Be Wary of SPLC’s Claims About the Militia Movement

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is an organization that, among other things, monitors hate groups in the USA.  For years, the SPLC has provided training and material support to law enforcement agencies that investigate crimes related to bigotry.  In fact, I pass one of their posters that shows hate group tattoos every day when I walk into the muster room for roll call.

However, I have recently concluded that the SPLC is as much a political special interest group as it is an educational resource for anyone studying or investigating bias-based crimes.  Don’t believe me?  Read their latest hack job on the “resurgance” of militia groups in the United States. [Read more…]

Islamic Terrorists Training in the US: Video Shows Muslim Extremists Training in the United States

I have talked before about the dangers of terrorism, and some of the challenges that face law enforcement in responding to these issues.  I’ve had a few people write me claiming I am “blowing things out of proportion.”

Here is a video showing Islamic terrorists training in camps here in the United States.  Up to 35 such camps exist here in the USA according to the video.

Folks, the danger is real and we need to be prepared to deal with this threat.

Richard is a police officer with a medium sized, central Florida department, and previously worked for a Metro-Atlanta agency.  He has served as a field training officer, court officer, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, watch commander, commander of a field training and evaluation program, and general pain in the butt to management-types looking to cut training hours.

Terrorists Targeting Our Children: More Facts for Police Officers

I wrote an article about how terrorists have targeted schools and killed hundreds of children in Beslan. In this article I tried to explain how important it is for us, as police officers, to prepare now to respond to the planned attacks against our children.

I got a few emails that ranged from dismissive disbelief to outright denial, claiming that I was an alarmist. Frankly, I hope they are right. Because if I am right, and everything I have read on the subject from credible sources, such as Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and US-CENTCOM, is even remotely accurate, we will face a horror unlike anything this country could be prepared to deal with.

So, here are a few more facts that you may have heard, but just not pieced together yet. This compilation comes from the article “Imagining the Unimaginable” written by Brad Thor in the October 2007 issue of Fusion magazine.

  • 2005 – Al Qaeda documents are intercepted that discuss the merits of attacking soft targets, specifically schools.
  • In Afghanistan, U.S. forces capture an Al Qaeda training camp where videos were recovered showing terrorists staging takeovers of schools. The terrorists gave orders in English, violence was extreme, and childrens’ bodies were flung from the roofs for a greater media effect.
  • In Iraq, U.S. forces capture blueprints and floorplans to United States schools in Texas, Virginia, New Jersey, California, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
  • February 2006 – The Department of Homeland Security is reported to have started a training program for school bus drivers, in which the drivers would learn to watch for terrorists who were casing the bus routes.
  • May 2006 – Two Saudi men board a school bus in Tampa, FL, in a possible “dry run.”
  • June 2006 – 17 members of an Islamic terrorist cell are arrested in connection to a mass bombing plot. One of the 17 is a school bus driver.
  • August 2006 – Three unidentified middle eastern men entered the United States from Canada and attempted to purchase multiple school buses.
  • March 2007 – The Associated Press reported that the FBI sent out a bulletin to law enforcement agencies warning officers that terrorists were attempting to obtain driver’s licenses that would enable them to drive school buses.
  • August 2007 – 17 school buses go missing in the Houston, TX area.  Authorities state that this is a “homeland security concern.”  Note that Texas is one of the states from which school floorplans were found in Iraq.

Look at the mass killings that happened last week in India.  Terrorists attacked Mumbai, India and killed more than 180 people.  Can you imagine the horror of a similar attack here in the United States?  Only instead of targeting hotels and the like, the terrorists targeted schools and our children…

Pay attention to the schools in your beat.  Offer suggestions to school and department administrators to improve student safety and increase police training for terrorist response.  And should the worst happen, act decisively with overwhelming firepower to drop the bastards and keep them from killing our kids.

Stay safe!

Illegal Immigration Cripples County Criminal Justice Systems Along the U.S. / Mexico Border

County officials along the U.S./Mexico border say the cost of apprehending, arresting and convicting undocumented immigrants is crippling their courts and the region’s entire criminal justice system. In a report released by the U.S. / Mexico Border Counties Coalition (USMBCC), elected county leaders argue they are well past the national debate on immigration reform, and simply want to be reimbursed for the burden illegal immigration places upon their criminal justice systems, to the tune of about $200 million a year.

illegal alien crossing from mexico to the us united states“It’s all about the criminal justice costs associated with criminal aliens,” says Kent Evans, Immediate Past President of the USMBCC and a Dona Ana County (NM) Commissioner. “Any way you look at it, border counties spent more than one billion dollars in less than a decade. That’s a lot of money, money that should have been used to improve schools, roads and public safety in our communities.”

In the study, conducted over a 12-month period by the University of Arizona and San Diego State University, it was revealed that the 24 border counties in Arizona, Texas, California and New Mexico are spending a disproportionate amount of local tax dollars to provide law enforcement and criminal justice services to apprehend, transport and convict criminal undocumented immigrants.

“This updated study effectively illustrates that until our borders are secure and our immigration laws are adequately enforced, many states and localities, particularly in border states like Arizona, will continue to incur overwhelming costs to process those illegal immigrants who commit crimes, or who, sadly, die trying to come to the United States,” said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who secured funding to produce the report.

“This study underscores the unfair and unacceptable fact that border residents continue to pay for our broken immigration policies,” said Congressman Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, TX, a 26 1/2 year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol. “The current approach reflects a lack of understanding of border communities.”

The Coalition asked that the federal government cover three major costs associated with undocumented immigrants who commit state felonies and/or multiple misdemeanors by fully funding the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), the Southwest Border Prosecution Initiative and county law enforcement and criminal justice services. “We are not asking for a hand out,” said Manny Ruiz, Vice Chairman of the USMBCC and a Santa Cruz County (AZ) Supervisor. When federal lawmakers fail to secure our borders, our local taxpayers should not have to pay for the skyrocketing costs.”

The Coalition is a nonpartisan, consensus-based policy and technical forum founded in 1998 to address challenges facing county governments located on the United States/Mexico Border. For a copy of the 155-page report, visit www.bordercounties.org.

All Police Officers Should Carry Their Guns Off-Duty

I have talked about this before: every police officer should carry at least one firearm off-duty. The reasons are plentiful, and on Wednesday, we saw another example of why I continue to push this point: mass murder.

In Omaha, Nebraska some nut-job decided to start killing innocent Christmas shoppers in the Westroads Mall. Initial reports indicate a 19 year old male carried a rifle into the the mall and began shooting shoppers and clerks. The incident ended only when the gunman turned his rifle on himself. In other words, the carnage would have continued, and dozens more would be dead, if he hadn’t committed suicide.

I assume Omaha PD responded with all due haste and implemented their active shooter plan. Even so, they arrived too late to stop the killing. As we saw in the Trolley Square shooting, one off-duty cop with one gun was able to stop the killing long enough for the on-duty officers to arrive on scene and dispatch the murderer.

There is no telling if an off-duty officer was in the area, or if they were in a position to respond. But if you are there, and you have no way to deal with the threat, you are just another casualty. You MUST be an active participant in your own survival.

The next shooter may not kill himself. The next shooter may be killing people where your family is shopping, or where your children are in school. Pray for the best, but be ready to do what you must.

Stay Safe!

19-year-old man kills eight and himself at Westroads Mall

A man dressed in camouflage and armed with a rifle opened fire among holiday shoppers in an Omaha department store Wednesday, killing eight people, wounding at least five others and sending hundreds into terrified panic.

The shooter – identified as Robert A. Hawkins, 19 – also died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in what is believed to be the deadliest single shooting incident in the state’s history.

Hawkins was a student at Papillion- La Vista High School. He withdrew in March 2006, a district spokeswoman said.

Witnesses described horrific scenes at the Westroads Von Maur shortly before 2 p.m. in which the gunman opened fire at customers and workers in the third-floor customer service department. Others were shot on the second floor as they were looking up an escalator toward the chaos.

The shooter apparently took a gun to himself before officers reached him.

“The shots wouldn’t stop,” said Von Maur shopper Carol Padon, who described hearing 15 to 25 shots before fleeing the store.

Dozens of Omaha police, Douglas County Sheriff’s deputies, FBI agents sealed off and closed the mall, and rescue personnel were observed carrying multiple gurneys into the store. Police have not identified any of the victims.

The five wounded were being treated at the Creighton University and University of Nebraska medical centers, two of them in critical condition.

Shoppers leaving the mall near Von Maur were instructed to walk out with their hands over their heads, many of them hysterical and crying. Most of them were women.

Others anxiously waited outside the store. One woman said she was awaiting word of whether her mother was safe.

The shooter was said to be an 18- to 20-year-old white male with a military-style hair cut carrying a rifle, wearing a camouflage vest and wearing a black backpack. He was found dead in the customer service area of the store.

“The shooter is deceased and it appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Sgt. Teresa Negron, a police spokeswoman.

Police and rescue personnel set up a meeting point at a nearby hotel to meet with family members of the victims.

Von Maur released a statement that said, “We are deeply saddened by the horrific shooting at our Omaha store this afternoon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragic event as well as their families. We are cooperating fully with the Omaha and Nebraska state police departments.”

Roxanne Philip found herself at center of the initial shooting in her job at the customer service desk. When she heard gunshots, it was so close it sounded like it was right next to her. She said she took cover and was scared “because I thought I would be next.”

She said she never saw the shooter, but as she left the store she saw a woman on the other side of the customer service counter had been shot and appeared to be dead. She also believed her boss had been shot because she heard him moaning.

Chuck Wright said a co-worker who also worked in customer service described hearing the shooting break out and people running. The co-worker saw what appeared to be a customer who had been shot and heard a co-worker in customer service yelling for help.

Someone yelled, “Hold on, Fred, we’ll get to you.”

Another Wright co-worker described standing on the second floor near the escalator and looking up toward the commotion. She then saw a man with a gun lean over a rail from the third floor. He then shot in the head a man standing right next to her.

Wright said employees and customers were hiding wherever they could, in storerooms and other rooms off the shopping floor.

He was hiding in a storeroom with a co-worker when a police officer came up the escalator telling them to come out with their hands up. They ran toward the officers and were ushered out of the store.

A Von Maur employee who had left the store said one customer was shot while going down the escalator.

Padon said she was shopping on the second floor of the store in the men’s wear department when she heard what sounded like 15 to 25 shots. As she hid in a back room, Padon said, “I was so busy praying that it’s really hard to tell the details.”

She said police later arrived and escorted her from the store. As she was leaving, she said, she saw a man in his 40s on the floor with a serious gunshot wound. He did not appear to be breathing, she said.

Marvelene Sturgeon of Council Bluffs said she and her daughter were getting ready to leave the mall through Von Maur when the scene turned chaotic.

“People started running out of the door yelling, ‘They’re shooting, they have guns,’ and we heard a lot of shots,” the 73-year-old said.

Her daughter helped her run and they fled into the nearby J.C. Penney store. They were first told to exit the store, then they were told to run back in. The entrance from the mall into J.C. Penney was locked, and finally they were told to leave. A Von Maur employee helped them across the street to the offices of AAA.

The mall is closed and will not reopen until at least Friday.

Police said the call of an active shooting at the mall first came in at 1:42 p.m., and it took six minutes for the first officer to arrive at the scene. Police located a victim soon after entering the store.

At 2:12 p.m., officers located the apparent shooter dead from a gunshot wound.

The eight deaths appeared to make the shooting the deadliest in Nebraska history. In October 1975, Erwin Charles Simants shot and killed six members of a family in Sutherland. Charles Starkweather in 1958 killed nine Nebraskans in several separate incidents, and also killed a 10th victim before his capture in Wyoming.

 

No Guns for Police Officers at Disney World

Disney World GunsDisney World appears to have a strict no gun policy. No law-abiding citizen, including an off-duty police officer, is allowed to carry a firearm, concealed or otherwise, to protect their family from violent predators while at Disney World.

I searched Disney’s web site looking for clarification on this policy, but was unable to locate anything. On non-Disney websites, I have seen reports that off-duty police officers were asked to either lock up their weapon, or to leave the property. I did have one of their security guards confirm that even cops aren’t allowed to carry off-duty at Disney World.

I requested information from Disney World about police officers carrying firearms, but so far my request has been ignored.

Disney World is a huge, juicy target for terrorists and nut-jobs alike. When thousands of people are gathered in one spot, one crazed individual can kill, wound, and maim a lot of innocents by detonating a bomb, or by firing a gun randomly. Islamic terrorists have stated the intention to kill as many of our children as they can. Killing children at Disney World would shake Americans to the core. So, if Disney World is telling me I can’t discreetly carry the means to defend my family, they better have that place on lock down.

During a recent trip to Disney World, I made several observations about their security measures. First, I observed a lot of security guards near the entrances to the different parks. The guards were not armed, and did not appear to be any higher a caliber than what we have come to expect out of contract security companies: many were old, out of shape, or both. I observed very few guards beyond the gate areas.

Second, I observed very few undercover, or plain clothed, security or police officers. No doubt I would not see all of them, but I still spotted very few.

Lastly, at the gates to the parks, the guards check your bags. Depending on who was doing the checking, my bag was either not searched or only a cursory check was done. Every day I walked in, I could have toted several pounds of C-4 in the bag that was “checked.” At no point was I ever checked, nor was any stroller or wheelchair that came through the lines with me. Anyone could carry multiple handguns on themselves, and bombs or long guns in their baggage or strollers.

I can only assume that Disney World uses state-of-the-art electronic surveillance equipment, and they have deputies and/or armed security hidden behind the doors labeled “Cast Members Only.” However, based on my observations, anyone can carry firearms and bombs into the Magic Kingdom.

I suggest that anytime you are off-duty, you need to be armed. I also suggest that Disney World is no exception. I carried every day I was there, and at no point did they ever detect it.

Stay Safe!

note: If you have had any experiences with carrying off-duty at Disney World, please e-mail me. Also, if you represent Disney World and would like to clarify your policy, please e-mail me.

Locked Doors and Lockdowns: Police Officer’s Response to Active Shooters

Active shooters are a real threat that police officers train to confront. Active shooter incidents have gone down at shopping malls, office buildings, and other locations, but one of the more frequent locations is at a school.

Many police departments have trained in, or at least familiarized their officers with, the schools in their jurisdictions. This is invaluable experience; the first time you set foot inside the school better not be when bullets are flying.

Even though schools generally cooperate with law enforcement by allowing them access for training, are we really working with the schools to achieve the best possible response to the unthinkable act of someone killing our children? Locked doors are one example of what we may be missing if we are not working closely together with the schools.

The first thing a school does if trouble erupts is to go into “lockdown.” Not terribly different from a lockdown at a jail, students are hustled into their classrooms, and the doors are locked. The idea is to isolate the children from the problem. In this case, the active shooter.

There are two problems with the lockdown. First, it hampers the ability of the victims to escape if trouble finds them anyway. Secondly, a lockdown hampers the ability of law enforcement to respond to the incident. I won’t argue the pros and cons of isolating innocents in a locked classroom, which creates the first problem.

The second issue resulting from a lockdown is something that many officers have not trained for. If three officers show up, form a contact team, but can’t get in through a locked door, what good are they? And before you say “break out a window and crawl through,” how many of your schools use wire-reinforced glass to prevent someone from doing just that?

Patrol officers need to have some tools available to make entry through locked doors: both exterior and interior. Additionally, the officers need to know how to use them. A Halligan tool is great, but if you don’t know how to use it, what good is it?

Lastly, officers engaged in active shooter scenarios need to encounter locked doors, so they can train how to work them. Because, God forbid, if they need to go after an active shooter in real life, they will encounter some locked doors.

Stay safe!

Terrorist Target Shoppers: Police Officers Need to Continue Active Shooter Training

Active shooter training has become more mainstream in the past several years. Now most agencies have trained their police officers to team up and move to neutralize the threat when an active shooter is wrecking havoc.

Most active shooter training has focused on school shooting scenarios, but the truth is they can happen anywhere. In 1999, Mark Barton entered two office buildings in Atlanta, killed nine people, and injured 12 more. The courthouse in Tyler County, TX was the scene of an active shooter in 2005. In February 2007, a shooter’s rampage at Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City was held to only five dead, due to the bravery of off-duty Ogden Police Officer Kenneth Hammond and the responding Salt Lake City police officers. These are just a few examples, but many more exist.

One motivated person armed with common hunting rifles, shotguns, or handguns can cause a great deal of damage in a target-rich envrionment like a shopping mall or office park. Imagine what two or more people could do in one mall. Or, how about this nightmare scenario: three teams of two hit multiple locations at one time. According to a recent FBI notice, that is what al-Qa’ida has been planning to do.

A November 8, 2007 report by ABC stated the FBI had received information that al-Qa’ida has planned to attack shopping malls in Los Angeles and Chicago this Christmas season. Lets be honest: there is nothing special about these locations. Attacks could happen in Houston, Orlando, Boston, Kansas City, or your town.

Talk to the other officers on your shift. The old saying still rings true: hope for the best, but train for the worst.

Stay safe!

Additional information:

Rental Self Storage Units: Criminal Interdiction Made Easy

Police officers engaged in drug interdiction quickly learn that experienced dealers and traffickers never drive a car they own when moving their product. Criminals have learned to bypass the asset forfeiture laws by renting a car, and moving the drugs with the leased vehicle. If stopped, the dealer may lose the product, but won’t have lost additional money tied up in a multi-thousand dollar vehicle. Use a third party to lease the rental car, and the dealer has added an additional layer of insulation between him and the dope seized in the stop.

This tactic of using leased property extends beyond the motor vehicle, and observant officers can make an impact on criminal enterprise by watching self-storage facilities.

Self Storage Units and Drug InterdictionSelf-storage facilities generally offer criminals with a near-ideal location from which they can work or store their products. The facilities often take cash, don’t do background checks, ask few questions, are open 24-hours a day, and, based on how the property is laid out, offer the ability to work out of the view of the casual passerby.

Through the years, police officers have found all sorts of criminal activity lurking inside of an unassuming self-storage facility. Recently, police training classes have talked about the use of a self-storage facility to establish a meth lab. While the threat of methamphetamine production is real, don’t forget about other crimes that can happen in these units:

  • storage of drugs
  • storage of counterfeit goods
  • stolen property
  • money that is waiting to be laundered
  • the making of bombs for a terrorist attack
  • storage of illegal weapons

Self Storage Units and Drug InterdictionBy way of example, law enforcement officers seized 100,000 Ecstacy tablets in a self storage unit in the Los Angeles area on October 29,2007.

Make contact with the managers of the facilities in your beat. Ask them if they have noticed anything, or anyone, strange on the property. If they are willing to work with you to prevent crime, suggest they pay attention to their renters. If anyone displaying certain common criminal characteristics rents from them, ask them to call you. Some of these common characteristics include:

  • paying cash only
  • paying for the rental months in advance
  • abnormal concerns about privacy
  • nervous behavior
  • the use of fake or altered ID
  • late night trips to the storage unit
  • people other than the leasee visiting the unit

None of these characteristics establishes probable cause for criminal activity, but if someone pops up displaying several of these characteristics, they may be worth checking out.

Another thing to request of management is their permission to walk a department K-9 through the common areas of the facility. K-9’s trained to detect drugs and/or bombs may hit on a scent in a common area that will lead you to a specific unit.

Keep your mind and eyes open when patrol around a self storage facility. You never know what you may find.

Stay safe!

Peroxide-Based Explosives: Components Police Officers Need To Look For

As if police officers didn’t have enough problems, the threat of high-powered explosives continues to grow as terrorists (home-grown and international) become more adept at synthesizing dangerous chemical compounds. Becoming familiar with some of the precursors to home made explosives can increase your own safety, and help prevent a deadly terrorism incident in your own jurisdiction. See also my post on bottle bombs here.

hydrogen peroxide bombPeroxide-based explosives can be made into liquid or solid explosives using common hydrogen peroxide. If you will reach back to your high school chemistry class, you may recall that hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizer. Mixing concentrated hydrogen peroxide (CHP) with a fuel can create a liquid explosive. Fuels such as acetone and ethanol may be used, but even things like black pepper and sugary drink powders can be used. Different fuels mixed with varying concentrations of CHP can create explosives that range from high energy to low energy.

Liquid peroxide-based explosives have been used in a variety of international terrorist incidents, the highest profile being the attacks on the London transit system in 2005. The terrorists in the foiled 2006 plot to blow up several airplanes were also planning on using liquid peroxide-based bombs.

peroxide bombTwo different solid peroxide-based explosives can be synthesized from liquid peroxide explosives. They are triacetonetriperoxide (TATP) and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD). Both of these compounds are very dangerous to make, handle, and use, as they detonate very easily. Keep this in mind should you ever stumble across someone who might be mixing this stuff up. Due to its unstable nature, it has been nicknamed the “Mother of Satan.”

TATP is normally seen as crystals, and HMTD is seen as powder.

TATP and HMTD have been used in a myriad of explosions such as:

So, while I won’t tell you how to mix this stuff up yourself, I will tell you a few things you should pay attention to while on traffic stops, or when you are in someone’s home. If you run into something you suspect may be one of these nasty substances, back off and call the guys in the funny suits.

Chemicals to watch for:

  • hydrogen peroxide antiseptic
  • hair coloring
  • wood bleach
  • acetone
  • ethanol
  • nitro methane
  • sulfuric acid
  • citric acid
  • haxamine (solid fuel for camp stoves)

Indicators of manufacturing:

  • foul odors/caustic fumes
  • paint discoloration
  • metal corrosion
  • structural damage
  • strong chemical odors from exterior drains/sewers
  • multiple fans in multiple windows
  • dead vegetation
  • refrigerators and coolers

Stay safe!

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