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firearms

KN, p. 189 “Fifth Anniversary Thank You from the Kerrians”

 

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It’s with great pleasure that we thank you, the readers, for hanging out with us for five years.

 

We’ve taken some really amazing trips to American Civil War battlefields, endured fog and pouring rain on both American and international golf courses, been trapped in elevators, survived bomb scares, witnessed bloody crime scenes, and lived to tell the tales.

 

Some intriguing people have agreed to do interviews about their jobs and in the process, have opened the eyes of our readers far and wide about the rigors of law enforcement in its many forms.

 

Police Academies, Fire Fighter Academies, Emergency Medical Training Schools, Firearms Training sites, Criminal Investigation Facilities –  have all generously allowed us to take photos and chat with the instructors at length. Fascinating stuff.

 

We’ve met with Visiting Detectives – an assortment that included a psychic detective, a vegetarian detective, and a time-traveling detective from the 1800s. Sheila chimed in while they worked on puzzling cases with me. The Vegetarian Detective brought brownies. Yum.

 

Kerrian’s Notebook, Volume 1, which included stories from 2011 and 2012 no longer available on the website, was published in response to the readership that wanted the (over 50) stories from the first year collected into one ebook. Don’t have your copy yet? Click on the link and find it at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HI6YBDG

 

You’ve made the journey fun. And then some.  🙂

During the years, we kept track of which posts were the most popular, which ones you kept visiting over and over again. For research? For another laugh? To prove a point? For some of you, all three. Here is the result.

 

Click on the links and take a look at your Top 10 Favorite Kerrian’s Notebook posts in reverse order thru 2016:

 

  1. Who are the Texas Rangers?” (p.144)

 

  1. Are all handcuffs yellow?” (p.68)

 

  1. What does a Texas Ranger do?” (p.145)

 

  1. How big is that jail cell?” (p.51)

 

  1. Kerrian’s Favorite Chocolate Cheesecake.” (p.45)

 

  1. 100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death.” (p.100)

 

  1. What does a firefighter wear?” (p.119)

 

  1. I Like Pie.” (p.67)

 

  1. How many bodies at the scene?” (p.87)

 

And the most popular post?


  1. How to become a Texas Ranger.” (p.146)

 

Thank you, one and all!  🙂
Next time you’re in town, give us a call. We’re always happy to chat about the latest trip or the trickiest case. If you’re lucky, you might even meet one of the Visiting Detectives. There’s always a pot of coffee on and a piece of pie just begging to be eaten.

 

*Fingerprint photo taken by Patti Phillips at SIRCHIE, in Youngsville, North Carolina.

 

 

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KN, p. 168 “How do you become a US Marshal?”

 

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In the last post, “What does a U.S. Marshal do?” I listed quite a few of the duties that occupy the days of U.S. Marshals working in the various sections of the U.S. Marshal Service.

 

Part 2 of the series deals with qualifications needed to become a member of the oldest federal law enforcement agency in the United States.

 

First and foremost, potential candidates must be U.S. citizens and must be between the ages of 21 and 36. There are exceptions to the upper limit, but they are addressed at the time of application.

 

Before attending academy training, candidates must:

 

  • Have a bachelor’s degree, plus a year of grad school, preferably in an area of criminal justice – with at least a B average in all coursework.
  • Pass a background check – assume that it will be thorough
  • Complete interviews and various screenings – assume they will be intense
  • Be in top physical shape – not just a gym rat
  • Have at least normal vision and hearing
  • Pass the Fitness Test – see below and decide whether you could qualify to be part of the next Academy class

 

Minimum Fitness Standards for Men (30-39) in order to pass:

 

Complete 27 pushups, followed by 36 sit-ups, immediately followed by a 1.5 mile run in less than 13 minutes.

The Superior level is pegged at 51 pushups, 50 sit-ups and that same 1.5 mile completed in less than 9 minutes.

 

Minimum Fitness Standards for Women (30-39) in order to pass:

 

Complete 14 pushups, followed by 27 sit-ups, with the 1.5 miles finished in less than 16 minutes.

Reaching the Superior level requires more than 22 pushups, more than 41 sit-ups and the 1.5 mile run to be completed in less than 12 minutes.

 

The other age charts don’t differ all that much. Let’s face it, if 2-3 pushups more or less would make the difference in your candidacy, you probably aren’t ready yet.

If you are at the minimums when passing the Fitness Test, keep in mind that as an overall candidate, the other parts of your resume will need to be much stronger than at the minimum.

 

Why is it necessary to be in such good shape? The U.S. Marshals in charge of transporting prisoners or apprehending fugitives will need to work in all kinds of extreme weather conditions. The USA has both Alaska and Florida within its borders, with snowstorms, hurricanes, freezing temps as well as sweltering heat to contend with. At times, Marshals may have to wear Kevlar vests in the heat or resist an assault or run for blocks or be in confined spaces with dangerous criminals…you get the idea.

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You’ve passed the initial screening and now it’s time for you to:

 

  • Pass the 21 ½ week basic training program at the United States Marshals Service Training Academy.

 

United States Marshals Service Basic Training Academy is conducted at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), in Glynco, GA. The training is tough and since it is experienced in the intense heat and humidity of the world that is Georgia (USA), potential candidates are warned that top physical condition means just that. To prepare for the intensity of the Academy training, potential candidates are warned to start hydrating weeks before setting one foot at the Center. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, just to stay alive in the brutal summers of the South – forget about all the intense 1 to 10 mile runs combined with workouts, climbing, obstacle courses, and sprints that are coming at unscheduled times during training.

 

Some of the subjects covered during training include:

  • Building entry and search
  • Computer training
  • Court security
  • Defensive tactics
  • Driver training
  • Firearms training
  • High profile trials
  • Officer survival
  • Physical conditioning
  • Prisoner search and restraint
  • Search and seizure
  • Surveillance

 

There are seven exams given during the 21+ weeks. Each test must be passed with a score of at least 70%. There are additional practical exams scored with a pass/fail.

 

The subjects covered during training are necessary knowledge that a U.S. Marshal must internalize in order to do his/her job well. Lives depend on doing that job well.

 

Post Academy

 After successfully completing the training program and getting out into the field, U.S. Marshals are required to attend annual training sessions to maintain proficiency in certain areas or to learn new forensic techniques available.

 

Every six months, re-qualification is required for primary and off-duty handguns, rifles, shotguns, and perhaps submachine or semi-automatic guns if needed.

 

Once a year, re-qualification is required for batons and stunguns, as well as other non-lethal devices.

 

After seven years, the Deputy U.S. Marshals attend an advanced basic training session.

 

Think the training and ongoing retraining is something you could handle? From all reports, the job is an interesting one most of the time. There are reports to file, stake-outs to sit through and occasional boring parts of the work, but although sometimes dangerous, the job of a US Marshal is  essential to keep our court and judicial system running smoothly.

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For more information, please visit www.usmarshals.gov

Photo credits:

Collage of badges edited from the US Marshal website
Middle and bottom badge photos – Wikipedia

 

 

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KN, p. 83 “Don’t shoot your foot!”

 

 

 We’ve all seen TV shows and movies where nobody (good guy or bad) can hit the broad side of a barn. After a gazillion rounds, not one single bullet has connected with the intended targets and the only thing hurt is the house/car/fruit stand between the shooter and the person they were supposedly trying to hit. The typical viewer conclusion is that the cops are bad shots or that the script is meant to be a comedy.

 

Guess what? It’s not as easy to shoot on target as you might think.

 

I’m a decent shot with my S & W snubnose .38 personal revolver and my Glock service piece when I’m at the firing range, standing still facing a suspect straight on, or when crouched behind the cruiser, but I’ve never had to shoot at anybody on the run. And, not a large percentage of real-life law enforcement officers outside metropolitan areas do either. I’ve been told there are some police officers that have never fired their department issued guns their entire careers.

 

Back in the 1980s, the FBI did a study about gunfights. They found that most shootings were under three yards, lasted about three seconds, involved three or less rounds (bullets), and the hits? About 20% on target.

 

For the guys and gals who want to work in the larger towns and cities, practice is the only way to make sure that the guns can be relied upon to do their jobs. Sessions at the range are required only three or four times a year in most communities, but instructors are usually available for refresher tips and the department pays for the ammo. However, if I want to visit the range more often – once a month to stay as proficient as the drug dealers I might go up against – I pay for my own ammo. It varies, but ammo for my .38 revolver costs between 50 cents and a buck a bullet unless I can get a deal.

 

But, even a top shot needs more training than shooting at a bulls-eye type target and learning deadly force policy. It’s not enough to be able to shoot the gun in a quiet, controlled setting. Police academies are now including Meggitt FATS (Firearms Training Simulator) or Meggitt training, as a safe way to place officers (and civilians) in scenarios that mimic real life. Interactive videos might include shooting in a crowded mall, deciding whether a twelve year old getting out of a vehicle is armed and dangerous, choosing which of two similar looking women is a fleeing suspect with a gun…and the copied-from-actual-cases list goes on.

 

The first time I tried the simulator, I was so distracted by the people who were in motion in the scene that I shot a file cabinet. Dead. My instructor didn’t laugh, because while I was busy shooting office furniture and wasting rounds, the ‘suspect’ got away.

A few of the areas covered during the best refresher training:

1)   low-light and decision-making shooting

2)   shooting while moving to cover

3)   one-handed firing

4)   multiple targets

5)   verbal challenges

6)   what to do when the gun malfunctions while under fire

 

Rules that actual flesh and blood cops live by?

They try to avoid getting into gunfights, but if the bullets start flying, they know:

 

1   Real cops don’t fire warning shots.

2)   Real cops don’t shoot guns out of a suspect’s hand

3)   Real cops don’t cut vans in half with machine guns.

4)   They do aim for the center of the body.

In an actual exchange of gunfire, the heart rate goes up, palms start sweating, the mouth goes dry, hearing is distorted, tunnel vision often occurs, fine motor skills decrease, thought processes slow down, and officers can get the shakes because they are operating on adrenaline. The only way to combat and reduce the natural ‘fight and flight’ response is to train, train, train to develop muscle memory.

 

 

 

Thanks to Rick McMahan, a former special agent with Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, an instructor at the Writers’ Police Academy conferences for several years. His classes have been an invaluable source of information.

Additional information from www.PoliceOne.com

 

*Photos by Patti Phillips

 

 

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