the Center, we can do so much for them."

Reavie admits that some people may believe his approach to changing the outlook of abused and neglected kids is "simplistic." And at the beginning even he asked if the superhero concept was really doing any good. Then he saw something that convinced him that he was on the right track.

"A 6-year-old girl, a sex abuse victim, came into the Center. She was terrified. All she would do is cling to her mother's leg. Finally, we coaxed her into the playroom. Then she just hid in the corner. I had the playroom staff find her a cape and a mask. They gave her a Batgirl-like cowl and cape in pink. She put it on. And within seconds, that little girl got up and ran over to the other kids in the playroom and told them, 'I'm a superhero, and I'm here to save all of you.' After seeing that I knew this works. It's a direct way to completely change these kids' affect. They put on that costume and they're kids again."

Superhero September: The Fantastic Fourth is scheduled for Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to noon at 2120 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix.


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Improving SWAT Operations

Posted on August 8, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

SWAT is under a lot of pressure these days. Budgets for training and equipment have been cut. When SWAT is called out, activists decry its equipment and tactics as too militaristic. And activists, politicians, journalists, and Internet trolls all second guess everything a team achieves or fails to achieve in its missions. If it's hard to be a police officer in the 21st century, it's even harder to be a law enforcement tactical operator.

Despite the criticism, SWAT has a long history of positive outcomes. Unfortunately, there have been some disastrous outcomes as well. So the goal of many in the tactical community is to improve SWAT and that begins with operator selection.

The Right People

SWAT has long been a plum assignment in law enforcement. But it takes a special kind of law enforcement officer to want to be a SWAT team member.

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

The first thing most people focus on when an officer aspires to join a SWAT team is the level of physical fitness and endurance required. They think about things like timed runs, obstacle courses, and demonstrations of the practical strength necessary to perform SWAT missions.

But many agencies are not just looking for the best athletes or even the best shots on the force. Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA), says SWAT leaders are constantly looking for ways to make standards fit the missions of the team. He says that means team members must be physically fit but also mentally and emotionally capable of doing the job. "They need to be of the highest integrity and they have to be able to make good decisions," he says.

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

Bob Gallegos, a retired LAPD SWAT officer who serves on the POLICE Advisory Board, agrees. "You want somebody who can think fast on their feet," he says, adding that the process needs to be both "taxing and fair."

One big problem facing many agencies is that some candidates for tactical teams change their minds after selection and training. That means teams have to be sure they select people who are willing to do the hard work of training and callouts before they invest in training.

Most teams are not full time and their SWAT duties are secondary to their everyday police work, Eells explains. "Officers on the SWAT team have to work shifts in their normal assignments and then train and put themselves on call. It requires you to sacrifice a lot of your personal time," he says.

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

Another factor that makes it difficult for agencies to find the right people for SWAT duty is the nature of the work. All law enforcement duty is hazardous and all officers have to accept that risk. But signing on with a SWAT team requires an officer to face some of the darkest of human behavior, even more so than standard police duty. "It takes a very resilient person to engage in this kind of work for a long time," says Eells.

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

Better Organization

Finding enough officers to form a SWAT team can be a challenge even for mid-size agencies. For smaller agencies, it's nearly impossible.

Still, some 10-officer departments try to field tactical teams with as few as five officers. Which is not optimal.

In April the NTOA issued its latest standards for SWAT operations. The 48-page "Tactical Response and Operations Standard for Law Enforcement Agencies" explains what constitutes a SWAT team, what missions it can undertake, and how it should be organized.

Specifically, the NTOA standard says there are essentially two levels of SWAT teams. A Tier 1 team consists of 26 members—a team commander, 3 team leaders, 4 snipers, and 18 operators. A Tier 2 team consists of 19 members—a team commander, 2 team leaders, 4 snipers, and 12 operators. Below what NTOA considers a true SWAT team is a "Tactical Response Team." According to NTOA a Tactical Response Team consists of 15 members—a team commander, 2 team leaders, and 12 operators.

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

Given these standards, the vast majority of law enforcement agencies in the United States could not field a Tactical Response Team much less a SWAT team. And the NTOA knows it. "We strongly encourage agencies lacking enough qualified officers to form a SWAT unit on their own to team up with other agencies," Eells says. "Agencies need to form multi-jurisdictional teams instead of trying to go it alone. Not many agencies can do it alone and do it well."

Training the Team

One of the primary areas of SWAT operations that needs improvement is training. A lot of people, even inside law enforcement, believe that SWAT is given all the training time it wants. Eells, who served on the Colorado Springs SWAT team, says that's just not so.

As they are in all areas of law enforcement, training time and training resources are precious for SWAT teams, especially so-called part-time teams. Eells says it's important that teams dedicate their training time to maintenance of the critical and specific skills to execute the missions they most commonly get assigned. "If most of your incidents are hostage rescues, then your training should be hostage rescue oriented. If 90% of the missions you execute are warrant service, then that's how you should be training."

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

Gallegos, who trains teams through his company Tactical Mission Consulting, also cautions teams against trying to do too much in one training session. "If you only have a few hours for training, you are better off dedicating that time to an aspect of your operations," he says. "Think quality, not quantity."

Eells is particularly outspoken about training time that's squandered on flashy and specialized activities that the team will likely never perform in the field. "If you're in a team that doesn't have an aerial support unit, then practicing rappelling out of a helicopter might not be the best use of your time," he says.

Training Commanders

It's quite common for the actual commander of a SWAT team to be a lieutenant or captain with no SWAT experience. This is a result of the way officers with ambitions of becoming chiefs or high-ranking brass tend to climb the ladder from assignment to assignment. SWAT command is commonly one of the rungs on that ladder.

The problem with this aspect of law enforcement culture is that it's not unusual for the SWAT commander to be unaware of the actual capabilities of the team. Sometimes this can lead to disaster, as a commander can come up with a plan that is unworkable or, worse, dangerous for the team members and perhaps the people they are trying to rescue or protect.

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

Law enforcement culture and the way lieutenants and captains make their bones by commanding SWAT units when they are not SWAT trained is unlikely to change. So the most practical solution to this issue is to provide SWAT commanders with special training.

That is the purpose of a new NTOA program. NTOA Academy's Command College offers three levels of certification in SWAT leadership. The program consists of both self-paced online modules and some class work. Students gain a huge breadth of tactical law enforcement knowledge, according to Eells. Courses cover the dynamics and capabilities of SWAT teams, the different types of tactics teams can use, and decision-making models. "The program teaches commanders how to "sift through the noise and make informed and timely decisions," Eells says.

One of the topics discussed in detail in the Command College program is the concept of time during SWAT missions. "They learn how to use time and about good time vs. bad time and how to distinguish good time vs. bad time," Eells explains.

To learn more about the NTOA Academy's Command College program, including courses offered and pricing, go to

<p>(Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>

Equipment and Technology

The very concept of SWAT was developed around the idea of giving select officers special equipment and training so that they can accomplish particularly dangerous missions. That "W" in the acronym stands for weapons, and the special weapons available to SWAT have long been a focus of the popular imagination regarding law enforcement tactical teams. But today, many of the weapons carried by SWAT, including rifles, are commonly available to patrol officers. So the weapons are no longer that unique to SWAT.

Today, the equipment available to SWAT that's uncommon to patrol officers is primarily defensive. SWAT officers (and some patrol officers) now have very sophisticated gear to protect themselves from gunfire, including ballistic helmets; tactical vests with rifle plates; and ballistic shields, bunkers, and blankets. Eells says the increased access to rifle-rated armor is one of the most important improvements in SWAT operations. Gallegos agrees and he lauds the manufacturers for making it more comfortable and easier to use. "It just keeps getting better and better," he says.

Access to mobile rifle-rated armor in the form of armored rescue vehicles is another area of SWAT operations that is improving. Through grants and through the Department of Defense's 1033 program that makes surplus military gear available to law enforcement agencies, more teams have access to armored cars. In many areas of the country, multiagency SWAT teams share armored vehicles through memoranda of understanding.

High-technology tools are also improving SWAT operations, helping teams gain critical intelligence and helping officers stay safer at the scene. Limiting the peril faced by officers during a standoff, barricade, or other tactical operation is the primary purpose of integrating such devices as robots, drones, and other technologies into the SWAT toolbox.

Three primary high-tech systems have been integrated into SWAT operations to help produce better outcomes for officers, innoc<p>SWAT teams have numerous tools for missions, but veteran operators caution that it&#39;s wise to have a backup plan for when the tech fails. (Photo: Franklin Rau)</p>ents, and even suspects.

Enhanced night vision devices such as image intensification systems and thermal cameras help SWAT officers detect potential ambushes and make it safer for them to make entry into darkened buildings and execute room clearing operations. They can also be used by snipers to provide overwatch for the team during low-light operations and, if necessary, target and eliminate threats to the team and the public.

Robots can be used to perform duties that used to fall to human operators and potentially exposed officers to attack from the suspect or suspects. Robots can enter a building to take phones to suspects or perform reconnaissance, locating hostages or suspects and providing officers with critical intelligence. In a very controversial use, the Dallas Police Department's SWAT team—with approval from the chief—actually used a robot to deliver a lethal explosive payload to an extremely dangerous man who refused to surrender. The decision to use a robot as a bomb likely saved officer lives that night in July 2016, considering that the sniper had just killed five officers and would have been happy to kill even more.

Drones are being used in SWAT operations to provide operators and commanders with real-time aerial reconnaissance. The potential for these unmanned aircraft in making SWAT operations more effective is just being tapped.

All this technology has been extremely beneficial in tactical police operations. But Gallegos cautions all tactical operators that regardless of what high-tech tools they plan to use at an incident, they need to have a backup plan. "You have to ask yourself: 'What if this fails? What am I going to do?'"


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The Deep Fakes are Coming

Posted on August 6, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

<p>Editor David Griffith (Photo: Kelly Bracken)</p>

Three months ago Google demonstrated a stunning new artificial intelligence capability for its Google Assistant smart speaker. The technology branded Duplex can autonomously call a hair salon and schedule an appointment, or a restaurant and make a reservation, and perform other similar tasks all with a very human-sounding voice. Duplex even reacts to what the person says on the other end of the phone with no discernible lag and says "uh" and "hum" like a typical American. If it was programmed to do so, Duplex could call your 911 dispatch center right now and odds are no one would know they were talking to a machine.

But Duplex calling 911 is the least of your worries as more and more AI products reach the public. What you really have to worry about is fake video of you doing things you didn't do and saying things you didn't say. You will also have to worry about fake video implicating the wrong person in a crime or showing a guilty man lounging on the beach 500 miles away rather than robbing your local bank. We are about to enter an era where all video and audio evidence may be more suspect than it's ever been.

Fortunately, the body camera and in-car video companies long ago incorporated technology that prevents anyone from altering a video. Unfortunately, a percentage of the public inclined toward taking anti-police propaganda as gospel already believes that police departments doctor videos to get the evidence they need to exonerate officers after a controversial shooting. So imagine what will happen if in the very near future every controversial police shooting is posted on the Web as multiple videos showing totally different actions

For example, last month in Chicago, a police officer shot a barber after seeing the man allegedly reach for his waistband toward a concealed firearm. Officers had originally stopped the man because they suspected he was carrying because of a visible bulge at his waist. He reportedly resisted, pulled away from the officers, and then the sequence of events that led to his fatal shooting occurred. This shooting led to some unrest, including some "violent protesting," and some officers were injured by thrown objects. As of this writing, the city is still tense. But imagine how tense it would be if the police video showed the man was armed, which he was, and an equally convincing video showed he was unarmed.

Seamless video manipulation using AI algorithms is about to become a major challenge in many fields, including law enforcement. Crude apps are already available that can do some pretty remarkable video manipulation. For example, people have manipulated porn videos swapping the faces and voices of the actress for those of mainstream actresses. They've also created a bogus video of Barack Obama spewing obscenities about his successor. These videos are called "deep fakes."

It's pretty easy to determine that the current generation of deep fakes has been manipulated. But the thing about AI-based software is that by its very definition it learns, it gets better with use. So those telltale blurs and other artifacts that now reveal these things are phony are going to go away. And it's estimated that very soon even top experts in the field of video editing will have trouble determining what is real and what is fake.

The good news is your evidentiary videos will probably stand up in the court of law. The bad news is they will be in doubt—even more so than they are now—in the court of public opinion.

What we are about to see is an arms race between creators of propaganda deep fakes, including sophisticated foreign intelligence agencies and unsophisticated trolls, and producers of tools for proving the videos are not genuine. And for the first few years of the coming AI revolution, the deep fake creators are going to have a head start.

The only advice I can give you to lessen the pain of this coming nightmare is to make sure your video system is running when it's supposed to. Because your best hope for combating deep fakes and the damage they will do to your reputation, your department, and your profession is to make sure you have an official video. If you don't, I assure you the deep fake purveyors will make one for you, and you won't like what it shows.


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New Challenges in Cyber Forensics

Posted on July 14, 2018 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

A little more than a decade ago the work of a digital forensic specialist was pretty much about computers. Then along came the iPhone and Android and the challenge of the spread of portable devices. Now new challenges are arising from technologies that few people even imagined before they burst upon the market. Today's digital investigator must learn how to extract evidence from drones, encrypted portable devices, cryptocurrency trades, and a growing range of appliances and products defined as the Internet of Things (IoT).

<p>Drone piloting is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States, and these aircraft are now being used in crime. (Photo: Getty Images)</p>

Flying Things

One of the most popular gifts found under the Christmas trees of average Americans the last two years were hobby drones. These small remote-controlled aircraft look like toys, but they are actually extremely sophisticated devices capable of capturing 4K-quality video, carrying payloads, and flying programmed routes well beyond line of sight. So it's little wonder that drones have caught the eyes of enterprising criminals, miscreants, and even terrorists.

The most common criminal activity involving drones is smuggling. These little birds can carry a few pounds of drugs or cellphones or other contraband into prisons. And they have been discovered doing so in the United States and in numerous foreign countries.

Drones can also carry drugs across the border. At least one such failed attempt was discovered south of the California border town of San Ysidro in 2015. Since then more crashed drones have been discovered. And only the unsuccessful ones make the news or fall into law enforcement hands.

The second most common category of drone crimes falls under the heading of harassment and surveillance. Drones are being used by stalkers and sex offenders to monitor their prey. They have also been used to spy on and even disrupt law enforcement operations. Drone pilots have even accidentally or intentionally buzzed and even struck police aircraft.

Weaponized hobby and commercial drones are also common in war zones. In Iraq terrorists have used drone swarms to carry out IED attacks. Last year in one of the most devastating drone attacks ever, pro-Russian separatists hit a huge Ukrainian military munitions storage facility with a single drone carrying a thermite grenade. The attack reportedly destroyed more than $1 billion in arms and ammunition. The size of the drone has not been reported, but the grenade did not have to be large, and there are numerous commercial and even hobby drones that could have done the job.

The growing use of drones in criminal activity means that law enforcement is recovering them at crime scenes. Some have crashed; some were intentionally brought down by officers.

Regardless of how a drone that was used in a crime falls into law enforcement hands, pulling evidence off of it will involve digital forensic analysis. But even officers and detectives at the scene need to know how to handle the device. No matter what the drone looks like, it is not a toy. Don't handle it without proper crime scene protocol because you might contaminate physical evidence left on the device by the perps. And don't turn it on because doing so might alter the digital evidence. Also, don't do what some agencies have done and auction off a drone as seized property without having it analyzed for evidence.

Drones are becoming such a concern for forensic investigators that three of the largest makers of cyber evidence analysis software, Cellebrite (, MSAB (, and Oxygen Forensics (, recently demonstrated their new drone analytics tools at the Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference held last month in Myrtle Beach, SC.

These new drone tools are being incorporated into the companies' flagship cyber forensics software products and can interpret data captured by drones, including flight path, altitude, and speed. They can also help analysts recover video and photos captured by the drone and metadata from any photos or video recovered.

Experts say the amount of evidence that can be pulled off of a drone is limited by what is actually captured by law enforcement. Most of the time, the drone is recovered but not the controller or the smart device used to operate it. And as for data stored in the cloud, that's a non-starter because the servers are in China or controlled by Chinese companies.

But there are at least two depositories of cyber evidence on the typical hobby drone: the camera memory and the internal memory. Cellebrite, MSAB, and Oxygen offer training to teach digital forensic specialists how to properly access and analyze this data.

Encoded Cash

One of the greatest challenges now facing law enforcement is the development of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It's estimated that 25% of all Bitcoin users are involved in some kind of criminal activity. This means that cryptocurrency evidence is becoming more common at crime scenes.

<p>Example of a Bitcoin wallet. (Photo: Aaron Strain)</p>

A cryptocurrency is an encrypted piece of code that can only be read by someone with the keys. It was recently estimated that there are 1,600 of these financial devices available. Only about four of them are really common: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Monero. There's a reason why these coded currencies are so popular with crooks: They are pretty much untraceable unless you have the public and private keys. Which should be target number one of any investigation of criminal activity involving computers these days.

Let's say you are investigating a scene where someone perpetrated a ransomware attack. Don't think this unlikely. You don't have to be a computer genius to hit an organization or individual with ransomware. Kits for launching such attacks are available on the Dark Web and the bad guys can even hire someone to do it for them and just take a cut.

So back to our scenario; you are investigating the home or office of someone suspected of launching a ransomware attack. One of the primary targets of your search is the suspect's cryptocurrency "wallet." This wallet could be a piece of software on a device, it could be a thumb drive-looking piece of hardware, or it could be paper with a series of words or numbers on it, often as many as 16 different sequences or words.

Treat this scene as extremely fragile. Whatever you do, do not turn off any devices or disconnect the drives. Get the experts on scene to capture RAM memory (the memory that erases when the device is shut down).

Alexa, Record My Murder

WiFi technology in our homes and offices has enabled the development of a wide variety of appliances and devices that are connected to the Internet, including smart TVs, refrigerators that track consumption of foods and create shopping lists, and the smart speaker.

<p>Don&#39;t say the wake word to a Smart Speaker at a crime scene. If you do and the system hears it, you will destroy evidence. (Photo: Getty Images)</p>

The smart speaker, most commonly the Amazon Echo with Alexa software or the Google Home, is by far the most popular device in the Internet of Things (IoT), which is the fastest growing category of digital devices on the market. It is estimated that by 2020, there will be more IoT devices in America than people.

Some homes and offices have more than one of these Amazon or Google devices. (The author has three.) These devices listen for their wake words and execute spoken commands such as telling time, setting alarms, playing online radio stations, and answering simple questions. With additional accessories, they can also manipulate thermostats, lighting, and other controls.

Smart speakers are showing up at more and more crime scenes. During a presentation at last month's Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference four out of approximately 50 digital forensics analysts attending a presentation on IoT devices said they had dealt with smart speakers.

The presence of such devices at crime scenes means officers and analysts need to know how to handle them. The most important thing to know is what not to do. Don't say the wake word. If you do and the system hears it, you will destroy evidence. The system has very limited onboard memory. Saying the wake word erases one of its most recent commands.

Most of the data from smart speakers, however, is captured in the app on the owner's phone or tablet or on the cloud. These devices are not computers; they are portals to computers in the cloud that tell the Alexa or Home or whatever to execute your commands. That's why they are basically paperweights when they lose their WiFi connection.

The good news from an investigative standpoint is that everything ever asked of these devices is stored on the cloud until the user erases it from the app. The bad is that the cloud servers are controlled by huge companies that tend to ignore warrants or fight them. If you really need the command data from a smart speaker your best bet is to access it from the app on the owner's phone or tablet. And of course, the easiest way to do this is to get the victim, suspect, or other individual with legal standing to give you the user name and password.

That's exactly what happened in the most publicized instance of investigators seeking evidence from a smart speaker. Benton County, AR, prosecutors served Amazon with a warrant for the cloud data from a murder suspect's Alexa. Amazon fought the warrant, as it probably didn't want to set a precedent of handing over such data. After months of legal wrangling, no precedent was set. The suspect's attorney gave the prosecution the user name and password for the app.


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Peace On Earth

Posted on December 22, 2010 by in EMS, FIRE, POLICE

There is no peace on Earth this Christmas season, but there are peaceful moments. And the only reason that we have such peaceful moments is because of the sheepdogs.