Suicide by Cop – Warning Signs

Law Enforcement. It’s one of the hardest jobs in the world. And most people don’t realize how difficult it is for a police officer to turn their brain off from work once they get home. It’s not just something they do. It’s who they are. So, when they are faced with having to deal with suicidal incidents, it can be emotionally draining on them.

Suicide by Cop
When an officer has to respond to suicidal subjects, it directly impacts safety. Safety of the officer, their community, and the families surrounding them. Here are some warning signs to be aware of that can help officers recognize when they might be facing a Suicide by Cop situation (reported by

• The subject is barricaded and refuses to negotiate
• The subject has just killed someone, particularly a close relative
• The subject says he has a life-threatening illness
• The subject has undergone a traumatic life change (divorce, etc.)
• Prior to the encounter, the subject gave away all of his money or possessions
• The subject has a record of assaults
• Subject says he will only surrender to the person in charge
• Has expressed interest in “going out in a big way”
• Subject expresses feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
• Subject demands to be killed

In the book Suicide by Cop, by Vivian B. Lord, it talks about the fact that if a subject wants to be killed, they might be willing to do anything to do it. Including shooting at an officer, just so they can be fired upon.

Resolving the situation as peacefully as possible is obviously the most desired outcome. But it definitely shouldn’t come at the expense of your own personal safety. You must remain aware and vigilant to the fact that a suicidal person might be preparing to die.

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Amazon Partnership with Law Enforcement

Amazon is targeting a new customer—Law Enforcement! The sales giant is partnering with police to help fight crime among new privacy concerns in our country.

And why not?
Seems like a great idea. Amazon can deliver a package to your doorstep within 24 hours. And also help catch the thief who tried to steal it. Amazon has been working with law enforcement using fake packages filled with GPS trackers to see who takes the bait. And its working, so many police departments are welcoming the effort.

Ring, which produces video doorbells and security cameras happens to be owned by none other than – you guessed it – Amazon. Their services have been a game changer in terms of helping people feel more comfortable in their neighborhoods, but also in terms of working together with police departments to help catch thieves in action. Not only can Ring capture live video footage of a crime, but it can also capture a perpetrators face and often times, their vehicle as well. All of this helps identify them that much quicker, which helps put safety and privacy concerns at ease.

If police need help solving a crime, they reach out to Ring with the time and location. Ring then contacts app users in the area seeking video. In Connecticut, the cameras have already solved several burglaries thanks to this service.

What about privacy concerns?
Amazon AND the police only have access to videos that users voluntarily share. And users remain anonymous. Aren’t we already giving up our faces and some privacy through social media anyway? This is just one more step using arguably one of the best forms of technology to help keep our communities safe.

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Are Bullet Proof Backpacks a Good Idea?

As kids, teenagers, and college students prepare to go back to school, manufactures are now offering bullet proof backpacks. You heard right – bullet proof backpacks! Sound a bit far-fetched, but in the state of our current culture and so many recent school shootings, the idea might not sound so bad. After all, safety is the number one priority at any school campus across the country. And maybe this will help. Or if anything, it could help a teen feel better about staying alive in the unfortunate event that something like this takes place at their school.

Who would have thought that a back to school supply list could look like this?
• College Lined Loose Leaf Paper
• Number 2 Pencils
• 1” Binder
• Bullet proof backpack
• Notebook
• Colored Pencils

But that is exactly what is happening. Several companies are now marketing these backpacks to parents who are desperate to protect their kids in an active shooter situation. They can wear them on their back like usual, flip it and wear it in front of their body, or simply hold it up in front of their head.

Necessary precaution or over the top?
Shootings this past week in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have us all on edge. It’s a sad and depressing fact that we now have to think about armored backpacks to help us feel safe and increase our chances of survival. And not just at schools, but everywhere—churches, malls, stores, and even movie theaters. Some stores are literally selling out of bullet proof backpacks which can range in price from $100-$200.

Buyer Beware
Parents should really do their research regarding the effectiveness of bullet proof backpacks. The standards are used at independent testing facilities, so the government itself does not certify or test them. Finally, consider that making your child wear one of these backpacks could in fact raise their fear level. It could be giving them (and you) a false sense of security.

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Mental Health Training for Police

Across the Sacramento, California area, police officers are learning how to handle people who have mental illness. Law enforcement from twenty-two different departments recently took part in what is considered a “train the trainer” course in which they learned de-escalation techniques. They talked about how to look for certain behaviors and how to distinguish between developmental disabilities, mental health issues, and substance abuse.

Ensuring Officers are Equipped to Handle Mental Illness

Training is another tool for police officers who now seem to be responding to more and more calls related to mental illness. You never know what is going to happen and mental illness can be scary and is hard for most of us to understand. Imagine how difficult it is for law enforcement officers. They don’t know if someone is genuinely suffering from mental illness and really needs help, or if they are acting or pretending with intentions to harm them or try to get away. Ensuring that officers are equipped to deal with the various things they come across on the street is so important.

Reality Check

In May this year, officers encountered a man who was threatening to jump off a highway overpass. Their training came into play and created a positive outcome in which they were able to stop the man from jumping. It could have turned out negatively if officers had not had this training and responded differently.

Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn reported that his department has seen a steady uptake in calls to the 911 center related to people with mental illness. More than 6,000 calls already this year. On average there are 35 mental health calls per day.

Bravo to the Departments Providing Training

With these types of statistics, it is apparent that mental illness is a complex issue with no single solution. And it seems that one of the biggest challenges for law enforcement is what to do with people once they have been identified. The best outcome is to resolve the situation without anyone being injured—including themselves. But realistically, this can’t always happen. So, the more informed and educated our officers are about this issue, the better off the communities they serve will be as a whole.

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Thousands of LAPD Police Officers Info Stolen in Data Breach

A recent data theft of approximately 2,500 officers from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is being investigated after their personal information was compromised last week. This includes the names, birth dates, email addresses, partial employee serial numbers, and account passwords of these officers; along with thousands of more police officer applicant’s information that were reportedly compromised by the breach.

In today’s climate, online safety of our personal information is a serious concern. It is hard to conceptualize the impact that the data breach will have on these officers and their families over time. And hopefully, the breach doesn’t extend beyond what has been reported by the media.

The LAPD says it is “taking steps to ensure the department’s data is protected from any further intrusions,” and that “the employees and individuals who may have been affected by this incident have been notified.”

Thinking about how it would feel to be an officer and receive a notification that your personal information has been stolen (from your employers’ database) is an unsettling thought. We entrust that when we provide certain required information to our work place that it will be kept safe from discovery by outside individuals. Knowing that it could possibly be compromised would provide such an uneasy feeling and would definitely have us pausing before providing such personal and confidential information.

• Monitor your financial accounts
• Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
• Look into credit monitoring services

Identity theft is on the rise. And since we don’t yet have any further information on how this happened, we recommend taking the steps above to help ensure the extend of the breach doesn’t get worse.

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Do Police Have the Right to Search Your Trash?

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. We’ve all heard that one before. And the way most laws currently read, we have no right to an expectation of privacy when it comes to our trash – especially trash that sits outside in front of our homes on the street. Law enforcement officers are well within their rights to rummage through our garbage at will.

What about important documents?

Important documents should be shredded in your home or taken to a facility that can shred and dispose of them for you. Other items can be taken directly to a disposal facility where they are rendered unidentifiable.

Your Fourth Amendment Rights

According to the Fourth Amendment, members of the public are protected from “unreasonable searches and seizures” without an officer having a search warrant issued and signed by a judge. In general, this means law enforcement officers at any level, including federal, state, local, and government cannot simply enter a person’s home or business without probable cause or a warrant. However, this protection does not apply to anything you put in the trash cans out by the curb.

Many people carry receipts, notes, pieces of paper, and any number of things they plan to dispose of at a later time in their pockets. According to the law, these items are also protected under the Fourth Amendment, meaning that law enforcement officers cannot legally search a person or seize any items in a person’s pocket or in sealed trash bags in the back of a parked car without a warrant or they risk being in violation of the person’s Fourth Amendment rights.

According to the law, your right to privacy on your property extends out to what is called a “curtilage” or the area the immediately surrounds your home. This so-called “curtilage” does not however extended as far as the curb where you routinely place your trash for pick up. Since federal courts have stated that a person does not have a “right to privacy” regarding trash left on the curb for pick up, law enforcement has free reign on rummaging through it without the need for probable cause or a warrant.

Once a person’s trash is placed at the curb for pick up, it is no longer protected from being searched by any member of law enforcement at any level. On top of this, anything found in that trash may be used as evidence if the person is charged with a crime.

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Safety Tips for the 4th of July Holiday

Should you trust free WIFI?
The fourth of July is a peak travel week at airports, hotels, train stations, and rental car companies. Most of them offer free WIFI—but should you trust it? Cyber criminals are hoping you do, because it can be the back door to your data. Personal information, credit cards, airline, and hotel loyalty programs are information they would love to get their hands on.

We try so hard to look for free WIFI, that our cell phones, laptops, and smart devices have become a huge security risk. Last year, half a billion travelers had their personal information compromised world-wide. From passports, credit cards, and hotels to frequent flyer information, fake signals can be setup by criminals looking to steal your personal information.

It’s very difficult to know if free WIFI is legitimate
Someone wanting to steal your information could label the WIFI “free airport” or “free coffee shop,” for example. And one simple click can give hackers access to everything on your phone. Even if you stay off WIFI, you could still be at risk. Hackers are now targeting public USB charging stations with viruses that steal your computer data and intercept your cell phone signal. So, what should you do?

Seven Tips to Avoid Public WIFI Traps:
1) Stay off networks you don’t know!
2) Avoid public charging stations and instead carry a personal rechargeable battery
3) Shred your used airline tickets and luggage tags
4) Shred your hotel key instead of returning it to the front desk (they don’t need it back)
5) Look for signs at airports and double check the free WIFI they offer. If you are not sure, ask an employee. Same with hotels – look for the instructions in your room and if you are unsure, ask the front counter representative.
6) Regarding ATM safety – get money directly from your bank or an airport or even cash back from a grocery store. Avoid the ones casually on the street which can be easily hacked.
7) Use a credit card when traveling versus a debit card. You don’t want someone to have easy access into your bank account.

Personal data has never been more at risk. A hacker can setup a table anywhere and lure you into their trap. Especially if you have kids. It’s even more tempting to use public WIFI, so the best thing to do is use the tips above to keep your information safe. Better to be safe than sorry.

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Police Officers and Social Media

Have you heard the news recently about 72 police officers in Philadelphia who have been placed on administrative leave over allegations that they made offensive racist comments on their social media posts?

There was an investigation after a database site called The Plain View Project ousted them to the public. This watchdog group compiled screenshots of the posts and shared them online. According to the media, the database site contains more than 5,000 Facebook posts from 3,500 current or former police officers from eight police jurisdictions across the country. These posts contain racist, misogynist, and violent comments.

Officers are entitled to due process just like any other citizen. But when the integrity of an Officer is compromised, the entire department that the Officer is associated with is then compromised. People start to question their intentions, and any kind of negative posts not only undermine public trust and confidence in law enforcement, but hostility begins to build up as well.

All law enforcement officers should undergo some type of anti-racism training, social media training, mental illness training, and Autism/ASD training. It is critical that they learn how to work with those who have learning disabilities without regard to their ethnicity, gender, or religious affiliation.

When it comes to social media posts, Police Officers are especially vulnerable and really need to think before posting anything online. They risk putting themselves and their family members safety at risk.

Let’s hope this will all get figured out soon. We absolutely need and value our police officers, and it already seems like there is a shortage of them on the streets. We wouldn’t want them to be taken off the job during a time of increased violence in our country.

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Search and Seizure

In the United States, we are entitled to certain freedoms. Freedom to come and go as we please, freedom to eat what we want, go where we want, so on and so forth. But when it comes to the government, there are limits to certain privacies. For example, when a search warrant is justified, police officers are allowed to search YOU, your home, car, boat, office, or other personal property in order to look for evidence of a crime. It offers the question, what rules do LEOs have to follow when it comes to search and seizure? Because after all – search and seizure laws of the Fourth Amendment are all about privacy.

A few notes:
• A search or seizure is reasonable if the police have a warrant from a judge based on probable cause.
• Certain intrusions are more severe than others, and each type of search or seizure must meet certain requirements to be deemed reasonable.
• There is no expectation of privacy when an item or location is in plain view. If an Officer pulls over a person driving a car, and notices a weapon on the floor, there’s been no search under the Fourth Amendment. It’s not a reasonable location that bears privacy with respect to the gun, because it was in plain sight.

In general, search and seizure laws are pretty straight forward. They are necessary for police officers to protect and serve our community. But that doesn’t mean it should be misused. The Constitution was made to protect the people, so if anyone believes they have been the victim of unreasonable search and seizure, they should contact an experienced civil rights attorney to discuss their options.

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German Shepherds and K-9 Units

German Shepherds. Considered to be one of the best workers around the globe, this breed is canine royalty. They are also one of the most beautiful, confident, and smartest dogs around. They are highly trainable, so their ability to learn commands is one of their greatest attributes. Always willing to put their life on the line for their family or their fellow Police Officers, German Shepherds are the preferred dog for law enforcement and military units world-wide.

First-Rate Choice for Law Enforcement Safety
German Shepherds are not only utilized as Police Dogs, but also vastly recognized as service dogs. Their loyalty and commitment make them a first-rate choice for law enforcement safety, because they always put the needs and well-being of the Officer and their loved ones first.

What is a K-9 Unit?
K-9 units are a specialized group of law enforcement officers. Not only do they perform their usual duties as Officers, but they are also responsible for using service dogs to perform the responsibilities of a police officer.

The care and training of their canine partner to enforce the law and apprehend criminals, doesn’t end when they leave work. The dog is the police officer’s partner at home too. That means that when they get home, their family is also prepared to take care of the dog and make sure he/she is cared for even when the family goes on vacation.

Specialized Tasks:
• Detect illegal substances, chemicals, and explosives
• Identify individuals who were in contact with illegal substances
• Track and rescue kidnapped or missing persons
• Locate buried or submerged bodies or human parts

Fun Facts:
• German Shepherds were originally created to herd sheep
• They didn’t start becoming popular until the 1900s

It certainly makes us feel better knowing these strong, yet gentle creatures are on our side, and working for the good and safety of the good guys.

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