• Ill. officer gives man ride to job interview

    By PoliceOne Staff

    CAHOKIA, Ill. — An officer is getting praise for his act of kindness last Wednesday.

    According to local news station KTVU, Officer Roger Gemoules pulled over 22-year-old Ka’Shawn Baldwin for expired plates. Baldwin also didn’t have a valid driver’s license.

    Baldwin told Gemoules that he was on his way to a job interview and had to borrow the car so he could make it. Gemoules couldn’t let Baldwin drive, so the officer drove him to the interview.

    The best part: Baldwin got the job!

    Here's Ka'Shawn with Officer Roger Gemoules. (Pictured Lt to Rt) Asst Chief Dennis Plew, Chief Dave Landmann, Ka'Shawn Baldwin, Officer Roger Gemoules and Cahokia Mayor Curtis McCall Jr.

    Posted by Francella Jackson on Thursday, April 18, 2019

    Posted by Francella Jackson on Thursday, April 18, 2019

  • Australian singer, songwriter releases song on LEO mental health

    By PoliceOne Staff

    An Australian singer and songwriter responsible for the song about military veterans, “I was only 19,” released a song to support law enforcement officers suffering from mental health issues.

    John Schumann has written and recorded a song entitled “Graduation Day” to support the Police Federation of Australia’s mental health campaign that will go towards supporting serving and retired officers and their families in need.

    “Police all around Australia now have their own song, ‘Graduation Day’. It will remind them that they’re not alone - and it will give the broader Australian community an empathetic insight into the lives of the men and women who hold the ‘thin blue line’,” said Mr Mark Carroll APM, President of the Police Federation of Australia (PFA).

    Carroll says the job of keeping communities safe can carry psychological costs for officers and their families.

    According to a recent Beyond Blue study of first responders, suicidal thoughts among officers are twice as common than the general population with police and other emergency service workers three times more likely to have some sort of suicide plan.

    Schumann said “Graduation Day” took him almost a year to write.

    “The song owes everything to all the police officers around Australia who trusted me with their stories,” Schumann said. “The stories were very hard to listen to - but I got a real insight into what it means to go to work every day to keep the community safe – and then come home with a head full of barbed wire without knowing how to talk about it or what to do about it.”

    Proceeds from the song are being directed to the National Police Foundation to assist officers and their families in need.

  • Mass. K-9 helps find kids trapped in underground bunker

    By PoliceOne Staff LUNENBURG, Mass. — A K-9 officer saved a group of kids trapped in an underground bunker Friday night.

    Jerry the K-9 was able to track down the kids half a mile from a vehicle to the bunker, CBS Boston reports.

    Police say the kids were exploring in the bunker and wind blew the door shut. Someone was able to reach an arm out of an air vent and get reception to call for help.

    The group was trapped for about an hour and a half.

    After Jerry found the group, police were able to force the door open.

    No one was hurt.

  • Product review: Why you should feed your shotgun Hornady TAP ammunition

    Mike Wood
    Author: Mike Wood

    I’ve previously written about the trend to take lethal shotguns out of police cars, which I think is a shortsighted move that deprives officers of a necessary tool. Far from being “antiquated,” the shotgun is a powerful and capable weapon that every officer should have access to when they’re on patrol.

    Like every police weapon, the shotgun can benefit significantly from advances in ammunition technology. While most manufacturers spend a lot of time working to improve the performance of their handgun and rifle ammunition, few pay much attention to their shotgun fodder. It seems there’s a mistaken belief in the industry that shotguns are “low tech,” existing products work “good enough” and there’s no interest in pursuing better performance.

    Fortunately for us, the ammunition wizards at Hornady Manufacturing didn’t get that message.

    Pushing the envelope

    The shotgun may be one of the longest-serving tools in American policing, but that doesn’t mean the platform has been optimized. In looking at the police shotgun, the Hornady Manufacturing engineers saw ample room for improvement in duty ammunition for the venerable tool.

    After looking at available products in the market, the Hornady team identified three areas of concern they wanted to address with their new ammunition for the smoothbore:

    Recoil control: The 12 gauge shotgun – particularly in pump-action guns – has a reputation for beating up the shooter. As police recruitment and demographics have changed over the decades, the appetite for recoil has decreased. Pattern spread: The spreading pattern of a shotgun is both one of its greatest advantages and one of its greatest disadvantages. At shorter ranges, the spread of pellets is not wide enough to be a concern, but as the ranges increase there is a possibility that some of the pellets will stray far enough away from the point of aim that they will create gaps in the pattern and may become a safety hazard. Transition from breaching to defense: Many law enforcement shotguns are being used as breaching tools these days, with specialty frangible ammunition designed to defeat locks and hinges without creating an undue safety hazard for the operator. The problem with this specialty ammunition is that it’s typically ill-suited for anti-personnel use, which means the breacher must quickly transition to another weapon after the door is opened – something which tactical circumstances may or may not allow.

    Hornady knew that any new shotgun products would have to address these concerns to be considered an upgrade over existing products, so they focused their talents on achieving improvements in these areas.

    Bucking the trend

    The Hornady Tactical Application Police (“TAP”) Reduced Recoil OO buck load is Hornady’s answer to the quest for an effective 12 gauge duty load that doesn’t kick too much. The load is designed for 2¾-inch chambered guns and features eight OO buck pellets loaded to reduced velocity to lessen the recoil energy sensed by the shooter.

    Many competitors offer OO buck shells with nine pellets, but these loads tend to produce patterns where eight pellets form a reasonably distributed group, but the ninth pellet strays wide. Since this erratic pellet could be a hazard to innocents, and since the extra mass of the ninth pellet increases the momentum felt by the shooter, Hornady wisely elected to make its TAP Reduced Recoil an eight-pellet load to avoid those problems.

    Hornady also loaded the TAP Reduced Recoil so that the shot column generates a muzzle velocity of about 1,000 fps from the 18.5-inch barrel of the police-favorite Remington 870. This velocity is approximately 100-150 fps less than competing designs, which helps to make the 12 gauge TAP Reduced Recoil shoot softer than other manufacturer’s reduced recoil loads. This helps to improve officer comfort, confidence and performance with the shotgun, while still providing effective terminal performance.

    One of the most significant attributes of the TAP Reduced Recoil load is the tight pattern produced by the “Versatite” wad that cups the shot column as it travels down the barrel. The Versatite wad is designed so that its opening is carefully controlled and metered, which results in the shot column spreading less rapidly after it separates from the wad in free air. Hornady testing has shown that the TAP Reduced Recoil’s pattern spreads approximately 1.325 inches at 7 yards, 2.687 inches at 15 yards and only 4.437 inches at 25 yards from the muzzle. These are exceptionally tight patterns, given the traditional rule of thumb that indicates a pattern will spread about 1 inch for every yard of distance.

    The tight patterns produced by the TAP Reduced Recoil load not only concentrate the power of the shot charge for maximum terminal performance (by improving sectional density and not allowing pellets to escape and miss), but they also extend the effective range of the shotgun. Police officers can fire at more distant targets and still be assured the pattern will remain on the target without creating an undue risk for bystanders in the background. In fact, one agency with a number of shootings utilizing the TAP Reduced Recoil reports that in its latest engagement, every one of the eight pellets hit the suspect at a distance approaching 50 yards. This kind of performance is certainly not the norm for 12 gauge buckshot and demonstrates a distinct advantage of the Hornady load.

    For those agencies desiring a full-power load, Hornady offers the TAP Light Magnum, with a muzzle velocity of around 1428 fps from the 18.5-inch barrel of a Benelli M1 Super 90, one of the most popular semiautomatic shotguns in police service. The TAP Light Magnum is particularly well-suited for semiautomatic guns and uses the Versatite wad to provide similarly tight patterns – only 5.187 inches at 25 yards – that keep all the pellets on target. The TAP Light Magnum is loaded in a red hull to allow easy identification and prevent confusion with the TAP Reduced Recoil, which is loaded in a blue hull.

    Knock, knock

    The Hornady TAP Entry load is a special-purpose product that’s designed to serve as a breaching round, yet still provide effective performance against human threats. The 0.75-ounce slug is made of sintered metal and is designed to disintegrate when fired into door locks and hinges, allowing them to be destroyed without jeopardizing officer safety.

    The unique feature of the TAP Entry is its ability to serve as a personal defense round. The gaping cavity in the nose of the frangible slug ensures it will expand with great energy inside the target, yet still provide sufficient penetration for wounding. When fired into bare, calibrated, 10% ballistic gelatin, the fast moving, 1575 fps slug immediately produces an extremely large temporary cavity, which reaches its maximum dimension just 3 inches into the gelatin. This shallow and explosive temporary cavity is paired with a permanent cavity that reaches the 12-inch minimum required by FBI standards, giving the TAP Entry a wound profile that’s similar to some of the low-penetration, .308 caliber rounds produced by Hornady for law enforcement.

    This is not the typical wound profile for a breaching round, which usually produces explosive, but shallow wounds that won’t reach the vital organs and structures. In contrast, the penetrative capability of the TAP Entry allows an officer to safely breach a door with the shotgun, and still be armed with a capable weapon for self-defense if the situation doesn’t allow the time to switch to a preferred, primary entry weapon. It penetrates deeply enough to incapacitate but does not over penetrate.

    The frangible nature of the TAP Entry also allows it to serve as a training round for steel targets, providing a significantly enhanced margin of safety over traditional lead shotgun slugs, which tend to splash and ricochet after they strike the steel. The TAP Entry is also safer to shoot on steel than buckshot, whose pellets also tend to ricochet off the hard surface and create a hazard for personnel.

    Mission accomplished

    The shotgun still plays a vital role in law enforcement and deserves a place in the police arsenal. Its legendary, fight-stopping performance is dramatically enhanced if it’s fed the right ammunition.

    There’s truth to the saying that “you are what you eat,” and if your shotgun eats the advanced ammunition from Hornady Manufacturing, then you know it’s going to get the job done. There’s no more advanced ammunition on the market for the police shotgun.

    God bless and be safe out there.

  • Columbine copycat: A case for red flag investigations

    James Dudley
    Author: James Dudley

    In April 2019, mere weeks before the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, an 18-year-old woman raised awareness on social media and presumably with friends and family, of her fascination with the horrific incident.

    News reports indicate that the Florida woman was obsessed with the individuals who idealized, planned and carried out the attack on their fellow high school classmates.

    The woman (referred to only by her initials SP in this article) referenced the Columbine shooting, the shooters and an urge to go to Colorado on a “pilgrimage.” She even adopted the clothing style of the killers and referred to the April 20 or “4/20” anniversary.

    Suggestions that she may replicate the event were made via social media and in an e-based journal. Reports of entries in the journal described drawings of the original gun-wielding students from 1999, “firearms and a bloody knife.” She had made attempts on chat rooms to inquire how she could purchase a firearm.

    As 4/20 loomed closer, SP travelled to Colorado from her home state of Florida, to the vicinity of Jefferson County, Colorado, near Columbine. SP purchased a shotgun and ammunition and dressed in camouflage and clothing like the original shooter killers of Columbine High School.

    Federal, state and local authorities launched an intensive search for SP with the intention of a detention and thorough investigation. Area school officials canceled school sessions in anticipation of SP arriving in the area. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people were affected by the alarming threat. Consider the anxiety felt by students and their families, school administrators and faculty, and law enforcement officers involved in the search and area residents. Surely friends and family of SP wished they could have done more.

    News of the discovery of the body of SP, dressed in black shirt, camouflage pants and black boots and found in a nearby rural area, indicated that SP apparently ended the anticipated disaster with a self-inflicted shotgun round. The shotgun was found near her body. The investigation and postmortem continue to help understand issues of motivation, the possibility of confederates in planning, how mental illness may have played a role and other factors.

    Could a red flag action, initiated at an early juncture of this incident, have prevented the critical crescendo?

    The Red Flag Quandary

    In recent years, red flag legislation has given law enforcement the ability to investigate, petition the court, detain and evaluate an individual making threats, and seize any weapons.

    If during the investigation, it is determined that credible threats were deemed to go beyond those otherwise interpreted as rants, the individual may be criminally charged or detained for a mental health evaluation.

    The individual can be arrested and charged with criminal threats in some jurisdictions such as 422 of the California Penal Code. If determined appropriate, the individual may be detained for a 72-hour psychological evaluation and follow-up.

    The SP case certainly raised alarm for red flag advocates, while detractors of red flag laws may have condemned any detention or investigation of the individual, citing First, Second, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment protections. Once the journals were discovered, investigators may have been able to detain and interview SP to determine if threats were specific enough to call for a formal detention or arrest. There is certainly room for debate.

    Overt threats toward individuals and institutions made to friends, families and coworkers or via social media requires attention. Several mass shootings over the years since Columbine had pre-incident indicators that should have raised suspicions. Once law enforcement is alerted to suspicious behavior, expressions of violence and activity towards the act, there is an obligation to investigate.

    The degree of attention may depend on the policies of the affected jurisdictions. Certainly, federal investigative agencies have threat matrix criterion to determine threat levels.

    Threat Matrix Considerations

    Many law enforcement agencies have created checklists to determine the degree of threat based on several contributing factors. A matrix may be used to determine whether a SWAT team is needed on a high-threat search and arrest warrant service. Checklists are used by courts in place of cash bail, to determine if a defendant will return to a court hearing on his own recognizance. Threat assessment teams may use a matrix checklist to calculate threat risk.

    Below is a partial list of some suggested, but certainly not all factors to be considered, when determining next steps in a threat of violence investigation.

      Threats made. Is the threat specific or veiled? Are the threats credible? Are they made in general or indicating a specific individual or institution? Source of the threat. Are threats heard first hand or via a third party? Is the source credible? Is the threat relayed as a “Tarasoff notice” by a medical professional? Victim considerations. What is the proximity of the potential victim target? Do they live with the suspect? Nearby? Do they go to the same worksite or school? Suspect history of threats or violence. Has the subject been arrested or named in prior incidents? Is there a history of felony level violence? Prior incarceration? Mental stability of the suspect. Is there a history of documented mental illness? To what degree? Has the individual been detained for being a danger to themselves or others (5150 W&I)? Suicide potential. A dimension is added if the suspect has expressed suicidal ideation. Desperate suspects may consider suicide by cop to force the hand of law enforcement. Access to weapons. Does the individual have a history of owning firearms or have access to them? Situational awareness. Are there historical connections to the behavior? Is there a looming anniversary of the death of a friend or family member? Dates of significance such as July 4, April 20, 9/11 and others may be triggers to some. Local red flag law compliance. Do other specific aspects to local ordinances apply to the individual? Current legal status. Is the individual under the court supervision of probation, parole or monitored release? Are there other open investigations or outstanding warrants? Are there other law enforcement agencies, local, state or federal who may provide intelligence or additional resources?

    Although red flag laws are not a panacea to avert all critical incidents and mass shootings, they may indeed be useful to avoid some incidents. Had they been in effect, red flag laws may have been able to be used to intervene before shootings that occurred at Virginia Tech, Virginia; Santa Barbara, California; Parkland, Florida, and others.

    Contrary to criticism, the red flag firearms confiscations are not arbitrary or random. Confiscation comes only after a thorough investigation and a petition by a law officer to a judge where probable cause must be articulated (in most states). A follow-up hearing occurs and, if unsubstantiated, the gun owner may petition the court to have them returned.

    Law enforcement should consider red flag laws as a valuable tool in the crime prevention toolbox to be used to prevent a possible tragedy.

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