It’s cold out there. It’s been cold for months, with snow and ice and freezing rain getting in the way of daily life. Cops in Florida rarely have to deal with a drop in temperature, but almost every other state in the USA has a winter of some kind. That means, cold weather traffic stops, cold weather arrests, suspect chases in the snow, recovering evidence in bad weather conditions, and the list goes on. Just because the wet stuff is falling out of the sky doesn’t mean that crime stops. It may slow down a bit – after all, the criminals have to get around on the same slippery roads that we do – but unless there is an all out blizzard, somebody is still trying to get away with something.
Cops on street patrol need to stay warm while tromping through snowy sidewalks and answering calls for help. Other police officers will be responding to traffic accidents caused by slippery, ice and snow-covered roads.
How do they stay warm while being outside for hours at a time, often with no way to get inside to warm up or dry off until the shift is over or the accident is cleared?
They wear layers of clothes made of special materials that shed moisture or wick it away from the skin. They wear hats that cover the ears in below freezing weather. They wear flexible gloves, also made from great materials. They wear watch caps or skull caps. In other words, they wear clothes that you might see on hunters or skiers or guys and gals that are used to spending time in the bitter cold.
They use common sense and keep their heads covered. I would add: keep the neck opening covered as well. That helps keep the body heat from escaping and being wasted. A long time ago when I was still skiing, a savvy instructor told us to wrap scarves around our necks and we would stay warmer that way. It seemed like an easy fix to stop me from shivering and it worked.
A great liner for a winter parka is a fleece zip-out for the really cold days. It adds a layer of protection against the wind, and if designed correctly, can be worn alone. I wear my fleece liner as a jacket when playing golf on chilly days.
Gore-Tex is used in the firefighter uniforms and police officers also benefit from its reliable waterproof and windproof features. Parka length jackets are popular because they cover the back down to the tailbone, really important when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing. Some of the parkas have quilted liners, some have pile lining, but the best ones are warm, without being bulky.
You can bundle up and have your body stay nice and toasty while working outside in blustery weather, but if your feet are uncomfortable, you will be miserable all day long. Take it from me, ya gotta have a pair of great waterproof boots that flex from heel to toe, as well as being non-slip. There are several great designs being made these days that allow law enforcement officers to run comfortably and more safely if they have to get through the woods or over uneven, snow covered surfaces quickly. The high boots work best for me and a couple of companies make a side zip version of that.
Another cold weather concern is the guns. Obviously, a law enforcement officer needs to be able to rely on the firearms to be ready to fire when needed. The only way to do that is to make sure it is properly cleaned and maintained. See “Did you clean your gun this week?” here.
Beyond the actual cleaning, extreme temperatures affect a gun’s performance because of the oil/lubricants used. I have it on good authority that the best cold weather oil/lubricant is from Remington and is supposed to work to -40F degrees. Some guys I know never clean their guns, but then they don’t have to rely on them in cold weather either. But, a great lubricant will help protect the gun from the extreme temperatures. Checking/cleaning it periodically will help prevent it from accumulating gunk during the winter.
Frostbite harms the fingers and toes, but hypothermia (body core temperature dropping too low) can kill. Better to be protected than injured or dead.
For more information:
Snowy gate: Patti Phillips
Fleece liner: Blauer catalog
Glock parts: Wikipedia
Worried about your personal safety on Halloween? Afraid to leave your house unguarded, because of potential break-ins while you’re at the party across town? Think crime spikes on Halloween?
Seriously? That may depend on where you live, what day of the week Halloween occurs and whether or not it’s cold that night. Apparently, criminals don’t like to go out on cold and rainy nights any more than we do.
A Columbus, Ohio, TV program – Crime Tracker10 – looked into safety on Halloween in 2013, wondering if there were more break-ins while people were out trick-or-treating. And they found nothing remarkable at all, just some underage drinking, and occasional theft. They had to look back at statistics from several years ago to find anything as serious as disorderly conduct on the books. They did find that the area police departments traditionally put on extra patrol officers that night. A visible cop presence may be enough to keep the unfriendlies at home for the night.
Boston area residents don’t seem to have the same experience. The numbers on this chart published by the Boston Globe shows violent crime rates in the city during a four-year period. “The evening violent crime count on October 31 is about 50 percent higher than on any other date during the year, and twice the daily average.” Pretty grim. I would stay home or drive my kids to a party, walk them to the door, and not do any neighborhood trick-or-treating.
A website devoted to information about forensics colleges found that certain areas of the country focus on prevention of specific Halloween crimes:
Halloween is celebrated all over the world, and in 2013, a reporter in the UK looked into Halloween crime in the USA. He found some pretty nasty cases, but I’ll only chat about two. You can read about the rest by clicking on the link.
1) A nine-year-old girl dressed in a black costume, complete with black hat and white tassel, was accidentally shot by a relative who thought she was a skunk. She was outside her house in Pennsylvania when he fired a shotgun, hitting her in the shoulder, arm, back and neck.
I don’t know about you, but all the nine-year-olds I ever met were at least four times the size of the biggest skunk I’ve ever seen. The report did not mention whether alcohol was involved.
2) When people in Delaware saw a body hanging from a tree in 2005, they assumed it was a Halloween decoration. Nope. By the time anyone realized that it was actually a dead woman, she had been there for three hours.
I doubt that I will be able to pass an outdoor Halloween display again, without checking to see that the scarecrows really are made of straw.
Stay safe everyone and have a Happy Halloween!
Arrests are rarely neat and tidy, or take place with little resistance from the suspect(s). If the charge is for a misdemeanor, too many parking tickets, or a problem with overdue child support, the suspect might cooperate. But, hardly anybody actually wants to go to jail.
If a car is seen weaving across lanes on a busy road, an officer might have cause to assume that something is wrong. Drunk driver? Distracted driver swatting at a bee in the car? Texting driver? Any of these scenarios require the officer to be on the alert, but might not require an automatic call for backup. He/she is facing what is called an Unknown Risk. The officer will follow protocol and call in the plate number or use his onboard computer to research outstanding warrants and ownership of the car. If flashing the patrol car light bar gets the driver to pull over so that the officer can investigate the reason for the odd behavior, then the stop may just end with a warning or a ticket.
Sometimes suspects are caught in the act of a committing a felony and they try to make a run for it (perhaps after a bank robbery or a drug deal goes south) hoping they can lose the cops in traffic or on deserted back roads. “Suspect fleeing the scene,” may be called in if it’s witnessed, and officers in pursuit are facing a Known Risk. It becomes a High Risk situation if guns are involved. The chase can continue beyond city limits, as long as it is an active pursuit.
Once the chase ends, the officers need to control the situation as much as possible, keeping their own position and the suspect’s position clearly in mind at all times.
Safety procedures the officers might follow if warranted:
If the chase ends during the daytime, the officer will angle the patrol cars to block off streets and people for their own protection, getting as close as possible to the suspects to control the developing situation.
You give up cover if you are not positioned behind a door, so the officers will try to stay behind a car door while the scene unfolds. Bullets will pierce doors, but at least a car door will slow the bullet down. Hopefully, the officers will be wearing bulletproof vests, but even a notebook will slow down a bullet, although not by much. There are degrees of cover and there are very few times of absolute cover.
At night, the officers will create a curtain of light – that is, shine lights on the suspect’s face so that he/she can’t see the officers.
Officers in patrol cars generally carry a shotgun because it commands respect. People pretty much stop in their tracks when they hear the sound of a shotgun being racked.
It is essential to get as much information about the people inside the car as possible, before any further action is taken. If there are tinted windows in the car, the officer will try to talk the people out. If the officer can’t? Then, officers are trained to wait the suspects out. It’s usually only a matter of time before the occupants of the car will make a move.
Officers will risk the K-9s if they need to, in order to encourage the suspects to get out of the car or even to stay put.
If the officer feels the trunk needs to be investigated, he/she will have the suspect pop the trunk so that the officer maintains control.
Once the suspect gets out of the car, the officer will have him/her kneel or lie on the ground to be cuffed.
The suspect needs to be frisked before being placed in the patrol car.
The inside of a patrol car is bare bones for a reason. Suspects are often sick inside the patrol car, or even go to the bathroom in there. Yup, right in the back seat. This plain design makes it easier to hose out and also cuts down on places to hide sharp objects, etc.
Once the suspects have been cuffed and frisked, the officer places them inside the patrol car.
There were no guns in the hands of the suspects in this scenario, so the situation was handled fairly easily and was resolved in about an hour.
Please Note: none of the gals in the photos are criminals. They were attendees at the 2013 Writers’ Police Academy and were helping to re-enact a ‘Known Risk’ stop, complete with yelling and back-talk to the officers. Good sports, all! 🙂
Many thanks to the instructors at The Writers’ Police Academy (2013) and the volunteers from the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department (NC) who gave so generously of their time during their days off.
*Photos taken by Patti Phillips
The re-enactment was conducted at night and demonstrated how difficult it is for anyone to see what’s happening (officers or suspects) while the action unfolds. After I took the photos, I used a photo correction app to adjust the lighting, so that you could see the positions of the people and the cars.
Compare the two versions of the same image below.
#1 (the original image) shows how dark it really was outside.
#2 was adjusted so that you can see the demo.