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Articles featured in the March, 1998 edition

Officer Survival - Threat from the net

Forget for a moment about the threat to your life when you're on a call.Take yourself away from a dangerous situation where some guy is thinking of taking your gun before going to jail. The thought of killing a cop may sometimes enter into a suspect's head as a split second decision out of desperation. As dangerous as this situation may be, the real danger exists with the ones who are in advance, methodically planning to hurt us. Anti police web sites are growing at an alarming rate. Those who post such sites are either upset with us over what they perceive as injustice, bad treatment and harassment or are a part of a hate group targeting us as well as others. Bitching about being stopped by the police is one thing, but advocating a war against police officers is outright absurd and very disturbing. I recently visited a website where the owner of the site (who identifies himself fully even with a photo) is offering $1000 for anyone who kills a cop engaged in what he describes is oppressive activities. You can view the web site at but be aware that it contains some very explicit language.... what else can you expect from an idiot like that?

Officer survival also applies to maintaining your home and taking care of your family. We all know that citizen's complaints, whether warranted or not - cause stress, effect the way we work and if serious enough, may result in termination. A new organization called the Police Complaint Center is helping people file complaints against officers through a web page. You can visit the site at: The site also has photos of officers the organization deems bad and encourages people to file complaints against them.

To protect yourself, start venturing into these sites and educate yourself about these people just as you do with dopers and gang members. These people want your job, they want to destroy you. Do not let them accomplish this task. Most important, be careful next time someone wants to snap a flick of you or put you on tape... you never know where it will end up. Funny thing is when a dude like the one pictured here busts their bedroom window at 2am, the first people they call is us.

You're Off Duty - "I feel naked without my off duty weapon"

I recently went on vacation to a northern city in California. Working as a Police Officer in the state, I had the option of taking my off duty weapon with me. I carry a Beretta 92fs 9mm handgun pretty much everywhere I go
these days. Because I had to fly to my destination, I opted to leave the gun at home.

It just seems like such a hassle to check in a weapon at the airport. First you have to get there extremely early and contact the security desk. You have to show them that your gun is unloaded and secured… in front of hundreds of people who are walking by… might as well have a blinking sign on my back saying "COP".

After the security guard (who usually can’t even handle an automatic) is done inspecting your weapon, they slap a florescent "GUN" sticker on your bag and you can not take it on the plane with you. This means that some $6/hr baggage handler will handle my bag. I don’t know about you but I’ve seen enough TV special reports about what happens to luggage behind the scenes.

So, the gun stays home and I’m on my way to a great relaxing weekend, so I thought. To be perfectly honest, I felt extremely insecure without a weapon. It’s funny, my friends who work at offices and stores never carried a gun in their life, yet they are calm and relaxed most everywhere they go. Maybe I became paranoid after dealing with victims out on the street. Maybe I am less na´ve then my civilian friends. What ever it is, it’s a feeling I can’t get rid of. I was walking in downtown, with thousands of people around but my eyes were scanning for the culprit. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re worried.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast but that feeling was always in the back of my head. So, what’s the solution? I guess if I knew it – I wouldn’t be writing this article. My weapon gives me a sense of security both on and off duty. It’s a trade off between the hassle and the concern of someone else handling a bag with your gun, knowing there is a gun in there and leaving that sense of security behind. I know one thing for sure: If I was put in a situation where I could have used my gun to protect me or my family from harm and I did not have my gun with me, I could never forgive myself.

FUNNY CORNER - Our justice system at its best

A Charlotte, North Carolina man, having purchased a case of rare, very expensive cigars, insured them against ... get this

Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of fabulous cigars, and having yet to make a single premium payment on the policy, the man filed a claim against the insurance company.

In his claim, the man stated that he had lost the cigars in "a series of small fires." The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion. The man sued...and won.

In delivering his ruling, the judge stated that since the man held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable, and also guaranteed that it would insure the cigars against fire, without defining what it considered to be "unacceptable fire," it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss. Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the judge's ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he lost in "the fires."

** This is the funny part ***

After the man cashed his check, however, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of arson.With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used as evidence against him, the man was convicted of intentionally burning the rare cigars and sentenced to 24 consecutive one year terms.

Public Image - Only so much we can do for people

Being a cop means dealing with everyone’s problems. From family disturbances to drunks to addicts, we see it all. It seems that when we show up on a scene, we are supposed to solve the problem for good. Unfortunately we provide a very temporary solution. How can you expect an officer to come into a family problem that has been going on for years and solve it in 10 minutes?

Being a parent, I find it very hard to deal with families who have problems with their teenagers. It is a very important and sometime confusing stage in a child’s life. It is also very confusing for a parent who sees their child change so rapidly. All of a sudden they do not talk to the parents as much as they used to, they lack motivation to help around the house, they become rebellious and they tend to test the parents.

When I respond to situations where parents declare their kids "out of control" for those reasons, I have to stop and think for a minute before coming down on the kid. I was there too, as a kid and as a parent. You have to dig deep into the cause of the kid’s behavior and many times you will find that it is a result of the parent’s extreme reaction to the changes occurring in their son or daughter.

It is important to talk to the parents and try to educate them abut the stage. It is just as important to talk to the kids and set them straight. Many parents suggest that maybe a couple of days in jail, juvenile hall or a youth camp will set their kids straight. In my opinion, it is an opportunity for a kid who has not been involved in criminal activity, to associate with criminals. At a stage where the teenager is still trying to find him/herself, they can be influenced very easily. Befriending a teen that has been involved in criminal acts would only worsen the situation.

The solution? Get the family together around the table while you are there. Have an open discussion between the parents, the problem child and other siblings residing in the house. It can only help bring out problems and solutions. Keep in touch with the family to see how they are doing and if available, suggest counseling. Remember that kids will be kids, we have to deal with it, not fight it.

Dispatch - My Story of Mr. Sebastian

As a 9-1-1 Telecommunications Operator (commonly known as just a dispatcher), with around six years of service in a pretty large city and now currently work in my home town there have been situations that I’ve been in that are really heart breaking. I would like to share one of those calls that I received that has really affected my life, because I’m constantly reminded of that one call in my mind.

I was working at the Fort Smith Police Dispatch Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas and everything was going as normal, (normal: every police officer on duty in the city wanting some type of information all at once). Then the 9-1-1 telephone rang and I answered (9-1-1 What is your emergency?)

At once I noted that the older male voice was having difficulty in his breathing. He had so much difficulty that he could barely pronounce his name. I was thankful that his name showed up on the Enhanced 9-1-1 Screen, Sebastian. He kept saying to me "Help me, I cannot breath. Help me, oh God."

I told Mr. Sebastian to just stay on the telephone line while I transferred the call over to the Emergency Medical Service Dispatch. Once connected to EMS I noted to them of Mr. Sebastian’s address location and help was on the way with police and medical responding.

I kept telling Mr. Sebastian, "Do not hang up the telephone Mr. Sebastian, help is on the way." I kept asking "Mr. Sebastian, are you still there?" and all that I could hear was his difficulty in breathing.

As the instructor for the 9-1-1 class noted in the class that minutes seem like hours during an immediate emergency. I was personally feeling it at this time. I kept telling Mr. Sebastian "Hang on Mr. Sebastian, Help is on the way!" and every so often I could hear two taps of the telephone receiver.

There before long the taping of the telephone receiver stopped. This was at the same time the law enforcement officer arrived on the scene. I kept listening on the phone, waiting to hear the sound of the officer coming into the room of the house, coming to the rescue of Mr. Sebastian. I’m sorry to say, I never heard it. There was no sound on the telephone at all. Dead silence!... The Emergency Medical Service Personnel finally arrived at the scene and it was then that I heard movement’s on the telephone line in the room from where Mr. Sebastian had called me from. Then the telephone was hung up by someone in the room.

I try to not make it a habit to call the EMS Dispatch Center to check on a Patient’s condition following an emergency call. I try not to get personally involved. But I just had to check this one time, on Mr. Sebastian’s condition.

The EMS dispatcher, whom I speak with on a daily basis in the transfer of emergency medical calls answered the telephone and I ask "Betty, how is Mr. Sebastian?" Betty told me that Mr. Sebastian did not make it. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. I could not believe it. I was just talking with him on the telephone line.

Where was the officer at when he arrived on the scene? Why didn’t the officer go into the house to help Mr. Sebastian instead of waiting outside in the front of the house to direct the EMS Unit to the scene? This guy needed emergency help, where and when was he going to get it?

I have to tell you that I was very upset in the actions that the officer took on this call. But I later found that the officer could not handle a situation of conducting CPR and I have to live with the outcome now.

I remember often of the call that I received from Mr. Sebastian and without even knowing him my heart had went out for him and his family.

I don’t think that the citizens of the community understands that no matter how professional you try to be in your duties as a dispatcher, there are always emergency calls that personally affect your individual lives, no matter what.

At times it is a very difficult job to deal with, but you also have to remind yourself day in and day out. That there will be another Mr. Sebastian calling 9-1-1 in the future that will need emergency help and you may be the difference between life and death and the immediate response of emergency medical and police personnel.

-- Steven Gann
Communications Officer
Van Buren Police Department
Van Buren, Arkansas

E-Mail VBPD:

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You Eat That? - Burgers and fries, burgers and fries

You think the bad guy is the only enemy out on the streets? You’re wrong. The drive-thru is a slow killer that sucks you in daily and then unleashes a horrible punishment called a "gut". Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve been in a cruiser for more than 5 years most likely you are sporting one right now. It may be small and it may be big, but the bottom line – it’s there.

The gut has an friend called a "bullet proof vest". Just like people, because they spend long periods of times together they fight quite a bit. You see, the gut wants to go everywhere, the vest says "NO!". The vest sometimes has to get nasty with the gut by holding the gut down against your belt… you may feel a pinch as a result.

I’m joking around but the truth is serious. The more junk you eat on the street the bigger your chances of developing a heart condition. – and you don’t want that. Not only is sporting a gut uncomfortable and dangerous, it doesn’t look good (I’m looking at mine right now… it doesn’t look good at all).

What can you do about it?

First step: every department has a 6’5" 280lbs officer who spends all of his time off in the gym. Get together with him (or her) and write down a work-out program. Just as you clean you gun and attend briefing every day, stick to your work-out program. You will see a change.

Second step: avoid the drive-thru. Actually, avoid fast food period. Take an extra 20 minutes before you leave for work and throw in a couple of turkey sandwiches (no mayo), two apples, and orange and some saltine crackers. If you must stop by a fast food joint, grab a chicken sandwich with no mayonnaise and absolutely NO FRIES!… take a small salad with low fat dressing instead.

To find out just how much fat is in your junk food, swing by for the latest numbers.

Internal Affairs - Are You Under The Gun?

Last year I was the subject of an Internal Affairs investigation. Definitely not the best feeling in the world. The investigation stemmed from a citizen complaint over a traffic stop.

I was assigned to midnight patrol in a one man car. Sometime around 2am I stopped a new red Mercedes Benz for running a red light. I walked up to the driver who was a white male in his 50’s wearing a nice three piece suit. As always I started with a "good morning" and proceeded to explain to the driver the reason he was pulled over. The driver was calm, listened to what I had to say and told me he was in a hurry to get home and was sorry for running the red light. I issued a citation and sent the man on his way.

A week later, I found a sealed department envelope in my box. It could only mean two things: paycheck, or notice of an internal investigation. Well, lets say it wasn’t exactly payday if you know what I mean. A complaint was filed against me for use of profanity, and disrespect to others. The first thing you do is think back on all the things you've done in your lifetime and try to guess which one are you being nailed for now. That traffic stop did not even cross my mind. Only after reviewing my log did I realize the origination.

Not only do you have to deal with the feeling of being a victim here, but you also have to explain yourself to fellow officers, your family and of course – your supervisors. Even though I knew all the allegations were lies, I felt that not everyone believed me, and that hurt the most. I probably saved someone’s life out there that night by stopping this guy, and that’s what I get in return?. I know it comes with the job but it’s easy to say… hard to deal with when you’re in the middle of it.

I think that with more public resentment towards the police and with more departments protecting their you know what, officers become victims every day. I was lucky this time, found "unable to settle"…. But what will happen next time?

COP's Rights - Because the crooks have way too many.

I attended a seminar not to long ago where we watched a video shown to law students and defense attorneys who are looking to make money out of suing cops. It explained in detail how to get our personal information from the Lexis-Nexus database and how to find out what possessions we own down to microwaves and refrigerators bought on credit cards. I sat there in disbelief watching how some twenty five year old kid is building a plan to take everything I ever worked for, away from me.

The guy teaching this disgusting class took a DWI case as an example. The first objective is for the attorney is to get their client off the hook. He went as far as saying that a 2 minute difference in time on separate forms could be an argument he could stretch out for days with a jury. In addition to attacking the paperwork, he suggested the defense attorneys attack the credibility and every aspects of the officer’s behavior. He said "think about the reward… that will get you motivated…" sick ha?

The next step, if the client is found not guilty, is to contact an attorney who specializes in suing cops. He urged the students to set up a network of such contacts and to work out a percentage type deal for division of settlements. Some of the charges he said should be filed against the officer are unlawful detention, false arrest, violation of 4th amendment rights, lost wages, stress, suffering etc…. the more charges, the better chance of something sticking.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I never arrested a drunk driver who wasn’t drunk. The thought of losing my house, cars and more scared me. I took this video and made good of it. From that day on, I write better reports, have witnesses to my actions, synchronize times on different forms and try to make the arrest as rock solid as possible. Don’t give the defense attorney the open door. My attitude towards them, "you’re not breaking me – you’re making me"… heard that before?

GANGS - Will there ever be an end?

How many more time will we hear "suspect is a male, shaved head, wearing a white t-shirt, baggy pants and sneakers"? It's become a daily deal... we can describe the suspects before the broadcast even comes out. We know for a fact that all street gangs are involved in some kind of criminal activity. From petty theft and grand theft auto to more serious crimes such as drive by shootings, armed robberies and murder, we have identified the source of a large % of crime on our country. Why the hell are we not actively working on eliminating these guys?

When I joined Law Enforcement, I thought part of our job was to eliminate the gang problem and put these thugs out of circulation (by the I mean away from society, not from the earth). Years later, I now know that our jobs is to take the reports from gang crime victims and that's about it. The fault spans across several fronts. Mom and Dad of dear gang member, where are you? when are you going to stop saying "it's just a the clothing style these days"? I strongly believe that the parents of a minor gang member still living at home should be criminally held responsible for all of their son/daughter's action.

Next, (you knew this was coming) our criminal justice system... yeah yeah I know, it's full and overloaded, understaffed etc. So what? Start telling this to every victim of a crime and soon enough pressure will start to come down on the politicians.

Another contributor to this situation are the civil right organizations who make it a point to protect the heck out of these "great contributors to society". I am not speaking against constitutional rights but some of these organization go to battle for these thugs, defending them from any legislation which will make it easier for us to curve this never-ending problem

We hear about gang violence every day on the news. Much more than we hear about gang sweeps, arrests and convictions. It gets frustrating to see the people who are prayed upon by these cowards who have no respect for life, property and the law. Being a gang member should be against the law. Being an associate should be against the law. With numbers of gang members growing rapidly, we are headed towards a generation full of crime, full of victims and lots of hopelessness.

OUT'A BEAT - Cops making music

Out'a Beat is the official band of the Whittier Police Department. Created in 1994 by four Police Officers from the department, the band plays a vast array of swing dance tunes from the early years of the rockabilly style. The group's influences include artists such as Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and the Stray Cats. Out'a Beat has also rejuvenated songs from the 50's and 60's that include hits from Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and Elvis.

Pictured to the right are the band members (left to right): Jeff Piper (guitar), Jeff Piazza (bass), Mike Karson (vocals and guitar) and Jim Demasi (drums).

The band has provided entertainment for numerous festivals, charity events, weddings, private engagements and clubs. Some of the venues that have requested the band's appearance include: Planet Hollywood, The Arrowhead Pond, Whittier Uptown Festival, Q's Sports Bar, Hudson's Grill, St. Bruno's Carnival and the Whittier Concert in the Park where over 3000 attendees voted Out'a Beat "BEST BAND 1996".

The band is now busy producing their first CD which will be available in the near future. For event booking and all other information, contact Officer Mike Karson at (562)945-8289 or (562)408-7224. Demo tape and references are available and Out'a Beat supplies all the necessary equipment.

Listen to "Love Sick" performed by Out'a Beat using RealAudio.