Nearly everything happens everywhere. Officers practicing criminal interdiction put themselves in a position to increase their odds of finding menaces before they strike by increasing their contacts and honing their skills. The proactive officer learns the indicators of criminal activity and deception so that they will recognize them when they see them.
A patrol officer armed with the desire to make an impact coupled with the skill to detect indicators of criminal activity can be a career criminal’s worst nightmare. An officer practicing criminal interdiction keeps an open mind to the possibility that every call and every contact can lead to a major criminal arrest.
They are not looking for some one thing on a call or contact — they’re looking for everything on a call or contact.
The officer practicing criminal interdiction will make many field contacts and vehicle stops for a variety of violations. Every contact becomes a short-term investigation. By using disarming dialog, an officer can determine numerous things about the occupants of a vehicle:
• Is the registered owner present?
• Where the occupants are coming from?
• Where are heading?
• Are there indicators of criminality in plain view?
Most contacts end quickly with a citation or a warning, but often the innocuous stops lead to the discovery of everything from an intoxicated driver, to a terrorist as a stop made by Oklahoma State Trooper, Charlie Hanger did. He apprehended Timothy McVeigh after the Oklahoma City Bombing.
This kind of policing is being done by officers in New York and New Ulm. Officers are making incredible arrests on inner-city streets interstates and county roads by honing their interdiction skills on every contact.
All a police officer has to do is have the desire to do this kind of policing and they are more than half way there. While making many legal street contacts, officers become proficient and develop the ability to sense and detect indications of deception and illegal activities. They might develop reasonable suspicion to pat down suspects, or decide to ask for consent to search persons, vehicles, bags, or even residences after obtaining backup. They may develop probable cause to arrest, search, or obtain a search warrant, when appropriate.
Officers in small and large jurisdictions are finding themselves facing not only intoxicated drivers (who by the way, are killing more people in this country than terrorists), but also, drug dealers, active shooters, and every other type of criminal.
One officer practicing this philosophy stopped a vehicle one slow night because its tail light lens was broken. Upon closer examination, a smear of blood and hair could be seen on the bumper near the broken tail light lens. On the approach the officer observed in plain view in the back seat an uncased rifle, a woman’s purse, a woman’s wig, a woman’s pair of shoes, a pair of glasses and on the floor there was a shovel.
The driver was initially arrested for Operating While Intoxicated, but the immediate investigation revealed he had beaten his wife and left her unconscious in an alley behind a nearby tavern. He picked up her personal items left strewn about the scene and returned home for the rifle and the shovel. The husband was then stopped while he was heading back to the scene. A 13-minute criminal interdiction stop prevented what was likely to happen next.
What do all criminals have in common?
Whether they are an intoxicated driver, a burglar, a drug dealer, a terrorist, or an active shooter, perpetrators all have certain things in common. Before they commit their crime(s):
1. They drive
2. They walk
3. They ride
4. They often carry with them observable evidence of their intended crimes
5. Police officers make them nervous
6. Those nerves translate into visibly-detectable behaviors
7. They must lie and those lies can be detected by the trained professional.
8. They commit observable minor infractions in the presence of police, giving officers with a desire an opportunity to stop them
9. They are dangerous to you and the people you are sworn to protect
All officers will take a reactive role to the intoxicated driver who kills a family of four, the active shooter who opens up in a crowded mall, the drug-dealing gang-banger, who does the drive-by shooting, and the terrorist who detonates the bomb.
Sometimes with proactive policing the officer can put out the cigarette butt, rather than waiting for the forest fire.
In Charles Remsberg’s “Tactics for Criminal Patrol,” he describes 5%ers as being “an exceptional minority committed to outstanding performance on patrol.”
A patrol officer who hits the street to interdict crime proactively can sometimes apprehend the criminal before the crime. The officer with a reactive mindset answering one call at a time will still be doing the job, but will most often arrive after the fact.
You might work in a jurisdiction where all you have time to do is go from call to call. If that is the case, then keeping an open mind on every call and being alert to all possibilities will not only allow you to more effectively interdict criminals, it will keep you safer and more alert to dangers.
The proactive officer has a tendency to shape their career. Conversely a career has a tendency to shape the reactive officer.
Be a 95%er
The term 5%ers as described in Charles Remsberg’s “Tactics for Criminal Patrol” came from the determination that about five percent of officers in the United States are excited by every shift and practice active criminal interdiction on a daily basis. Mr. Remsberg describes them as officers who are always “looking for Mr. Wrong.”
Can you imagine the impact on crime in this country if 95 percent of street and road officers practiced proactive criminal interdiction instead of five percent?
Whether you are in the proactive mode or the reactive mode you do an honorable, but dangerous job in a dangerous world.
While you are doing it please…be careful out there.