Roll Call

Roll Call: Queenie, Mike, and the 6th Street Use of Force

By Mikey, Retired LAPD

free police picIt was 1993 and I was working Rampart morning watch patrol as a field supervisor. I had a lot of fun there. One particular shift at about 0100 in the morning an “officer needs help” call went out at 6th Street and Bixel.  On the LAPD, calls go this way in order of severity: “Back up,” means ‘no need to rush but get there ASAP.’ An officer “Requesting assistance,” means ‘get here quicker than ASAP.’  “HELP,” yeah, send everyone and everything instantly, or sooner.  

When I arrive at 6th and Bixel there is a suspect in custody, injured and an officer injured. The suspect claims that the officers hit him in the head with their flashlights. If the claim were true, it would be an out of policy use of force. The officers said that the suspect had been in an altercation prior to their arrival. When they discovered him bleeding from a head injury, he became combative and attacked one of the officers causing her injuries. I could find no witnesses and there were no surveillance cameras at or near the location.

homeless man w pupThe next night I went back to the location at about the same time to see if I could find any potential witnesses–someone who may have left to avoid involvement from the prior evenings incident. There, on a bus bench, I found a homeless man and his dog. Mike and his dog Queenie had been there the night before and had seen the incident. Mike said he had seen the suspect fighting with two other men and one of the men struck the suspect in the head with a long object. The suspect fell to the ground and the two men fled. Shortly after that the officers arrived. Mike said the man attacked the officer. He said the officers used physical force only. From his bus bench, his view was unobstructed with good lighting.

I bought Mike and Queenie breakfast, gave him my business card and completed a follow up report to the use of force. A week later, toward end of watch, 0800, I was called to the station where I found Mike sitting in the lobby. He had been crying and told me that he had been arrested for public intoxication and Queenie had been shipped off to the dog pound. The folks at the pound informed Mike that he needed $56.00 to bail out Queenie or no more Queenie. The pound was closed so I bought Mike some breakfast as we waited for the pound to open up.

dog in poundWe got there shortly after it had opened. To my surprise there were a lot of folks there, mainly gang-type folks. A vice unit had taken down a pit bull fighting ring and these folks were there to bail out their dogs. 

I was still in uniform, so I had everybody’s attention as Mike and I made our way up to the counter. I informed the desk guy why Mike and I were there and that we had Queenie’s bail money. Mike was handed some paperwork and as he was filling out the information he asks me what address he should use. I told him to use the station’s address. About this time, I noticed several of the pit bull guys paying attention to what Mike and I were doing.

One of them asked, “Dude, are you helping him to get his dog?” 

I said yes and I swear, the guy, dressed down like a gangster was holding back tears.

Now the attention was totally on us.  “Dude that is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” 

Then the murmurs of approval began. I really hadn’t thought about what I was doing; only that Mike had come through for my officers and now he needed help. We got Queenie, gave and received some warm good byes and headed home. 

Never saw the two again and I wonder what happened to them.  As street coppers, we see and deal with the best and the worst of what the city has to offer.  We compartmentalize events, good things and things we don’t want to remember but from time to time do.  I’ve been retired 10 years now but once in a while I feel an emotion, before I remember the event.

Review Ed and Hal’s stories and mine.  Our most pronounced memories are of our time in the field, on the streets in the cruiser, Ed’s “radio car.”  Once the torch is passed that is all that is passed–not the memories.

Those are ours to keep, the good and the bad.

The Call Box

The Callbox: Sully, a Real Friend

By Ed Meckle

Ed is a new contributor to Just the Facts, Ma’am. Here he describes himself. His stories are not to be missed.

I am a member of the “Old Centurion” Lunch and True Tales Bunch. Hal Collier moderates and we are only one of fifty plus LAPD retired groups that meet around the country to renew friendships and share experiences. There is a topic of the month wherein we share stories of said topics such as Bizarre, Funny, etc. This month’s topic was “Use of Force.”

Inasmuch as my time on the job was from an earlier era     [2-1-56 TO  10-1-76] stories might just be from a different perspective. I have lots of tales to tell.


Let us first examine the meaning of the word “friend:”

Someone who is 100% honest with you. Ok

Sticks by your side, no matter what. Also ok

Someone you can trust in the time of need. Another big ok

There when glad-handers and pretenders are long gone

Let’s not forget the “frenemies” who tell you one thing but secretly gloat when you fall. They are there for their own good. The old saying goes, “A mouthful of howdy and a handful of gimmie”

That being said, on with your tale. Let’s start by tell you Sully was a really good police man/detective. He was smart, intuitive and funny, but looked at life at an angle. He marched to the beat of a drummer only he could hear. And not only thought “outside the box,” he didn’t even know there was a box. Great practical joker. He was a first rate interrogator, saw things that others didn’t and was one of the clumsiest people I ever knew. I never saw him angry and never heard him raise his voice. Calm cool and collected, as they say.

I first met him in 1958. My first night on vice, prowling a dark alley, we surprised the lookout for an illegal gaming operation. While speaking to him in a low voice, he had him undress, coat shirt, pants and shoes all went over the fence into someone’s back yard. It was a cold night and while the lookout stood shivering, Sully said, “You are not going to tell them we are here, correct?”

That said, we raided the house. All the while, I was convinced my career as a policeman was over and I was probably going to a Turkish prison.

I didn’t, it had only just begun—


A glimpse of Sully standing on the sidewalk in front of a bank:

A “211 (armed robbery) had just happened and the manager told him, “You just missed him by minutes.”


Sully looked left for a long moment, then right and told his partner who was putting out the broadcast, “Come on. I know where he is.”


Six doors away they found him in a cocktail lounge. When asked, Sully said, “The manager described him as calm, almost cocky. There is very little pedestrian traffic, no street parking and the bank is in the middle of a long block. I figured he was going to hunker down and outwait us.”


When I later returned form court and walked into the squad room, I saw a stranger on the typewriter. I gave Sully the “What???” look and he said, That’s my bank robber. I’m dictating and he is doing his own arrest report. Can that guy type or what?”


That was Sully.


Practical joke:

Someone set off a firecracker behind the elderly lieutenant who was inspecting firearms. For a few seconds, he was convinced he had shot one of his own men.




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Guest Post: MPD Chief Edward Flynn: Share my confidence in your police

This article was re-posted by Craig Schwartz, Santa Rosa PD.

By Edward Flynn, Police Chief of the Milwaukee Police Department


As we enter the summer of 2015, on the heels of an unusually violent first half of the year in both Milwaukee and many of our peer cities, I write to provide some context that acknowledges the challenges we face, outlines your police department’s ongoing strategies to reduce crime and make our neighborhoods safer, and remind us all of the accomplishments of the men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department.

In a recent conversation covering the evolution of policing in the past 40 years, which covers the arc of my career, there was frustration that the same criticisms being leveled at the police today were being leveled at the police 40 years ago.

This is despite the fact that over the last 40 years, police have advanced and improved more than any other component of local government. We have become more technologically sound, have higher levels of integrity, are more restrained in the use of force, are more integrated, are more educated, are more carefully trained and are more selectively chosen than ever before. Yet we are hearing many of the same criticisms.

Did the police as a national institution fail? My answer is no. The police evolved. Fast enough, far enough, perfectly enough? No. More than the national narrative wants you to believe? Yes.

So why is there so much frustration and confusion? Because it became easy to delegate the social problems of America to the police. Over the past 40 years, there have been massive disinvestments in mental health care, social services for the homeless, for the disadvantaged, for those who are substance abusers. Our police have become the social agency of first resort for the poor, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Indeed, if one did not know better, one would think society had decided that no social problem is so complicated that it cannot be cured with more training for the police. That is neither accurate nor sustainable. We throw the young, idealistic, service-minded men and women of policing into a social meat grinder and we expect them to perform perfectly at all times. When they err, we do not treat them like soldiers in Afghanistan making a mistake under pressure; we treat them like criminals. This is wrong.

The code of conduct we adhere to in Milwaukee specifically calls on us to distinguish between mistakes in judgment and acts of malfeasance. We hold ourselves accountable under this code because it is the right way to behave and because if we choose not to hold ourselves accountable when we make mistakes or violate the law, no one will believe us when a bad thing happens despite the lawful and within-policy behavior of our officers.

We are data-driven, which sometimes means our efforts to produce and provide information about crime, safety and police activity in Milwaukee is used against us. We accept that reality, frustrating as it might be. While there is no declaration of victory in policing, those who deny progress and decry reforms do a disservice to the communities they purportedly support and the men and women who have chosen to serve their neighbors as police officers.

What are some of our measurements of accountability?

In 2007, there were nearly 500 citizen complaints filed against department members. Between 2007 and 2014, your officers engaged in nearly 1.5 million citizen contacts as part of their proactive policing work. The professionalism of our officers resulted in a 66% reduction in complaints from 2007 to 2014, from 488 to 168. During the same time frame, we reduced the frequency of our use of force by one quarter.

Since 2007, we have experienced a 24% reduction in Part I crime, which is defined by the FBI and includes homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. From 2008 through 2014, we averaged 87 homicides per year, compared to an average of 108 homicides per year between 2001 and 2007.

A scientific survey was conducted last year to measure citizen satisfaction with police services, and I have asked for the survey to be repeated annually. What did we learn? Nearly three-quarters of the respondents were satisfied with their police department and 73% were satisfied with our visibility in their own neighborhood. There is room for improvement, and we are dedicated to making that improvement. We will continue to engage residents, neighborhood groups, churches, nonprofits, schools and every level of government agency in our community-based efforts.

While we have seen aggregate improvement in crime over the past seven years, there is a spike in crime. This brings pressure to revert to the failed conventional policies of the past. Why? Because there is nothing safer in government than failing conventionally. We know that if you stick with something innovative and you have a temporary setback, the pressure to go back to the failed, stale policies of the past is overwhelming. I will not do that. We have had measurable success, and we will continue to have success without sacrificing the support of the disadvantaged neighborhoods that rely on their police.

We cannot deny there is a national narrative of negativity regarding race and police, and that negativity — as righteous or exaggerated as it might be — has a detrimental effect on both the morale of our officers and on the perspectives of the public alike.

But the greatest danger to the healthy growth and development of young African-American men in our central cities is being murdered, wounded or maimed by someone who looks just like them. We are committed to dealing with that. We are committed to dealing with it justly. We are committed to doing it in a manner that holds us accountable to our professional standards. At the same time, we are not going to be intimidated into not doing our job.

No agency of government is more accountable for its role in accelerating positive social trends, retarding negative social trends and making a difference in the neighborhoods of a city. We are continuing to engage with neighborhoods to build their ability to advocate for themselves.

All of our officers, upon finishing field training, are strategically assigned to neighborhoods with high rates of violence in order to provide a strong and accessible police presence. We are continuing to use data to guide our deployments and we have launched a visible, enforcement-oriented presence in our high-crash areas to reduce the sharp increase in injuries and deaths we have experienced this year.

I am proud of this department and I am proud of the progress it has made. I have seen the work your officers perform. I have seen the pressures under which they operate. I have been at the scenes of terrible incidents where they are exposed to the worst human conduct imaginable, and I have watched them maintain their dignity, calmness and professionalism. I have proudly presented them with hundreds of medals for heroism, valor, lifesaving and restraint. And while I sometimes fear my pride in them comes across as arrogance, I am confident our continued work with the people we swore to protect is worthy of their support and esteem.

I am proud to serve this agency and this city, and I invite you to share my confidence in your police.

Edward Flynn is chief of the Milwaukee Police Department.

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NYPD’s Bratton Highlights Plan to Reinvent Policing

I’d love to hear your thoughts about Bratton’s ideas. Use the comments box below. 


By Leischen Stelter, editor of In Public Safety


At the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police annual gathering of police chiefs from around the state, police commissioner of New York City William Bratton provided his perspective on the current state of policing in the country.

“The last 18 months has been a time of extraordinary challenges and opportunities for the profession,” said Bratton. “We have a new world of issues that we need to deal with, but there’s an old world of issues that are resurfacing.”


Bratton, whose law enforcement career spans more than 45 years, encouraged chiefs to learn from the past and not allow the profession to repeat the same mistakes.

“The world I came into as a young officer in the 1970s was in great turbulence with civil rights and issues of racial inequality,” he said. “There was great political unrest and rising crime…It feels like déjà vu all over again.”

One of the primary mistakes law enforcement made during that time period was focusing on responding to crime rather than focusing on the causes of crime and trying to prevent crime. This shift from prevention to response, coupled with officers being taken off beats and put into cars to cover larger areas, all contributed to the disengagement of officers with the public. This approach negatively impacted community relationships and its impact became evident across the country with high publicity protests and riots.

During his keynote, Bratton shared a plan that will continue fighting crime, but also help bridge the gap between police and minority communities and rebuild police morale. Bratton highlighted five strategic areas, referred to as the “5 Ts”, which form the foundation and focus of this plan.

Rebuilding Trust
One issue that has publicly and violently resurfaced around the country is the issue of trust, specifically the lack of trust of law enforcement officers and agencies by the public. This loss of confidence in policing stems around issues of race and police practices, as highlighted in riots in Ferguson and Baltimore.

This lack of trust goes beyond a loss of confidence in local agencies, said Bratton. The public has lost trust in the criminal justice system as a whole. For example, many people do not trust that district attorneys will pursue police-abuse allegations appropriately.

All of this needs to change, said Bratton. He emphasized that police chiefs need to work hard to rebuild community trust. “Going forward we must gain trust by winning back the communities we lost or never had,” he said. Reinstituting community policing practices is a good start and can help build stronger bonds between officers and community members.

[Related Article: Strong Community Relations Among the Lessons of Ferguson]

Chiefs also need to look inside their own departments to rebuild internal trust and boost officer morale. “Our police officers feel damaged by all of this and the morale in departments has suffered significantly,” he said. “Chiefs must work to rebuild trust of the community, of political leadership, of the media, and of police officers themselves.”

Fighting Terrorism
Another area of focus involves law enforcement’s role in the fight against terrorism. “American policing now has to spend a lot of time on a new form of crime: terrorism,” he said. Bratton said the NYPD has tactically trained and specially equipped 400 of its officers to protect and prevent a terrorist threat “in the likely event of an incident,” he said.

With the upsurge in terrorist attacks throughout the country and around the world, Bratton is realistic about the likelihood of more armed terrorist attacks in the city. “We want to have the capability and resources to respond quickly,” he said. One of the keys to fighting terrorism is training officers to be able to constantly and quickly adjust to unpredictable situations.

Embracing Technology
The effective use of technology is another focus of the NYPD. “Technology keeps officers better informed in the field,” he said. Soon, all 35,000 NYPD officers will be equipped with smartphones and tablets that have custom apps so officers have instant access to information. “No officer will have to come back to the station to work on a computer—they can do it all from the car,” he said.

Bratton also discussed the use of body-worn cameras. “It’s not the panacea like we want it to be, but it’s a great boon to policing,” he said. This technology is helping verify officer’s actions. “Policing is going to benefit from this technology, but the public and the profession don’t fully understand it yet,” he warned.

Training and Tackling Crime
Bratton also discussed the last two “T’s” of his plan: training and tackling crime. NYPD has a focus on enhanced training for officers as well as a plan to tackle crime by re-establishing community policing strategies.

Bratton’s parting message to the New York chiefs in attendance was one of future sharing and partnership. “At the NYPD we consider ourselves one of the country’s largest laboratories for policing,” he said. “We have a lot of resources that we’ve never had before and we have the ability to work with the leadership to improve the performance of our department and we will share those findings with you.”

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Captain’s Blog by Craig Schwartz-Use of Force

Santa Rosa Police Department

June 16 at 7:01pm · Edited ·

Captain’s Blog 6-16-15: Use of Force–When is it justified?

Hello everyone. This post is unusually long, even for me. I apologize for my wordiness, but the topic of today’s blog is a complex one and can’t be answered well with a sound bite.

The use of force by police officers has always been a controversial topic, made even more so now that videos showing use of force incidents across the country are in the news and on social media weekly. These videos, whether from bystanders or an officer’s body-worn camera, could help improve transparency and police accountability while also providing the best evidence for criminal prosecution of suspects. The videos are certain to contribute to the controversy surrounding officers using force because they will never be able to capture all the subtleties, perceptions and mindset of those involved in an arrest or confrontation.

I have worked for the Santa Rosa Police Department for nearly 23 years, and I’m comfortable saying that trying to arrest or detain a resisting suspect is scary, ugly, and sometimes chaotic. There is no use of force, even when it is reasonable and legally justified, that will look good to bystanders or on video. Many people have a strong emotional reaction when they see an officer or officers taking someone to the ground, using a baton, Taser, or other tool to gain compliance and make an arrest. We sometimes do a poor job of addressing that emotional reaction because we have to base our review and investigations strictly on the law and facts. With that in mind, let’s talk about the laws that give an officer the authority to use force, and what levels of force are justified in a given situation.

The Santa Rosa Police Department’s Use of Force Policy states that police officers may use force in the performance of their duties consistent with the California Penal Code:

  • To prevent the commission of a public offense; • To prevent a person from injury; • To effect the lawful arrest or detention of persons resisting or attempting to evade that arrest or detention; • In self-defense or in the defense of another person.

The policy also specifies that justification for the use of force is limited to the facts known or perceived by the officer at the time the force is used. Our policy is based on the California Penal Code and decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. Section 835a from the California Penal Code gives officers the authority to use force in certain situations and states the following:

  • Any peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed a public offense may use reasonable force to affect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance. • A peace officer who makes or attempts to make an arrest need not retreat or desist from his efforts by reason of the resistance or threatened resistance of the person being arrested; nor shall such officer be deemed an aggressor or lose his right to self-defense by the use of reasonable force to effect the arrest or to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.

This law is important because it states that an officer may use force if necessary to make an arrest. This concept was reinforced by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1989 when they handed down a unanimous decision in the case of Graham v. Connor . This landmark case dealt with whether an officer’s use of force was “reasonable”. The nine Justices acknowledged that the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop carries with it the right to use some degree of physical force or threat to effect the arrest or detention. The court also ruled that the justification for any use of force must be judged based on the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight

When determining whether to apply force and evaluating whether a particular use of force is reasonable, a number of factors should be taken into consideration, as time and circumstances permit. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Immediacy and severity of the threat to officers or others. • The conduct of the individual being confronted, as reasonably perceived by the officer at the time. • Officer/subject factors (age, size, relative strength, skill level, injuries sustained, level of exhaustion or fatigue, the number of officers available vs. subjects). • The effects of drugs or alcohol. • Subject’s mental state or capacity. • Proximity of weapons or dangerous improvised devices. • The availability of other options and their possible effectiveness. • Seriousness of the suspected offense or reason for contact with the individual. • Training and experience of the officer. • Potential for injury to officers, suspects and others. • Whether the person appears to be resisting, attempting to evade arrest by flight or is attacking the officer. • The risk and reasonably foreseeable consequences of escape. • The apparent need for immediate control of the subject or a prompt resolution of the situation. • Prior contacts with the subject or awareness of any propensity for violence. • Any other exigent circumstances

The Santa Rosa Police Department’s policies are based on these laws and other case decisions. These are also some of the laws considered by the District Attorney’s Office and other officials when reviewing an officer’s use of deadly force for criminal liability.

Like I said above, no use of force looks good on video. We have all probably seen examples of officers across the country using force that was found to be excessive and unnecessary, but frequently what looks excessive to those who are not involved in the incident or investigation is found to be justified and reasonable based on the law of the land.

The Santa Rosa Police Department does not condone and will hold our staff accountable for the improper use of force. We also want to point out that public safety is a shared responsibility, and there is no legal right to resist or disobey an officer’s legal command. Officers don’t want to and are not required to get hurt, nor does the law does not require an officer to meet force with minimal or even equal force. Instead, the law states that our force must be reasonable based on the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time.

For a more in depth look at our policies and practices, join us in the fall at our next Citizen’s Police Academy.

– Captain Craig Schwartz

If your interested in a Citizen’s Police Academy but don’t live in or near Santa Rosa, check your local law enforcement jurisdiction for the academy nearest you. They are worthwhile, I guarantee.


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Captain’s Blog-Santa Rosa PD

This article from a Facebook post dated May 12, 2015 from Santa Rosa (California) Police Department. Written by Captain Craig Schwartz, it is a press release illustrating a police contact what went well. By posting this, I hope to increase awareness of what cops do right


Captain’s Blog

Monday was a very busy day for the dispatchers, officers, and detectives. While our Violent Crimes Detectives were working to solve the homicide that took place during the early morning hours, our main radio frequency seemed to be busier than normal with calls of people acting bizarrely and threatening themselves or others. Patrol officers responded to one of our downtown parking garages because a man was standing on a ledge at the top of the garage, yelling and threatening to jump. When they arrived they found that a courageous City employee had intervened to get the man off the ledge. The officers were able to find the man in the garage and safely detain him for a mental health evaluation and treatment.

That call came very shortly after another call of a man acting strangely and yelling in the downtown area. A number of people filmed our response to this incident and one of the videos even made it to YouTube. [I couldn’t find it] We were glad to see the video. It showed our officers doing their jobs well, but it didn’t capture the whole incident. The video did show Sgt. Lisa Banayat, Officers John Barr, Matt Sanchez, and others from our day shift patrol team exercising patience and restraint while trying to resolve a risky situation with a volatile person. The video did not capture the beginning of the incident, when the man was yelling for officers to shoot him while he refused to comply with their directions and remove his hands from his pockets. The video also didn’t show the items officers found on the man after they were able to gain his voluntary compliance without any use of force.

SRPD stuff in pocketThe picture attached here shows the weapons the man had on him at the time. The pistol shown in the picture was actually a pellet gun, but looks like a real firearm. The officers were able to get this man the help he needed as well.

Thanks to all the officers and dispatchers involved in these two incidents, along with the others taking place that morning. All these incidents were resolved peacefully due to their tactics and decision-making skills. Well done!

– Capt. Craig Schwartz

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