Tag Archive for: TASER

A Taser delivers an electrical charge that disrupts muscle function. The devices are carried on the officer’s non-gun side and they’re often made of brightly colored material. The purpose of these two important details is to prevent officers from confusing the non-lethal Taser with their definitely lethal handgun.

There are also handcuffs available that are capable of delivering an electrical charge to the wearer. These cuffs (stun cuffs) are often used when transporting jail or prison inmates, especially potentially dangerous or high-risk prisoners.

Stun belts are also available, especially for use in prisons. Prison guards/corrections officers (CO’s) train with the belts and are often called on to demonstrate its effects. Officers refer to the experience as “riding the belt.”

You know, many years ago officers didn’t have the luxury of non-lethal devices, such as Tasers, pepper spray, cages in police cars, rubber bullets, bean bags, etc. Instead, we had to rely on fast talking and sheer muscle power to get out of jams.

Sometimes, the only thing that kept us from getting hurt, badly, was using a heavy metal flashlight to deliver a gentle “love tap” to an attacker’s thick skull (an aluminum shampoo). Of course, that’s no longer an option, but the tactic saved my butt more than once. And there’s one such event will forever stand out in my mind.

Rechargeable flashlight

While arresting an unruly man, a guy who just happened to be twice my size (and I’m not small), my future prisoner who was already madder than a mosquito in a mannequin factory, decided he was allergic to handcuffs. And, during a brief struggle, my neck somehow wound up in the gentle grasp of the behemoth’s skillet-size hands. In other words, he was choking me with every ounce of strength he could muster. I couldn’t breathe, and I knew then how it must feel to be the icing inside a pastry bag, because he was squeezing so hard that I thought my eyes would squirt from their sockets at any moment.

The thug had me pinned against a wall in a position that made going for my gun (a .357 in those days) impossible. However, I finally managed to get a hand on my metal Maglite. So I starting swinging (short strokes because of the odd angle), hoping to force the guy to release his grip. Finally, after several hard thwacks and whacks to his head, he let go. And, as they say, it was game on! I went at him like a duck on a June bug.

I finally got that enormous moose handcuffed. However, my car was not equipped with a cage to put him in for safekeeping (none of our cars had cages back then), so I made him ride up front with me. And I made a point to let him know that my gun was in my hand with my finger on the trigger, and if he so much as looked at me wrong I’d shoot him. He behaved nicely on the ride in.

Aluminum and Plexiglass divider that we did not have but wished we did.     ——————->

My prisoner and I must have been a real sight when we arrived at the jail—clothes torn, badge ripped from my shirt, bloody lips, flashlight-shaped knots on his head, fingerprint-shaped bruises on my neck, and more. But that was how it was back then.

Yep, those were the good ‘ol days …

Aluminum and Plexiglass divider that we did not have but wished we did.

“Seats” for Virtual MurderCon interactive event are filling quickly!

I urge you to sign up asap to reserve your spot at this unique opportunity, one that may never again be available. This is a live event, presented in realtime. Q&A is available at the end of each presentation. In addition, the final session is live panel and Q&A discussion with each of the experts. So have your questions ready, because this is the time to gather the extraordinary details that will make your book zing with realism.

Registration to the Writers’ Police Academy special event, Virtual MurderCon, is scheduled to end at midnight, July, 31, 2020. However, registration will close when all spots are filled, and it certainly looks like the event will soon be sold out. Again, this is a rare opportunity for writers to participate in virtual, live and interactive, “for law enforcement eyes only” training. This incredibly detailed, cutting-edge instruction has never before been available to writers, anywhere. Until now.

The 2020 stellar cadre of instructors include (to name a few) David Alford, a retired FBI Special Agent with 21 years of experience investigating violent crimes, terrorism and other cases. He was one of the founding members of the FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) and conducted crimes scene searches on domestic and international violent crimes and bombings, including the Polly Klaas kidnaping and murder, the Unabomber’s cabin, and the 9/11 Pentagon scene. He worked in the Denver and San Francisco field offices and completed his career at Quantico in the FBI Lab ERT Unit. During the 6 years in the FBI Lab, he was primarily responsible for overseeing and teaching basic and advanced crime scene courses throughout the US and many other countries.

In the 6 years before the FBI, David was a Forensic Serologist, Hair and Fibers Examiner and Bloodstain Pattern Analyst for the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab. After retirement, David taught crime scene courses around the world on behalf of the FBI and US State Department. David has been with Sirchie as an instructor and sales representative for Sirchie’s RUVIS and ALS products for the last 10 years. David loves teaching and allowing students to learn through hands-on training.

Heather Hanna is a forensic geologist specializing in the analysis of rock fragments and mineral grains in soils as trace evidence. Since 2009, she has been involved in multiple forensic investigations and has testified as an expert witness in four first degree murder trials, the first of which set a legal precedent in Wake County for using geochemical analysis of mineral grains in court. As a result of her forensic work, she has been an invited speaker at many law enforcement conferences and continuing education programs including the Conference of District Attorneys, the North Carolina Criminal Information Exchange Network, the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Association, and the North Carolina International Association for Identification. She has also presented her forensic work at national and sectional Geological Society of America meetings and as an invited speaker for the Soils Science Society of North Carolina.

Detective Sergeant Jeff Locklear, a 21-year veteran law enforcement officer, currently works with the Fayetteville North Carolina Police Department as a homicide police specialist and training officer.

As a homicide detective he’s been involved with over 350 homicide investigations. He’s also investigated hundreds of violent felonies including rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, and missing persons.

During his career he has responded to hundreds to death scenes such as suicides, homicides, accidental deaths, and natural and unexplained deaths.

Detective Locklear has conducted thousands of interviews of violent offenders, including cases featured on 48 hrs (The Kelli Bourdeaux murder), Swamp Murders, NCIS – The Cases They Can’t Forget: The Holley Wimunc Murder, Scorned Love Kills 2014, The Today Show, and numerous other news and media outlets, such as People Magazine and Time Magazine.

He’s a founding member of both the 2008 Fayetteville Police Homicide Squad and the 2016 Fayetteville Police Violent Criminal Apprehension Team (VCAT). In addition, he’s served as sheriff’s deputy , Forensic Technician, Patrol officer , Crimes against persons detective, homicide detective, gun and gang task force detective, and as a Violent Criminal Apprehension Team Detective.

Detective Locklear has presented cases workshops at a number of conferences and events, including the North Carolina Homicide Investigators Conference, North & South Carolina Arson Investigators Conference , Fayetteville State University (Criminal Justice), Fayetteville Technical Community College (Registered Nursing students), Methodist University, and more.

Having spent the majority of his career investigating violent crimes, Detective Locklear has a unique and vast perspective of being the first officer on scene, the Forensic technician processing the scene, the detective investigating the crime, and the detective whose task it is to track down and capture the suspects who committed the crimes. He’s a dynamic speaker who can “escort you” to a crime scene, “walk you” through what happened, “show you” who did it, and then “lead you” to where the suspect fled after committing the offense.

The recent officer-involved shooting of Rayshard Brooks by Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe has ignited another flame in the fervent calls against police brutality and reform.

At the heart of the situation is the use of the well-known electric control device (ECD) known as TASER.

It was during the arrest of Mr. Brooks for DUI when he decided to escape custody by struggling with the two officers at the scene, Garrett Rolfe and Devin Brosnan. During Brooks’ violent attempt to flee, he and the two officers fell to the ground where the struggle continued. Brooks was able to overpower the officers and even punched one of the officers in the face.

Brosnan, who was the first officer to respond, attempted to use a TASER on Brooks in an attempt to gain control. This was a justifiable action by Bronson, to use a level of force that was necessary to overcome Brooks’ physical resistance to arrest. But Brooks gained control of Brosnan’s TASER, taking it from him before fleeing on foot.

How much force is reasonable?

Law enforcement officers should use only the amount of force necessary to gain control of an incident, to make an arrest, or protect themselves or others from injury. But they should always use the amount of force necessary to make the arrest. Nothing more and nothing less. In most cases, though, this amounts to nothing more than an officer asking or telling a subject to place their hands behind their back for handcuffing.

The levels of force police use include basic verbal commands, physical restraint which sometimes involve pain compliance techniques/tactics, TASERS, pepper spray, beanbag rounds, pepper spray, batons, etc. And lastly, lethal force when there’s threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officers or others.

Was the Rayshard Brooks incident similar to that of George Floyd?

The Brooks incident was wholly different than what occurred in the George Floyd case. We saw no resistance from Floyd during the time Chauvin and  other officers applied pressure to his body, slowly draining the life from Floyd as the world watched precious seconds tick by.

In the Atlanta case, Brooks absolutely physically resisted a lawful arrest, assaulted an officer, and then forcibly took/stole Bronson’s TASER, and fled. Then, during a brief foot pursuit Brooks turned slightly toward Officer Garrett Rolfe and pointed and fired the stolen TASER at the officer.

A Deadly Weapon?

There’s a debate about whether or not a TASER is a deadly weapon and, if not, was the officer justified in shooting Brooks. On the other hand, if a TASER is indeed a deadly weapon as some are saying, then obviously the use of deadly force against Brooks, or anyone, fits the criteria and is justified.

Earlier this month, Fulton County, Georgia  District Attorney Paul Howard charged six Atlanta police officers with using excessive force in pulling two college students out of a car during a protest. When announcing charges against some of the officers, Howard said a Taser is considered a deadly weapon under Georgia law. Here he is, on video, making the statement during a press conference earlier this month. He made the statement when announcing that he was charging police officers with using excessive force when using  a TASER while arresting college students during a protest.

However, in the Brooks case, just a few days after incident with the college students, DA Howard had apparently decided that a TASER is not a deadly weapon when it is forcibly stolen from a police officer and then deployed against another police officer. He charged Rolfe with felony murder.

By the way, to take something from someone by force or intimidation is considered robbery, a felony.

Either way, there’s a wrinkle in the case and that’s that Officer Rolfe shot Brooks in the back. But there are details that are extremely important. Such as …

The incident was caught on video and we clearly see Rolfe chasing behind Brooks. Each of the two men are clutching a TASER in their right hands. Keep in mind that this all occurred within mere seconds.

While fleeing from the officers, with the stolen TASER in his right hand, Brooks turned/twisted his upper body slightly to his right, looking back over his shoulder toward Rolfe. He aimed the TASER at Rolfe as a portion of his back is visible to Rolfe. His hips and legs still faced forward and he’s still running away from the officers.

Still running away from the officers, with Rolfe in somewhat close pursuit, Brooks fired the TASER at Rolfe. As the weapon was deployed it emitted a brilliant flash of light that’s quite similar to a muzzle flash of a handgun that can be clearly seen, especially so at night. It’s similar to a camera flash that hinders vision for a moment or two. It’s a quick burst of bright light.


After discharging the TASER Brooks continued his escape from custody.


At the time Brooks fired the TASER setting off the flash of bright light, Rolfe tossed his TASER and drew his service weapon. He then fired three rounds at Brooks.

Many say that shooting someone in the back is illegal. Well, it depends on the circumstances and, in a nutshell, it boils down to whether the officer reasonably believed at the point he pulled the trigger, that the use of deadly force was needed in order to prevent great bodily injury to himself or to others. Not a second before the trigger is pulled, but at that precise moment.

In that precise moment when an officer must make the “blink of an eye” decision as to whether or not someone’s life is in danger, including their own, if they should return fire, are there bystanders, is a dangerous criminal going to escape and go on to harm someone else, is the fleeing subject wanted for a serious offense (why else would they have assaulted two officers and then fled the scene), and, and, what-if, what-if. This, all within the blink of an eye.

Remember, a police officer’s quickest reaction time (based on a study of 46 trained officers), when they already know the threat is there, AND, with their finger already on the trigger, is 0.365 seconds. That’s certainly not enough time to take aim, yell a bunch of commands, check for passersby, look for accomplices, and, well, you get the idea.

To add to the zillion thoughts to process, this is what the officer sees and to what they must react. You tell me, is this fleeing person firing a handgun or a TASER? The flash from either could easily prevent any reasonable person from taking the distinction, especially during a highly stressful situation. It’s even more difficult to process when the incident occurs at night.

And, the image above clearly shows how and why sometimes fleeing criminals wind up with bullet wounds to the back.

For your information, and to help you better understand the charges brought against the former officers involved in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, here are a few applicable Georgia criminal code sections.

Actually, I’m not at all certain that Georgia law supports the charges.

Officer Rolfe was charged with felony murder for shooting Brooks. This is a crime where the deliberate intention to kill must be present. Or, if the person is actively involved in the commission of felony when a person is killed, such as when a bank robber accidentally fires a weapon inside the bank and the round strikes a teller and he dies. That’s felony murder. Plotting to kill someone and you do. That’s felony murder. Beating an elderly woman to death because she wouldn’t smile at you. That’s felony murder.

This case doesn’t meet those requirements. The DA may have slightly overcharged. Perhaps he should have waited until the investigation had concluded and perhaps he should have consulted with the state investigators before charging Rolfe and Bronson. That’s typically how it works.

In Georgia, felony murder is:

§ 16-5-1 – Murder; felony murder

O.C.G.A. 16-5-1 (2010)
16-5-1. Murder; felony murder

(a) A person commits the offense of murder when he unlawfully and with malice aforethought, either express or implied, causes the death of another human being.

(b) Express malice is that deliberate intention unlawfully to take the life of another human being which is manifested by external circumstances capable of proof. Malice shall be implied where no considerable provocation appears and where all the circumstances of the killing show an abandoned and malignant heart.

(c) A person also commits the offense of murder when, in the commission of a felony, he causes the death of another human being irrespective of malice.

(d) A person convicted of the offense of murder shall be punished by death, by imprisonment for life without parole, or by imprisonment for life.

Georgia Code Title 16. Crimes and Offenses § 16-10-33

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “firearm” shall include stun guns and tasers. A stun gun or taser is any device that is powered by electrical charging units such as batteries and emits an electrical charge in excess of 20,000 volts or is otherwise capable of incapacitating a person by an electrical charge.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to remove or attempt to remove a firearm, chemical spray, or baton from the possession of another person if:

(1) The other person is lawfully acting within the course and scope of employment;  and

(2) The person has knowledge or reason to know that the other person is employed as:

(A) A peace officer as defined in paragraph (8) of Code Section 35-8-2 ;

Georgia Code Title 16. Crimes and Offenses § 16-11-106

(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “firearm” shall include stun guns and tasers. A stun gun or taser is any device that is powered by electrical charging units such as batteries and emits an electrical charge in excess of 20,000 volts or is otherwise capable of incapacitating a person by an electrical charge.

(b) Any person who shall have on or within arm’s reach of his or her person a firearm or a knife having a blade of three or more inches in length during the commission of, or the attempt to commit:

(1) Any crime against or involving the person of another;

(2) The unlawful entry into a building or vehicle;

(3) A theft from a building or theft of a vehicle;

(4) Any crime involving the possession, manufacture, delivery, distribution, dispensing, administering, selling, or possession with intent to distribute any controlled substance or marijuana as provided in Code Section 16-13-30 , any counterfeit substance as defined in Code Section 16-13-21 , or any noncontrolled substance as provided in Code Section 16-13-30.1 ; or

(5) Any crime involving the trafficking of cocaine, marijuana, or illegal drugs as provided in Code Section 16-13-31 ,

and which crime is a felony, commits a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by confinement for a period of five years, such sentence to run consecutively to any other sentence which the person has received.

(c) Upon the second or subsequent conviction of a person under this Code section, the person shall be punished by confinement for a period of ten years. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the sentence of any person which is imposed for violating this Code section a second or subsequent time shall not be suspended by the court and probationary sentence imposed in lieu thereof.

(d) The punishment prescribed for the violation of subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section shall not be reducible to misdemeanor punishment as is provided by Code Section 17-10-5 .

(e) Any crime committed in violation of subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section shall be considered a separate offense.

Is a TASER deadly?

In 2019, Reuters reported documenting at least 1,081 U.S. deaths involving TASER use by police. These deaths occurred since police began routinely using the electronics control devices in the early 2000s.

In 2009, these people died as a result of TASER deployment by police. Many had underlying health conditions and/or drug use/abuse that contributed to their deaths.

1. Jan 9, 2009: Derrick Jones, 17

Martinsville, Virginia

Initial complaint – Police were called to Jones’ home because of a loud noise complaint from neighbors. Jones died in his home after being shot with a police Taser.

2. Jan 11, 2009: Rodolfo Lepe, 31

Bakersfield, California

Initial complaint – Family members called police because Rodolfo was exhibiting odd and bizarre behavior. Lepe died at the hospital after being shot with a police Taser.

3. Jan 22, 2009: Roger Redden, 52

Soddy Daisy, Tennessee

Initial complaint – unknown

4. Feb 2, 2009: Garrett Jones, 45

Stockton, California

Initial complaint – unknown

5. Feb 11, 2009: Richard Lua, 28

San Jose, California

Initial complaint – unknown

6. Feb 13, 2009: Rudolph Byrd, 37

Thomasville, Georgia

Initial complaint – Byrd had been in an auto accident and was disoriented. He was also bleeding from several lacerations. The responding police officer found cocaine at the scene and attempted to arrest Byrd, who then became combative. The officer deployed his Taser, attempting to stop the threat. Byrd stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

7. Feb 13, 2009: Michael Jones, 43

Iberia, Louisiana


8. Feb 14, 2009: Chenard Kierre Winfield, 32

Los Angeles, California


9. Feb 28, 2009: Robert Lee Welch, 40

Conroe, Texas


10. Mar 22, 2009: Brett Elder, 15

Bay City, Michigan


11. Mar 26, 2009: Marcus D. Moore, 40

Freeport, Illinois

Moore, a wanted fugitive, fought with police when they attempted to apprehend him. Officers deployed their Tasers to help effect the arrest and Moore soon began to complain of shortness of breath. He was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

12. Apr 1, 2009: John J. Meier Jr., 48

Tamarac, Florida


13. Apr 6, 2009: Ricardo Varela, 41

Fresno, California


14. Apr 10, 2009: Robert Mitchell, 16

Detroit, Michigan

Mitchell, who weighed 110 pounds and stood 5’2″ tall at the time of arrest, was in custody and undergoing a pat down search by police when a struggle began. The officer deployed his Taser and the boy died. Autopsy results revealed the boy had a heart condition that, when aggravated by the Taser blast, caused the death.

15. Apr 13, 2009: Craig Prescott, 38

Modesto, California

Prescott, a jail inmate, struggled with deputies who deployed Tasers. The coroner ruled that it was the physical exertion from the struggle that killed Prescott, not the Taser.

16. Apr 16, 2009: Gary A. Decker,

Tuscon, Arizona

Initial complaint – loud noise

17. Apr 18, 2009: Michael Jacobs Jr., 24

Fort Worth, Texas

Initial complaint – Parents called police to assist with controlling their mentally impaired son.

18. Apr 30, 2009: Kevin LaDay, 35

Lumberton, Texas

Initial complaint – DUI traffic stop. LaDay ran and was shot with a Taser.

19. May 4, 2009: Gilbert Tafoya, 53

Holbrook, Arizona


20. May 17, 2009: Jamaal Valentine, 27

La Marque, Texas

Police found Valentine rolling in a ditch. They deployed their Tasers and the subject died. Autopsy revealed a controlled substance in Valentine’s system.

21. May 23, 2009: Gregory Rold, 37

Salem, Oregon

Initial complaint – trespassing.

22. Jun 9, 2009: Brian Cardall, 32

Hurricane, Utah

Cardell’s wife called 911 asking for help with her husband who was experiencing a psychotic episode. Cardell was being treated and medicated for his condition. Here’s the wife’s 911 call.

This is actual police audio from the scene. It begins with the officer saying, “I’m 23…” That’s short for 10-23, meaning he has arrived on the scene. Listen as he fires his Taser at the man who is clearly distraught. Then you’ll hear the officers begin to notice that the man is not breathing and has no pulse.

23. Jun 13, 2009: Dwight Madison, 48

Bel Air, Maryland

Initial complaint – Homeless man knocking on doors looking for a friend.

24. Jun 20, 2009 Derrek Kairney, 36

South Windsor, Connecticut


25. Jun 30, 2009, Shawn Iinuma, 37

Fontana, California


26. Jul 2, 2009, Rory McKenzie, 25

Bakersfield, California


27. Jul 20, 2009, Charles Anthony Torrence, 35

Simi Valley, California


28. Jul 30, 2009, Johnathan Michael Nelson, 27

Riverside County, California


29. Aug 9, 2009, Terrace Clifton Smith, 52

Moreno Valley, California


30. Aug 12, 2009, Ernest Ridlehuber, 53

Greenville, South Carolina

Initial complaint – Ridlehuber’s family reported him as a missing person.

31. Aug 14, 2009, Hakim Jackson, 31

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


32. Aug 18, 2009, Ronald Eugene Cobbs, 38

Greensboro, North Carolina

Scuffle with deputies inside the local jail.

33. Aug 20, 2009, Francisco Sesate, 36

Mesa, Arizona


34. Aug 22, 2009, T.J. Nance, 37

Arizona City, Arizona


35. Aug 26, 2009, Miguel Molina, 27

Los Angeles, California


36. Aug 27, 2009, Manuel Dante Dent, 27

Modesto, California

Dent swallowed a bag of methamphetamine to prevent police officers from retrieving it as evidence. An officer then placed a Taser in direct contact with Dent’s skin and fired. Dent died hours later, but autopsy results indicated that the meth he’d ingested was the cause of death, not the Taser blast.

37. Sep 3, 2009, Shane Ledbetter, 38

Aurora, Colorado

38. Sep 16, 2009, Alton Warren Ham, 45

Modesto, California

Initial complaint – Home invasion/robbery. Ham became combative with jailers so they used a Taser to get him under control. He died immediately after being shot. Autopsy results indicated that Ham had an enlarged heart.

39. Sep 19, 2009, Yuceff W. Young II, 21

Brooklyn, Ohio


40. Sep 21, 2009, Richard Battistata, 44

Laredo, Texas

Initial complaint – Burglary in progress. Battistata was confronted by police as a burglary suspect. The officer deployed her Taser and the suspect died on the scene. Autopsy results indicated that the suspect died as a result of a cocaine overdose.

41. Sep 28, 2009, Derrick Humbert, 38

Bradenton, Florida

Initial complaint – Officer stopped Humbert for riding a bicycle after dark without a headlight.

42. Oct 2, 2009, Rickey Massey, 38

Panama City, Florida

Initial complaint – Possession of cocaine

43. Oct 12, 2009, Christopher John Belknap, 36

Ukiah, California


44. Oct 16, 2009, Frank Cleo Sutphin, 19

San Bernadino, California

Initial complaint – Fight call

45. Oct 27, 2009, Jeffrey Woodward, 33

Gallatin, Tennessee


46. Nov 13, 2009, Herman George Knabe, 58

Corpus Christi, Texas

Initial complaint – Man riding a bicycle against the flow of traffic.

47. Nov 14, 2009, Darryl Bain, 43

Coram, New York

Initial Complaint – Bain’s brother called police asking for help because Bain was high on cocaine.

48. Nov 16, 2009, Matthew Bolick, 30

East Grand Rapids, Michigan

Initial complaint – Bolick’s father called police because he was concerned about his son’s odd behavior.

Again, the law is clear. If a police officer reasonably believes that someone is about to use deadly force on him,  the police officer is permitted to use deadly force to protect himself. We, the armchair quarterbacks, are not permitted make the determination of what was on the police officer’s mind at the moment the action took place. Besides, the determination is not based on what a reasonable civilian would do, but what a reasonable police officer would do.

My Aching Back: Gun belt

Admit it. You’ve complained at least once in your life about having to carry, lift, push, or pull something heavy while at work, right? Well, try this on for size … suppose your boss told you that from this day forward you’d be required to wear a bowling ball strapped to your waist for each of your entire 8-hour shifts. Pretty crazy, huh? But not so crazy for patrol officers, because that’s exactly the weight they carry around their waists each and every day throughout their career. And that’s not including the heavy and cumbersome bullet-resistant vest tucked neatly under those ever-so-stylish uniform shirts.

So what’s on those duty belts that weighs so much? For starters …

The sidearm

Pistols are loaded with, (depending on make and model) up to 16 rounds, or so. That’s approximately a third of a box of bullets. For example, 15 rounds in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. Cops always carry a round in the chamber. That slide-racking thing you see on TV is exactly that … for TV only!)

Magazines (not clip!)

A full brick

Some magazines contain 15 rounds. Therefore, 2 extra magazines = 30 rounds. 30 + the 16 in the pistol = 46 rounds. A full box of bullets = 50 rounds.

Note – a full box of ammunition is sometimes called a brick. However, the term “brick” is most often used to describe a 500-round container of 22 Long Rifle ammunition.

Portable radio, an officer’s lifeline

Above – Radio w/clip-on external mic and speaker

Above – Radio w/out external mic and speaker

Flashlight, one of the most important tools carried on the belt

Above image – Rechargeable metal flashlight

Handcuffs and cuff cases

Some officers carry two sets of handcuffs. Others opt for one.

Types of handcuffs

Most officers carry chain-link cuffs because they’re easiest to apply during a scuffle. Hinged cuffs are normally used when transporting prisoners. The latter is so because the hinge design limits hand and wrist movement.

Above – Two handcuff cases. Handcuffs are normally worn at the center of the lower back to enable easy reach with either hand. Although, when I worked patrol I wore my handcuff case in the front, just to the left of the belt buckle.

Belt Keepers

Also in the photo above, we see two thin leather straps containing four (two each) shiny silver snaps (between the handcuff cases). These are called belt keepers and they’re used to attach the gun belt to the officer’s regular belt, the one used to hold up their pants.

Keepers work by looping around both the gun belt and the regular belt where they’re then snapped into place. Once properly attached, keepers hold the gun belt securely in place, a means to prevent the gun belt from slipping down or from sliding around the officer’s waistline. After all, it wouldn’t be ideal, or fun, to have your gun belt fall to your ankles while chasing a bad guy!

Handcuff Keys

Handcuff keys are available in several designs. However, they’re universal and each work on all standard cuffs. The bottom key in the photo below is the factory default key that comes with each new set of cuffs. The others are purchased separately, if wanted/needed.

Pepper Spray


ASP expandable baton and case

Expandable batons are composed of a hollow outer shaft and two or three inner telescoping shafts. The tip of the smallest shaft is solid which increases the user’s striking power. The most recognizable name in expandable batons is ASP, which is actually the acronym for Armament Systems and Procedures, Inc., a company that manufactures and sells police equipment. The ASP baton became so popular among law-enforcement officers they began to refer to all batons as ASPs.

To extend the weapon to its full length, the officer simply draws the baton from its holster while making a striking motion. The baton will be in its ready position at the end of the movement.

PR-24 (side handle baton)

Some officers carry the PR-24, a side handle baton. PR-24s are typically used as both defensive and offensive weapons and are also available in expandable forms. Their use requires advanced/specialized training.


Tasers are carried on the officers non-gun hand side, away from the firearm (the gun that fires lethal live ammunition). This is to prevent accidentally drawing a pistol when the officer actually meant to deploy a Taser.

They’re typically brightly colored, another means to prevent confusion.

The “bowling ball”

Yes, every day officers go to work with the weight of a bowling ball strapped to their waists. Suddenly that briefcase you’re toting feels a bit lighter, huh?

*The weight of an officer’s gun belt varies, depending upon the items carried. Some are more than 15 pounds. May even be closer to 25.

The Vest

The blue material pictured above is actually a cloth carrier that holds the Kevlar panels in place. Having a separate carrier allows the portion of the vest (carrier) that’s next to the skin (the blue, canvas-like material) to be washed. The panel on the left is the front panel. The panel on the right is, of course, the rear section. The flaps at the bottoms of each section are tucked into the pants as one would tuck a shirttail.

Kevlar itself should NOT be washed. Wiping it down with a damp cloth is okay, and necessary. Hoo boy is it ever necessary. Imagine the stink of trapped perspiration, day after day after week after week after month after month after year after … well, YUCK and PEE-EW!!


Kevlar insert (this is the front section that’s inserted into the blue carrier on the left in the previous photo). The rectangular outline is a pocket for a removable trauma plate (steel or ceramic) that provides extra protection over the center of the chest area.

Important Detail!!!!

*FYI – Bathroom breaks. Yes, the belt has to come off, which means unsnapping and removing the keepers and then the entire belt as one unit. All tools—gun, Taser, handcuffs, etc.—remain in place on the belt.

Note for the officers in your stories – When using a public restroom, NEVER, not EVER, hang your gun belt on the hook located on the upper back of a bathroom stall door. Why not? Because the belt is easy-pickings for a thief. Yes, while you’re seated and “taking care of business” someone could simply reach over the top of the door and grab the belt, leaving you in a bit of a very unpleasant bind.


What a waist

Yesterday’s post about speed loaders inspired a question or two regarding the items carried on an officer’s duty belt. So …

Imagine strapping a bowling ball to your waist each day before heading out to work. Wouldn’t want to do it? No?

Well, the weight of a bowling ball is the equivalent to what police officers carry on their duty belts every single day of their lives. And they walk, sit, stand, and even run while toting all that poundage. Believe me, it’s not fun.

Here’s an example of what you could expect to find attached to an officer’s belt.

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Two magazines @ 15 rounds each, plus the magazine inserted into the pistol (another 15 rounds), and one in the chamber = 46 rounds. A full box/”brick” of bullets = 50 rounds.

By the way, officers ALWAYS carry a round loaded into the chamber. That business we see on TV where officers “rack” the slide before entering a dangerous situation…well, that’s made-for-television BS.

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Handcuff keys are generally carried on a key ring or in a pocket. However, in preparation of an unexpected emergency, it’s not unusual for officers to hide a spare key somewhere on their duty belt/gun belt. You know, in case the officer is working with a TV cop and the pair is kidnapped and handcuffed to one another. After all, if you’re assigned a television star as your partner, well, you can pretty much count on being abducted at some point in your fictional career. In real life, not so much.

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Of course, there are many other options, such as cellphones, flashlights, and batons of all kinds and sizes.

And then there’s the glue—THE most important attachment of all—that holds it all together … belt keepers. Without these small straps gravity would pull the gun belt downward around the officer’s ankles. Not cool, especially during a foot pursuit.

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Belt keepers loop around the duty belt and the belt worn to hold up the officer’s pants. With the keepers snapped into place the duty belt cannot fall to the ground, preventing those embarrassing thong-exposing moments.

And now you know the secret of where the phrase “thin blue line” originated. Shh …


With nearly every item under the sun, short of the kitchen sink and an anti-aircraft gun, strapped snuggly around their waists, officers today should be safer than ever before, right?

But are they indeed safer than officers of days gone by?

Does carrying a combined array of deadly and less than lethal weaponry truly protect them from harm? After all, electoshock weapons such as Tasers and/or similar devices are powerful enough to bring even the largest person to the ground, transforming the resisting behemoths into jerking and twitching lumps of screaming and squealing human flesh.

Or, is it possible that the mere sight of those electrically-charged weapons is enough to send someone into a rage? And I’m not speaking of a person who’s typically prone to fight the police for fun or sport. Yes, there are many people out there who enjoy fighting police officers. To them, doing so is a hobby much like collecting stamps or butterflies is to others.

Instead, I speak of the average Joe or Jane who’s typically a non-violent person who, upon seeing one of those nearly fluorescent yellow shock devices, is sent into a tornado-like whirlwind of punches, kicks, and other fits of anger.

Weapons Effect

A joint study conducted by London police officers and criminologists at the University of Cambridge found that, electroshock weapons such as Tasers can actually trigger what’s been called the “weapons effect,” a psychological issue that causes aggressive behavior and actions when someone simply sees such a device. This is especially true when the weapon is in the possession of law enforcement officers, including when they’re safely stored in a holster/case attached to the officers’ belts. Aiming one at someone is not necessarily the catalyst that prompts the attack(s).

The weapons effect is not a new finding. Not at all. It’s been around for four decades or so, prior to the onset of Taser use by officers. However, it seems that the number of assaults against officers has increased with the presence of Tasers and similar weaponry.

Triggered by Tasers

The University of Cambridge study states that assaults occur more often when Tasers are present than any other type of weapon.

And, the study found that as a result of the violence toward them, Taser-carrying officers were more likely to use force to bring those situations under control, and to protect themselves from physical harm.

In fact, the study found that in nearly 6,000 incidents that occurred between June 2016 and June 2017, London officers who carried Tasers were 48% more likely to use some type of force than an equal number of officers who did not carry the weapon. For comparison, 400 officers were armed with Tasers and 400 were not.

To put these numbers in perspective, though, from the almost 6,000 incidents, officers were assaulted a “grand total” of only 9 times. Six of those assaults were against Taser-carrying officers compared to 3 assaults against officers who did not possess a Taser.

Of the total number of use of force cases, the 48%, only 9 officers drew their Tasers from its holster. And, of the 9, only 2 applied shock to a suspect.

U.S. Officers Assaulted While On Duty

In the year 2017, 12,198 U.S. law enforcement agencies (not all) reported that 60,211 officers were assaulted while performing their duties or, 0.1 per 100 sworn officers. These numbers reflect 596,604 officers providing service to more than 269.6 million people. Of the 60,211 officers who were assaulted, 17,476 sustained injuries. (FBI stats).

What Now?

The Cambridge/London study, while interesting and perhaps a bit eye-opening, suggests the solution to the problem is simply to conceal the Taser. Make it difficult to see. After all, many are made of a vivid yellow material that brings to mind a large, ripe lemon hanging from an officer’s duty belt.

The weapon, strategically placed among the other tools of the trade—baton, handcuffs, OC spray, flashlight, sidearm and spare magazines, glove pouch, cellphone holder, belt keepers, etc.—stands out like a flashing neon light.

The eyes are immediately drawn to it, sitting there in all its brightness in the cross-draw position opposite the lethal sidearm. It’s like standing before someone who has spinach caught in their teeth, or with their pants unzipped. The eyes are immediately drawn to that particular spot.

Concealing weapons, though, makes access to them difficult for officers, especially when quick reaction time is vital.

Maybe a color that stands out less could be the solution to less aggression. Something like …










As opposed to …










Or … a Blue, Blue Taser.