Public Safety Frequently Asked Questions
Click the question to reveal Scott's answer
SilverHart‘s team of experts includes firefighters on duty to answer your questions. Join or Login now for unlimited access to the best in the business.
Turnout gear is what firefighters wear to battle blazes, give aid to car accident victims, and assist other agencies with various tasks.
While the outer jacket is what most are familiar with, it’s the rest of the uniform that is seldom seen or known.
There are three layers involved – the thermal liner, the moisture barrier and the outer shell.
The Thermal Liner
This layer has greatest impact on reducing the stress associated with a fire’s heat by providing thermal protection. This layer traps air in or between layers of nonwoven material quilted to a face cloth fabric. The thermal and moisture layers combine to provide about 75 percent of the protection for the firefighter.
The Moisture Barrier
This mid-layer protects the firefighter from water, chemicals and viral agents. It’s made of PolyTetraFluoroEthylene (PTFE) which is a permeable film barrier laminated to a flame-resistant material.
The Outer Shell
This is the first line of protection from the heat by providing flame resistance and maintaining the effectiveness of the other two liners. It also protects the firefighter from cuts and abrasions from debris or building materials. While this provides the least amount of thermal protection, it is an important piece of th entire ensemble.
Firefighters must also carefully choose which clothes they wear beneath the three layer system. Some fabrics attract heat or melt, while cotton base layers remain neutral under thermal stress.
The National Fire Protection Association‘s 1851 Standard on Selection, Care, and Maintenance of Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting governs turn out gear standards.
NFPA 1851 mandates that an advanced inspection of all personal turnout gear be conducted at a minimum of every 12 months or whenever routine inspections indicate that a problem may exist.
SilverHart‘s team of experts includes professionals qualified as expert witnesses on duty to answer your questions. Join or Login now for unlimited access to the best in the business.
What Is An Expert Witness?
An expert witness is someone the court recognizes as having specialized education, training, experience, or skill in a subject above that of an average person. The degree of expertise is such that others accept their opinion as officially or legally accurate.
The expert witness may be called upon to give an opinion about facts known or physical evidence of a nature critical to the outcome of a hearing. Experts may be rebutted, and more often than not it is their reputation that is attacked more so than their mere opinion.
Role Of An Expert Witness
The basic role is to add a level of verification or validation for items or topics foreign to the court. Doctors may further describe a cause of death, a psychiatrist may discuss degrees of sanity, a technician may explain why something did or didn’t operate properly or a firearms expert may explain a bullet’s trajectory.
Each party may call expert witnesses to refute each other’s witness. The courts place a high value on the expert, and in the event of illegitimate or illegal conduct such as perjury, there are serious penalties against the expert. While they do provide additional information critical to a case, they are sometimes seen as hired guns, willing to work for whoever pays the most.
SilverHart‘s team of experts are on duty to answer your questions. Join or Login now for unlimited access to the best in the business.
What Is The Mourning Band
The preferred mourning band is a solid black band that will fit tightly around your agency’s badge. For most badges, the mourning band should be worn straight across the center of the badge.
For star badges, the mourning band should be worn from 11 to 5, as if looking at the face of a clock. The width of the black band should not exceed ½ inch.
Mourning bands with the thin blue line are not preferred, although some agencies use them.
When Should The Mourning Band Be Worn?
Black mourning bands shall be worn on a law enforcement badge only in the following circumstances:
- Upon the line of duty death of an active law enforcement officer (LEO) in your department. The mourning band should be worn for a period of thirty days from the date of death.
- By all LEO in uniform or in civilian clothing while displaying a badge when attending the funeral of an active LEO. Upon the completion of the funeral, the mourning band shall be removed.
- Upon the line of duty death of a LEO from a neighboring jurisdiction. The mourning band will be worn from the date of death and removed at the conclusion of the day of burial.
National Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15th).
The day of any memorial service your agency has honoring your department’s LEO’s who have died in the line of duty.
At the direction of your sheriff, agency director or chief of police, when special circumstances dictate that a department display of official mourning is appropriate.
Where Can I learn More?
SilverHart‘s team of experts are on duty to answer your questions. Join or Login now for unlimited access to the best in the business.
What Are The Top Three Killers Of Law Enforcement? WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE
What are the top three killers of law enforcement:
- Wear your vest
- Slow down
- Get your heart checked
SilverHart‘s team of experts are on duty to answer your questions. Join or Login now for unlimited access to the best in the business.
Contents Of A Police Go-Bag
Whatever form it may take, it is essential that your patrol bag be stocked with the necessary tools of the trade. Like your radio, your patrol bag is an umbilical cord linking you to the equipment that can save your life. It can also make your job easier and your eight hours more comfortable.
When I was a rookie cop in the early 1980s, I carried a thick, gray, plastic Samsonite briefcase. I had everything I needed in it, and it was nearly indestructible. You could run that case over, as I did, drop it, and kick it. It was also very heavy when loaded with forms. But the important thing was that it worked for me. I carried a more modern patrol bag at the end of my career. It was a black ballistic nylon model I purchased online. See, I can keep up with the times.
Buy Rugged Gear
As with my patrol bag, I always had one main criterion when choosing my equipment: ruggedness. One reason for this is that the cost of gear adds up quickly, and I didn’t make much when I started out in law enforcement. My wife always told me, “Buy it if it will protect you.” But I wanted to make sure whatever I purchased would last, both for economic reasons and for my safety.
I looked at every piece of equipment critically and tried to imagine how it would stand up to working rotating shifts in rain, freezing temperatures, and being bounced around in my black-and-white. I always wore a dive watch. No, I didn’t dive. I chose that watch because it stood up to the abuse I had to give it, and it was waterproof.
It was the same with my off-duty gun, my patrol knife, and all my other gear. The patrol bags I carried had to stand up to the same use and abuse. I didn’t want to be buying a new one constantly, and I didn’t want one giving out when I needed it most.
Carry Lots of Ammo
I used to stock anything I could think of in that patrol bag, sort of like a hardware store. But first and foremost I carried plenty of ammunition. I remember in the ’80s when the FBI had its famous shootout with bank robbers in Miami. One of the decorated surviving agents said afterward, “Carry as much ammo as you possibly can.” I never forgot that message.
I carried as many .40 caliber rounds for my Glock pistol and .223 rounds for my AR-15 as I could hump in that bag. I would buy old magazines from the department armorer and stuff them with .223 rounds. I also carried 12-gauge double 00 buck and slug ammo. I cannot overstress the importance of carrying ammunition in quantity. It might take up space, but you’ll be glad you have it when you need it.
Stock Odds and Ends
In addition to ammo, plenty of other items come in handy out in the field. For longer than expected shifts, I would put MREs in my bag, summer and winter issue. These are fantastic military meals on the go that I got from Marine buddies. You might want to carry a similar sort of shelf-stable packaged food just in case.
I also carried extra dry socks, reading material, motor vehicle and criminal law books, ear warmers, hand warmers, ear plugs, eye protection, a cell phone charger, pens and pencils, paper clips, spare flashlight batteries, binoculars, 4 x 4 bandages, and any gadgets that I could buy from the latest seminar that I had attended.
It is important to have the bandages with you. Some officers even carry 4 x 4’s in their shirt pockets. When quickly applied, this can stem off blood flow for you or another officer. Nowadays, there are also blood-clotting agents that are available to be carried in your bag, should you so choose.
I also carried a digital camera and sticky-backed evidence tape that had inches delineated on it. The tape can be rolled out, adhered next to a piece of evidence, and then digitally photographed for scale. Carrying a digital voice recorder can be helpful, too. And they are relatively inexpensive.
Consider Your Environment
Like the job itself, the choice of a patrol bag is very personal and different for every officer. My bag’s contents were tailored to a New England officer’s job. Every gear bag that I ever purchased, I tried to make sure that it had a waterproof bottom to it. This is essential if you work in ice and snow or rain, like I did in Connecticut.
I took into account extreme temperatures, including freezing winters. I tried to ensure that I could hold off, or hold out, against anything out there as far as being cut off from headquarters was concerned. I had what I needed for any event, be it getting stuck in a Nor’easter blizzard (a common occurrence) or pinned down by incoming rounds until the cavalry could pull me out. When I was a criminalistics specialist in Florida, the environment was totally different. We took into account extreme heat, sweat, and especially salt air near the Gulf of Mexico.
I always tried to make sure I had enough gear in that bag to protect me, feed me, and comfort me. In addition to the aforementioned MREs, water is also important. I see many officers carry hydration systems, which are great. I found that two black plastic military canteens filled with water sufficed (if you drink them dry, fill them the first chance you get at any clean water source). These can be purchased at any Army Navy surplus store very cheaply.
I also carried the all important patrol knife in my bag. I preferred the Masters of Defense Duane Dieter CQD knife. When I took that baby out in the locker room it reminded me of the broad swords that my ancestors carried in jolly old England. What a beautiful piece of equipment.
Deciding on the right mix for a patrol case and patrol bag is up to the individual officer. I always carried two bags to accommodate all my gear. Many of my fellow officers that serve on the S.W.A.T. team carry even more bags. They are required to keep huge gear bags in their cruiser trunks to accommodate long guns, sniper rifles, scopes, and any other accoutrements of the tactical officer.
Streamline Your Gear
Although I’ve just told you about all of the stuff to load yourself down with, I also want to remind you of a mnemonic I learned in the 1980s: K.I.S.S. It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. This means you should judge carefully what you pack for the road.
When I was hired, my sergeant took me into the training room on one of my first days. He showed me an enormous stack of forms on a nearby table and said simply, “Pack that into your briefcase.” We have all faced this. Even in a “paperless system,” forms abound.
We are forced to carry parking stickers, abandoned MV stickers, alarm tags, forms, you name it. So choose only what you need to carry. If those forms exist at the station, leave them there. Most officers have laptops now, so that helps.
What I used to do was regularly assess what I carried on the road. If any stuff was never used (like outdated forms), I dumped it and re-assessed. Also consider the weight of all the stuff you’re lugging in and out of your cruiser every day. The old expression “watch your back” has a double meaning here.
If you take care of your back, it will be a pain-free friend in your retirement years. One good trick is to use the shoulder strap that comes with your bag to distribute the weight instead of the carry handle. Also, lift with your legs instead of leaning over and lifting the bag straight up. If you have been on the job a while, you have had to fight with violent arrestees. That hurts your back when you hit the mid-century mark. You don’t need to add to that strain, so choose wisely what you want to bring with you.
Allow for Access
It’s also important to decide where you’ll store your bags on patrol. In the old days, we had cruisers with bench seats and very little equipment up front. Nowadays, the front seats of our cruisers are impossibly jammed with laptops, radar, various radios, switch boxes, etc. This poses very serious problems in accessing your gear, and safe patrol tactics.
I used to practice sliding over to the other side of the bench seat if I needed to escape my cruiser if ambushed. That is impossible now due to the bucket seats and the center console jammed with equipment. We are now forced to put our equipment bags in the back seat, behind our cage. This makes it hard to get to the gear bag and poses a security problem when transporting prisoners. If you can keep your patrol bag on the passenger side front seat, that’s ideal. If not, then whenever you take a prisoner on board, remember to put your gear bags in the trunk, secured.
Know Your Inventory
More than once, I was engaged in a neighborhood melee and I could picture some important article of gear that I desperately needed but was in my locker, or in my P.O.V., or at home. I learned the hard way to carry whatever I could possibly think of, and I have an excellent imagination when it comes to preparing for “what if” situations.
In all my years the gear I carried saved me in dangerous situations, and made many long stakeouts, plane crash scene securing details, and perimeter homicide watch details much more comfortable. Remember, employ the proper tactics, train frequently, and carry the proper gear. You are the SWAT team until the SWAT team gets there.
Booking is a slang term police use to process an individual following a lawful arrest.
Also important to remember is that each jurisdiction has their own policy and laws governing these processes. There are several basic steps required:
- Police record the suspect’s personal information (name, date of birth, social security number, address and other information).
- Document information about the crime committed.
- Checks the suspect’s criminal background for a history of crimes or outstanding warrants.
- Secures the suspects photograph, fingerprints, DNA sample and searches them.
- Confiscates personal property carried by the suspect.
- Places the suspect into a holding cell or local jail.
- If a suspect is going to receive a citation for their offense, they are released upon signing the form that indicates an initial court date.
- Once the officer releases the suspect to the jailer, they are relieved of their responsibility in the booking process.
An officer may arrest someone if
- they personally observe them commit a crime.
- If another officer observes the suspect commit a crime and communicates that to the arresting officer.
- An officer may not personally observe the crime but has probable cause to believe a crime was committed.
- An officer has or is aware that an arrest warrant exists. That warrant must have been signed by a judge for the arrest of the suspect.
Researching the topic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for SilverHart, an academic article provides an excellent description of the effects of PTSD.
More than any other occupation, law enforcement is an emotionally and physically dangerous job.
Police officers continuously face the effects of murder, violence, rape, child abuse, accidents and disasters. Long hours, rotating shifts and constant exposure to tragedy exacts a heavy toll on police officers and their families.
The results are alarming: Alcoholism, divorce, domestic violence, heart attacks, cancer, depression and suicide. Law Enforcement, the media, and the public all foster the myth that police officers can experience trauma and violence on a daily basis without any ill effects.
Research has shown just the opposite. When stressors are prolonged and overwhelming, a person’s ability to cope becomes diminished.
Police officers, by the very nature of their jobs are exposed to more stress and trauma in one day than most people will experience in a considerable amount of time. Maybe even their entire lives.
Some police officers thrive on stress. They seek out incidents that most people would not care to encounter in their lifetime. Many people seek out a job in law enforcement for this challenge and the personal rewards it can provide.
Overcoming stress of great magnitude can provide great personal rewards, but these jobs can and frequently do ruin many lives. We have all no doubt heard of police burnout.
Usually police officers experience burnout after about eight to ten years of experience. After many years of seeing things on a daily basis that would make most people cringe, police officers begin to feel numb and feel that they have seen it all.
Nothing seems to affect them anymore. Their work and their attitude toward police work may suffer. Morale goes down and sometimes police officers relieve their stress by becoming increasingly violent toward citizens, suspects and even their own families.
An otherwise excellent officer, one who has never had any complaints, may suddenly be the subject of many citizen complaints.
Besides the long hours spent on the job, many police officers have to work second and sometimes third jobs to support their families and supplement their mediocre income.
Police suicide has also become a significant problem. An officer who is experiencing personal or financial problems, alcohol or drug addiction, a recent divorce or breakup of a relationship, exposure to a work related trauma, or the recent use of deadly force, may feel that there is no other way to cope with their feelings and make the choice to end it all.
Reference: Brown, PG, 11-07-13. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice Institute, School of Law Enforcement Supervision,
FAQ – What Are The Types Of Fire Trucks?
Conventional Fire Appliance
The conventional fire apparatus which can also be called a fire appliance, fire tender, fire engine, water ladder, pumper or pump-ladder has several methods of pumping water onto the fire. The most common method is to pass water from a pump through hoses to the fire.
Airport Crash Tender
An airport crash tender is a fire engine designed for use at aerodromes in aircraft accidents. The features include good acceleration, ability to move on rough terrain outside the runway and airport area, large water capacity, a foam tank and a high-capacity pump.
A turntable ladder is perhaps the best-known form of special purpose aerial apparatus, and is used to gain access to fires occurring at height using a large telescopic ladder, where conventional ladders carried on conventional appliances might not reach.
Command Support Unit
The advancement of technology and potential for very large-scale incidents has led to many fire departments utilizing or increasing their use of mobile command support units. A fundamental advantage of such an appliance is to accommodate the many different types of communication equipment needed at major incidents.
Some turntable ladders may have a basket mounted at the top of the ladder, as on a hydraulic platform and these are called tower ladders. These appliances can provide a secure place for a firefighter to operate equipment from.
A hydraulic platform, also known as articulating booms, snorkels and platform trucks,is a specialized aerial work platform designed for firefighting use. They have a number of functions, which follow the same principles as the turntable ladder, providing high level access and elevated water pump positions. Some hydraulic platforms are articulated, which allows the arm to bend in one or more places, giving it the ability to go “up and over” an obstacle.
Heavy Rescue Vehicle
A heavy rescue vehicle, sometimes referred to as a Rescue Company, Rescue Squad or Technical Rescue, is a type of specialty firefighting or EMS apparatus. Essentially giant toolboxes on wheels, they are primarily designed for technical rescue situations such as vehicle extrications following traffic collisions, confined space rescues, rope rescues, swiftwater rescues, or building collapses.
Hazardous Materials Apparatus
Many fire departments covering large metropolitan areas or those containing many high-risk hazards keep specialist appliances for dealing with hazardous materials (HAZMAT). These are of several types, from those used to clean spilled oil on streets and highways, to full decontamination units, designed to clean victims and rescuers of contaminants after an incident.
A tanker truck is a specialist fire appliance with the primary purpose of transporting large amounts of water to an emergency to make it available for extinguishing operations. These are especially useful in rural areas where fire hydrants are not available and natural water resources are insufficient or difficult to exploit.
Foam tenders carry large amounts of foam to be used at incidents where water is ineffective or cannot be used to tackle a blaze. They may take the form of a tanker, or a truck carrying foam packets or barrels.
How important is it for your character to read another’s involuntary reactions and responses? In a tight situation where an assault might take place and your hero should have know or would have known how to prepare for a fight? Do you know how to write it like you’ve lived it – this article gives you a sense of what you and your character should be looking for.
What Are The Body Signs Of Pending Assault
There will, unfortunately, always be victims of personal assault, but with your understanding of the body signs and gestures of an impending attack, you need not be one of them…
When an individual displays gestures that appear to be senseless, such as lighting a cigarette and then immediately crushing it out, or looking at their watch or cell phone so briefly they could not have even seen anything, or repeatedly scratching their nose, nervously yawning or stretching, breathing so loud that you can hear it, frustration is growing and action is being contemplated. Usually this is an attack on whoever is closest to them.
When the volume of the voice grows and grows, and the pitch of the voice becomes higher and higher, emotions are building up. This is a signal that there is potential for a possible attack that may be only a split second away.
When the distance between you and another individual becomes closer and more compressed as the conversation goes on, this is a clear signal that emotions are building, and so is the potential for an attack.
When a person tries to loom over you, trying to be bigger or taller than they are, they are getting ready for the tactical advantage of “striking down” their victim.
This can start as verbal inflation of their status and escalate to actual physical “inflating” by puffing out their chest or standing on their toes. It may look comical but this is a very serious sign that emotions are growing and an attack could be pending.
Verbal to Physical…
When the sentences being spoken become shorter and a person begins to physically emphasize their words by striking a wall, door, furniture, or their fist, emotions are growing. As the sentences diminish to single words such as “no”, “go”, or “stop”, this could be the moment when they start to physically emphasize their words by striking you.
When a person is agitated and they start using their hands to emphasize what they are saying, be very cautious when the hands move in front of your face. There is a very fine line between waving fingers and a clenched fist.
When the eyes of a person are constantly locked and staring directly into your eyes, the only thing they are thinking about at that precise moment is you. You are the only reason for whatever is good or bad and you will be the one that receives all physical action from the pending emotional outburst.
When you consider each of these things individually, they do not seem to be anything of great importance. Too many times we dismiss them as inconsequential acts because the other person “is upset”. It’s important to realize that each of these acts show an increase in emotions and therefore an increase in the possibility of a person attack.
Body Signs and Gestures of Pending Assault
From the author of “The Unspoken Dialogue”, Robert Rail
Do Cops Spend Lots Of Off-Duty Time In Bars?
The first responder community’s culture has a strong foundation based on bonding. Usually male dominated, alcohol is a big part of the social structure.
Alpha males don’t chit chat easily. Alcohol removes the inhibition. Sports and high-risk, high-action activities are also vital for cementing those bonds.
I’ve witnessed situations where one or two officers will purchase motorcycles. Before long, cops who can’t make the house mortgage are speeding home on new cruisers. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in are terribly strong.
Anthropologist, Joan Barker conducted a 20 year study of the LAPD – Danger, Duty and Disillusionment – It was central to my doctoral research of police culture.
Can Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) Go Undercover?
They only accurate answer would be – it depends.
Is the CSI a certified peace officer, or a civilian technician assigned to process evidence at a scene or lab?
There are no standards for CSI staff.
Some agencies use police officers experienced with investigations, while many hire scientists with specialized skills for analyzing evidence.
As a rule of thumb, your civilian CSI would not work undercover in what I assume is a traditional definition of undercover – drugs, vice, etc.
FAQ – Dissociative Identity Disorder In Undercover Agents
What Is DID
Since World War II, the United States government has worked to identify characteristics of an effective undercover agent for national and law enforcement interests. The duality of expectation begins when an officer is recruited based on performance measures to include good judgment and integrity, but then is taught to lie.
The undercover agent must falsify his identity to misrepresent himself to others for the sake of detecting crime and gathering information. This same agent is also expected to return home at the end of their shift to resume a regular family life.
How Was It Identified
To examine the detrimental effects to SOG Operators in undercover capacities, a study of 271 undercover agents demonstrate that chronic exposure to undercover work causes psychological symptoms. Also, those agents with cognitive traits such as extroversion and emotionality are prone to excessive drug and alcohol use.
Undercover work becomes associated with an erosion of psychological, behavioral, and moral standards jeopardizing both health and police operations. There is a tremendous conflict of living a double life. This causes SOG undercover agents to experience elevated symptoms resembling those of psychiatric outpatients.
What Are Other Effects
In addition to the psychological harm associated with undercover operations, SOG Narcotics Operators were examined to reveal a disassociation from self-identity and unprompted reappearances of altered identities developed for conducting undercover operations. For example; upon entering an assignment into a Narcotics unit, the officer receives training in the practice of conducting undercover drug purchasing operations.
The officer is instructed to begin constructing an undercover identity that shall be assumed during her role-playing in the course of actual drug purchasing operations.
The depth and complexity of the undercover identity might be as simple as using a false first name for initial introductions to a potential drug dealer who has become the target of your investigation. The assumed identity may also involve a completely new, yet fictitious life including official identification, residence and sometimes family.
What might appear as innocuous fantasy or role-playing, when conducted under stressful or life-and-death situations exacts a heavy toll on the individual forced to slide in and out of character.
Do Good Cops Experience DID
Despite the depth of commitment or the duration of the undercover operation requiring the falsification of the undercover agent’s assumed identity, the toll is exacted upon the individual’s psyche. Additional research shows that even the most ethical of officers may succumb to the powerful draw of the SOG sub-culture.
There are occupational maladjustment, psychiatric disturbances and personality changes associated with undercover work. Those at highest risk for suffering this effect are the elite units within law enforcement, who serve outside the traditional boundaries of policing.
The acts of establishing deviant networks give rise to stress disturbances, corruption and perceptions of “self as unreal,” along with paranoia and other troubles. This study expands the concept to determine the extent to which the alter-persona becomes part of who the agent really is.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) has been linked to undercover agents and was used as a criminal trial defense strategy in 1997 when a former Federal Bureau of Investigations undercover agent was arrested for attempted murder.
The DID phenomena was examined in a study of federal undercover agents participating in a three week training exercise to measure the strength of attachments to the false identities assumed by these agents. After just three weeks of role assumption, 61 percent of the participants acknowledged that their false identities appeared without calling it up in a non-operational context.
Is DID Real
There are numerous actual experiences involving field operators who have experienced difficulty in subduing their fabricated identity, such as former FBI Agent Bennett cited in the study. The conclusion shows that predispositions to dissociative experiences have a greater influence on the reappearance of an alter-identity assumed during undercover work while in a non-operational setting.
The length of time spent in these operational assignments is also related to the similarly harmful effects to those in the cop culture working SOG duty. It is linked to higher rates of corruption, disciplinary infractions and social detachment.
Can Undercover Agents Use Drugs
Simple answer is NO.
Are undercover drug deals always so simple? NO.
What’s an undercover agent supposed to do?
There are several strategies undercover agents use to deflect having to use the drugs they are buying. One of the simplest tactics is to tell the dealer – NO.
It’s really that simple. The drug dealer is there to make money. The undercover is there is collect evidence in a drug distribution investigation.
If the drug dealer insist on it, the undercover has the authority to walk away from the deal. Their health and safety is the most important thing in that investigation. No amount of using illegal drugs is worth the undercover’s life.
Are there exceptions?
Of course there are times when the life of the undercover is threatened and using the drug is the only option for escaping alive. At that point, the undercover will do anything possible to survive the situation – even using the drugs.