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Police Manual, CA POST, 2003

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CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 1
Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics
Version 5.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 1
Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics
Version 5.1
© Copyright 2005
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published 1997
Revised August 1999
Revised December 2001
Revised September 2004
Workbook Correction January 14, 2009
This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:

From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Deborah Linden - Chairman

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Michael Sobek, Vice Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Long Beach Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert T. Doyle

Sheriff
Marin County

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Scott Himelstein

Public Member

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Henry T. Perea

Councilman
City of Fresno

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Michael Sobek

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Gil Van Attenhoven

Senior Special Agent
California Department of Justice

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law
Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD 1: Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics
Table of Contents

Topic
Preface
Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook
Chapter 1: Leadership in Policing
Overview
Leadership
Universal Components of Leadership
Officer as Leader
Leader as Follower
Impact of Leadership
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

See Page
iii
iii
iv
1-1
1-1
1-3
1-5
1-15
1-20
1-23
1-24
1-25

Continued on next page

LD 1: Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics

i

Table of Contents, Continued

Topic
Chapter 2: Professionalism and Ethics in Policing
Overview
Professionalism, Public Trust and Ethics
Expectations of Peace Officer Conduct
Report Writing Tip
Benefits of Professional and Ethical Behavior
Consequences of Unethical/Unprofessional Conduct
Law Enforcement Code of Ethics/Conduct
Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention
Ethical Decision Making and Leadership
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

ii

See Page
2-1
2-1
2-4
2-9
2-14
2-16
2-17
2-18
2-20
2-29
2-33
2-35

Supplementary Material

S-1

Glossary

G-1

LD 1: Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course
training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising
peace officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where
the POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
•
•
•

chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 1: Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

iv

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis section at the end of each chapter to
review the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary section for a definition of important terms.
The terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and
underlined the first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 1: Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics

Chapter 1
Leadership in Policing
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers are expected to be leaders in the community, in their agencies,
and among peers. To be effective, officers must understand the components
of leadership, their responsibility to lead, and the impact of their leadership.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to…

E.O. Code

•

discuss why leadership is important

1.01.EO8

•

define leadership

1.01.EO9

•

discuss universal components of leadership

1.01.EO10

•

discuss the officer as a leader

1.01.EO11

•

discuss the leader as a follower

1.01.EO12

•

discuss how leadership impacts the daily work of a peace
officer and how officers can recognize the results

1.01.EO13

Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on professional law enforcement. Refer to the chart
below for specific topics.
Topic

1-2

See Page

Leadership

1-3

Universal Components of Leadership

1-5

Officer as Leader

1-15

Leader as Follower

1-20

Impact of Leadership

1-23

Chapter Synopsis

1-24

Workbook Learning Activities

1-25

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Leadership
[1.01.EO8, 1.01.EO9]

Introduction

As a peace officer in the academy you have already displayed an interest in
leadership. POST and your agency recognize that leadership must be
practiced at the line-level, supervisory, and management level. Your ability
to exercise leadership as a line officer will have a significant impact on you,
your agency, the community and the profession.

Definition

Leadership is the practice of influencing people, while using ethical values
and goals, to produce an intended change.

Every
officer is
a leader

Every officer has a responsibility to practice leadership. Leadership is
essential for effective problem solving because it engages the cooperation of
the community.
The exercise of leadership by an officer results in increased respect,
confidence and influence. The result will be personal and professional
success, increased public trust and personal growth. Leadership, to some
degree, is required to handle every contact with the community.
Leadership has no rank. Every officer is a leader, responsible to use the
authority and opportunities of the policing role in a manner that is both
effective and ethical.
No member of a policing agency has more direct contact with the community
than the line-level officer. These contacts – regardless of their nature – will
almost always require the responding officer to demonstrate leadership to
effectively handle the contact.
Officers, in the exercise of leadership, put honor above all, consistently strive
to live up to and manifest the core ethical values of trustworthiness, respect,
responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship.
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-3

Leadership, Continued
Leadership
competencies

1-4

Effective leaders possess and continually develop certain desired core
competencies/skills and traits.
Core competency and Trait

Comments

Knowledge

There is no substitute for job knowledge
or technical competence. Effective use of
individual skills is the foundation for
what we do and what we can accomplish.

Courage

This includes both physical and moral
courage. Fortitude to try new ideas.
Confront adversity, act assertively. Stand
and do the right thing.

Communication

To be effective, we need to clearly send
and receive messages with the community
and each other. Creates understanding.

Professionalism

Professionalism includes positive
attitudes, reliable performance, empathy
for the community and co-workers,
consistency and clarity of purpose.

Personal character

Behave with honor, integrity, honesty,
respect, fairness and tolerance.
Leadership requires flexibility and
commitment.

Decision making/Problem
solving

Requires the ability to analyze
information and use resources to make
responsible decisions. Working and
facilitating with others to develop
creative, innovative solutions to problems
(i.e., crime and disorder). Vision of
intended outcome.

Responsibility

Accountability, duty to act, and the
exercise of self-control.

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Universal Components of Leadership
[01.01.EO10]

Introduction

Peace officers can learn to exercise leadership through preparation,
knowledge of the leadership role, a desire to lead and a commitment to
effective job performance.

Authority
and power

For peace officers to be effective leaders, they must use their authority and
power appropriately. There is a difference between authority and power.
Officers are granted authority, yet they must develop power. Peace officers
must understand the nature and limits of both.

Power

Individuals with power have the capacity to influence and inspire others.
People will often commit to certain individuals who have little authority.
Individuals with power possess drive, expertise, and genuine caring for
others.
Example:

One of several officers at a crime scene gives direction to
responding officers. Those responding comply with the
officer’s direction because they trust the officer’s skills
and abilities, not because the officer has the authority of
rank.

Example:

A newly assigned supervisor is given a complex
assignment in an area in which he does not have
expertise. The supervisor calls upon an officer whom he
knows is well-respected and trusted by others to develop
an operational plan.
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-5

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Power
(continued)

Example:

NOTE:

Informal
leadership
power

Mahatma Gandhi never ran for, nor was he elected to a
public office. Yet he was the primary leader of India
during a peaceful revolution and helped India win it’s
independence from the United Kingdom. He was a role
model for many contemporary leaders, including
Dr. Martin Luther King.
Power comes from who you are; authority comes from what
your role is.

Throughout your life you have already experienced being an active follower
for an informal leader, perhaps in a sporting activity, during scouting, youth
or religious group project or even just “hanging out” with a group. At
different times and different events you have changed from an active
follower to informal leader.
Your career as a peace officer will provide countless opportunities to
continue to exercise your leadership skills. The role of a peace officer
requires you to be a proficient leader. The public expects you to lead, to be
innovative and address problems that contribute to crime and disorder.

Authority

Peace officers have authority by law. They are granted the ability to compel
behavior, enforce laws, and direct resources, based solely on their legal
status. Authority is granted and limited by legislative statute, and appointing
authority or agency. In many cases, authority alone is insufficient to
accomplish what needs to be done, or to achieve an appropriate solution to
the problem at hand.
Continued on next page

1-6

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Authority
(continued)

The following chart describes the characteristics of both authority and power.
The chart indicates the relationship and differences between authority and
power:
Characteristics

Authority

Power

How granted

from above

all directions

Direction

top-down

•
•

Source

legal

trust

Intent

maintain control

influence change

Limitations

limited

unlimited

Discipline

imposed

self-discipline

Accomplishments

status quo

change

Risk-taking

avoidance

yes (calculated)

Who uses

everyone to whom
conferred

leaders

reciprocal flow
all directions

Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-7

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Compliance
vs.
commitment

Compliance is acceptance of a person’s authority. It yields an outward
change in behavior without necessarily altering one’s attitude. Compliance
often means minimal acceptance and adherence to policy and direction.
Compliance can occur without any internal commitment to the agency’s
values. It also infers a “stay out of trouble” approach. It is a response to
authority to avoid a consequence.
Example:

Suspect complies with a peace officer’s lawful order to
submit to arrest and custody.

Commitment is an outward manifestation of an internal willingness to
embrace leadership values (i.e. integrity of self) and agency goals (i.e.
provide high quality service). It does not imply an attempt to avoid a
consequence, but rather a positive reinforcement of what is right.
One of the most prominent outward signs of commitment to the job is a
willingness to exceed expectations. When you stand in line at the local
hardware store, you can instinctively feel the difference between a clerk who
is merely complying with their job requirements and one who is interested
and engaged in what they are doing. When you have a problem with a
service or product, think about times when you’ve encountered someone who
is only “following the rules” versus a representative of that business who
wants to help you solve the problem at hand.
Continued on next page

1-8

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Compliance
vs.
commitment
(continued)

In policing, members of our communities can also clearly see the difference
between a peace officer complying with job rules versus one who is actively
seeking ways to improve the quality of life in their beat or through their
contacts with those in need. Commitment to the job is a foundation of
problem solving. Also, others will be influenced by your efforts to lead them
to proper courses of action. Commitment is also the cornerstone of officer
safety. Those who are committed to doing their best will devote the time and
effort necessary to stay in shape, learn new things, and enhance their
situational awareness while on the job. Being committed to the profession,
working to improve your skills and recognizing your potential to positively
impact the lives of those who rely on you for their safety, forms the basis of
your development as a leader.

The leadership
relationship

Leadership is a relationship; something you do with other people. It is a
skillful activity that can be learned through observable behaviors, modeling
and practical experience. Understanding how leadership relationships affect
you and others is essential to making leadership effective.
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-9

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Circle of
influence

As members of the human race we are concerned about many things (e.g.,
starving children in other countries). As peace officers, we have influence
over fewer circumstances (i.e. arresting a drunk driver). The more we
concentrate on issues which we have some influence to change, the greater
our impact on our circle of concern will be.

Circle of Concern

Circle of Influence

As shown in the above chart, influence expands as it is used appropriately; it
is not finite. A peace officer’s ability to influence others in an agency and a
community, is directly related to the power granted the officer by virtue of
the officer’s leadership competencies.
(Adapted from “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Covey, Stephen, 1989)
Continued on next page

1-10

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Life
balance

Work/Personal
Development

Family
Community

Peace Officer
An effective leader understands and follows the principle of balance. Peace
officers are challenged to establish and maintain a sense of balance. The
stress of the law enforcement profession challenges you to understand the
competing elements of life such as family, community, work (including,
peers and supervisors) and personal development. How well you balance
these competing interests will often determine your ability to make sound
decisions (i.e., your self-assessment and emotional intelligence).
Example:

A lack of balance in your life may affect other aspects of
your life. For example, working excessive overtime will
bring you additional money, but it may adversely affect
other important aspects of your life.
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-11

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Leadership
learning

Peace officers are engaged in a dynamic, complex profession. The demands
on public safety require constant awareness of changes in such things as
laws, attitudes, society, and technology. To be effective, peace officers need
to recognize that leadership demands a commitment to constant
improvement. Be a lifetime student of leadership. “Know what you don’t
know.”
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
John F. Kennedy (35th U.S. President)
“...Effective leaders create a climate where people’s worth is
determined by their willingness to learn new skills and grab new
responsibilities, thus, perpetually reinventing their jobs. Leaders
honor their core values but are flexible in how they execute them.”
General Colin Powell (Ret)
Continued on next page

1-12

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued
Formal

During your career you will be presented with many educational
opportunities. It is your obligation to the profession to take advantage of
both formal and informal educational and training opportunities.
Formal Educational Training
Agency

•
•
•
•

Field Training Program
Continuing Professional Training
Roll-call training
New position or assignment

Colleges

•

•
•
•

Degrees
- Associate of Arts
- Bachelor of Science
- Masters
- Ph.D.
In service courses
Enrichment courses
Promotional preparation courses

•
•
•
•

Communications
Cultural awareness
Faith-based programs
Resource identification and application

Community

Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-13

Universal Components of Leadership, Continued

Informal

Informal Educational Training
Reading

•
•
•
•
•

Penal Code, Vehicle Code, etc.
biographies of admired leaders
community cultural history
technical material on policing tactics
publications, books, etc. for enjoyment

Experiences

•
•
•

learn from your mistakes
ask others for input
attempt to understand “why” things
happen
take prudent risks

•
Studying

•
•
•

Community
Involvement

•
•
•

1-14

be a continuous learner to upgrade your
skills
if you are acceptable, become good. If
you are good, become an expert
examine available data from a variety of
sources
if you are willing to protect a community
or any of its members with your life, why
not be involved
change a community by one contact at a
time
your gift of time will be returned at
unexpected moments

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Officer as Leader
[1.01.EO11]

Introduction

Circumstances and situations require every officer to step forward as a
leader. Prepare yourself every day to lead - you never know when the
opportunity to exercise leadership will arise.
“Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success.”
Henry Ford

Peer
leadership

Peer behaviors are a strong influence on peace officers. It is incumbent on
every peace officer to recognize that he or she has the opportunity to
influence peers by modeling positive behaviors, taking charge, and sharing
information if and when appropriate.

Modeling

Positive modeling behaviors include:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Maintaining ethical standards
Exhibiting technical competence
Practicing officer safety
Paying attention to duties
Maintaining professional appearance (first impressions)
Demonstrating respect for the community
Taking opportunities to improve the agency and profession
Pursuing self development

People pay more attention to what you do than what you say.
Officers make hundreds of “first impressions” each shift. Your personal
grooming, demeanor, language, cleanliness, equipment and expression will
create a “first impression” before you say a single word. Lead by example.
“Walk your Talk”
Ken Blanchard (Author)
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-15

Officer as Leader, Continued
Taking
charge

There may not always be someone around to tell you and fellow officers
when and how to respond. You have been entrusted by the community and
your agency to exercise discretion and take action that is safe, effective and
ethical.
When circumstances dictate, peace officers must be prepared to take a
leadership role. One of the most common ways officers lead is by initiating a
course of action in the absence of supervision.

Intervening

As a leader, a peace officer must have the courage to address unacceptable or
unethical behavior and is obligated to intervene if such action is exhibited by
another officer.
NOTE:

Sharing
knowledge
and
experiences

Sharing information about tactics, work practices and other issues is another
way in which officers exhibit leadership and exert influence among their
peers.
NOTE:

Expecting
change

Refer to the subsequent chapter for additional content on
intervening.

Your academy experience is a leadership laboratory. The more
you practice leadership in the academy, at home and in your
community, the more proficient you will become.

In the policing profession, history has shown that people and organizations
change (i.e., professionalization, technological). In fact, change is the only
constant.
Sharing information about new tactics, criminal behaviors, and work
practices is essential for the well being of the profession and safety of fellow
officers.
Continued on next page

1-16

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Officer as Leader, Continued
Expecting
change
(continued)

The police profession is part of our society and our larger system of justice.
While change has not always been dramatic or sensational, the law
enforcement profession has experienced many changes and will likely
continue to do so. Expect change, adapt, and embrace the challenge.

Leadership
in the
community

A peace officer’s leadership begins with his or her realization that officers
are an integral part of the community. As highly visible and specially trained
members of the community, peace officers are looked upon as leaders. Some
ways peace officers demonstrate leadership in the community are:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

being accessible and proactive
being responsive to community issues and concerns
being empathetic to the community’s specific needs
sharing information and expertise
facilitating problem solving
being accountable
serving as an example of a good citizen, both on- and off-duty
recognizing problems or potential problems and taking action to prevent
or resolve them
influencing the community to face its problems

In addition to service while on duty, there are other ways in which officers
fulfill leadership roles in the community (e.g., school boards, fire boards,
coaching, service clubs, volunteer service, and elected positions).
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-17

Officer as Leader, Continued
Community
Policing

When peace officers and community members share a common sense of
values, communicate openly and regularly, and when they have a common
regard for each other, the result will be trust. Trust is the critical link in the
community/policing partnership.
Officers who exercise ethical leadership will learn to be effective problem
solvers, better skilled to mobilize communities to address issues of crime and
disorder, and proactive in developing crime prevention strategies.
NOTE:

Leadership
within the
profession

Refer to LD 3: Policing in the Community for additional
information on Community Policing.

What you do affects peace officers everywhere. While you may work for
just one agency, the public often identifies all officers or deputies as one.
There are no jurisdictional borders on the impact of your behavior.
Example:

No matter where you were in the United States at the time
of the Rodney King incident you could view the
occurrence over and over again on public television.
How many times have you seen New York City peace
officers covered in ashes from the World Trade Center?
How might the inappropriate use of a flashlight affect the
entire profession?
Continued on next page

1-18

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Officer as Leader, Continued
Leadership
within the
profession
(continued)

Enhancing communication and mutual respect between officers and their
agencies is extremely important. It is each peace officer’s responsibility to:
•

Maintain lines of communication with:
- peers
- supervisors
- executives

•

Develop professional relationships with allied public safety agencies

•

Share emerging tactics or information by providing:
- training bulletins
- professional articles
- training courses

Each peace officer may consider participation in organizations and
associations that promote law enforcement professionalism. Examples of
professional organizations are:
-

California Peace Officers Association (CPOA)
California Narcotics Officers Association (CNOA)
National Association of Field Training Officers (NAFTO)
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC)
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-19

Leader as Follower
[1.01.EO12]

Introduction

“Follower” is not a term of weakness but the condition that permits
leadership to exist and give it strength.

Exercising
leadership

The day-to-day operation of an agency depends upon officers exercising
leadership in the discharge of their duties. Agencies also expect officers to
be followers to the best of their ability.
Courage to:

“Courageous Follower” is obligated to ...

assume
responsibility

•
•

Make yourself and the organization better
maximize your value to the organization

serve with loyalty

•

follow the lawful and ethical orders of the
organization regardless of your personal opinion
support your leaders and the tough decisions
they must make

•
challenge

•
•

speak out when you feel the behaviors or
policies of the leader or group conflict with
ethical standards
provide alternatives to behaviors or policies
within the organization that are not consistent
with the stated values of the organization and
profession

Continued on next page

1-20

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Leader as Follower, Continued

Exercising
leadership
(continued)

Courage to:

“Courageous Follower” is obligated to ...

participate in
transformation

•
•
•

leave

•
•

recognize that the career of law enforcement is
a continuously changing process
recognize that change depends on the support of
every officer
examine your own need for change
leave the profession if you believe you cannot
live up to the standards of the profession
after attempting positive change, leave the
organization if the values of the organization are
not consistent with the values of the profession

(Adapted from Chaleff, Ira, 1995, “The Courageous Follower”)

Separation
of ego from
power and
authority

Following others is part of being a supportive team member. Your position
is not diminished or lessened by putting personal needs secondary to the
needs of others, the community or the organization.
-

along with your legal authority and power to influence people,
humility is required in order to lead effectively.
recognizing other people’s expertise within the community and the
organization that may enhance your ability to lead.
you have an opportunity to develop as a leader by assuming a
supportive position.
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-21

Leader as Follower, Continued
Separation
of ego from
power and
authority
(continued)

NOTE:

Ira Chaleff wrote in his book, “The Courageous Follower,”
“...in the dance of leaders and followers we change partners and
roles throughout our lives. With each new partner we must
subtly adjust our movements and avoid the other’s toes. If we
are leading we must lead and if we are not we must follow, but
always as a strong partner. We constantly learn from each other
and improve our gracefulness in a wide diversity of styles and
tempos.”

NOTE:

Peace officers shall recognize that their allegiance is
•
•
•
•

1-22

first to the U.S. Constitution,
then to the people,
then to their profession and
then to the agency that employs them.

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Impact of Leadership
[1.01.EO13]

Introduction

The practice of leadership impacts the daily work of peace officers who can
recognize the results by improved communication, problem solving and
decision making.

Practicing
leadership

Positive leadership

Absence of leadership

respect of quality

fear, disdain

trust

suspicion

cooperation

“us” against “them”

reduced fear of crime

reduced community input

community leader support

isolation

increased fiscal support

withholding needed resources

increased officer safety

decreased compliance

Positive leadership enhances community respect and trust. Officers gain
confidence in their exercise of discretion and effective job performance to
enforce the law, focus on crime prevention, adapt to change and provide
service to the community on matters of crime and disorder.
“Talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and
doing well whatever you do.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-23

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers are expected to be leaders in the community, in their agencies,
and among peers. To be effective, officers must understand the components
of leadership, their responsibility to lead, and the impact of their leadership.

Leadership
is important
[1.01.EO8]

Every officer has a responsibility to practice leadership. Leadership is
essential to effective problem solving because it engages the cooperation of
the community.

Definition of
leadership
[1.01.EO9]

The practice of influencing people while using ethical values and goals to
produce an intended change.

Universal
components
of leadership
[1.01.EO10]

Peace officers can learn to exercise leadership through preparation,
knowledge of the leadership role, a desire to lead and a commitment to
effective job performance.

Officer as
a leader
[1.01.EO11]

Peer behaviors are a strong influence on peace officers. It is incumbent on
every peace officer to recognize that he or she has the opportunity to
influence peers by modeling positive behaviors, taking charge, and sharing
information if and when appropriate.

Leader as
follower
[1.01.EO12]

The condition that permits leadership to exist and give it strength. The day to
day operation of an agency depends upon officers exercising leadership in
the discharge of their duties.

Impacts of
leadership
on a peace
officer’s
daily work
[1.01.EO13]

Improved communication, problem solving and decision making. Positive
leadership increases officer safety, community respect and trust.

1-24

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. Describe four (4) instances when you have taken a followers position.
Why did you do it? As an officer how do you balance loyalty to your
agency and constructive criticism?

2. Identify nationally or internationally known leaders. Describe the
competencies or traits that make them effective. Identify someone in
your personal life you consider a leader. Why?

3. You and your partner respond to a complaint of a disturbance. How can
your authority and power as a peace officer demonstrate leadership at the
scene?

Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-25

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

4. List the leadership skills you need to learn or improve. Explain how
these skills will benefit your performance as a peace officer.

5. Why is the exercise of leadership important to the officer and to policing
in the community?

1-26

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

1-27

Workbook Corrections, Continued
Student notes

1-28

LD 1: Chapter 1 - Leadership in Policing

Chapter 2
Professionalism and Ethics in Policing
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers are empowered and entrusted by the community with a broad
range of power, authority and discretion to maintain safety and order.
Professional and ethical standards are the means by which peace officers
maintain the public trust. To be effective, a peace officer, must make a lifelong commitment to these standards.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to...

E.O. Code

•

discuss the relationship between public trust and a
peace officer’s ability to perform their job

1.02.EO8

•

discuss the community, agency, and other peace
officers’ expectations of a peace officer’s conduct

1.02.EO9

•

explain the benefits of professional and ethical
behavior to the community, agency, and peace officer

1.02.EO10

•

describe the consequences of unprofessional/unethical
conduct to the community, agency, and peace officer

1.02.EO11

•

discuss the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics and
explain the importance of adhering to the Law
Enforcement Code of Ethics

1.02.EO12

Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-1

Overview, Continued

Learning
objectives
(continued)

After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to...

E.O. Code

explain why an officer should respond to a coworker’s
unprofessional or unethical conduct, including the legal
basis for such interventions

1.02.EO13

discuss situations when it is necessary to intervene on
another peace officer’s behalf, and factors that can inhibit
intervention

1.02.EO14

describe the types and levels of intervention used to
prevent another peace officer’s inappropriate behavior

1.02.EO15

give examples of ethical decision making strategies

1.02.EO16

explain the value of ethical decision making in leadership

1.02.EO17

Continued on next page

2-2

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on professionalism in law enforcement. Refer to the
chart below for specific topics.
Topic

See Page

Professionalism, Public Trust and Ethics

2-4

Expectations of Peace Officers Conduct

2-9

Report Writing Tip

2-14

Benefits of Professional and Ethical Behavior

2-16

Consequences of Unethical/Unprofessional Conduct

2-17

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics/Conduct

2-18

Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention

2-20

Ethical Decision Making in Leadership

2-29

Chapter Synopsis

2-33

Workbook Learning Activities

2-35

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-3

Professionalism, Public Trust, and Ethics
[1.02.EO8]

Introduction

The Code of Ethics of any profession details the standard of conduct that
identifies specific principles of desired behavior required of its practitioners.
The profession of policing requires its members to adhere to specific
standards in order to maintain the trust and respect of those who are served.
Adherence to a code of ethics is required to build and maintain morale, a
sense of duty, effective standards of performance and community support.
Peace officers are held to higher standards than others in the community.
Although policing shares ideals with other professions, only peace officers
are given the authority and power to detain and arrest others and to deprive
them of their liberty while awaiting adjudication of their offense. It is
essential that officers understand the importance of professional behavior.

Police
profession

Policing as a profession requires both specialized training and ethical
behavior on the part of individual officers, on-duty and off-duty.
Some would term “law enforcement” a profession although enforcing the law
is only a portion of what a peace officer does in his or her daily duties. The
use of knowledge, professionalism and leadership, to resolve conflict and
influence the best outcome to a circumstance encompasses the spirit of
policing every peace officer must seek to embrace.
Professions are recognized by certain characteristics, such as:
•
•
•
•
•
•

a shared sense of purpose
a common body of knowledge
standardized training
being vital to the well being of society
a system of certification or licensing
a code of ethical conduct
Continued on next page

2-4

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Professionalism, Public Trust, and Ethics, Continued
Public
trust

Public trust is the foundation of peace officers’ authority and power by
virtue of a social contract with government. This contract spells out the
obligation that officers will perform their duties ethically and competently.
Public trust is the expectation that the authority and power entrusted to a
peace officer will not be abused. The public must be confident that peace
officers will perform their duties in respect of that trust.
Voluntary submission to authority is a function of public trust. The public’s
confidence and support for officers will be gravely undermined by an
officer’s unethical conduct.
Factors Impacting Public Trust
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Values

Previous experiences with law enforcement
Develop or enhance police/community partnerships
General public apathy and prevailing attitudes
Impact of the family structure
Social and/or economic conditions
Situations that promote high levels of fear or a sense of
collective victimization
Media treatment of law enforcement events

Each of us possesses personal values shaped by our upbringing, events
occurring in our lives and the influence of others. Parents, teachers and
friends have played a central role in developing our understanding of who we
are and how the world around us affects our future.
It is important to remember that the values of one person or group may differ
widely from another person or group. Both may perceive their beliefs or
conduct as “right” based on their value system.
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-5

Professionalism, Public Trust, and Ethics, Continued
Ethics

Ethics is the accepted principles of conduct governing decisions and actions
based on professional values and expectations. Ethics play a dominant role
in an officers daily conduct and personal choices.

Golden
rule

A core ethical concept found in all enduring cultures is that of reciprocity.
Our actions should be aligned with not only what is good for us, but what
benefits others. This is found most prominently in what the American
experience terms “The Golden Rule.” It states:
“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.“
The Golden Rule establishes an essential spirit of ethical conduct. The key
to the Golden Rule frames your considered action with a responsibility for
the well-being of others. As ethical people, peace officers should:
•
•
•
•
•

Ethical
standards

put themselves in the position of others,
recognize how their actions affect others,
seek to help when possible,
refrain from causing avoidable harm, and
intervene to prevent unethical behavior by peers.

Ethical standards are the criteria for professional conduct. They are
established to articulate expectations of the profession regarding the actions
of its members and to espouse the core principles of effective and ethical
behavior upon which decisions are made.
Continued on next page

2-6

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Professionalism, Public Trust, and Ethics, Continued
Principles

Principles have evolved as universal standards of societal conduct that
supercede personal convictions and beliefs about right and wrong. These
enduring concepts, such as trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness,
caring and sense of civic duty, are ethical standards people rely on for
guidance in decision making. It is important to recognize principles will be
affected by your beliefs which have been shaped by:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Importance
of ethical
conduct

personal convictions,
religious beliefs,
cultural roots,
family background,
peers (either negatively or positively),
department/agency and community expectations, and
published and printed material related to professional conduct (e.g., the
Law Enforcement Code of Ethics or the Code of Conduct).

To embody the spirit of professionalism, ethical conduct must be a way of
life for those in policing. To maintain the community’s trust, peace officers
must maintain consistently high standards of ethical conduct. Officers must
model and live as examples of the behavior they are charged to enforce.
The policing community is only as strong as its weakest link. Unethical
conduct affects the image and morale of the entire profession and offends
officers and society throughout the country.
“We must create an atmosphere in which the dishonest officer fears the
honest one, and not the other way around.”
Detective Frank Serpico,
Testifying before the Knapp Commission,
December 1971
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-7

Professionalism, Public Trust, and Ethics, Continued
Career
survival

Despite the inherent dangers of the job, many officers who end their careers
prematurely do so as a result of making poor ethical decisions.
Peace officers should be ethical and seek to do right because it enhances who
they are and develops character in a manner others will see as worthy of
respecting and following. Officers don’t do right because they fear
punishment if they act otherwise. Officers do right because they are acting in
a manner that conforms to what they believe; officers actions conform with
who they are.
You may not think ethics applies to you now. The issue of ethical choices is
applicable both as an entry-level officer and a fact of life. You will inevitably
face situations that require sound ethical decisions in tough and sometimes
confusing environments.
Only by preparing ahead of time, knowing who you are and what you
believe, and thinking about how best to make good choices, will you be
ready for the time when your actions will shape the future for you and those
around you.

2-8

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Expectations of Peace Officer Conduct
[1.02.EO9]

Introduction

Peace officers are the part of the criminal justice system that deals most
directly with the public. Officers, their agencies and the communities they
serve have certain expectations of performance of their assigned duties.

Community
expectations

The community expects that peace officers will serve the public interest and
conduct themselves in an ethical manner.
In addition, the community expects officers to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

keep the community safe and secure,
respond promptly to calls for service,
demonstrate professional behavior,
protect human rights,
address crime and disorder, and
solve problems in a fair and impartial manner
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-9

Expectations of Peace Officer Conduct, Continued
Community
expectations
(continued)

Regardless of what segment of the community [suspect, victim, witness]
peace officers encounter, there are minimum standards of professional
conduct. Each of these groups have differing expectations, explained in the
following chart:
Community
Member
Suspects or
Persons
of Interest

•
•
•

Victims

•
•
•

•

Expectation

Factors Influencing
Expectation

Basic respect
Preservation of their
dignity by the peace
officer
Uphold their
Constitutional rights
and adhere to other
statutes of law

Attitudes have been shaped by:
• prior experience,
• previous criminal history,
• previous contacts with the
criminal justice system,
• treatment by officers,
• the attitudes of peers, and
• previous victimization

Emotional support and
empathy for their
situation
A restored feeling of
safety
Time to explain details
and concerns fully and
equipped to handle the
situation appropriately
Feeling of satisfaction
on completion of the
contact

Affected emotionally by
• fear,
• embarrassment,
• the nature of the incident
• anger
• a desire to gain retribution
for their grievance

Continued on next page

2-10

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Expectations of Peace Officer Conduct, Continued

Community
expectations
(continued)

Community
Member
Witnesses

Expectation
•
•
•
•

Agency
expectations

Provisions for their
safety
Information provided
has value
Accurately report the
known facts
Take appropriate
action

Factors Influencing
Expectation
•
•

Unwillingness to be
involved based upon their
fears or apathy
Prior experience personal
filters leading to differing
ability to relate information

The peace officer’s agency expects:
•
•
•
•
•
•

conformance with the law,
compliance with organizational values, policies, procedures, goals,
objectives, and mission statements,
ethical and professional behavior consistent with the Law Enforcement
Code of Ethics and the Code of Professional Conduct and
Responsibilities for Peace Officers,
community satisfaction with the quality of service,
conduct that minimizes civil liability, and
collaboration with the community to address crime and disorder.
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-11

Expectations of Peace Officer Conduct, Continued
Officer’s
peer
expectation

Within the employing agency, an officer’s peers expect:

Expectations
of peace
officers

To effectively carry out their assigned duties and fulfill community
expectations, peace officers have expectations, including:

•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•

technical competence,
support, and
integrity.

appropriate training,
adequate resources,
agency support
fair and ethical treatment, and
respect and cooperation of the public.

The wearing of the peace officer’s badge creates certain expectations on the
part of officers and the individuals they contact.
The badge is given to you as a peace officer because it is important. The
badge symbolizes your authority and your commitment to the profession.
The badge is a symbol of public trust. The character of the person behind the
badge is more important than the authority the badge represents.
Continued on next page

2-12

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Expectations of Peace Officer Conduct, Continued
Community,
agency,
officers
expectations

The community, your agency, and fellow officers all share the following
expectation from you as a policing professional:
Technically
competent

Possess the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to
effectively deliver service. Be a problem-solver and
exercise leadership with the community. Throughout
your career you will be expected to enhance and refine
your job knowledge, skills and abilities.

Empathetic

Display a caring and empathetic demeanor when you
provide service. Project sincerity. Do not prejudge a
person’s situation and serve his or her needs impartially
and effectively.

Respectful

Approach every incident with an awareness and concern
for individual rights and dignity as human beings.
Maintain your composure and do not let personal feelings
or biases interfere in the performance of your duties.

Ethical

Support the Code of Ethics of your profession. Use the
code to guide you throughout your career. Demonstrate
integrity. Discharge your duties with the awareness that
you represent the trust the community must have in their
government and its official representatives.

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-13

Report Writing Tip
Ethical
decisions

Picture the following behaviors:
•

•
•

Ethical
questions

Thinking questions:
•
•
•

Effective
report
writing

By using the “cut and paste” [computer] method, some officers discover
they can save time by documenting the same field sobriety test results in
every “driving under the influence” report they write, thus striving for
efficiency and not fact.
Rather than report precisely what occurred in a “use of force” report,
officers align their stories to agree with each other which alter some of
the facts.
An officer decides to “help out” a burglary victim by intentionally
increasing the actual value of items stolen so the victim can claim
additional money from the insurance company.

Do these behaviors advance the purpose of report writing? Why or why
not?
How do these behaviors affect an agency’s reputation, credibility and
relationship with the community?
What is a peace officer’s responsibility to the profession and community
when writing reports?

In the settings described above, officers did not seem to appreciate or respect
the ethical obligations of report writing. They did not exhibit an appreciation
for the fact that every written word is a permanent record of an event. When
used ethically and effectively, the purpose of a police report is to allow the
criminal justice system to ensure due process and fundamental fairness
without prejudice or favor. These officers do not understand that reports
establish, anchor, and define their personal credibility (and reputation) as
well as that of their agency. More importantly, they compromised public
trust by failing to accomplish the mission of documenting an accurate
account of the incident.
Continued on next page

2-14

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Report Writing Tip, Continued
Minimum
requirements
when writing
a report

When writing a report, the minimum requirements to accomplish your job
ethically and preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system are:
•
•

•
•

The
link

Never falsify any portion of your report or modify any aspect of the
report away from the factual truth.
Objectively document every fact (or piece of evidence) known to you
that could prove or disprove the event you are reporting. If you are not
sure, include the fact or piece of evidence anyway and qualify it as
possible evidence or investigative information.
Be clear. A well-written report does not raise questions, it answers them.
Write your report free of speculation or personal opinions. You are there
to gather facts.

You are responsible for the quality of each report you write. Each report is
an opportunity to build or destroy your credibility. Always write precisely
what happened to the best of your knowledge. A report determined by a
court to be compromised or unethical not only topples you credibility, but
your agency’s as well - plus it opens the door to challenge every past
enforcement action you have performed. Compromising your report is just
not worth it and it will raise questions about your effectiveness as a peace
officer and may ultimately lead to termination of your employment. It is
your obligation to report incidents just as they occurred; anything else is
unethical.

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-15

Benefits of Professional and Ethical Behavior
[1.02.EO10]

Introduction

Professional conduct and ethical behavior benefits not only officers and their
agencies, but also their community and society as a whole.

Benefits
of ethical
behavior

Some benefits of ethical behavior to the officer, their agency, and community
are listed in the chart below:
Person Benefitted
Officer

How Benefitted
•
•
•
•

2-16

Self-esteem and personal worth
Personal and professional satisfaction in doing
the right thing
Gaining respect and confidence of co-workers
Establishing a higher personal and professional
reputation in the community

Agency

Professional and ethical conduct help the officer’s
agency by:
• improving morale
• improving agency respect within the profession
• reinforcing the standard of performance
• improving agency reputation

Community

•
•
•
•

Receives equitable law enforcement
A sense of security and trust
Increases community partnerships
Fosters community mobilization

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Consequences of Unethical/Unprofessional Conduct
[1.02.EO11]

Introduction

Unethical/unprofessional conduct or breaches in ethical conduct can occur in
any profession. The negative effects of such behavior are particularly
detrimental to the policing profession. Any indiscretion severely damages
the credibility of peace officers and their agencies, and compromises public
trust and support.

Consequences
of
unprofessional
/unethical
conduct

Unethical/unprofessional conduct directly affects the officer in addition to
affecting the image and effectiveness of law enforcement in the community.
Consequences to the officer range from mild to severe and may include the
following:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

disciplinary action up to and including termination.
civil and/or criminal liability (personal and agency).
embarrassment to stakeholders.
eroding the image of the profession.
reinforcement of negative stereotypes.
reduction of effectiveness.
diminishing public trust and cooperation.
compromising officer safety.

An officer often suffers humiliation and low self-image as a result of
unethical/unprofessional conduct.

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-17

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics/Conduct
[1.02.EO12]

Law
enforcement
code of ethics

The adoption of a uniform code of ethics was one of the most progressive
steps achieved by law enforcement. The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics
was adopted in 1956 by the National Conference of Police Associations,
representing some 180,000 police officers, and the International Association
of Chiefs of Police. Many agencies and local police associations have
adopted the code.
The Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission
(POST) requires that the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics be administered to
every peace officer in the State of California (POST Administrative Manual,
Section 1013).

Adherence

Any code is just words until translated into action. Officers give the Law
Enforcement Code of Ethics life and meaning by following it in their
everyday conduct.
Along with members of the law enforcement community at all levels, peace
officers uphold the values, ethics, and principles of the profession. Officers
are sworn to uphold the principles contained in the code. They also adhere to
it as a matter of personal integrity. By adhering to the code, officers
demonstrate to the community and to their peers that they are honorable and
trustworthy.

Key
elements

POST requires that all peace officers abide by the Law Enforcement Code of
Ethics. Officers should become thoroughly familiar with the code and
understand what they promise to uphold.
NOTE:

The full text of the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics is included
in the Supplementary Materials Section of this workbook.
Continued on next page

2-18

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics/Conduct, Continued
Code of
conduct

California has supplemented the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics with a
Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibilities for Peace Officers (Code
of Conduct). The Code of Conduct is designed to enhance the Law
Enforcement Code of Ethics by defining specific standards of professional
conduct.
The Code of Conduct, developed in 1979, is the collective product of the
California Peace Officers Association and peace officer representatives
throughout the state.
The Code of Conduct is comprised of canons and ethical standards.
Canons are general statements of the standards of professional conduct
expected of peace officers. These standards apply to the peace officer’s
relations with the public, the criminal justice system, and the law
enforcement profession. The canons are the general concepts from which
ethical standards and disciplinary rules are derived.
NOTE:

The full text of the Law Enforcement Code of Conduct is
included in the Supplementary Materials Section of this
workbook

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-19

Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention
[1.02.EO13, 1.02.EO14. 1.02.EO15]

Introduction

Peace officers have a legal and ethical obligation to uphold the law no matter
who is breaking it. It does not matter whether the violator is considered an
average citizen, a prominent community or corporate leader, or another peace
officer.

Officer
responsibility
to respond

Minding your own business is never a valid excuse for remaining silent. If
peace officers disregard unlawful or unethical acts by another officer, they
can be as responsible as the offender and as unworthy of wearing the badge.
Such officers are equally responsible for embarrassing their agency and the
policing profession.
It is a peace officer’s responsibility to intervene to stop offenses by other
officers.

Intervention

Intervention is the act of attempting to prevent or attempting to stop the
inappropriate or unlawful behavior of another.
Appropriate intervention allows peace officers to maintain or restore
professional control over a given situation or improve the professional
quality of future interactions.
Continued on next page

2-20

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
Intervention
(continued)

An officer is guilty of having failed to intervene and prevent other officers
from violating anyone’s rights while having reason to know:
•
•
•
•
•
•

unreasonable force was being used,
a member of the public was unjustifiably arrested,
any constitutional violation has been committed by any law enforcement
officer,
the officer had a reasonable opportunity to prevent harm from occurring
(Yang v. Hardin, 7th Cir. 1994),
inappropriate language is being used, or
other unlawful, unethical or inappropriate behavior (e.g. theft), occurred.

NOTE:

Federal law
regarding
officer
behavior

Refer to Penal Code Sections 147, 149, 661 and 673 and USC
Title 18 Section 242 and Title 42 Section 1983.

The U.S. Constitution provides protection for individuals against unlawful
actions by peace officers. The United States Code also addresses an
officer’s unlawful action under color of authority. (USC Title 18, Sections
242 (Criminal); U.S.C. Title 42, Section 1983 (Civil)).
Continued on next page

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

2-21

Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
State legal
basis for
intervention

A variety of state laws and criminal sanctions regulate the behavior of
California peace officers. These codes are shown in the table below:
Description
Inhumane or oppressive treatment of prisoners,
unreasonable use of force, or assaulting or beating
anyone

147, 149 and
673

Neglecting official duty while holding a public office

661

NOTE:

Public
expectations
of intervention
regarding
force

Penal Code
Section

In addition to actions regulated by code, several court decisions
have held that peace officers have a responsibility to intervene
in certain circumstances.

The community expects peace officers to use only the amount of force that is
reasonable. It also expects that officers will intervene to stop any unethical or
unprofessional conduct by another peace officer. When officers intervene
appropriately, their professionalism, personal and organizational credibility
are enhanced.
NOTE:

For additional information regarding the use of force, see LD
20: Use of Force.
Continued on next page

2-22

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
Factors
inhibiting
intervention

An officer may fail to take action when a fellow officer is behaving
unprofessionally or inappropriately because of several factors. An officer
may not intervene because he or she:
•

is friends with the coworker or fellow officer involved,

•

is inexperienced or unfamiliar with the proper action to remedy the
situation,

•

feels that intervention is someone else's responsibility,

•

feels peer pressure,

•

fears consequences, such as being ostracized,

•

believes there will be no support from administration, senior officers,
field training officers (FTOs) or supervisors (e.g., getting a bad
evaluation), or

•

is psychologically unprepared to intervene (e.g., erroneous notion of how
peace officers should behave, possibly due to influence of movies, and
television).

Officers must come to terms with these issues in order to intervene
effectively.
Continued on next page

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Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
Necessity for
intervention

Types of
intervention

Peace officers benefit from appropriate intervention. Peace officers are
required to attempt intervention, if necessary, for the following reasons:
•

Personal integrity demands it.

•

It preserves professionalism and supports the law enforcement mission.

•

It strengthens public confidence in the law enforcement profession and
the agency involved.

•

It reduces personal and agency liability because it results in fewer:
-

physical injuries arising from unreasonable force,

-

disciplinary actions and personnel complaints,

-

criminal complaints filed against officers, and

-

civil liability suits, including fewer punitive financial judgments
against individual officers.

•

It enhances officer safety.

•

It is ethically correct.

A variety of strategies can be used to intervene with a coworker. Three types
of intervention are:
•
•
•

advance,
immediate, and
delayed.
Continued on next page

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Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
Advance
intervention

Advance intervention means taking an action before an inappropriate action
is committed. If peace officers communicate their law enforcement values
clearly in everyday work, they may prevent a coworker's unprofessional
conduct. An officer is less likely to behave inappropriately when the officer
knows that coworkers won't tolerate unethical behavior. Coworkers can use
the following methods of intervention:
•
•
•
•

Immediate
intervention

discussion of expectations
merely showing up at the scene
statement of expectations
command presence

In some situations, if a coworker or fellow officer behaves inappropriately, it
may be necessary to intervene immediately, either verbally or physically.
The following table describes the levels of immediate intervention:
Level of Intervention
Verbal
intervention
Physical
intervention

Description
Verbally offering to take over or assist the
situation or reminding fellow officer of
appropriate behavior.

Touching

Touching the officer on the shoulder or
arm and offering a tactful reminder to calm
down or to take over.

Stepping in

Stepping between the offending officer and
the other person (if this can be safely
accomplished) and diffusing the situation
with a calm statement such as “Let me talk
to him.”

Restraining

Physical restraint of the officer may be
necessary if the officer is using
unreasonable physical force.

Continued on next page

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Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
Examples

Example:

An officer’s partner has a daughter the same age as a girl
who was molested. While arresting the child molestation
suspect, the partner began to get agitated and angry. The
officer recognized that his partner might become abusive
and said, “Hey, partner, let me take care of this one,
okay?” This is an example of verbal intervention.

Example:

An officer was engaged in a heated verbal confrontation
with a subject, and the officer was starting to become
increasingly agitated. Her partner touched the officer’s
arm in an attempt to calm her and offered to take over.
This is an example of touching as an immediate
intervention.

Example:

An officer used his baton to subdue a fleeing subject.
After handcuffing the subject, the officer brought his
baton above his head, getting ready to hit the subject
again. The officer’s partner grabbed his arm and
prevented him from hitting the subject while talking to
him and calming him down. This is an example of
restraining a fellow officer.
Continued on next page

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Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
Delayed
intervention

Sometimes it may be desirable to use an intervention strategy after an
incident has occurred. Delayed intervention can be a valuable tool for
improving the quality of an officer’s future contacts. Some delayed
intervention techniques are shown in the table below.
Delayed Intervention
Techniques

Description

Discussion/admonishment

It can be beneficial to discuss the
improprieties of unprofessional behavior.
This may be an appropriate follow-up if a
fellow officer was verbally condescending to
someone. May inform a fellow officer that
this type of behavior is not acceptable and
may provoke a situation.

Referral/training

Referring to a supportive organization or a
supportive third party within the agency.
Suggest additional training to improve
conduct.

Reporting

Factual documentation in a report;
following the chain of command; urging
self-reporting; directly reporting to a
supervisor.

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Unprofessional Conduct and Intervention, Continued
Examples

2-28

Example:

A male officer continually talks down to female officers,
implying that they are only fit for office duties. In the
locker room after one of these incidents, another officer
explains to him that these comments reflect poorly on him
and that other officers think less of him because of these
remarks. This is an example of using discussion as
delayed intervention.

Example:

An officer uses vulgar or demeaning language in contacts
with minorities. After observing this behavior when the
officer brings in a subject for questioning, the officer’s
supervisor calls him into his office and reminds him that
this type of behavior is not acceptable and this language is
unprofessional and likely to provoke or escalate conflict.
This is an example of admonishment.

LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Ethical Decision Making and Leadership
[1.02.EO16, 1.02.EO17]

Introduction

Ethics is not about what you know, it’s about what you do. It is not enough
to follow policy and procedure, or merely comply with the law when electing
a course of action as a peace officer.
What is “best” is sometimes confusing when conflicting priorities, human
emotions and the stress of policing can combine to tempt you to take the easy
choice or take the first option that comes to mind.
Decisions made with an ethical dimension demand you make them by
considering the perspectives of all involved and balance order in society with
the liberty each of us enjoys.

Ethical
decision
making
strategies

There are several strategies or models available as “tools” to facilitate peace
officers in making the right ethical decision in a difficult and challenging law
enforcement environment. In almost every model there are common steps
incorporated as part of the strategic process. Officers should adopt,
understand and use an effective decision making process to guide and assist
them throughout their career.
The common steps are :
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Identify the issue(s), relevant facts and/or ethical question(s)
Determine the stakeholders - Who may be affected by a decision?
Consider your options, or courses of action - What could you do?
Decide which option is most appropriate - What should you do?
What are the consequences of your decision?
Implement the option and course of action.
Reassess and make new decision, if necessary.
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Ethical Decision Making and Leadership, Continued
Ethical
decision
making
strategies
(continued)

Peace officers must make decisions:
•
•
•

based on the law and professional standards,
using community values and needs that are not in conflict with the law,
based on the needs of the individual, sound tactics and the long term
impact of the situation.

Some suggested ways to implement decisions:
•

Peace officers don’t let emotions dictate actions. If possible, reflect on
the situation. Do I act now or later?

•

What is my intent? If I make this decision, what would be my ideal end
result?

•

Ask yourself: do I have all the facts? If not, what do I need to know and
where do I get the information?

•

What alternatives are available? Ask yourself if other approaches would
yield better results based on your desired outcome.

•

Who and what will this decision impact? Consider benefits and harm,
tactics and safety issues. The decisions peace officers make have impacts
on relationships, reputations and public opinion (perception).

•

When you act, try to put yourself in another person’s position. Who
would approve or disapprove: Why would they? What would your
Captain or an officer you highly respect do?

•

Don’t get stuck on the decision, if necessary. Monitor and assess. If you
get better information, don’t be afraid to make changes to your decision.
Continued on next page

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Ethical Decision Making and Leadership, Continued
Examples

Example:

Example:

Bell, Book, Candle
•

The Bell - Do any “bells” or warning buzzers go off
as I consider my choice or alternative?

•

The Book - Does it violate any laws, ordinances,
policies, procedures, etc.?

•

The Candle - Will my decision be able to withstand
the light of day, spotlight of media attention,
publicity, family? (Adapted from Josephson Institute
of Ethics)

Legal, Ethical, Effective
•
•
•
•
•
•

Is it legal?
Is it permitted by your agency policy, procedure,
code of conduct?
How would it be viewed by your agency, community
and fellow peace officers?
Does your personal code of ethics give the choice a
“thumbs-up”?
Is it a true ethical dilemma? Do both choices appear
to be right?
Will it accomplish desired outcomes and be
consistent with the traits and competencies of an
ethical peace officer?
Continued on next page

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Ethical Decision Making and Leadership, Continued
Ethical
decision
making and
leadership

Peace officers who practice the competencies of ethical leadership with the
requisite skills of problem-solving, will be better equipped to arrive at
appropriate solutions in decision making.
In the challenging work environment that faces peace officers, these
decisions can often be difficult. Peace officers who rely on a code of ethics
and are guided by effective techniques, will implement actions that are fair,
legal and just.

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Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers are empowered and entrusted by the community with a broad
range of power, authority and discretion to maintain safety and order.
Professional and ethical standards are the means by which peace officers
maintain the public trust. To be effective, a peace officer, must make a lifelong commitment to these standards.

Profession
and public
trust
[1.02.EO8]

The profession of policing requires its members to adhere to specific
standards in order to maintain the trust and respect of those who are served.
Public trust is the foundation of peace officers’ authority and power by virtue
of a social contract with government.
Ethics are the accepted principles of conduct governing decisions and actions
based on professional values and expectations.

Expectations
of peace
officers
conduct
[1.02.EO9]

The community expects that peace officers’ will serve the public interest and
conduct themselves in an ethical manner. Their agency expects conformance
with the law. Officers expect appropriate training and fair and ethical
treatment.

Benefits
of ethical
behavior
[1.02.EO10]

Professional conduct and ethical behavior benefits not only officers and their
agencies, but also the community and society as a whole.

Consequences
of unethical/
unprofessional
conduct
[1.02.EO11]

Unethical/unprofessional conduct or breaches in ethical conduct can occur in
any profession. The negative effects of such behavior are particularly
detrimental in the policing profession.

Continued on next page

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Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Law
enforcement
code of
ethics/conduct
[1.02.EO12]

The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics was adopted as a uniform code of
ethics to guide the peace officer. By adhering to the code, officers
demonstrate to the community and to their peers that they are honorable and
trustworthy. The Code of Conduct is designed to enhance the Law
Enforcement Code of Ethics.

Unprofessional
conduct and
intervention
[1.02.EO13,
1.02.EO14,
1.02.EO15]

Peace officers have a legal and ethical obligation to uphold the law no matter
who is breaking it. It does not matter whether the violator is considered an
average citizen, a prominent community or corporate leader, or another peace
officer.

Ethical
decision
making and
leadership
[1.02.EO16,
1.02.EO17]

Ethics is not about what you know, it’s about what you do. What is “best” is
sometimes confusing when conflicting priorities, human emotions and the
stress of policing can combine to tempt one to grasp at the easy choice or
take the first option that comes to mind.

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LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Peace officers who practice the competencies of ethical leadership with the
requisite skills of problem-solving, will be better equipped to arrive at
appropriate solutions in decision making.

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. Over the course of several weeks on patrol, a peace officer notices that
her partner seems to target Latino teens for drug possession arrests, while
overlooking similar suspicious activities when white teens are engaged.
Do you think the partner’s actions might constitute unethical behavior?
Why or why not? What, if any, action should the officer take to
intervene?

2. A peace officer notices that his partner of several years has begun to use
discourteous tones on vehicle stops and excessive roughness in dealing
with other subjects, though no one has been injured. Give two examples
of interventions the officer might use and identify whether each is an
advance, immediate, or delayed intervention.

Continued on next page

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Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Name five traits a peace officer should exemplify. Then, describe the
effect the absence of each of these traits could have on the officer’s
ability to professionally carry out his or her job.

4. Angry at a subject after a long foot pursuit, the pursuing officer struck
the subject after bringing him under control. The officer’s partner made
no attempt to intervene. The strike was witnessed by several bystanders.
What consequences to each officer might result from this action?

Continued on next page

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Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. What is the Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibilities for Peace
Officers? How does this supplement the Law Enforcement Code of
Ethics?

6. Why does it matter whether peace officers are personally ethical as long
as they adhere to the law?

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Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

7. What do you think makes an individual ethical? Consider the classic
dilemma of the person who cannot afford the only medicine that will save
his or her spouse’s life. Is it ethical to steal the medicine in this case?
Explain your answer. As a peace officer encountering the person who
stole under these circumstances, what would your responsibilities be?
How might this differ, if at all, from your personal feelings?

8. List four promises peace officers make when they agree to abide by the
Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.

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LD 1: Chapter 2 – Professionalism and Ethics in Policing

Supplementary Material

Contents

Topic

See Page

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics

S-2

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for Peace
Officers

S-3

References and Suggested Readings

S-18

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S-1

Law Enforcement Code of Ethics
Law
enforcement
code of ethics

As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind:
•
•
•

to safeguard lives and property,
to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or
intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder, and
to respect the Constitutional rights of all men to liberty, equality and
justice.

I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain
courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn, or ridicule; develop self
restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in
thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in
obeying the laws of the land and the regulations of my agency. Whatever I
see or hear of confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official
capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the
performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices,
animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise
for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law
courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never
employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it
as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of the police
service. I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals,
dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession..... law enforcement.

S-2

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers
Preamble

WHEREAS, peace officers are vested with a public trust which requires
that they consistently demonstrate the highest degree of integrity and good
moral character; and
WHEREAS, the need to maintain high standards of moral character,
integrity, knowledge, and trust requires the establishment of a Code of
professional Conduct and Responsibility for Peace Officers as a matter of the
highest significance to the health, welfare, and safety of the citizens of this
state; and
WHEREAS, the establishment of a Code of Professional Conduct and
Responsibility for Peace Officers, which includes Cannons of Ethics and
minimum standards, requires the granting of authority to enforce these
standards of professional conduct through disciplinary action as necessary for
the protection of the health, welfare, and safety of the public;
BE IT RESOLVED that the need to maintain high standards of moral
character, integrity, knowledge, and trust require that peace officers establish
and conform to a Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for Peace
Officers.

General
statement

Peace officers are granted a public trust which requires that they consistently
demonstrate the highest degree of integrity. To be worthy of this public trust,
and to ensure that their professional conduct is above reproach, members of
the peace officer profession must not only conform to a Code of Ethics but
must also abide by these Cannons of Ethics and Ethical Standards which
constitute this Code Of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers as a means of internal regulation.
The essence of a profession requires that, in addition to prescribing a desired
level of performance, it must establish minimum standards of ethical conduct
with prescribed rules for internal discipline to ensure compliance.
Accordingly, this Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers is established for the peace officer profession.
Continued on next page

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued
General
statement
(continued)

Nothing in the Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for Peace
Officers is intended to limit or supersede any provision of law referring to the
duties and obligations of peace officers or the consequences of a violation
thereof. Whereas these rules specify certain conduct as unprofessional, this
is not to be interpreted as approval of conduct not specifically mentioned.
Nothing in this Code is intended to limit the authority of an agency to adopt
and enforce rules and regulations that are more stringent or comprehensive
than those that are contained in this Code of Professional Conduct and
Responsibility for Peace Officers.

Definitions

This Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for Peace Officers is
comprised of nine Canons of Ethics, with explanatory statements in the form
of Ethical Standards. Examples of Disciplinary Rules and Enforcement
Procedures are included as an addendum for individual agency consideration.
Following are definitions of these terms, as used in the context of the Code:
Term
Peace Officer

Definition
A regular employed and full-time sheriff,
undersheriff, or deputy sheriff of a county; a
chief of police, or any police officer of a city
or any chief of police or police officer of a
district authorized by law to maintain a police
agency; or any other person within the state
who is defined as a peace officer

Continued on next page

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Definitions
(continued)

Term

Definition

Canons

Statements which express in general terms,
standards of professional conduct expected of peace
officers in their relationship with the public, the
criminal justice system, and peace officer
profession They embody the general concepts from
which the Ethical Standards and the Disciplinary
Rules are derived.

Ethical Standards

Statements that represent the objectives toward
which every peace officer shall strive. They
constitute principles that can be relied upon by the
peace officer for guidance in specific situations.

Disciplinary Rules

Specify an unacceptable level of conduct for all
peace officers, regardless of their rank or the nature
of their assignment. Any peace officer who violates
any agency rule that applies to these canons and
standards is guilty of unprofessional conduct and is
subject to disciplinary action. Violation of
disciplinary rules requires appropriate adjudication
and disciplinary action ranging from oral reprimand
to termination and/or criminal prosecution or other
administrative action sanctioned by law, as dictated
by the individual case.

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Definitions
(continued)

Term

Definition

Enforcement
Procedures

The fundamental rights of an accused officer which
are applicable to a disciplinary investigation or
proceeding against the officer.

Administrative
Investigation

An investigation conducted to determine whether an
officer has violated any provision of this code or
agency rule or regulation; or whether an officer is
impaired or unfit to perform the duties and
responsibilities of a peace officer.

Formal Discipline

This is the final adjudication of administrative or
disciplinary charges. Formal discipline shall be
deemed final only after an officer has exhausted or
waived all legal remedies available and actual
discipline has been invoked.

Continued on next page

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics

Canon One
Peace officers shall
uphold the
Constitution of the
United States, the
State Constitution,
and all laws enacted
or established
pursuant to legally
constituted
authority.

Ethical Standards
Standard
1.1

Peace officers shall recognize that the
primary responsibility of their
profession and of the individual officer
is the protection of the people within
the jurisdiction of the United States
through upholding of their laws, the
most important of which are the
Constitution of the United States and
State Constitutions and laws derived
therefrom.

Standard
1.2

Peace officers shall be aware of the
extent and the limitations of their
authority in the enforcement of the law.

Standard
1.3

Peace officers shall diligently study
principles and new enactments of the
laws they enforce.

Standard
1.4

Peace officers shall be responsible for
keeping abreast of current case law as
applied to their duties.

Standard
1.5

Peace officers shall endeavor to uphold
the spirit of the law, as opposed to
enforcing merely the letter of the law.

Standard
1.6

Peace officers shall respect and uphold
the dignity, human rights, and
Constitutional rights of all persons.

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Two
Peace officers shall
be aware of and
shall use proper and
ethical procedures in
discharging their
official duties and
responsibilities.

Ethical Standards
Standard
2.1

Peace officers shall be aware of their
lawful authority to use that force
reasonably necessary in securing
compliance with their lawful
enforcement duties.

Standard
2.2

Peace officers shall truthfully,
completely, and impartially report,
testify, and present evidence in all
matters of an official nature.

Standard
2.3

Peace officers shall follow legal
practices in such areas as interrogation,
arrest or detention, searches, seizures,
use of informants, and collection and
preservation of evidence.

Standard
2.4

Peace officers shall follow the
principles of integrity, fairness, and
impartiality in connection with their
duties.

Continued on next page

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Three
Peace officers shall
regard the discharge
of their duties as a
public trust and shall
recognize their
responsibilities to the
people whom they are
sworn to protect and
serve.

Ethical Standards
Standard
3.1

Peace officers, as professionals, shall
maintain an awareness of those factors
affecting their responsibilities.

Standard
3.2

Peace officers, during their tour of
duty, shall diligently devote their time
and attention to the effective and
professional performance of their
responsibilities.

Standard
3.3

Peace officers shall ensure that they are
prepared for the effective and efficient
undertaking of their assignment.

Standard
3.4

Peace officers shall safely and
efficiently use equipment and material
available to them.

Standard
3.5

Peace officers shall be prepared to and
shall respond effectively to the
demands of their office.

Standard
3.6

Peace officers, with due regard for
compassion, shall maintain an
objective and impartial attitude in
official contacts.

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Three
(continued)
Peace officers shall
regard the discharge
of their duties as a
public trust and shall
recognize their
responsibilities to the
people whom they are
sworn to protect and
serve.

Ethical Standards
Standard
3.7

Peace officers shall not allow their
personal convictions, beliefs,
prejudices, or biases to interfere
unreasonably with their official acts or
decisions.

Standard
3.8

Peace officers shall recognize that their
allegiance is first to the people, then to
their profession and the governmental
entity or agency that employs them.

Continued on next page

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Four
Peace officers will so
conduct their public
and private life that
they exemplify the
high standards of
integrity, trust, and
morality demanded of
a member of the
peace officer
profession.

Ethical Standards
Standard
4.1

Peace officers shall refrain from
consuming intoxicating beverages to
the extent that it results in impairment
which brings discredit upon the
profession or their employing agency,
or renders them unfit for their next
tour of duty.

Standard
4.2

Peace officers shall not consume
intoxicating beverages while on duty,
except to the degree permitted in the
performance of official duties, and
under no circumstances while in
uniform.

Standard
4.3

Peace officers shall not use any
narcotics, hallucinogens, or any other
controlled substance except when
legally prescribed. When such
controlled substances are prescribed,
officers shall notify their superior
officer prior to reporting for duty.

Standard
4.4

Peace officers shall maintain a level of
conduct in their personal and business
affairs in keeping with the high
standards of the peace officer
profession. Officers shall not
participate in any incident involving
moral turpitude.

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Four
(continued)
Peace officers will so
conduct their public
and private life that
they exemplify the
high standards of
integrity, trust, and
morality demanded
of a member of the
peace officer
profession.

Ethical Standards
Standard
4.5

Peace officers shall not undertake
financial obligations which they know
or reasonably should know they will be
unable to meet and shall pay all just
debts when due.

Standard
4.6

Peace officers shall not engage in
illegal political activities.

Standard
4.7

Peace officers shall not permit or
authorize for personal gain the use of
their name or photograph and official
title identifying them as peace officers
in connection with testimonials or
advertisements for any commodity,
commercial enterprise, or commercial
service which is not the product of the
officer involved.

Standard
4.8

Peace officers shall not engage in any
activity which would create a conflict
of interest or would be in violation of
any law.

Standard
4.9

Peace officers shall at all times conduct
themselves in a manner which does not
discredit the peace officer profession or
their employing agency.

Continued on next page

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Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Four
(continued)
Peace officers will so
conduct their public and
private life that they
exemplify the high
standards of integrity,
trust, and morality
demanded of a member
of the peace officer
profession.

Ethical Standards
Standard
4.10

Peace officers shall not be
disrespectful in their official
dealings with the public, fellow
officers, superiors and subordinates.

Standard
4.11

Peace officers shall be courteous
and respectful in their official
dealings with the public, fellow
officers, superiors and subordinates.

Standard
4.12

Peace officers shall not engage in
any strike, work obstruction or
abstention, in whole or in part, from
the full, faithful and proper
performance of their assigned
duties and responsibilities, except
as authorized by law.

Standard
4.13

Peace officers shall maintain a
neutral position with regard to the
merits of any labor dispute, political
protest, or other public
demonstration, while acting in an
official capacity.

LD 1: Supplementary Material

S-13

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Five
Peace officers shall
recognize that our society
holds the freedom of the
individual as a paramount
precept which shall not be
infringed upon without
just, legal and necessary
cause.

Ethical Standards
Standard Peace officers shall not restrict the
5.1
freedom of individuals, whether
by detention or arrest, except to
the extent necessary to legally and
reasonably apply the law.
Standard Peace officers shall recognize the
5.2
rights of individuals to be free
from capricious or arbitrary acts
which deny or abridge their
fundamental rights as guaranteed
by law.
Standard Peace officers shall not use their
5.3
official position to detain any
individual, or to restrict the
freedom of any individual, except
in the manner and means
permitted or prescribed by law.

Continued on next page

S-14

LD 1: Supplementary Material

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Six
Peace officers shall assist
in maintaining the
integrity and competence
of the peace officer
profession.

Ethical Standards
Standard
6.1

Peace officers shall recognize that
every person in our society is
entitled to professional, effective,
and efficient law enforcement
services.

Standard
6.2

Peace officers shall perform their
duties in such a manner as to
discourage double standards.

Standard
6.3

Peace officers shall conduct
themselves so as to set exemplary
standards of performance for all
law enforcement personnel.

Standard
6.4

Peace officers shall maintain the
integrity of their profession,
through complete disclosure of
those who violate any of these
rules of conduct, violate any law,
or who conduct themselves in a
manner which tends to discredit
the profession.

Standard
6.5

Peace officers shall have
responsibility for reporting to
proper authorities any known
information which would serve to
disqualify candidates from
transferring within or entering the
profession.

Continued on next page

LD 1: Supplementary Material

S-15

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Six
(continued)
Peace officers shall assist
in maintaining the
integrity and competence
of the peace officer
profession.

Ethical Standards
Standard
6.6

Peace officers shall be responsible
for maintaining a level of
education and training that will
keep them abreast of current
techniques, concepts, laws, and
requirements of the profession.

Standard
6.7

Chief executive peace officers
shall accept the responsibility of
utilizing all available resources
and the authority of their office to
maintain the integrity of their
agency and the competency of
their officers. These Canons and
Ethical Standards shall apply to
all legally defined peace officers
regardless of rank.

Standard
6.8

Peace officers shall assume a
leadership role in furthering their
profession by encouraging and
assisting in the education and
training of other members of the
profession.

Continued on next page

S-16

LD 1: Supplementary Material

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Seven
Peace officers shall
cooperate with other
officials and organizations
who are using legal and
ethical means to achieve
the goals and objectives of
the peace officer
profession.

Ethical Standards
Standard
7.1

Peace officers, within legal and
agency guidelines, shall share
with personnel both within and
outside their agency, appropriate
information that will facilitate the
achievement of criminal justice
goals or objectives.

Standard
7.2

Peace officers, whether requested
through appropriate channels or
called upon individually, shall
render needed assistance to any
other officer in the proper
performance of their duty.

Standard
7.3

Peace officers shall, within legal
and agency guidelines, endeavor
to communicate to the people of
their community the goals and
objectives of the profession and
keep them apprised of conditions
which threaten the maintenance of
an ordered society.

Continued on next page

LD 1: Supplementary Material

S-17

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Eight
Peace officers shall not
compromise their
integrity, nor that of their
agency or profession, by
accepting, giving, or
soliciting any gratuity.

Ethical Standards
Standard Peace officers shall refuse to offer,
8.1
give, or receive gifts, favors or
gratuities, either large or small,
which can be reasonably
interpreted as capable of
influencing official acts or
judgments. This standard is not
intended to isolate peace officers
from normal social practices or
relatives, where appropriate.
Standard Peace officers shall not consider
8.2
their badge of office as a license
designed to provide them with
special favor or consideration.

Continued on next page

S-18

LD 1: Supplementary Material

Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibility for
Peace Officers, Continued

Canons
of ethics
(continued)

Canon Nine
Peace officers shall
observe the confidentiality
of information available to
them through any source,
as it relates to the peace
officer profession.

Ethical Standards
Standard
9.1

Peace officers shall be aware of
and shall meticulously observe all
legal restrictions on the release
and dissemination of information.

Standard
9.2

Peace officers shall treat as
confidential the official business
of their employing agency, and
shall release or disseminate such
information solely in an
authorized manner.

Standard
9.3

Peace officers shall treat as
confidential that information
confided to them personally.
They shall disclose such
information as required in the
proper performance of their
duties.

Standard
9.4

Peace officers shall neither
disclose nor use for their personal
interest any confidential
information acquired by them in
the course of their official duties.

Standard
9.5

Peace officers shall treat as
confidential all matters relating to
investigations, internal affairs, and
personnel.

LD 1: Supplementary Material

S-19

References and Suggested Reading Material
References

The following references and suggested readings may provide useful
information and training resources.
Aldag, Ramon, J. and Joseph, Buck. (2000), Leadership & Vision: 25 Keys
to Motivation. New York, New York. Lebhar-Friedman Books.
Anderson, Terry D. (2000). Every Officer Is A Leader: Transforming
Leadership in Police, Justice, and Public Safety. Boca Raton, Fl. LRC Press
LLC.
Covey, Stephen R. (1989). The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People:
Restoring The Character Ethic. New York, New York. Fireside.
Crank, John P. (2000). Police Ethics: The Corruption Of Noble Cause.
Cincinnati, OH. Anderson Publishing Co.
International Association of Chiefs of Police and U.S. Department of Justice,
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.(2002) Ethics Toolkit:
Enhancing Law Enforcement Ethics In A Community Policing Environment.
Available on-line at www.theiacp.org
Harari, Oren. (2002). The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell. New York,
New York. McGraw-Hill.
Heifetz, Ronald & Linsky, Marty. (2002) Leadership On The Line: Staying
Alive Through The Dangers Of Leading. Boston, MA. Harvard Business
School Press.
Josephson, Michael. (2003). Making Ethical Decisions. Los Angeles, CA.
Josephson Institute of Ethics. www.josephsoninstitute.org
Rost, Joseph C. (1993). Leadership For The Twenty-First Century. Wesport,
CT. Praeger Publishers.
Continued on next page

S-20

LD 1: Supplementary Material

References and Suggested Reading Material,
Continued

References
(continued)

U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice & Office of
Community Oriented Policing Services. (1997). Police Integrity: Public
Service With Honor. Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office.
NCJ 1638111. www.cops.usdoj.gov
California POST: www.post.ca.gov
Center for American and International Law Institute for Law Enforcement
Administration-Ethics Center. www.cailaw.org/ethics
Ken Blanchard Companies. www.kenblanchard.com
Ethics Resource Center. www.ethics.org

Continued on next page

LD 1: Supplementary Material

S-21

References and Suggested Reading Material,
Continued

This page was intentionally left blank.

S-22

LD 1: Supplementary Material

Glossary
Introduction

The following glossary terms apply only to Learning Domain 1:
Leadership, Professionalism, and Ethics.

authority

A peace officers right to influence others that is granted by law

canons

General statements of the standards of professional conduct expected of
peace officers

commitment

An outward manifestation of an internal agreement/willingness to embrace
the leadership values and agency goals

compliance

Acceptance of a person’s authority. It yields to an outward change in
behavior, without an accompanying alteration of attitude

disciplinary
rules

Rules established by each law enforcement agency that specify unacceptable
levels of peace officer conduct

ethical
standards

The criteria set for professional conduct. Statements of the specific objectives
for which peace officers should strive are found in the Code of Conduct

ethics

The accepted principles of conduct governing decisions and actions based on
professional values and expectations

intervention

The act of attempting to prevent or attempting to stop the inappropriate or
unlawful behavior of another officer
Continued on next page

LD 1: Glossary

G-1

Glossary, Continued
leadership

The practice of influencing people while using ethical values and goals to
produce an intended change

organizational
values

The collective beliefs that characterize an organization

power

capacity to influence and inspire others

personal
values

The individual beliefs that a person relies on in making the personal
decisions in his/her daily life

principles

Ethical standards that people rely on for guidance in decision making

professional
values

The beliefs that are fundamental to and characterize a specific vocational
group or discipline

professionalism

Adherence to high standards of behavior and training required for
employment in a particular occupation or profession

public
trust

The foundation of a peace officer’s authority and power, by virtue of a social
contract with the government

statutory
codes

Laws enacted to preserve the public order by defining an offense against the
public and imposing a penalty for its violation

values

The fundamental beliefs upon which decisions and conduct are based

G-2

LD 1: Glossary

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 18
Investigative Report Writing
Version 3.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 18
Investigative Report Writing
Version 3.1
© Copyright 2008
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published 1999
Revised January 2006
Revised July 2008
Workbook Correction January 20, 2009
This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:

From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Deborah Linden - Chairman

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Michael Sobek, Vice Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Long Beach Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert T. Doyle

Sheriff
Marin County

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Scott Himelstein

Public Member

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Henry T. Perea

Councilman
City of Fresno

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Michael Sobek

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Gil Van Attenhoven

Senior Special Agent
California Department of Justice

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law
Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD18: Investigative Report Writing
Table of Contents

Topic

See Page

Preface

iii

Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook

iii
iv

Chapter 1: Introduction to Investigative Report
Writing

1-1

Overview
Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process
Uses of Investigative Reports
Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 2: Field Notes
Overview
Introduction to Field Notes
Notetaking Process During a Field Interview
Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

1-1
1-2
1-6
1-11
1-18
1-19
2-1
2-1
2-3
2-9
2-15
2-18
2-19

Continued on next page

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

i

Table of Contents, Continued

Topic
Chapter 3: Fundamental Content Elements of
Investigative Reports

3-1

Overview
Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative
Report
Fundamental Content Elements
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

3-1
3-3

Chapter 4: Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-1

Overview
Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports
Writing Clearly and Precisely
Proofreading
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

ii

See Page

3-9
3-15
3-17

4-1
4-3
4-9
4-21
4-23
4-25

Supplementary Material

S-1

Glossary

G-1

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course
training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising peace
officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where the
POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
•
•
•

chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

iv

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis section at the end of each chapter to
review the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary section for a definition of important terms.
The terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and
underlined the first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

Chapter 1
Introduction to Investigative Report Writing
Overview
Learning need

A peace officer’s ability to clearly document the facts and activities of an
investigation not only reflects on the officer’s own professionalism, but also
on the ability of the justice system to prosecute the criminal case.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.

In this chapter

After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

•

18.01.EO2

explain the legal basis for requiring investigative reports.

This chapter focuses on background information regarding the writing of
investigative reports. Refer to the following table for specific topics.
Topic

See Page

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process

1-2

Uses of Investigative Reports

1-6

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report

1-11

Chapter Synopsis

1-18

Workbook Learning Activities

1-19

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-1

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process
[18.01.EO2]

Introduction

As much as 40% of a peace officer’s work involves writing. Good
investigative skills can be diminished if officers do not have the necessary
writing skills to record their observations, findings, and actions clearly and
concisely.

Investigative
report

An investigative report is a written document prepared by a peace officer that
records in detail the officer’s observations and actions as they relate to a
specific event or incident.
Each investigative report is a legal document that becomes a permanent
written record of that event or incident.

Judicial
process

A suspect’s freedom, rights or privileges cannot be taken away or denied
unless there is sufficient cause to justify such action.
In order to ensure due process, officers, prosecutors, judges, etc., must have
sufficient information and evidence to initiate or continue the judicial process
and successfully prosecute or exonerate a suspect.
Continued on next page

1-2

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process, Continued
Officer’s
reports
and the
judicial
process

The judicial process cannot function without the investigative reports written
by the officers who have the direct knowledge of an event or incident.
An officer’s report must present each event or incident in a complete and clear
manner. Any investigation, arrest, prosecution, or other action taken must be
initiated, supported, or justified by the information included in the report
written by that officer.
Because peace officer’s reports are so important to the judicial process, each
one must be able to stand up to critical review and legal scrutiny.

Statutory
requirement

State and federal statutes mandate that law enforcement agencies report certain
events and incidents. Penal Code Section 11107 requires each sheriff or
police chief executive to furnish reports of specified misdemeanors and
felonies to the Department of Justice.
Such reports must:
•
•
•

describe the nature and character of each crime,
note all particular circumstances of that crime, and
include all additional or supplemental information pertaining to the
suspected criminal activity.

Although the statutes are directed at the executive level, officers in the field
are the ones who carry out the task of writing the reports. It is those officers
reports that contain the information that will eventually be forwarded to the
Department of Justice.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-3

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process, Continued
Specified
crimes

Specified misdemeanors and felonies that require investigative reports, as
required under Penal Code Section 11107, include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Failure
to file a
report

forgery,
fraud-bunco,
bombings,
receiving or selling stolen property,
safe and commercial burglary,
grand theft,
child abuse,
homicide,
threats,
offenses involving lost, stolen, found, pledged, or pawned property,
domestic abuse, and
sex crimes.

Peace officers have a legal and moral duty to investigate and report crimes or
incidents that come to their attention. Failure to uphold this responsibility can
have negative consequences for officers.
•

Deliberate failure to report a crime may be considered a violation of
agency regulations and grounds for disciplinary action.

•

Any officer who knowingly files a false report will be guilty of a crime.
(Penal Code Section 118.1)
Continued on next page

1-4

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process, Continued
Ethics

All reports are to be true, unbiased, and unprejudiced. These are easy words
to say, but sometimes hard to live by. It is not always easy to know or find out
the truth. Clearly it is the peace officer’s moral obligation to seek the truth,
lying is wrong. Truth and public trust cannot be separated.

Agency
policies

Different agencies vary in their policies, regulations, and guidelines regarding
the roles and responsibilities of peace officers for writing investigative reports.
It is the responsibility of each officer to be familiar with and follow that
officer’s specific agency policies.

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-5

Uses of Investigative Reports
Introduction

Even though it is the officer in the field who gathers the initial information
regarding a crime, that officer may not be the person who must use that
information to make decisions regarding further actions. Those decisions are
usually made by other people removed from the actual event. They must rely
on the information in the investigating officer’s report to make decisions.

How
investigative
reports are
used

The investigative reports written by peace officers have many different uses
within the criminal justice system and beyond.
The following table identifies a number of ways investigative reports can be
used.
Reports are used to...

by...

assist with the identification,
apprehension and prosecution
of criminals

•
•
•
•

assist prosecutors, defense
attorneys, and other law
enforcement agencies

•
•
•

serving as a source document for
filing criminal complaints,
providing a record of all
investigations,
providing information to identify the
mode of operation of an individual
offender, or
providing a basis for follow up
investigations.
providing records of all investigations,
serving as source documents for
criminal prosecution, or
documenting agency actions.

Continued on next page

1-6

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued

How
investigative
reports are
used
(continued)

Reports are used to...

by...

assist officers prior to or
during court appearances

•
•

aid in determining potential
civil liability

•

•
assist decision makers and
criminal justice researchers

•

•

refreshing the officer’s memory
before testifying, or
preparing to provide hearsay
testimony at preliminary hearings.
documenting events such as:
- accidents or injuries on city or
county property,
- industrial injuries, or
- fires or other events that prompt a
peace officer response.
presenting justification for an officer’s
behavior or actions.
providing statistical information in
order to:
- analyze crime trends,
- determine the need for additional
employees and equipment,
- determine personnel deployment
requirements,
- assess community needs,
- generate uniform crime reports, or
- identify specialized law
enforcement needs.
satisfying mandatory reporting
requirements for specific criminal
acts. (e.g., child abuse, incidents of
domestic violence, missing persons,
etc.)

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-7

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued

How
investigative
reports are
used
(continued)

Reports are used to...

by...

serve as reference material

•

providing information to:
- the public
- insurance companies,
- the media, or
- other local, state, and federal law
enforcement agencies.

provide information for
evaluating an officer’s
performance

•

giving the evaluating agency insight
into the officer’s ability to:
- write clearly, accurately, and
mechanically (error-free),
- demonstrate a knowledge of law,
- demonstrate a knowledge of
agency policies and procedures,
- investigate criminal acts, and
- recognize potential evidence and
relevant information.

Continued on next page

1-8

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued
User
needs

Investigative reports must take into account the needs of each potential user of
that report. The report must provide not only a clear word-picture of the event
or incident but also the critical information necessary for those users to do
their jobs.

Report
users

The following table identifies a number of prospective users and how they will
use an officer’s investigative report.
Prospective Users
Immediate supervisors
and Field Training
Officers

Purpose for Using an Officer’s Investigative
Report
•
•

Detectives and
investigators

•
•

To determine the next action (e.g., referral
for further investigation, file a complaint,
forward to a prosecutor, etc.)
To evaluate an officer’s:
- ability to convert observations and
verbal information into a written format
that others can use
- performance during an investigation
To gather information to use during the
follow up investigation of a specific event or
incident
To clear or close out cases

Representatives of other
law enforcement agencies

•
•

To develop mandatory crime reports
To aid in further investigations (e.g.,
Highway Patrol, Fire Department)

Prosecuting and defense
attorneys

•
•

To prepare their cases
To determine if officers acted appropriately
to ensure the rights of the suspect

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-9

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued

Report
users
(continued)

Prospective Users

Purpose for Using an Officer’s Investigative
Report

Other attorneys

•
•

To evaluate the basis for civil litigation
To establish a basis for appeals

Parole, probations and
custody personnel

•
•
•

To determine probation conditions
To set requirements for parole
To aid in classifying inmates based on
special needs or security requirements

Involved parties

•

Under certain circumstances, victims,
witnesses, or suspects may gain access for
court preparation.

Media representatives

•

As a source of news material

Insurance agencies

•

To provide information for their own
investigations
To verify claims

•

1-10

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report
Introduction

Peace officers are faced with a variety of events and incidents. The specific
contents of an officer’s reports must reflect that specific event or incident.
Although the details may vary, there are six characteristics that all effective
investigative reports have in common.

Characteristics
of an effective
report

No matter what type of investigative report is being written (i.e., arrest
report, incident report, etc.) that report must be:
•
•
•
•
•
•

Factual,
Accurate,
Clear,
Concise,
Complete, and
Timely.

Peace officers can use the acronym FACCCT to help them remember these
characteristics.

Leadership

In a free and democratic society, all segments of the criminal justice system
are open to public scrutiny and subject to public record. A police report is
often the first and most significant documented account of a possible crime.
As such, the police report is a fundamental instrument of democratic law
enforcement. Therefore, we place high value on our officers’ ability to write
good reports. A good report is one that the officer is proud of and will stand
the test of time. It must be factual, clear, concise, and complete. Accuracy
and attention to detail will provide others in the criminal justice system with a
clear picture of what happened.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-11

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Factual

Critical decisions made based on an officer’s investigative report require that
each report be factual. Users of the report must have an exact and literal
representation of the event or incident.
The factual report provides an objective accounting of the relevant facts
related to the event or incident under investigation. Any conclusions made by
the reporting officer must be based on objective facts. These facts must be
articulated and documented within the body of the report.

Accurate

The decisions made and actions taken by the users of the report must be
supported by accurate information. There must be no inconsistencies or
discrepancies between what took place and what is documented in the
officer’s report.
If any specific information is found to be inaccurate, the credibility and
reliability of the report itself may be jeopardized.
Accuracy is achieved by carefully, precisely, impartially, and honestly
recording all relevant information.

Clear

An investigative report must speak for the investigating officer at a time when
that officer is not present. There should be no doubt or confusion on what the
investigating officer is reporting. If the information is not clear and
understandable.
Continued on next page

1-12

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Clear
(continued)

Clarity is achieved by the use of appropriate language and logical order. The
following table identifies a number of factors that can affect the clarity of an
investigative report.
Factor
Organization of
information

Recommendations/Rationales
•
•

Language used

•
•
•

Writing mechanics

•
•
•
•
•
•

Information is easier for the reader to understand
when facts and events are presented in
chronological order.
Events relating to the incident should have clear
and logical ties to one another.
Simple, common language will make the writer’s
meaning clear.
Readers do not need to be impressed, they need to
be informed.
Slang or profanity should not be used unless it is in
the form of an exact quote.
A poorly written or sloppy report can imply poor
or sloppy investigative skills.
Proper use of commas and other punctuation
marks can help convey the writer’s meaning.
Writing in the first-person will help the reader
clearly understand who did what or who said what.
Pronoun use must leave no doubt in the reader’s
mind as to exactly whom or what the writer is
referring.
Errors in spelling, word choice, or grammar can
distract readers.
Handwriting must be ledgible.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-13

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Concise

Reports should be brief yet, contain all relevant information the users will
need to do their jobs. Wordiness can make a report less readable and
therefore less effective.
Accuracy, completeness, or clarity should never be sacrificed for the sake of
brevity. The following table identifies a number of factors that can affect a
writer’s ability to write concisely.
Factor
Word selection

Recommendations/Rationales
•
•
•
•

Sentence structure
and grammar

•
•
•

Relevance

•

Statements should be direct and concrete.
Use of abstract phrases can confuse or mislead the
reader.
Plain English is the most effective way to convey
information.
Do not use a synonym for a word, merely to avoid
repeating a word. Using the exact word may seem
less interesting, but it will eliminate
misunderstanding.
Sentences should be short yet complete (subjectverb-object).
Fragments can be misinterpreted or lead to
confusion.
Long drawn out sentences can be confusing and
misleading.
Only the information that will be needed by the
user should be included in the report.

Continued on next page

1-14

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Complete

An officer’s report must contain all the relevant information and facts the user
of that report will need. If the user must contact the writer to gather additional
information, the report is not complete.
A report is
complete when...

Description

it presents a
complete wordpicture of the event
or incident.

•
•
•

Descriptions are comprehensive.
Physical conditions are noted.
Users are able to visualize the scene.

there are no
questions left in the
user’s mind
regarding the event
or incident.

•
•
•
•

Key information regarding the what, when, where,
who, how, and why is recorded.
Facts are presented.
Statements are supported by details.
The order of events is clear and easy to follow.

the actions taken by
officers are
reported.

•
•
•

Actions are described.
Decisions are justified.
Statements regarding probable cause are present.

both supporting and
conflicting
information is
presented.

•

Information that may conflict with stated
conclusions or actions must also be included.
Investigators, prosecutors, etc. can only determine
the merit of information that they are aware of.

NOTE:

•

Report formats used by officers can vary. Some jurisdictions
require that certain information be noted on a standardized form
that is often used as the report’s face sheet. Officers who use
such formats must be sure that all relevant blocks or portions of
the standardized forms are completed, even if the same
information is duplicated in a later narrative.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-15

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Timely

No decisions can be made or actions taken if an officer’s report does not reach
the users in a timely fashion. Evidence can be lost, suspects or witnesses may
disappear, and the support and good will in the community can be lost if
action toward resolving a case is delayed.

Common
characteristics

The following table illustrates the six common characteristics of an effective
investigative report.
Characteristic

Well Written

Poorly Written

Factual

The victim could not
provide additional
information about the
suspect.

The victim could not remember
what the guy looked like but
thought he was a minority.
There seems to be a number of
those around lately.

Accurate

On 1-5-99 at 16:00 hrs.

During the first part of the day
shift...

Clear

She left for work at 0700
hrs. and returned for
lunch at 1130 hrs.

She went to work as usual in the
morning and when she came
home for lunch like she always
does she found the conditions
stated as such.

Concise

She discovered her TV
and VCR were missing.

She looked around and she
found some books knocked
over. She looked around some
more and noticed her TV and
VCR were not where they were
supposed to be.

Continued on next page

1-16

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Common
characteristics
(continued)

Characteristic

Well Written

Poorly Written

Complete

I told her that an evidence
technician would be sent
to her home.

I told her someone would
follow up.

Timely

Officers should be aware of their own agency policies
regarding when reports need to be submitted.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-17

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

A peace officer’s ability to clearly document the facts and activities of an
investigation not only reflects on the officer’s own professionalism, but also
on the ability of the justice system to prosecute the criminal case.

Investigative
reports
[18.01.EO1]

An investigative report is a written document prepared by a peace officer that
records in detail that officer’s observations and actions as they relate to a
specific event or incident.

1-18

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. Why should the ability to take accurate field notes and to write effective
investigative reports be personally important to a peace officer? Why is it
legally important to the officer’s agency?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2. You are preparing to write the report after investigating a residential
robbery where a number of expensive antiques were stolen. List the
prospective users of that officer’s report. Explain what decisions will be
made or actions taken by each. What type of information will each be
looking for within that officer’s report?

Prospective Users

Decisions/Actions

Information Needed

Continued on next page

1-20

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Sergeant Richards is reviewing a report written by Officer Young
regarding an investigation of a domestic violence incident. What qualities
should the sergeant look for in the report to determine if Young’s
performance as a peace officer was adequate? What qualities of the report
might indicate that Young’s performance was inadequate?

4. Consider your past experiences with conveying information in a written
form. Who were the readers of your document? Were they able to
understand the message you wanted them to receive from your document?
What is your strongest writing skill? What areas do you have the most
difficulty with?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Complete the following table with the appropriate characteristics of an
effective report represented by the letters FACCCT. In your own words,
describe why each characteristic is important to the identified prospective
users.
To be effective
an investigative
report must be...

Prospective Users
An investigator
assigned to the
case

A reporter from
the local
newspaper

A defense
attorney

F

A

C

C

C

T

Continued on next page

1-22

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

6. Read the following narrative from an officer’s investigative report. Would
it meet the FACCCT standard? If not, mark the specific statements that
need improvement. Describe why and how each should be improved.
While I was patrolling on the street next to the city park, I saw a man who
was in the park after closing hours stumble and fall down. He tried to get
up but fell down a second time. When I stopped to check on the man, he
appeared to be drunk. He was carrying a bag which contained a half
empty can of beer. I asked him if he had been drinking and he said he had
a few beers with a friend but was now on his way home. He also told me
that the path through the park was a shortcut. I asked the man for ID and
he produced his driver’s license. I arrested the man because the man was
drunk and had an open container of alcohol while being in the park after it
was officially closed.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-23

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Additional
classroom
activities

1-24

Writing an investigative report that is factual, accurate, clear, concise,
complete, and timely is a skill that requires practice. As part of the classroom
activities, students will have the opportunity to enhance their own writing
skills under the supervision of the instructor.

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Chapter 2
Field Notes
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that the information gathered during their initial
investigation in the field will become the foundation for their investigative
reports.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be E.O. Code
able to:
•

discuss the importance of taking notes in preparation for
writing reports.

18.02.EO6

•

apply appropriate actions for taking notes during a field
interview.

18.02.EO2

•

distinguish between:
- opinion,
- fact, and
- conclusion.

18.02.EO3
18.02.EO4
18.02.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on taking field notes that will be used to write
investigative reports. Refer to the following chart for specific topics.
Topic

2-2

See Page

Introduction to Field Notes

2-3

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview

2-9

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions

2-15

Chapter Synopsis

2-18

Workbook Learning Activities

2-19

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Introduction to Field Notes
[18.02.EO6]

Introduction

The officers who investigate a crime or incident are responsible for providing
the information other participants in the criminal justice system need to
effectively do their jobs. Officers should rely on accurate sources of
information when writing their reports.

Field
notes

Field notes are abbreviated notations written by an officer in the field while
investigating a specific incident or crime.
An officer’s field notes are the primary source the officer will use when
writing the investigative report. If the officer’s field notes are incomplete,
difficult to read, or poorly organized, they will be of little use to that officer.
NOTE:

When
to take
notes

There are a number of formats and styles used when taking field
notes. Officers should select the format or style they are
comfortable with.

Field notes are recorded while information is fresh in the investigating
officer’s mind. They should be taken:
•
•
•
•

at the scene of an event or incident,
when interviewing persons (e.g., victims, witness, suspects, etc.),
whenever an officer wishes to record specific facts for inclusion in the
report, and
any time the officer wishes to remember specific details at a later time.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-3

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued
Important
considerations

When determining what to include in their field notes, officers should
consider the points noted in the following table.
Consideration
Field notes are more
reliable than an officer’s
memory.

Field notes are the primary
source of information for
the investigative report.

Explanation
•

An investigative report is often written
several hours after the investigation of a
specific event or incident has occurred.

•

Certain types of information such as
statements, times, observations, addresses,
etc., can be easily forgotten or confused
with other information if not recorded
while still fresh in the officer’s mind.

•

Well taken notes provide officers with the
detailed information they will need to
have in order to accurately write their
reports.

•

Well organized notes will help officers
capture vital information regarding the
events, persons, statements, and other
information related to the investigation.

Continued on next page

2-4

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued

Important
considerations
(continued)

Consideration
Detailed field notes reduce
the need to recontact the
involved parties at a later
time.

•

Complete field notes should contain
enough information to answer any pertinent
questions about the incident or persons
involved.

Field notes can be used to
defend the credibility of an
investigative report.

•

An officer’s field notes can be an indicator
of that officer’s thoroughness and
efficiency as an investigator.

•

During a trial, an officer may be asked to
identify the source the officer used when
writing a specific report. If the officer
relied on field notes the reliability and
credibility of the report may be easier to
defend.

NOTE:

Information
to include

Explanation

Field notes are discoverable in court. If kept, they should
be prepared accordingly.

Every event or incident is different; therefore, the facts and information the
officer must gather will differ. An officer’s field notes should contain the
facts and information that will aid that officer in answering the questions what,
when, where, who, how, and why.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-5

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued
Information
to include
(continued)

The following table identifies some examples of the basic information officers
should capture in their field notes.
Basic Information

Victims and
witnesses

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Occurrence

•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Examples of
Additional
Information

Full name
Age
Date of birth
Race
Sex
Telephone numbers (home,
cellular, and work)
Address
Email address(s)

•

Type of crime
Location
Date and time of incident
Date and time reported
Was physical evidence
handled?
- Who observed it?
- To whom was it given?
Chain of custody for evidence
Direction of the suspect’s
flight
Type and description of
weapon(s)
Threat made with weapon(s)
Direct statements made by the
suspect (e.g., “I’ll kill you!”)
Case number
Assisting officer’s actions

•

•
•
•

How to contact by
phone and in
person
Place to contact
Best time to contact
Place of
employment
(including address)
Person(s) involved
- Informants
- Reporting party
- Victims
- Witnesses
- Suspects
- Officers
- Members of
other agencies
- Medical
personnel
- Members of the
media

Continued on next page

2-6

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued

Information
to include
(continued)

Basic Information
Suspects

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•

•

Race
Sex
Age
Type of body build (i.e.,
heavyset, medium, small
frame)
Approximate weight
Approximate height
Color of eyes
Color of hair
Hair style (e.g., long,
short, curly)
Existence of facial hair
Clothing
- Type (e.g., hats, jeans,
jackets, etc.)
- Color
- Style (e.g., casual,
conservative)
Prior knowledge of name
and street name
Unusual physical
attributes
- Scars
- Tattoos
- Limp
- Moles
- Unusual odors
- Missing teeth
Can the victim identify the
suspect?

Examples of Additional
Information
•
•

•

•

•

Unusual or memorable
gestures
Speech peculiarities
- Accents
- Tone (e.g., loud,
soft)
- Pitch (e.g., high,
low)
- Speech disorders
Jewelry
- Rings (identify
which hand and
finger)
- Necklaces
- Earrings
- Body piercing
Right or left handed
- Which hand was
dominant?
- Which hand held the
weapon?
- Which hand opened
a door?
- Where was a watch
worn?
Any gang affiliation?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-7

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued
Incident
specific
information

The type of crime or incident will also indicate what specific information is
required for the officer’s notes.
For example, specific information for a burglary may include, but not be
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

2-8

point of entry,
point of exit,
property damage,
types and value of property taken,
description of suspect’s vehicle,
nature and location of evidence collected, or
unique characteristics of the crime.

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview
[18.02.EO2]

Introduction

The effectiveness of an officer’s investigation may be dependent on that
officer’s ability to obtain information and statements from the involved
parties.

Interviews

An interview is the process of gathering information from a person who has
knowledge of the facts an officer will need to conduct an investigation.

Role of
statements

The field notes taken by officers during an interview must be clear, accurate
and complete.
Statements can be critical in tying together the specific facts of a specific
incident or crime. The existence of some crime elements may only be
revealed within the statements of witnesses, victims, and the suspects
themselves.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-9

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Before the
interview
begins

Before beginning any field interview, officers should prepare properly. The
following table identifies a number of actions the interviewing officer should
take.
Actions Prior to
the Actual
Interview
Separate the
involved parties

Guidelines

•
•

Establish rapport

•
•
•
•
•

Recording
the
interview

If possible, move the person to a location where
there will be no interruptions or distractions.
Focus the person’s attention on speaking with the
officer rather than interacting with others.
Tell the interviewee why the interview is being
conducted.
Describe the interview process that will be
followed.
Assure the person that by using this process, the
officer will be able to gather that person’s statement
accurately.
Be courteous, considerate, and patient.
Control the interview by remaining calm and polite.

Some officers may choose to use a small tape recorder while conducting an
interview. Officers should be aware this may inhibit the person from talking
freely. Electronic equipment can also malfunction, leaving the officer with
little or no information.
Even if an officer is recording the interview, that officer should also take
thorough and complete notes of the conversation.
Continued on next page

2-10

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Three step
process

The most effective way for officers to gather clear, accurate, and complete
information while conducting an interview is to use a systematic process.
One such process involves the following three steps.
Step One:
Step Two:
Step Three:

Step One:
Listen
attentively

Listen Attentively
Take Notes and Ask Questions
Verify Information

In the first step of the process, the officer’s focus should be strictly on the
other person. The officer should be listening --- not taking notes.
The following table identifies a number of guidelines for officers during step
one of the notetaking process.
Action

Guidelines

Ask the person to
recount what has
happened.

•
•

Allow the person to speak freely.
Have the person describe the incident just as that
person understands it, using that person’s own
words.

Keep the person
focused.

•

If the person begins to wander from the specific
topic, guide the person back to the subject (i.e.,
“You mentioned that....” “Let’s go back to...”).
Maintain eye contact and use nonverbal gestures
(e.g., nodding the head) to encourage the person.

•

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-11

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued

Step One:
Listen
attentively
(continued)

Action
Listen carefully to
what is being said.

Guidelines
•

Be particularly attentive to the essentials of the
incident the person describes by including the:
-

role of the person being interviewed (victim,
witness, etc.),
type of crime, if any, that has been committed,
time of the occurrence, and
exact location of the person during the crime or
incident.

Continued on next page

2-12

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Step Two:
Take notes
and ask
questions

When the person has finished, the officer can begin to write information. The
following table identifies a number of guidelines for officers during step two
of the process.
Action

Guidelines

Obtain
identification
information.

•

Ask the
interviewee to
repeat their
account of
what
happened.

•

•

•
•
•

Ask additional
questions.

•

Confirm the person’s role in the event or incident.
(e.g., victim, witness, possible suspect, etc.)
Note the person’s:
- complete name,
- address and phone number (home, cellular, work
and email address), and
- any other information necessary for identification
purposes.
Guide the interview by asking questions that will keep
the person from becoming distracted and wandering
from the point.
Stop the person and ask questions when necessary to
clarify points.
Write down information in short statements, recording
only the most important words.
If a statement is particularly important, quote the
entire statement.
Obtain detailed descriptions of property, suspects, etc.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-13

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Step Three:
Verify
information

For the investigative report to be reliable, the officer’s field notes must be
accurate. The following table identifies a number of guidelines for officers
during step three of the process.
Actions

2-14

Guidelines

Review
information
with the
person.

•

Ask for
confirmation.

•

Have the person confirm important details such as:
- direct quotes,
- time relationships,
- information regarding weapons, or
- physical descriptions.

Make
modifications
or corrections
as necessary.

•

Information may have been initially recorded
incorrectly because the officer:
- misunderstood something the interviewee said,
- wrote something down incorrectly, or
- the officer’s wording may have incorrectly
characterized the interviewee’s statement.

Verify
changes.

•

Once any changes have been made, the information
that has been added or modified should be verified.

•

Repeat specific information to verify the information
is accurate and complete.
Give the person an opportunity to add facts as
necessary.

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions
[18.02.EO3, 18.02.EO4, 18.02.EO5]

Introduction

An effective investigative report must be factual. It must present an objective
accounting of the relevant facts related to the event or incident under
investigation. An officer must be able to distinguish between opinion, fact,
and conclusion.

Opinions,
facts, and
conclusions

The basis for determining relevant information requires peace officers to make
the fine distinctions between an opinion, a fact, and a conclusion. The
following table illustrates these distinctions.
Description

Example

Opinion

•

A statement that:
- can be open to different
interpretations,
- expresses a belief not
necessarily substantiated by
proof.

The victim was in
pain.

Fact

•

A statement that:
- can be verified or proven
- has real, demonstrable
existence.

The victim’s arm
was broken.

Conclusion

•

A statement that is based on the
analysis of facts and opinions.
Conclusions should always be
accompanied with the supporting
facts and opinions. Conclusions
presented without supporting
information may be considered
unwarranted.

The victim was not
able to explain what
had happened
because she was in
pain due to her
broken arm.

•

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-15

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions, Continued
Factual
but
irrelevant

It is possible for information to be factual yet still not be relevant to the
incident or event being investigated. The following table illustrates points that
are all factual but may or may not be relevant in an investigative report.
Factual and Relevant

Factual but Irrelevant

The address of the incident/crime
scene

The route followed to the scene of
the incident/crime

A description of how the suspect
was apprehended

The number of fences the officer had
to jump while apprehending a
suspect

Statements given by witnesses

Humorous comments given by
bystanders

Continued on next page

2-16

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions, Continued
Relevant and
irrelevant
information

The following are examples of relevant and irrelevant information.
Victim’s Statement

Relevant Facts

Irrelevant Facts

“I just bought this bike from the
guy down the street a couple of
weeks ago. It wasn’t new but it
was in really good shape. After a
long ride, I parked the bike in
front of my building at the
bottom of the stairs. I didn’t
bother locking it up or anything
because I thought it would be
safe there, you know.”

The bike was left
unlocked in front
of the victim’s
residence.

I thought it was
safe there.

“I went inside my apartment to
fill my water bottle and was gone
for less than 5 minutes.”

The bike was left
unattended for
about 5 minutes.

The victim went
into his apartment
to fill his water
bottle.

No suspect was
“When I came out, the bike was
seen or heard by
gone. I was really mad and
the victim.
started yelling and cursing. I
looked up and down the street but
didn’t see anyone or any signs of
my bike.”

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

The victim yelled
and cursed when he
realized his bike
was stolen.

2-17

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that the information gathered during their initial
investigation in the field will become the foundation for their investigative
reports.

Content of
field notes
[18.02.EO6]

When determining what to include in their field notes, officers should consider
the following.
•
•
•
•

Field notes are the primary source of information for the investigative
report.
Detailed field notes reduce the need to re-contact the involved parties.
Field notes are more reliable than an officer’s memory.
Field notes can be used to defend the credibility of an investigative report.

Taking notes
during an
interview
[18.02.EO2]

The most effective way for officers to gather clear, accurate, and complete
information while conducting an interview is to follow a systematic process.

Opinions,
facts, and
conclusions
[18.02.EO3]

An opinion is a statement that can be open to different interpretations and
expresses a belief not necessarily substantiated by proof. A fact is a statement
that can be verified or proven and has real, demonstrable existence. A
conclusion is a statement that is based on the analysis of facts and opinions.
Conclusions should always be accompanied with the supporting facts and
opinions. Conclusions presented without supporting information may be
considered unwarranted.

2-18

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. In your own words, explain what makes a fact relevant for the purposes of
an investigative report. Are all relevant details facts? Explain your
answer.

2. Using only your memory, recount exactly what you were doing from 1800
hrs. to 1900 hrs. two days ago. Write your actions as if you were taking
field notes for an investigative report. How much of your account do you
feel is exact? How much is speculation or assumption?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

Read the following scenario and then answer the following questions.
At 2245 hrs., you were called to a local supermarket where a man was
caught by the store’s night manager attempting to shoplift a bottle of vodka.
The suspect struggled and tried to hit the night manager in an attempt to
escape.
Upon arrival, you handcuffed the suspect and walked him to the patrol
vehicle. All individuals involved declined your offer for medical
assistance. You asked the store’s night manager, Joe Smith, to tell you
what happened. Appearing shaken he told you the following:
“Well... let me get it together now... OK officer... I’m the night manager
here and I was in the back when one of the clerks, Ester over there, came
over and said there was this guy over in aisle three that was just hanging out
and looking kind of suspicious. So, I went over there just to see for myself,
and this guy saw me looking at him, so he started moving toward the front
of the store. Well, I thought his coat looked funny, you know, like he had
something under it so I kind’a followed him until I caught up and tried to
make conversation, you know, to get a better look. You gotta be careful,
you know... don’t want to offend any legitimate customer, you know. Well,
he turned around and looked at me and then instead of stopping, he just
bolted for the door. He took off so I took off and he must of slipped or
something cause he dropped the bottle of vodka he’d tried to get away with.
I kept after him, still in pretty good shape ya’ know ‘cause I work out, and
grabbed the guy’s jacket. Well he spun ‘round and before I could get any
kind of grip on the guy, he belted me! Caught me a good one right here
under my eye... still bleeding some I guess... but I didn’t let go and I got
him down on the ground, stuck my knee in his back, and I guess one of the
clerks had called ‘cause that’s when you guys got here. So what happens
now? Nothin’ like this has ever happened to me before, ya’ know.”

Continued on next page

2-20

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Continuing the scenario from the previous page, begin step two of the
notetaking process. Ask Mr. Smith to repeat his account of what
happened. Assuming his account remains the same, write your notes
below.

4. What additional questions would you like to ask Mr. Smith?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. After you finished interviewing Mr. Smith, you talked to the suspect. You
read him his Miranda rights, and he acknowledged he understood and
waived them. He told you the following:
“I didn’t do nothing man! This guy just jumps me! I mean I just went in
there to get some booze, ya know, cause I’m going to this party over at my
buddies and I wanted to take something with me and this dude starts
giving me a hard time and starts chasing me down the aisle. I wasn’t
doing anything. I was goin’ to pay for the stuff, ya know, but the guy, he
just started yelling so he’s the one that chased me out, ya know. Then the
dude grabs my jacket so I swung at the guy. It was self-defense, man! I
gotta right to defend myself, ya know!
Assuming his account remains the same when you ask him to repeat it,
write your notes below.

6. What additional questions would you like to ask the suspect?

Continued on next page

2-22

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

7. Look back at the statements given by Mr. Smith and the suspect. In the
following table note the facts, opinions, and conclusions that are provided.
Opinions

Facts

Conclusions

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-23

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Additional
practice

2-24

Taking complete and accurate field notes is a skill that requires practice and
experience. During classroom discussions and activities, officers will have
additional opportunities to practice taking field notes related to arrest
situations and criminal investigations.

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-25

Workbook Corrections, Continued
Student notes

2-26

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Chapter 3
Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize in order for an investigative report to be of use
in the judicial process, the report must be well organized and include facts
needed to establish that a crime has been committed and all actions taken by
officers were appropriate.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...

E.O. Code

•

summarize the primary questions that must be answered
by an investigative report.

18.03.EO3

•

identify the fundamental content elements in
investigative reports including:
- initial information,
- identification of the crime,
- identification of involved parties,
- victim/witness statements,
- crime scene specifics,
- property information, and
- officer actions.

18.03.EO4
18.03.EO5
18.03.EO6
18.03.EO7
18.03.EO8
18.03.EO9
18.03.EO10

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the content elements in effective investigative reports.
Refer to the following table for specific topics.
Topic

3-2

See Page

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report

3-3

Fundamental Content Elements

3-9

Chapter Synopsis

3-15

Workbook Learning Activities

3-17

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report
[18.03.EO3]

Introduction

No matter how an investigative report is organized, it must be factual,
accurate, clear, concise, complete, and timely (FACCCT). It must provide
prosecutors, investigators, and other participants in the judicial process with
the accuracy of the information needed to do their jobs.

Investigative
report
formats

An investigating officer communicates with the other participants in the
judicial process through that officer’s written investigative report. The
adequacy of that communication is dependent on the officer’s ability to
logically organize events and clearly state the relevant facts related to the
incident.

Agency
policy

Each agency has its own policies regarding formats and forms officers must
use when writing investigative reports. It is the responsibility of each officer
to be familiar with and comply with their agency’s requirements.

Community
policing

Police reports have a variety of users in the community. Prosecutors, judges,
insurance agencies, and attorneys all rely on police reports to ensure a fair and
just outcome. A well-written report can be a significant tool in providing
justice for victims. Police reports are useful in prosecutions, in defense
against wrongful accusations, as a permanent history in long-term
investigations, and in holding peace officers accountable when they are
involved in the incident. The peace officer is the “eyes and ears” of the event.
A good report will greatly increase the effectiveness of everyone involved.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-3

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

The users of an officer’s investigative report should be able to locate the
answers to six primary questions within the body of the report. These
questions are noted below.

Primary
questions

•
•
•
•
•
•

What?
When?
Where?
Who?
How?
Why?

If an officer is not able to answer a question, the report should provide as
much information as possible. This information may prove vital for
investigators assigned to the case.

Supporting
facts and
information

The information that answers each question will vary depending on the details
of the specific incident or crime.
NOTE:

The following table is not intended to be all inclusive. Specific
crimes will require certain information that should be noted by
the investigating officer in the report.
Continued on next page

3-4

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

The following table presents examples of the specific facts and information
that can be included in the body of the report to help answer each question.
Supporting Facts/Information
What...

When...

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime that was committed?
are the elements of the crime?
were the actions of the suspect before and after the crime?
actually happened?
do the witnesses know about it?
evidence was obtained?
was done with the evidence?
weapons were used?
action did the officers take?
further action should be taken?
knowledge, skill or strength was needed to commit the
crime?
other agencies were notified?
other agencies need to be notified?

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed?
was it discovered?
were the authorities notified?
did they arrive at the scene?
was the victim last seen alive?
did officers arrive?
was any arrest made?
did witnesses hear anything unusual?
did the suspect decide to commit the crime?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-5

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

Supporting Facts/Information
Where...

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed?
was the crime discovered?
was entry made?
was the exit?
was the weapon obtained that was used to commit the
crime?
was the victim found?
was the suspect seen during the crime?
was the suspect last seen?
were the witnesses during the crime?
did the suspect live?
does the suspect currently live?
is the suspect now?
would the suspect likely go?
was the evidence found?
was the evidence stored?

When noting locations, officers should include:
•

•

the exact address including:
- wing,
- housing unit,
- floor of the building, etc., and
identification of the area (e.g., business, apartment complex, private
residence, vehicle.)
Continued on next page

3-6

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

Supporting Facts/Information
Who...

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

are the involved parties in the incident? (i.e., victim(s),
witness(es), suspect(s))
were the participating officers?
was the complainant?
discovered the crime?
saw or heard anything of importance?
had a motive for committing the crime?
committed the crime?
had the means to commit the crime?
had access to the crime scene?
searched for, identified and gathered evidence?

Also with whom...
• did the victim associate?
• did the suspect associate?
• was the victim last seen?
• do the witnesses associate?
• did the suspect commit the crime?
When noting information regarding specific people, officers should include
that person’s full name, including middle name or initial. The correct spelling
of each name should be confirmed by the officer as well.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-7

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

Additional information regarding specific people can include, but not be
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

phone numbers (home, cellular and work),
addresses (home, work, and email),
age and date of birth,
social security number,
occupations, and
physical descriptions as required.
Supporting Facts/Information
How...

•

•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed? (e.g., force, violence, threats,
etc.)
did the suspect leave the scene? (e.g., on foot, by car, etc.)
did the suspect obtain the information necessary to commit
the crime?
was the crime discovered?
was entry made? (e.g., smashing, breaking, key, etc.)
was the weapon/tool for the crime obtained?
was the weapon/tool used?
was the arrest made?
much damage was done?

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed?
was a certain weapon/tool used?
was the crime reported?
was the crime reported late?
were witnesses reluctant to give information?
is the suspect lying?
did the suspect commit the crime when she/he did?
did the suspect commit the crime where she/he did?

•
•

Why...
(if known)

3-8

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Fundamental Content Elements
[18.03.EO4, 18.03.EO5, 18.03.EO6, 18.03.EO7, 18.03.EO8, 18.03.EO9, 18.03.EO10]

Introduction

Every incident is different and different crimes require different information.
On the other hand, certain content elements remain constant regardless of the
crime or the formats used to present the information.

Fundamental
content
elements

The following table identifies the fundamental content elements that are
common within all investigative reports.
An effective investigative report contains...
initial
information...

•

establishing how the officer(s) became involved
with the specific incident and additional
background information.

identification of
the crime...

•

including the facts that are necessary to show that
the specific crime has taken place.

identification of
the involved
parties...

•

such as the reporting person(s), victim(s),
witness(es), or suspect(s).

witness/victim
statements...

•

noting the details of the events the involved parties
observed or experienced.

crime scene
specifics...

•

necessary to accurately reestablish the scene and
events of the crime.

property
information...

•

including descriptions and details pertaining to
stolen items as well as physical evidence.

officer actions...

•

including descriptions of all actions taken by peace
officers that are related to the incident.

NOTE:

The order in which information is presented in an investigative
report is dependent upon the format used and agency policy.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-9

Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
Initial
information

Each investigative report should describe the manner in which the peace
officers learned of the incident. The initial information should also describe
the officer’s immediate observations and any actions they took upon arrival at
the scene.
Content elements specific to the initial information may include, but are not
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•

Identification
of the crime

the name(s) and badge number(s) of the responding officer(s),
how the officer(s) learned of the incident (e.g., radio dispatch),
the exact date and time the officer(s) arrived,
the exact location, and
details regarding the officer(s) own observations of who was where and
what was happening upon arrival.

The facts which are the evidence of a crime are referred to as the corpus
delicti, or the body of the crime.
Specific crimes have their own required crime elements. Investigative reports
must clearly identify these facts in order to establish that a crime has
occurred.
Crime identification information within the body of the investigative report
must clearly state the:
•
•
•

common name of the crime,
statutory code reference number for the crime (i.e., Penal Code, Health &
Welfare Code, etc.), and
existence of each of the required crime elements necessary for the crime to
be complete.

NOTE:

Additional information regarding the crime elements for specific
crimes is included in the supplementary materials at the end of
this workbook.
Continued on next page

3-10

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
Identification
of involved
parties

The involved parties of a crime can include the person who reported the
incident, victim(s), witness(es), or suspect(s). Officers should take care to
collect complete and accurate information that clearly identifies each as well
as providing a means of further contacts if necessary.
Specific information regarding the involved parties should include, but is not
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

full names,
sex, ethnic origin,
date of birth (DOB),
home address,
home phone, cellular phone,
workplace, school or email addresses,
workplace or school phone,
their role in the incident (i.e., reporting party, witness, etc.), and
the reporting party’s relationship with other involved parties.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-11

Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
Witness/
victim
statements

Statements of the involved parties (i.e., witnesses, victims) help place events
in their proper sequence and establish the elements of the crime. Along with
the person’s statements, officers should note:
•
•
•
•

location/proximity of the person to the event,
circumstances and actions observed or experienced,
complete and detailed descriptions, (e.g., items stolen, distinguishing
features, injuries sustained, etc.) and
information regarding suspect(s). (e.g., name, aliases, identifying marks,
relationship to the victim, etc.)

If the reporting officers use a person’s exact words within a report, quotation
marks and the word said followed by a comma should be used to introduce
the speaker’s words.
Example:

Smith said, “I don’t know. I’d really have to take a closer
look. I’m just not sure if that’s all that was taken.”

If the reporting officer paraphrases what the speaker said, quotation marks are
not used.
Example:

Smith said she was not sure if anything else was taken.
Continued on next page

3-12

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
The users of any investigative report should be able to clearly understand and
accurately visualize the scene of the crime as well as the events that took
place.

Crime
scene
specifics

Investigative reports should include, but not be limited to, identification and
description of:
•
•
•
•

the physical condition of the scene itself,
the chronology of events,
location of physical evidence, and
all information supporting the existence of the elements of the crime.
(e.g., the point of entry, the location of key objects)

NOTE:

Property
information

Investigative points to be noted can vary based on the specific
crime that is being reported.

Any item pertaining to the crime must be identified clearly and described
within the investigative report. Such items may include stolen or damaged
property as well as physical evidence.
Information should include, but not be limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

brand names,
model/serial numbers,
description (including color, unique markings, dimensions, etc.),
value of stolen item,
identification of the owner/possessor/finder,
location where found (or stolen from),
relationship of the item to the crime/incident, and
physical evidence, including methods of collection and preservation.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-13

Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
An investigative report is not complete unless it clearly identifies all actions
taken by the officer or officers.

Officer
actions

Officer actions to be noted can include, but not be limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Information
in support
of officer
actions

Complete and accurate descriptions of an officer’s actions should also include
the officer’s reasons or justifications for taking those actions. This can
include, but is not limited to the:
•
•
•
•
•
•

3-14

stops made,
searches conducted,
seizures of evidence,
arrests made,
standard procedures followed (e.g., knock and notice, field showups, etc.),
Miranda admonishments,
use of force,
medical attention (offered, accepted, or refused),
safety measures taken,
disposition of suspects, or
methods used to preserve evidence or capture essential information.

exigent circumstances that led the officer to act (i.e., enter without
permission, use force, etc.),
basis for an officer’s reasonable suspicion to conduct a cursory/frisk
search for weapons,
probable cause to conduct any other authorized searches,
probable cause to seize evidence,
probable cause leading to an arrest, and/or
detailed information describing acts or conditions that justify the level of
force used to gain or maintain control.

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize in order for an investigative report to be of use
in the judicial process, the report must be well organized and include facts
needed to establish that a crime has been committed and all actions taken by
officers were appropriate.

Primary
questions to
be answered
[18.03.EO3]

The users of an officer’s investigative report should be able to locate the
answers to six primary questions within the body of the report.

Initial
information
[18.03.EO4]

Establishing how the officer(s) became involved with the specific incident and
additional background information.

Identification
of the crime
[18.03.EO5]

Including the facts that are necessary to show that the specific crime has taken
place.

Identification
of the involved
parties
[18.03.EO6]

Such as the reporting person(s), victim(s), witness(es), or suspect(s).

Witness/victim
statements
[18.03.EO7]

Noting the details of the events the involved parties observed or experienced.

Crime scene
specifics
[18.03.EO8]

Necessary to accurately visualize the scene as well as events that took place.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-15

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Property
information
[18.03.EO9]

Including descriptions and details pertaining to stolen items as well as physical
evidence.

Officer
actions
[18.03.EO10]

Including descriptions of all actions taken by peace officers that are related to
the incident.

3-16

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. List reasons why it is important to fully document within the report the
officer’s reasons or rationales for taking specific actions. Describe the
possible effects on an investigation, the officer, and the officer’s
department if this information is not included.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-17

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2. In order for the crime of vandalism (Penal Code Section 594) to be
complete, the necessary crime elements include:
-

an act of a person or persons
with malicious intent
to deface, damage, or destroy with graffiti or other inscribed material
personal or real property
not their own.

The following statement is an excerpt from an investigative report. Has
the writer noted sufficient information to establish that the crime of
vandalism has been committed? Underline the information that supports
the existence of each element of the crime. If an element is not present,
identify the information that is missing.
...As my partner and I approached the scene, we could see the spray
painted markings on the windshield of a blue Ford Taurus, CA license
number 12345, which was parked in the street in front of 9876 Rose Lane.
The owner of the Taurus, Clyde Smith, who lived at 9876 Rose Lane came
out of the house carrying two empty cans of spray paint that he found in
the gutter three houses down, at 9870 Rose Lane...

Continued on next page

3-18

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. You are an officer who has responded to a call involving a home burglary.
The homeowner tells you that her son’s computer, the family’s television,
and three pieces of her jewelry were taken. List questions you can ask the
homeowner that will aid you in describing the stolen property later in your
report.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

4. Without looking back in the chapter, list the seven fundamental content
elements of an investigative report. Give a reason why each element
should be included when possible. Provide examples of the type of
information that could be included within each element.
Content Element

Reason for
Importance

Type of Information
Included

Continued on next page

3-20

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Assume that you are a supervisor and have received the following
narrative from an investigative report. Based on the information given,
you will be required to decide on the next action that should be taken.
On 01-5-08 at 1600 hours my partner and I were called to the scene of a
residential burglary. The home owner, Alice Smith, met us as we arrived
and gave the following information.
Smith left for work today at 0630 hours, locking all doors and windows.
She returned home for lunch at 1130 hours and discovered the front door
had been kicked in and was left standing open. She entered her home but
found nobody inside. She discovered her TV and VCR were missing
along with a home computer. Smith said that the only other items
disturbed in the house were several books that had been knocked off a
shelf in the office. Smith will attempt to locate serial numbers for the TV,
VCR, and computer and forward that information to us.
Smith did not see anyone around her home, but did observe a blond male
driving a red car. The driver was turning off her street, when she came
home. Smith did not recognize the person and had not seen the vehicle in
the area before. She could not provide any additional descriptions of the
driver or vehicle.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. (continued) Complete the following table with the information provided in
the report. Note any information that you feel is missing or that is unclear
or confusing.
Facts/Information Included

Missing/Confusing
Information

What?

When?

Where?

Who?

How?

Why?

Continued on next page

3-22

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Additional
classroom
activities

As part of the classroom activities, students will have the opportunity to
practice their investigative report writing skills after viewing a series of video
scenarios depicting possible criminal activities. Classroom instructors will
evaluate each student’s work and provide individual feedback.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-23

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Student notes

3-24

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Chapter 4
Investigative Report Writing Mechanics
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that an effective report must exhibit the writer’s
command of the language and be relatively free of errors in sentence structure,
grammar, and other writing mechanics.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be E.O. Code
able to:
•

apply guidelines for recommended grammar used in
investigative reports including use of:
- proper nouns,
- first person pronouns,
- third person pronouns,
- past tense, and
- active voice.

18.04.EO1
18.04.EO2
18.04.EO3
18.04.EO4
18.04.EO5

•

organize information within a paragraph for clarity and
proper emphasis.

18.04.EO6

•

select language that will clearly convey information to
the reader of the investigative report.

18.04.EO7

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-1

Overview, Continued

Learning
objectives
(continued)

In this chapter

After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to:

E.O. Code

•

distinguish between commonly used words that sound
alike but have different meanings.

18.04.EO8

•

proofread for content and mechanical errors, including:
- Spelling
- Punctuation
- Grammar
- Word choice
- Syntax

18.04.EO9

This chapter focuses on common report writing conventions. Refer to the
following table for specific topics.
Topic

4-2

See Page

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports

4-3

Writing Clearly and Precisely

4-9

Proofreading

4-21

Chapter Synopsis

4-23

Workbook Learning Activities

4-25

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports
[18.04.EO1, 18.04.EO2, 18.04.EO3, 18.04.EO4, 18.04.EO5]

Introduction

Grammar may be defined as the rules and guidelines used by writers to make
their message clear and understandable to the reader. There are a large
number of grammatical guidelines in the English language and peace officers
should be aware of them when writing investigative reports.

Proper
nouns

A noun is a naming word. It can be used to identify people, places, or things.
Proper nouns name specific persons, places or things and always begin with
a capital letter.
When referring to a specific person within a report, officers should use
proper nouns (Tom Smith, Alice Jones) to clearly convey to the reader whom
they are writing about. After the full name has been used once, just the last
name may be used when referring to the same person. (Smith, Jones)
Example:

Tom Smith said he saw the woman leap from the deck and
run across the yard. Smith went on to describe the woman
as...
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-3

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a noun or a proper noun. There are
two types of pronouns of which writers of investigative reports should be
aware.
Pronoun

Use when
referring to
the:

First
person

person writing
the report.

Third
person

person, place,
or thing being
written about.

Examples of
Pronouns

Examples of Use

•
•

I/My/Mine/Me
We/Our/Ours/Us

•

•
•
•
•

He/His/Him
She/Hers/Her
It/Its
They/Their/
Theirs/Them

•

•

•
•
•

NOTE:

I told my
partner...
Our vehicle
was...
He said that it
was ...
She told her
sister...
It was no longer
present...
Their father was
...

First person pronouns can also be used within quotes to refer to the
person speaking. (e.g., Wilson said, “I ran as fast as I could.”)
Continued on next page

4-4

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

First
person
pronouns

When writing investigative reports, officers should use first person pronouns
when referring to themselves. By doing so, the reader has a clear understanding
of what the officer actually did, observed, experienced, etc.
Referring to themselves as “the reporting officer” or “the writer of this
report” or using third person pronouns can be needlessly awkward and
lead to confusion as to who was actually doing what.
Example:

My partner and I spoke with the witness about what they
saw and heard during the fight.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-5

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Third
person
pronouns

When a third person pronoun is used within an investigative report, it must
clearly refer to or agree with the noun or proper noun that is directly before it.
Alone, third person pronouns lack any specific meaning. It must be clear to
the reader, exactly who, what, or where the pronoun is referring to.
The following table illustrates how the use of third person pronouns can lead
to confusion within a report if not properly placed.
Confusing

Clear

Jones saw the man’s car crash into
the tree. He immediately reported
the accident.

Jones saw the man’s car crash into
the tree. Jones immediately reported
the accident.

Smith told his neighbor to get rid of
the junk car he kept in front of his
house.

Smith told his neighbor to get rid of
the junk car the neighbor kept in
front of his house.

After McFay gave her daughter the
gun, she began to worry.

McFay began to worry after she gave
the gun to her daughter.

NOTE:

To avoid confusion, it may be preferable to repeat the proper
name rather than use a third person pronoun
Continued on next page

4-6

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Past
tense

Since most investigative reports are written about things that have already
happened, the words that are used should clearly indicate the events have
already taken place.
Verbs are words or groups of words which express action. A verb’s tense
refers to the time the action took place. A past tense verb expresses an action
completed in the past. A present tense verb expresses an action currently
taking place.
The following table illustrates some examples of present and past tense verbs.
Present Tense

Past Tense

He says his wife did kick him...

He said his wife kicked him...

I then have Officer Baker . . .

I then had Officer Baker...

She states her husband...

She stated her husband...

On 04-06-98 at 0735 hours I
respond to a call...

On 04-06-98 at 0735 hours I
responded to a call...

The suspect arrives at the scene...

The suspect arrived at the scene...

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-7

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Active
voice

The word “voice,” when used to describe a type of verb, refers to whether
the verb is active or passive.
A verb is in the active voice when the subject of the sentence is the individual
or thing that is actually doing or performing the action. A verb is in the
passive voice when the subject of the sentence is someone or something other
than the doer or performer of the action.
Officers writing investigative reports should use verbs in the active voice
rather than the passive voice. Most readers find sentences written in the active
voice easier to follow and understand.
The following table illustrates differences between using a passive or active
voice in an investigative report.
Passive Voice

4-8

Active Voice

The victim was given the report
form by me.

I gave the report form to the victim.

The seminar was attended by law
enforcement personnel.

Law enforcement personnel
attended the seminar.

The witness was talked to by me.

I talked to the witness.

The suspect was patted down for
weapons by my partner.

My partner patted down the suspect
for weapons.

The driver was asked for his
driver’s license by me.

I asked the driver for his driver’s
license.

NOTE:

The subject of the sentence does not have to be a person. It can
also be a place or thing.

NOTE:

A common indicator of passive voice is the word “by” in the
sentence.

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely
[18.04.EO6, 18.04.EO7, 18.04.EO8]

Introduction

Effective investigative reports must present all relevant information simply, or
logically. They must be written in plain English in order to be useful for the
reader.

Paragraph
organization

Paragraphs are the structural units for grouping information. No matter which
format is used for the investigative report (narrative or category), all
paragraphs within the report must be clear and easy to understand.
When writing an investigative report, the first sentence (lead-in sentence) of
each paragraph should clearly state the primary topic or subject of the
paragraph. The sentences that follow within the paragraph should present
facts, ideas, reasons, or examples that are directly related to that primary topic.
The following table presents examples of poorly organized and well organized
paragraphs.
Poorly Organized

Well Organized

When we arrived, the husband let
us into the house. We were
responding to a 9-1-1 call. My
partner and I had been dispatched to
an incident of domestic violence. A
woman called for help to keep her
husband from beating her.

My partner and I were dispatched to a
domestic violence incident after a
woman dialed 9-1-1. The woman
called for help because she was afraid
her husband would beat her. When
we arrived, the husband let us into the
house.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-9

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Paragraph
organization
(continued)

Transitional
words

Poorly Organized

Well Organized

Marie Parker said her husband
refused to answer the door at first
when he heard the man on the other
side begin to shout. I took her
statement approximately 45 minutes
after the assault took place. She was
sitting in the family room when her
husband went to see who was at the
door.

I took Marie Parker’s statement
approximately 45 minutes after the
assault took place. Parker said she
was sitting in the family room when
her husband went to see who was at
the door. Initially her husband
refused to answer the door when he
heard the man on the other side begin
to shout.

Transitions are words or phrases that show relationships between thoughts,
sentences, or paragraphs. By selecting appropriate transitional words, officers
can help readers move smoothly and logically from detail to detail and
sentence to sentence within the investigative report.
The following table suggests only a few of the possible transitional words and
phrases officers may use within their reports.
Type of
Transition
Time

Words/Phrases
•
•
•
•
•
•

Immediately
In the meantime
At the same time
When
Before
Prior to

Examples
Caster said he noticed the door
was not completely shut, so he
decided to find out why.
Immediately after entering the
room, he saw the window was
broken.

Continued on next page

4-10

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Transitional
words
(continued)

Concrete
vs abstract
words

Type of
Transition

Words/Phrases

Examples

Place

•
•
•
•
•
•

Near
Beyond
Next to
Under
Behind
Around

Caster said he saw broken glass
on the floor under the window.
Near the glass, he saw a large
brick.

Order

•
•
•
•
•
•

Finally
In addition
Lastly
First
Then
Further

In addition, Caster saw his
laptop computer was not on the
desk where he left it the night
before.

Officers who are writing investigative reports should select simple, common,
concrete language whenever possible. The use of simple language can help
keep reports concise and brief, addressing relevant information quickly and
clearly.
Words that are used to make an investigative report sound eloquent or
scholarly may actually serve to make the report wordy, vague and less
effective. Inflated language is never appropriate and officers should resist the
temptation to impress their readers.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-11

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued
Concrete vs
abstract
words
(continued)

The following table presents examples of abstract words along with more
concrete alternatives.
Abstract Words

Concrete Words

•

a number of

•

seven

•

at a high rate of speed

•

75 MPH

•

appeared intoxicated

•

breath smelled of an alcoholic
beverage

•

hostile behavior

•

repeatedly struck the officer

•

physical confrontation

•

fight

•

verbal altercation

•

argument

•

extensive record

•

six DUI offenses over two years

•

employed

•

used

•

dispute

•

argument

•

inquired

•

asked

•

in the vicinity of

•

near

•

articulated

•

said, told

•

hit

•

punched, slapped, or clubbed

Continued on next page

4-12

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued
Words
that
sound
alike

Officers should take care to use the correct word for what they are trying to
say when writing investigative reports.
There are a number of frequently used words that sound alike but have
completely different spellings and meanings. The following table identifies
the most commonly confused sound-alike words.
Words

Definitions

Examples

Accept

To take with approval or
agree to

I accepted the medal with
pride.

Except

To omit or exclude;
preposition meaning ‘but’

We did everything except
interview the witness.

Access

An approach, admittance, or
route

There is an access road
running east to west in front of
the drug store.

Excess

Surplus; an amount greater
than wanted

The amount of cocaine found
was in excess of what had
initially been reported.

Advice

Worthy suggestion or
information; noun

My sergeant gave me advice
on how to handle the situation.

Advise

To give suggestions, data, or
counsel; verb

My sergeant advised me on
how to handle the situation.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-13

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued
Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Affect

To act upon or produce
change or influence; verb

The suspect was affected by
the pepper spray.

Effect

Result of cause; belongings;
noun

Dilated pupils are a physical
effect of the drug.
The coroner removed the
personal effects from the
victim.

Allude

Make reference to

The witness alluded to the
suspect’s collection of guns.

Elude

Escape or evade

The suspect eluded arrest by
going into a store.

Assure

To offer assurances

The officer assured the victim
that the batterer would be
jailed.

Ensure

To make secure or certain

The officer ensured the
suspect was correctly
handcuffed.

Insure

To make secure or certain (as
with ensure); or to guarantee
life or property against risk.

The man insured his house
against fires and floods.

Continued on next page

4-14

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Brake

To stop a vehicle

Her car’s brakes failed, and
she ran into the truck in front
of her.

Break

To burglarize a home or other The officer watched the
structure; forcibly entering or suspect break into the store.
exiting a house; to damage

Cite

Refer to an official document
or rule as proof; verb

The district attorney cited the
Penal Code.

Site

Place or setting of an event;
noun

The officers returned to the
site of the crime to gather
more evidence.

Sight

Ability to see

The contraband lay on the
table in plain sight.

Elicit

To draw out or forth; evoke

The officer was able to elicit a
confession from the suspect.

Illicit

Something not permitted by
law.

The suspect had committed a
lewd and illicit act.

Formally

Something done
The suspect was formally
ceremoniously or in a regular, indicted for the crime.
methodical fashion

Formerly

Something that happened in
the past

He was formerly a firefighter.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-15

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Hear

To perceive sound

The officers could hear the
argument through the door.

Here

Place or location

I asked the victim to come
here and answer some
questions.

Its

Adjective showing
possession

The car lost its rear tire after
striking the pot hole in the
road.

It’s

Short form of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ It’s been six years since the
suspect contacted his brother.

Know

To be cognizant of or be
acquainted with

The victim claimed that she
did not know the suspect.

No

Negative

The suspect shouted, “No.”

Pain

Strong sense of hurt

The victim screamed in pain
after being shot.

Pane

Window glass set in a frame

The burglar had broken the
pane to gain access to the
house.

Continued on next page

4-16

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Passed

To move forward or around;
to circulate

As we pursued the suspect, we
passed four other vehicles on
the highway.

Past

History; ended or
accomplished; beyond

The suspect had a number of
past convictions.

Personal

Belonging to someone

The victim’s personal
property was put in a bag.

Personnel

Company’s employees

The department had a
personnel meeting.

Precede

To go before in time, place,
or rank

The burglary preceded the
rape.

Proceed

To advance, go toward

The burglar then proceeded to
the bedroom.

Pride

Self-esteem

The officer took great pride in
his work.

Pried

To raise, move, or force with
a lever (past tense of pry)

The burglar pried the window
open with a screwdriver in
order to enter the building.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-17

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Principal

Chief official; chief actor or
perpetrator present at time of
crime

Manuel Ortega was the
principal person in the
robbery of the bank.

Principle

Rule of conduct; law of
nature or scientific fact

Peace officers are expected to
uphold high moral principles.

Quiet

Still or silent

When we arrived at the
dispute, the house was quiet.

Quite

To a great degree, completely

The suspect was quite agitated
and began swearing.

Scene

Location of an event

The officers secured the crime
scene.

Seen

Past tense of “to see” (sight)

The suspect was seen driving a
green car.

Steal

To take without any right

Robbery and theft are forms of
stealing.

Steel

Strong alloy of iron

The pipe was made of steel.

Than

Introduces comparative
clauses

The suspect was taller than
me.

Then

Designates time (next)

The suspects then fled from
the bank on foot.

Continued on next page

4-18

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

There

At or in that place; to,
toward, or into that place

Morez went there after she
talked with the officer.

Their

Possession of them, by them

The brothers went by their
home on their way to the
corner.

They’re

Short form of ‘they are’

The woman said, “They’re
going to shoot him.”

Threw

Past tense of “throw”

She threw the vase at her
husband.

Through

Motion from side to side or
end to end within something

The suspect ran through the
mall to evade arrest.

To

Movement toward a place,
person, or thing

The victim stated he was going
to the grocery store when he
was stopped.

Too

Also, besides, in excessive
degree

The reporting party stated that
the noise was too loud for her
to hear the person talking.

Two

The number two (2)

The building had two
entrances.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-19

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Waist

Part of the body between the
ribs and the hips

The suspect grabbed the victim
around the waist and wrestled
her to the ground.

Waste

To consume, weaken, or
squander

She wasted water by washing
her car twice every day.

Weak

Not strong

His use of heroin left him very
weak.

Week

Seven days’ duration

The suspect stalked his victim
for three weeks.

Your

Belongs to a specific you or a
specific person

Young heard Johnson say,
“Your dog is on my property
again.”

You’re

Short form of ‘you are’

The officer said you’re under
arrest.

Wave

To signal

She waved to her neighbor.

Waive

To surrender or relinquish

She waived her Miranda rights.

Continued on next page

4-20

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Proofreading
[18.04.EO9]

Introduction

Proofreading may seem time-consuming to both experienced and
inexperienced writers. In the case of investigative reports where accuracy,
clarity, and completeness are essential, proofreading is critical.

Proofreading
content

As noted in chapter one of this workbook, the content of an investigative
report must be factual, accurate, clear, concise, complete, and timely
(FACCCT).
When proofreading reports, officers should ask themselves:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

is the correct crime(s) cited in the report?
are all the elements appropriately articulated?
are the facts correct (based on the officer’s field notes)?
is the report well organized?
is all necessary information included?
is the information in the proper order?
are things said efficiently, or are statements too wordy?
are all conclusions supported by facts?
are there any gaps in logic?
are the names spelled correctly?
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-21

Proofreading, Continued
Proofreading
mechanics

A report’s effectiveness and an officer’s credibility can be damaged by a
report with too many mechanical errors. When proofreading the reports they
have written, officers should look for:
•
•
•
•
•
•

inappropriate use of the parts of speech (e.g., use of nouns, pronouns
verbs, etc.),
language that may be vague or confusing,
incorrect or inappropriate use of words,
spelling errors,
inappropriate punctuation, and
incorrect use of law enforcement abbreviations.

NOTE:

Reading
aloud

Slowly reading a completed report aloud is one of the most effective methods
for proofreading the content and mechanics of any document. When sentences
are heard, it may be easier for the writer to identify obstacles such as:
•
•
•
•
•

4-22

Additional information is provided in the supplementary
materials portion of this workbook.

mechanical errors,
gaps in logical flow,
skewed time sequences,
incorrect verb tenses,
cumbersome phrasing, etc.

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that an effective report must exhibit the writer’s
command of the language and be relatively free of errors in sentence structure,
grammar, and other writing mechanics.

Proper
nouns
[18.04.EO1]

Persons should be referred to by their proper names to avoid confusion. Once
the full name has been used once, the last name may be used when referring to
the same person.

First
person
pronouns
[18.04.EO2]

Officers should refer to themselves in the first person (i.e., “I,” “we,” etc.).
Use of a person’s name or a third person pronoun is appropriate when
referring to another person.

Third
person
pronouns
[18.04.EO3]

When a third person pronoun is used, it must clearly refer to or agree with the
noun or proper noun that is directly before it.

Past
tense
[18.04.EO4]

Past tense verbs should be used to clearly indicate that events have already
taken place.

Active
voice
[18.04.EO5]

The active voice should be used to ensure the information presented is direct,
brief, and clearly establishes the actions of the sentence.

Paragraph
organization
[18.04.EO6]

When writing an investigative report, the first sentence (a lead-in sentence) of
each paragraph should clearly state the primary topic of the paragraph.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-23

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Concrete
language
[18.04.EO7]

Officers should select simple, concrete language that readers clearly
understand.

Words
that
sound
alike
[18.04.EO8]

Officers should not confuse words that sound alike but have differing
meanings and spellings.

Proofreading
[18.04.EO9]

There are two relatively distinct tasks involved when officers proofread their
investigative reports.

4-24

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. You have just been handed the following narrative from an officer’s
investigative report. The officer who wrote the report has also asked you
to suggest other revisions that would improve the quality and effectiveness
of the report. List the recommendations you would make. Identify any
specific errors within the report.

On 5-31-99 I was dispatched at 1153 hrs. to 33 “A” Street for a reported
theft. I arrived at the address at approx. 1156 hrs. As I got out of my car
I could see Mr. Jones waiting on the porch of his apartment waiting for
me. As I walked towards Jones I asked him if he was the one who called
in the report. He said yes. I asked Jones to tell me what happened. Jones
told me he parked his mtn. bike against the stairs of his apartment while he
ran into his apartment to fill his water bottle. Jones said he was inside for
no more than 5 minutes. When he came out his bike was gone. Jones then
gave me a complete description of his bike. I asked his neighbor if she
saw anything but she said no.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-25

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2. Rewrite each of the following sentences using active voice, first person, or
any other modifications necessary to make sure the writer’s intent is clear.
In all sentences Officer Brown is the reporting officer.
a) Officer Brown had been approaching the suspect and at this time he
noticed that the woman appeared intoxicated.

b) Jones was asked by Brown to describe the gun, and she said that she
didn’t know much about them, but it was small enough to fit in his
waste band.

c) Logan was then transported by Brown to jail for booking. During the
search procedure, Logan said, I except responsibility for everything
but shooting her. I guess I better ask advice from my attorney.

d) The suspect was patted down for weapons by Brown’s partner. The
immediate effect was to cause Russell to exhibit hostile behavior.

e) At this time Johnson was being advised of his Miranda options by
Brown’s partner. The suspect was asked if he understood each right as
it was read by him to him. He said yes.

Continued on next page

4-26

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Rewrite the following segment from an officer’s investigative report.
Correct all mechanical errors as well as any other modifications you feel
would improve the segment.
On 5/3/99 about 1147 I was dispatch to a report of a petty theft. I talked to
Mark Jones. He told me that he went into his home to get some water.
When he returned to the past location of his bike, someone stole his bike.
It was a mountain bike, red with black trim. He told me that he had seen
no one. His neighbor came out and I asked him if he had scene anyone
take it but he said no.

4. Why is it important that the first sentence of a narrative paragraph clearly
state the primary topic or subject of the paragraph?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-27

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Circle the correct word choice for each of the following sentences.
a) The [affect/effect] on the car was minimal.
b) The Browns said they were returning to [there/their/they’re] home.
c) The [cite/site/sight] was covered with trash and broken glass.
d) The witness saw two boys [braking/breaking] the windows.
e) The other driver was going over 70 MPH when she [passed/past] us.
f) Someone [pride/pried] the hinges from the frame of the door.
g) The injured man refused to [accept/except] medical aid.
h) Jones [alluded/eluded] to the location of the stolen vehicle.

Continued on next page

4-28

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

6. Write a sentence that illustrates the proper use of each of the following
words.
Word

Examples of Proper Use

threw
proceed
waste
principal
proceed
waist
through
principle

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-29

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

7. Rewrite and reorganize the following statements/sentences into a clear
narrative paragraph.
-

07/07/99
1945 pm
The suspect ran north on Wilson street with what appeared to be a
metal bar in his hand.
My partner and I were called to the incident in response to a silent
alarm.
A man was standing below a rear window of the building.
A rear window was cracked but remained locked and secured.
As I approached the rear of the building on foot, the man began to run
away.
The suspect was approximately 6 ft tall, 180 labs, wearing dark pants,
a black nylon jacket, black baseball cap, and was a white male with
brown hair and medium build.

Continued on next page

4-30

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Supplementary Material
Overview
Introduction

The following materials can be referred to by peace officers when writing
investigative reports.

In this section

Refer to the following table for specific reference documents included in this
section.
Topic

See Page

Parts of Speech

S-2

Punctuation

S-4

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations

S-6

State Abbreviations

S-12

Crime Information Reference Guide

S-13

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-1

Parts of Speech
Introduction

The sentence is the basic structure of written English. It is made up of words
that have unique characteristics and functions.

Parts of
speech

The eight parts of speech are identified in the following table.
Description

Examples

Noun

Names a person, place, or
thing

The officer stopped the car.
The suspect fled from the
officers.

Pronoun

Takes the place of a noun

He ran between the cars.
They were close together.

Verb

Expresses action or state of
being (“be verbs”)

The officer ran after the
suspect.
The suspect was fast.

Adverb

Describes a verb, adjective,
or other adverb

The suspect ran quickly.
He became extremely
exhausted

Adjective

Describes a noun or
pronoun

The tall suspect turned
around.
The short suspect continued to
run.

Continued on next page

S-2

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Parts of Speech, Continued

Parts of
speech
(continued)

Description

Examples

Preposition

Shows how a noun or
pronoun is related to
another word in a sentence;
followed by nouns or
pronouns

The suspect jumped out of the
car, over the retaining wall,
and into the store.

Conjunction

Connects words or parts of
sentences; can be
coordinating or
subordinating

My partner and I approached
the car.
I was cover officer while my
partner was contact officer.

Article

Comes before and usually
limits a noun

A bag of powder was lying on
the back seat.

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-3

Punctuation
Introduction

Punctuation marks give writers a way to achieve some of the effects they
would convey in spoken conversations. (i.e., pauses, changes in tone or pitch,
inflections, etc.) They can influence the meaning of words, the flow of
thought, and the emphasis intended by the writer.

Common
punctuation

The following table identifies the most common punctuation marks used
within investigative reports.
Mark

Main Uses

Examples

Period (.)

Marks the end of a sentence
that is not a question or
exclamation

Stewart went to the back of
the store and told the
manager what she saw.

Comma (,)

Separates items in a series

She reported that a
microwave oven, a computer,
and a stereo system were
missing from the apartment.

Separates nonessential
phrases and clauses from the
rest of the sentence

In the meantime, Jones swept
up the broken glass.

Separates two independent
clauses in a compound
sentence

The victim was in pain, but
he was still able to speak with
us.

Indicates the beginning and
end of direct quotes

Stanley said, “I just didn’t see
the car coming.”

Quotation
marks (“ ”)
NOTE:

Punctuation is generally not placed inside quotation marks.
(i.e., commas, periods)
Continued on next page

S-4

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Punctuation, Continued

Common
punctuation
(continued)

Mark

Main Uses

Examples

Colon (:)

Signals a series is about to The victim reported the
follow
following items were missing
from the apartment: a
microwave oven, a computer,
and a stereo system.

Apostrophe (’)

To show possession in
nouns

The victim’s car was totaled.

To form a contraction

She couldn’t tell the direction
he came from.

NOTE:

The use of contractions in official reports is discouraged except
in direct quotes.

NOTE:

Usage of semi-colons may be discouraged, please check
agency policy and procedures.

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-5

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations
Introduction

Peace officers use abbreviations in their notes to expedite time and then write
the complete words in their report.

Guidelines
for use

Abbreviations should be such that the meaning will be readily understood to
the person reading the notes. Officers may use abbreviations in their notes but
should write the word out for their reports.
Abbreviations containing all capital letters do not require periods (e.g., DMV,
CHP).
NOTE:

Review agency policies and procedures before using
abbreviations.

The following is an alphabetical listing of common law enforcement
abbreviations.

A

Assisted and advised
Address
All points bulletin
Also known as
Ambulance
American Indian
Arresting officer
Apartment
Arrest
Asian Indian
Assault with deadly weapon
Assistant
Attempt
Attention
Avenue

A&A
Add.
APB
AKA
Amb.
I
A/O
Apt.
Arr.
A
ADW
Asst.
Att.
Attn.
Ave.
Continued on next page

S-6

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
B

Blood alcohol count
Black (color)
Black (descent)
Blocks
Blonde
Blue
Be on the lookout
Brown
Building
Business and Professions Code

BAC
Blk.
B
Blks.
Bln.
Blu.
BOLO
Brn.
Bldg.
B&P

C

California Highway Patrol
Captain
California drivers license
California identification card
Caucasian
Cleared by arrest
County
Complainant
Convertible
Chief of Police
Criminal Justice Information System

CHP
Capt.
CDL
CID
W
CBA
Co.
Comp.
Conv.
COP
CJIS

D

Dark
Date of birth
Dead on arrival
Defendant
Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
District
Direction of travel
Division
Doing business as
Driving under the influence

Dk.
DOB
DOA
Def.
Dept.
DMV
Dist.
DOT
Div.
DBA
DUI
Continued on next page

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-7

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
E

East
Eastbound
Emergency room
Expired
Estimated

E
E/B
ER
Exp.
Est.

F

Felony
Female
Field sobriety test
Four door

Fel.
F
FST
4D

G

Gray
Gone on arrival
Green

Gry.
GOA
G

H

Had been drinking
Hazel
Headquarters
Health & Safety Code
Highway
High School

HBD
Hzl.
Hdqts.
H&S
Hwy.
H.S.

I

Identification
Identity
Indian, American
Information
Informant
Inspector
Injury
Injury on duty
Intersection

ID
ID
I
Info.
Inf.
Insp.
Inj.
IOD
I/S

J

Juvenile

Juv.
Continued on next page

S-8

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
K

L

Left front
Left rear
License
Lieutenant
Light

L/F
L/R
Lic.
LT
Lt.

M

Male
Maroon
Medium
Memorandum
Mexican, Latino, Hispanic
Miles per hour
Miscellaneous
Misdemeanor
Modus operandi
Motorcycle

M
Mar.
Med.
Memo
H
MPH
Misc.
Misd.
M.O.
M/C

N

National Crime
Information Center
No further description
No middle name
Not applicable
North
Northbound

NCIC
NFD
NMN
N/A
N
N/B

Officer
Oriental

Off.
O

O

Continued on next page

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-9

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
P

Parked
Passenger
Pedestrian
Penal Code
Permanent identification number
Pickup
Point of impact
Point of rest
Possible

Pkd.
Pass.
Ped.
PC
PIN
P/U
POI
POR
Poss.

Q

Quiet on arrival
Quiet on departure

QOA
QOD

R

Railroad
Referral by other agency
Registration
Reporting officer
Right front
Right rear
Room

RR
ROA
Reg.
R/O
R/F
R/R
Rm.

S

Sergeant
South
Southbound
Station wagon
Street
Supervisor
Suspect

Sgt.
S
S/B
S/W
St.
Supv.
Susp.
Continued on next page

S-10

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
T

Teletype
Temporary
Traffic accident
Two door

TT
Temp.
TA
2D

U

Uniform Crime Reports
Unable to locate
Unknown

UCR
UTL
Unk.

V

Vehicle
Vehicle Code
Vehicle identification number
Victim
Violation

Veh.
VC
VIN
Vict.
Viol.

W

Warned and released
Watch Commander
Welfare & Institutions Code
West
Westbound
White (color)
White (descent)
Witness

W&R
W/C
W&I
W
W/B
Wh
W
Wit.

Yellow

Yel.

X

Y

Z

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-11

State Abbreviations
Introduction

Peace officers may have to refer to specific states within their reports. The
U.S. Postal Service has standardized the abbreviations for the states and some
Canadian provinces.

Abbreviations

The following table identifies the U.S. Postal Service’s standardized
abbreviations.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Dist. of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
NOTE:

S-12

AL
AK
AZ
AR
CA
CO
CT
DE
DC
FL
GA
HI
ID
IL
IN
IA
KS
KY
LA
ME
MD
MA
Ml
MN
MS
MO

Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
British Columbia

MT
NE
NV
NH
NJ
NM
NY
NC
ND
OH
OK
OR
PA
RI
SC
SD
TN
TX
UT
VT
VA
WA
WV
WI
WY
BC

State postal abbreviations do not require periods.

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Glossary
Introduction

The following glossary terms apply only to Learning Domain 18:
Investigative Report Writing

active
voice

The use of verbs that refer to or agree with the subject of the sentence actually
doing or performing the action

conclusion

A statement that is based on the analysis of facts and opinions

corpus
delicti

The body or elements of the crime

FACCCT

Acronym for the characteristics of an effective investigative report; factual,
accurate, clear, concise, complete, and timely

fact

A statement that can be verified or proven

field
notes

Abbreviated notations written by an officer in the field while investigating a
specific incident or crime

first
person
pronoun

A pronoun that refers to the person speaking (e.g., I, my, we, our, etc.)

investigative
report

A written legal document prepared by a peace officer that records in detail that
officer’s observations and actions as they relate to a specific event or incident
Continued on next page

LD 18: Glossary

G-1

Glossary, Continued
interview

The process of gathering information from a person who has knowledge of the
facts an officer will need to conduct an investigation

noun

A word that is used to identify or name a person, place, or thing

opinion

A statement that can be open to different interpretations and expresses a belief
not necessarily substantiated by proof

passive
voice

The use of verbs that refer to or agree with someone or something other than
the doer or performer of the action of a sentence

past
tense

A form of a verb that expresses an action that has already taken place

present
tense

A form of a verb that expresses an action that is currently taking place

pronoun

A word that can be used as a substitute for a noun or a proper noun

proper
noun

A noun that names a specific person, place, or thing

third
person
pronoun

A pronoun that refers to or agrees with the noun that is being spoken about
(e.g., he, she, it, etc.)

Continued on next page

G-2

LD 18: Glossary

Glossary, Continued
transition

A word or phrase that shows a relationship between thoughts, sentences, or
paragraphs

verb

A word which expresses an action or state of being

verb
tense

A form of a verb that refers to the time an action takes place

LD 18: Glossary

G-3

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 20
Use of Force
Version 3.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 20
Use of Force
Version 3.1
© Copyright 2005
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published 1998
Revised July 2005
Revised February 2006
Correction September 2008
Workbook Correction February 4, 2009
Revised June 2009
Workbook Correction May 28, 2010
This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:
From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Michael Sobek, Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Robert T. Doyle, Vice Chairman

Sheriff
Marin County

Walter Allen

Mayor
City of Covina

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Oakland Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert Cooke

Special Agent in Charge
CA Department of Justice

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Deborah Linden

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Linda Soubirous

Public Member

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD 20: Use of Force
Table of Contents

Topic

See Page

Preface

iii

Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook

iii
iv

Chapter 1: Introduction to the Use of Force

1-1

Overview
Reasonable Force
Authority to Use Force
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

1-1
1-3
1-6
1-8
1-10

Chapter 2: Force Options

2-1

Overview
Force Options
Resistance
Communication
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

2-1
2-3
2-6
2-11
2-13
2-14

Chapter 3: Use of Deadly Force

3-1

Overview
Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force
Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

3-1
3-3
3-11
3-18
3-20

Continued on next page

LD 20: Use of Force

i

Table of Contents, Continued

Topic
Chapter 4: Documenting the Use of Force
Overview
Documenting the Use of Force
Report Writing Tip
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 5: Concept of Control in Use of Force
Overview
Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force
Self Control
Role of Initial and Ongoing Training
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 6: Consequences of Unreasonable Force
Overview
Peace Officer and Agency Liability
Failure to Intervene
Intervention Techniques
Factors Affecting Intervention
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Glossary

ii

See Page
4-1
4-1
4-2
4-7
4-10
4-11
5-1
5-1
5-3
5-7
5-14
5-17
5-18
6-1
6-1
6-3
6-7
6-10
6-14
6-16
6-17
G-1

LD 20: Use of Force

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course
training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising peace
officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where the
POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 20: Use of Force

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

iv

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis section at the end of each chapter to
review the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary for a definition of important terms. The
terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and underlined the
first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 20: Use of Force

Chapter 1
Introduction to the Use of Force
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that they have the authority to use reasonable
force to effect an arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance as
authorized by the California Penal Code. For their safety, and for the safety
and well-being of fellow officers, it is critical that peace officers know the
laws governing the use of force.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

discuss reasonable force as stated by law.

20.01.EO1

discuss the components of the Fourth Amendment
standard for determining objective reasonableness, as
determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.

20.01.EO2

explain the legal framework establishing a peace
officer’s authority during a legal arrest, including:
- subject’s requirement to submit to arrest without
resistance
- peace officer’s authority to use reasonable force
during a detention or arrest.

20.01.EO3
20.01.EO4

identify the circumstances set forth in the California
Penal Code when a peace officer has the authority to use
force.

20.01.EO5

discuss the level of authority agency policies have
regarding the use of force by a peace officer.

20.01.EO6

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

1-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the legal aspects regarding a peace officer’s authority
to use force. Refer to the following chart for specific topics.
Topic

1-2

See Page

Reasonable Force

1-3

Authority to Use Force

1-6

Chapter Synopsis

1-8

Workbook Learning Activities

1-10

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

Reasonable Force
[20.01.EO1, 20.01.EO2]

Introduction

Reasonable force is a legal term for how much and what kind of force a peace
officer may use in a given circumstance.
Penal Code Section 835a states: “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 effect the arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome
resistance.”

Fourth
Amendment
“objective
reasonableness”
standard

In 1989, the United States Supreme Court applied an objective standard to a
force situation and further established how reasonable force must be judged
objectively (Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 109 S.Ct. 1865) (1989)). The
Court’s analysis began by considering the subject’s Fourth Amendment right
to remain free from any unreasonable seizure against the government’s interest
in maintaining order through effective law enforcement.
The Court noted that determining the objective reasonableness for the use of
force must be fact specific, and established the following four components for
determining reasonableness:
The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be...
1

judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer.

2

examined through the eyes of an officer on the scene at the time
the force was applied, not the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

3

based on the facts and circumstances confronting the officer
without regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation.

4

based on the knowledge that the officer acted properly under the
established law at the time.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

1-3

Reasonable Force, Continued
The officer’s
perspective

Peace officers will constantly be faced with decisions of when to use force and
to what degree it should be applied.
The totality of the circumstances must be evaluated from the perspective of the
officer at the scene, rather than from an outsider’s benefit of “20/20"
hindsight. Reasonable force must be based on the facts and circumstances
known to the peace officer at the time the force was used.
The Court noted that:
“the amount of force necessary for the situation is determined by the objective
reasonableness as judged by a reasonable officer given the officer’s training
and experience.”
A reasonable officer is defined as an officer with similar training, experience,
and background in a similar set of circumstances, who will react in a similar
manner.

Community
policing

Community members want their officers to possess the skills necessary to
subdue violent and dangerous subjects. They also want officers to use these
skills to apply only the amount of force that is reasonable to effect an arrest, to
overcome resistance, or to prevent escape. Force should never be used to
punish subjects. In the American criminal justice system, punishment in the
form of judgments is the sole responsibility of the courts.
Continued on next page

1-4

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

Reasonable Force, Continued
The officer’s
intent

The objective for the use of force by peace officers in any situation is to
ultimately gain or maintain control of an individual and the situation.
Control, as it relates to defensive tactics, means maintaining composure to
make sound judgments and decisions.

Additional
gauges for
reasonableness

The Court noted that the following facts should also be considered, but not
limited to, when gauging reasonableness:
The severity of the crime
The nature and extent of the threat posed by the subject
The degree to which the subject resists arrest or detention
Any attempts by the subject to evade arrest by flight

Reasonable
officer
standard

The reasonable officer standard:
would another officer
with like or similar training and experience,
facing like or similar circumstance,
act in the same way or use similar judgement?

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

1-5

Authority to Use Force
[20.01.EO3, 20.01.EO4, 20.01.EO5, 20.01.EO6]

Introduction

It is the role of the peace officer to protect and serve the public. Peace officers
who make or attempt to make an arrest may use reasonable force when faced
with a threat or resistance.

Subject’s
duty to
submit to
arrest

Whether a subject is legally detained or arrested, it is the subject’s duty to
refrain from resisting the officer’s authority.
Penal Code Section 834a states:
“If a person has knowledge, or by the exercise of reasonable care, should have
knowledge, that he is being arrested by a peace officer, it is the duty of such
person to refrain from using force or any weapon to resist such arrest.”

Officer
authority
to use
restraint

An arrest can be made by physically restraining a subject or by the subject
submitting to the authority of the officer.
Penal Code Section 835 states:
“An arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person, or by submission to the
custody of an officer. The person arrested may be subjected to such restraint
as is reasonable for arrest and detention.”
Continued on next page

1-6

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

Authority to Use Force, Continued
Authority
and criteria
for the use
of force

Penal Code Section 835a states:
“Any officer who has reasonable cause to believe that the person to be arrested
has committed a public offense may use reasonable force to effect an 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.”

Agency
policies

Although the statutory law and case law have provided a foundation for the
use of force by a peace officer, the most detailed considerations and
regulations are established by each agency’s policies.
Limitations on the use of force are set by agency policy. These policies are
attempts to provide reasonable guidelines for officers to protect them and their
agency from criminal and civil liability.
Peace officers are responsible for becoming familiar with and complying
with their agency’s policies and guidelines regarding the use of force.

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

1-7

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that they have the authority to use reasonable
force to effect an arrest, to prevent escape, or to overcome resistance under the
circumstances authorized by the California Penal Code. For their safety, and
well-being of fellow officers, it is critical that peace officers know the laws
governing the use of force.

Reasonable
force
[20.01.EO1]

Penal Code Section 835a states:

The Fourth
Amendment
[20.01.EO2]

The U.S. Supreme Court noted that determining the objective reasonableness
for the use of force must be fact specific and established four components for
determining reasonableness.

Subject’s
requirement
to submit to
arrest without
resistance
[20.01.EO3]

Penal Code Section 834a states:

Peace officer’s
authority to
use restraint
during a
detention or
arrest
[20.01.EO4]

Penal Code Section 835 states:

“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 effect the
arrest, to prevent escape or to overcome resistance.”

“If a person has knowledge, or by the exercise of reasonable care, should have
knowledge, that he is being arrested by a peace officer, it is the duty of such
person to refrain from using force or any weapon to resist such arrest.”

“an arrest is made by an actual restraint of the person, or by submission to the
custody of an officer. The person arrested may be subjected to such restraint
as is reasonable for their arrest and detention.”

Continued on next page

1-8

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Penal code
authority
[20.01.EO05]

Penal Code Section 835a grants officers authority to use force under specific
circumstances.

Level of
authority of
specific agency
policies
[20.01.EO6]

Limitations on the use of force are set by specific agency policy. All such
policies are attempts to provide guidelines and to protect the officer and
agency from criminal and civil liability.

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

1-9

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. During an attempt by peace officers to arrest a subject for rape, the subject
pulled an object from his pocket, pointed it at the officers, and in a highly
agitated voice said, “Leave me alone or I’ll kill you. I’ve got a gun!”
When a bystander came around the corner, the subject aimed the object at
her. One of the officers shot the subject, who later died. The object
brandished by the subject was discovered to be a toy gun. Do you feel the
officer exercised reasonable force? Explain why or why not based on the
four components of reasonableness established by the U.S. Supreme
Court.

2. When considering what force is reasonable, peace officers must remember
that, as officers, they have rights as well. Outline each of these rights and
explain how they might apply when dealing with a violent subject who is
resisting arrest.

Continued on next page

1-10

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Explain why it is important for peace officers to be familiar with their
agency’s policies on use of force, even though they may thoroughly
understand the case law decisions as well as the California Penal Code
regarding an officer’s authority to use force.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

1-11

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

4. During a lawful detention based on reasonable suspension, the suspect
tells the officer that he does not want to speak to the officer and begins to
walk away.
Explain why or why not an officer could use force to effect the detention
and the applicable authorities.

1-12

LD 20: Chapter 1 – Introduction to the Use of Force

Chapter 2
Force Options
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that they have a range of force options available
to them. However, in all cases the use of force must be reasonable compared
to the threat, resistance, and other circumstances known to the officer at the
time the force was used.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

discuss the term “force option.”

20.02.EO1

identify that the objective of using force is to overcome
resistance to gain control of an individual and the
situation.

20.02.EO2

recognize force options and the amount of force peace
officers may use based on the subject’s resistance.

20.02.EO3

explain the importance of training and ongoing practice
when responding to potentially dangerous situations that
may require the use of force.

20.02.EO4

discuss the importance of effective communication when
using force.

20.02.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on principles of use of force. Refer to the following chart
for specific topics.
Topic

2-2

See Page

Force Options

2-3

Resistance

2-6

Communication

2-11

Chapter Synopsis

2-13

Workbook Learning Activities

2-14

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Force Options
[20.02.EO1, 20.02.EO2, 20.02.EO4]

Introduction

Force options are choices available to a peace officer in each agency’s policy
to overcome resistance, effect arrest, prevent escape, or gain control of the
situation.

Objective
for use
of force

The objective for the use of force by peace officers is to gain and maintain
control of an individual and the situation.
Peace officers are required to:
use the type of force which is reasonable under the circumstances
use only the amount of force reasonable to overcome resistance and to
gain or maintain control of a subject
conform to agency policy and federal and state law

Officer
judgement

The amount of force applied shall not exceed what is reasonable to overcome
the subject’s resistance to gain or maintain control of the subject. Each officer
must rely on their judgment to employ objectively reasonable force for that
specific situation.
The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the
perspective of a reasonable officer. Examined through the eyes of an officer
on the scene at the time the force was applied, not the 20/20 vision of
hindsight. Based on the facts and circumstances confronting the officer
without regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation. Based on the
knowledge that the officer acted properly under the established law at the
time.
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-3

Force Options, Continued
Officer
preparation

In law enforcement, preparation can mean the difference between life and
death as well as generate a professional image for a peace officer. The
following chart identifies some items officers must consider and prepare for:
Item

Considerations

Uniforms

-

Proper fit
Neat, professional
appearance
Does not impair free
movement

-

More effective
Command presence

Gear

-

In good condition
Inspected regularly
Readily accessible

-

Increased
confidence in the
application of
physical force

Firearms

-

Cleaned and maintained
Serviced by a trained armorer
as necessary

-

Increased
confidence in the
application of
deadly force

Body armor

-

Fits properly
Does not interfere with
movement
Is worn by the officer

-

Enhanced
survivability

-

Practice
and
training

Benefits

It has been established that peace officers, when required to respond in
dangerous situations, will revert to the responses they learned in training.
Officers’ tactical performance may depend entirely on how well and
effectively they have trained and practiced required skills and abilities.
Without ongoing practice and training, peace officers place themselves
and others in jeopardy of injury or death.
Continued on next page

2-4

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Force Options, Continued
Factors
affecting
selection

There are a number of factors that can affect which force option is selected.
The following chart identifies but is not limited to some of the most critical:

Factor

Considerations

Public safety

- Immediate action required for
self-defense or defense of others

Amount and nature of the resistance
which must be overcome

-

Presence of a weapon and type of
weapon

- Other Weapons
- Firearms

Seriousness and nature of the
offense

- Misdemeanor cite and release
- DUI
- Armed Robbery

Characteristics of the subject as
compared to the characteristics of
the officer

-

Availability of assistance

- Number of officers
- Available backup units

Nature and condition of the location
and surroundings

- Danger to bystanders
- Availability of weapons

Passive resistance
Active resistance
Assaultive resistance
Life-threatening resistance

Size
Age
Knowledge of Capabilities
History

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-5

Resistance
[20.02.EO3]

Introduction

Subjects’ resistance/actions to an arrest will determine the type of force used
by peace officers.

Subjects
actions

The following chart illustrates how a subject’s resistance/actions can correlate
to the force applied by an officer:
Subject’s
Actions

Description

Possible Force Option

Cooperative

Subject offers no
resistance

- Mere professional appearance
- Nonverbal actions
- Verbal requests and commands

Passive
noncompliance

Does not respond to
verbal commands but
also offers no physical
form of resistance

- Officer’s strength to take
physical control, including
lifting/carrying
- Control holds and techniques to
direct movement or immobilize
a subject

Active
resistance

Physically evasive
movements to defeat an
officer’s attempt at
control, including
bracing, tensing, running
away, or verbally
signaling an intention to
avoid or prevent being
taken into or retained in
custody

- Control holds and techniques to
control the subject and situation
- Use of personal weapons in
self-defense and to gain
advantage over the subject
- Use of devices to secure
compliance and ultimately gain
control of the situation

Continued on next page

2-6

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Resistance, Continued

Subjects
actions
(continued)

Constant
reevaluation

Subject’s
Actions

Description

Possible Force Option

Assaultive

Aggressive or
combative; attempting or
threatening to assault the
officer or another person

- Use of devices and/or
techniques to secure compliance
and ultimately gain control of
the situation
- Use of personal body weapons
in self-defense and to gain
advantage over the subject

Lifethreatening

Any action likely to
result in serious injury or
possibly the death of the
officer or another person

- Utilizing firearms or any other
available weapon or action in
defense of self and others

NOTE:

Officers must take into account the totality of the circumstances
when selecting a reasonable force option. It is not the intent of
this chart to imply that an officer’s force options are limited based
on any single factor.

NOTE:

Officers must be aware of and comply with their specific agency
policies regarding appropriate force options.

Peace officers must use the force option appropriate for the situation as
conditions may change rapidly. Officers must continually reevaluate the
subject’s action and must be prepared to transition as needed to the
appropriate force options.
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-7

Resistance, Continued
Constant
reevaluation
(continued)

The following tools and techniques are not in a particular order nor are they all
inclusive.

Tools and Techniques for Force Options
Verbal Commands/Instructions/Command Presence
Control Holds/Takedowns
Impact Weapons
Electronic Weapons (Tasers, Stun Guns, etc.)
Chemical Agents
Firearms
Body Weapons
Impact Projectile
Carotid Restraint Control Hold

Continued on next page

2-8

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Resistance, Continued
Examples

The following chart presents examples of situations and an reasonable and
unreasonable use of force based on the level of resistance/actions that is being
offered by the subject:
Situation

Subject’s Action(s)

Officer’s Response(s)

During a traffic
stop an officer
discovered that the
driver had several
outstanding traffic
warrants.

The driver offered no
resistance, was
cooperative, and
responded
immediately to the
verbal commands of
the officer.

Reasonable:
The officer’s presence and
verbal commands controlled the
situation.

During a traffic
stop an officer
discovered that the
driver had several
outstanding traffic
warrants.

The driver complied
with the officer’s
verbal command to
get out of the car and
showed no signs of
threatening behavior,
but refused to
cooperate in any other
way.

Reasonable:
The officer used a firm grip to
overcome the driver’s passive
resistance to the officer’s
efforts to direct the movement
of the driver and maintain
control of the situation.

Unreasonable:
The officer used a physical
control hold immediately before
giving verbal commands. The
driver became fearful of the
officer’s actions and began to
struggle with the officer.
Absent other mitigating factors,
the officer’s use of force was
unreasonable and may have
escalated the threat.

Unreasonable:
The officer used an impact
weapon to disable the subject
before applying a control hold
and placing the subject under
arrest.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-9

Resistance, Continued

Examples
(continued)

Situation

Subject’s Action(s)

Officer’s Response(s)

During a traffic
stop an officer
discovered that the
driver had several
outstanding traffic
warrants.

The driver complied
with the officer’s
verbal command to
get out of the car but
then pulled away and
assumed a fighting
stance.

Reasonable:
The officer used a leg sweep
takedown technique to gain
physical control of the subject
and then placed the subject
under arrest. Since the subject
exhibited assaultive behavior
toward the officer, the use of
force by the officer was
reasonable.
Unreasonable:
The officer continued making
verbal requests for the subject
to comply and attempted no
other action to gain control of
the subject. Even though the
subject was not actively
attacking the officer, he was
actively and aggressively
resisting the officer’s attempt to
arrest him. By not responding
to the changing situation with
reasonable force, the officer
may have placed himself in
greater danger of losing control
and placed himself at risk of
serious injury.

2-10

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Communication
[20.02.EO5]

Introduction

Effective communication may enable a peace officer to gain cooperation and
voluntary compliance in stressful situations (e.g., confronting a hostile
subject).

Importance
of effective
communication

The vast majority of law enforcement responsibilities involve effective
communication. Communication involves both command presence and words
resulting in improved safety. The following chart highlights some benefits of
effective communication:
For...

Effective Communication...

Safety

provides skills that reduce the likelihood of physical
confrontation
can result in a reduction of injuries

Professionalism

renders more effective public service and improves
community relations
decreases public complaints and internal affairs
investigations
decreases civil liability
lessens personal and professional stress

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-11

Communication, Continued
The law
enforcement
profession and
communication

Law enforcement is a highly visible profession. When peace officers
communicate, they represent:
themselves/agency
executive staff(chief or sheriff)
government (city, county, state, federal)
public interest
authority (laws, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.)
law enforcement profession as a whole
Effective communication is a basic element of the use of force. A major goal
of law enforcement is to gain voluntary compliance without resorting to
physical force.
NOTE:

2-12

For additional information regarding effective communication
refer to LD 1, Ethics, LD 3, Policing in the Community, LD 4,
Victim Assistance, LD 18, Investigative Report Writing, LD 21
Pedestrian Stops, LD 22, Vehicle Pullovers, and LD 37, Persons
with Disabilities in addition to other Learning Domains.

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that they have a range of force options available
to them. However, in all cases the use of force must be reasonable compared
to the threat, resistance, and other circumstances known to the officer at the
time the force was used.

Force
option
[2.02.EO1]

Force options are choices available to a peace officer in each agency’s policy
to overcome resistance, effect arrest, prevent escape, or gain control of the
situation.

Goal of using
force to gain
control
[20.02.EO2]

The objective of the use of force by peace officers in any situation is to
ultimately gain or maintain control of an individual and therefore the situation.

Officer’s use
of force vs
subject’s level
of resistance
[20.02.EO3]

An officer’s selection of the force option or amount of force should be based
on the amount or degree of resistance of the subject as well as other relevant
conditions or circumstances of the specific situation.

Ongoing
training and
practice for
responding to
dangerous
situations
[20.02.EO4]

It has been established that peace officers, when required to respond quickly in
dangerous situations, will revert to trained responses. Officers’ tactical
performance may depend entirely on how well and effectively they have
trained for and practiced their abilities and skills.

Effective
communication
[20.02.EO5]

The vast majority of law enforcement responsibilities involve effective
communication. Communication involves both professional demeanor and
words resulting in improved safety and professionalism.

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-13

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. One of the factors that must be considered in selecting a force option is the
characteristics of the individual peace officer as compared with those of
the subject. Use the charts below to compare your personal characteristics
at this time to those of the subjects shown. Why is it important to
objectively assess your own characteristics and capabilities?
Officer

Subject - Male
Size: approximately 6' 3" and 230
pounds
Age:

24

Capabilities: gun enthusiast and
marksman, possibly
armed, muscular and
athletic
History: past record of domestic
violence (battery), several
speeding tickets, one
conviction for DUI

Continued on next page

2-14

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued

Activity
questions
(continued)

Officer

Subject - Female
Size: approximately 5' 3" and 110
pounds
Age:

30

Capabilities: unknown, athletic
build, accompanied
by young child
History: no record on file

2. Using the information in the charts from Activity 1, consider each subject
separately and explain how and why you might react differently to each
person when encountered in the following scenario:
During a traffic stop, a records check of the driver reveals a current
warrant for arrest under suspicion of grand theft. The driver exits the car
as directed but passively resists all other commands. The driver’s hands
remain in his jacket pockets.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

2-15

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Give an example of a force option at each of the following levels of force:
-

cooperative
resistive
assaultive
life-threatening

Next, outline a scenario for each option in which you think that force option
might be acceptable.

2-16

LD 20: Chapter 2 – Force Options

Chapter 3
Use of Deadly Force
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must fully comprehend their authority, responsibility, and
liability regarding the use of deadly force as authorized by law.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

identify the legal standard for the use of deadly force.

20.03.EO1

identify the factors required to establish sufficiency of
fear for the use of deadly force.

20.03.EO2

recognize facts an officer should consider when
determining whether or not to use deadly force.

20.03.EO3

discuss the role of agency policies regarding the use of
deadly force.

20.03.EO4

recognize the law regarding justifiable homicide by a
public officer and the circumstances under which the
homicide is considered justifiable.

20.03.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the use of deadly force. Refer to the following chart
for specific topics.
Topic

3-2

See Page

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force

3-3

Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer

3-11

Chapter Synopsis

3-18

Workbook Learning Activities

3-20

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force
[20.03.EO1, 20.03.EO2, 20.03.EO3, 20.03.EO4]

Introduction

The use of deadly force is the most serious decision a peace officer may ever
have to make. Such a decision should be guided by the reverence for human
life and, used only when other means of control are unreasonable or have been
exhausted.

Definition

Deadly force applied by a peace officer is force that creates a substantial risk
of causing death or serious bodily injury.

Leadership

Reverence for life is the foundation on which the use of deadly force rests.
Deadly force is always the last resort used in the direst of circumstances. The
authority to use deadly force is an awesome responsibility given to peace
officers by the people who expect them to exercise that authority judiciously.
In the law enforcement/community partnership, peace officers are expected to
be self-disciplined, accountable, and in turn, the community is expected to
support its peace officers.

To protect
self or life

An officer may use deadly force to protect oneself or others when the officer
has the objective and reasonable belief that his/her life, or the life of another,
is in imminent danger of death or serious physical injury based upon the
totality of the facts known to the officer at the time.
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-3

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force, Continued
Use of deadly
force
on fleeing
subject

In 1985, based on a person’s Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable
seizures by peace officers, the United States Supreme Court ruled on a case
where an officer used a firearm (deadly force) to prevent the escape of a nonviolent fleeing felon. The officer in this case relied on the “fleeing felon”
standard, which allowed the use of deadly force on any category of felon that
was attempting to escape. The Court applied the reasonableness test set forth
in the Fourth Amendment (Tennessee v. Garner).
The lessons learned from the United States Supreme Court case of Scott v
Harris (2007) 127S. Ct 1769 is that there is no way-to-apply a legal test. The
ultimate question is whether the use of the particular force in a particular
situation was reasonable. To make that determination, the court must balance
the nature and quality of the intrusion on the individual’s Fourth Amendment
interests against the importance of the governmental interests alleged to justify
the intrusion.
The Court applied the following points that would make it reasonable for an
officer to use deadly force against a fleeing subject in this particular set of
circumstances (i.e. using a firearm to stop a fleeing suspect escaping on foot).
Components of the Garner decision...
1

“...if the subject threatens the officer with a weapon or there is
probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving
the infliction of serious bodily harm [or death]...”

Continued on next page

3-4

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force, Continued

Use of deadly
force
on fleeing
subject
(continued)

Components of the Garner decision...
2

“...probable cause to believe that the subject poses a threat of death
or serious physical harm, either to the officer or others...”

3

“...probable cause to believe that the use of deadly force is
reasonably necessary...”[to prevent escape]

4

“...some warning be given prior to the use of deadly force where
feasible...”

NOTE:

Related
terms

This US Supreme Court decision is only the baseline for use of
deadly force in this particular set of circumstances. Peace
officers must also know the California Penal Code and agency
policies. Officers must conform to agency policy and federal
and state law.

In order to understand the aspects of the use of deadly force, peace officers
need to become familiar with the following terms.
Serious bodily harm or injury means a serious impairment of physical
condition, including, but not limited to, the following: loss of consciousness,
concussion, bone fracture, protracted loss or impairment of function of any
bodily member or organ, a wound requiring extensive suturing, and serious
disfigurement. (Penal Code Section 243(f)(4))
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-5

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force, Continued
Related
terms
(continued)

Reasonable necessity means that delay in apprehension would create
substantial and unreasonable risk to officers or others possibly resulting in
serious physical injury or death.
Imminent danger means a significant threat that peace officers reasonably
believe will result in death or serious bodily injury to themselves or to other
persons. Imminent danger is not limited to “immediate” or “instantaneous.”
A person may pose an imminent danger even if they are not at the very
moment pointing a weapon at another person.

Sufficiency
of fear

According to the law, fear alone does not justify the use of deadly force.
There must be a sufficiency of fear for the use of deadly force to be justified.
(Penal Code Section 198)
There are three elements needed to establish sufficiency of fear.
The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable
person in like circumstances.
The person must not act under the influence of fear alone. There has to be
some circumstance or overt act apart from the officer’s fear.
The decision to use deadly force must be made to save one’s self or
another from great bodily injury or death.

Considerations
when deciding
to use deadly
force

The decision of whether or not to use deadly force may be influenced by the
officer’s:
training and experience
judgment
mental alertness
emotional maturity
Continued on next page

3-6

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force, Continued
Considerations
when deciding
to use deadly
force
(continued)

Agency
policies

existing facts and circumstances
understanding of the law as it relates to
- agency policies concerning the use
- amount of force that is objectively reasonable to achieve the law
enforcement mission

Although the law and courts have established a baseline for the use of deadly
force, the conditions under which deadly force may be used are strictly
controlled by agency policy. Officers must conform to agency policy and
federal and state law.
Some issues regarding the use of deadly force addressed by agency policies
include, but are not limited to:
defense of self and others against great bodily harm or death
use of warning shots
shooting at:
- nonviolent fleeing felons
- juveniles
- moving vehicles
shooting from a moving vehicle
intentional strikes to the head or neck with an impact weapon
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-7

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force, Continued
Examples

The following chart presents examples that illustrate the selection of deadly
force based on the details of the situations given:
Situation
A neighbor called
the police to report
that there seemed to
be suspicious
activity in the house
next door; the
owner is known to
be away on
vacation.

Subject’s Action(s)

Officer’s Response(s)

A burglar, surprised
by a peace officer
entering the room,
shot at the officer
and missed.

Since the burglar used deadly
force against the officer, the
officer had the authority to use
deadly force to shoot back in
self-defense.

After missing the
officer, the burglar
threw his weapon
down and
surrendered to the
officer.

The officer was no longer in
immediate danger of being
seriously injured or killed and
no longer had the authority to
use deadly force. The burglar
should be apprehended through
other means.

Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force, Continued

Examples
(continued)

Situation
A peace officer got
out of the patrol car
to question a man
loitering on a street
corner.

Subject’s Action(s)

Officer’s Response(s)

The subject, using
only his fists,
attacked the officer.

The attack was of such force
and violence to cause the
officer to reasonably believe
there was danger of being
seriously injured. Provided that
all other reasonable means of
self defense had been exhausted
or would have been ineffective,
the officer would have had the
authority to use deadly force in
self-defense.

The subject’s attack
was haphazard
indicating that he
was not experienced
in any form of
physical fighting
skills and was
reacting in fear rather
than in rage.

Based on no other
circumstances, the attack might
not have been life-threatening
to the officer, and other less
than deadly force options
would have been available to
the officer to gain control of the
situation.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-9

Considerations Regarding the Use of Deadly Force, Continued

Examples
(continued)

Situation
Two officers were
dispatched to a
convenience store
where a silent
alarm was tripped.

Subject’s Action(s)

Officer’s Response(s)

An armed male
subject saw the
official patrol vehicle
and fled.

The officers saw that the store
clerk had been shot but was still
alive and gesturing toward the
fleeing subject. The officers
realized that the subject was
trying to escape and they had
seen that he had a gun.
Because the subject used a
firearm to commit the crime, if
necessary, the officers have the
authority to discharge their
firearms to prevent the escape
and effect the arrest.
The store clerk had not been
injured and the officers did not
know if the fleeing subject was
armed. Unless the officers
have knowledge that the
robbery included the use or
threatened use of force likely to
cause death or serious injury,
they would not have the
authority to use deadly force to
prevent the subject from
fleeing.

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LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer
[20.03.EO5]

Introduction

Homicide is the lawful or unlawful killing of a human being by another human
being. Under certain circumstances homicide by a public officer can be
justifiable and legal.

Definition

Penal Code Section 196 states: “Homicide is justifiable when committed by
public officers and those acting by their command in their aid and assistance,
either:
in obedience to any judgement of a competent court,
when necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to the
execution of some legal process, or in the discharge of any other legal
duty, or
when necessarily committed in retaking felons who have been rescued or
have escaped, or when necessarily committed in arresting persons charged
with a felony, and who are fleeing from justice or resisting such arrest.”
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

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Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer, Continued
Justifiable
homicide by a
public officer

There are conditions that must be met in order for a homicide by a public
officer to be deemed justifiable, and therefore lawful. The following chart
further identifies these conditions:
Homicide by a public
officer may be justified
when...

Explanation

ordered by a court to carry
out a death sentence.

If officers are under the orders of a competent
court to participate in capital punishment, the
officers would be committing legal execution
and could not be held responsible or
prosecuted.

acting in the course of duty.

In self defense an officer shoots at an armed
subject and kills a bystander. This would be
legally justified, but only if the accident
happened in the course of duty.

retaking escaping felons.

Homicide is justifiable when necessarily
committed in retaking felons who have been
rescued or have escaped. (Penal Code
Section 196)
NOTE:

arresting a felon who resists
to the point where deadly
force is reasonable.

NOTE:

Fleeing felon alone is no longer
adequate justification.

This applies to arrest situations where:
a threat to life exists
the subject could not have been taken by
using other than deadly means

These conditions must be read in light of the legal standard
established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Tennessee v. Garner
and Scott v. Harris.
Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer, Continued
Unjustifiable
homicide
by a public
officer

The following chart illustrates the circumstances under which homicide by a
public officer may not be justified (based on mitigating factors):
Homicide by a public
officer may NOT be
justified when...

Explanation

pursuing nonviolent felons.

In the case of nonviolent offenses, such as
forgery or grand theft, the consideration for
human life and the safety of bystanders would
preclude shooting the subject.

arresting or pursuing a
felon who does not present
a threat to life.

If it is not a violent felony, then the use of
deadly force against the fleeing subject would
be improper.
A violent felony is one which threatens death
or serious bodily harm.

when arresting or pursuing
a misdemeanant who does
not pose imminent danger
of death or serious bodily
injury to people.

When an arrest is for a misdemeanor, use of
deadly force is not justified. It is the principle
of the law that it is better to allow a
misdemeanant to escape than to apply deadly
force against the individual.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-13

Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer, Continued
Considerations
before using
deadly force

In some instances, peace officers may have time to evaluate and assess all
aspects of a situation. In most situations, split-second decisions must be made.
As part of the mental process for preparing to use deadly force, peace officers
should consider several important factors before a situation requiring the use
of deadly force arises. The following chart suggests, but is not limited to, a
few of the circumstances that should be considered.
Circumstances
Threat to life

Considerations
Does the subject present a credible threat to the
officer or others?
NOTE:

Peace officers may use force reasonable
to defend their lives or the lives of others.

Imminent threat

Does the subject present an imminent threat to
life?
Is the subject threatening the officer or others with
a weapon?
Subject’s access to weapons or potential weapons
Proximity of subject to the officer.

Type of
crime/subjects

Is the nature of the crime violent or non-violent?
Is there a large number of subjects to be
confronted?

Type of weapon

Can it cause serious bodily injury or death?

Subject’s capabilities

Does the subject demonstrate superior physical
skill over the officer?

Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer, Continued

Considerations
before using
deadly force
(continued)

Circumstances

Considerations

Location and
background

Is there a crowd of innocent people behind the
subject?

The officer’s present
capabilities

What sort of weapon or other capabilities are at
the officer’s disposal?

NOTE:

Officers must always take into account the totality of
circumstances when selecting a force option for a given situation.
It is not the intent of this chart to imply that any one circumstance
alone may or may not justify the use of deadly force.
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-15

Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer, Continued
Examples

The following chart illustrates examples of the use of deadly force by an
officer:
Situation

Subject’s Action(s)

Officer’s Response(s)

An officer in a
patrol vehicle
witnessed a drug
transaction taking
place on a
sidewalk near a
group of juveniles.

Seeing the officer
leave the vehicle and
move toward him,
the suspected dealer
fled down the street.
The dealer entered a
large building to
escape.

The officer drew his firearm,
shot and killed the fleeing
subject. Even though the
offense witnessed by the officer
was a felony, the crime did not
involve the use or threatened use
of force likely to produce death
or serious injury. The homicide
by the peace officer in this
situation would have been
unjustified and therefore
unlawful.

While fleeing the
scene, the dealer
pulled a handgun
from his waistband
and began firing
randomly toward the
officer.

In this situation, the subject was
posing an immediate danger of
causing the death or serious
injury to the officer as well as to
nearby bystanders. The
homicide by the peace officer
would have been justified and
lawful.

Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Justifiable Homicide by Public Officer, Continued

Examples
(continued)

Situation

Subject’s Action(s)

Officer’s Response(s)

During a riot, an
officer witnessed
two men
shoplifting from a
store in the area.

In the confusion of
the riot, one of the
subjects pulled out a
handgun and began
to fire at others who
were trying to
prevent his actions.

The initial crime was a
misdemeanor, however, the
situation had now escalated
because of the use of deadly
force by the subject. In such
extreme circumstances, the
officer’s actions are lawful and
the homicide justifiable.

When the men fled
the scene, the officer
drew his firearm and
ordered the men to
stop. They ignored
the officer’s
commands.

The officer fired at the fleeing
subjects and fatally shot one.
Since the offense witnessed by
the officer was a misdemeanor
and non-violent, the homicide
would not have been justified
and therefore was unlawful.

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-17

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must fully comprehend their authority, responsibility, and
liability regarding the use of deadly force as authorized by law.

The Court established four components for using deadly force on a fleeing
Legal
standard for the subject in the line of duty.
use of deadly
force
“...if the subject threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable
[20.03.EO1]
cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction of
serious bodily harm [or death]...”
“...probable cause to believe that the subject poses a threat of death or
serious physical harm, either to the officer or others...”
“...probable cause to believe that the use of deadly force is reasonably
necessary...”[to prevent escape]
“...some warning be given prior to the use of deadly force where
feasible...”

Factors
required to
establish a
sufficiency
of fear
[20.03.EO2]

There are three elements needed to establish sufficiency of fear.
The circumstances must be sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable
person in like circumstances.
The person must not act under the influence of fear alone. There has to be
some circumstance or overt act apart from the officer’s fear.
The decision to use deadly force must be made to save one’s self or
another from great bodily injury or death.
Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Considerations
when to use
deadly force
[20.03.EO3]

The decision of whether or not to use deadly force may be influenced by the
officer’s:

Role of
agency
policies
[20.03.EO4]

Although the law and courts have presented a baseline for the use of deadly
force, the conditions under which deadly force may be used are strictly
controlled by department policy. Officers must conform to agency policy,
federal and state law.

Justifiable
homicide by a
public officer
[20.03.EO5]

Penal Code Section 196 defines justifiable homicide by a public officer.
Homicide by a public officer may be justified when:

training and experience
judgment
mental alertness
emotional maturity
existing facts and circumstances
understanding of the law as it relates to:
- agency policies concerning the use, and
- the amount of force that is objectively reasonable to achieve the law
enforcement mission

the officer is under orders to carry out a death sentence
acting in the course of duty
retaking escaping felons
arresting a felon who resists to the point deadly force becomes reasonable

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-19

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. After an exhausting foot chase, a subject stops and threatens the pursuing
officer with a knife. Though the officer is well trained in self-defense and
takedown techniques after five years on patrol, the officer is outsized by
the subject by at least 75 pounds. The officer’s equipment currently
includes her service firearm, a baton, and handcuffs. The foot chase has
ended on a busy urban sidewalk with the officer’s partner is far behind. Is
the officer justified in using deadly force to protect herself? What are
some of the determining circumstances influencing your decision?

2. In your own words explain the concept of “sufficiency of fear” required to
justify the use of deadly force.

Continued on next page

3-20

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Give two examples in which use of deadly force would probably not be
justified against a fleeing subject.

4. Peace officers execute a traffic stop. Though a quick license/records
check reveals no warrants, as one of the officers approaches the car to
return the license and deliver the citation, the subject abandons his vehicle
and flees on foot. The subject ignores all commands to stop. Use the four
components of the U.S. Supreme Court’s standard on the use of deadly
force to explain why deadly force is unlikely to be justified to stop this
subject.

LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

3-21

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov
Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 3 –Use of Deadly Force

Chapter 4
Documenting the Use of Force
Overview
Learning need

When a force option has been employed, peace officers’ reports must include
the critical information to ensure that the chronology, specifics of the events,
and the people involved are properly documented.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:
describe why complete documentation of the use of force
is critical to the peace officer and the peace officer’s
agency, to include:
- justification for using force
- relevant factors and detail

In this chapter

E.O. Code
20.04.EO1

This chapter focuses on documenting the use of force. Refer to the following
chart for specific topics.
Topic

See Page

Documenting the Use of Force

4-2

Report Writing Tip

4-7

Chapter Synopsis

4-10

Workbook Learning Activities

4-11

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

4-1

Documenting the Use of Force
[20.04.EO1]

Introduction

A peace officer’s ability to clearly document the facts and activities of a use of
force incident not only reflects on the officer’s own professionalism, but also
on the ability of the justice system to prosecute the criminal case or limit civil
liability. Every use of force incident is different and may require different
information.
Facts and circumstances are not limited to the written report. Other factors to
be considered include:
crime scene processing
evidence collections
photographs
witness and subject statements
medical records

“Objective
reasonableness”
standard

The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the objective reasonableness for
the use of force must be fact specific.
The reasonableness of an officer’s use of force in the line of duty must
be...
judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer.
examined through the eyes of a reasonable officer on the scene at the time
the force was applied. Not 20/20 hindsight.
based on the facts and circumstances confronting the officer without
regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation.
based on the knowledge that the officer acted properly under the
established law at the time.
In order for the officer’s actions to be properly evaluated, the courts must rely
on the documentation of all relevant factors.
Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

Documenting the Use of Force, Continued
Inadequate
documentation

Peace officers may not clearly or adequately remember the specific details of
an event. The most frequent reasons given for not including information
include, but are not limited to:
exhaustion/injury
lack of time
brevity is mandated
trying to shorten the process by not including every application of force
It is imperative that each report be thorough and comprehensive,
documenting all aspects of the use of force based on the officer’s
recollection.
It sometimes takes years before a case works its way through the court system.
As time increases between the incident when force was used and any legal or
civil action:
an officer’s memory may fade
evidence may be destroyed
a witness may be unavailable or cannot be located
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

4-3

Documenting the Use of Force, Continued
Level of
detail

To ensure that all the relevant information is included in their reports, officers
need to be aware of the degree of detail required when documenting the use of
force.

Precursory
acts

Precursory acts are those events that led up to the encounter with the subject,
including how the officer arrived at the scene as well as what observations
helped the officer assess the situation.
Giving detailed information of the precursory acts provides the background
information necessary to justify the use of force. Possible information
includes, but is not limited to:
establishing that the officer was acting in an official capacity
the wearing of an approved uniform that clearly identifies the officer as a
peace officer
the mode of travel and whether or not the vehicle was clearly identifiable
as a law enforcement vehicle
identification as a peace officer
the reason for the officer’s presence

Subject
behavior

Officers should describe the specific orders, commands, or requests that they
gave to the subject. Both the officer’s and the subject’s responses and
reactions to those commands should be documented, including direct quotes if
possible.
Continued on next page

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LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

Documenting the Use of Force, Continued
Factors

Officers need to describe the factors between the subject and themselves that
justify the use of force, including but not limited to:
number of officers/subjects
height and weight of each subject
gender and age of each subject
strength and fighting skills of each subject
physical condition of each subject
clothing (i.e., uniform with equipment vs. casual attire)
stance of each subject (describe)
In addition to the subject’s physical attributes, it is necessary to document the
specific characteristics regarding the identification of a subject. Some
characteristics include, but are not limited to:
prior contact
obvious prison or gang tattoos
specific gang attire
access to potential weapons such as knives, boots, rings, or guns

Environment

Officers should observe and record details regarding the environment where
the confrontation took place. This information includes, but is not limited to:
physical environment where the contact took place (e.g., high crime area,
etc.)
subject’s potential to gain assistance or aid from friends or associates
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

4-5

Documenting the Use of Force, Continued
Describing
the type of
force used

Officers need to be very clear regarding the type of force applied in given
situations. This includes, but is not limited to:
identifying techniques by their proper names and providing a written
description
the effect or non-effect of the force technique used upon the subject
the rationale for adjusting and transitioning the level of force
communication before, during or after the use of force

Post-custody
actions

After the subject has been taken into custody, peace officers should describe
other actions such as, but not limited to:
safe and effective adjustment of handcuffs
double locking the handcuffs (reduces the possibility of inflicting injury
from handcuffs over-tightening)
obtaining first-aid or medical treatment for the subject and/or themselves
when reasonably safe to do so
damage to their clothing (i.e., uniforms) and equipment
collection of evidence (what, where, and by whom)

Witness
statements

Statements made immediately after the confrontation are often the most
accurate since there is little time to become confused or let outside influences
confuse the facts. Whenever possible, witnesses should be located and
interviewed at the scene of the confrontation.
Use of a tape recorder or videotaping the statements of witnesses and subjects
may be beneficial to the reporting officer.
NOTE:

4-6

It is important to collect all statements including those persons
who claim they did not see any part of the incident.

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

Report Writing Tip
Use of
force

Use of force incidents are measured against a standard called “objective
reasonableness” (Graham vs. Conner, 1989). It is imperative, therefore, for
you to thoroughly understand this concept. Without a grasp of it, the
effectiveness of your writing for this purpose will be diminished. Before
reading further, review the “objective reasonableness” standard in this
workbook (Learning Domain 20, Use of Force) student workbook or related
DVD materials.

Specific
fact
patterns

When writing a “use of force” report, you must document all the facts and
circumstances “at the moment” of the particular use of force. In other words;
what specific fact patterns, observations or circumstances were apparent to
you when you made the decision to use force?
First, begin by “setting the stage.” Document the type of call and all
information known to you before and after the call. Second, describe each
person involved in the force transaction which includes, but is not limited to,
their physical traits, apparent mental and emotional state, objective symptoms
(drugs/alcohol), weapons, etc. Third, document a chronological step-by-step
detailed account of the force transaction. Most importantly, articulate how the
force transaction interconnected with the primary objective of maintaining
control. Fourth, think of your writing as a “video” that replays the event
visually, mentally, emotionally and physically for others so it communicates
what transpired effectively and clearly.

Set the
stage

..I was on duty and in uniform. I was dispatched to John’s Liquor store at
2330 hours in regards to a WMA, 6-0', 250 lbs, 23-25 years old, wearing a
blue jacket, white “tee” shirt and blue jeans. According to dispatch, an
anonymous female (RP), who was leaving the Liquor Store, said the WMA
(suspect) asked if she wanted to buy drugs. The RP said the suspect showed
her a small plastic bag containing white powder...
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

4-7

Report Writing Tip, Continued
Involved
person(s)

...I arrived at John’s Liquor store at 2335 hours. I approached on foot from
approximately 50-yards north of the liquor store, which is located on the west
side of the street. I saw (with an unobstructed view) the above-described
suspect and ordered him to stop, but he continued to advance and repeated,
“you’re going down!” When the suspect came within about eight feet of me, I
sprayed him directly in the face with a two-second burst of pepper spray. The
suspect immediately dropped to his knees and started screaming, “You blinded
me!”

Step by
step
account

...The suspect said in a loud voice, “What do you want?” I told the suspect I
needed to ask him a couple of questions. The suspect clenched his hands into
fists and raised his arms chest height and shouted, “You’re going down!” The
suspect started walking slowly toward me with his fists chest high. I ordered
the suspect to stop, but he continued to advance and repeated, “You’re going
down!” When the suspect came within about eight feet of me, I sprayed him
directly in the face with a two-second burst of pepper spray. The suspect
immediately dropped to his knees and started screaming, “You blinded me!”...

Thinking
questions

1. What additional and specific fact patterns should be expected in a use of
force report?

2. Why is it important that a use of force report be written in a way that
shows what the officer was thinking and perceiving at the time of the force
transaction?

Continued on next page

4-8

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

Report Writing Tip, Continued
The link

In every use of force transaction, give an accurate account of who did what
within the circumstances that were apparent to you when you made the decision
to use force.
NOTE:

This is not all there is to know about how to write a use of force
report. Additional training is needed in areas such as scene
description, interviews, evidence, medical, etc. This “tip” is only
intended as a starting point for further discussion or learning
activities with your instructor to broaden your expertise in this
critical area.

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

4-9

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

When a force option has been employed, peace officers’ reports must include
critical information to ensure that the chronology, specifics of the events, and
the people involved are properly documented.

Complete
documentation
[20.04.EO1]

It is imperative that each report be thorough and comprehensive, documenting
all aspects of the use of force.

4-10

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

In order to help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a
selection of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided.
However, by reviewing the different sections, you should be able to decide on
an appropriate response.

Activity
questions

1. A peace officer on foot patrol notices commotion on a busy street corner.
Walking over, he finds that a large woman (approximately 5' 10" and 250
pounds) sitting in the street, obstructing traffic. As the officer approaches,
he notices that the woman smells strongly of alcohol. When the officer
states, “Please move out of the street, Miss,” the woman becomes
belligerent, shouting obscenities at the officer. As he is about to exercise a
control hold, she strikes the 180 pound officer and begins to flail her arms
and strike him repeatedly, calling him Jim and asking, “How could you do
this to me?” (This later turns out to be her husband’s name.) After
enduring several strikes, the officer hits the woman in the legs once with
his baton, throwing her off balance and subduing her. She is handcuffed
and transported to an approved medical facility. Toxicology reports later
show that the woman was under the influence of alcohol and PCP. The
medical exam showed that the baton strike caused a hairline fracture in the
woman’s right tibia (lower leg). She is now suing the officer and the
department for excessive use of force.
How could a well documented report help the officer in this civil case?
What advantage could witness statements offer?

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

4-11

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2.

Next to each report element in the chart below, list the features of the
scenario that you feel the officer should include in his report. Consider
how each might support his choice of force option.

Precursory acts
Subject behavior
Physical characteristics
Additional details about
the subject
Environment
Type of force used
Post-custody action
Witness statements

4-12

LD 20: Chapter 4 –Documenting the Use of Force

Chapter 5
Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must be ready to, and capable of, safely taking control of a
dangerous situation.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

discuss factors that can affect a peace officer’s response
when threatened with danger, to include:
- fear
- reasonable
- unreasonable
- anger
- indecision and hesitation

20.05.EO1

give examples of acceptable techniques for managing
anger

20.05.EO4

describe the benefits of ongoing physical and mental
training for peace officers involving the use of force

20.05.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the emotional aspects of the use of force. Refer to the
chart below for specific topics.
Topic

5-2

See Page

Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-3

Self Control

5-7

Role of Initial and Ongoing Training

5-14

Chapter Synopsis

5-17

Workbook Learning Activities

5-18

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force
[20.05.EO1]

Introduction

The objective of using force is to gain control of a person or situation. It is
acceptable for a peace office to take the initiative to confront a suspected law
violator. The use of force by an officer is not one of hostility but rather one
designed to defend and protect the community from criminal violence.

Authority
to use
force
(reemphasis)

Any peace officer who has reasonable cause to believe 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. (Penal Code Section
835a)

Ethics

Reverence for the law is the basis for the use of reasonable force by peace
officers. The rule of law is what distinguishes democracy from authoritarian
control. The use of reasonable force is guided and restricted by ethics, law
and agency policy. Officers study law and policy so they act lawfully and
ethically; in confidence that they can withstand the test of public scrutiny.

Factors
affecting
the peace
officer’s
response

When peace officers use force, there are several factors that can influence their
actions and the outcome of the event. These include the officer’s:
attitude or prejudices toward any involved party (e.g., self, partner,
bystander, subject, etc.)
insensitivity or arrogance, creating a negative emotional response
sincere and courteous behavior, reducing problems and danger associated
with an arrest
life experience, past performance, training, etc.
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-3

Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force, Continued
Officer’s
use of
force

Peace officers who use force are not considered hostile, but rather they are
using it for the defense and protection of the community from criminal
violence.
What constitutes reasonable force is dependent on the subject’s actions. The
subject’s actions can be:
cooperative
resistive
assaultive
life-threatening
passive non-compliance
Continued on next page

5-4

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force, Continued
Self-control

Self-control is one of a peace officer’s greatest assets in dealing with a person
or a situation.
Self-control:
is a result of the development of confidence in one’s skills
also comes through training, practice, and experience
improves decision making/reaction time
Self-control is maintaining composure to make sound judgments and
decisions.
Some subjects can be controlled by the peace officer’s command presence.
Professional demeanor can have a positive influence on calming a subject,
making it easier to take the subject safely into custody.
Nonprofessional demeanor can easily lead to increased conflict,
encouraging dangerous behavior by the subject and resulting in poor
behavior on the part of the officer.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-5

Self Control
[20.05.EO1, 20.05.EO4]

Introduction

The use of force in dangerous situations may bring on emotional responses as
well as physiological responses that officers must be prepared to recognize
and manage.

Emotional
responses

Two major emotional factors that officers need to focus on to maintain self
control are:
fear, an emotional response to a perceived threat
anger, a feeling of displeasure from perceived opposition
It is important to understand fear and anger, since both can affect officers’
reactions during a dangerous situation.
Uncontrolled fear and anger tend to decrease the officers’ ability to
make sound judgments and decisions.
Uncontrolled fear and anger tend to increase hesitation, verbal abuse
and unreasonable force.
Continued on next page

5-6

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Self Control, Continued
Definition
of fear

Fear is a normal emotional response to a perceived threat (real or unreal).
Fear is normal and does not become a problem until it interferes with the
ability to perform effectively.

Experiencing
fear

Everyone has experienced the sensation of fear. It is unpleasant but normal,
natural, and often necessary.
A person’s fear changes with time and experience. Fear may alter alertness
during stressful situations. Courage or bravery are not the lack of fear, but in
fact, the control of fear.

Physiological
reactions
to fear

When a person experiences fear, the body reacts, often by an increase in
adrenaline, heart rate, and breathing. In addition, some common body and
mind responses to fear may include:
blood clotting enzymes flow into the system to minimize damage from
wounds
vision and hearing become more acute and focused (e.g., tunnel vision and
tunnel hearing)
increased muscle tension and perspiration
raised pain thresholds
time distortion
color distortion
impaired fine motor skills
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-7

Self Control, Continued
There are two types of fear: reasonable and unreasonable. The following
chart explains the differences between the two.

Types
of fear

Reasonable Fear
A controlled and legitimate fear
A mechanism that is necessary
for officer safety based on
perceived circumstances

Unreasonable Fear
Generated in the officer’s mind
with no direct correlation to
facts and situations

Reasonable fear may result when an officer experiences increased tension in
response to a potential threat.

Situations
that may
generate
reasonable
fear

The officer may experience reasonable fear as a result of:
a sudden or erratic movement by a subject
the sight of a weapon in a subject’s possession
the knowledge that a person is in danger of bodily harm
a sudden sound produced outside of the officer’s field of vision
unresponsive, unexpected response to the officer’s action

Situations
that may
generate
unreasonable
fear

Unreasonable fear includes overreactions to true potential threats as well as
reactions to unreal threats based on prejudice or poor application of past
experience.

Continued on next page

5-8

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Self Control, Continued
Situations
that may
generate
unreasonable
fear
(continued)

The officer may experience unreasonable fear as a result of:

Sources of
unreasonable
fear

Unreasonable fear can be responsible for inappropriate responses such as a
failure to respond, or responding inappropriately (using unreasonable force).

an emotional response to a traumatic event
generalization of past trauma (such as being bitten by a dog as a child or
suffering a painful gunshot wound)
personal prejudice against people of a particular race, religion, ethnic
group, etc.
overall anxiety as a result of uncertainty about one’s own skills and
expertise

There are several factors that can lead to unreasonable fear, some physical and
some social. The following chart lists some types of fear.
Physical Source of
Unreasonable Fear
Personal physical harm
Phobias (e.g., claustrophobia)
Psychological (i.e., paranoia)

Social Source of
Unreasonable Fear
Racial, cultural, or religiousbased
Responsibility for making
critical decisions
Peer disapproval

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-9

Self Control, Continued
Managing
fear

It is normal for peace officers to experience fear whenever they encounter a
potentially dangerous situation.
Discussing fears with others is one step toward managing fear. In addition,
going through the mental rehearsal before an incident takes place (“what ifs”)
as well as after-action assessments (“what could I have done differently”) will
better prepare the officer in dealing with fear.
Other methods for managing fear include focusing on:
what must be done and not solely on the danger itself
evaluating the situation and determining what must be done to achieve the
goal
the survival phase in order to control the feeling of vulnerability
Continued on next page

5-10

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Self Control, Continued
Definition
of anger

Anger is a feeling of displeasure from perceived injury, mistreatment, or
opposition, to one’s self or to another person. When anger is inappropriate or
out of control (i.e., rage), it becomes a liability.

Recognizing
anger

Peace officers often act as if they should not have angry reactions to things
they see or experience during the performance of their duties. Denying or
suppressing anger for long periods may create emotional and physical
problems.

Acceptable
anger

To a certain extent, anger allows officers to be assertive. It even plays a small
role in command presence.
Peace officers have reported that anger appropriately channeled has enabled
them to keep fighting, or at least keep trying, during a crisis situation.
The emotional response of anger can either aid or hinder an officers’
performance.

Identifying
situations
causing
anger

It is important for peace officers to acknowledge and recognize that anger is a
normal reaction. There are two types of situations that can provoke anger, as
explained in the following chart.
Types
Universal
Personal

Anger-Provoking Situation
Being attacked or shot at
Individual sensitivities that may prompt a reaction
(e.g., history, personality, etc.)
Emotional bruises and other sources of personal
vulnerability

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-11

Self Control, Continued
Managing
anger

Few people can exercise effective emotional control when they are extremely
angry. To avoid getting to this point, peace officers need to prepare
themselves for dealing with anger. Some of these methods are listed in the
following chart.
Managing anger
by...

The peace officer needs to...

depersonalizing
what people say or
do.

recognize that the subject is reacting to the uniform
and not to the person in the uniform.

identifying anger
inducing scenarios.

visualize anger inducing situations (e.g., a child
taking drugs, subject beating up partner, etc.).

developing
problem-solving
solutions.

practice mental rehearsals of different scenarios, do
some role-playing, seek advice from more
experienced officers, etc.

recognizing the
onset.

control breathing, if appropriate take a step back
from the situation.

Continued on next page

5-12

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Self Control, Continued
Examples

Example:

Two peace officers made a vehicle stop after the driver ran
a stop sign. As the driver came to a stop, one officer
indicated to his partner that he thought he recognized the
driver from his time in high school. As this officer made
the initial contact, his partner noticed he remained polite,
but his voice was more formal. As he returned to the
patrol vehicle with the man’s driver’s license, he confided
to his partner that this man had started the officer’s own
brother on a drug habit. The officer then delivered the
citation in a matter-of-fact manner with no spare
commentary. Talking it out for even a few minutes while
the record check was done allowed the officer to control
personal anger, some of which he had already directed,
appropriately, into increased formality.

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-13

Role of Initial and Ongoing Training
[20.05.EO5]

Introduction

Proper training and practice are keys to dealing effectively with dangerous
situations. They help develop confidence, promote a trained response, and
enhance mental alertness and concentration as well as develop emotional
control.

Response
vs. reaction

Through continual training, officers can learn to discipline the mind to remain
calm, flexible, and alert at all times and, to reduce reaction time.
Trained responses...
are less predictable to the subject
than instinctual reaction.
are correctable.
are flexible (can be adjusted and
customized).
can lead to increased self-control.

Reactions may be...
more predictable to the subject.
limited.
improper.
dangerous to the officer or
others.

Continued on next page

5-14

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Role of Initial and Ongoing Training, Continued
Training
and
practice

Training and practice in both physical and emotional skills provide the
understanding and manipulative ability needed by a peace officer in the use of
force in potentially dangerous situations.
The following chart highlights what an officer gains from training and what
may happen without it:
Training and practice can help
attain...

Lack of and inadequate practice
may result in...

confidence in an officer’s abilities.

lack of confidence.

Officers gain essential confidence in
themselves to respond appropriately
and apply the use of force effectively
to gain control of subjects and
situations.

Lack of confidence can seriously
affect officers ability to control their
own physical and emotional
instinctive reactions.

correct responses.

incorrect reactions.

The ability to make split-second
decisions may mean the difference
between life and death. Officers
must be prepared at all times to
respond quickly and effectively to
any potential threat.

Not being able to respond correctly
may cause an officer to overreact or
under react. This can cost the
officer’s life or the lives of innocent
people.

Continued on next page

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5-15

Role of Initial and Ongoing Training, Continued

Training
and
practice
(continued)

Training and practice can help
attain...
mental alertness and
concentration.
By staying alert and able to
concentrate under all types of
conditions, officers will be able to
keep their minds on the situation
and maintain awareness.
control over body and emotions.
Control of emotions will enhance an
officer’s mental as well as physical
ability to act properly. Physical
control will increase an officer’s
self-confidence and help further
develop emotional control.
NOTE:

Officer
responsibility

5-16

Lack of and inadequate practice
may result in...
panic.
Panic is the total and absolute loss of
control. Panic in crisis situations will
render officers incapable of applying
the correct and necessary defensive
action for the situation.
loss of control over body and
emotions.
When officers lose control of
themselves they may lose control of
the situation.

Without proper, adequate, and continual training, physical
skills deteriorate.

Training and ongoing practice are a personal and agency responsibility.
Officers must seek training and maintain their level of skill throughout their
entire career.

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must be ready to and capable of safely taking control of a
dangerous situation.

Factors that
affect an
officer’s
responses
[20.05.EO1]

Two major emotional factors that officers need to focus on during their
training:

Techniques
for managing
anger
[20.05.EO4]

Few people can exercise effective emotional control when their anger is near
the top of the scale. To avoid getting to this point, peace officers need to
prepare themselves for dealing with anger-inducing events.

Ongoing
training in
preparation
to use force
[20.05.EO5]

Training and practice in both physical and emotional skills provides the
understanding and manipulative ability needed by a peace officer in the use of
force in dangerous situations.

fear, an emotional response to a perceived threat
- reasonable
- unreasonable
anger, a feeling of displeasure from perceived opposition
- indecision
- hesitation

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-17

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. List three ways in which an officer’s uncertainty could actually endanger
that officer or others? Give an example of each.

2. Describe two ways that the body’s natural physiological reactions to fear
could help an officer in a dangerous situation, when the fear is managed
and under control. Conversely, in what ways could unmanaged fear cause
an officer to act inappropriately?

Continued on next page

5-18

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Do a personal assessment. Honestly consider what your biggest fear is
about your role as a law enforcement professional. Then, do a mental
rehearsal about what you will do in a situation where this fear may be
triggered.

4. Officers are dispatched to a domestic violence scene where a man is
beating his wife in front of his 5-year-old son. As officers enter the room,
the boy is grabbing at his father to try to help his mother. The father
shoves him aside with such force that he hits his head on a table and falls
unconscious. Shocked, the father stops hitting his wife and starts to go to
his son. What actions should peace officers take in controlling the father
at this time? Do you feel that there is a danger here for unreasonable use
of force by the officers? Why or why not? What could officers do to help
manage anger they feel in response to domestic violence situations? As a
peace officer, what would your honest first emotional reaction to this
scene be?

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

5-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5-20

5. From an emotional and mental standpoint, why is it important for officers
to engage in ongoing training and practice of their skills? How could lack
of training affect fear and anger responses in a peace officer?

LD 20: Chapter 5 – Fear and Anger Management in the Use of Force

Chapter 6
Consequences of Unreasonable Force
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize the consequences of using unreasonable force,
and their legal and ethical responsibilities to intervene if the force being used
by another peace officer is inappropriate or unlawful.

Learning
objective

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

explain the legal and administrative consequences
associated with the use of unreasonable force

20.06.EO4

explain an agency’s potential liability associated with the
use of unreasonable force

20.06.EO5

explain the consequences of an officer’s failure to
intervene when unreasonable force is used by another
peace officer

20.06.EO6

discuss immediate and delayed intervention techniques.

20.06.EO7

discuss factors that may inhibit a peace officer from
intervening in a situation where a fellow officer may be
applying unreasonable force

20.06.EO8

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the consequences of unreasonable force. Refer to the
chart below for specific topics.
Topic

6-2

See Page

Peace Officer and Agency Liability

6-3

Basis for Intervention

6-7

Intervention Techniques

6-10

Factors Affecting Intervention

6-14

Chapter Synopsis

6-16

Workbook Learning Activities

6-17

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Peace Officer and Agency Liability
[20.06.EO4, 20.06.EO5]

Introduction

Society imposes a tremendous burden upon peace officers when it grants, by
statute, permission to use deadly force.

Reasonable
force

Peace officers who make or attempt to make an arrest need not retreat or desist
from their efforts because of resistance or threatened resistance from the
person being arrested. They are not considered the aggressor nor do they lose
the right of self-defense when they use force to:
effect an arrest
prevent escape
overcome resistance
Justification for the use of force is limited to what is known or perceived by
the officer at the time. Facts discovered after the event, no matter how
compelling, cannot be considered in determining whether the force was
justified or not.

Objective
of force
application

The objective for the use of force by peace officers in any situation is to gain
or maintain control of an individual and the situation. As conditions
change, officers must constantly reevaluate force options.
Peace officers are required to:
use force only when authorized to do so (e.g., to overcome resistance to a
lawful process)
use the type of force which is reasonable under the circumstances
use reasonable force to overcome resistance and to gain or maintain
control
use the amount and type of force which is permitted by agency policy
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-3

Peace Officer and Agency Liability, Continued
Unreasonable
force

Unreasonable force occurs when the type, degree, and duration of force
employed was not necessary or appropriate.

Consequences
of unreasonable
force

Malicious assaults and batteries committed by peace officers constitute
unlawful conduct. When the force used is unreasonable, the officer can face
criminal and civil liability, and agency disciplinary action.
The following chart highlights a number of these consequences:
Consequence

Officers may...

Criminal action

face criminal charges for unreasonable use of
authority or force.

Civil lawsuits

face compensatory and punitive damages.

Civil rights violation

be held accountable for civil rights violations.

Administrative or
agency action

be subject to disciplinary actions including
dismissal.

Moral impact

suffer the consequences of guilt and
embarrassment.

Continued on next page

6-4

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Peace Officer and Agency Liability, Continued
California
statutes
regarding
officer
behavior

In the Penal Code Section 149, there are a number of statues that regulate the
behavior of peace officers.
The following chart lists some of these statutes:
Description

Penal Code
Section

Every officer who is guilty of willful inhumanity or
oppression toward any prisoner under his care is punishable
by a fine not exceeding four thousand dollars ($4,000) and by
removal from office.

147

Every public officer who, under color of authority and without
lawful necessity, assaults or beats any person, is punishable by
a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) or by an
imprisonment in the State prison or in a county jail not
exceeding one year or by both fine and imprisonment.

149

A public officer’s removal for neglect or violation of official
duty; discretion of the court.

661

It shall be unlawful to aid, abet, attempt, or apply cruel,
corporal, or unusual punishments in reformatories,
institutions, jails, state hospitals, or any other state, county, or
city institution.

673

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-5

Peace Officer and Agency Liability, Continued
Federal law
regarding
officer
behavior

Vicarious
liability

There are two sections of the United States Code that address an officer’s
unlawful action:
Description

U.S. Code
Section

Peace officers are prohibited from depriving citizens of their
rights under the color of the law. If death results, officers
may be punished by life imprisonment.

Title 18,
Section 242
(Criminal)

Peace officers are prohibited from depriving citizens of their
rights under the color of authority.

Title 42,
Section
1983
(Civil)

The unreasonable use of force by an officer can discredit and result in loss of
public support to an officer’s agency.
Vicarious liability holds an agency responsible for the conduct of its officers
while acting within the scope of their authority. The agency can be:
liable under Federal civil rights laws
sued for negligent or inadequate training or failure to supervise adequately
Example:

6-6

An officer uses unreasonable force by applying a Carotid
Restraint Control Hold and has not been trained in this
type of control hold.

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Failure to Intervene
[20.06.E06]

Introduction

The community expects that its peace officers will use reasonable force, and
peace officers will intervene if reasonable force is exceeded. For the
community and the officer’s protection, the officer must know the laws
pertaining to intervention.
This intervention may take the form of one or more of the following actions:
strongly caution the other officer
physically restrain the other officer
immediately report the incident

Definition

Intervention is the act of attempting to prevent or attempting to stop the
inappropriate or unlawful behavior of another.
An officer may face both criminal or civil liability and disciplinary action if
they fail to intervene and prevent other officers from violating anyone’s
constitutional rights if they had reason to know and an opportunity to act. US
v Koon, 34F. 3d 1416at 1447 (9th Cir., 1994); Cunningham v Gates, 229F.3d
1271 at 1289-1290 (9th Cir., 2000)
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-7

Failure to Intervene, Continued
Necessity for
intervention

Intervention is necessary because:
it is required by law
it is morally and ethically correct
personal integrity demands it
it enhances officer safety
it preserves professionalism and supports the law enforcement mission
it strengthens public confidence in the law enforcement profession and the
individual agency involved
it reduces personal and agency liability because it results in fewer:
-

Fourth
amendment
protections

physical injuries arising from unreasonable force
disciplinary actions and personal complaints
criminal complaints filed against officers
civil liability suits, including fewer punitive financial judgments
against individual officers

The United States Constitution protects individuals from unlawful actions of
peace officers.
NOTE:

The officer who fails to intervene, for whatever reason, is also
held accountable by the United States Code.
Continued on next page

6-8

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Failure to Intervene, Continued
Lawful
resistance

Although Penal Code Section 834(a) states that the person being arrested must
submit to an arrest, if unlawful or unreasonable force is used to effect the
arrest, the person being arrested may lawfully resist to overcome that force.
The following chart lists the applicable penal code sections:
Description

Penal Code
Section

Lawful resistance to the commission of a public offense may
be made by the party about to be injured or by other parties.

692

Resistance sufficient to prevent the offense may be made by
the party about to be injured to prevent an offense against his
person, or his family or some member thereof. To prevent
an illegal attempt by force to take or injure property in his
lawful possession.

693

Any other person, in aid or defense of the person about to be
injured, may make resistance sufficient to prevent the
offense.

694

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-9

Intervention Techniques
[20.06.EO7]

Introduction

Intervention may involve the application of techniques for restoring or
maintaining professional control. In some situations it may be necessary to
intervene immediately. In others, it may be desirable to utilize an intervention
strategy after the fact.

Immediate
intervention

During a high-stress situation such as making an arrest, peace officers may
experience emotional reactions towards the subject. As a result, they may use
unreasonable force without realizing what they are doing. At this point it is
imperative that a fellow officer intervene immediately to diffuse the situation.
There are three common immediate intervention techniques listed in the
following chart:
Intervention
Technique

Example
Situation

Solution

Verbal

Peace officer is becoming
agitated, angry, or appears
to be losing professional
objectivity during a contact.

Fellow officer offers to assist
by saying, “Let me take care
of this one, okay?”

Physical/touch

Peace officer is engaged in a
heated verbal confrontation
with a subject and is starting
to become increasingly
agitated.

Fellow officer lightly touches
the peace officer on the
shoulder and offers a tactful
reminder to calm down or
offers to take over.

Restraint

Peace officer is using
unlawful or unreasonable
physical force.

Fellow officer physically
takes hold of the other officer
in order to separate the peace
officer from the subject.
Intervention must include
immediate reporting.

Continued on next page

6-10

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Intervention Techniques, Continued
Delayed
intervention

In situations that have already taken place, it may be necessary to implement a
delayed intervention technique. This can be valuable in improving the
professional quality of future contacts.
There are three common delayed intervention techniques, listed in the
following chart:
Intervention
Technique
Discussion

Example
Situation
Peace officer is verbally
condescending to someone.

Solution
Fellow officer discusses the
improprieties of such
behavior; this is
professionally beneficial.

Admonishment Peace officer uses
inappropriate or demeaning
language in contacts with
the public.

Fellow officer informs peace
officer that this type of
behavior is not acceptable,
and could likely provoke or
escalate the conflict.

Training

Fellow officer suggests that
additional training be
pursued.

Peace officer is having
consistent difficulty during
contacts with a certain
group.

Effective training occurs
when an officer consistently
demonstrates desirable
behaviors.

Duty to
report

When unreasonable force is used on a person justifiably or unjustifiably
arrested, it is a constitutional violation by the officer who had reasonable
opportunity to intervene and did not.
Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-11

Intervention Techniques, Continued

Examples

Situation
Officers Jones and
Smith worked a
two-person DUI
unit. They
stopped a driver
for suspicion of
DUI.

Subject’s/Victim’s
Action(s)
The driver failed
the FST’s and was
told he would be
arrested. The
driver was
compliant but did
not wish to be
cuffed.

Type of Intervention
Immediate intervention:
Officer Jones saw that Officer
Smith was moving into position to
apply a carotid restraint. Officer
Jones felt a control hold was safer
and more reasonable. Officer
Jones applied a front wrist lock on
the driver and received immediate
compliance. Officer Jones moved
into a cuffing maneuver and
quickly cuffed the driver.
Delayed intervention:
Officer Smith immediately struck
the driver with her impact weapon.
The driver was later booked
without incident. Officer Jones
later discussed with Officer Smith
the entire incident. Officer Jones
asked Officer Smith why she hit
the driver with her impact weapon
instead of using a control hold.
Officer Smith stated that other
options were overlooked. Officer
Jones then reported the incident to
the supervisor.

Continued on next page

6-12

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Intervention Techniques, Continued

Examples
(continued)

Situation

Subject’s/Victim’s
Action(s)

Type of Intervention

Officers respond
to a call about a
suspected burglary
at a residence.

While investigating
the burglary report
call, the victim
begins to verbally
chastise the officers
for taking too much
time to respond.
While listening to
this, the officers
see a man run out
of the back of the
house; the officers
give chase.

Immediate intervention:
Upon catching the subject, Officer
Wong knocks the subject to the
ground; the subject went limp and
was lying in a fetal position.
Officer Kwan arrived as Officer
Wong was about to kick the
subject. Officer Kwan stepped
between Officer Wong and the
subject preventing Wong from
kicking the subject.
Delayed intervention:
Upon catching the subject, Officer
Wong knocks the subject to the
ground; the subject went limp and
was lying in a fetal position. As
Officer Kwan arrived, she saw
Officer Wong kick the prisoner
two times then assisted with
handcuffing. Later Officer Kwan
reported the incident to the
supervisor.

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-13

Factors Affecting Intervention
[20.06.EO8]

Introduction

Although peace officers are legally and ethically required to intervene when
they observe inappropriate behavior by a fellow officer, personal and
psychological reasons may prevent them from intervening.

Factors to
intervening

Peace officers may fail to take action when a fellow officer is behaving
inappropriately because of several factors. The following chart lists both the
personal and psychological factors that may prevent intervention; however,
these are not the only factors.
Officers might not
intervene because of...

They might think...

transfer of responsibility.

“Somebody else will step in any minute now.”

rationalization.

“Nobody else is doing anything so maybe I am
just misunderstanding the situation and nothing
is really wrong.”

self doubt.

“What if I’m wrong? What will everyone think
of me if I step in and do something?”

Continued on next page

6-14

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Factors Affecting Intervention, Continued

Personal/
psychological
factors

Consequence
of not
intervening

Personal Factors
Unfamiliar with fellow officer
Inexperience with proper action to
remedy the situation
Feeling that intervention is someone
else’s responsibility
Peer pressure
Personal problems
Fearing consequences, such as being
ostracized
Fear of reaction from senior
officers, field training officers, or
supervisors

Psychological Factors
Erroneous notion of how peace
officers should behave (perhaps
from movies and television)
Fear may play a significant
part in the behavior of the
observing officer

Peace officers are encouraged to use their own judgement and to trust their
“gut” instinct (i.e., common sense). If one’s instinct indicates that a situation
is wrong, then it is important not to second guess themselves based upon the
behavior of others in the area. Officers could suffer one of the following if
they don’t intervene:
increased stress
embarrassment
civil/criminal action
disciplinary action
loss of career

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-15

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize the consequences of using unreasonable force,
and their legal and ethical responsibilities to intervene if the force being used
by another peace officer is inappropriate or unlawful.

Peace officer
liability
[20.06.EO4]

Justification for the use of force is limited to what is known or perceived by
the officer at the time. Facts discovered after the event, no matter how
compelling, cannot be considered in determining whether the force was
justified or not.

Agency
liability
[20.06.EO5]

The vicarious liability holds an agency responsible for the conduct of its
officers while acting within the scope of their authority.

Failure to
intervene
[20.06.EO6]

Peace officers are required by their position to intervene in any force situation
they perceive as excessive. This intervention may take the form of one or
more actions.

Intervention
techniques
[20.06.EO7]

The three common immediate intervention techniques are: verbal,
physical/touch and restraint.
The three common delayed intervention techniques are: discussion,
admonishment and training.

Inhibitions
to intervene
[20.06.EO8]

Peace officers may fail to take action when an officer is behaving
inappropriately. There are personal and psychological factors that may
prevent an officer from intervening in inappropriate behavior.

6-16

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. Consider your current best friend and then picture that person as a fellow
peace officer and partner. Assume you and your partner make a series of
routine traffic stops over the course of the day in a largely Hispanic area of
town. After several stops you’ve noticed your partner’s demeanor when
dealing with Hispanics is less professional than when dealing with other
cultures. In fact, your partner is making many derogatory comments about
Hispanic subjects, generally directed to you and out of their earshot. At
this point you have made no attempt to intervene to address his
inappropriate remarks. As the day continues, your partner has now
become directly verbally abusive of any Hispanic subject, and still, you
have not intervened. When the next person stopped is a Hispanic woman,
what intervention might you attempt? What sort of delayed intervention
might help your partner retain professionalism and respect? Given your
personal relationship, what difficulties or advantages might be involved
with intervening?

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-17

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2. In effecting an arrest for possession with intent to sell methamphetamine,
the experienced officer is acting as the contact officer and the newer
officer as cover. The subject passively resists the contact officer’s
command by looking away and actively resists the officer’s attempts to
remove his hands from his pockets by locking his elbows. Aggravated, the
contact officer uses a Carotid Restraint Control Hold. The cover officer
takes no action. The contact officer incorrectly applies the hold and the
subject dies. How could the cover officer have intervened to prevent this
situation? What might have prevented her from making this intervention?
At this point, who may be considered legally liable for the death of the
subject?

Continued on next page

6-18

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Peace officers arrive on the scene where a group of protestors are blocking
the entrance to a local business. When the female officer directs the group
to move away from the entrance to allow patrons to enter, a male protestor
replies, “Yea, what you going to do about it, honey?” At this remark, the
officer strikes the man in the abdomen with her baton, knocking him back
against the building. Has the officer used unreasonable force at this point?
Explain your answer.
If the force used is deemed unreasonable by the officer’s agency, what
consequences could she suffer? If the man who was struck chooses to
pursue legal action, what impact might this have on the officer and the
agency? If you were a witness to this scene, how might it affect your
views of peace officers as public servants and resources?

4. If, after recovering from the baton blow, the man in the previous scenario
pulled out a knife and threatened the officer, how would it affect the
officer’s original liability? Explain your response.

Continued on next page

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

6-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Student notes

6-20

LD 20: Chapter 6 – Consequences of Unreasonable Force

Glossary
Introduction

The following glossary terms apply only to Learning Domain 20: Use of
Force.

anger

A feeling of displeasure from perceived injury, mistreatment, or opposition, to
ones self or to another person

control

As it relates to defensive tactics, means maintaining composure to make sound
judgments and decisions

deadly
force

A force likely to cause death or serious bodily injury

fear

A normal emotional response to a perceived threat (real or unreal)

force
options

Choices available to a peace officer in each agency’s policy to overcome
resistance, effect arrest, prevent escape, or gain control of the situation

imminent
danger

A significant threat which persons reasonably believe will result in death or
serious bodily injury to themselves or to other persons

intervention

The act of preventing or stopping the inappropriate or unlawful behavior of
another US v Koon, 34F.3d 1416 at 1447 (9th Cir., 1994)
Continued on next page

LD 20: Glossary

G-1

Glossary, Continued
objectively
reasonable

The court noted that determining the objective reasonableness for the use of
force must be fact specific (Graham v Connor, 490 us. 386, 109 S ct. 1865)
(1989)

panic

The total loss of emotional and physical self-control. A sudden, unreasoning,
hysterical fear of events that led up to the encounter with the subject

precursory
acts

Events that led up to the encounter with the subject, including how the officer
arrived at the scene as well as what observations helped the officer assess the
situation

reasonable
force

Is a term for how much and what kind of force a peace officer may use in a
given circumstance

reasonable
necessity

Delay in apprehension would create substantial and unreasonable risk to
officers or others possibly resulting in serious physical injury or death

reasonable
officer

Would another officer with like or similar training and experience, facing like
or similar circumstances, act in the same way or use similar judgement?
(Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 109 S. Ct. 186) (1989)
Continued on next page

G-2

LD 20: Glossary

Glossary, Continued
self-control

Maintaining composure to make sound judgements and decisions

serious
bodily
harm or
injury

A serious impairment of physical condition, including, but not limited to, the
following: loss of consciousness, concussion, bone fracture, protracted loss or
impairment of function of any bodily member or organ, a wound requiring
extensive suturing, and serious disfigurement (Penal Code Section 243(f)(4))

unreasonable
force

The type, degree, and duration of force employed was not necessary or
appropriate

LD 20: Glossary

G-3

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 21
Patrol Techniques
Version 4.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 21
Patrol Techniques
Version 4.1
© Copyright 2005
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published February 2000
Revised October 2001
Revised August 2004
Revised July 2005
Workbook Correction January 20, 2009

This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:

From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Deborah Linden - Chairman

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Michael Sobek, Vice Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Long Beach Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert T. Doyle

Sheriff
Marin County

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Scott Himelstein

Public Member

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Henry T. Perea

Councilman
City of Fresno

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Michael Sobek

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Gil Van Attenhoven

Senior Special Agent
California Department of Justice

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law
Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD 21: Patrol Techniques
Table of Contents

Topic

See Page

Preface

ii

Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook
Chapter 1:

Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Overview
Basic Patrol Concepts
Preventative Patrol
Directed Enforcement Patrol
Contact and Cover Officers
Officer Safety While On Patrol
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 2:

ii
iii

Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Overview
Preparing for a Patrol Assignment
Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations
Use of Communication Equipment
Pedestrian Contacts
Plainclothes/Undercover Officer Contacts
Foot Pursuits
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Glossary

1-1
1-1
1-3
1-9
1-12
1-14
1-20
1-27
1-29
2-1
2-1
2-3
2-11
2-19
2-28
2-40
2-41
2-51
2-53
G-1

Continued on next page

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

i

Table of Contents, Continued
This page was intentionally left blank.

ii

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course
training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising peace
officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where the
POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
•
•
•

chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

iv

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis at the end of each chapter to review
the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary for a definition of important terms. The
terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and underlined the
first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

Chapter 1
Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol
Overview
Learning need

To safely and effectively fulfill their duties of public protection and service,
peace officers must be able to develop appropriate law enforcement patrol
strategies under a wide variety of circumstances and conditions.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...
•

discuss patrol strategies officers may employ to provide
protection and service within their assigned areas of
patrol, to include:
-

E.O Code
21.01.EO1

preventative
directed enforcement

•

discuss considerations for selecting a patrol strategy.

21.01.EO2

•

select appropriate actions for peace officers who are
conducting security checks.

21.01.EO4

•

distinguish between the roles and responsibilities of
contact and cover officers.

21.01.EO7

•

select appropriate actions officers should take to
maintain their own safety and the safety of others while
on patrol.

21.01.EO8

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on other background information pertaining to patrol
strategies. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

1-2

See Page

Basic Patrol Concepts

1-3

Preventative Patrol

1-9

Directed Enforcement

1-12

Contact and Cover Officers

1-14

Officer Safety While On Patrol

1-20

Chapter Synopsis

1-27

Workbook Activities

1-29

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Basic Patrol Concepts
[21.01.EO1, 21.01.EO2]

Introduction

Community patrol is one of the most frequent assignments a uniformed officer
will perform.

Leadership

Uniformed officers, whether in a car, on bicycle, motorcycle, horseback, or on
foot are mobile, visible and the most likely members of an agency to have
contact with the community. Uniformed officers respond to calls, work on
problems, initiate positive contacts, and are, in large measure, the image of the
agency. Officers’ demeanor and their interactions with the community they
serve will determine how the entire agency is viewed.

Ethics

The Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to everyone. Making assumptions
and stereotyping a whole neighborhood by assuming that everyone who lives
in a troubled area or neighborhood is suspect is wrong. Don’t assume that
everyone living in or near a troubled area is suspect. People must be treated as
individuals and assumed “innocent until proven guilty.”

Community
policing

People do care and want peace officers to help them to maintain a high quality
of life. Patrol officers have a stake in their assigned areas. Community
members care about their neighborhood and need patrol officers to help them
keep it safe. There is a joint responsibility for this job. Where there is a low
tolerance for litter, graffiti, speeding, and public disturbance, the message is
clear that people care.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-3

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued
Fundamental
elements of
patrol

Effective law enforcement patrol is made up of two fundamental elements:
protection and service.
Fundamental
Element

Knowledge of
assignment
area

The community expects that law enforcement
patrol officers will:

Protection

•

provide public safety, and isolation from criminal
activity.

Service

•

address the public’s concerns and needs efficiently
and professionally.

In order to provide protection and service, officers must acquire knowledge of
the beat they have been assigned to patrol. Such knowledge includes not just
knowing the basic layout and makeup of the area, but also recognizing
locations within the area that may require the officers’ specific attention.
The following table lists examples within their specific assignments which
officers should become familiar.
Continued on next page

1-4

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued

Knowledge of
assignment
area
(continued)

Areas where...
criminal acts
may occur

Examples
•
•
•
•
•
•

disturbances may
occur

Shopping centers (e.g., purse snatches, auto
burglaries, etc.)
School grounds (e.g., narcotics activities, child
molesters, etc.)
Bars, night clubs, and other locations of nightlife
activities
Bus stops, convenience stores, isolated restaurants
or bars,
and other poorly lit areas with pedestrian traffic
Abandoned buildings (e.g., arson)

•

Youth gathering spots such as:
- recreation centers or school events
- amusement centers
- public parks and beaches
- sporting events
- secluded “drinking spots” (e.g., “lover’s lane,”
wooded locations, etc.)

•

Adult congregations such as:
- bars or coffee shops
- churches
- sporting events
- swap meets
- concerts
- motorcycle rallies
- public parks and beaches
- family/community celebrations

•

Community meetings involving:
- emotional issues or negative public sentiment
- public political debates

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-5

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued

Knowledge of
assignment
area
(continued)

Areas where...
public safety
hazards may exist

Examples
•

•
•
•
there is a potential
for natural disaster

•
•
•
•
•
•

Poor road conditions such as:
- dirt roads
- poorly marked dead-end streets
- inadequate lighting or traffic signs
- streets with potholes
Construction sites
Chemical and industrial plants and storage
facilities
Ponds, rivers, lakes, or beaches used for fishing,
swimming, or other water recreation
Man-made dams susceptible to seepage or
erosion
Low lying areas that can easily flood
Earthquake-prone zones
Hillsides with a potential for mud or rock slides
Open fields susceptible to fire during dry periods
Areas prone to fog or other weather related
conditions

Continued on next page

1-6

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued
Patrol
strategies

Officers may employ two basic patrol strategies to provide protection and
service within their assigned patrol area.
Strategy

Primary Objective

Example

Preventative
patrol

•

To be highly visible in
order to discourage
occurrences of unlawful
or problem activity

Conducting visible patrols
through a parking structure
where there have been a
large number of auto thefts
with the intention of
dissuading potential thieves
from stealing cars

Directed
enforcement
patrol

•

To concentrate patrol
activities on particular
circumstances, persons
or problem areas

Hiding from view and
maintaining surveillance of
a parking structure where
there have been a large
number of auto thefts with
the intention of arresting a
car thief in the act of
stealing a car

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-7

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued
Trained
observer

No matter what patrol strategy is deployed, officers on patrol must rely on
their own observation and perception skills.
Officers must function as trained observers. Officers on patrol are expected
to:
•
•

Observation

practice disciplined observation, and
apply their training and experience to accurately perceive what is
occurring or is about to occur.

To an officer, observation means the ability to gather information by noting
facts or occurrences with a heightened sense of awareness.
While on patrol, officers must use not only their eyes, but all of their senses
including hearing, smell, etc., to obtain information from the outside world.
Observation can be enhanced by:
•
•
•

training (knowing what to look for),
experience (knowing where and when to look for it), and
a variety of special tools. (e.g., binoculars, night vision scopes, etc.)
Continued on next page

1-8

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Preventative Patrol
[21.01.EO1, 21.01.EO4]

Introduction

Preventative patrol strategies provide protection from criminal activity. It has
been consistently demonstrated that visible law enforcement presence can
reduce criminal activity.

Preventative
patrol
techniques

To be an effective deterrent to crime, law enforcement presence should be
highly visible within the community, especially in areas that are high risk
crime targets. Preventative patrol actions include:
•
•
•

Security
checks

maintaining a law enforcement presence and visibility within the
community,
conducting frequent security checks of high-risk targets and businesses,
and
conducting checks of persons who may be involved in suspicious
activities.

There are three fundamental objectives when conducting security checks of
businesses, residences and other structures.
•
•
•

To help the officer remain knowledgeable about the specific structure or
area (e.g., layout, normal activity in and around the area, normal
conditions of the structure, etc.).
To discover any suspicious activity or evidence of criminal activity (e.g.,
burglary).
To enhance community relations by maintaining high visibility.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-9

Preventative Patrol, Continued
Conducting
security
checks

When conducting security checks, officers should:
•
•
•
•
•

cover as much of their assigned area as possible including secondary
thoroughfares (e.g., alleys, walkways, parking areas, etc.) as well as
primary streets,
pay extra attention to high crime risk areas,
vary patrol patterns and routines to prevent predictability,
employ appropriate investigative tactics and equipment (e.g., use of
spotlights, flashlights, alley lights, etc.), and
implement additional patrol methods whenever possible (e.g., foot patrol,
bicycle patrol, etc.).
Continued on next page

1-10

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Preventative Patrol, Continued
Indications
of criminal
activity

During a security check, officers prevent crime by their presence and find
opportunities to detect criminal activity.
When checking
structures, officers
should...

Examples

look for signs of
property damage
and/or forced entry.

•
•
•
•
•

Broken windows
Open doors
Pry marks around windows or doors
Broken equipment
Cut phone or power lines

look for unusual
conditions.

•
•
•
•
•

Lights off that are normally on
Activities during nonbusiness hours
Presence of suspicious vehicles
Persons involved in suspicious activity
Persons not in appropriate locations (e.g. no
clerk(s) at convenience store counter)

check access areas.

•
•

Areas around the structure
Access to the roof

NOTE:

For additional information regarding indicators and law
enforcement actions related to potential criminal activity, refer
to LD 23: Crimes in Progress.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-11

Directed Enforcement
[21.01.EO1]

Introduction

Realistically, officers cannot simultaneously cover all parts of their assigned
geographic areas. Use of a directed enforcement patrol strategy can target
areas where problems are likely to occur by concentrating patrol activities on
particular circumstances.

Determining
target areas

A thorough knowledge of the (1) area of assignment and (2) available resources
is necessary to be able to respond to locations where problems are likely to
occur.
NOTE:

Personnel
and
equipment

Your agency’s crime analysis unit may be able to provide
information on day-of-week and time-of-day patterns for criminal
activity, suspect and victim profiles, parolee information, field
interview patterns and calls-for-service patterns just to name some
of the information that can help an officer make an informed
decision on where to patrol, and what suspect activity to look for.

When employing a directed enforcement strategy, personnel and equipment
can be deployed depending upon specific crime patterns or service needs.
For example:
•
•
•

undercover officers may be assigned to foot patrol in an area that has
recently had a high number of violent crimes.
additional law enforcement vehicles may be assigned to patrol an area that
is plagued by a cruising problem (e.g. bicycles, horses, etc.).
investigative and enforcement efforts may be directed toward an area that
has a high amount of drug activity.

NOTE:

For additional information on directed patrol activities, please
refer to LD 3: Policing in the Community, Chapters 1 and 3.
Continued on next page

1-12

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Directed Enforcement, Continued
Examples

Example:

On weekend nights hundreds of juveniles gathered to
“cruise” and “hang out” in the downtown area of a city.
This created many law enforcement problems for officers
assigned to the area. A plan was devised so that officers
were deployed into three groups: uniformed foot-patrol,
uniformed vehicle-patrol, and plainclothes officers.
Officers on foot patrol handled problems associated with
drinking, fights, vandalism, etc. Officers in vehicles
handled most of the traffic violations. Plainclothes officers
acted as observers and relayed information to the uniformed
officers who then responded. Careful planning and
effective coordination enabled the officers to respond
effectively to problems as they occurred.

Example:

An officer learned that a dance was to take place at a club
located on her beat. The dance would attract teenagers
from all over the city and, although alcohol was prohibited,
there was a potential for offsite drinking. The officer made
a point of frequently cruising by the club during the
evening to observe and to promptly respond to any
problems.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-13

Contact and Cover Officers
[21.01.EO7]

Introduction

The first officer on scene must take a leadership role for the initial assessment,
making contact with the involved parties, and determining if law enforcement
action is required. To accomplish these tasks safely, this officer may need to
rely on additional support from one or more officers.

Definitions

The contact officer is the officer initiating an action who becomes responsible
for conducting the contact.
The cover officer is the officer responsible for surveillance and control of a
suspect in order to free the contact officer to perform a thorough investigation.
NOTE:

Cover and
concealment

Officer safety is a primary responsibility of all peace officers at
all times. The contact officer should never rely solely on the
cover officer for protection.

“Cover” is a term often associated with combat tactics. Under such
conditions, cover refers to anything that may stop or deflect an opponent’s
weapon (e.g., brick walls, buildings, portion of the vehicle with the engine
block, etc.).
Concealment refers to anything that prevents an opponent from observing the
officer (e.g., bushes, small trees, tall grass, dark shadows, large crowds, lines
of moving vehicles, etc.). Concealment alone does not stop or deflect bullets.
NOTE:

For additional information regarding cover and concealment,
refer to LD 35: Firearms/Chemical Agents.
Continued on next page

1-14

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Responsibilities

It is vital that each officer understand the roles and responsibilities of contact
and cover officers.
The contact officer is
responsible for...

The cover officer is responsible for...

•

initiating action.

•

•

conducting the essential
business required, such as,
but not limited to:

protecting the contact officer from
possible interference (e.g. onlookers
or associates of the suspect(s)).

•

alerting the contact officer that a
weapon or contraband is located on
the suspect.

•

maintaining constant observation of
the overall situation; being aware of
possible dangers and potential
interferences.

•

providing a command presence to
discourage hostile acts, assaults, or
escapes by the suspect.

•

securing any weapons or contraband;
this allows the contact officer to
continue searches.

•

preventing the destruction of
evidence.

•

intervening with appropriate force to
protect the contact officer if a
suspect reacts violently.

-

-

-

alerting cover officer that
a weapon or contraband is
located on the suspect,
conducting thorough
systematic searches,
maintaining control of the
suspect,
recovering evidence,
recording necessary
suspect or incident
information,
handling radio
communication, and
writing traffic or
misdemeanor citations.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-15

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
One-and
two-officer
units

Depending on the jurisdiction, officers may be assigned to patrol alone or with
another officer in the patrol unit. The following table identifies how the roles
of contact officer and cover officer pertain under each condition.
IF an officer is
assigned to a...

THEN...

one-officer unit

•
•
•

two-officer unit

Switching
roles

•

the first officer to arrive and initiate any activity
assumes the role of contact officer, and
determines if there is a need to call for a cover officer
(i.e., backup).
Additional personnel, whether responding to a call for
cover or simply stopping at the scene to offer
assistance, should automatically assume the role of
cover officer(s).
the officers should agree upon who will act as the
contact officer and cover officer in advance of each
contact.

In some instances, once the initial contact has been made, officers may decide
to exchange contact and cover officer duties. The switch should be verbally
communicated and understood by both officers. Such a switch may take place
when:
•
•

it is tactically advantageous to do so (e.g., when the suspect’s position
changes), or
one officer has specialized training or expertise in a given area (e.g., as a
Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), better rapport with a suspect, more
knowledge regarding the area, bilingual, or a specific personal skill).
Continued on next page

1-16

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Switching
roles
(continued)

In such exchanges, the officer assuming the role of cover officer must be in
position and fully prepared to respond to any sudden action by the suspect
before the original cover officer relinquishes that duty to take on the role as
contact officer.

Initial
briefings

It is essential that contact officers requesting cover and officers responding
clearly communicate with one another. Responding officers should be briefed
on the details of the contact as thoroughly as possible. The following table
identifies elements of such contact officer/cover officer communications.
Upon arrival, the contact officer
should advise the cover officer of:

After receiving the information, the
cover officer should brief the
contact officer on:

•

•

•
•
•
•
•

observations made or evidence
obtained.
whether or not a search for
weapons has already been
conducted.
the reason for the contact and
suspected criminal activity.
the contact officer’s immediate
plans.
any previous knowledge of the
suspect(s) and/or an appraisal of
their potential for violence.
any other suspicious persons or
activity in the area.

NOTE:

•
•

previous knowledge of the
suspect(s).
observations made while
approaching the scene.
any significant radio
communications the contact
officer may have missed.

Both officers should verbally confirm what has been told to them
by the other officer to ensure that communication was correct.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-17

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Positioning

The exact positioning of the contact and cover officers will vary according to
the situation and circumstances. The following table provides general
guidelines for establishing positions of advantage.
Contact officers should
position themselves to ...

Cover officers should position themselves
to ...

•

•

•

avoid moving between
the cover officer and
suspect(s), and
not be in a position of
vulnerability.

•
•
•

NOTE:

Weapon
searches/
handcuffing

have a clear and unobstructed view of the
suspect(s), and the contact officer,
have the best peripheral view of the
surrounding areas,
avoid crossfire situations between
officers, and
control the likeliest route of escape.

Additional information regarding contact and cover officer
positioning is provided in LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers and LD 23:
Crimes in Progress.

The most hazardous moments of the majority of contacts with suspects occurs
during a patdown search for weapons or when the suspect is being handcuffed.
Because of the inherent danger, the role of each officer must be clear. For
example:
•
•

contact officer conducts the search or cuffing while the
cover officer acts as security.
Continued on next page

1-18

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Multiple
contact and
cover officers

Some major crime scenes or disturbances involving several subjects may
require multiple contact and cover officers (e.g., when two or more subjects
must be separated and other witnesses individually questioned, when a
potentially hostile crowd may interfere, etc.).
In such cases assignments should be absolutely clear and as specific as the
situation permits. Assignments should be made by the:
•
•

Release
of cover
officer

primary officer (i.e., the first contact officer on the scene), or
supervisor.

Circumstances such as hostile bystanders or the continued presence of
suspect(s) companions may dictate that the cover officer maintain position
until all of the business of the contact is completed.
Because of this fact, it is the responsibility of the contact officer to determine
when the cover officer can be released.

Examples

Example:

A two-officer patrol unit initiated a stop for a possible
DUI. The contact officer, during the initial contact with
the driver, realized that the driver might be under the
influence of drugs. Because the officer’s partner was a
drug recognition expert, the contact officer immediately
communicated this information to the cover officer and
they decided to switch roles.

Example:

Two officers had contacted a subject loitering in a
residential area. The subject spoke only Spanish and the
contact officer did not. The contact officer decided to
switch roles with the cover officer, who spoke Spanish.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-19

Officer Safety While On Patrol
[21.01.EO8]

Introduction

Due to its repetitive nature, a patrol assignment has an inherent danger of
appearing routine. As a result, officers can easily become complacent and
careless leading to fatal errors.

Inherent
danger

While on patrol, officers can encounter some of the most dangerous and
threatening conditions. Officers are killed or assaulted in the line of duty when
on patrol more than any other law enforcement assignment.
Officers on patrol are more likely to encounter the following types of
potentially dangerous incidents.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Domestic violence and/or disturbance calls
Investigating suspicious persons
Arrest situations*
Ambushes*
Crimes in progress*
Vehicle pullover*
Off duty incidents*
Pedestrian contacts
Building search
* High incidence categories

NOTE:

The above list is ranked by level of risk to the officer, with the
highest risk involving responding to a domestic
violence/disturbance call. (California Law Enforcement Officers
Killed and Assaulted Study in the Line of Duty, (2001). The study
covers 1995 - 1999, during which 33 officers lost their lives in the
line of duty due to felonious assault.
Continued on next page

1-20

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued
Fatal
errors

Statistical analysis of incidents involving officers killed or assaulted in the line
of duty has found that most of the deadly incidents could have been
prevented. Officers should keep in mind and avoid committing any of the
following fatal errors while on patrol.
Fatal Error

Example

Inappropriate attitude
• Careless or
complacent
• Overconfident
• Too aggressive

During a wind and rain storm, several business
alarms were activated. After determining the
first two were false alarms, the officer assumed
that all the alarms would also be false. The
primary contact officer decided to release the
cover officer and respond to the remaining
alarms alone. Later, while responding to
another of the alarms, the officer was assaulted
by a burglar fleeing the scene.

“Tombstone courage”
• Overly anxious to
show one’s own
courage
• Attempting to handle
dangerous situations
beyond one’s ability

A patrol officer, responding to a silent burglary
alarm, observed four armed suspects drive away
from the building. The officer broadcasted a
crime report and requested backup. Without
waiting for backup units, the officer pursued the
suspects and stopped the vehicle. As the officer
approached the vehicle, one of the suspects
jumped from the car and shot the officer.

Poor or no planning
• Rushing into the
situation without any
plan of action
• Failure to establish a
plan of action prior to
engaging the suspect
• Not considering
alternative actions

A two-officer patrol unit saw a young man
running from a convenience store followed by
the store clerk yelling “stop him.” The clerk
was obviously injured. Without taking any of
the appropriate actions (notifying dispatch,
determining contact/cover roles, etc.) both
officers exited the vehicle and began chasing
the young man. The officers placed themselves
at risk by not having a plan of action, as well as
placing the store clerk and others at risk if there
had been other suspects still in the store.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-21

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Fatal Error

Example

Inadequate
communication
• Not establishing roles
(cover, contact, etc.)
• Failure to work with
other officers as a
team
• Failure to notify
dispatch of actions

A patrol officer stopped a suspected stolen car
with two occupants. A backup unit arrived and
the assisting officer approached. Without
asking for any information, the backup officer
dragged one occupant from the car. The
passenger pulled a weapon from his waistband
and shot the officer. The backup officer did not
wait for direction from the contact officer but
acted independently, placing himself and the
officer in danger.

Physical and mental
fatigue
• Not enough rest
• Attention and reflexes
are compromised
• Not staying in good
physical condition

An officer was up two consecutive nights with a
sick child. Near the end of that day’s shift, the
officer stopped a pedestrian for questioning and
conducted a patdown search for weapons.
Because the officer was tired and anxious for
the shift to end, the search was poorly
conducted. Later during the contact, the officer
was assaulted by the suspect with a weapon the
officer had failed to find during the search.

Poor positioning
• Abandoning a safe
location
• Being too close or in
front of the suspect

While questioning a suspect detained for
questioning regarding a nearby burglary, an
officer became distracted by a call coming in on
the radio in her patrol unit. When the officer,
who failed to allow a proper distance between
herself and the suspect, turned momentarily
away from the suspect, the suspect grabbed for
the officer’s weapon. Even though the officer
was able to retain her weapon and gain control
of the suspect, her poor positioning had placed
her at unnecessary risk.

Continued on next page

1-22

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Fatal Error

Example

Ignoring danger signs
• Allowing the
assignment to become
“routine”
• Lack of alertness

Over time, two officers received repeated calls
regarding domestic disturbances at the same
residence. The male suspect had always been
cooperative and had never resisted the officers.
When the officers responded again to the same
location, they found the man had been drinking
but appeared to be compliant as usual. The
officers failed to search the man prior to
transporting him and a knife was found on the
man when he was searched at the detention
facility. The officer’s assumption that the call
was “routine” could have proved deadly.

Failure to watch a
suspect’s hands
• Becoming distracted
and allowing suspects
to arm themselves or
assault the officer

A suspect, arrested for a DUI offence, was
handcuffed with his hands behind his back,
placed in the back of the patrol unit, and
transported to a detention facility. When the
officer removed the arrestee from the patrol car,
he failed to notice that the arrestee managed to
slip the handcuffs to the front of his body. The
suspect struck the officer across the face with
his cuffed hands and fled from the scene on
foot.

Relaxing too soon
• Not maintaining a
position of advantage
• Letting one’s guard
down

An officer transported a suspect to the
emergency room for medical attention prior to
taking the man to the detention facility. The
suspect, an elderly man, had been quiet and
compliant during transport. During the
admission process at the hospital, the officer
turned away from the man to talk to the in-take
nurse. The suspect, in an attempt to escape,
took advantage off the officer’s distraction,
grabbed a nearby metal instrument, and struck
the officer.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-23

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Fatal Error

Example

Improper use or no use
of handcuffs

One officer detained two young men for
questioning. The officer handcuffed one man’s
left wrist to a nearby chain link fence to prevent
him from running away while he conducted a
patdown search on the other man. With the
remaining free hand, the handcuffed man
grabbed a nearby piece of wood and struck the
officer in the back of the head.

Failure to search or
conducting a poor
search
• Making assumptions
based on
overconfidence or
inadequate technique

Two officers chased a suspect into the suspect’s
home and found him hiding in a closet. They
took the suspect into custody. Believing the
suspect was alone, the officers failed to search
the remainder of the house. As the officers
were escorting the suspect outside, the suspect’s
brother, who had been hiding in another
bedroom, began shooting at the officers from
the bedroom window.

Poor care and
maintenance of
equipment
• Dirty or inoperative
weapon
• Failure to keep
equipment in top
condition

While being searched, a suspect was able to
grab the contact officer’s handgun and shoot the
officer. When the cover officer drew her
service weapon and fired at the suspect, the
weapon failed to discharge. The officer had
failed to properly clean her handgun when she
had last used it on the firing range, causing the
weapon to become jammed.

Continued on next page

1-24

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued
Elements
of officer
safety

Officer safety refers to the practical application of tactically sound procedures
to perform law enforcement activities in a safe and effective manner.
Officer safety involves:
•
•
•
•

Officer
safety
guidelines

the attitude and physical conditioning of the officer,
initial and ongoing training,
appropriate care and use of equipment, and
utilization of available resources.

There are several general safety guidelines which officers should know. By
practicing these guidelines, officers can avoid fatal errors:
Safety Guidelines

Additional Information

Approach every
contact with officer
safety in mind.

• Guard against complacency and overconfidence
regarding stops, calls, and investigations that
make up a patrol officer’s daily tasks.

Be mentally prepared.

• Never assume a call is a “false alarm.”
• Maintain good communication with
contact/cover officers.
• Prepare for a “worst case scenario.”

Maintain skills.

• Maintain good physical conditioning to promote
self-confidence. Take advantage of recurrent
training to maintain skills and overcome
complacency.
• Stay current on improvements in equipment,
tactics, and techniques.

Always be aware of
the suspect’s hands.

• In the majority of cases involving officers killed
or assaulted in the line of duty, the suspects used
their hands to arm themselves.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-25

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Officer
safety
guidelines
(continued)

Safety Guidelines

Additional Information

Be aware of and use
available cover.

• In every situation, identify items that would
provide adequate cover if needed.
• Use, be ready to use, and/or move to cover when
necessary.

Ask for backup when
necessary.

•
•

Use available
communication
systems.

•
•

Be aware of distance
and positioning.

•
•

Utilize proper safety
equipment.

•

Seek backup in high risk situations (e.g., building
searches).
If assistance is requested, wait for that assistance
to arrive before abandoning cover or taking
action.
Use available communication systems to transmit
appropriate and accurate safety and tactical
information.
Understand the limitations of your
communications equipment.
Identify, plan, then move to positions of
advantage.
Avoid abandoning a safe location or rushing into
a potentially dangerous area.
Body armor is the single most effective item of
safety equipment that a peace officer can use.

NOTE:

NOTE:

1-26

Although body armor greatly enhances
an officer’s survivability in a lethal
confrontation, it should never replace
proper tactics when handling high risk
incidents.

Additional safety guidelines are presented throughout this
workbook as well as LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers and LD 23:
Crimes in Progress.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

To safely and effectively fulfill their duties of public protection and service,
peace officers must be able to develop appropriate law enforcement patrol
strategies under a wide variety of circumstances and conditions.

Patrol
strategies
[21.01.EO1]

There are two basic patrol strategies patrol officers can employ to provide
protection and service.

Selection
of a patrol
strategy
[21.01.EO2]

An officer’s choice of a patrol strategy is dependent on a number of factors:

Security
checks
[21.01.EO4]

When conducting security checks, patrolling officers should:

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•

Desire for public visibility
Type of criminal activity in the designated area
Existence of problem areas
Existing environment or conditions
Area demographics
Community activities
Availability of community resources
Geography/topography
Adequacy of access and egress to various locations
Department/agency policies and resources

cover as much of their assigned area as possible including secondary
thoroughfares (e.g., alleys, walkways, parking areas, etc.)
pay extra attention to areas that have a high crime risk,
constantly vary patrol patterns and routines to prevent predictability,
employ appropriate investigative tactics and equipment, (e.g., use of
spotlights, flashlights, alley lights, etc.) and
implement additional patrol methods whenever possible (e.g., foot patrol,
bicycle patrol, etc.).
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-27

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Contact
and cover
officers
[21.01.EO7]

The contact officer is the officer initiating an action who becomes responsible
for conducting the contact. The cover officer is the officer responsible for
surveillance and control of a suspect in order to free the contact officer to
perform a thorough investigation.

Officer
safety
[21.01.EO8]

Officer safety refers to the practical application of tactically sound procedures
to perform law enforcement activities in a safe and effective manner.

1-28

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Approach every contact with officer safety in mind.
Be mentally prepared.
Maintain physical and tactical skills.
Always be aware of the suspect’s hands.
Be aware of and use available cover.
Ask for backup when necessary.
Use available communication systems.
Be aware of distance and positioning.
Utilize proper safety equipment.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. How can a cover officer’s demeanor contribute to the protection of both
the contact and cover officers?

2. While performing a security check of a local sporting goods store, an
officer discovers a broken ground floor window near the employee
entrance/delivery bays at the rear of the building. Broken glass is evident
outside the building. The time is 8:00 am on a Monday, and the store is
not scheduled to open until 10:00 am. How should the officer (oneperson unit) proceed? How would this differ, if at all, if the officer made
this discovery during store hours?

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-29

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

1-30

3. Two officers arrive at the scene of a disturbance at a local high school
football game. Witnesses report that three students (2 males, 1 female)
had been throwing bottles. One bottle struck another student on the head,
knocking her unconscious. School officials called an ambulance, which
arrived just after the officers. The three bottle throwers are being held
near the field by a group of teachers. The suspects are exhibiting signs of
intoxication and are beginning to struggle with those detaining them.
Outline appropriate contact and cover officer actions from this point
through placing the suspects into the patrol vehicle.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-31

Workbook Corrections, Continued
Student notes

1-32

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Chapter 2
Patrol Methodologies and Tactics
Overview
Learning need

To maintain flexibility and effectiveness, peace officers need to know the
basic tactics and procedures of patrol.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...

E.O. Code

•

21.02.EO3

describe patrol officer responsibilities when preparing for
each patrol assignment, to include:
-

•

checking all personal equipment
acquiring any necessary information and
materials/supplies
inspecting each piece of equipment issued at
beginning of shift
mental preparation

discuss tactical considerations and guidelines for
patrolling effectively:
-

determining appropriate speed,
patrol vehicle placement, and
avoiding silhouetting and telltale noise.

21.02.EO6
21.02.EO7
21.02.EO8

•

demonstrate proper procedures for transmitting and
receiving a radio communication.

21.02.EO9

•

discuss information an officer should include when
generating a crime broadcast.

21.02.EO10

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-1

Overview, Continued

Learning
objectives
(continued)

In this chapter

After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to...
•

demonstrate safe and effective tactics for approaching
and detaining a pedestrian subject.

21.02.EO11

•

select appropriate actions when encountering a
plainclothes/undercover officer while on patrol.

21.02.EO12

•

discuss safe and effective tactics for initiating a foot
pursuit of a fleeing subject.

21.02.EO13

This chapter focuses on actions and tactics officers may employ while on
patrol. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

2-2

E.O. Code

See Page

Patrol Methodologies and Tactics Overview

2-1

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment

2-3

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations

2-11

Use of Communication Equipment

2-19

Pedestrian Contacts

2-28

Plainclothes/Undercover Officer Contacts

2-40

Foot Pursuits

2-41

Chapter Synopsis

2-51

Workbook Activities

2-53

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment
[21.02.EO3]

Introduction

Having proper equipment to handle expected duties is key to officer safety and
effectiveness while on patrol. All equipment carried by an officer while
assigned to patrol must be authorized, serviceable, and well maintained. The
ultimate responsibility to see that all equipment is available and meets this
criteria belongs to each officer.

Preparation

Preparation prior to beginning a patrol assignment generally includes:
•
•
•
•

Mental
preparation

preparing mentally to do the job,
checking all personal equipment,
acquiring any necessary resource information and materials/supplies, and
inspecting each piece of issued equipment at the beginning of the shift.

Before the beginning of a patrol shift, officers must also prepare themselves.
Mental preparation is vital to move from civilian routine, cares, concerns, and
worries to the roles and responsibilities of professional officers.
Mental preparation must include:
•
•
•

getting enough rest to prevent physical and mental fatigue,
maintaining good physical conditioning with proper exercise and diet,
continually adding to and refreshing one’s own knowledge and skills,
focusing on the proper attitudes and emotions, and putting personal
problems or issues temporarily aside (e.g., family/relationship problems,
financial problems, issues and tasks outside law enforcement duties, etc.).
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-3

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Mental
preparation
(continued)

Mental preparation also includes recognizing one’s own limitations that
particular day. If an officer is ill or taking certain prescription or
nonprescription medications that could hinder or infringe on that officer’s
ability to function, the officer should request a different assignment for that
day. If not done, such officers may not only be placing their own safety in
jeopardy, but also the safety and well being of others.
NOTE:

Agencies may have specific policies regarding the use of
prescription and nonprescription drugs and medications while on
duty. Officers are responsible for knowing and complying with
their own agency policies.
Continued on next page

2-4

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Personal
equipment
and
supplies

An officer’s personal equipment includes any item issued to the officer which
remains with the officer at all times. The specific type of personal equipment
carried by officers may vary by agency.
Prior to each patrol shift, individual officers are responsible for checking their
own personal equipment for serviceability, appearance, and conformance with
agency policy.
Equipment to be
Checked

Examples

Components of
the officer’s
uniform

• Badge and name
plate
• Shirt
• Pants

• Hat
• Shoes

Items carried or
worn by the
officer

• Body armor (e.g.,
vest)
• Leather/nylon web
gear belt
• Holster and handgun
• Backup weapon (if
applicable)
• Chemical agents
(e.g., pepper spray,
etc.)

• Handcuffs and other
restraint equipment
• Impact weapon (e.g.,
baton)
• Flashlight, fully charged
or with working batteries

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-5

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued

Personal
equipment
and
supplies
(continued)

Equipment to be
Checked
Other supplies

Examples
• Clipboard and
writing implements
• Citation book
• Inclement weather
gear
• Helmet and face
shield
• Gloves (e.g., leather,
rubber, latex)
• Binoculars
• CPR mask
• Evidence collection
supplies (e.g.,
fingerprint kit)
• Court calendar

• Area map(s)
• Legal reference materials
(e.g., Penal Code,
Vehicle Code,
Municipal/County Code,
etc.)
• Report forms
• Citation forms (“Notice
to Appear”)
• Any other equipment
approved by agency
policy
• First Aid Kit

Continued on next page

2-6

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Weapons

Before any firearm inspection is conducted, the weapon must be rendered safe.
Patrol officers should perform a safety inspection of their own handguns and
other weapons. Problems identified during an inspection should be addressed
immediately or as soon as possible.
The following table identifies inspection points when conducting a weapons
inspection.
Equipment
Handgun (including
backup)

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•

Cleanliness
Exterior components (e.g., barrel, hammer,
slide, slide lock, safety, etc.)
Interior components (e.g., chamber,
cylinder, firing pin, etc.)

Holster

•
•

General wear
Safety straps/snaps

Ammunition, magazines,
loaders (including backup
gun)

•
•
•
•
•

Correct type and caliber
General cleanliness
Amount
Age or freshness
Operating parts (e.g., body, follower,
spring, feed lips, floor plate)

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-7

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued

Weapons
(continued)

Equipment
Chemical agent device

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•
•

Content amount
Expiration date
Trigger device
Nozzle

NOTE:

NOTE:

Information
acquisition

Shake each device prior to each
shift.

For additional information regarding inspection, care, and
maintenance of weapons, refer to LD 35: Firearms/Chemical
Agents.

Prior to beginning a patrol assignment, each officer must take responsibility
for acquiring all necessary resource information as well as other materials and
supplies.
Possible sources for acquiring information include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

the daily incident log,
crime reports affecting assigned area,
agency crime analysis unit
briefing boards,
the hot sheet/watch bulletin,
warrants,
debriefing by off-going shift, and
specialized units such as:
- investigation,
- narcotics,
- gangs,
- robbery,
- burglary, etc.
Continued on next page

2-8

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Issued
equipment

Typically, each officer will receive a variety of equipment at the beginning of
a patrol shift that must be returned at the end of that shift.
An officer rarely has the same equipment issued each shift. Instead, each
item is handed out randomly and, over time, is used by many different
officers. For this reason, officers should be particularly careful and thorough
when inspecting each piece of issued equipment.
The following table identifies equipment that may be issued to patrol officers
and considerations for inspection of that equipment.
Issued Equipment
Patrol vehicle

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Rear seat for contraband/weapons
Fuel level
Emergency equipment (e.g., lights, flashers,
siren, p.a. system, etc.)
Tires, brakes, horn
Vehicle code equipment violations, current
registration tabs
Damage (interior and exterior)
Mileage report, service dates, etc.
Trunk equipment (e.g., spare tire, jack, flares,
first aid kit, crime scene tape, fire extinguisher,
etc.)
In-car video equipment

NOTE:

For additional information regarding
vehicle inspections, refer to LD 19:
Vehicle Operations.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-9

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued

Issued
Equipment
(continued)

Issued Equipment

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•

Shotgun

•

Proper ammunition
Amount of ammunition
Components (i.e., barrel, extractor, ejector, firing
pin, and safety)
Operation of shotgun rack (manual or electronic)

NOTE:

Portable hand held
radio

NOTE:

2-10

•
•
•

For additional information regarding
inspecting shotguns, refer to LD 35:
Firearms/Chemical Agents.

Batteries/charge
Transmission/reception
Damage

Patrol vehicles also include motorcycles, bicycles, etc. Each
should be carefully inspected.

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations
[21.02.EO6, 21.02.EO7, 21.02.EO8]

Introduction

Effective patrol involves more than simply driving through an assigned area
and responding to radio calls. It requires officers to engage in situations
which enable the officer to observe specific areas requiring attention.

Predictability

A patrol assignment is often erroneously referred to as “routine.” One of the
primary objectives of a patrol assignment is to prevent any semblance of an
anticipated routine.
When officers establish predictable patrol patterns, their effectiveness in
suppressing crime is often compromised. Suspects have been known to
deliberately observe an officer’s patrol pattern in order to plan criminal
activity and avoid detection.

Speed

Officers should patrol at a speed that is reasonable for the tasks they are
performing (e.g., patrolling in heavy traffic, patrolling in a residential or
business area, etc.).
Driving at a slower speed while on patrol:
•
•
•
•

provides a maximum opportunity to observe while maintaining effective
control of the vehicle.
contributes to public awareness and visibility.
maximizes contact with members of the community and provides a
positive law enforcement image.
decreases engine noise enabling an officer to get closer to criminal activity
without being detected.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-11

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Emergency
responses “Code 3"

An “emergency response call” cannot be defined exactly. However, applied to
law enforcement it means a situation exists that requires immediate law
enforcement attention for the protection of individuals or property. An
emergency response call is also known as a Code-3 response.
NOTE:

The exceptions granted under Vehicle Code Section 21055 may
not protect officers from criminal prosecution or their agencies
from civil liability if the officers cause an accident due to their
own reckless driving or wanton disregard for the safety of others
(Vehicle Code Section 21056).

NOTE:

Agencies may have specific policies regarding Code 3 driving
conditions. Officers are responsible for knowing and complying
with their own agency policies.

NOTE:

For additional information regarding emergency response driving
and law enforcement vehicle operations, refer to LD 19: Vehicle
Operations.
Continued on next page

2-12

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Vehicle
placement

Officers should always make a reasonable effort to stop or park their patrol
vehicles in a lawful manner.
Although it may seem minor to the officer, a patrol vehicle illegally parked
when no emergency exists can infuriate members of the community and
unnecessarily damage community relations with law enforcement. Parking
illegally when no emergency exists can also expose a law enforcement agency
to liability if the vehicle’s placement contributes to a collision.
The following table presents general guidelines for selecting a location when
parking law enforcement vehicles during non-emergency and emergency
situations.
Situation
Non-emergency

General Guidelines
•
•
•
•

Select a location that is protected from vandalism
or tampering (e.g., nails, pipe bombs, etc.).
If conducting preventative patrol, park in an area
that would provide maximum visibility to the
public.
If conducting directed enforcement patrol,
consider legal as well as visibility factors when
selecting a location to park.
Always secure the vehicle and take the keys.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-13

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Vehicle
placement
(continued)

The following table presents general guidelines for selecting a location when
parking law enforcement vehicles during non-emergency and emergency
situations.
Situation
Emergency

General Guidelines
•
•
•
•
•
•

Consider the nature of the incident (e.g., responding
to a crime in progress, traffic situations, etc.).
If the vehicle must be parked in an illegal location,
the officer should move the vehicle to a legal location
once the emergency is over.
Allow for placement, ingress, and egress of other
emergency vehicles (e.g., ambulance, fire equipment,
etc.).
Consider the available terrain and type of building
when selecting a location.
Flashing or amber lights may be left on to let the
public know the vehicle is parked in that location for
a reason.
Always secure the vehicle and take the keys.

Continued on next page

2-14

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Silhouetting

Being aware of artificial light (e.g., street lights, apartment/residential
floodlights, etc.) while on patrol is critical to officer safety.
If an officer assumes a position between a suspect and a source of back light,
the officer’s silhouette could:
•
•
•
•
•
•

Ways to
avoid
silhouetting

make the officer a potential target,
provide the suspect with the exact location of the officer,
identify how many officers are present,
indicate what actions the officer is taking (e.g., surveillance, approach,
etc.),
take away the element of surprise on the part of the officer, and
allow the suspect to plan an alternate course of action.

The following table identifies a number of actions an officer may take to avoid
the potential problems associated with silhouetting while on patrol.
Officer
Activity
Within a patrol
vehicle

General Guidelines
•
•
•

On foot patrol

•
•
•

Be aware of sources of backlighting when traversing
open areas (e.g., streets, alleys, fields, etc.).
Position the patrol vehicle away from street lights or
other sources of backlighting.
Disable interior patrol vehicle lighting that is
activated when a door is opened.
Avoid walking through spotlight or head lamp beams
when approaching pedestrians and/or vehicles.
Do not stand in doorway, hallways, or in front of
windows.
Do not peer openly through windows.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-15

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued

Ways to
avoid
silhouetting
(continued)

Officer
Activity
Using a
flashlight/map
light

General Guidelines
•
•
•

Telltale
noise

Hold the flashlight in such a way as not to illuminate
oneself or other officers or units.
Use red bulbs or diffuse the light source to minimize
light intensity.
Keep flashlight use to a minimum and only when
necessary.

Making any telltale noise can jeopardize officer safety while on patrol. The
following table identifies a number of sounds that may indicate the presence
of law enforcement officers and patrol vehicles and guidelines for avoiding
them.
Activity
Vehicle approach

Using law
enforcement radios

General Guidelines
•
•

•

Reduce vehicle noise prior to approach.
Secure seat belts and doors quietly. (Officers
may elect to remove their seat belts immediately
before arrival at the scene, depending on
departmental policy.)
Close doors quietly rather than slamming.

•
•

Reduce the volume.
Use ear piece if available.

Continued on next page

2-16

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued

Telltale
noise
(continued)

Activity
Walking

General Guidelines
•
•
•
•

Using electronic
devices

•
•
•

Communicating
with other patrol
officers

•
•

Secure all keys, handcuffs, and any other loose or
small items.
Ensure baton does not bang against any other
objects.
Ensure that leather gear and footwear are properly
maintained to prevent “squeaking.”
When possible, avoid stepping on leaves, twigs,
rocks, and gravel that could make noise when the
officer moves or compromise a solid footing.
Pagers should be set on vibrate mode rather than
audible beeping or turned off for maximum
officer safety.
Carry a cellular phone only if the ringer can be
silenced.
Alarms on wrist watches should be deactivated.
Avoid unnecessary conversation.
Use prearranged hand signals and word codes
when appropriate.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-17

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Patrolling
specific
areas

Officers should be aware of many considerations when patrolling specific
areas within their area of assignment.
Areas

General Guidelines

School grounds

•

Be especially aware of:
- signs of drug transactions and other drug
related activity,
- individuals attempting to accost,
videotape, or photograph children, or
- indications of possible gang activity
(e.g., wearing of colors, crowds of
youth, etc.).

High risk areas (e.g.,
gang hangouts, known
locations of drug
activity, etc.)

•

Become familiar with:
- hazardous locations/residences,
- specific individuals who, based on
previous contacts or information, may be
a threat to law enforcement, and
- current or impending gang warfare or
potential actions of retaliation.
When possible, supplement motorized patrol
vehicles with foot patrols.
Consider the need for cover officer(s) and
adhere strictly to contact and cover tactics
(e.g., use of two patrol units or one twoperson unit).
Map out areas such as known gang
locations, parks, dense housing complexes,
etc.

•
•

•

2-18

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Use of Communication Equipment
[21.02.EO9, 21.02.EO10]

Introduction

Proper and effective use of communication equipment such as mobile and
hand-held radios and mobile digital terminals (MDTs) is every officer’s
lifeline to the law enforcement support system.
The specific types of equipment used by officers can vary depending
on the methods of patrol and available resources of the officer’s agency.
Regardless of available equipment, knowledge of the system’s capabilities,
procedures for proper use, and communication range can save an officer’s life.

Types
of radio
traffic

Officers will encounter two primary types of radio transmissions or “traffic”:
non-emergency radio traffic and emergency radio traffic.
Examples
Non-emergency
Traffic

•

•

Status changes (e.g., back in service, routine
change of locations, etc.)
All Points Bulletins (APBs) not related to
emergency situations
Calls for service

•
•
•
•
•
•

Officer-involved shootings
Officer calls for help
In-progress felonies
Crime broadcasts
Pursuits/failures to yield
Other situations as identified by agency policies

•

Emergency
Traffic

NOTE:

Emergency traffic always has priority.
All non-emergency transmissions
should be held until the termination of
emergency traffic.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-19

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued
FCC rules
and
regulations

All law enforcement radio communication must comply with Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) rules and regulations. Noncompliance
with the FCC regulations could result in fines and/or loss of use of radio
frequencies.
FCC rules and regulations include, but are not limited to, the following:
•
•
•

•

Call
signs

All profanity is prohibited.
There should be no malicious interference with authorized
communications.
Unnecessary transmissions are prohibited. This includes the use of:
- humor,
- slang, and/or
- familiar comments used in other conversation (e.g., “please,” “thank
you,” etc.).
Full identities (call signs) must always be used.

The use of an entire call sign (i.e., caller/receiver identification information) is
required by the FCC to avoid misidentification between the senders and
receivers of radio communications.
Although specific call signs used generally are agency specific, they may
include information regarding transmitting and receiving officers’:
•
•
•

specific unit identification,
designation for the area of assignment, and
the agency involved.
Continued on next page

2-20

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued
Radio
demeanor

All officers should be familiar with and employ the basic ABCs of radio
communication demeanor.
General Guidelines

Accuracy

•
•
•

Use common terminology.
Be specific regarding all requests.
Convey critical information (i.e., crime broadcasts)
accurately and completely.

Brevity

•
•
•

Plan all transmissions.
Conserve air time.
Initiate only necessary transmission.

Courtesy

•
•
•

Spell difficult or uncommon names phonetically.
Avoid cutting off or overstepping other radio traffic.
Maintain effective working relations with dispatch
operators and other patrol units.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-21

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued
Radio
transmissions

The following table presents basic guidelines for executing an appropriate
radio transmission.
Action

General Guidelines

Monitor the
frequency first.

•
•
•

Listen to existing radio traffic.
Assess whether it is routine or emergency traffic.
Wait until the air is clear (no traffic) before initiating
a transmission.

Initiate the call.

•

Firmly press and hold the transmit button. (Officers
should avoid cutting themselves off by inadvertently
releasing the button.)
Wait one to two seconds before speaking.
Position the microphone properly, approximately two
inches from the speaker’s mouth.

•
•
Speak clearly.

•
•
•
•
•

Give a complete call sign.
Speak slowly.
Enunciate clearly.
Use a calm normal speaking voice.
Speak in a normal volume unless background noise
dictates otherwise.

Limit length of
transmission.

•
•
•

Allow breaks for other emergency traffic.
Allow time for the receiver of the call to speak.
Be aware of distance and geographic limitations and
capabilities, such as:
- existing mountains, canyons, etc., that may affect
transmission, or
- the use of radio repeaters for transmission.

NOTE:

Officers must always be aware of when their microphones are
keyed on in order to prevent the inadvertent transmission of
unnecessary or inappropriate conversations.
Continued on next page

2-22

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued
Receiving
messages

Officers should listen for and always acknowledge receiving a unit
transmission. Acknowledgments should include the receiver’s complete call
sign and follow the same basic guidelines for initiating a radio transmission.
NOTE:

Numeric
radio
codes

A radio “click” is not an identifiable or acceptable
acknowledgment of a radio transmission.

In order to enhance clear yet brief communication, officers may use agency
specific numeric communication codes.
Examples of numeric codes include, but are not limited to, the use of:
•
•
•

“Code 3" (emergency call for officer response),
“Code 4" (cancellation of a “Code 3" call), or
statutory reference numbers for specific crimes or activities such as:
- “211" when referring to a robbery (Penal Code Section 211),
- “5150" when referring to a person with a possible mental disorder
(Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5150),
- “23152" when referring to driving while under the influence of alcohol
(Vehicle Code Section 23152), or
- “11550" when referring to being under the influence of a controlled
substance (Health and Safety Code Section 11550).
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-23

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued
Crime
broadcasts

Officers are often required to gather and transmit critical information when
responding to criminal activity. The effectiveness of such broadcasts can be
greatly impacted by the officer’s ability to clearly transmit the appropriate
type and amount of information. The following table identifies types of
information that should be included when communicating an emergency
crime broadcast.
Type of
Information

Examples

Incident
specifics

•
•
•

Type of incident (e.g., burglary, assault, etc.)
Exact location
Time of occurrence

Victim
related

•
•
•

Number of victims
Type of injuries sustained
Need for emergency medical assistance

Suspect
related

Physical
description

•
•
•
•

Clothing

• Clothing worn head to toe (e.g.,
shirt/blouse, pants/skirt, shoes, etc.)
• Clothing worn inside to outside (e.g.,
shirt/sweater/jacket, etc.)
• Head gear (e.g., bandana, helmet, etc.)
• Glasses

Race/complexion
Sex
Age (estimate)
Height/weight

Distinguishing • Facial hair
characteristics • Tattoos
• Scars/marks

Flight

• General build
• Hair
color/style
• Eye color

• Speech
impediments
• Physical
impairments
• Body piercing

• Direction
• Mode (e.g., on foot, automobile, etc.)

Continued on next page

2-24

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued

Crime
broadcasts
(continued)

Type of
Information
Vehicle

Examples
•
•
•
•
•
•

Weapon

Color
Make
Year
Body style (e.g., two-door, four-door, convertible,
pick up, etc.)
License (number and state)
Additional descriptors such as:
- body damage
- loud muffler
- number and description of occupants
- equipment (e.g., camper shell)

Firearms

• Type
- handgun (e.g., semiautomatic,
revolver)
- shotgun
- rifle
• Caliber/gauge
• Barrel length (e.g., sawed off shotgun)
• Color (e.g., blue steel, chrome, etc.)

Edged
weapons

• Type (e.g., switch blade, hunting
knife, etc.)
• Size

Other
weapons

• Type (e.g., baseball bat, crossbow,
etc.)
• Specific description

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-25

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued

Crime
broadcasts
(continued)

Type of
Information
Description of
loss

Examples
•
•
•
•

Law enforcement
action to be taken
if suspect located

•
•
•
•

Vehicle (e.g., make, model, license plate number, if
known, etc.)
Purse (e.g., contents, amount of money, credit
cards, etc.)
Jewelry (e.g., type of metal/stones, etc.)
Equipment/tools (e.g., model, serial number if
known, etc.)
Observe only
Field interview
Stop and arrest
Impound property

NOTE:

Describe each suspect/vehicle separately.

NOTE:

For additional information regarding crime scene broadcasts,
refer to LD 30: Preliminary Investigation.
Continued on next page

2-26

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Use of Communication Equipment, Continued
Examples

Example:

An officer contacted an individual who had just been the
victim of a car jacking. The officer obtained the
appropriate information and cleared the air for a Be-on-theLook-Out (BOLO) broadcast. The officer communicated
the type of crime, weapons used, location and time of
occurrence, suspect description, suspect vehicle (car jacked
vehicle) description, and direction of travel. The officer
included all the necessary information in the broadcast.

Example:

The following is a radio broadcast issued by an officer who
was engaged in a vehicle pursuit of a hit-and-run suspect.
“Four Sam One, I am in pursuit of a green Ford Mustang,
south on Main Street. The violator hit a parked car and
now is going 70+ mph. We are still south on Main passing
Palm Avenue. The suspect is a white male, about 18 years
old. I am too far back to see the license plate, but it’s a
Nevada plate.” The officer communicated all the available,
pertinent information.

Non-Example:

The same scenario as above but the broadcast from the
officer was: “Four Sam One, I am in pursuit of a Mustang.
He hit a parked car and we are nearing Palm Avenue. I am
too far back to see the license number.” The officer did
not give the location, direction of travel, suspect
description, or that the license plate was from Nevada.

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-27

Pedestrian Contacts
[21.02.EO11]

Introduction

In the course of patrolling, officers initiate various contacts with pedestrians
observed within their area of assignment. When making such contacts,
officers must be aware not only of their own safety but also of the rights of the
individuals.

Legal
considerations

To protect an individual’s constitutional rights, officers must have a clear
understanding of a pedestrian contact considered a lawful consensual
encounter from one that would constitute a lawful detention.
The following table presents a comparison of both types of pedestrian
contacts.
Consensual Encounter

Detention

Description

Contact between an
individual and an officer
where the individual is not
obligated to stay, cooperate
or answer questions

•

An assertion of authority
that would cause
reasonable individuals to
believe that they are
obligated to stay,
cooperate, or answer
questions.

Individuals

Told they are free to leave
or not cooperate at any
time.

•

Told they must cooperate
and are not free to leave
the scene until told they
can do so.

•

Officer must have
reasonable suspicion; that
is, a factual basis for
suspecting the individuals
are connected with
criminal activity.

Justification None
Required

Continued on next page

2-28

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued

Legal
considerations
(continued)

Consensual Encounter

Detention

Time
Element

• None

• Limited to time reasonably
necessary to resolve
suspicion.

Permissible
Actions

• Requests for
identification or other
information
• Casual conversation
• Information
dissemination

• Prevent suspect from
leaving until reasonable
suspicion is resolved.
• Gather identification and
personal information.
• Ask the individual questions
regarding a specific
incident.
• Contact other individuals.
• Check an area, premise, or
object to determine if a
crime has occurred.

Restraint /
Use of Force

• None allowed

• Reasonable amount if
necessary to compel the
suspect to remain.

Search
Allowed

• None, unless consent is
given. Also, officers
may confiscate any
contraband in plain
sight.

• None, except for a patdown
search for weapons if
officers have a factual basis
for suspecting the person
may be armed.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-29

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Examples

Example:

A suspect began to get nervous during questioning, looked
around, and started to walk away; the officer ordered the
suspect to stay. When the suspect continued to walk away,
the officer went after him, grabbed him by the arm,
escorted him to the squad car, and placed him in the back
seat.

Example:

When an officer started checking whether the person she
had detained had an outstanding warrant, the person turned
and ran. The officer chased after him and grabbed him.
When he continued to struggle, the officer handcuffed him.
The officer then walked the person back to the patrol car
and confirmed the outstanding warrant.

NOTE:

A consensual encounter may escalate to the level of detention, or
a detention to an arrest, depending on information gathered by
the officers.

NOTE:

For additional information regarding consensual encounters,
detentions, refer to LD 15: Laws of Arrest, and/or California
Peace Officer’s Legal Source Book, Chapter 2.
Continued on next page

2-30

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Checks of
persons

While using a preventative patrol strategy, officers are also looking for
individuals who may be involved in suspicious activities. An officer may
need to detain a person in order to investigate that person’s involvement in
possible criminal activity.
A detention or stop is an assertion of authority that would cause a reasonable
person to believe they are obligated to stay, cooperate, or answer questions.
A detention is something less than an arrest, but more substantial than a
simple consensual encounter.
NOTE:

Lawful
detention

For additional information regarding consensual encounters,
detentions and arrest, refer to LD 15: Laws of Arrest.

To be lawful, a detention must be based on reasonable suspicion that criminal
activity has taken place or is about to take place, and the person detained is
connected to that activity.
Reasonable suspicion is the standard used to determine whether a detention is
legal. Reasonable suspicion exists when a peace officer has facts and
circumstances to make it reasonable for the officer to suspect that criminal
activity may be occurring and the person detained is connected to that activity.
Reasonable suspicion may be based on:
•
•
•

observation,
personal training and/or experience, or
information from eyewitnesses, victims, and/or other officers.

NOTE:

Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on a hunch or instinct. If
reasonable suspicion does not exist, the case against the
defendant may be dismissed or any evidence seized may be
excluded from trial.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-31

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Investigative
actions

Once officers have stopped or detained a suspect, they may take whatever
investigative actions are reasonable under the circumstances to determine the
suspect’s identity and possible participation in a crime.
Common investigative actions may include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•

conducting a patdown search of the individual for weapons,
questioning the suspects about their identities and conduct,
contacting other individuals to confirm explanations, verifying
identification, or determining whether a person is wanted (warrant check),
or
checking premises, examining objects, or contacting neighbors or other
individuals to determine whether a crime (e.g., burglary) actually occurred.

NOTE:

Length of
detention

Refer to current case law addressing a detainee’s legal obligation
to answer questions posed by officers during a lawful detention.

A detention must be temporary and last no longer than is necessary to carry
out the purpose of the stop. A detention which is legal at the beginning will
become invalid if extended beyond what is reasonably necessary under the
circumstances.
Often what officers see and hear during the detention (evasiveness,
nervousness, conduct, property) will increase their suspicion, justify a longer
detention, and possibly provide probable cause for arrest.
On the other hand, if the suspect satisfactorily answers all questions about the
suspicious circumstances so that suspicion decreases or disappears, the suspect
must be released.
Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Without proper knowledge and understanding of the actions leading to, or
Consequences
of inappropriate during, a pedestrian contact, officers may cause:
detentions
• an improper or unlawful detention or arrest,
• unsuccessful court prosecutions, or
• possible injury to the officers or pedestrians.

Officer
safety

Officers must approach every contact, whether a consensual encounter or a
lawful detention, with officer safety in mind. Complacency, overconfidence,
poor planning, or inappropriate positioning can leave officers vulnerable to
attack.
When making contact with an individual, officers should always:
•

•
•
•

use a field interview position including:
- placement of weak foot forward,
- keeping firearm side away from the individual, and
- standing at a distance which is reasonably safe for the officer.
keep their gun hand free.
be mindful of their surroundings and not become distracted by the business
of the stop (e.g, conducting a field interview, checking identification,
writing a citation, etc.).
be aware of the individual’s:
- hands,
- size, and
- demeanor.

NOTE:

If two officers make contact with a single individual, officers
should employ proper contact and cover officer tactics.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-33

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Multiple
suspects

Along with the safety guidelines noted in the previous block, there are
additional officer safety guidelines that officers should be aware of when a
detention involves multiple pedestrian suspects.
General Guidelines
•

Single Officer

•
•
•

Multiple
Officers

Considerations
prior to
contact

Consider requesting and waiting for backup prior to
making the actual contact.
Avoid being surrounded by individuals by not
allowing them to get too close.
Use proper contact and cover officer tactics.
Use a triangular or “L” shaped position
configuration when conducting the field interview
to prevent being in a cross-fire situation.

Officers should consider a number of factors prior to initiating a lawful
detention of a pedestrian.
Factor
The person’s
appearance

Considerations
•

Does the person appear to:
- fit the description of a suspect wanted for a known
offense?
- be suffering from a recent injury?
- be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other
intoxicants?

Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued

Considerations
prior to
contact
(continued)

Factor

Considerations

The person’s
actions

•

Is the person:
- running away from an actual or possible crime
scene?
- behaving in a manner indicating aggressive
behavior (e.g., posturing, “staring down,” etc.)?
- behaving in a manner indicating criminal conduct?
If so, in what way?

Prior
knowledge of
the person

•

Does the person have a known arrest or conviction
record?
Is the person known to have committed a serious
offense?
Is the crime that has just occurred, or that the officer
believes is about to occur, one that is similar to a past
offense involving the person in question?

•
•

Area of the
proposed
contact

•

Time of day

•
•
•

Is it a very late hour?
Is it an unusual time for people to be in the area?
Is it the time of day during which known criminal
activity has previously taken place?

Number of
suspects

•

Are there a greater number of suspects than patrol
officers?
Is there a need for backup units?

•
•

•

Is the person near the area of a known crime scene
shortly after it occurred?
Is the area at high risk for criminal activity?
If the area is known to have a high crime rate, is it the
kind of activity the person is thought to have
committed, be committing, or about to commit?

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-35

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Approaching
on foot vs.
from patrol
vehicle

Proper safety tactics demand that officers exit their patrol vehicles to conduct
pedestrian contacts. Approaching and conducting the contact on foot allows
officers:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

to devote complete concentration to observing the pedestrian (rather
than dividing attention between driving and observation).
better access to weapons and a clear line of fire if necessary.
better visibility of the pedestrian.
better mobility (rather than being trapped in a vehicle).
the ability to detain and search an individual, if necessary.
greater advantage if a foot pursuit should occur.
Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Tactical
approach
and contact

The following table identifies general guidelines for a safe tactical approach
and contact with a pedestrian subject while on patrol.
Action

General Guidelines

Select
location

-

•

Notify
dispatch

•

Position
•
patrol vehicle •

Approach the
suspect

•
•
•
•

with the least number of escape routes or where
escape routes for the subject can be controlled.
- with the least number of bystanders who could be
injured or used as hostages.
- that is well lit.
Avoid:
- reflective surfaces that may mirror the officer’s
approach.
- intersections.
- locations that could place officers at additional risk
(e.g., bars, known trouble spots, etc.).
prior to the approach regarding:
- location,
- number of subjects,
- reason for contact, and
- the need for backup, if necessary.
Stop the patrol vehicle at a safe and effective distance.
Park the patrol vehicle in a position that will:
- maximize officer safety, and
- keep the subject in the officers’ view at all times.
If necessary, use the patrol vehicle or other available
cover while directing the subject to stop.
Approach the subject from the rear, if possible.
Keep the subject in view at all times.
Watch for suspicious movements that may indicate
escape attempts.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-37

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued

Tactical
approach
and contact
(continued)

Action
Establish contact

General Guidelines
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•

Properly identify oneself as a law
enforcement officer.
Establish cooperation by communicating in a
manner that reflects both authority and
courtesy. (Avoid using a “Hey you, come
here” approach.)
Conduct a patdown search if appropriate.
Use clear and direct verbal commands.
Assume a position of advantage while talking
to the subject.
Keep the subject’s hands in sight at all times.
Maintain proper contact and cover officer
positions.
Watch for suspicious movements to avoid
unexpected attacks.
Observe the subject for unusual behavior
which could suggest the subject is attempting
to conceal contraband or evidence.
Obtain identification.
Contact dispatch using the information from
the identification to:
- verify the information, and
- determine if there are any wants/warrants
for the subject.
Conduct a field interview to obtain
information.
Explain reason for contact.
Decide on appropriate action for the
circumstances (warn, cite, arrest, or release).

Continued on next page

2-38

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Pedestrian Contacts, Continued
Examples

Example:

An officer observed a man standing near the grounds of a
grade school. The man in question resembled the
description of a suspected child molester who had been
approaching children as they left school. The officer
explained the reason for the contact and asked for
identification. The man complied, explaining that he was
a parent waiting for his child. The officer verified the
identification with dispatch and learned there were no
wants/warrants for the person. As the officer ended the
interview, the man thanked the officer for keeping the
school under observation.

Example:

Two officers, working an area of high frequency narcotics
sales, observed a young male stopping vehicle traffic and
having brief conversations with the occupants. The
subject was alert to police presence and when patrol units
approached, he stepped back into an alleyway out of sight.
The officers set up a plan to have additional officers cover
the alleyway, as the officers pulled up to the subject and
made contact. The subject was detained and narcotics
recovered. By developing a plan of action, the officers
were able to make a successful arrest.

Non-example:

An officer on patrol observed a female loitering on a street
in an area known for gang activity. The officer stopped,
exited the patrol car, and approached the woman. The
officer explained the reason for the contact and requested
identification. The woman stated that she had no
identification. The officer did not believe her and asked
the woman again if the purse she was carrying contained
identification. She said it did not. Still not believing her,
the officer grabbed the woman’s purse, opened it, and
located identification. Because this interview was a
consensual encounter, the officer did not have the
authority to search the woman’s purse.

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-39

Plainclothes/Undercover Officer Contact
[21.02.EO12]

Introduction

Example

2-40

While on patrol (or when off duty) officers may encounter officers who are
working as plainclothes/undercover officers. If such an encounter takes place,
officers should take all necessary measures not to draw attention to the
plainclothes/undercover officer.
•

Do not show any recognition towards the plainclothes/undercover officer,
unless that officer initiates the contact. To do so might inadvertently
compromise an undercover operation or investigation.

•

If the plainclothes/undercover officer does not acknowledge the officer,
the officer should treat the plainclothes/undercover officer as any other
private person with whom the officer is not acquainted.

•

If an officer initiates an enforcement contact and then realizes a
plainclothes/undercover officer is part of the group being contacted, the
officer should treat the plainclothes/undercover officer the same as all
other individuals in the group (e.g., maintain cover and control positions,
conduct a patdown search, etc.).

Example:

While off duty, you enter a restaurant and observe one of
your academy classmates seated at a booth with two other
males. They appear to be having a serious conversation.
Your classmate is unshaven and somewhat disheveled,
makes eye contact with you but does not give any
indication of acknowledging you. In this example your
classmate could be engaged in undercover activity, or
merely visiting with friends. Because you don’t know
which, your best course of action is not to acknowledge
your classmate in any way and to continue on about your
business.

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits
[21.02.EO13]

Introduction

Foot pursuits are one of the most dangerous and unpredictable situations for
officers. All foot pursuits must be considered high risk.

Inherent
dangers

Foot pursuits can be difficult to control or coordinate. There are a number of
inherent dangers regarding foot pursuits.
During a foot pursuit:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

the fleeing subject may be armed.
the fleeing suspect controls the route, not the pursuing officer(s).
officers may lose track of their own locations as well as that of the subject.
an officer may be separated from his or her partners.
radio transmissions often become very difficult to understand.
officers can drop and/or lose equipment (e.g., radios, batons, keys, etc.).
officers may be led into high risk areas and become vulnerable to an
ambush situation involving additional suspects.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-41

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Safety
considerations

Officers must consider not only their own safety but the safety of fellow
officers and the public before initiating a foot pursuit. The following table
identifies factors and safety considerations regarding foot pursuits.
Factor

Considerations

Public safety

•

If a foot pursuit represents an unusual risk to the
officer or the public, it may be more desirable to
establish a perimeter and initiate a systematic search
of the area.

Physical
condition of
pursuing
officers

•

During a foot pursuit, the blood supply to an officer’s
brain slows in order to supply blood to the officer’s
muscles enabling the body to “speed up.”

•

When sprinting after a subject, officers may
inadvertently hold their breath during the initial 30+
yards of the pursuit. This can further deplete the brain
of oxygen.

•

If two officers are in very different degrees of physical
condition, there is a greater possibility of the officers
becoming separated during the pursuit. (e.g., One
officer becomes winded and has to drop back or quit
while the other continues alone.)

•

Officers who are winded or fatigued may have greater
difficulty maintaining control of their firearms during
a physical confrontation with a suspect.

Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Safety
considerations
(continued)

Factor

Considerations
•

Officers wear and/or carry in excess of 25 pounds of
leather and equipment. Fleeing subjects may have no
additional weight to carry.

•

Officers may be wearing heavy footwear unsuitable
for running while fleeing suspects may be wearing
running shoes.

•

Holsters can break or snaps come loose during a
rigorous pursuit making it more difficult for officers to
maintain control of their primary and backup firearms
and weapons.

•

Pieces of equipment can easily flap or shake loose or
get caught on objects during a foot pursuit leaving the
officer without necessary items such as radios,
handcuffs, keys to the patrol vehicle, etc.

•

Officers lose the capability of retrieving equipment
that may be left behind in the patrol vehicle.

Ability to
•
follow through
at end of
pursuit
•

Officers must be physically capable of functioning
effectively even at the end of a lengthy foot pursuit.

Available
equipment

Retention of
weapons and
equipment

If a physical confrontation between the subject and
officer takes place at the end of the pursuit, the
pursuing officer must still be capable of gaining and
maintaining control of the subject.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-43

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Justification

Officers should have justification for initiating a foot pursuit of a fleeing
suspect (e.g., the officer observing suspected or actual criminal activity).
Individuals may attempt to flee from an officer for reasons which are
unknown to the officer. For example, they:
•
•
•
•
•

are on probation or parole and do not wish to come into contact with
officers,
have committed other unrelated offenses,
have known wants or warrants out for them,
fear retaliation if seen talking to officers, or
already have “two strikes” against them and do not want to be arrested for
the third.

The implication that “only a guilty person would run from an officer” may not
always be true. In some cultures, law enforcement officers are feared and an
individual may simply be afraid.

Indications
of a plan
to flee

Officers should be aware of a number of possible indicators that a subject,
(who they are approaching or have approached), is about to flee. These may
include, but are not limited to, subjects:
•
•
•
•
•
•

looking around or “scanning” for an avenue of escape,
standing on the balls of their feet,
rocking back and forth or “bouncing” in position,
jumping off of or out of a vehicle,
backing away from an approaching officer (or patrol unit), or
attempting to distract an officer’s attention.
Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Guidelines
for foot
pursuits

The following table presents basic guidelines for conducting a safe and
effective tactical foot pursuit of a fleeing subject.
General Guidelines
Plan of Action

•
•

Working with
a Partner

•
•

Vehicle
Pullovers

•

•

Officers should discuss safety factors as well as
possible plans for taking action in situations
involving fleeing subjects.
Plans may include, but are not limited to:
- actions they would take if a fellow officer is
wounded and a subject flees on foot.
- coordination of who will transmit radio traffic.
- appropriate use of or escalation of force.
If partner officers stay together during a foot pursuit,
there is a greater likelihood that a safe and successful
outcome will occur.
If partners become separated, officers should
reevaluate the level of risk before continuing the
pursuit.
If a foot pursuit begins with the subject fleeing from
a vehicle the officer has just stopped, officers should
generally remain with the vehicle rather than pursue
the subject on foot.
The remaining vehicle may contain:
- additional suspects,
- items that would identify the fleeing suspect,
and/or
- other evidence of criminal activity.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-45

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Guidelines
for foot
pursuits
(continued)

General Guidelines
Pursuits
Around Blind
Corners

•

•

High Obstacles •
(e.g., fences,
walls, etc.)
•

Officers should pursue subjects around blind corners
as widely as possible in order to better see what they
may be approaching. (This tactic may also be
referred to as “cutting the pie,” “slicing the pie,” or
“fanning.”)
If conditions prevent such action, officers may
choose to, when possible:
- use a hand-held mirror to see around the corner
first,
- peer around the corner at a level lower than
where a subject would expect to encounter the
officer, or
- call off the pursuit.
High obstacles may prevent officers from seeing:
- a subject who is lying in wait,
- a vicious dog or other animal,
- dangerous drops or hazardous terrain, or
- other hazardous obstacles on the other side.
Before pursuing a suspect over a high fence or wall,
officers should:
- stop,
- listen, and
- attempt to peer though, over, or around the
obstacle near the point where the subject went
over.

Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Guidelines
for foot
pursuits
(continued)

General Guidelines
Drawn
Firearms

•

Whether or not officers should pursue a subject with
their firearms drawn is generally based on specific
agency policy and may depend on the:
- seriousness of the offense,
- officer’s perception of risk,
- potential for an accidental discharge, and/or
- risk of creating a weapon retention problem.

Poor Visibility

•

Officer safety hazards are greatly increased when a
pursuit is initiated in bad weather, low light, or
nighttime conditions.
Officers may be inhibited from:
- keeping sight of the suspect,
- staying with a partner, or
- identifying hazardous obstacles (e.g., ditches,
rocks, barbed wire, etc.).

•

Pursuits into
Buildings or
Structures

•
•

•

Officers should avoid continuing the pursuit if the
subject flees into a building or other structure.
Following the subject could lead to:
- an ambush situation with “suspect-friendly”
supporters,
- a possible hostage situation, or
- the likelihood that the subject may have access to
weapons within the building/structure.
Under such conditions, officers should:
- establish a perimeter around the
building/structure,
- call for additional support or backup, and
- if conditions allow, coordinate with other officers
to conduct a systematic tactical search of the
building/structure.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-47

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Guidelines
for foot
pursuits
(continued)

General Guidelines
Losing Sight of •
the Suspect

If officers should lose sight of the fleeing subject at
any time during the pursuit, they should:
- stop, look, and listen for possible locations where
the subject could be hiding or the direction the
subject may be moving,
- consider establishing a perimeter in the area,
- call for additional support or backup, and
- if conditions allow, coordinate with other officers
to conduct a systematic tactical search of the area.

Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Examples

Example:

An officer initiated a traffic stop. The driver of the target
vehicle stopped the vehicle and immediately exited the
car and began running down the street. Rather than
pursue the subject on foot, the officer remained with the
subject’s vehicle and contacted dispatch to advise other
units of the situation. The officer gave the location,
direction in which the subject was running, subject
description, and requested assistance. Other units in the
area responded and set up a perimeter. The subject was
located and arrested. By keeping dispatch advised and
requesting backup, the officer apprehended the suspect.

Example:

An officer responded to a domestic violence call. The
suspect in question was on parole for assault. As the
officer drove up to the subject’s residence, he observed
the subject standing outside the house. Before exiting
the car, the officer advised dispatch of the situation, gave
the subject’s history, and requested additional units to
respond to the location. The officer exited the patrol car
and approached the subject who began to run toward an
alley. The officer pursued on foot, advising dispatch of
the direction of travel. As the officer continued the
pursuit, he directed the responding backup units to set up
a perimeter. The fleeing subject ran toward a waiting
officer on the perimeter and was apprehended. The
officer coordinated efforts with other units to safely
locate a potentially violent subject.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-49

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Examples
(continued)

2-50

Non-example:

Using the same scenario as in the previous example, the
officer did not notify dispatch of the subject’s history or
request backup in advance. Instead, when the subject fled,
the officer pursued and during the pursuit communicated
the situation to dispatch and requested backup. Before the
units could arrive, the subject turned and confronted the
officer in the alley. The two struggled and the officer was
injured. By not requesting backup for assistance with a
subject with a history of violence, the officer placed
himself in unnecessary danger.

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

To maintain flexibility and effectiveness, peace officers need to know the
basic tactics and procedures of patrol.

Preparing
for a patrol
assignment
[21.02.EO3]

Preparation prior to beginning a patrol assignment generally includes:

Appropriate
speed
[21.02.EO6]

Officers should patrol at a speed that is reasonable for the tasks they are
performing (e.g., patrolling in heavy traffic, patrolling in a residential or
business area, etc.).

•
•
•
•

preparing mentally to do the job,
checking all personal equipment,
acquiring any necessary resource information and materials/supplies,
inspecting each piece of equipment issued at the beginning of the shift.

Driving at a slower speed while on patrol:
•
•
•
•

provides a maximum opportunity to observe while maintaining effective
control of the vehicle,
contributes to public awareness and visibility,
maximizes contact with members of the community and provides a
positive law enforcement image,
decreases engine noise enabling an officer to get closer to any criminal
activity without being detected.

Vehicle
placement
[21.02.EO7]

Officers should always make a reasonable effort to park their patrol vehicles in
a lawful manner.

Silhouetting
and telltale
noise
[21.02.EO8]

If an officer assumes a position between a suspect and a source of backlight,
the officer’s silhouette could clearly identify the officer’s position to a suspect.
Making any telltale noise can jeopardize officer safety while on patrol.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-51

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Radio
transmissions
[21.02.EO9]

Monitor the frequency, initiate the call, speak clearly, limit the length of the
transmission.

Crime
broadcast
[21.02.EO10]

The effectiveness of crime broadcasts can be greatly affected by the officer’s
ability to clearly transmit timely and relevant information.

Approaching
/detaining a
pedestrian
subject
[21.02.EO11]

Officers must approach every contact, whether a consensual encounter or a
lawful detention, with officer safety in mind.

Plainclothes/
undercover
officers
[21.02.EO12]

While on patrol (or when off duty) officers may encounter other peace officers
who are functioning as plainclothes/undercover officers. If such an encounter
takes place, patrol officers should take all necessary measures not to draw
attention to the plainclothes/undercover officer.

Foot pursuits
of fleeing
suspects
[21.02.EO13]

Foot pursuits are one of the most dangerous and unpredictable situations for
officers. All foot pursuits must be considered high risk.

2-52

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. Why is the term “routine patrol” inappropriate?

2. In addition to preparing all assigned equipment for duty and ensuring its
working condition, officers are also responsible for ensuring their own
mental preparedness. How do you prepare yourself mentally for
concentrating on your course activities? How do you think you will have
to adapt your mental preparation strategies to work effectively as a patrol
officer?

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-53

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Officers on vehicle patrol receive a report of a five-year-old girl abducted
from her day care center by her noncustodial father. As their unit passes
by a large park/recreation area at dusk, one officer spots a man fitting the
suspect’s description carrying a young girl down a park path toward a
wooded picnic area. How should officers proceed? Should they pursue
on foot? What factors should influence this decision? How could the
patrol vehicle be used to best tactical advantage?

4. Officers receive an emergency call to the scene of a domestic violence
incident in which the victim received several blows to the head and is
now unconscious. The incident was reported to 911 by the victim’s
mother who saw the victim’s ex-husband assault her daughter. The
mother gives officers a complete description of the suspect and his
clothing. She also informs officers that the fight was over the victim’s
late model pick-up, in which the suspect drove off after the assault. The
mother adds that her daughter kept a handgun in the truck’s glove
compartment for protection. Write a script of the crime broadcast the
contact officer should transmit regarding this crime. Fill in specific
descriptive details where needed.

Continued on next page

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LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. As an officer conducting a pedestrian interview, how could you tell if the
person you are interviewing might be about to attempt to flee on foot?

6. A bicycle patrol officer has as part of her patrol area a convenience store
located at the end of a wooded suburban bike/walking path. Because the
store is relatively close to the high school, the store is frequented by
groups of teens who often hang out outside of the store. The officer
frequently stops to talk with individual teens. One day, the officer spots
a girl who seems upset. She begins a conversation, but when she asks the
girl what is wrong, the girl says, “I don’t want to talk about it,” and
begins to walk away. The officer says, “Wait a minute,” and the girl
freezes. How should the officer proceed?

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-55

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

7. Refer to the background information in question six. Residents who use
these paths have reported to law enforcement that groups of students
have been smoking marijuana on a path bridge approximately 1/4 mile
from the convenience store. The officer and her partner spot a group of
about five teens walking away from the convenience store, down the path
toward the bridge. The officers decide to follow. They observe the
group gathered at the bridge, smoking some sort of cigarette. One teen
throws the cigarette in the creek when she sees the officers approaching.
The officers recognize two members of the group and choose to make
contact. How should officers continue the approach? What should they
consider, and what should they watch for? How would the situation
change if officers smell marijuana as they make contact?

8. The manager of a local supermarket calls officers to the scene after a
cashier is robbed at gunpoint. The cashier provides a detailed description
of the suspect, including what he was wearing. On patrol following this
interview, officers spot a person matching this description and detain
him. The suspect refuses to answer questions until he sees an attorney.
How should officers proceed? If the cashier has gone off duty and is not
expected home for approximately two hours, should officers continue to
detain the suspect? Why or why not?

2-56

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Glossary
Introduction

The following glossary terms apply only to Learning Domain 21: Patrol
Techniques.

call sign

Law enforcement radio caller/receiver identification information

concealment

Anything that prevents an opponent from observing the officer

consensual
encounter

Contact between a private person and a peace officer where the person is not
obligated to stay, cooperate or answer questions

contact
officer

The officer initiating an action who becomes responsible for conducting the
contact

cover

Anything that may stop or deflect an opponent’s weapons

cover
officer

The officer responsible for surveillance and control of a suspect in order to
free the contact officer to perform a thorough investigation

crime
broadcast

Critical information regarding criminal activity transmitted by law
enforcement radio communication

detention

An assertion of authority that would cause reasonable persons to believe they
are obligated to stay, cooperate, or answer questions
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Glossary

G-1

Glossary, Continued
emergency
radio traffic

Law enforcement radio communications with the highest priority (e.g., inprogress felonies, officer calls for help, crime broadcasts, etc.)

non-emergency
radio traffic

Lower priority law enforcement radio communications (e.g., status changes,
calls for service, etc.)

observation

The ability to gather information by noting facts or occurrences with a
heightened sense of awareness

officer
safety

The practical application of tactically sound procedures to perform law
enforcement activities in a safe and effective manner

perception

The personal analysis derived from an observation; involves interpreting
observations, organizing them, and attaching meaning or significance to them

reasonable
suspicion

When a peace officer has facts and circumstances to make it reasonable for the
officer to suspect that criminal activity may be afoot, and that the person
detained is connected to that activity

trained
observers

Officers who practice disciplined observation, and apply training and
experience to accurately perceive what is occurring or is about to occur

G-2

LD 21 – Glossary

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 22
Vehicle Pullovers
Version 3.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 22
Vehicle Pullovers
Version 3.1
© Copyright 2005
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published February 2000
Revised August 2004
Revised July 2005
Workbook Correction January 20, 2009

This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:

From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Deborah Linden - Chairman

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Michael Sobek, Vice Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Long Beach Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert T. Doyle

Sheriff
Marin County

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Scott Himelstein

Public Member

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Henry T. Perea

Councilman
City of Fresno

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Michael Sobek

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Gil Van Attenhoven

Senior Special Agent
California Department of Justice

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law
Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers
Table of Contents

Topic

See Page

Preface

iii

Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook
Chapter 1:

iii
iv

Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-1

Overview
Categories of Vehicle Pullovers
Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

1-1
1-3
1-8
1-16
1-18

Chapter 2:

Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle
Pullovers

Overview
Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover
Approaching the Target Vehicle
Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

2-1

2-1
2-4
2-13
2-24
2-35
2-37

Continued on next page

LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers

i

Table of Contents, Continued

Topic
Chapter 3:

High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-1

Overview
Officer Safety Considerations
Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle
Pullovers
Vehicle Searches
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

3-1
3-3
3-7

Chapter 4:

Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Overview
Van, Campers, and Motor Homes
Motorcycles
Buses and Semi-Trucks
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Glossary

ii

See Page

3-14
3-19
3-21
4-1
4-1
4-2
4-8
4-10
4-13
4-14
G-1

LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising peace
officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where the
POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
•
•
•

chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

E-4

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis section at the end of each chapter to
review the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary for a definition of important terms. The
terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and underlined the
first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter 1
Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize the inherent risks involved when conducting a
vehicle pullover in order to take the appropriate precautions necessary to
ensure their own safety as well as the safety of others.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be E.O. Code
able to...
•

describe the three basic categories of vehicle pullovers,
to include:
- traffic enforcement pullover,
- investigative pullover,
- high-risk pullover.

22.01.EO1
22.01.EO2
22.01.EO3

•

describe the inherent risks to officer safety that are
associated with conducting a vehicle pullover.

22.01.EO4

•

demonstrate appropriate actions officers can take to
maintain their own safety and the safety of others while
conducting a vehicle pullover.

22.01.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on basic safety considerations associated with vehicle
pullovers. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

1-2

See Page

Categories of Vehicle Pullovers

1-3

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover

1-8

Chapter Synopsis

1-16

Workbook Learning Activities

1-18

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Categories of Vehicle Pullovers
[22.01.EO1, 22.01.EO2, 22.01.EO3]

Introduction

Conducting vehicle pullovers is one of the most frequent duties that a patrol
officer will perform. Peace officers conduct vehicle pullovers for a wide
variety of reasons ranging from issuing a citation for an equipment violation to
apprehending an armed and dangerous felon. It is not unusual for a patrol
officer to stop at least one car per shift, if not more.

Ethics

Stereotyping or deciding how to conduct a vehicle stop based on the
appearance of the passengers or the vehicle is bad for the community, bad for
the officer, and against the law. Every traffic stop must be based on a standard
of reasonable suspicion or probable cause consistent with the Fourth
Amendment of the United States Constitution. Also, every stop must meet the
“equal protection of the laws” standard established by the Fourteenth
Amendment of the United States Constitution. That is, race, ethnicity, or
national origin may not be considered in any fashion or to any degree by law
enforcement, except when officers are looking for specific suspects identified
in part by those criteria.

Levels
of risk

Conducting a vehicle pullover can be one of the most dangerous duties a
patrol officer can perform. Violent acts that have taken place during a vehicle
pullover are among the leading causes of officer injuries and death.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-3

Categories of Vehicle Pullovers, Continued
Levels
of risk
(continued)

A key consideration when preparing to make a vehicle pullover is the amount
of risk perceived by the patrol officer. All vehicle pullovers will fall into one
of the two risk levels noted in the following table.
Perceived
Level of
Risk

Vehicle pullovers that
generally involve...

Examples

Unknown
risk

• traffic or equipment
violations,
• suspicious activity,
• a citizen request, or
• certain misdemeanors.

High-risk

• felony violations,
• Stopping a vehicle that
matches one used in a
• serious misdemeanors,
drive by shooting
• vehicles that match a
description given during a • Pulling over a vehicle that
has just been involved in a
crime broadcast, or
serious traffic accident and
• stolen vehicles (often
failed to stop
used in other serious
crimes).

NOTE:

• Stopping a vehicle to
notify the owner of a
broken tail light
• Pulling over a suspicious
vehicle that is cruising in a
deserted business area late
at night

Individual agency policies may differ regarding which types of
crimes would be considered “high-risk.”
Continued on next page

1-4

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Categories of Vehicle Pullovers, Continued
Risk
assessment

As a general rule, risk assessment refers to the level of anticipated risk
involved with any vehicle pullover based on the officer’s perception of danger
due to a suspect’s conduct, or advance knowledge. This knowledge may come
from sources such as, but not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

Categories
of vehicle
pullovers

that officer’s personal observations,
information from dispatch,
information obtained by running the vehicle’s license plate,
number of occupants in the vehicle,
availability of assistance/back up units, or
other means the officer may reasonably rely upon, e.g., crime broadcasts,
criminal information bulletins, hot sheets, attempts to locate (ATLs),
personal crime notes.

Vehicle pullovers can also be generally divided into three basic categories
based on the degree of risk anticipated.
•
•
•

Traffic enforcement pullovers
Investigative pullovers
High-risk pullovers

NOTE:

Individual departments may describe the types of vehicle
pullovers differently. Some agencies may use terms such as “car
stop,” “traffic stop” or “vehicle stop” interchangeably with the
term “vehicle pullover.”
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-5

Categories of Vehicle Pullovers, Continued
Category
descriptions

The following table identifies a number of general conditions for conducting
each category of pullover.
are generally made because a
patrol officer has...

Examples

Traffic
enforcement
pullovers...

• reason to believe the driver has
committed a traffic infraction.
• no objective reason to believe
that the vehicle’s occupants
represent an unusual risk.
• an expectation that the pullover
would result in a citation.

• Pulling over a
vehicle after
witnessing the
driver’s failure to
stop at a stop sign

Investigative
pullovers...

• an expectation that the pullover
involves less risk than a “highrisk” pullover, but more than a
traffic enforcement pullover.
• reason to believe that one or
more of the vehicle’s occupants
has engaged, or is about to
engage, in criminal activity.
• an expectation that the pullover
would involve an investigation
that might lead to a custodial
arrest for a violation of the
Vehicle Code, the Penal Code
or other statute.

• Officer suspects
driver is drunk.
• Officer observes
occupants smoking
marijuana.
• Officer observes
black out vehicle
in a high crime
area at night.

Continued on next page

1-6

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Categories of Vehicle Pullovers, Continued

Category
descriptions
(continued)

Changing
nature of
pullover

are generally made because a
patrol officer has...
High-risk
pullovers...

• reason to believe that one or
more of the occupants of the car
may be:
- armed,
- represent a serious threat to
the officer, or
- have committed a felony.

Examples
• Occupants
involved in a
drive-by shooting
• Occupant in
possession of a
firearm

A patrol officer may make observations that would cause a traffic enforcement
or investigative pullover to escalate to the level of a high-risk pullover. The
patrol officer’s observations may also make de-escalation appropriate.
Example:

During a traffic stop for a car with a missing taillight, a
patrol officer noticed several empty beer cans on the floor
of the car. The officer now has reason to believe the driver
may have been drinking alcohol while driving. The traffic
pullover has now escalated to an investigative pullover.

Example:

A patrol officer stopped a car for running a stop sign. As
the officer approached the driver, the officer observed what
appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon on the front
passenger seat of the car. Because the officer now has
reason to believe the driver may be armed, what began as a
traffic pullover has escalated from a traffic stop to a highrisk pullover. The officer will take added safety
precautions in approaching the vehicle.

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-7

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover
[22.01.EO4, 22.01.EO5]

Introduction

Conducting vehicle pullovers can be one of the most dangerous duties a peace
officer performs. Violence related to vehicle pullovers is among the leading
causes of peace officer injuries and deaths.

Officer
safety

Officer safety refers to the practical application of tactically sound procedures
in conducting all categories of vehicle pullovers. Specifically, officer safety
involves:
•
•
•
•

developing a plan of action prior to initiating the pullover,
requesting and using backup assistance when necessary,
appropriately using communication/notification resources, and
applying safe and sound tactics when:
- initiating the pullover,
- approaching the vehicle, and
- making contact with the vehicle occupants.

NOTE:

Because of the frequency of vehicle pullovers, peace officers can
come to regard such tasks as “routine.” Such complacency
compromises officer safety by causing officers to ignore danger
signs during vehicle pullovers.
Peace officers should handle all vehicle pullovers with caution
and always keep in mind that no vehicle pullover is “routine.”
Continued on next page

1-8

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover,
Continued

Inherent
safety
hazards

Statistical analysis has shown that vehicle pullovers are the third most
dangerous law enforcement activity a patrol officer can encounter. (California
Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted in the Line of Duty, 2001)
Safety hazards that may be inherent with vehicle pullovers include, but are not
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•

Jeopardizing
officer
safety

unpredictable aggressive actions by the violator/suspect or bystanders,
unknown identity of the violator/suspect, (e.g., dangerous felon wanted for
a crime not associated with the traffic stop)
dangerous environmental conditions, (e.g., fog, ice, bright sunshine, etc.)
varying road conditions, (e.g., multiple lane traffic, narrow or no
shoulders, etc.) or
the existence of other vehicular traffic on the same roadway.

Patrol officers who fail to recognize the inherent dangers of conducting a
vehicle pullover may ignore danger signs and fail to take appropriate
precautions.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-9

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover,
Continued

Fatal
errors

Experience has shown that there are a number of common errors that officers
can make while conducting a vehicle pullover. Committing any one can place
an officer’s safety in jeopardy.
The following table identifies the most common errors made by officers that
place them at risk during vehicle pullovers.
Error

Example

“Tombstone
Courage”
• Overly anxious to
show courage
• Trying to handle
dangerous
situations beyond
officer’s ability
or experience
• Failure to call for
back-up when
necessary

A patrol officer stopped a car for speeding on a city
street. After pulling the car over and before exiting
the patrol car, the officer noticed the car contained
five occupants who were dressed like members of a
local gang. Instead of calling for assistance and
waiting for the backup unit to arrive, the officer
decided to handle the pullover alone. As the officer
approached the car, the driver pulled out a hand gun
and shot the officer.

Poor positioning
• Failure to
exercise caution
in positioning of
officer and/or
patrol vehicle
• Rushing into a
situation without
planning the
pullover

During an investigative pullover, a patrol officer
interviewed the driver while both the officer and the
driver were standing behind the target vehicle. The
officer began to search the trunk of the target
vehicle while the driver stood near. While the
officer was searching the trunk, the driver and one
occupant of the car attacked the officer, took the
officer’s weapon and fled. The officer allowed the
suspect to get too close and should not have
conducted a vehicle search alone.

Continued on next page

1-10

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover,
Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Error

Example

Physical and mental fatigue
• Failure to get adequate rest
• Attention and reflexes are
compromised.

An officer, who had been working a
great deal of overtime, was assigned to a
DUI checkpoint. After several hours
standing on the line, the overtired officer
began to conduct less thorough
screenings.

Failure to watch a suspect’s
hands
• Officer misses occupant(s)
reaching for a firearm or
other deadly weapon, or
• Officer fails to notice
suspect disposing of
evidence.

Officers stopped a vehicle and ordered
the driver to exit the vehicle and
approach the officers. As he
approached, the driver dropped a small
bag of drugs, unnoticed by the officers.
The officers later located the drugs as
they were searching the area near the car.
But because they were not watching the
driver’s hands when this occurred, they
were not able to connect the evidence to
the driver.

Complacency
• Process becomes routine
• Ignoring signs occupant(s)
are an immediate threat

During a traffic enforcement pullover,
the driver appeared to be very nervous
and agitated. The patrol officer ignored
the driver’s nervousness, and after
obtaining the driver’s licenses and I.D.,
walked back to the patrol car to write the
citation. As the officer walked away, the
driver reached under the seat, pulled out
a handgun and began shooting at the
officer.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-11

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover,
Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Error

Example

Bad attitude
• Treating vehicle occupant(s)
disrespectfully

A patrol officer stopped a vehicle for an
equipment violation. The driver was
furious at being stopped and yelled,
“Why don’t you go out and catch real
criminals?” The officer also became
angry and yelled back at the driver,
threatening him with arrest. The
situation escalated with the driver
refusing to cooperate at all. Additional
units were called and another officer
managed to calm the situation and issued
the citation to the driver.

Relaxing too soon
• Uneventful vehicle
pullovers
• Becoming careless

A patrol officer, near the end of an
uneventful shift, stopped a car for
speeding. The officer quickly obtained
the driver license and I.D., returned to
the patrol car and began writing the
citation. The officer’s partner observed
that the driver and passenger were
talking animatedly and seemed to be
searching on the floor of the car. The
second officer approached the car on the
passenger side and saw a handgun on the
floor near the driver.

Continued on next page

1-12

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover,
Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Error

Example

Not using available equipment
properly
• Failure to cuff or use other
restraints when necessary
• Improperly cuffing a
prisoner

Two officers arrested a suspect on a DUI
and placed the suspect in the patrol
vehicle. The suspect was well-known to
the officers and was always docile and
cooperative. The officers did not
handcuff the suspect before placing him
in the patrol car. While being removed
from the patrol car, the suspect assaulted
one of the officers, injuring him, before
being subdued by both officers.

Failure to search or
conducting a poor search
• Cursory search of the
occupant(s) or vehicle
• Failure to locate firearms,
other deadly weapons or
contraband

In the previous example, the officers did
handcuff the suspect but conducted only
a cursory search because the officers
were well-acquainted with the suspect
and felt he presented no risk. After the
suspect was transported to the local
detention facility, the suspect was found
to have a handgun in a coat pocket.

Inadequate communication
• Not communicating with
partner and/or other units
• Not establishing roles
(contact, cover, etc.)

During a high-risk vehicle pullover, one
officer noticed that there was a child in
the target vehicle. Without telling the
other officers of his intention, the officer
immediately approached the target
vehicle to remove the child. The officer
left cover and concealment, without
communicating with fellow officers, and
created a danger of cross-fire.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-13

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover,
Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Error

Example

Poor weapon maintenance
• Undependable weapon
resulting in injury or death
to officer

An officer conducted a traffic
enforcement pullover on a vehicle that ran
a stop sign. The officer, observing the
driver reaching for something on the front
seat, immediately pulled his weapon. The
driver came up with a gun and began
shooting at the officer. The officer tried
to return fire but the weapon failed to fire
because the officer had not cleaned the
sidearm after last qualifying at the firing
range.

Continued on next page

1-14

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Officer Safety While Conducting a Vehicle Pullover,
Continued

Officer
safety
guidelines

Along with general safety guidelines for officers on patrol, there are a number
of guidelines that officers should be aware of relating to vehicle pullovers.
Officer Safety
Guideline

Additional Information

Be aware that suspects
have guns.

•

Assume the person being stopped or
contacted may be armed.

Call in contacts.

•

Dispatch should be notified of all contacts
including the nature and location of every
stop.

Maintain a position of
advantage.

•

Identify, plan, then move to a position that is
advantageous.
Do not abandon the location until it is safe.

•
Consider varying
vehicle approach.

•

A passenger side approach can be
advantageous for officer safety in many
situations.

Know location of the
vehicle pullover.

•

Know the street name, cross street, and
direction of travel of every pullover.

NOTE:

For additional officer safety guidelines for officers on patrol
assignments, refer to LD 21: Patrol Techniques and LD 23:
Crimes in Progress.

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-15

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize the inherent risks involved when conducting a
vehicle pullover in order to take the appropriate precautions necessary to
ensure their own safety as well as the safety of others.

Categories
of vehicle
pullovers

The following table identifies a number of general conditions for conducting
each category of pullover.
are generally made because a patrol officer has...
Traffic
Enforcement
Pullovers
[22.01.EO1]

•
•
•

Investigative
Pullovers
[22.01.EO2]

•
•
•

High-Risk
Pullovers
[22.01.EO3]

•

•

reason to believe the driver has committed a traffic
infraction.
no objective reason to believe that the vehicle’s
occupants represent an unusual risk.
an expectation that the pullover would result in a
citation.
an expectation that the pullover involves less risk
than a “high-risk” pullover, but more than a traffic
enforcement pullover.
reason to believe that one or more of the vehicle’s
occupants has engaged, or is about to engage, in
criminal activity.
an expectation that the pullover would involve an
investigation that might lead to a custodial arrest
for a violation of the Vehicle Code, the Penal Code
or other statute.
reason to believe that one or more of the occupants
of the car may be:
- armed,
- represent a serious threat to the officer, or
- have committed a felony.
an expectation that the pullover could result in an
arrest.

Continued on next page

1-16

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Inherent
safety
hazards
[22.01.EO4]

Safety hazards that are inherent with vehicle pullovers include, but are not
limited to:

Officer
safety
[22.01.EO5]

The most common error made by officers that place them at risk during
pullovers may include:

•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

unpredictable aggressive actions by the violator/suspect or bystanders,
unknown identity of the violator/suspect,
dangerous environmental conditions,
varying road conditions, or
the existence of other vehicular traffic on the same roadway.

tombstone courage,
poor positioning,
physical and mental fatigue,
failure to watch a suspect’s hands,
complacency,
bad attitude,
relaxing too soon,
not using available equipment properly,
failure to search or conducting a poor search,
inadequate communication, and
poor weapon maintenance.

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-17

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

In order to help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a
selection of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided.
However, by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a
response.

Activity
questions

1. Highway patrol officers observe a car that appears to be speeding and pace
the vehicle at 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. List three additional observations
officers might make that would escalate this traffic enforcement pullover
situation into an investigative pullover. List three observations that would
lead officers to consider this a high-risk pullover.

2. On late night patrol through a neighborhood with a high drug related crime
rate, Officers Franklin and Estefan notice a sports car being driven
erratically, speeding up, and slowing down, and crossing the center line
several times. Officer Franklin says, “Looks like we’re picking up drunks
again tonight.” Though the car has not been the subject of any
communication from dispatch and running the plates shows no warrants,
Officer Estefan tells his partner he has a “funny feeling” about this stop.
He wants to treat it as high-risk. Considering the safety of the officers and
the rights of the driver, how do you think the stop should be treated?
Explain your response.

Continued on next page

1-18

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Officers observe a car run a light on a foggy, rainy night during rush hour.
The car matches a general description given of a car involved in a hit and
run that occurred in the previous half hour. Due to construction in the
right lane, there is no shoulder lane in which to conduct a pullover. Assess
the risks of this pullover. What type of pullover should the officers
conduct? Explain your response, including the legal justification. What
actions could officers take to help reduce the risk?

4. On a busy county road a peace officer makes his tenth stop of the day for
speeding. The officer casually walks up to the car containing four teens
and knocks on the rolled up car window. He glances at his watch to note
the time. As the officer looks up, he sees the front seat passenger shoving
something in her purse. When the driver rolls down the window, the
officer smells the odor of marijuana. He announces, “All right kids, let’s
get out of the car.” At this point the officer is momentarily distracted by
another car passing closely. As he looks back around, he is shot by the
driver. What errors did this officer commit that may have cost him his
life? What could he have done differently that would have helped ensure
his own safety?

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

1-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Student notes

1-20

LD 22 – Chapter 1: Introduction to Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter 2
Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must understand the techniques for conducting tactically sound
vehicle pullovers.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...
•

demonstrate the safety techniques when initiating a
vehicle pullover, including:
- selecting an appropriate location,
- safety factors (e.g., out of flow of traffic)
- visibility to passing traffic
- avoidance of potentially hostile environments
- lighting/illumination
- possible escape routes
- availability of cover and concealment.
- communicating with dispatch.
- getting the attention of the driver of the target
vehicle,
- lights (e.g., emergency lights, headlights,
spotlights)
- hand gestures
- horn/audible devices
- siren
- maintaining appropriate distance from target
vehicle prior to initiating the pullover.

E.O. Code

22.02.EO1

22.02.EO2
22.02.EO3

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-1

Overview, Continued

Learning
objectives
(continued)

After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to...

E.O. Code

•

demonstrate appropriate actions for the safe and tactical
placement of the patrol unit.

22.02.EO4

•

apply appropriate procedures for exiting the patrol unit.

22.02.EO5

•

demonstrate appropriate safety precautions patrol
officers should take when approaching a target vehicle
on foot.

22.02.EO6

•

distinguish between the advantages and disadvantages of
a driver side approach, a passenger side approach, and a
non-approach to a target vehicle.

22.02.EO7

•

demonstrate appropriate positioning for patrol officers
when making face to face contact with the driver of a
target vehicle.

22.02.EO8

•

demonstrate the process for conducting a vehicle stop,
driver contact, to include:
- greeting,
- identifying self and department,
- requesting driver’s license, registration, proof of
insurance,
- explaining the reason for the stop,
- making a decision to warn, cite or arrest, and
closing, appropriate to decision.

22.02.EO11

•

Continued on next page

2-2

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Overview, Continued

Learning
objectives
(continued)

After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to...

In this chapter

E.O. Code

•

demonstrate appropriate procedures and communication
techniques for directing the driver and occupants out of a
target vehicle.

22.02.EO9

•

apply appropriate procedures for checking the validity
and authenticity of a driver’s license or other form of
personal identification.

22.02.EO10

This chapter focuses on basic tactics for vehicle pullovers. Refer to the chart
below for specific topics.
Topic

See Page

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover

2-4

Approaching the Target Vehicle

2-13

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants

2-24

Chapter Synopsis

2-35

Workbook Learning Activities

2-37

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-3

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover
[22.02.EO1, 22.02.EO2 22.02.EO3]

Introduction

In many instances where patrol officers were assaulted during vehicle
pullovers, the officers had failed to plan ahead and develop an action plan to
help ensure officer safety and a successful outcome to the enforcement action.

Considerations
in planning
a pullover

The actions a patrol officer may take during a vehicle pullover may be
dependent on the:
•
•
•
•

Justification
for
pullover

type of offense involved,
level of perceived threat,
environmental conditions, (e.g., weather, lighting, road surface, etc.)
and/or
type of vehicle being pulled over.

Patrol officers must be able to articulate, verbally and in writing, a legal
reason for initiating each vehicle pullover. The following table identifies
examples of lawful reasons based on the category of pullover.
Pullover
Category
Traffic
pullover

Examples of Lawful Justifications
•
•

Driver fails to come to a complete stop at a stop sign.
A vehicle’s muffler is not working properly and the
vehicle is violating noise standards (or any other vehicle
code violation.)

Continued on next page

2-4

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued

Justification
for
pullover
(continued)

Pullover
Category
Investigative
pullover

•
•

A vehicle resembles one reportedly used in a crime.
A vehicle is being operated erratically.

High-risk
pullover

•
•

Occupant of vehicle is displaying a weapon.
A vehicle is identified as one stolen during a car jacking.

NOTE:

Selecting
a pullover
location

Examples of Lawful Justifications

If the patrol is a two-person unit, the officer must make sure that
the partner is aware of any relevant observations that impact the
type of reason for the pullover. Solo beat officers should advise
communication of reason for the stop.

Once the officer has a lawful justification for initiating a vehicle pullover, that
officer should anticipate possible locations for the actual pullover to take
place. The initiating patrol officer, not the driver of the target vehicle, should
select the pullover site.
If a suitable site is not immediately available, the officer may choose to defer
initiating the stop until the officer is able to identify an appropriate location.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-5

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued
Selecting
a pullover
location
(continued)

The following table identifies a number of factors for the patrol officer’s
consideration.
Factor

Possible Considerations

Traffic

•
•
•

Speed of passing vehicles
Number of lanes available
Availability of adequate shoulder so flow of traffic is
not disrupted

Visibility

•
•

Visibility of the patrol vehicle to other motorists
Amount and size of curves leading to the location of
the stop (e.g., existence of blind curves)
Weather conditions (e.g., fog, rain, snow, etc.)

•
Illumination

•
•

Areas with too much or too little light
Level of distraction emergency lights will have on
other motorists (e.g., flashing lights, headlamps, etc.)

Public safety

•

Initiating a high-risk pullover in an area with a greater
level of risk to the public (e.g., near a school
playground, near a busy intersection, in an area with
heavy pedestrian traffic, etc.)

NOTE:

The target vehicle is the vehicle that is the object of the law
enforcement action.
Continued on next page

2-6

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued
Patrol officers need to also select a location that presents the safest tactical
advantages to the officers. Tactical issues that should be considered by the
patrol officer include but are not limited to:

Tactical
safety
issues

•
•
•
•
•

Communication
with dispatch

possible escape routes for the occupants of the target vehicle.
possible tactical retreat routes for the officer(s).
availability of cover and concealment.
avoidance of potentially hostile environments (e.g., angry crowd, unruly
groups, etc.).
avoidance of other interference potential (e.g., pedestrian traffic, difficulty
maintaining patrol vehicle security).

Prior to initiating the actual pullover, patrol officers should notify dispatch of
their intended actions. Depending on the capabilities of the patrol unit and
agency policy, communication may be made via radio or a Mobile Data
Terminal (MDT) within the patrol vehicle, if there are two persons in the unit
or circumstances allow.
Patrol officers should provide information such as:
•
•
•
•

the anticipated location of the pullover and direction of travel.
a license number and vehicle description of the target vehicle.
the legal justification or nature of pullover (e.g., stopping a suspected DUI
or stopping a stolen vehicle).
any other information pertinent to the pullover (e.g., information on
weapons, number of occupants, etc.).
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-7

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued
Communication
with dispatch
(continued)

Distance
between
vehicles

Officers should make sure all communications are completed before initiating
the vehicle pullover.
NOTE:

Other patrol units may not be aware of vehicle pullovers in the
area when communication is made solely over a MDT.

NOTE:

It may also be advisable for the patrol officer to write down the
license number and a short vehicle description of the target
vehicle before initiating the pullover. Such redundant
information may be helpful if an officer assault occurs during the
pullover.

It is important to maintain a proper distance between the patrol vehicle and the
target vehicle at the time the pullover is initiated.
IF the patrol
vehicle is...

THEN...

too far from the
target vehicle,

the driver of the target
close enough so the
vehicle may be able to flee. officer can maintain
visual contact with
occupant(s) and/or their
activities.

too close to the
target vehicle,

there may be a greater
potential for a rear-end
collision if the driver of the
target vehicle should make
a sudden stop.

NOTE:

The patrol vehicle
should be:

positioned far enough
behind the target vehicle
so the patrol officer can
read the license plate of
the target vehicle.

For high-risk vehicle pullovers, officers should maintain a
greater distance from the target vehicle, generally two to three
car lengths or 20 to 30 feet.
Continued on next page

2-8

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued
Getting
the driver’s
attention

Once a suitable location has been identified and the patrol unit is in the proper
position, the patrol officer can activate the warning lights on the patrol vehicle
in an attempt to get the attention of the driver of the target vehicle.
If the driver fails to respond to the warning lights, it may be necessary for the
patrol officer to utilize one or more of the following additional methods.
•
•
•
•
•
•

Agency
policy

Honk the horn.
Alternate high and low beams (day or night).
Pan the spotlight, but avoid keeping it in one position which might blind
the driver of the target vehicle.
Use appropriate hand gestures, such as waving the person to the side of the
road.
Use the patrol vehicle’s public address system to direct the driver to pull
over.
Give a short blast of the siren.

Individual agency policies may vary regarding procedures for planning and
initiating vehicle pullovers and initiating a pursuit of a noncompliant driver.
Each patrol officer is responsible for knowing and complying with the policies
and guidelines for that officer’s agency.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-9

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued
Failure
to yield

Occasionally, a patrol officer may encounter a driver who will not yield to any
of the techniques previously noted. While this may be a deliberate failure to
yield, officers should also consider the possibility that the driver has the radio
or CD player turned at full volume or is talking on a cell phone.
Another possibility is that the driver has a physical impairment such as a
hearing deficit. For example, an officer may encounter a deaf or hearing
impaired driver during a traffic stop. That driver may not hear the officer or
even be aware of the officer’s presence.
NOTE:

Vehicle
pursuits

For further information regarding persons with disabilities,
consult LD 37: Persons with Disabilities.

If a driver of the target vehicle is aware of an officer’s signals to stop but
ignores them and continues to flee, patrol officers may initiate a vehicle
pursuit of the suspect if:
•
•
•

they have reason to believe the suspect presents a clear and immediate
threat to the safety of others, or
the suspect has committed or attempted to commit a violation of the law,
and
the necessity of immediate apprehension outweighs the level of danger
created by the pursuit.

Officers must also make an honest assessment of their own training and
experience, as well as the capabilities and limitations of the vehicle they are
driving before they initiate a pursuit.
NOTE:

For additional information regarding vehicle pursuits, refer to
LD 19: Vehicle Operations.
Continued on next page

2-10

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued
Examples

Example:

An officer on patrol observed a vehicle with two occupants
driving late at night with no lights in an area where a large
number of burglaries had taken place. Because of the time
and location, the officer realized the possibility that the
occupants may have been involved in illegal activity.
Based on discussions that had been held with other units
during roll call, the officer called for backup and followed
the vehicle. While following the vehicle, the officer noted
the license number, description of car and occupants.
When the backup unit arrived, the officer communicated
all information to the backup unit and to dispatch. The
officer selected a well lit area for the pullover, turned on
the patrol car’s lights and initiated the pullover.

Example:

A patrol officer in a rural area observed headlights on a
side road at 2:00 am. The patrol officer knew the road had
limited traffic, being chiefly used for fishing and hunting
access, as well as for drug use and the dumping of cars.
The officer stopped at a location where she could observe
the vehicle and called for assistance. As the car drove past,
the officer relayed the license number, description of the
car, and number and description of the occupants. The
occupants were three male teenagers who appeared to be
wearing gang insignia. The officer followed the vehicle
while waiting for a backup unit to arrive. The driver of the
vehicle, noticing the patrol car, pulled over and stopped on
a dark stretch of the road. The officer did not approach the
vehicle, but directed the occupants to remain in the vehicle.
The officer notified dispatch of her location and waited for
the backup unit. When the backup unit arrived, the officer
initiated a high-risk pullover.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-11

Planning and Initiating a Vehicle Pullover, Continued
Examples
(continued)

2-12

Non-example:

A patrol officer observed a white panel van driving 15
miles above the speed limit on a busy city street. The
officer remembered that a white van had been used in a
robbery earlier in the day. The officer followed the van,
signaling for the driver to pull over immediately. The van
pulled over next to the entrance to a high school that was
letting out students for the day. Because the officer
initiated the stop immediately and didn’t locate a good
tactical location for the stop, the pullover occurred in an
area where others could be at risk.

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Approaching the Target Vehicle
[22.02.EO4, 22.02.EO5, 22.02.EO6, 22.02.EO7]

Introduction

Officer safety depends on a thorough understanding of the tactical and safety
considerations involved in approaching the target vehicle.

Risk
assessment

Patrol officers must constantly assess and reassess the level of risk throughout
the vehicle pullover process. Letting one’s guard down or becoming
complacent at any time could give the suspect(s) an opportunity to assault the
officer conducting the stop.
While the driver of the target vehicle is yielding to the patrol officer’s signal
to pull over, the patrol officer should:
•
•

•

Placement
of target
vehicle

determine the number of occupants in the vehicle,
carefully observe the occupant(s) actions such as:
- reaching under the seat, into any compartment (e.g., glove
compartment), or
- leaning over the front seat into the back, and
consider requesting additional assistance/backup officers if the patrol
officer perceives a high level of potential risk.

It is the patrol officer’s responsibility to direct the target vehicle to a safe
location for stopping. If the driver of the target vehicle stops in an unsafe
location, the patrol officer should instruct the person to move the vehicle to a
different and safer location.
If the driver of the target vehicle appears to be impaired (e.g., intoxicated), the
target vehicle should not be moved. The patrol vehicle should be positioned
so as to afford protection to the target vehicle. The officer should approach
the target vehicle, activate the lights and call for assistance for traffic control.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-13

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued
Placement
of the
patrol unit

Patrol officers must select a safe and tactical position for the placement of the
patrol unit. The actual distance from the patrol unit to the target vehicle will
depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:
•
•
•
•

Offset
position

the type of pullover,
the type of vehicle being stopped,
available space, and
environment/topography.

Placing the patrol vehicle in an offset position means the officer will:
•
•

stop behind and slightly to the right or left of the target vehicle,
with the center of the patrol vehicle in line with the right or left fender of
the target vehicle (whichever is the most appropriate).

Placing the patrol vehicle in an offset position generally provides additional
protection for the patrol officer while approaching the target vehicle on foot.
NOTE:

Placing the patrol unit in an offset position may not be
appropriate for pullovers involving some types of vehicles (e.g.,
motor homes, RVs).
Continued on next page

2-14

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued
Emergency
lighting

Once the patrol vehicle is in an appropriate position, officers may consider
turning off the patrol unit emergency lights and activating the vehicle’s hazard
lights.
The following table identifies a number of considerations for appropriate use
of patrol unit warning and emergency lights during a vehicle pullover.
IF...

THEN patrol officers should consider...

•

the location of the pullover
creates a hazardous
condition,

•

leaving the patrol unit’s rear flashing
lights activated.

•

the patrol unit’s lights
could distract or hinder
visibility of passing
motorists or oncoming
traffic,

•

not using their high beams, spotlights,
emergency lights.

•

it is essential that
responding backup units
locate the initial patrol unit
quickly,

•

using a maximum amount of lighting.
(overhead lights, emergency lights)

•

low light conditions exist,

•

illuminating the target vehicle with
high beam headlights or spotlights.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-15

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued

Emergency
lighting
(continued)

Exiting the
patrol unit

IF...

THEN patrol officers should consider...

•

•

patrol vehicle spotlights
are being used,
- focus one on driver’s
mirror
- focus one on rear view
mirror

focusing the beam on the rear view
mirror of the target vehicle in order to:
- prevent the occupants of the target
vehicle from observing the officer’s
approach on foot, and
- illuminate the interior of the vehicle
and the occupants.

NOTE:

Officers should use caution around the patrol vehicle’s
emergency light so as not to temporarily impair their vision.

NOTE:

Specific guidelines for use of emergency lighting during a
vehicle pullover will be dependent upon the specific conditions
of the vehicle stop and specific agency policy.

Patrol officers should exit their patrol units as safely and quickly as possible to
minimize the danger of the officer being exposed while still seated in the
vehicle. In order to accomplish this, officers should:
•
•
•
•
•

have all radio transmissions complete prior to activating emergency lights,
undo and clear the seat belt prior to coming to a complete stop,
place the patrol vehicle transmission in park,
set the parking brake,
switch on the portable radio (if the radio is not available, the officer should
activate the outside speaker and position the microphone for ready access),
Continued on next page

2-16

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued
•
•
•
•
•

Exiting the
patrol unit
(continued)

check approaching traffic and open the door only if the path is clear,
consider lowering the driver and passenger front door windows,
unlock the doors,
quickly exit the vehicle, and
after exiting, momentarily pause to observe the target vehicle.

NOTE:

Approaching
the target
vehicle

Some agencies encourage officers to turn the patrol vehicle front
wheels out toward the roadway. This will facilitate pulling out if
the suspect vehicle flees and may also help to protect the officer
in the event the patrol vehicle is struck from behind.

Once the officer has exited the patrol unit and determined that a safe approach
can be made, the patrol officer should:
•
•
•
•
•

stay close to the patrol vehicle to minimize any hazard from passing
traffic,
continuously observe the occupants of the target vehicle,
maintain an awareness of the surrounding and other hazards,
keep gun hand free during the approach, and
use a flashlight sparingly to avoid the potential of vehicle occupants being
able to track the officer’s movement.

NOTE:

Agency policies regarding the use of safety equipment can vary.
For example, some agencies require that officers approach
vehicles with their baton in the ring.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-17

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued
Methods
of
approach

Factors such as location, topography and the level of risk may all impact the
approach method a patrol officer uses. The following table describes two
approach methods and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Advantages

Disadvantages

Driver
• Most direct and quickest
• More vulnerable to passing
Side
path to the violator
traffic
Approach • Provides direct contact with • Places officer in “kill zone”
the driver
on approach (e.g., officer is
in the direct line of fire of
• Provides closer observation
the driver of the target
of the driver (e.g., can
vehicle)
detect a possible DUI, etc.).
• Enables officer to better see • Allows fewer escape
routes/minimal cover for
the Vehicle Identification
the officer
Number (VIN) on the front
windshield

Continued on next page

2-18

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued

Methods
of
approach
(continued)

Passenger
Side
Approach

NOTE:

Advantages

Disadvantages

• Keeps officer is away from
passing traffic
• Provides an element of
surprise because most
violators expect officer to
approach on the left
• If a tactical retreat
becomes necessary, allows
more options for cover and
concealment
• Allows more opportunities
to adjust and modify
position as needed upon
approach
• The angled approach
enhances observation of
the rear seat and other
parts of the target vehicle.

• Officer will need to speak
across the passenger if
there is a passenger in the
target vehicle.
• Pedestrian traffic may pose
a potential threat to the
officer.
• Environment may not
allow this approach. (e.g.,
ravines, levees, ditches,
etc.)
• Officer not able to easily
detect objective signs of
intoxication.

If the officer is making a nighttime approach, it may be more
desirable for the officer to go around behind the patrol vehicle
during the approach to avoid silhouetting. Officers should use
caution when doing so because it may momentarily obscure the
officer’s ability to observe the target vehicle’s occupants.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-19

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued
Nonapproach

In some situations, it may be to the officer’s advantage to allow the driver or
occupants to exit the vehicle. When electing to use this strategy, the officer
should remain at the patrol unit in a position of safety. Remaining seated in
the patrol vehicle could place the patrol officer in a tactical disadvantage.
The following table describes the advantages and disadvantages of this
method.
Advantages

Disadvantages

Non• If the driver exits
• Exposes the violator to
approach
immediately, the officer may
the hazards of passing
choose to remain behind the
traffic
cover/concealment of the
• Officer loses containment
patrol vehicle.
of occupants
• May allow the officer to
• Increases the potential for
direct the driver out of the
assault on the officer
vehicle to the curb while the
officer maintains a position of
safety.
• Violator’s action can be
constantly monitored,
especially hand movements.
• During the contact, the
occupants remain in the
officer’s field of vision
(directly or peripherally).

Continued on next page

2-20

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued

Nonapproach
(continued)

Advantages

Disadvantages

Non• Violator is positioned
• Hinders the officer’s
approach
between officer and target
ability to observe the
vehicle, helping prevent
interior of the vehicle
interference by
upon approach
violator/occupants during the
pullover.
NOTE: Officer
conducting the
• If vehicle has tinted windows,
pullover is
officer avoids visibility issues.
responsible for
the violator’s
NOTE:
It is recommended
safety.
that the officer not
allow any occupants,
except the driver, to
exit the target vehicle.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-21

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued
Visual
checks of
target
vehicle

The patrol officer’s observation of the target vehicle begins at the inception of
the vehicle pullover and continues until the pullover is completed.
As the patrol officer approaches a target vehicle on foot, that officer has the
advantage of time and location to visually check the interior of the target
vehicle more carefully. Such plain view checks may provide the officer with
probable cause for further investigation and more complete lawful searches of
the vehicle’s interior.
Indicators of possible criminal activity include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•

an empty holster,
ammunition,
firearm magazines,
actual firearms or other weapons, or
instrumentalities or evidence directly associated with a crime (e.g., ski
mask, drug paraphernalia, etc.).

NOTE:

Exterior
checks

For additional information regarding plain view inspections and
vehicle searches, refer to LD 16: Search and Seizure.

Patrol officers who are approaching a vehicle on foot may check the exterior
of the trunk visually and by hand.
An open trunk/unsecured trunk or a trunk with the lock punched out may merit
reassessing the situation and taking additional high-risk precautions (e.g.,
officer being set up for an ambush, etc.).
Continued on next page

2-22

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Approaching the Target Vehicle, Continued
Other
observations

By looking at the target vehicle’s mirrors, approaching patrol officers can
observe the facial expressions and other nonverbal cues of the target vehicle’s
driver and any occupants. If individuals display signs of fear, panic, or over
interest, the officer may wish to take additional safety precautions during the
approach.
Approaching officers should also be aware of the position of the driver’s and
occupant’s hands. If hands are not visible, officers may wish to halt their
approach and direct the driver and occupants to place their hands in plain
view.
NOTE:

Examples

The need for effective tactical safety should be coupled with
professional and courteous conduct.

Example:

A patrol officer pulled over a car for a speeding violation.
The stop occurred during daylight hours on a residential
street. The driver is a female in her late 20s and she is the
only occupant. The officer chose to make a driver side
approach. This was the quickest route to the driver and
there were no objective reasons to use another approach.

Example:

An officer stopped a vehicle for speeding on an interstate
highway during the afternoon rush hour. The driver was
the only occupant. The officer chose to approach the
vehicle on the passenger side in order to avoid being
exposed to the passing traffic.

Example:

A patrol officer stopped a pickup truck for speeding. After
the truck came to a complete stop with the patrol car
behind it, a large dog in the back of the truck began to bark
and try to jump out. The officer directed the driver to the
curb, so that the officer did not risk being bitten on
approach.

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-23

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants
[22.02.EO8, 22.02.EO9, 22.02.EO10, 22.02.EO11]

Introduction

For most people, their only contact with law enforcement will occur during a
vehicle pullover. For this reason, patrol officers should strive to be courteous
and professional during a vehicle pullover, while at the same time never
letting their guard down.

Patrol
officer
positioning

When officers make contact with the driver of the target vehicle during a
vehicle pullover, they should position themselves for the greatest safety and
tactical advantage. The following table identifies basic guidelines regarding
officer positioning.
Action
Initial contact

General Guidelines
•
•

While
conducting the
business of the
contact

•
•

Officer should be behind the trailing edge of the
driver side/passenger side front door (depending on
approach method used).
Assuming such a position:
- forces the person to look back toward the officer
in a position of disadvantage,
- makes it more difficult to point a weapon at the
officer, and
- prevents the officer from being knocked down if
the door is suddenly opened.
After the initial contact and a visual check of the
vehicle interior, it may be necessary or desirable for
the officer to change position.
Depending on agency policies and guidelines, officer
may choose to:
- pivot to face oncoming traffic while maintaining a
position in front of the leading edge of the door, or
- remain behind the trailing edge of the door with
their back to approaching traffic.

Continued on next page

2-24

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
Initial
contact

The attitude of the patrol officer can affect the reaction of the driver and the
outcome of the vehicle pullover. Officers should make the approach in a
businesslike manner while also employing effective verbal communication
techniques. Flexibility and courtesy are important in making contact with the
vehicle occupants.

Communication
skills

Once peace officers are familiar with the basic communication skills, these
skills can be combined into formal processes designed to reduce the likelihood
of physical confrontation. Communication skills can be used:
•
•

Voluntary
compliance

for obtaining voluntary compliance, and
when conducting vehicle stops.

A major goal of law enforcement is to generate voluntary compliance without
resorting to physical force.
The following table identifies communication skills for obtaining voluntary
compliance:
Action
Ask
(Ethical
Appeal)

Description
• Give the subject an
opportunity to
voluntarily comply.

Example
A traffic violator has been
stopped and issued a citation.
He refuses to sign the citation.
The officer again requests
“Will you please sign the
citation.”

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

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Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued

Voluntary
compliance
(continued)

Action

Description

Example

Set Context
(Reasonable
Appeal)

• Identify and explain
the law, policy, or
rationale that applies to
the situation.
• Answer the subject’s
question “Why?”
(Question may be
implied rather than
voiced.)
• Give the subject
another opportunity to
voluntarily comply.

(Continuing the previous
scenario) The violator
responds “I ain’t signing your
(expletive) citation”. The
officer then says, “Signing this
citation is required by law but
does not admit guilt. It is only
your promise to appear in court
to present your case. If you
refuse to sign, you may be
subject to arrest. I suggest you
sign the citation.”

Present
Options
(Personal
Appeal)

• Explain possible
options or courses of
action which can be
taken and their
consequences for the
subject.
• Give the subject
another opportunity to
voluntarily comply.

(Continuing the previous
scenario) The violator still
refuses. The officer explains,
“you are aware that if you are
arrested you will be
handcuffed, booked at jail, need
to post bail, perhaps
humiliation and embarrassment
....” Or, you can just sign the
citation and we both will be on
our way. (The list of options
can be expanded.)

Act
(Take
appropriate
action)

• Take appropriate
action.

(Continuing the previous
scenario) If the violator still
does not comply, the officer
should use necessary and
reasonable force to place the
person under arrest.

Continued on next page

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LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
Vehicle
stops

Peace officers should become familiar with the communication process for
conducting a vehicle stop:
•
•
•
•
•

remain consistently courteous,
sound professional,
center their command presence,
deflect resistance, and
enhance personal safety by allowing time to quickly scan the interior of
the vehicle.

Using this process for vehicle stops provides a self-disciplined pattern. That
is, it ensures that officers always handle contacts in a consistent manner,
regardless of distractions.
Action

Officers should ...

Greeting

•
•

greet the person respectfully.
allow the situation to begin positively

Officer and department
identification

•

clearly identify themselves and their
departments.
establish a command presence.
personalize the contact.

•
•
Explain the reason for the
stop

•

provide motivation for the person to
listen to the officer.

Request driver’s license,
registration, and proof of
insurance

•
•

ask for the person’s license.
allow adequate time for the person to
comply.

NOTE:

If the person fails to comply,
officer should take further steps
to gain voluntary compliance
identified earlier in this chapter.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-27

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued

Vehicle
stops
(continued)

Driver/
occupants
location

Action

Officers should ...

Decide appropriate action

•

select further action based on the
circumstances.
- Issue a warning
- Issue a citation
- Make an arrest

Close the contact

•

Use a closing remark that is compatible
with the action taken.

It is generally desirable for patrol officers to have the driver and occupants of
the target vehicle remain in the vehicle throughout the duration of the
pullover. But in certain situations, officers may need to direct the
driver/occupants to get out of the vehicle.
Examples of such situations include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

when the safety of the driver/occupants or the officer are at risk from
passing traffic,
verifying identification,
conducting a sobriety check of a driver who may be DUI,
continuing an investigation,
searching the vehicle, or
when an arrest is imminent.

NOTE:

Under such conditions, officers may consider requesting
additional backup units.
Continued on next page

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LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
Directing
driver/
occupants
out of target
vehicle

The following table presents general guidelines for directing the driver and/or
occupants out of the target vehicle.
Action
Direct the driver/occupants
to exit one at a time.

General Guidelines
•
•
•

Constantly monitor each person’s
movements.
Advise person(s) to keep their hands in
view.
Consider opening and maintaining control
of the vehicle door as the person exits the
vehicle. This allows the officer to view the
person’s hands and use the door as a
defensive tool to prevent an assault on the
officer.

Conduct a lawful search.

•

As soon as practical, conduct a lawful
search of each individual for weapons.

Maintain control of
driver/occupants.

•

Direct person(s) to a position which allows
the officer to keep the target vehicle, and
anyone remaining in the vehicle, in view at
all times.
Consider lawful option to control and/or
prevent interference by driver/occupants
while the officer is conducting the business
of the pullover (e.g., placing persons in the
back seat of a partitioned patrol unit, use of
handcuffs, etc.).

•

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-29

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
Voluntary
exits

Patrol officers may encounter situations when the driver and/or occupants of
the target vehicle spontaneously exit the vehicle (without being requested to
do so by the patrol officer).
Although this may be an innocent action, it may also be a deliberate attempt to
prevent the officer from approaching and observing contraband or weapons
contained in the vehicle.

Driver’s
license
checks

A driver’s license is one of the most common forms of identification. It is
important that officers take appropriate actions to check both the validity and
authenticity of the license and to establish the identity of the individual.
Conducting a proper check of each driver’s license can also:
•
•
•
•
•

confirm that the driver is authorized to operate a specific type of motor
vehicle,
enforce the provisions of the Vehicle Code which require possession of a
valid driver license,
verify that the driver is complying with any restriction on the driver
license,
confirm the driver’s identity so that the driver can be cited and released,
and
verify that the address is correct.

NOTE:

Running a driver’s license check may also provide the officer
with information such as any history of other violations, the
existence of wants or warrants related to the individual, etc.

NOTE:

For additional information on accessing law enforcement data
bases and information systems, and procedures for conducting a
driver’s license check, refer to LD 36: Information Systems.
Continued on next page

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LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
License
examinations

Officers should carefully examine both the front and rear of each license.
Driver’s license formats will vary depending on the state of issue. General
guidelines for determining the validity and authenticity of driver’s licenses are
noted in the following table.
Officers should
look for...
driving restrictions.

General Guidelines
•

•
signs of unlawful
alterations or
additions to the
license.

•

•
•
•
NOTE:

On a California driver’s license:
- restrictions pertaining to corrective lenses are
usually found on the front of the license
- while other restrictions are attached on the
rear. (Vehicle Code Section 14603)
License classifications, including required
medical certificates, should always be verified.
Look for indications that the:
- photograph has been changed, or
- driver’s age or any other information has
been modified.
California does not allow driver’s licenses to be
laminated by the driver. (Vehicle Code Sections
12815 and 14610 (h))
Officers should be aware that lamination can:
- hide a change of photograph,
- disguise typed modifications/additions, or
obliterate the safety seal already on the license.

Because of numerous recent modifications to California driver’s
licenses, patrol officers may encounter several different valid
formats. When in doubt of the authenticity, officers may request
an additional form of identification from the driver. (The DMV
has a booklet describing the format of licenses for year of issue.)
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-31

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
Temporary
licenses

A temporary driver license is a valid form of identification and no other
identification is required. However, a temporary license is easily forged, so
an officer might consider asking for other identification to supplement the
information contained in it.
When presented with a temporary license, officers need to keep in mind that:
•
•
•
•

temporary licenses are easily obtained.
people with suspended licenses or warrants keep applying for a temporary
license to continue driving.
a person can apply for a temporary license and use it immediately.
if a temporary license is provided as a form of identification, its validity
and authenticity should be thoroughly checked.
Continued on next page

2-32

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
Other
forms of
identification

The following table describes other types of identification that may be used as
supportive identification.
Type of
Identification
Immigration
identification

Considerations
•
•

State of
California
identification
card

•
•
•

Aliens may have in their possession an alien
registration card which contains the bearer’s
photograph and other information.
Information on the card may be out of date and
should be verified with additional forms of
identification.
California may issue an identification card to use as
official identification.
A person may have both a driver’s license and a
state identification card which will contain the same
ID number.
The card is issued through the DMV. It has a similar
appearance to the California driver license.

Social Security
card

•
•

Generally an unreliable form of ID.
It can be obtained by just applying for it.
- Some criminals have applied for dozens of them.
- Fraudulent check passers use different ones to
back up phony ID that they carry.

Other
Identification

•
•

Armed Forces identification cards
Passports

NOTE:

The above listed forms of identification are not all-inclusive and
officers may encounter other types of documents which may
provide satisfactory evidence of the person’s identity.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-33

Making Contact with Vehicle Occupants, Continued
Patrol officers should move to a safe and tactically appropriate location when
conducting the business of the vehicle pullover (e.g., running a license check,
writing a citation, etc.).

Returning
to patrol
vehicle

Depending on the specific situation, officers should select a location which:
•
•
•

provides cover and/or concealment,
permits them to maintain visual contact with the target vehicle, and
permits them to observe the occupants of the target vehicle.

Officers may elect to return to their patrol units in order to gain access to
mobile data terminals when minimal risk is perceived, or at times of inclement
weather.
NOTE:

Individual agencies may discourage sitting inside the patrol
vehicle to write a citation or operate an MDT. This may be
based on the perception that it puts the officer at a tactical
disadvantage with vehicle occupants.

Recontacting
target vehicle
driver

Patrol officers should be cautious and not become complacent in their second
approach to the target vehicle. The same principles discussed in the initial
approach and contact apply when recontacting the driver.

Termination
of contact

Once patrol officers have concluded the business of the pullover, they should:

2-34

•
•

return the driver’s license and registration, and
assist the driver to reenter the flow of traffic. (e.g., dimming the lights on
the patrol vehicle so the driver has a clearer view of passing traffic)

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must understand the techniques for conducting tactically sound
vehicle pullovers.

Safety and
tactical
considerations
[22.02.EO1,
22.02.EO2,
22.02.EO3]

Once an officer has a legal justification for initiating a vehicle pullover, there
are a number of officer safety guidelines that should be considered.

Placement
of patrol
vehicle
[22.02.EO4]

Placing the patrol vehicle in an offset position means the officer will stop
behind and slightly to the right or left of the target vehicle, with the center of
the patrol vehicle in line with the right or left bumper of the target vehicle.

Exiting
patrol unit
[22.02.EO5]

Patrol officers should exit their patrol units as safely and quickly as possible.

Approaching
target vehicle
[22.02.EO6]

Once the officer has exited the patrol unit and determined that a safe approach
can be made, the patrol officer should stay close to the patrol vehicle to
minimize any hazard from passing traffic, continuously observe the occupants
of the target vehicle, maintain an awareness of the surrounding and other
hazards, keep gun hand free during the approach, and use a flashlight
sparingly to avoid the potential of vehicle occupants being able to track the
officer’s movement.

Methods of
approach
[22.02.EO7]

There are different methods of approaching a target vehicle that all have
advantages and disadvantage.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-35

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Patrol
officer
positioning
[22.02.EO8]

When officers make contact with the driver of the target vehicle during a
vehicle pullover, they should position themselves for the greatest safety and
tactical advantage.

Communication
skills
[22.02.EO11]

Once peace officers are familiar with the basic communication skills, these
skills can be combined into formal processes designed to reduce the likelihood
of physical confrontation. Communication skills can be used for obtaining
voluntary compliance, and when conducting vehicle stops.

Directing
occupants
out of vehicle
[22.02.EO9]

It is generally desirable for patrol officers to have the driver and occupants of
the target vehicle remain in the vehicle throughout the duration of the
pullover. But in certain situations, officers may need to direct the
driver/occupants to get out of the vehicle.

License
examinations
[22.02.EO10]

Officers should carefully examine both the front and rear of each license.
Driver’s license formats will vary depending on the state of issue. Officers
should look for driving restrictions signs of unlawful alterations, deletions or
additions to the license.

2-36

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

In order to help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a
selection of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided.
However, by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a
response.

Activity
questions

1. In a two-person unit, why is it important for officers to discuss the
observations that lead to a pullover? Consider both legal and safety
rationales.

2. A patrol officer initiates an investigative pullover of a car whose driver she
suspects is DUI. The driver passes the location the officer had indicated
for the pullover and stops on a blind curve with a very narrow shoulder.
How should the officer proceed?

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-37

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Officers stopped a car on a highway shoulder to conduct an investigative
pullover. The edge of the shoulder is bounded by a guardrail with a
shallow ditch beyond it. On the other side of the ditch is a flat field.
Traffic is moderate. Draw a diagram of the pullover showing appropriate
placement of the unit and the target vehicle. Indicate on your diagram:
-

areas that would be illuminated by headlights, spotlights, etc.
areas in which an approaching officer would be silhouetted in the light.
locations in which an officer could take cover. (Remember to consider
the cover provided by each vehicle.)
locations in which the officer is at the greatest risk.

Continued on next page

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LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

4. Based on the situation described in question three, would you recommend
a driver or passenger-side approach? Explain your reasoning.

5. Why should officers write down license tag information and a description
of a target vehicle on a pad of paper before initiating a pullover when they
already are responsible for providing dispatch with the information about
the vehicle and location and nature of the pullover?

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

2-39

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov

2-40

LD 22 – Chapter 2: Basic Tactical Considerations for Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter 3
High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize situations involving high level of risk in order
to apply appropriate tactical actions during a vehicle pullover.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...

E.O. Code

•

demonstrate officer safety precautions that should be
taken during any high-risk vehicle pullover.

22.03.EO1

•

discuss appropriate actions for cover officers who are
called to assist the primary officer during a high-risk
vehicle pullover.

22.03.EO2

•

demonstrate tactics for conducting a safe and effective
high-risk vehicle pullover.

22.03.EO3

•

discuss officer safety considerations when searching the
target vehicle, including:
- use of available cover officer(s)
- types of objects sought and likely locations
- potential hazards (e.g., needles, edged weapons, etc.)
- a systematic search process
- interior
- exterior

22.03.EO4

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on basic tactical guidelines for conducting high-risk
vehicle pullovers. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

3-2

See Page

Officer Safety Considerations

3-3

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-7

Vehicle Searches

3-14

Chapter Synopsis

3-19

Workbook Learning Activities

3-21

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Officer Safety Considerations
[22.03.EO1, 22.03.EO2]

Introduction

High-risk pullovers are conducted in any situation where patrol officers
perceive a greater level of risk. Such perceptions may be based on the
officer’s observations, information received through communications with
dispatch, other officers, or other reliable means.

High-risk
pullovers

High-risk pullovers are generally made when patrol officers have:
•

reason to believe that one or more of the occupants of the target vehicle
may:
- be armed,
- represent a serious threat to the officer, or
- has committed a felony.

NOTE:

Officer
reactions

Individual agency policies may dictate the specific criteria as to
what constitutes a high-risk vehicle pullover.

Because of the elevated level of potential danger along with the unpredictable
responses of vehicle occupants associated with high-risk vehicle pullovers,
patrol officers can encounter a multitude of different personal emotions or
reactions. It is normal for patrol officers to experience excitement, fear, anger,
confusion, impatience, and even complacency.
In order to prepare for such responses and prevent them from compromising
officer safety, officers can:
•
•
•

discuss hypothetical situations with their partners ahead of time,
have a plan of action prior to initiating the vehicle pullover,
obtain appropriate ongoing training in advance to maintain skill levels,
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-3

Officer Safety Considerations, Continued
Officer
reactions
(continued)

•
•
•
•
•

Safety
precautions

work as a team,
maintain communication with dispatch and other involved officers,
move slowly and methodically,
rely on known tactics and procedures while also remaining flexible
enough to adapt or improvise if necessary, and
exercise emotional restraint and self-control.

A number of safety precautions are critical when conducting a high-risk
vehicle pullover. The following table identifies some of these precautions.
Action

General Guidelines

Utilize appropriate
•
resources/equipment.
•

Rely on basic
training and known
tactics.

•
•
•

Maintain personal
control and
professional attitude.

•
•
•

Request sufficient personnel and equipment to
perform any necessary actions safely and
effectively and achieve a psychological
advantage over the vehicle’s occupants.
Use marked patrol vehicles to effect the vehicle
pullover, if possible, to prevent recognition
problems and to ensure necessary equipment is
available within the vehicle.
Use available cover and concealment.
Maintain visual contact with vehicle occupant(s)
at all times.
Always maintain a position of advantage.
Do not rush.
Guard against becoming impatient. (Time is
usually on the officer’s side.)
Wait for requested backup/assistance to arrive
before taking action.

Continued on next page

3-4

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Officer Safety Considerations, Continued
Contact
officer

The roles and responsibilities of each officer involved in a high-risk vehicle
pullover must be clear. The contact officer:
•
•
•

Cover
officers

conducts the business of the pullover
directs the driver and occupant(s) of the target vehicle
takes necessary actions related to the investigation (e.g., obtaining
identification, searching suspects, etc.)

It is the general responsibility of any cover officers called to assist the
primary officer at the scene of a high-risk vehicle pullover to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

protect the primary officer who is conducting the business of the pullover,
place their own patrol vehicles in a proper position to avoid silhouetting
other officers with the vehicle’s headlights or other lighting equipment,
take and maintain proper positions of cover and concealment,
maintain their firearms at the ready, and
maintain visual contact with the vehicle occupant(s) at all times,
avoid a crossfire situation.

NOTE:

For additional information regarding the roles and
responsibilities of contact or primary officers and cover officers,
refer to LD 21: Patrol Techniques and LD 23: Crimes in
Progress.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-5

Officer Safety Considerations, Continued
Communication
between
officers

In order to ensure officer safety and help ensure an appropriate outcome, the
primary officers and cover officers must effectively communicate with one
another. Appropriate communication involves:
•
•
•

3-6

advising the primary officer of any critical occurrences or safety issues
(e.g., movement within the target vehicle, someone approaching outside
the primary officer’s field of vision, possible crossfire situations, etc.),
avoid inappropriate interruptions, and
avoid giving directions which conflict with those given by the primary
officer. (Only one person, usually the primary officer, gives the
commands, unless a specific situation calls for another officer to issue a
command.)

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers
[22.03.EO3]

Introduction

No arrest is so important that the patrol officers involved should expose
themselves to needless danger. In order to meet the safety challenges inherent
to the situation, patrol officers must employ tactically sound procedures when
effecting any high-risk vehicle pullover.

Communication

It is vital that the primary officer initiating any high-risk vehicle pullover
maintain communication with dispatch and any assisting or backup officers
involved in the situation.
Such communication should include the:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

primary officer’s location and direction of travel,
safest approach to the scene
possible traffic diversions or road closures,
license number and a description of the target vehicle,
number and description of the target vehicle’s occupant(s),
existence of any known or suspected weapons within the vehicle, and
any additional information regarding the offense(s) or the suspect(s),
request additional resources (helicopter, K-9, less than lethal, etc.)

NOTE:

It may be advisable for the officer initiating the pullover to write
down the license number and a short vehicle description of the
target vehicle. Such information may be helpful if an officer
assault occurs during the pullover.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-7

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers,
Continued

Tactical
procedures

The following table identifies a number of general guidelines for conducting a
safe and effective high-risk vehicle pullover.
Action

General Guidelines

Develop a plan
of action.

•

•

Initiate the
pullover.

•
•
•

•
•
NOTE:

Develop a plan of action with:
- that officer’s partner,
- involved assisting cover units, and
- dispatch.
The plan should clearly identify the tactics that will
be employed when initiating the pullover as well as
throughout the pullover.
Prepare for the pullover by:
- rolling down patrol vehicle windows, and
- unlocking the vehicle’s doors.
Properly position the patrol vehicle an appropriate
distance from the target vehicle. (Two to three car
lengths or 20 to 30 feet)
Employ appropriate lighting equipment such as:
- emergency lights,
- headlights,
- spotlights,
- takedown lights,
Deploy firearms (i.e., handgun, shotgun) at the ready.
Utilize available cover and concealment.

“At the ready” refers to how a patrol officer’s weapon should be
deployed according to academy training and the specific type of
weapon involved (e.g., firearm drawn, pointed at the suspect(s),
safety off, or other considerations).
Continued on next page

3-8

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers,
Continued

Tactical
procedures
(continued)

Action
Direct action of
vehicle occupant(s).

General Guidelines
•
•
•
•
•

•
Order occupant(s)
from the target
vehicle.

•
•
•

Utilize available cover and concealment.
Use clear, audible, and direct commands.
Identify your law enforcement agency. (“San
Jose Police Department”)
Direct the occupant(s) to:
- keep hands in sight at all times, and
- not to move unless instructed to do so.
Give the vehicle’s driver specific instructions to:
- turn off the vehicle’s engine,
- remove the keys from the ignition,
- place the keys in a designated location, (e.g.,
atop the car, dropped out the window, etc.)
and
return hands to a position where they can be
clearly seen.
If multiple occupants, have each person exit the
vehicle one at a time.
Direct the suspect(s) to:
- move slowly, and
- keep hands above their heads.
Visually check the suspect(s) for weapons as
they exit the vehicle.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-9

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers,
Continued

Tactical
procedures
(continued)

Action
Establish physical
control of occupant(s).

General Guidelines
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Clear the target
vehicle of any
additional occupants.

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Primary and cover officers must be aware of
possible cross fire situations and position
themselves accordingly.
Maintain visual contact with the suspect(s) at
all times.
Direct occupant(s) to move, one at a time.
Have suspect(s) assume a position of
disadvantage.
Handcuff suspect(s).
Conduct a thorough search of each suspect
before placing the person into patrol vehicle.
Obtain intelligence information from suspects.
Until otherwise proven, assume additional
occupants are hiding in the target vehicle.
Call out a bluff for hiding individual(s) to exit
the vehicle (e.g., “You, in the car, get out
now!”).
Approach vehicle in a low profile position.
If hidden suspect is located in the vehicle,
assume a position of cover.
Feel for vibrations or movements within the
vehicle by placing a hand on the trunk lid.
If necessary, use flashlight to cautiously
illuminate the vehicle interior.
After checking the vehicle’s interior, consider
other areas of possible concealment.
If appropriate, consider use of a canine to clear
the vehicle.

Continued on next page

3-10

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers,
Continued

Fleeing
suspect(s)

It may be inadvisable for officers to engage in a foot pursuit of any fleeing
suspect(s) during a high-risk pullover. Taking such action may:
•
•

draw officer(s) into potentially unsafe (uncleared) areas, and
compromise the safety of officer(s).

Rather than initiating the foot pursuit, officers should consider establishing a
perimeter of the area and initiating a systematic search of the area.
NOTE:

Specific
agency
policies

For additional information regarding foot pursuits of fleeing
suspects, refer to LD 21: Patrol Techniques.

Specific policies and guidelines can vary. It is each patrol officer’s
responsibility to be aware of and comply with their own agency’s policies and
guidelines that pertain to initiating and the use of appropriate tactics regarding
high-risk vehicle pullovers.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-11

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers,
Continued

Examples:

Example:

Intending to stop a vehicle for a suspected DUI, a single
officer noticed that the driver threw a handgun into the
street as soon as he saw the patrol car’s red lights activated.
The officer immediately initiated high-risk procedures. He
used the PA system to order the suspect to place his hands
on his head and to remain in the car. The officer then
radioed his situation and location and requested assistance.
When the backup unit arrived, the suspect was taken into
custody and the weapon was recovered. It was determined
that the handgun had been used in a robbery in which the
victim was shot. The car had been the victim’s and the
suspect used it to flee the scene of the robbery.

Example:

An officer patrolling in a rural area late at night observed a
compact pickup truck run a stop sign at a high speed. The
officer initiated a radio broadcast, giving location, license
plate number, vehicle and occupant’s description. When
the officer made the pullover one of the passengers exited
the truck and began to walk away. The officer called out
on the PA for the passenger to return to the vehicle, which
he did. The officer approached the truck, instructing the
driver to turn off the ignition. Communications informed
the officer, in a confidential transmission, that the truck was
stolen. The officer drew his weapon and ordered both
occupants not to move. When the officer realized that
backup was a minimum of 25 minutes away, he directed
both occupants to put their hands on the dashboard and then
directed each to crawl out of the truck and to lie prone on
the roadway. The ability to be flexible and to adapt tactics
to a changing situation allowed the officer to safely detain
the suspects until assistance arrived.
Continued on next page

3-12

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Tactical Considerations for High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers,
Continued

Examples
(continued)

Non-example:

Officers stopped a confirmed stolen vehicle occupied by
four suspects. The contact officer had directed the driver
out of the car as the assisting officers provided cover. An
additional officer arrived and positioned his vehicle to
block the target vehicle. The additional officer then ran to
the stolen car and dragged a passenger out of the car. The
officer acted on his own, without communicating with the
others, interfering with the contact officer’s commands.
This independent action could have jeopardized the
operation, and endangered all the officers involved.

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-13

Vehicle Searches
[22.03.EO4]

Introduction

The primary purpose of conducting any type of vehicle search is to locate and
seize any:
•
•
•

Lawful
search

weapons,
contraband, or
evidence associated with criminal activity that may be located within the
vehicle.

Any physical search of a vehicle must be lawful. The type and extent of a
physical search of a vehicle during a vehicle pullover is determined by the
circumstances of the pullover along with a number of additional factors.
If the driver and/or occupants exit the vehicle voluntarily, the officer may
legally enter the target vehicle to retrieve registration papers. While inside the
vehicle, the officer may visually scan the area and seize any weapons,
contraband, etc., that is in the officer’s plain view.
NOTE:

Officer
safety

For additional information regarding the different types of
searches and probable cause requirements for each, refer to
LD 16: Search and Seizure.

Patrol officers who are conducting a vehicle search should be aware of
specific officer safety hazards that may be associated with the search.
Possible safety hazards may include, but not be limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

dangerous weapons, (e.g., edged weapons, loaded firearms, etc.)
biological hazards, (e.g., hypodermic needles, etc)
chemicals, (e.g., dangerous drugs such as PCP, drug lab materials, etc.)
booby traps, (e.g., explosives)
animals, or
bystanders.
Continued on next page

3-14

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Vehicle Searches, Continued
Fundamental
principles

There are a number of fundamental principles that apply to vehicle searches
that officers may be called upon to conduct.
Action
Use
assistance/
backup.

Additional Information
•
•
•

Never
“relax.”

•
•

Maintain
integrity of
evidence.
NOTE:

•

Officers must maintain control of the situation at all
times.
The use of backup assistance officers when available is
strongly recommended.
Additional officers may be required to:
- properly remove occupant(s) from the target vehicle,
- maintain control of the occupant(s) while the contact
officer is conducting the search, and
- prevent interference by other persons. (e.g.,
witnesses, victims, onlookers, other officers, etc.)
Officers must never let down their guard while
conducting the search.
If the suspect perceives that the officer is distracted or
has relaxed, that person may attempt to take some action
the suspect might otherwise attempt. (e.g., flee on foot,
reach for the officer’s weapon, etc.)
Any evidence that is located within the target vehicle
during the search must be properly collected, preserved,
secured, and documented.

For additional information regarding the collection and
preservation of evidence, refer to LD 30: Preliminary
Investigation.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-15

Vehicle Searches, Continued
Systematic
searches

Vehicle searches should be conducted in a systematic manner. The following
table identifies a number of general guidelines for conducting a systematic
search of a vehicle.
Action

General Guidelines

Plan the search.

•

Officers should consider the:
- nature of the area to be searched,
- type and size of objects being sought (e.g., drugs
that can be hidden in small areas, weapons,
ammunition, etc.),
- specific circumstances of the pullover,
- time limitations, and
- legal restrictions based on the type of search
being conducted.

Search
systematically.

•

Cover the area in a systematic manner in order to
prevent missing any possible locations where items
could be located.
Possible systematic patterns may include but not be
limited to:
- starting at the top of the target vehicle and
working down,
- searching from front of the target vehicle to rear,
or
- searching the interior first, then the exterior.

•

Search each area
thoroughly.

•

Search all areas that could reasonably contain the
item that is the target of the search (e.g., weapons,
contraband, instruments of criminal activity, etc.).

Continued on next page

3-16

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Vehicle Searches, Continued
Examples

Example:

On a high-risk vehicle pullover one officer was tasked with
searching the interior of the vehicle for evidence of a
robbery. After a very thorough, painstaking search, the
officer found the weapon used in the robbery and the stolen
property. The handgun was found under the driver’s seat,
wedged between the seat cushion and the supporting
springs. The stolen money was found jammed into the
ashtray base in the back seat. It took an extremely
thorough search to locate these well concealed items.

Example:

Two officers stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation.
During the pullover, the officers determined that the
suspect was driving with a suspended license and
registration. After the driver was arrested and secured, he
consented to a search of his vehicle. The officers located
ten rocks of rock cocaine inside the vent of an air
conditioning air duct.

Non-example:

An officer searched the interior of a narcotics suspect’s
vehicle. The officer was searching for a bindle of cocaine
that had just been purchased from a known dealer by the
suspect. The officer, in a hurry and anxious to find the
drugs, shoved his hand into the recess between the rear
bench seat and the back rests. The officer’s hand was
punctured by a syringe. It is important for officers
conducting a search of a vehicle to proceed in a cautious
and deliberate manner.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-17

Vehicle Searches, Continued
Examples
(continued)

3-18

Non-example:

A patrol officer stopped a motor home for a traffic
violation. The driver was arrested on an outstanding
warrant. The driver was searched, pursuant to the arrest,
and found to be in possession of methamphetamine and
needles. The officers searched the motor home but did not
locate any drugs. The motor home was towed to a yard for
storage. The driver who towed the motor home to the
storage yard called the police to report that a large amount
of drugs was found in a hollow rear bumper. A more
thorough search by the officers would have located the
drugs.

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter Synopsis
Learning Need

Peace officers must recognize situations involving high level of risks in order
to apply appropriate tactical actions during a vehicle pullover.

Safety
precautions
[22.03.EO1]

A number of safety precautions are critical when conducting a high-risk
vehicle pullover including:
•
•
•

Utilize appropriate resources/equipment.
Rely on training and known tactics.
Maintain personal control and professional attitude.

Cover officers’
responsibilities
[22.03.EO2]

It is the responsibility of any cover officers called to assist the primary officer
at the scene of a high-risk vehicle pullover to protect the primary officer who
is conducting the business of the pullover. Also, to place their own patrol
vehicles in a proper position to avoid silhouetting other officers with the
vehicle’s headlights or other lighting equipment, take and maintain proper
positions of cover and concealment, maintain their firearms at the ready,
maintain visual contact with the vehicle occupant(s) at all times, and avoid a
crossfire situation.

High-risk
vehicle
pullover
[22.03.EO3]

Guidelines for conducting a safe and effective high-risk pullover include
developing a plan of action prior to initiating the stop. Initiate the pullover
maintaining appropriate distance and using appropriate equipment. Direct the
occupant(s) of the vehicle regarding appropriate actions. Order occupant(s)
from the target vehicle. Establish physical control of the occupant(s). Clear
the target vehicle of any additional occupants.
Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-19

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Conducting
a vehicle
search
[22.03.EO4]

Safety hazards for officers who are conducting a vehicle search include
dangerous weapons, biological hazards, chemicals, booby traps, (e.g.
explosives) animals, or bystanders.
Fundamental principles that apply to vehicle searches include the use of
assistance/backup, never “relaxing”, maintaining integrity of evidence,
planning the search while searching systematically, and searching each area
thoroughly.

3-20

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

In order to help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a
selection of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided.
However, by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a
response.

Activity
questions

1. Under what conditions, if any, should officers direct the occupants of a
target vehicle involved in a high-risk pullover to exit their vehicle? Under
what, if any, circumstances should these occupants be directed to remain
in the vehicle?

2. An officer on patrol alone initiates a traffic enforcement pullover of a
station wagon traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. The vehicle occupants
appear to be a driver and one passenger. Rather than pulling over
immediately, the car continues down the road for another half-mile, and
the passenger throws several small bags out of the window and over the
guardrail at the edge of an overpass. The vehicle then moves another
quarter-mile down the road and pulls off onto the shoulder. What actions
should the patrol officer take at this point? Should the officer call for
backup? If so, what actions if any, should the officer take while waiting
for backup to arrive? Describe how the officers should proceed once
backup arrives.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

3-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3-22

3. How does the existence of heavily tinted windows on the target vehicle
change how officers should handle a high-risk pullover?

LD 22 – Chapter 3: High-Risk Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter 4
Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must make appropriate safety and tactical adjustments when
conducting pullovers involving vehicles other than passenger cars and pickup
trucks.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...
•

In this chapter

Explain appropriate safety and tactical considerations
when conducting vehicle pullovers involving:
- vans, campers, and motor homes,
- motorcycles,
- buses and semi-trucks.

E.O. Code

22.04.EO1
22.04.EO2
22.04.EO3

This chapter focuses on basic tactical guidelines for conducting vehicle
pullovers involving different types of vehicles. Refer to the chart below for
specific topics.
Topic

See Page

Vans, Campers and Motor Homes

4-2

Motorcycles

4-8

Buses and Semi-trucks

4-10

Chapter Synopsis

4-13

Workbook Learning Activities

4-14

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-1

Vans, Campers, and Motor Homes
[22.04.EO1]

Introduction

Because of their shape and concealment possibilities, vans, campers, and
motor homes provide a unique set of circumstances that officers should be
aware of in order to protect their own safety and conduct an effective vehicle
pullover.

Officer
safety
considerations

There are a number of officer safety considerations when effecting a vehicle
stop involving vans and campers because of their size and visibility
limitations. Because of these, extra caution is required regardless of the
reason for the pullover.
Considerations
Conducting
the Pullover

•
•

Approaching
the Target
Vehicle

•
•
•
•

Position of the patrol vehicle related to the target
vehicle, pullover locations, use of lights, etc. may need
to be modified.
Traditional patrol vehicle positioning (e.g., offsetting)
may obscure the officer’s view of the passenger’s side
door of the target vehicle.
Officer is at greater vulnerability when approaching the
vehicle.
Driver and occupant(s) may be concealed from the
officer.
Vehicle may have curtains or tinted windows.
Vehicle may have side door(s) and/or rear doors that
occupants could attempt to escape from.

Continued on next page

4-2

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Vans, Campers, and Motor Homes, Continued
Traffic
enforcement
pullovers

Investigative
pullovers

When conducting a traffic enforcement pullover with an unknown level of
risk, officers should:
•

stop the patrol vehicle back far enough, within reason, to afford the
officer(s) a better view of all potential exits.

•

base the manner of approach to the vehicle and whether or not to remove
the driver and occupant(s) from the vehicle, on the specific circumstances
of the pullover.

Investigative pullovers involving vans and campers should be conducted with
at least two officers present when possible. The following table identifies
general guidelines for each officer during an investigative pullover.
Action
Initial contact

Primary Contact Officer
• Directs the driver to:
- turn the ignition key off,
- exit the van, and
- bring the keys to the rear
of the van

Cover Officer(s)
• Protects the primary
contact officer
• If cover not
available, officer
may elect to remain
behind the passenger
door of the patrol
vehicle

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-3

Vans, Campers, and Motor Homes, Continued

Investigative
pullovers
(continued)

Action

Primary Contact Officer

Cover Officer(s)

Clearing the
vehicle

• Directs the driver to:
- open the vehicle’s rear
door(s) and side door(s),
and
- stand on the passenger side
of the vehicle.
• May move to the passenger
side of the vehicle in order to
achieve better visibility inside
the vehicle
• Checks inside the vehicle for
other occupant(s)
• Directs occupant(s) out of the
vehicle one at a time through
the rear or side door of the
van

• Maintains visual
observation of the
vehicle and the
driver
• Watches the
occupant(s) as the
primary contact
officer continues to
clear the vehicle

Conduct
investigation

•

•

•

NOTE:

Clears the vehicle for any
additional occupants
Takes necessary actions
related to the investigation
such as:
- obtaining identification,
- searching driver/
occupant(s),
- searching the vehicle if
necessary,
- writing citation or taking
other enforcement action,
etc.

Continues cover
responsibilities
throughout the
investigation

A traffic pullover or an investigative pullover may escalate at
any time into a high-risk pullover.
Continued on next page

4-4

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Vans, Campers, and Motor Homes, Continued
High-risk
pullovers

Just as with an investigative pullover, at least two officers should always be
present during any high-risk pullover. The following table identifies general
guidelines for each officer during a high-risk pullover.
Action

Primary Contact Officer

Initial contact • Maintains control of the stop
from the beginning
• Directs the driver to:
- turn off engine, remove
keys from ignition, and
hold the keys in one hand,
and
- place both hands out the
driver’s side window.

Remove
driver

• Directs the driver to:
- open the driver-side door
by using the outside
handle,
- slowly step out of the
vehicle, and
- close the vehicle door.
• Once driver is outside the
vehicle, orders the driver to:
- move slowly, and
- keep hands above head.
• Visually check driver for
weapons as driver exits the
vehicle.

Cover Officer(s)
• Maintain visual
contact with
suspect(s) at all times
• If cover not
available, officer
may elect to remain
behind the passenger
door of the patrol
vehicle.
• Protects the primary
contact officer
• Maintains visual
observation of the
vehicle and the driver
• Watches the
occupant(s) as the
primary contact
officer continues to
clear the vehicle

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-5

Vans, Campers, and Motor Homes, Continued

High-risk
pullovers
(continued)

Action
Remove
occupants

Conduct the
investigation

Primary Contact Officer

Cover Officer(s)

• Questions the driver
regarding additional
occupants who may be in the
target vehicle
• Directs driver to:
- move to the rear and/or
side doors of the vehicle,
- open door(s), and
- spread curtains or any
other items that may
block observation into the
vehicle
• Secures the driver
• Removes occupant(s) one at
a time from the nearest door
• Directs occupant(s) to
- move slowly, and
- keep hands above their
heads.
• Visually checks occupant(s)
for weapons as they exit the
vehicle.

• Guards the driver as
occupants are being
removed

• Clears the vehicle for any
additional occupants
• Conducts a vehicle search
• Takes any necessary law
enforcement actions

• Continues cover
responsibilities
throughout the
investigation

NOTE:

If the cover
officer has
better
visibility, the
roles of contact
and cover may
be switched.

Continued on next page

4-6

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Vans, Campers, and Motor Homes, Continued
High-risk
pullovers
(continued)

NOTE:

Individual agency policies may vary with regard to specific
procedures for high-risk pullovers of other types of vehicles. It
is each officer’s responsibility to be aware of and comply with
their own agency’s policies and guidelines.

Examples

Example:

An officer observed a large van roll through a stop sign in a
residential area during daylight hours. The officer did not
observe anything else. The vehicle had tinted windows on
the side and rear and a sliding door with no windows on the
passenger side. The officer was able to see only the face of
a young male in the driver’s side mirror. Because of the
officer’s limited visibility, the officer chose a nonapproach.
She remained with the patrol vehicle and used the PA to
instruct the driver to exit the van and bring his license,
registration, and proof of insurance to her.

Example:

An officer initiated an investigative pullover of a van
whose driver was operating the vehicle erratically. On
approach, the officer saw the driver was paying particularly
close attention to the officer in the rear view and side
mirrors. The officer did not have a clear view of the
driver’s hands or if there were any other occupants in the
vehicle. The officer halted his approach, returned to the
patrol vehicle, and requested backup. Using the patrol
vehicle as cover, the officer used the PA and instructed the
driver to exit and move to the curb. When the backup
officer arrived, the primary officer continued to clear the
vehicle of two occupants as the backup officer maintained
cover. During the investigation, it was determined that
there were open containers of alcohol in the vehicle and
that the driver was DUI.

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-7

Motorcycles
[22.04.EO2]

Introduction

Because of their maneuverability and speed, motorcycle pullovers present
special safety and tactical considerations for patrol officers.

Operator
safety

As a motorcycle pulls off a roadway, it can easily slip or slide on surfaces that
are different from the road surface. (e.g., loose gravel on road shoulder)
Officers must also be aware that the motorcycle operator (and rider) are highly
vulnerable to injury if the motorcycle should go down as a result of the
officer’s actions when conducting a pullover.

Mobility

The driver of the stopped motorcycle can easily pull away as the officer
approaches and can drive to areas that are impassible by the patrol vehicle.
For this reason, it is advisable that patrol officers write down as well as notify
dispatch information regarding the:
•
•

Effecting
the
pullover

motorcycle license number, and
identification/description of the operator.

When initiating the pullover, the patrol officer must be careful not to follow
too closely while directing the operator to a safe location for the stop.
Once the motorcycle is stopped, the patrol officer should:
•
•
•
•

pull in behind the motorcycle just as with any other vehicle,
have the operator shut off the engine,
remove keys from the ignition, if applicable,
have operator (and rider) take off helmet(s), (to verify ID)
Continued on next page

4-8

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Motorcycles, Continued
Effecting
the
pullover
(continued)

•
•

Examples

Example:

A patrol officer paced a motorcycle traveling 53 mph in a
30 mph zone. The officer informed dispatch of his
intention to stop the vehicle and then initiated the pullover.
The operator initially pulled over along the right side of the
road with a narrow shoulder but then continued to a
parking area at a nearby gas station when the officer
instructed him to do so. The officer took appropriate safety
precautions to have the operator move away from the
motorcycle while the officer conducted the business of the
pullover and wrote the citation.

Non-example:

A patrol officer initiated a pullover of a motorcycle without
a license plate. The operator told the officer that he needed
to stay on the motorcycle because he did not trust the
vehicle’s kick stand. After obtaining the operator’s license,
the officer moved back to the patrol vehicle to write the
citation. As soon as the officer reached the patrol vehicle,
the operator started the motorcycle and sped away,
traveling at high speed into a nearby orchard where the
officer could not follow. The officer’s failure to have the
operator move away from the motorcycle led to the
potentially dangerous situation.

step off the motorcycle, and
move away from the vehicle to:
- prevent the person(s) from having any access to weapons that may be
on the motorcycle, and
- ensure the operator does not try to get back on the motorcycle and flee.

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-9

Buses and Semi-Trucks
[22.04.EO3]

Introduction

Pullovers of buses and semi-trucks can involve a number of safety and tactical
problems. In addition, a vehicle pullover of a bus can present a significant
public relations problem with the passengers.

Initiating
the pullover

The selection of an appropriate location for the stop becomes a significant
issue when a pullover involves a large vehicle. The officer must direct the bus
to a location that not only allows for a safe and tactical approach by the officer
but also a location where the passengers will be safe should they have to exit
the vehicle.
When a semi-truck is pulled over, it should not be stopped on a grade.
Depending on the semi-truck’s load, it may be difficult to restart the vehicle
parked on a grade.

General
guidelines

There are a number of general guidelines officers should be aware of when
effecting a pullover of a vehicle that is not a passenger car or pickup.
•
•
•

Traffic enforcement pullover
Investigative pullover
High risk pullover
Continued on next page

4-10

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Buses and Semi-Trucks, Continued
General
guidelines
(continued)

Just as with other unconventional vehicles, there are a number of general
guidelines officers should be aware of when effecting each type of pullover.
Type of
Pullover
Traffic
enforcement
pullover

General Guidelines
•

•

•
•

Investigative
pullover

•
•

•

Basic tactical considerations regarding positioning of
the patrol vehicle to the target vehicle and use of
emergency lights/siren/horn to get the driver’s
attention, remain the same as with other traffic
enforcement pullovers.
Because of the size of the bus or semi-truck, the
officer may have difficulty seeing the driver while
the driver has a sight advantage of the officer’s
approach.
When a pullover involves a bus, officers should have
the driver exit and approach the officer.
When a pullover involves a semi-truck, officers
should:
- not require the driver to turn off ignition due to
potential engine damage.
- instruct the driver to leave the vehicle rather than
attempting to climb up on the tractor.
- question the driver regarding additional
occupants who may be in target vehicle.
At least two officers should be present when the stop
is initiated, whenever possible.
The officers’ approach to the vehicle and the removal
of the driver and passengers should be based on the
specific circumstances of the pullover (i.e., level of
perceived risk).
When clearing the cab of a semi-truck, officers
should check the sleeper area for additional suspects.

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-11

Buses and Semi-Trucks, Continued

General
guidelines
(continued)

Type of
Pullover
High-risk
pullover

General Guidelines
•

•
•
•

4-12

There are two key safety considerations unique to
bus pullovers that officers should be aware of:
- the vulnerability of the patrol vehicle in relation
to the size and weight of the vehicle, and
- the visibility of the approaching officer to the
occupants of the vehicle.
At least two officers should be present when the stop
is initiated. Additional support/backup may also be
required.
Driver and passengers should be instructed to exit
the vehicle one at a time and moved to a safe
location.
Once driver and passengers have exited, officer(s)
can secure the vehicle and conduct investigative
actions (e.g., vehicle search, etc.).

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must make appropriate safety and tactical adjustments when
conducting pullovers involving vehicles other than passenger cars and pickup
trucks.

Safety and
tactical
considerations
[22.04.EO1,
22.04.EO2,
22.04.EO3]

Because of their shape and size, and concealment possibilities, there are a
number of safety and tactical considerations officers should be aware of when
stopping other types of vehicles.
•
•
•

Vans, campers and motor homes
Motorcycles
Buses and semi-trucks

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-13

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

In order to help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a
selection of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided.
However, by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a
response.

Activity
questions

1. A patrol officer observed a van driving without its headlights on a fairly
well lit urban parkway. The officer positioned his patrol vehicle behind
the van and turned on the flashing lights. When the driver failed to stop,
the officer flashed his high beams and sounded his horn. The driver pulled
into the far right lane but did not stop. Instead the driver continued at the
speed limit. Offer at least two possible explanations for the driver’s
behavior. What action(s), if any, do you believe the officer should take?

2. In your own words, why might a vehicle pullover involving a
noncommercial passenger van pose a greater officer safety risk than a
pullover involving a car?

Continued on next page

4-14

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. How might an officer’s actions or tactics vary during an investigative
pullover involving a full size pickup truck from an investigative pullover
involving a car? What if the investigative pullover involved a sport utility
vehicle?

Continued on next page

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

4-15

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

4. Use the following table to list specific officer safety considerations when
conducting a pullover noted with each type of vehicle.
Motorcycle

Motor home

Traffic enforcement
pullover on a two lane
county highway

Investigative pullover
on a four lane freeway
during rush hour

High-risk pullover on
a gravel country road

4-16

LD 22 – Chapter 4: Other Types of Vehicle Pullovers

Semi-truck

Glossary
Introduction

The following glossary terms apply only to Learning Domain 22: Vehicle
Pullovers.

concealment

Anything that prevents occupant(s) of a vehicle from observing an officer

contact
officer

The patrol officer who initiates a vehicle pullover and who therefore becomes
responsible for conducting the business of the pullover

cover

Anything that may provide protection to an officer during a vehicle pullover
by stopping or deflecting a suspect’s weapons

cover
officer

The patrol officer called to assist the primary or contact officer at the scene of
a vehicle pullover

high-risk
pullover

Pullovers conducted in any situation where patrol officers perceive a greater
level of risk; such perceptions may be based on the officer’s observations
and/or information received through communications with dispatch, other
officers, or other reliable means

Mobile
Digital
Terminal
(MDT)

Mobile access systems used in law enforcement vehicles to receive and
transmit information

officer
safety

The practical application of tactically sound procedures in conducting all
categories of vehicle pullovers
Continued on next page

LD 22: Glossary

G-1

Glossary, Continued
offset
position

Placing the patrol vehicle behind and slightly to the right or left of the target
vehicle with the center of the patrol vehicle in line with the right or left fender
of the target vehicle

primary
officer

The patrol officer who initiates a vehicle pullover and who therefore becomes
responsible for conducting the business of the pullover.

risk
assessment

The level of anticipated risk involved with any vehicle pullover based on the
officer’s perception of danger due to a suspect’s conduct, or advance
knowledge

target
vehicle

The vehicle that is the object of the law enforcement action

G-2

LD 22: Glossary

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 24
Handling Disputes/Crowd Control
Version 3.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 24
Handling Disputes/Crowd Control
Version 3.1
© Copyright 2007
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published 1999
Revised January 2006
Revised July 2007
This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:

From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Deborah Linden - Chairman

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Michael Sobek, Vice Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Long Beach Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert T. Doyle

Sheriff
Marin County

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Scott Himelstein

Public Member

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Henry T. Perea

Councilman
City of Fresno

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Michael Sobek

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Gil Van Attenhoven

Senior Special Agent
California Department of Justice

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law
Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD 24: Handling Disputes/Crowd Control
Table of Contents

Topic
Preface

iii

Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook
Chapter 1:

Peace Officer Responsibilities

Overview
Introduction to Disputes
Officer Safety
Intervention Techniques
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 2:

See Page

Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving
Disputes

Overview
Defusing Techniques
Mediation and Resolution
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

iii
iv
1-1
1-1
1-3
1-8
1-15
1-19
1-21
2-1

2-1
2-3
2-9
2-16
2-17

Continued on next page

LD 24: Handling Disputes/Crowd Control

i

Table of Contents, Continued

Topic
Chapter 3:

Specific Types of Disputes

Overview
Family Disputes
Landlord/Tenant Disputes
Disputes Involving Repossession
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 4:

Crowd Dynamics

Overview
The Freedom of Speech
Crowd Dynamics
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 5:

Crowd Management and Control

Overview
Phases of Riot Development
Crowd Management
Crowd Control
Riot Control
Crowd Control Formations
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Glossary

ii

LD 24: Handling Disputes/Crowd Control

See Page
3-1
3-1
3-3
3-10
3-20
3-28
3-30
4-1
4-1
4-3
4-7
4-16
4-17
5-1
5-1
5-3
5-6
5-10
5-16
5-24
5-30
5-31
G-1

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising peace
officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where the
POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
•
•
•

chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 24: Handling Disputes/Crowd Control

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

iv

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis section at the end of each chapter to
review the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary section for a definition of important terms.
The terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and
underlined the first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 24: Handling Disputes/Crowd Control

Chapter 1
Peace Officer Responsibilities
Overview
Learning need

When called to handle a dispute, peace officers must be aware of their
responsibility to keep the peace in order to prevent a civil matter from
escalating into a criminal activity that could threaten the safety of officers and
the persons involved.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be E.O. Code
able to:
•

explain the responsibilities of peace officers at the scene
of a dispute.

•

describe measures officers should take to protect their
own safety and the safety of others when:
- approaching,
- making initial contact, and
- once inside a residence or area where a dispute is
taking place.

•

describe intervention techniques that can be used to
protect the safety of officers, other persons, or property.

24.01.EO1

24.01.EO2
24.01.EO3
24.01.EO4
24.01.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on officer responsibilities and safety issues involved
when handling disputes. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

1-2

See Page

Introduction to Disputes

1-3

Officer Safety

1-8

Intervention techniques

1-15

Chapter Synopsis

1-19

Workbook Learning Activities

1-21

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Introduction to Disputes
[24.01.EO1]

Introduction

A substantial amount of a peace officer’s duties is spent responding to calls
related to disputes. Such calls may involve a simple complaint between two
neighbors to potentially violent confrontations between people. For all
disputes though, a peace officer’s primary role when handling a dispute is to
keep the peace and restore order.

Community
expectations

Many disputes come to the attention of officers either through a request of one
or more of the parties involved or from an uninvolved party who sees or
overhears the dispute taking place.
No matter how the call is initiated, members of the community expect officers
to have the authority to intercede along with the skills required to resolve the
dispute and restore order.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-3

Introduction to Disputes, Continued
Officer
responsibilities

In all situations involving disputes, the responding officer’s primary
responsibility is to keep the peace and restore order.
The following table identifies the peace officer actions that may be involved
in order to keep the peace and restore order at the scene of a dispute.
Officers may be called upon
to...

in order to...

•

take necessary safety
precautions

•

protect:
- themselves,
- each of the involved parties,
- bystanders, and/or
- property.

•

establish and maintain
control

•

prevent the dispute from escalating
further.

•

defuse the situation

•

bring the level of emotions of the
involved parties to a manageable
level.

•

gather facts and information

•

determine what the problem is that is
causing the dispute.

•

determine if a crime has
taken place

•

take appropriate law enforcement
action(s).

•

apply appropriate problem
solving techniques

•

assist the involved parties in
reaching their own solution(s) to the
problem.

•

make appropriate referrals
when necessary

•

aid the involved parties in seeking
additional intervention necessary to
solve the problem.

Continued on next page

1-4

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Introduction to Disputes, Continued
Civil
disputes

Many dispute situations are noncriminal in nature and do not require officers
to take any law enforcement actions. Any problem between two or more
parties where no criminal act is involved is called a civil dispute.
In a situation involving a civil dispute peace officers may be called upon to
advise the involved parties about the methods that can be used to resolve the
dispute.

Volatile
nature of
disputes

Peace officers must always keep in mind that disputes are confrontations
between involved parties. Peace officers may be seen by one or more of the
involved parties as a possible solution while others may see it as an intrusion
into a personal matter.
By the time peace officers are called, the involved parties may have reached a
highly emotional state. Even a civil dispute, if not properly handled, can
quickly escalate into a criminal matter.
Example:

Smith and Jones were involved in an argument over
Smith’s refusal to repay some money that Jones had
loaned him. (civil dispute)
In the course of the argument, Jones became so enraged
that he struck Smith with his fist. (misdemeanor criminal
matter)
Smith then pulled a handgun from his coat pocket and
fired at Jones, seriously wounding him. (felony criminal
matter)
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-5

Introduction to Disputes, Continued
Criminal
matters

When a dispute becomes a criminal matter, a number of specific actions may
be required on the part of the officer. The following table identifies a number
of factors involved when handling a dispute that has become a criminal matter.
Factor

Officers may be called upon to...

Safety of officer(s),
victim(s), and/or
property

•
•

establish control of the situation.
seek appropriate medical aid if necessary.

Crime identification

•

determine whether all the required elements
of a crime can be established based on the
available facts.
establish the intent of the person(s) who
committed the crime. (Many crimes arising
out of disputes require the establishment of
specific intent.)

•

Law enforcement actions

•

•

determine whether the crime is a felony or
misdemeanor. (Peace officers generally
cannot arrest for a misdemeanor not
committed in their presence.)
make arrest(s) or take other required law
enforcement action(s) (e.g., cite and release).

Continued on next page

1-6

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Introduction to Disputes, Continued
Legal
advice

Because members of the community often see peace officers as authority
figures, they may take the comments and opinions expressed by officers as
“the law.” When involved in handling a dispute, officers must be cautious of
what they say and not give any form of legal advice to any of the parties
involved in the dispute.
When called upon, officers may refer involved parties to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

Focus
on goal

that individual’s private attorney,
the district attorney,
the public defender,
the city attorney,
legal aid services, or
mediation services

When responding to a call involving a dispute, peace officers need to have a
clear goal in mind and remain focused on that goal and avoid getting
sidetracked while dealing with the dispute.
NOTE:

Resolution
at first
visit

It is important for peace officers to remain flexible and objective
when responding to dispute calls.

In all calls involving disputes, responding officers’ goals must include an
attempt to resolve in a single visit, the problem causing the dispute.
Additional visits to a disturbance increase the level of danger for the officers
and parties involved. Involved parties may be on their guard and less
receptive to a peaceful resolution to the situation.

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-7

Officer Safety
[24.01.EO2, 24.01.EO3, 24.01.EO4]

Introduction

Responding to a call involving a dispute can be one of the most dangerous
parts of a peace officer’s job. Violence related to disputes is among the
leading causes of peace officer injuries and deaths. For this reason, all calls
involving disputes must be handled with caution.

Conscious
safety
habits

Because of the frequency of calls involving disputes, peace officers can easily
regard such calls as routine. Approaching a task as routine can be deadly
when a situation involves a dispute. Calls regarding disputes must never be
considered routine.
Officers must establish a pattern of conscious safety “habits” when disputes
are involved. The following table illustrates the difference between routine
and a conscious safety habit.
Definition
Routine

•
•

Conscious
safety habit

•

Examples

Developed to use time
efficiently
Often involves actions
without conscious thought

•

Showering and
dressing for work

Actions that become
automatic with practice but
still involve conscious
decisions to:
- remain alert,
- avoid unnecessary risk,
or
- perform a task in the
safest possible way

•
•

Cleaning a firearm
Standing in such a
way that an
officer’s firearm is
not within reach of
a subject
Watching a
subject’s hands

•

Continued on next page

1-8

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Officer Safety, Continued
Plan of
action

Officer safety requires the establishment of a plan of action, based on known
information, that is flexible enough to adjust for changing circumstances.
This plan may be based on a “worse case scenario” of identifying the worst
thing that could be encountered and include:
•
•
•
•

Initial
information

identifying an objective based on the nature of the call (e.g., stop a
conflict, reduce noise, protect property, etc.),
establishing the roles and responsibilities of each officer involved,
identifying the location of the dispute (e.g., bar, area of known gang
activity, etc.),
identifying who and how many are involved.

Officer safety begins with having a clear mental picture of the event or the
nature of the dispute prior to actually responding to a call. Officers may need
to request additional information regarding:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

the name and description of involved parties,
the condition of the involved parties (e.g., indications of drug or alcohol
use),
the circumstances of the call (e.g., what initiated the call, how the call
came in, was there more than one call to dispatch, etc.),
whether or not each of the involved parties are still present,
whether or not there are other people present (e.g., bystanders, family
members, etc.),
identification of the reporting party,
the known or suspected presence of weapons,
record of prior calls in the same location or involving the same parties, or
specific nature of the call (e.g., very hostile neighborhood, level of
aggression, etc.).
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-9

Officer Safety, Continued
Arrival
at the
scene

One of the most critical times for any officer involved in handling a dispute is
the arrival and entry to the scene. Officers rarely have the element of surprise.
Officers must be conscious of their own safety and the safety of others even
before they enter the scene of the dispute. The following table identifies a
number of safety guidelines related to arrival at the scene of a dispute.
Guidelines
Patrol
vehicle

•
•
•

Observation

•

Approach in a manner that does not “announce” arrival
(i.e., use of excessive speed or noise, use of light or
flashlight, slamming of doors).
Park in a location that is not easily visible to the
involved parties (i.e., at least one house away).
Secure the vehicle.

•

Observe the area surrounding the location of the dispute
for
- parties leaving the area,
- people congregating in the area, or
- anything out of the ordinary.
Examine windows, doors, and roof for people observing
officers’ approach.
Use flashlights or spotlights only if necessary.

Backup

•

Wait for backup when necessary.

Approach

•

Listen for loud voices or other sounds that may indicate
the nature and extent of the dispute (e.g., shouting,
arguing, loud music, etc.).

Access

•

Stand off to the side of the entrance door rather than
directly in front of it, preferably to the doorknob side.
If there is a screen door or storm door, open it if it
blocks the officer’s view of the premises.
Employ available cover and concealment.

•

•
•

Continued on next page

1-10

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Officer Safety, Continued
Night time
approaches

Frequently calls involving disputes take place during night time hours. Under
such conditions, officers should take additional precautions when approaching
a scene. These precautions include:
•
•
•
•

Initial
contact

not using the spotlight to illuminate the house or area,
not parking in a brightly illuminated area (e.g, under a street light),
keeping interior lights of the patrol vehicle dark, and
leaving the flashers of the patrol vehicle off when practical and safe.

One of the most critical times for officers responding to a dispute call may be
the entry to the premises. Officers must always remember that they have
arrived at what may be a confrontation where emotions are high.
On arrival at the premises, peace officers should make a safe entry. To help
ensure a safe initial contact, officers should:
•
•
•
•
•
•

quietly approach, stand at a safe location, listen before knocking,
knock normally or otherwise announce their presence,
identify themselves as peace officers,
state their purpose,
request entry, and
wait a reasonable amount of time for consent.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-11

Officer Safety, Continued
Initial
contact
(continued)

Before entering, officers should:
•
•

•
•
•
•

be cautious of responses such as “It’s open” or “Come in” given by a
person who is not in the officer’s sight. Under such circumstances,
officers should request that the individual come to the door.
establish rapport once contact is made by:
- introducing themselves,
- explaining the purpose of their presence,
- explaining how the call was received (if appropriate).
watch the hands and demeanor of the person who answers the door for
weapons or potential weapons, nervousness, a confrontational manner,
suspicious behavior.
request that dogs be secured.
be aware that their vision may be initially impaired when going from the
light (outdoors) into a darker area (indoors).
maintain a polite, professional demeanor.

NOTE:

Exigent
circumstances

Depending on the circumstance, if the dispute is taking place
outside of a residence, officers may attempt to move the
involved parties indoors to avoid the attention of bystanders or
uninvolved parties.

Exigent circumstances are emergency situations requiring swift action to
prevent:
•
•

imminent danger to life, or
serious damage to property.

If there are exigent circumstances that lead officers to reasonably believe
someone inside a dwelling may be injured or in immediate need of help, those
officers may enter the property without consent.
Continued on next page

1-12

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Officer Safety, Continued
After
initial
contact

Once entrance has been made, there are a number of actions officers should
take to protect their own safety and the safety of others.
The following table identifies safety guidelines associated with these actions.
Action

Safety Guidelines

Assess the
existence of
current or
potential
violence

•

Make initial
contact with the
involved parties

•

•
•
•
•

•
•

•

If a violent physical encounter is in progress, the
involved parties should be separated immediately.
Note the condition of the premises looking for signs
of previous violent acts.
Ask if other people are present.
Visually inspect the area for potential weapons.
Inquire about the existence and location of
weapons.
Locate all occupants (e.g., involved parties, family
members, other persons in the area, etc.).
Search the involved parties for weapons visually
and, if appropriate, search them physically.
Determine the condition of the involved parties.
Look for signs of:
- drug or alcohol use,
- emotional or psychiatric problems, or
- extreme stress.
Determine the relationship between the involved
parties.

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-13

Officer Safety, Continued

After
initial
contact
(continued)

Action

Safety Guidelines

Establish and
maintain control

•

•
•
•
•

NOTE:

1-14

Move parties out of potentially dangerous areas
where weapons or items that could be used as
weapons may be accessible (e.g., kitchens, bedrooms,
etc.).
Maintain visual contact with all parties at all times.
Keep sight of partner at all times.
Have involved parties sit down if appropriate. (If
violence potential is high, officers should remain
standing.)
Constantly reassess the situation for potential
violence.

At any time during a dispute call, a tactical retreat should be
utilized if the circumstances dictate.

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Intervention Techniques
[24.01.EO5]

Introduction

Before a dispute can be resolved in an orderly manner, peace officers may be
required to intervene in order to ensure the safety of themselves, others, and
property.

Intervention
techniques

Intervention techniques range from mere presence to physical force. The
amount of force, if any, officers use to intervene will depend on the
circumstances of the incident. An officer may be faced with a situation that
requires moving directly from verbal force to physical force for their safety or
the protection of others.
The following table identifies techniques that officers may select from.
Intervention
Technique
Presence and
demeanor

Additional Information
•
•

The mere sight or the professional presence of
peace officers may be all that is required to stop
participants from arguing or fighting.
Professional presence includes:
- the symbol of authority that is conveyed by a
law enforcement uniform,
- a calm and impartial demeanor on the part of
officers,
- the gestures and stance of each officer, and
- each officer’s use of personal space by not
invading another’s personal space.

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-15

Intervention Techniques, Continued

Intervention
techniques
(continued)

Intervention
Technique
Verbal force

Additional Information
•
•
•

Physical contact

•
•

Physical force

•
•

Resolution

May be used when mere presence alone is not
successful.
Involves first asking and then, if necessary, telling
that person to do something (e.g., imploy tactical
communication).
Do not attempt to embarrass or belittle anyone or
to threaten arrest. This may only anger the person
further and escalate the situation.
Involves physically touching or restraining an
individual in order to prevent that person from
taking any further actions.
May expose the officer to physical resistance or
assault.
Use of control holds or less lethal methods to
separate parties and gain control (e.g., pepper
spray, baton, handcuffs, etc.).
Deadly force or threat of deadly force should only
be used in life threatening situations.

Once officers have safely entered and gained control, they can begin to defuse
the situation, mediate the dispute, and work toward resolving the problem.
Continued on next page

1-16

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Intervention Techniques, Continued
Examples

Example:

Officers were called to an apartment where neighbors
reported a loud fight between two roommates that had
been going on for hours. On arrival, the officers found the
front door standing open. When one officer knocked on
the door, a voice called, “We’re in the kitchen. Come on
in.” Instead of going in, the officer called out, “We’re
peace officers. Would you come to the door, please?”
The officer waited a few moments and then repeated the
statement. A man came to the door. The officers
explained the purpose of their visit and asked to come into
the apartment. The man replied, “If you can talk some
sense into my crazy roommate, you’re welcome.” The
officers followed safety guidelines for entering the scene
of a dispute.

Example:

Continuing the above example: Once inside the
apartment, the officers inspected the area and saw no signs
of violence. They located the other occupant in the
kitchen. Neither man appeared to be armed. The officers
suggested that they move to the living room and sit down
so they could “be more comfortable.” The officers
followed safety guidelines once they were on the scene of
a dispute.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-17

Intervention Techniques, Continued
Examples
(continued)

1-18

Example:

Officers were called to the scene of a family dispute
involving a mother and daughter. The officers arrived to
find the two women yelling at each other on the front
porch of their house. The officers introduced themselves
and suggested they move inside the house. The mother
continued to scream abuse at her daughter. One officer
said in a calm, low tone, “Ma’am, please lower your
voice.” After several minutes, the mother began to sob
and allowed herself to be guided inside the house. The
officer used an appropriate amount of intervention to gain
control of the situation.

Non-example:

Continuing the above example: As the officers entered
the house with the mother, they allowed the daughter to
follow behind them. She grabbed one officer’s firearm as
he walked through the front door and tried to shoot at her
mother. The officers neglected to remain alert and watch
a subject’s hands at all times and the incident escalated
into a criminal matter.

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

When called to handle a dispute, peace officers must be aware of their
responsibility to keep the peace in order to prevent a civil matter from
escalating into criminal activity that could threaten the safety of officers and
the persons involved.

Officer
responsibilities
[24.01.EO1]

In all situations involving disputes, the responding officer’s primary
responsibility is to keep the peace and restore order.

Arrival on
the scene
of a dispute
[24.01.EO2]

One of the most critical times for any officer involved in handling a dispute is
the arrival and entry to the scene. Officers rarely have the element of surprise.
Officers must be conscious of their own safety and the safety of others even
before they enter the scene of the dispute.

Initial
contact
[24.01.EO3]

Before entering officers should be cautious of responses such as “It’s open” or
“Come in” given by a person who is not in the officer’s sight. Under such
circumstances, officers should request that the individual come to the door.
Establish rapport once contact is made by introducing themselves, explaining
the purpose of their presence explaining how the call was received (if
appropriate).
Watch the hands and demeanor of the person who answers the door for
weapons or potential weapons, nervousness, confrontational manner,
suspicious behavior. Request that dogs be secured before officers enter. Be
aware that an officer’s vision may be initially impaired when going from the
light (outdoors) into a darker area (indoors). Maintain a polite, professional
demeanor.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-19

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
After
initial
contact
[24.01.EO4]

Intervention
techniques
[24.01.EO5]

1-20

The following safety guidelines include actions that peace officers should take
to protect their own safety and the safety of others, once entry has been gained
to the scene of a dispute.
•
•
•

Assess the existence of current or potential violence.
Make initial contact with the involved parties.
Establish and maintain control.

Before a dispute can be resolved in an orderly manner, officers may be
required to intervene in order to ensure the safety of themselves, others, and
property. The amount of force officers use will depend on the circumstances
of the incident.

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. List three examples of conditions that could indicate exigent circumstances
for entrance to private property without first getting permission to do so
when responding to a dispute call. List three examples of conditions that
would not.

2. You and your partner are called to investigate a dispute involving two
neighbors. You knock at the first house, but no one answers. When you
approach the second house, you find the front door open. After knocking
and announcing yourselves as officers, someone responds by yelling,
“Yeah, we’re back here. Come on back.” There are no loud or angry
voices and no outward signs of violence. What should you do? What
safety precautions should you take? Explain the reasons for your answers.

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. What would indicate a potential safety hazard for officers as they approach
a private residence? An apartment that is on an upper floor of a large
building? A fenced backyard with people in it?

4. You and your partner receive a call involving two women, loud noises,
and screaming. The call was placed by an elderly neighbor who lives in
an apartment next to the two women. You have been provided with the
name of the involved parties and with the fact that officers have been
called to the apartment several other times by the same neighbor
complaining about loud music and noise. Describe your plan of action for
responding to the call.

Continued on next page

1-22

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Continuing the scenario of question number four: After knocking on the
door of the apartment, a young woman opens the door. The guard chain is
on the door and the woman peers out through a three-inch opening. You
hear loud music and the sounds of another person scuffling in the
background. What do you say to her? Without opening the door any
further, the woman tells you that the “place is a mess” and that her
roommate was just partying a little to “let off steam.” She said, “That old
lady has it in for us and is always complaining about something.”
Describe your next action(s).

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

1-23

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Student notes

1-24

LD 24: Chapter 1 – Peace Officer Responsibilities

Chapter 2
Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must develop appropriate skills for defusing, mediating and
resolving disputes in order to protect their safety and the safety of others, as
well as prevent the dispute from escalating.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

•

explain appropriate techniques for defusing a potentially
violent dispute.

24.02.EO2

•

describe appropriate techniques for conducting a brief
interview of the parties involved in a dispute.

24.02.EO4

•

summarize the steps involved in the problem solving
process for mediating a dispute.

24.02.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the methods officers can use when handling disputes.
Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

2-2

See Page

Defusing Techniques

2-3

Mediation and Resolution

2-9

Chapter Synopsis

2-16

Workbook Learning Activities

2-17

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Defusing Techniques
[24.02.EO2]

Introduction

People who are involved in disputes have often reached highly emotional
states by the time law enforcement officers arrive at the scene. Conversation
and mediation between the officers and the involved parties may not be
possible until the emotional levels of the involved parties have been lowered
and brought to a manageable level.

Defusing

Defusing is a process of reducing the potential for violence and bringing
emotional levels to a manageable level to restore order. The primary objective
of defusing is to calm each person so that conversation can take place.
The use of defusing techniques may be required when the parties involved in
a dispute are so:
•
•

Defusing
techniques

angry or hostile with each other that a calm discussion is not possible, or
upset or hysterical and unable to communicate.

The most appropriate technique to use to defuse a dispute will depend on the
specific situation. Officers will need to select a strategy that is most
appropriate based on their analysis of the situation.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-3

Defusing Techniques, Continued
Defusing
techniques
(continued)

The following table identifies a number of techniques that are used to defuse a
confrontation involving angry people.
Technique
Separate the
involved parties

Additional Information
•
•
•

•
•

Speak in a calm
firm tone

•
•
•
•
•

Separation provides the opportunity for each
person to regain composure.
Move each party far enough away from each
other so that officers can talk to each privately.
Position the involved parties so as to break their
eye contact with each other and so that their
backs are to each other and each is facing an
officer.
Officers should be in positions that allow them to
keep sight of each other.
Separating the involved parties also helps officers
verify statements by obtaining independent
information from each person.
Give calm, direct instructions using a firm voice.
The parties involved in the dispute will have to
quiet down in order to hear what the officer is
saying to them.
When officers exhibit a quiet and controlled
demeanor, other people are likely to do so also.
Avoid potentially demeaning remarks such as
“Calm down” or “Quit acting like a child.”
Use silence strategically.

Continued on next page

2-4

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Defusing Techniques, Continued

Defusing
techniques
(continued)

Technique
Distract the
individual

Additional Information
•
•

Pretend not to
understand

•
•

Use active listening

•
•
•

Bringing
involved
parties
together

Draw attention away from the other person and
toward the officer.
Make comments that are not related to the dispute
(e.g., “Is that a picture of your kids?”, “May I
turn the television off?”).
When an officer pretends not to understand, it
encourages the person to repeat statements and
possibly give more details.
A person’s focus often shifts from anger to
concentrating on ways of getting the officer to
understand that person’s point of view.
Maintain eye contact with the speaker and
acknowledge what has been said with nods and
encouragement.
Repeating or rephrasing the person’s statement
may give that person an impression that the
officer understands them.
This produces a feeling that the person may have
an ally without the officers actually taking sides.

Once emotions have been brought under control and officers have gained
control of the situation, the involved parties can be brought together again and
officers can begin to help them resolve the problem in a calm rational manner.

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-5

Defusing Techniques, Continued
Bringing
involved
parties
together
(continued)

Even though it may appear that the involved parties are now calm and rational,
officers must always remember that dispute situations are volatile. The
dispute may erupt again if officers do not maintain their control of the
situation.

Examples

Example:

Officers were called to a small strip mall where two men
were shouting at each other in the parking lot. After
officers arrived, they saw that one of the men had
positioned his car so it was blocking the other’s car parked
in the mall lot. When he saw the officers, the man whose
car was blocked yelled, “Arrest this guy, he’s illegally
blocking my car.” The other man shouted, “He stole my
space--I was waiting for that space and this guy pulled
around me and took it. I’m staying.” The officers
separated the two men, each officer talking to each one
individually. Both officers listened carefully to each man’s
side of the incident and gradually both individuals became
calmer. Then the officers brought the two together and got
the disputants to agree that the man blocking the other’s car
would back it up to allow the first man to leave. The issue
was resolved.
Continued on next page

2-6

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Defusing Techniques, Continued
Examples
(continued)

Example:

Officers responded to a complaint from a cafe owner who
reported that a woman was harassing his customers. On
arrival, the officers observed a crowd of people watching
and commenting on an elderly woman and a man in a
shouting match in front of a sidewalk cafe. When the man
saw the peace officers, he said, “Thank God! Please arrest
this lady-she’s driving my customers nuts.” The woman
immediately responded by saying, “I have a right to be
here. I’m not bothering anybody.” One officer said,
“Let’s step over here where customers can’t hear and
discuss this quietly.” The officers interviewed the
disputants individually and allowed each party to tell their
side of the story. The woman spoke in a somewhat
rambling and confused manner, but eventually it emerged
that she liked to visit the cafe on Sunday morning when
patrons were having coffee and reading the newspapers.
She would go from table to table asking for the coupons in
the Sunday papers. The owner reported that she appeared
every Sunday, she was a nuisance and he was sick of her
and so were his customers. The officers listened
attentively to both parties and after they were certain they
understood the situation, they brought the two back
together. After some discussion the two parties resolved
the issue: the lady agreed to leave the premises and the
cafe owner agreed not to press for further action from law
enforcement.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-7

Defusing Techniques, Continued
Examples
(continued)

2-8

Non-example:

Continuing the above Example: The officers did not take
the parties aside. Instead one of the officers spoke
condescendingly to the elderly lady, saying, “Now if you
don’t act like a good girl and go home, I’ll have to arrest
you.” The lady became flustered and agitated and several
patrons and passers by began to make angry comments
about the treatment she was receiving. They began yelling
at the peace officers. By not using appropriate techniques,
the officers made the situation more explosive and became
the focus of hostility.

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Mediation and Resolution
[24.02.EO4, 24.02.EO5]

Introduction

There is a greater likelihood of follow-through and resolution to a problem if
the individuals involved in a dispute reach their own solutions to the problem.
When proper mediation techniques are used to help the involved parties solve
their own problems, there is also less of a chance that peace officers will be
called back to the scene again for the same reason.

Mediation
and
resolution

Mediation is a problem solving technique that allows peace officers to assist
people involved in a dispute in reaching their own solutions to a problem.
Resolution is a solution to the problem that is accepted by both parties to the
dispute and that makes further peace officer action unnecessary.

Fact
finding
interview

Before any mediation techniques can be applied, officers must first gather
information from the involved parties regarding the cause(s) of the problem as
well as the nature and scope of the dispute itself.
The interview at the scene of a dispute should not be viewed as an
interrogation -- but rather as a brief fact finding interview to determine the
root problem prompting the dispute.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-9

Mediation and Resolution, Continued
Fact
finding
interview
(continued)

The following table identifies a number of guidelines for conducting a fact
finding interview.
Actions
Maintain control of the
interview at all times

Interview Guidelines
•
•
•
•
•
•

Ask appropriate questions

•
•
•
•
•

Set ground rules and then make sure they are
enforced.
Allow only one person to speak at a time.
Don’t allow interruptions or interference.
Ensure that each person has an opportunity
to speak.
Hold the speaker to the topic at hand.
Maintain eye contact with the speaker.
Don’t allow the person to turn the interview
around and ask the questions.
Use open ended questions, asking the person
“what” and “how.”
Avoid leading questions that make the
person feel as if that person is being cross
examined (e.g., “Don’t you think that ...”).
Allow the person to speak freely and openly
within the set ground rules.
Ask if there have been similar problems
before.
If any behavior is described as “abnormal”
ask if that person has been taking
medications.

Continued on next page

2-10

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Mediation and Resolution, Continued

Fact
finding
interview
(continued)

Actions
Remain impartial

Interview Guidelines
•
•
•
•

Ending
the
interview

Recognize that there are as many sides to
the dispute as there are parties involved.
Avoid jumping to conclusions or assuming
understanding until all sides are heard.
Try not to make suggestions or give
personal advice.
Be conscious of nonverbal behaviors that
may indicate insincerity on the part of the
officer.

At the end of the interview, peace officers should:
•
•
•

summarize what each party has said,
highlight the main issues, and
make sure that each person agrees with the summary of what that person
has said.

If the individual does not agree with an officer’s summary, additional
questions should be asked to clarify any misunderstanding.

When
not to
mediate

Peace officers should not attempt to mediate a solution to a dispute if:
•
•
•
•

one party has left or refuses to cooperate,
there are other preferable alternatives available,
a crime has taken place and law enforcement action is required, or
one of the involved parties is being taken into custody under the
provisions of Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5150.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-11

Mediation and Resolution, Continued
Problem
solving
mediation
process

After each party involved in the dispute has been briefly interviewed and the
problem has been identified and agreed upon, officers can begin a step-by-step
problem solving mediation process.
The following table identifies the steps of this process.
Step

Action

1

Elicit
suggestions.

Additional Information
•
•
•
•

2

3

Discuss
possible
suggestions.

•

Use
negotiation
to arrive at
an
agreement.

•

•

•
•

Have the involved parties suggest ways of
resolving or improving the situation.
Be persistent.
Don’t allow the involved parties to look to the
officers for recommendations or answers.
Persons will be more committed to their own
ideas than they will to others.
Allow each person to discuss the suggestions that
have been made.
Try to avoid offering opinions (positive or
negative) or suggesting modification to any
suggestion.
An agreement does not have to represent an exact
50/50 split of compromises.
Don’t allow illegal remedies.
Don’t push one person’s suggestion over
another’s.

Continued on next page

2-12

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Mediation and Resolution, Continued

Problem
solving
mediation
process
(continued)

Step

Action

Additional Information

4

Summarize
agreement.

•

Make sure each person involved in the dispute
has a clear understanding of what is involved in
the resolution that has been agreed upon.

5

Encourage
follow
through.

•

Encourage the involved parties to have
confidence in the agreed upon resolution to the
problem.
Have the involved parties identify and agree upon
what steps they will each take in their part of the
follow through.

•

Closure

Before officers leave the scene, they should once again review what the agreed
upon solution is and each party’s commitment to follow through with that
solution.
Officers should thank the involved parties for their cooperation and efforts and
say they can call back if they need to.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-13

Mediation and Resolution, Continued
Examples

Example:

Peace officers responded to a complaint from a woman
who said that her driveway was being blocked by a
workman’s truck. On arrival, the officers found that the
truck belonged to a construction crew building an addition
to the house next door. One of the officers interviewed
the woman and the other officer talked to the neighbor
who was building the addition. The woman stated that the
crew frequently used her driveway, littered her yard, and
continued work into the night, causing her to lose sleep.
She wanted the project halted by the police. The neighbor
said that the woman had tried and failed to get the city to
refuse permission for the home addition and had been
hostile to him and his family ever since, calling the police
over imagined and/or trivial problems. After interviewing
the individuals separately, the officers brought them
together and asked for ideas on how to resolve the
situation. After some discussion, the two parties agreed
on some ground rules for the rest of the construction
period and that if there were further problems they would
discuss them with each other before calling law
enforcement.
Continued on next page

2-14

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Mediation and Resolution, Continued
Examples
(continued)

Example:

A peace officer was called to mediate a dispute between
two neighbors. An argument erupted between Mr. Blane
and Mr. Davis, over a fence that Mr. Blane had built.
Mr. Davis claimed the fence was two feet onto Mr. Davis’
property. Mr. Davis, furious at the encroachment on his
land, began painting the fence bright orange. Mr. Blane
demanded that Mr. Davis stop painting. Mr. Davis
claimed that since that portion of the fence was entirely
on his property, he could do as he pleased. Mr. Blane
claimed the fence was not hurting anything. The officer
intervened and told both parties to stop all actions. After
briefly interviewing each neighbor, the officer asked the
men if they had any ideas how to solve the problem.
After further discussion, the two parties decided to collect
the necessary evidence (photos, witnesses, etc.) and
handle the dispute as a civil matter.

Non-example:

Continuing the above Example: Instead of asking the two
neighbors for their ideas on how to solve the situation, the
officer said that, since the fence was on Mr. Davis’
property, Mr. Blane could do nothing about Mr. Davis
painting it orange. This did nothing to resolve the issue of
whose property the fence was on.

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-15

Chapter Synopsis
Learning Need

Peace officers must develop appropriate skills for defusing, mediating and
resolving disputes in order to protect their safety and the safety of others, as
well as prevent the dispute from escalating.

Defusing
[24.02.EO2]

Defusing is a process for reducing the potential for violence and bringing
emotional levels to a manageable level to restore order.

Interviewing
parties in
a dispute
[24.02.EO4]

Before any mediation techniques can be applied, officers must first gather
information from the involved parties regarding the cause(s) of the problem as
well as the nature and scope of the dispute itself.

Mediation
[24.02.EO5]

After each party involved in the dispute has been briefly interviewed and the
problem has been identified and agreed upon, officers can begin a step-by-step
problem solving mediation process.

2-16

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. How might officers use silence as a strategy when defusing a conflict
between hostile persons?

2. You are called to the scene where a dispute between the owner of a
sidewalk fruit stand and two women is in progress. The dispute is taking
place on a busy street with heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic. As you
approach, the owner, who speaks with a heavy accent, is clinging to one
woman’s arm and is shouting “Send her jail! Stole fruit! Thief!” The
woman is screaming at the owner, “Let go! I didn’t steal nothing---get
your hands off me!” Her companion runs toward you and screams, “This
guy is nuts! He’s attacking my friend!” Describe what actions you can
take to defuse the situation. What precautions should you take to protect
your own safety and the safety of others?

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-17

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2-18

3. Continuing the scenario from question 2: A crowd is beginning to gather
around you and the people involved in the dispute. Two of the bystanders
are trying to get your attention to give you their viewpoints on what has
taken place. How might the conditions described in the scenario hinder
your attempts to mediate the dispute? What actions should you take to
overcome them?

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

2-19

Workbook Corrections, Continued
Student notes

2-20

LD 24: Chapter 2 – Defusing, Mediating, and Resolving Disputes

Chapter 3
Specific Types of Disputes
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must be aware of the nature of certain types of disputes, as well
as the laws that pertain to each type in order to take the appropriate measures
to resolve the dispute.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

•

discuss safety considerations officers should be aware of
when responding to a family dispute.

24.03.EO1

•

describe crimes associated with landlord/tenant disputes,
including:
- tenant lockout/seizure of property,
- vandalism,
- unauthorized entry,
- disruption of utility services, and
- re-entry following a lawful eviction.

24.03.EO2
24.03.EO3
24.03.EO4
24.03.EO5
24.03.EO6

•

explain peace officers’ role when called to a dispute
involving a repossession.
- vehicle
- property

24.03.EO7

•

determine when possession is complete in the course of a
repossession.
- vehicle
- property

24.03.EO8

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the laws and appropriate officer actions for handling
certain types of disputes. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

3-2

See Page

Family Disputes

3-3

Landlord/Tenant Disputes

3-10

Disputes Involving Repossession

3-20

Chapter Synopsis

3-28

Workbook Learning Activities

3-30

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Family Disputes
[24.03.EO1]

Introduction

A large number of all homicides and assaults take place within the family.
Because of this, one of the most common and the most dangerous type of
dispute that peace officers are called to is a dispute that involves family
members.

Involved
parties

Most often, husband and wife relationships come to mind when one considers
who might be involved in a family dispute. But family disputes can and
frequently do involve any number of persons within a household.
Examples of potential parties of a dispute can include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Reasons
for
conflict

husbands and wives,
cohabitants,
roommates,
people separated or divorced,
parents and children,
siblings, or
other relatives.

There are many potential sources for conflicts within the dynamics of a
family. Some of the most common include, but are not limited to, disputes
about one or more of the following:
•
•
•
•
•
•

Finances
Property
Treatment or custody of children
Marital infidelity
Discipline or other parent/child conflicts
Household responsibilities
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-3

Family Disputes, Continued
Reasons
for
conflict
(continued)

•
•
•
•
•

Officer
safety

Peace officers must regard every family dispute as a potentially explosive and
dangerous situation. By the time officers are called, emotions are high and the
heat of the disturbance may be at its most dangerous level.

Jealousy
Drug use
Alcohol consumption
Employment
Hobbies, clubs, or other activities

Whenever officers respond to a call involving a family dispute, they should
remember the following points when considering their own safety as well as
the safety of others.
•
•
•
•
•

Officers may be unwelcome or even viewed as an intrusion by one or more
of the involved parties.
Concealed weapons or household items within a home may be accessible
to the persons involved in the dispute.
The use of drugs or alcohol by one or more of the involved parties can
inhibit rational behavior.
Officer actions or remarks that are perceived by members of the household
as callous can inflate hostilities further. Anger may be transferred to the
officer.
If one or more of the involved parties is placed under arrest, other
members of the family or household may become hostile toward the
arresting officers.

NOTE:

Peace officers should not treat cases of domestic violence as a
family dispute. Guidelines for handling incidents of domestic
violence are found in LD 25: Domestic Violence.
Continued on next page

3-4

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Family Disputes, Continued
Attempting
resolutions

Officers must treat every dispute involving family members with utmost
caution.
By exposing the cause(s) of the dispute through the problem solving mediation
process, the officers themselves may become the focal point of the anger and
frustration of the involved parties. Family members may unite against officers
as an “uninvited third party.”
Officers need to keep the focus on the causes of the dispute and not allow it to
shift to the officers themselves.

Officer
involvement

The structure of the family can vary greatly based on many cultural factors as
well as choices of life style.
Officers who respond to family disputes must guard against allowing their own
personal opinions or beliefs to affect their attitudes or actions toward the parties
involved in the dispute. They must also guard against being drawn into the
dispute or becoming emotionally involved, no matter what the circumstances are.
Officers must never lose sight of their primary responsibility: to keep the
peace and restore order.

Temporary
separation

Sometimes, as part of a mediation and in addition to a referral, it may be
advisable to suggest a voluntary temporary separation of the involved parties.
Such separations involve one or more of the family members leaving the
premises for a specific length of time (e.g., staying with a friend or other
family member over night).
A temporary separation may not solve any deep seated problem that is at the
root of the problem, but it may allow emotions to cool to a level where further
mediation can take place.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-5

Family Disputes, Continued
Referrals

The problems that may lead to family disputes may be deep rooted and
complex. Often, they are beyond what can be resolved by officers. Officers
should be prepared to make appropriate referrals in such situations.

Additional
information

Additional information regarding the laws and the handling of conflicts
related to family disputes may be found in the following:
LD 7:
LD 9:
LD 10:
LD 11:
LD 25:

Crimes Against People,
Crimes Against Children,
Sex Crimes,
Juvenile Law and Procedure, and
Domestic Violence.
Continued on next page

3-6

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Family Disputes, Continued
Examples

Example:

Officers Smith and Jones received a call regarding a
family dispute. A woman had reported her husband and
son were having a “horrible argument” in the driveway of
their house. She also said she was afraid “one of them
was going to get hurt.” The officers arrived and found the
two men in the driveway. The older man was holding a
large stick and the younger man was trying to take the
stick away from him. Both men were visibly upset,
yelling and screaming at each other.
Officer Smith told both of them to move away from each
other and put the stick on the ground. Both of the men
complied and did as they were told, however, both of them
continued yelling at each other. The officers were able to
convince both of the subjects to move into the house.
Once inside the house the officers were able to separate
both men and start to get statements from them about what
had happened.
The officers discovered that the argument stemmed from
the sons’ unwillingness to follow the “rules of the house.”
The conflict between the two of them had been a long
standing issue, but this was the first time the police had
been called.
Both men agreed that their issues with one another went a
lot deeper than the current argument. Using some good
mediation techniques the officers were able to get both of
them to agree to seek counseling. The officers supplied
them with information regarding family services. The son
agreed to stay with an aunt for a few days. He packed a
few clothes and left the house.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-7

Family Disputes, Continued
Examples
(continued)

Example:

The officers’ first action to get the attention of both parties
was the first step toward resolving the dispute. The
officers were able to disarm the older man, a sound officer
safety tactic. Moving the parties inside the house served
to ensure the confrontation did not draw undue attention
from neighbors. Their actions distracted both men and
helped to lower the emotional levels.
By the use of patience and some good mediation
techniques the officers were able to establish some
agreement between the two to seek help. The safety of
both parties was insured and one of them left the home for
a few days. There was agreement on the part of both
parties to work toward a long term solution to their
problem.
Continued on next page

3-8

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Family Disputes, Continued
Examples
(continued)

Non-example:

Rather than taking the actions noted in the previous
example, the officers did not attempt to separate the men
once indoors. Instead, Officer Smith ordered the men to
“calm down and keep quiet!” He proceeded to lecture the
young man about following the rules while he lived under
his father’s roof and how the young man should be
ashamed that his mother had to call law enforcement
officers. The officer’s lecture and attitude enraged the
young man further and the young man began yelling at
Officer Smith. When Officer Jones attempted to
intervene, the father became angry and started to shout at
the officers to “stop attacking my kid!” Because of
Officer Smith’s actions and comments and the officer’s
failure to mediate, the officers themselves became the
focus of both men’s anger.

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-9

Landlord/Tenant Disputes
[24.03.EO2, 24.03.EO3, 24.03.EO4, 24.03.EO5, 24.03.EO6]

Introduction

Just as with all other types of disputes, when called to a dispute involving a
landlord and tenant the primary responsibility of responding peace officers is
to keep the peace and restore order. Once this has been achieved, effective
handling of the dispute often requires an understanding of the applicable laws
related to landlord and tenant actions.

Nature
of dispute

Signing a lease requires a tenant to make timely rent payments and not to
damage the property. For example, a landlord is required to respect the
privacy of the tenant and not enter the property unless either the tenant has
given permission, or there is an emergency (e.g., a broken water pipe) that
requires immediate attention to prevent further damage to the property.
Disputes often arise when one member of the agreement (e.g., the landlord)
believes the other (e.g., the tenant) is in violation of the contract (e.g., hasn’t
paid the rent on time).

Dispute
resolution

Landlord/tenant disputes involving criminal actions on the part of the landlord
or the tenant, may need to be handled with the appropriate law enforcement
actions (e.g., arrest, cite and release, etc.).
If a dispute arises for reasons other than a criminal act, officers should attempt
to mediate and reach an acceptable resolution between the involved parties.
An acceptable resolution may include referring the involved parties to the
appropriate agency that can resolve the problem that has caused the dispute.
Continued on next page

3-10

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Tenant
lockout/
seizure of
property

Occasionally, when a tenant is behind in the rent, the landlord may attempt to
jam the entrance or change the lock on the door in order to prevent the tenant’s
further use of the dwelling, or seize property belonging to the tenant until the
rent is paid. Such actions may be unlawful.
The following table further identifies these criminal acts on the part of a landlord.
Unlawful
Landlord
Action
Tenant
lockout

Seizure
of
tenant’s
property

Crime Elements

•

•
•
•
•

Every person:
- using or procuring,
- encouraging or assisting
another to use,
any force or violence
in entering upon or detaining
any lands or other possession of
another,
except in the cases and in the
manner allowed by law

Classification

Penal
Code
Section

misdemeanor

418

NOTE:

Penal Code Section 418 does not apply when the action is taken
as part of a lawful eviction.

NOTE:

In order to lawfully take possession of a tenant’s property,
landlords must first obtain a court order allowing them to do so.
(Civil Code Section 1861(a))

NOTE:

Even with a lien, a landlord generally cannot seize any property
necessary to the tenant’s livelihood or any necessary household
items (e.g., stove, refrigerator, beds, tools related to a person’s
profession, etc.).
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-11

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Vandalism

It is also unlawful for a landlord to remove the doors and/or windows to the
tenant’s dwelling or destroy the tenant’s personal property in an effort to
harass the tenant.
The following table further identifies the crime of vandalism on the part of a
landlord.
Unlawful
Landlord
Action

Crime Elements

Removal of
doors
and/or
windows

•
•

Damage or
destruction
of tenant’s
property

•
•
•

NOTE:

Every person
who maliciously:
- defaces with graffiti or other
inscribed material,
- damages, or
- destroys
any real or personal property
not his or her own’s
in cases other than those
specified by law

Classification

Penal
Code
Section

misdemeanor

594

Even though landlords are technically destroying their own
property (i.e., removing doors and/or windows), the courts have
held that the tenant has a property interest in the premises.
Actions of destruction by the landlord constitute a malicious
act on the part of the landlord against the tenant.
Continued on next page

3-12

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Authorized
entry

Unauthorized
entry

A landlord may enter the dwelling of a tenant without permission only when:
•
•

entry is reasonable (e.g, to repair a leaking pipe, investigate smoke, etc.), or
the tenant has consented by the lease to the landlord’s entry at will.

If a landlord enters a tenant’s dwelling without prior permission in order to
harass the tenant or to “snoop around,” the landlord has committed the crime
of unauthorized entry (trespass). The following table further identifies the
crime of unauthorized entry (trespass) on the part of a landlord.
Unlawful
Landlord
Action
Entering
without a
legitimate
reason or
without
permission
from the
tenant

Crime Elements

•
•

•

•

Every person
other than:
- a public officer, or
- employee acting within the
course and scope his or her
employment in
performance of a duty
imposed by law,
who enters or remains in any:
- noncommercial dwelling
house,
- apartment, or
- other residential place
without the consent of the:
- owner,
- his or her agent, or
- person in lawful possession
(tenant)

Classification

Penal
Code
Section

misdemeanor

602.5

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-13

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Disruption
of utility
services

Landlords are not allowed to disrupt or disconnect one or more of the tenant’s
utilities as a means of forcing the payment of past rent. Such actions are not
allowed by law.
The following table further identifies the crime of disruption of utility services
on the part of a landlord.
Unlawful
Landlord
Action

Crime Elements

Classification

Penal
Code
Section

Interruptions A person who
of a tenant’s • unlawfully and maliciously
telephone,
- takes down,
electricity,
- removes,
gas, water, or
- injures, or
other utility
- obstructs
services
• any line of telegraph,
telephone, or cable television
or any other line to conduct
electricity, or any part thereof

felony

591

Obstruction/
Interference
of electric
lines

felony

593

Every person who
• unlawfully and maliciously
- takes down,
- removes,
- injures,
- interferes with, or
- obstructs
• an electric line or any part
thereof that is erected or
maintained by proper authority

Continued on next page

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LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued

Disruption
of utility
services
(continued)

Unlawful
Landlord
Action

Crime Elements

Classification

Penal
Code
Section

Interfere
with/obstruct
gas lines

Every person who
• wilfully and maliciously
- breaks,
- digs up,
- obstructs,
- interferes with,
- removes or injures
• any gas pipe or main or
hazardous liquid pipeline or
any part thereof

felony

593c

Obstruction of
water works

Every person who
• wilfully:
- breaks,
- digs up,
- obstructs, or
- injures
• any pipe or main for
conducting water

misdemeanor

624

NOTE:

Even if the landlord has proper legal grounds for evicting a
tenant, it is unlawful for the landlord to interrupt utility services
in an attempt to force the tenant to vacate the premises.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-15

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Eviction
process

In order to evict a tenant, the landlord is required to give a three day pay or
quit notice in writing. This notice demands that the tenant vacate the premises
or come back into compliance with the rental agreement.
The notice must be delivered directly to the person or, if the person cannot be
reached at home or at the place of business, a copy can be left with a person of
suitable age at the residence. The notice can also be sent to the person through
the U.S. mail.
A landlord may serve a tenant with an eviction notice when the:
•
•
•

rent has not been paid by the tenant,
tenant has violated the terms of the rental agreement (e.g., having a pet
when not allowed, etc.), or
tenant has stayed in the premises after the expiration of the rental contract
period.

NOTE:

Evictions for any other reason may require a 30 day notice.

Tenant,
lodger,
guest

A lodger is a roomer (and the only lodger) who has temporary possession of a
dwelling unit with the owner, has unrestricted access to the entire unit and
must be contracted for either room or room and board by providing something
of value to the landlord for something of value, (i.e., mow the lawn, etc.).

Unlawful
detainer

If the problem is not corrected after the three day time period, the landlord
must file a civil lawsuit known as an unlawful detainer. The court must then
decide if the tenant is to be evicted.
NOTE:

The only legal advice that officers should give to either
landlords or tenants involved in a dispute involving an eviction
is to contact an attorney or seek other professional legal
assistance.
Continued on next page

3-16

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Reentry
following
a lawful
eviction

Once a lawful eviction has taken place, a tenant cannot lawfully reenter the
dwelling from which evicted. The following table further identifies the crime of
unauthorized reentry after a lawful eviction.
Unlawful
Tenant
Action

Crime Elements

Reentering
a dwelling
after being
evicted

Every person who
• has been removed from any
lands
• by process of law,
• and who afterwards,
• unlawfully returns to settle,
reside upon, or take possession
of such lands

NOTE:

Classification

misdemeanor

Penal
Code
Section
419

During the time that the civil action (unlawful detainer) is under
consideration by the court, the tenant cannot be prohibited entry
to the dwelling.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-17

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Examples

Example:

An officer responded to a call involving a dispute between
a landlord and tenant. The landlord was angry because the
tenant painted all the rooms in the apartment black. The
tenant claimed that the lease did not prohibit this and in fact
stated that the tenant was responsible for any painting
required inside the apartment. Since no criminal act took
place, the officer used appropriate mediation and resolution
techniques to calm the landlord and tenant and restore
order.

Example:

When a tenant came home after work she realized that
someone had been in her apartment. She confronted her
landlord and accused him of snooping around in her
apartment. When the landlord denied the action, the tenant
called the local law enforcement agency and demanded that
the landlord be arrested. When officers arrived, it was
determined that a maintenance man had entered in order to
investigate the source of a water leak. Since no crime had
been committed, the officer used appropriate mediation and
resolution techniques to calm the landlord and tenant and
restore order. The landlord agreed to require maintenance
personnel to leave a note for tenants stating that they had
entered and for what reason. The tenant apologized to the
landlord for her accusations.
Continued on next page

3-18

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Continued
Examples
(continued)

Example:

A tenant, who was two months late with his rent, returned
home to find that the lock had been changed on the door to
his apartment. The landlord left a note saying that the
tenant would not receive a new key until the rent was paid
in full. Law enforcement officers were called and officers
explained to the landlord that his actions were unlawful.
The landlord agreed to give the tenant a new key and to
seek other lawful actions to obtain the back rent.

Non-example:

Continuing the above Example: Instead of explaining the
law to the landlord and encouraging him to resolve the
dispute, the peace officers arrested the landlord and took
him into custody, escalating the situation into a criminal
matter.

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-19

Disputes Involving Repossession
[24.03.EO7, 24.03.EO8]

Introduction

Repossession is a civil matter between a seller and a buyer. If the buyer has
signed a conditional sales contract to purchase goods over a period of time and
does not live up to the terms of the contract, the seller can take back
possession of, or repossess those goods.

Officer
responsibilities

Peace officers normally do not become involved in a lawful repossession
process other than to keep the peace and restore order. Generally, a notice
and hearing are required before a seller can repossess property. It is not the
responsibility of the officer to interpret a contract or to determine if there has
been proper notice and hearing.
Peace officers may be called to a dispute involving a repossession by an
individual who has a false impression that officers can be used as a “lever”
on the other party involved. Officers must always guard against being placed
in such a position.

Due
process

Peace officers may not hinder or aid either party involved in a lawful
repossession. Even an improper repossession, absent a criminal violation, is
still a matter for civil action.
Because they are acting under the “color of state law,” they may not force the
buyer to surrender property nor can they force a repossessor to return property
that has been lawfully repossessed. Either action by the officer, without a
specific court order, would violate one or the other person’s right to “due
process” under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Continued on next page

3-20

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Disputes Involving Repossession, Continued
Involved
parties

If officers are called to the scene of a dispute involving a repossession, they
must determine the roles of the involved parties. The following table provides
information regarding the primary parties of a repossession.
Party

Additional Information

Repossessor

Will usually have a:
- company identification,
- private license,
- copy of the contract, or
- document describing the property to be repossessed.

Buyer

May be:
- the person who purchased the property (buyer),
- the buyer’s spouse, or
- a third person in lawful possession of the property.

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-21

Disputes Involving Repossession, Continued
Who may
repossess

There are three groups of persons who may lawfully repossess property.
Group
Sellers

Additional Information
•
•
•

Banks or
finance
companies

•
•
•

Private
repossessor

•

•

Owner of the title to the property.
Includes full-time employees of the seller. Part-time
employees may not be used for repossession purposes.
(Business and Professions Code 7522)
Members of this group do not need a state license.
Purchased the debt from the seller.
Includes full-time employees of the bank or finance
company.
Members of this group do not need a state license.
Required to:
- have a state license. (Business and Professions
Code 7500-7511)
- post the license at the principal place of business.
(Business and Professions Code 7503.8)
- carry a pocket identification card with photo.
(Business and Professions Code 7503.10(d))
Any person who violates these provisions may be fined.
(Business and Professions Code 7508)

Continued on next page

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LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Disputes Involving Repossession, Continued
Complete
possession

Officers may be called upon to verify if a repossession is legal. In order to
have complete possession of property, the repossessor must have complete
dominion and control over the property. This takes place when the repossessor
has:
•
•

gained entry to the property, or
when the property (if a vehicle) has been hooked up to a tow truck.

The property does not have to actually be removed from the buyer’s property
before the repossession is complete. If the repossessor does not have complete
possession and the buyer objects, the property cannot be taken.

Third
party
rights

NOTE:

Local policies and practices may differ regarding a repossessor
entering enclosed areas other than private buildings or
structures to recover property (e.g., a repossessor entering a
fenced yard to recover patio furniture).

NOTE:

Repossessors may go onto private property but they cannot go
into any area that is secured.

When the buyer has given a third person permission to use the property or
maintain possession, then that person stands in for the buyer.
This third person may exercise the same rights and privileges as the buyer
against the repossessor.
Repossessions cannot take place if the property, when discovered, is “in the
possession of a bailor,” meaning in a commercial parking lot where an
attendant is on duty or in a check stand. The bailor has and keeps possession
rights until redeemed by the buyer.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-23

Disputes Involving Repossession, Continued
Personal
items

Even when a repossession is complete, the buyer has the right to retain,
remove, or later claim personal items from within the property that is being
repossessed (e.g., clothing, tools, etc., from the trunk of the car).
The buyer cannot remove any property that is fixed or an integral part of the
property being repossessed, even if the item was purchased separately (e.g.,
radios).

Law
enforcement
notification

Whenever repossession is taken of any vehicle, or other property which is
subject to registration by the Department of Motor Vehicles, the repossessor is
required to notify local law enforcement agencies of the repossession.
Notification must be made by the most expeditious means available.
Repossessors must also notify the law enforcement agency in writing within
24 hours after the repossession.
Continued on next page

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LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Disputes Involving Repossession, Continued
Related
crimes

Occasionally, officers may have to take law enforcement action if a crime is
committed in their presence during a dispute involving repossession.
Peace officers must bear in mind that specific intent may be required for a
number of crimes to be complete. If the specific intent to commit an unlawful
act is not present, no crime has taken place.
The following table identifies the crimes that are most commonly related to
repossession disputes.
Crimes Arising at Repossession Disputes

Classification

Penal
Code
Section

Vandalism

misdemeanor or
felony

594

Assault

misdemeanor

240

Assault with a deadly weapon

felony

245

Battery

misdemeanor

242

Disturbing the peace

misdemeanor

415

Drawing, exhibiting, or unlawful use of a
weapon

misdemeanor

417

Impersonating a peace officer

misdemeanor

146

Peace officers should always remember that vehicles can be a very personal
possession. Losing it may evoke highly emotional and volatile disputes.
NOTE:

Occasionally repossessors will break a lock on a garage or
building to gain entry to repossess an item. In such cases, there
is no specific intent to commit a felony. Their actions do not
complete the crime of forcible entry.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-25

Disputes Involving Repossession, Continued
Stolen
property
reports

Buyers may, intentionally or unintentionally, report property that has been
repossessed as being stolen. If officers suspect that this might be the case they
should:
•
•
•

inquire as to who owns the title to the property,
determine whether the buyer is delinquent in payments, and
determine whether the item is on the list of repossessed items on file with
their law enforcement agency.

If an officer reasonably concludes that the property has been repossessed, the
complainant should be referred to the title holder.

Examples

Example:

A repossessor located the vehicle he was to repossess in a
grocery store parking lot. After the vehicle was hooked
up to the tow truck, the owner of the vehicle came out and
objected to the repossession. A passing law enforcement
officer noticed the commotion and stopped to investigate.
The officer determined that the repossessor was legitimate
and that he had complete and lawful possession of the
vehicle. The officer remained at the scene in order to
calm the owner as the repossessor left with the vehicle in
tow.
Continued on next page

3-26

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Disputes Involving Repossession, Continued
Examples
(continued)

Example:

Officers were called to the scene where a woman reported
a prowler on her property. When officers arrived, they
found a man attempting to open the woman’s garage. The
man identified himself as a repossessor who was there to
repossess a motorcycle belonging to the woman’s son.
The woman refused to allow the man access to her garage
where the motorcycle was being stored. She demanded
that the man leave her property. Since the man had not
entered the garage he did not have complete possession of
the motorcycle. The man left the scene. No crime was
committed because there was no specific intent to
unlawfully enter the structure or to steal the motorcycle.

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-27

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must be aware of the nature of certain types of disputes, as well
as the laws that pertain to each type in order to take the appropriate measures
to resolve the dispute.

Officer
safety and
family
disputes
[24.03.EO1]

Peace officers must regard every family dispute as a potentially explosive and
dangerous situation. By the time officers are called, emotions are high and the
heat of the disturbance may be at its most dangerous level.

Tenant
lockout/
seizure of
property
[24.03.EO2]

Occasionally, when a tenant is behind in the rent, the landlord may attempt to
jam the entrance or change the lock on the door in order to prevent the tenant’s
further use of the dwelling or seize property belonging to the tenant until the
rent is paid.

Vandalism
[24.03.EO3]

It is also unlawful for a landlord to remove the doors and/or windows to the
tenant’s dwelling or destroy the tenant’s personal property in an effort to
harass the tenant.

Unauthorized
entry
[24.03.EO4]

If a landlord enters a tenant’s dwelling without prior permission in order to
harass the tenant or to “snoop around,” the landlord has committed the crime
of unauthorized entry (trespass).

Disruption
of utility
services
[24.03.EO5]

Landlords are not allowed to disrupt or disconnect one or more of the tenant’s
utilities as a means of forcing the payment of past rent.

Continued on next page

3-28

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Reentry
following
a lawful
eviction
[24.03.EO6]

Once a lawful eviction has taken place, a tenant cannot lawfully reenter the
dwelling from which that person has been evicted.

Officer
responsibilities
during a
repossession
[24.03.EO7]

Peace officers normally do not become involved in a lawful repossession
process other than to keep the peace and restore order. It is not the
responsibility of the officer to interpret a contract or to determine if there has
been proper notice and hearing.

Complete
possession
[24.03.EO8]

In order to have complete possession of property, the repossessor must have
complete dominion and control over the property. This takes place when the
possessor has gained entry to the property, or when the property (if a vehicle)
has been hooked up to a tow truck.

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-29

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. In your own words, describe some officer safety issues related to dealing
with a family dispute. What are the dangers to officer safety in a dispute
involving the repossession of a person’s vehicle?

2. As a matter of safety, officers should assess the existence of current or
potential violence when they enter an area where a dispute is occurring or
has taken place. What signs might be evident at the scene of a family
dispute?

Continued on next page

3-30

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. How would the problem solving mediation process differ when officers
are called upon to handle a dispute involving a landlord and tenant as
opposed to a family dispute? How would it be similar? Is there any
difference in the safety precautions an officer should take? Explain the
reasoning for your answers.

4. You are called to the scene of a dispute between a landlord and two
tenants. When you arrive, you find the furniture and personal items of the
tenants have been placed in the front yard outside of the apartment
building. The tenants claim that the landlord “threw them out” because he
did not approve of their lifestyle. The landlord claims he has grown tired
of all the excuses the tenants have given him for not paying their rent.
How do you proceed? What actions should you take as a law enforcement
officer?

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

3-31

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Explain why the actions of officers are limited in a dispute involving a
repossession where no criminal activity is involved.

6. You are called to the scene of a dispute involving a repossession of a
living room couch and love seat. The dispute has arisen because the
repossessor, who is standing in the middle of the living room with his
moving equipment, claims that he has the document that shows he is
authorized to take the furniture. The homeowner produces canceled
checks that he claims shows that he is current on all his payments. As
a peace officer, what action(s) should you take?

3-32

LD 24: Chapter 3 – Specific Types of Disputes

Chapter 4
Crowd Dynamics
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must have a clear understanding of the individual’s rights and
protections regarding free speech and assembly, along with the dynamics of
the types of crowds that may form for the purpose of exercising those rights.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

•

explain peace officer responsibilities regarding the
protection of an individual’s right to free speech and
assembly.

24.04.EO1

•

discuss the role of law enforcement regarding crowd
control.

24.04.EO2

•

describe psychological factors associated with crowd
behavior.

24.04.EO3

•

discuss the phases of crowd development from a casual
gathering through the development of a riot.

24.04.EO4

•

discuss the three primary roles individuals play within a
crowd.

24.04.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the background information regarding an individual’s
right to free speech and the makeup and dynamics of crowds that form to
exercise that right. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

4-2

See Page

The Freedom of Speech

4-3

Crowd Dynamics

4-7

Chapter Synopsis

4-16

Workbook Learning Activities

4-17

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

The Freedom of Speech
[24.04.EO1, 24.04.EO2]

Introduction

In the United States all people have the right of free speech and free assembly.
Law enforcement officers must recognize these rights and actively protect
persons who are lawfully exercising them.

Constitutional
protections

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:
“Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise there of; or abridging the freedom of speech,
or of the press; or the right of the people to assemble, and to petition the
government for a redress of grievances.”
Article I, Section 3 of the California Constitution states:
“The people have the right to instruct their representatives, petition
government for redress of grievances, and assemble freely to consult for
the common good.”

Lawful
activities

Both the U.S. and California Constitutions guarantee all forms of lawful
informational and demonstration activities (e.g., rallies, marches, picketing,
leafleting, etc.).
The protections regarding the freedom of speech under both Constitutions
also apply to conduct used to communicate ideas (e.g., skits, dance,
pantomime, etc.).
The government cannot prohibit these lawful activities or regulate them in
any way that will prevent meaningful and effective communication other than
to impose reasonable restrictions on time, location, and manner of such
activities.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-3

The Freedom of Speech, Continued
Scope of
restrictions

The scope of governmental restrictions related to the peoples’ right to free
speech and assembly increases as the conduct of those exercising their rights
goes beyond speech itself.
For example, there may be few regulations restricting a person who is passing
out leaflets in a public area and who is not impeding the normal flow of
pedestrians.
The government may impose greater restrictions on an activity that involves
trespassing on private property, blocking free passage on a public sidewalk, a
public highway, or attempting to prevent others from doing their jobs.

Individual
responsibilities

The rights all people have to march, demonstrate, protest, or to perform any
other First Amendment activity comes with the responsibility to not abuse or
violate the civil and property rights of others. Under no condition does the
right to free speech and assembly include a right to cause injury to others or
damage property.
Continued on next page

4-4

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

The Freedom of Speech, Continued
Role
of law
enforcement

It is the responsibility of all law enforcement officers to protect and uphold
each individual’s right to free speech and assembly while also protecting the
lives and property of all people.
Decisions regarding enforcement actions are usually taken by senior officers.
Such decisions strike a balance between protecting constitutional rights and
enforcing statutes and local laws.
When dealing with crowds, the role of law enforcement includes:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

protection of individual constitutional rights,
fair and impartial enforcement of the law,
protection of life and property,
protection of vital facilities,
prosecution of violators,
safety of the public and peace officers, and
prevention of disruption to commerce and community affairs.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-5

The Freedom of Speech, Continued
Restoring
order

If the actions of a group pass from lawful activities to unlawful activities, it is
the responsibility of law enforcement to control those actions lawfully,
efficiently, and with minimal impact upon the community.
If the use of force becomes necessary, only that force which is reasonable may
be used to arrest/disperse violators and restore order.

Professional
integrity

Peace officers must not allow personal or political opinions, attitudes, or
religious views to affect their responsibility to protect an individual’s right to
free speech and assembly.
Officers must not be affected by:
•
•
•
•
•
•

4-6

the content of the opinions being expressed,
race, gender, sexual orientation,
ethnic makeup,
physical disabilities,
appearances, or
affiliations.

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

Crowd Dynamics
[24.04.EO3, 24.04.EO4, 24.04.EO5]

Introduction

There are various types of behaviors associated with crowds. These behaviors
can range from a peaceful assembly at a sporting event to an emotional
demonstration that becomes a riot. The ability of peace officers to maintain
and restore order may be highly dependent upon an understanding of the
factors that make up crowd behavior.

Types of
crowds

There are many different types of crowds that officers should be aware of:
Crowd Type

Description
•

Casual

•

Cohesive

•

Examples

A group of people who
happen to be in the same
place at the same time
Because there is no common
bond, it would take
substantial provocation to
move this type of crowd
toward a defiant act

•
•

Shoppers
Tourists

A group of people who are
drawn to an area for a
specific purpose

•

Spectators at a
sporting event
Guests at a party or
social event
Onlookers at a traffic
collision or disaster
site
Participants at a
community
celebration

•
•
•

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-7

Crowd Dynamics, Continued

Types of
crowds
(continued)

Crowd Type
Expressive

Description
•
•
•
•

Demonstrative •

•
•

Examples

A group of people with a
unity of purpose
May know or closely identify
with each other
May have an internal
command structure (leaders)
Usually well organized

•
•

A group of people who are
very emotional, passionate,
or aggressive regarding their
purpose
Highly volatile and
potentially dangerous
Easily provoked to unlawful
actions

•

•

Protestors
Delegates at a
political event
Picketers at a labor
dispute

Protestors

Continued on next page

4-8

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

Crowd Dynamics, Continued
Group
psychological
factors

As crowds form, people within the crowd begin to lose individual
characteristics and develop a group identity. The following table identifies a
number of these behaviors associated with group behavior phenomena.
Psychological Factors
Group identity

Additional Information
•
•
•
•
•

Group cohesiveness

•
•
•
•

Group-induced anonymity

•
•
•

Established quickly
May be established informally or formally
(e.g., membership in same organization
such as a labor union)
Can be very intense due to the emotions
generated by the crowd
Can be short lived
Frequently an emotional bond rather than
an intellectual bond
Development of a stronger identity (“Us”
versus “Them” syndrome)
Strong, often intense emotional bonding
as individuals identify with the goals of
the group
Highly protective of members against
“outside” influences or attacks
Tendency for groups to act as one
Loss of personal or individual identity
Sense of protection in the large number of
“faceless individuals”
Individuals may act out in a manner that
is not consistent with their normal
behavior outside the group

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-9

Crowd Dynamics, Continued

Group
psychological
factors
(continued)

Psychological Factors
Group potentiality for
violence

Additional Information
•
•
•
•

Group violence

•
•

Potential for violence increases as the size
of the group increases
Violence is often spontaneous
Emotional responses of large groups often
become heated and result in violence
Violence can be undirected, unfocused, or
random
Violence becomes contagious
Violence may be precipitated by:
- rumor,
- stimulation by individuals intent on
causing violence, or
- law enforcement action(s)

NOTE:

A nonviolent crowd with peaceful
intentions can explode suddenly
due to a highly emotional response
to any type of stimulus.

Continued on next page

4-10

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

Crowd Dynamics, Continued
Phases
of crowd
development

A crowd does not suddenly and spontaneously turn into a riot. Crowds
develop in phases as people begin to gather. At each phase, the crowd may act
differently and law enforcement actions and responses may have to be
adjusted.
The following table identifies the phases of crowd development and the crowd
actions associated with each.
Phase

Group Action

Grouping

•
•

Individuals come together.
Initial mingling takes place.

Interaction

•

Individuals begin to identify with the group and
solidify.
Mass yelling begins to take place.

•
•
•

Volume

•
Overt act

•
•

Mimicking

•
•
•
•

Mass of individuals becomes a crowd.
Noise volume increases (use of drums, bullhorns,
yelling, music).
No unlawful acts have taken place.
The point when unlawful/disruptive acts begin to take
place.
Event may be minor and committed by a single
individual.
Other members of the crowd copy the first offense (if
no action was taken).
Onlookers may start to take a more aggressive role.
If allowed to go unchecked, a riot can begin.
Inappropriate overt actions by law enforcement officers
may lead to panic and riot.

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-11

Crowd Dynamics, Continued
Crowd
composition

Within a crowd there are leaders, aggressors, and followers. The following
table further identifies each.
Role

Additional Information
•

Riot

•

Substantial portion of the crowd becomes involved in
unlawful acts.
Law enforcement actions must be taken that are in
proportion to the activities of the crowd.

Leaders

•
•
•
•
•

Make up approximately 10% of the total group
Usually located near the rear and sides of the group
May try to incite or copy overt acts started by others
Can be organized
May direct or feed information to the aggressors

Aggressors

•
•

Make up approximately 10% of the total group
Usually near the front of the crowd (near law
enforcement and/or media)
Often seen or heard more than the leaders
Often need or receive direction from the leader(s)
Thrive on confrontation
Often attempt to provoke a response from law
enforcement

•
•
•
•
Followers/
onlookers

•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Make up approximately 80% of the total group
Located between the leaders and aggressors
Primary involvement is out of curiosity or passive
support
Need direction and leadership (except during highly
emotional situations)
Subject to mood swings brought on by actions or
reactions of others (e.g., leaders, law enforcement)
Usually nonconfrontational with law enforcement
Usually react the quickest to law enforcement tactics

Continued on next page

4-12

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

Crowd Dynamics, Continued

Crowd
composition
(continued)

Role

Additional Information

Legal
observers

•
•
•
•

Make up a small percentage of the crowd
Usually spread throughout.
They observe, document and behave
Video tape peace officer behavior and conduct for
potential civil litigation.

Anarchist

•
•
•
•
•
•

May or may not be in attendance
Tend to be very organized
Make a small percentage of protest group
Not affiliated with the group protesting.
Primary intent is to cause anarchy
Tend to be very violent

Additional
crowd
composition

•

Crowd sometimes have additional groups in attendance
other than those listed in the table above

Civil
disobedience

Civil disobedience is an unlawful event involving a planned or spontaneous
demonstration by a group or groups of people.

Historical
perspective

Acts of civil disobedience have played a primary role in the history of the
United States. The Boston tea party was an unlawful planned event conducted
to protest the British Stamp Act of 1773. The American Revolutionary War
can also be looked at as an act of civil disobedience.
Continued to next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-13

Crowd Dynamics, Continued
California
perspective

Numerous acts of civil disobedience have taken place within California. The
following table describes a number of these events in the last four decades.
Decade
1960's

1970's

1980's

1990's

2000’s

Location

Rationale for Disturbance

Watts

Civil rights and race relations

Berkeley
People’s Park

Viet Nam War

Isla Vista

Corporate involvement with war in Viet Nam

Los Angeles

Shah of Iran

Walnut Creek

Nazi rallies

Berkeley

Apartheid in South Africa

San Francisco

Democratic National Convention

Los Angeles

Operation Rescue; Animal Rights

San Francisco

Gulf War

Los Angeles

Rodney King verdict

Eureka

Deforestation

Davis

Animal rights

Statewide

Immigration

Los Angeles

Lakers

Continued on next page

4-14

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

Crowd Dynamics, Continued
Changing
tactics

Law enforcement tactics used to control crowds engaged in civil disobedience
have changed based on the lessons learned from the past.
The majority of tactics used in the ‘60's and ‘70's for crowd control have been
modified. Decisions to use these tactics often brought on escalation of the
emotions and violence of the event and created negative images associated
with law enforcement.

Law
enforcement
perspective

Not all crowd situations involve civil disobedience. Law enforcement’s
responsibility is to objectively discern at what juncture a demonstration leaves
the realm of legal protest and becomes an abridgement of the rights of others.

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-15

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must have a clear understanding of the individual’s rights and
protections regarding free speech and assembly, along with the dynamics of
the types of crowds that may form for the purpose of exercising those rights.

Free
speech
and
assembly
[24.04.EO1,
24.04.EO2]

It is the responsibility of all law enforcement officers to protect and uphold
each individual’s rights to free speech and assembly while also protecting the
lives and property of all people.

Group
psychological
factors
[24.04.EO3]

As crowds form, people within the crowd begin to lose individual
characteristics and develop a group identity.

Phases
of crowd
development
[24.04.EO4]

A crowd does not suddenly and spontaneously turn into a riot. Crowds
develop in phases as people begin to gather. At each phase, the crowd may act
differently.

Crowd
composition
[24.04.EO5]

Individuals play three primary positions, leaders, aggressor, other forms of
participant, and followers onlooking within a crowd.

4-16

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. Describe your most recent involvement or encounter with a casual crowd,
a cohesive crowd, and an expressive crowd. Have you ever been involved
with or encountered a demonstrative crowd? If so, describe your
experience(s).

2. Describe how group cohesiveness and group-induced anonymity are
demonstrated within a crowd attending an athletic event, a rock concert,
and bystanders at the scene of a natural disaster.

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

4-17

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Have you ever played the role of leader, aggressor, follower or onlooker
within a crowd? Describe your role.

4. List at least three acts of civil disobedience that have taken place in the
United States or elsewhere in the world within the last year.

4-18

LD 24: Chapter 4 – Crowd Dynamics

Chapter 5
Crowd Management and Control
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers need to understand the tactical principles involved in the
management and control of crowds in order to ensure the protection of the
First Amendment rights of the crowd, and the safety of the entire community.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be E.O. Code
able to:
•

describe the phases of riot development.

24.05.EO5

•

explain the primary law enforcement objective of:
- crowd management
- crowd control
- riot control

24.05.EO10
24.05.EO11
24.05.EO12

•

Apply common riot control formations used by law
enforcement:
- skirmish line
- wedge/vee
- diagonal
- column
- arrest/rescue formations (e.g., circle)

24.05.EO13

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on law enforcement actions related to the management
and control of crowds. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

5-2

See Page

Phases of Riot Development

5-3

Crowd Management

5-6

Crowd Control

5-10

Riot Control

5-16

Crowd Control Formations

5-24

Chapter Synopsis

5-30

Workbook Learning Activities

5-31

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

Phases of Riot Development
[24.05.EO5]

Introduction

There are several phases that crowds of individuals must go through before
becoming a riot.

Phases
of riot
development

The following table identifies the phases involved in the development of a riot
along with possible law enforcement actions at each phase.
Phase
Grouping

Group Action
•
•

Interaction

•
•

Volume

•
•
•

Possible Law Enforcement
Response

Individuals come
together.
Initial mingling takes
place.

•

Initial staging of
resources and personnel

Individuals begin to
identify with the group
and solidify.
Mass yelling begins to
take place.

•

Law enforcement
presence located in view
of the crowd

Mass of individuals
becomes a crowd
Noise volume increases
(use of drums, bullhorns,
yelling, music).
No unlawful acts have
taken place.

•

Officers on alert and
deployed in tactical
positions

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-3

Phases of Riot Development, Continued

Phases
of riot
development
(continued)

Phase
Overt act

Group Action
•
•
•
•

Mimicking

•

•
•
•

Possible Law Enforcement
Response

The point when a
defiant, unlawful act
takes place.
Events may be minor
and committed by a
single individual.
Acts may be a simple
infraction or
misdemeanor.
If the act is allowed to
go unchecked,
mimicking begins.

•

Other members of the
crowd copy the first
offense (if no action was
taken).
Onlookers may start to
take a more aggressive
role.
If allowed to go
unchecked, a riot can
begin.
Inappropriate overt
actions by law
enforcement officers
may lead to panic and
riot.

•

•

Officers watch for overt
acts
Immediate enforcement
actions take place

NOTE:

•
•
•

If the overt act is
allowed to go
unchecked, the
crowd can quickly
move into the next
phase.

Aggressive enforcement
action against violators
continues.
Crowd may revert back to
the previous phase.
Individual and unit
discipline are critical.
Overly aggressive law
enforcement actions excite
the crowd further.

Continued on next page

5-4

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

Phases of Riot Development, Continued

Phases
of riot
development
(continued)

Phase
Riot

Group Action
•
•

Possible Law Enforcement
Response

Substantial portion of the •
crowd becomes involved
in unlawful acts.
Law enforcement actions
must be taken that are in
proportion to the activities
of the crowd.

Actions are increased and
expanded in proportion to
the activities of the crowd
to restore order.

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-5

Crowd Management
[24.04.EO10]

Introduction

A public assembly, even when lawful, may require the response of law
enforcement. This response can range from observation to the application of
crowd control strategies.

Crowd
management

Crowd management refers to the techniques used by peace officers in
response to a known event, activity, or occurrence. In situations involving
crowd management, law enforcement agencies have the ability to assist in the
planning, coordination, and management of the event.
Events which may require law enforcement involvement in crowd
management include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

First Amendment demonstrations and activities,
parades,
cultural programs,
musical concerts,
religious gatherings,
community activities, or
sporting events.

Law
enforcement
objective

The main objective of crowd management is to ensure that the event remains
lawful while providing for the protection of the First Amendment rights of all
people.

Principles
of crowd
management

There are two primary principles involved in crowd management.
•
•

Incident planning
Crowd containment
Continued on next page

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Crowd Management, Continued
Incident
planning

Numerous crowd management strategies may be employed in order to meet
the law enforcement objective. Whenever possible, development of these
strategies should begin long before the event takes place. Strategies can
include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Information
sources

coordination of incident planning and preparation with event promoters,
development of a unified and streamlined chain-of-command,
involvement of community stakeholders (i.e., persons who have a legal,
economic, or community interest in the event),
deployment of sufficient numbers of officers and public safety personnel,
ensuring law enforcement personnel have proper and sufficient equipment,
establishment of the rules of conduct for the crowd, law enforcement
officers, the media, etc.,
development of a quick, effective response to violence or law violations,
planning for mass arrests,
the permit process, and/or
construct a written plan that contains, the Incident Command System,
(ICS), State Emergency Management System (SEMS) and the National
Incident Management System (NIMS).

The more information law enforcement agencies have regarding an event or
planned demonstration, the better that agency can prepare to manage the
crowds associated with the event.
Information may be gathered from:
•
•
•
•
•
•

attendance at meetings,
group representatives,
flyers,
informants,
graffiti, or
Internet.
Continued on next page

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5-7

Crowd Management, Continued
Types of
information
required

There are numerous types of information that a law enforcement agency can
use when planning for an event involving a crowd. These include, but are not
limited to the following.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Containment

Type of event (e.g., protest demonstration, community celebration, etc.)
Location and the structures involved (e.g., open park, a public street, a
convention center, a sports arena, etc.)
Number of expected participants
Emotional mood or makeup of the crowd (e.g., angry, passionate,
celebratory, etc.)
Nearby areas that may require special attention (e.g., access to hospitals,
schools, etc.)
Requirements for parking, water, food, sanitary facilities, etc.
Access to and from the area

In most situations, once the group has been established, it is easier to contain
them in a given area than it is to move them.
A perimeter should be established to contain the crowd when possible. This
perimeter must be both controllable and flexible. Officers should control both
the ingress (entry) and egress (exit) of the crowd within the perimeter.
Continued on next page

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Crowd Management, Continued
Law
enforcement
presence

In a crowd management situation, law enforcement presence is a preventive
measure and should remain low profile.
The presence of uniformed officers who display a command presence is often
an adequate deterrent to any unlawful activities. It is preferable for the crowd
to remain focused on the event itself rather than on officer actions at the event.

Peace
officer
conduct

An otherwise peaceful group can become enraged by inappropriate officer
conduct such as individual officers engaging in verbal disputes with members
of the crowd or by officers showing contempt for the crowd or its beliefs.
Officers must always remain impartial and professional. It is their role to
protect the rights of the group while enforcing the law. Each officer must be
aware of and comply with established rules of conduct as they apply to:
•
•
•

Agency
policies

officer actions,
actions of the participants in the event, and
members of the media who may be covering the event.

Peace officers must be aware of and comply with their own agency policies
and procedures regarding officer conduct and crowd management situations.

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-9

Crowd Control
[24.05.EO11]

Introduction

There are countless reasons why people gather in large groups. They may
gather in small spontaneous groups out of curiosity or in large crowds that
form at a predetermined location out of a common cause. Either type of
gathering can be passive or hostile, or a mixture of both.

Crowd
control

Crowd control refers to the techniques used by peace officers in response to
either a preplanned or spontaneous event, activity, or occurrence where there
is a potential or imminent threat of violence. The constitutional rights of the
individuals within the crowd must be weighed against the rights of the public
to carry on business.

Law
enforcement
objective

The law enforcement objective for controlling a crowd, where there is a
potential or imminent threat of violence, is to control the situation and prevent
violations of the law without infringing on the groups’ First Amendment rights
of free speech and assembly.

Potential
for
violence

Certain events, even though preplanned, have a higher potential for violence
or violations of the law. Often groups will gather to protest real or perceived
infringements on the rights of that group. The emotions and reactions of the
crowd must be carefully monitored during such events to provide as much
lead time as possible for an appropriate law enforcement response.
Continued on next page

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Crowd Control, Continued
Potential
for
violence
(continued)

Events with a higher level of potential violence may include demonstrations
involving:
•
•
•
•

labor disputes,
prolife/prochoice protests,
environmental issues, or
highly charged political or economic issues.

There are a number of types of events which draw large crowds and are
normally peaceful but which also have a potential for problems. Examples
include:
•
•
•

concerts,
sporting events, or
holiday celebrations (e.g., New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July, etc.).
Continued on next page

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5-11

Crowd Control, Continued
Initial
response

Peace officers encountering a crowd where there is a potential or imminent
threat of violence must appraise the situation carefully. Factors that should be
considered include the:
•
•
•
•

Continued
monitoring

emotional complexion of the group.
presence of bystanders or opposing groups.
potential for violence.
resources and tactical ability of officers at the time.

Crowd situations should be continually monitored by peace officers to assess
the crowd control situation. If necessary, officers should be prepared to advise
their supervisor or agency of the crowd’s status.
Officers should report any changes in the status of the crowd or the event so
that those who are in command can modify any proposed course of action
based on those changes.

Example

Example:

Officers are assigned to perimeter duty. They see a bus
arrive with additional protestors and/or equipment. An
officer calls into the command post and reports his/her
observations. This allows for possible realignment of
additional officers or equipment.
Continued on next page

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Crowd Control, Continued
Control
principles

Officer actions are based on the group’s First Amendment rights weighed
against the rights and safety of the entire community and the protection of
property. If possible, the same basic tactics used in crowd management
situations should be applied in a situation involving crowd control. Any plan
of action should be flexible and adjusted according to the situation.
Additional control tactics may also apply. The following table further
identifies tactical measures involved in crowd control.
Control
Principle
Isolation and
containment

Additional Information
•
•

A perimeter should be identified to contain the crowd.
If necessary, the limits of the area may be marked by
the placement of barricades or placement of additional
officers.

NOTE:

Law
enforcement
presence

•

In situations that involve potential violence,
officers should maintain the integrity of
squads or platoons they are assigned to and
avoid becoming isolated.

Tensions can sometimes be reduced by the crowd’s
knowledge that a substantial law enforcement presence
is nearby.

Continued on next page

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5-13

Crowd Control, Continued

Control
principles
(continued)

Control
Principle
Selective
arrests

Additional Information
•
•
•
•

Unlawful acts that are not openly violent may be
controlled by individual or multiple arrests of the
specific individuals involved.
If the only unlawful act is the unlawful assembly, the
crowd should be given the opportunity to disperse
voluntarily before any arrests take place.
There must be sufficient personnel deployed at the
scene to make arrests and ensure proper control.
Individual officers attempting to handle a situation
alone may be placing themselves and others in danger
and also further inciting the crowd.

NOTE:

Media
coverage

Additional information regarding dispersal
orders is provided in later portions of this
chapter.

Representatives and equipment of the news media are likely to be present at
any event that is considered controversial or has the potential for violence.
Law enforcement actions can often be a key target for media attention in these
situations.
In addition to the formal news coverage, individual members of the crowd
may have cameras or video recorders. People may be assigned by event
leaders and coordinators to photograph or video tape the officers who are
present and their actions. Officers should assume they are on camera and are
being recorded at all times.
Continued on next page

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Crowd Control, Continued
Media
coverage
(continued)

Officers, unless assigned, should refrain from making comments or statements
to the news media.

Peace
officer
conduct

As in all contacts with the public, the conduct of each law enforcement officer
in a crowd management situation must be professional and legal. Individuals
within the group may view law enforcement presence as an infringement or
threat. Officers must remain calm and unbiased while at the same time
remaining firm.
If any peace officer is not absolutely clear on what the law enforcement
objective of the mission is or what his or her individual duties are, it is
that officer’s responsibility to contact a supervisor to obtain clarification.

Agency
policies

Peace officers must be aware of and comply with their own agency policies
and procedures regarding officer conduct and crowd control situations.

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-15

Riot Control
[24.05.EO12]

Introduction

Most large gatherings of people remain well behaved and law abiding. A
crowd that gathers in support of, or in opposition to, some type of
controversial or emotional theme may be more likely to evolve into an unruly
demonstration. If the actions of the crowd escalate to the use of force or
violence against people or property, the assembly becomes a riot.

Riot
control

Riot control refers to the techniques used by peace officers in response to an
escalation of crowd violence where reasonable force may be necessary to
prevent additional violence, injuries, death, or the destruction of property.

Riot
situations

There are two types of riot situations.
Type

Examples

Fixed

•
•
•
•

Open areas
Enclosed areas
Intersections
Buildings

Mobile

•
•
•

A large crowd with small groups splintering off
Small groups looting or causing damage or destruction
Rioters on buildings throwing objects or firing at
officers

Continued on next page

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Riot Control, Continued
Law
enforcement
objective

The First Amendment does not give individuals the right to break the law.

Principles
of riot
control

There are four primary principles of riot control.

Incident
planning

Law enforcement agencies do not necessarily plan on a riot erupting from
every crowd situation. But certain gatherings, based on the nature of the
gathering or the group(s) involved, may be more prone to involve unlawful
acts and violence.

The objectives of law enforcement change once a crowd moves from
exercising the right of free speech to criminal actions involving the rights of
the public and violence against people or property. Under such conditions, the
objectives of law enforcement become the protection of lives and property,
and the restoration of order.

•
•
•
•

Containment
Isolation
Dispersal
Restoration of order

Riot control is generally a contingency plan that is part of a well prepared
crowd management plan.
By planning for this possibility, agencies will have identified:
•
•
•
•
•

specific operational tactics,
additional resources, equipment, and personnel that may be required,
assignments of specific tasks,
policies and procedures for mounting a quick, effective response to
violence or violations of the law, and
guidelines regarding the use of less deadly force, including chemical
agents, batons, etc.
Continued on next page

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5-17

Riot Control, Continued
Additional
riot control
principles

The highly volatile nature of a violent crowd requires flexibility in thought
and planned actions. Officer actions must be based on issues of officer safety,
safety of the community, and protection of property.
The following table identifies tactical measures involved in riot control.
Riot Control
Principles
Containment

Additional Information
•
•

Isolation

•
•
•
•
•

Establish controllable and flexible perimeters to contain
the crowd.
Control ingress and egress, denying access and
preventing others from joining the existing crowd.
Develop an inner perimeter to create a buffer zone
between the inner and outer perimeters.
Provide a means to identify intruders or unauthorized
persons within the outer perimeter.
Serve as an operating zone for officers, if necessary.
Allow officers to focus their enforcement capabilities.
May make rioters feel vulnerable and more likely to
disperse.

Dispersal

•

Can begin once the:
- inner and outer perimeters have been established,
- control forces are in position to support crowd
movement, and
- ingress and egress are controlled.

Restoration
of order

•
•
•
•
•

arrest
detention
transportation
cite and release
criminal investigation

Continued on next page

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Riot Control, Continued
Dispersal
orders

Penal Code Section 726 establishes the authority to issue a dispersal order “in
the name of the people of the state.”
The intent of a dispersal order is to permanently disperse a crowd, not merely
relocate the problem. When a dispersal order is given, it should be made clear
that the crowd is expected to immediately leave the area.
The dispersal order must be given in a manner so that it can be heard and
understood by the intended audience. Based upon the circumstances, law
enforcement command officers may need to:
•
•
•
•
•

issue multiple announcements from various locations,
use amplified sound,
issue the orders in languages that are appropriate for the audience,
position officers to the rear of the crowd to confirm and document that the
order could be heard, or
use video or audio for documentation purposes.
Continued on next page

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5-19

Riot Control, Continued
Peace
officer
actions
regarding
dispersal

Throughout the dispersal process peace officers MUST remain patient,
observant, alert, and cautious. The following table identifies officer actions
when dispersing a crowd.
Action
Provide
instructions

Additional Information
•
•

Control
dispersal
routes

•
•
•
•

“Shrink”
inner
perimeter

•
•

Provide clear, simple directions and instructions to avoid
confusion.
Provide appropriate time for the size of the crowd to
comply with instructions.
Identify routes for exiting.
Larger crowds may be divided into sections and one
section cleared at a time to maintain control.
Do not “box in,” “press,” or “force” a crowd to move too
fast to prevent panic or violent resistance.
Immediately cut off any attempt to evade the inner
perimeter or to escape via an unauthorized route.
As the crowd disperses, the size of the inner perimeter
can be reduced.
Following the clearing of a section, it must be patrolled
by sufficient personnel to prevent any return of rioters
and the resumption of unlawful activity.

Continued on next page

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Riot Control, Continued
Violent
resistance or
confrontation

When dealing with crowds and civil disobedience situations, peace officers
must work together as a professional, disciplined and well organized control
force. Officers who face rioters on the line must be prepared to face possible
violent resistance or confrontation. Such acts should be dealt with quickly and
efficiently without excessive force or overreaction.
Reasonable force is used to prevent escalation of violence and to overcome
resistance to a lawful process. The decision to use force and the force options
that may be applied in response to riot control incidents should be based on
the type and amount of resistance encountered.
Peace officers must be familiar with their agency policies and procedures
regarding riot control. Officers who violate these policies and procedures are
liable for civil and criminal penalties.

Arrest
teams

A large number of arrests often take place during law enforcement actions
related to control of a riot. Arrests may be made for the failure to disperse
once a dispersal order has been given or for specific crimes committed.
Multiple arrests are often handled by arrest teams (designated arrest officers)
that are prepared and equipped to take custody of numerous persons. Arrest
teams are usually made up of:
•
•
•

a team leader,
arresting officers (of both sexes to allow for person searches), and
cover officers.
Continued on next page

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5-21

Riot Control, Continued
Preplanning
for multiple
arrests

The most successful law enforcement strategy for dealing with mass arrests
and bookings are proper planning, training, and comprehensive briefings of
the involved officers.
Mass arrests procedures used must be flexible enough to handle challenges
confronting officers in the field. Issues to be considered as part of preplanning
for crowd management include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

safe location for the command post,
use of multiple handcuffs, flex cuffs, and gloves,
use of prepared arrest packets,
establishing a location for a secure booking and holding area,
transportation from the demonstration area to the booking area,
maintaining continuity and accountability of arrestees from the arrest site
through the booking process,
prisoner custody and security,
first aid and chemical agent decontamination, if necessary,
procedures for citation and release or transport to jail, and
videographer/photographer for the arrest team.
Continued on next page

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Riot Control, Continued
Crimes
related to
crowds
and riots

The following table identifies a number of crimes related to crowds and riots.
Criminal Action

Penal Code
Section

Disturbing the peace

415

Malicious mischief

594

Trespass on enumerated lands

602J

Participating in an unlawful assembly

407 and 408

Obstructing individual from entering or exiting health care
facility, place of worship, or school

602.11

Resisting officers who are performing official duties

69 and 148

Entering an area that has been closed by law enforcement
officers

409.5

Impeding officers at the scene of a disaster

402

Disobedience to a dispersal order

409

Refusal or failure to disperse on command

416

Requirement to arrest persons who do not immediately disperse

727

Participation in a rout

406 and 408

Incitement to riot

404.6

Participation in a riot

404 and 405

Advocating to kill or injure a peace officer

151(a)

Lynching

146

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-23

Crowd Control Formations
[24.05.EO13]

Introduction

The use of squad formations can offer a practical and reliable method of
delivering a tactical response to control crowds and riots. The appearance of a
competent, professional, well organized, and disciplined contingent of law
enforcement officers will frequently cause a disorderly group to become
disheartened and cease disruptive or unlawful activities in the presence of
these officers.

Teamwork

The basic element of crowd control is the squad. Properly employed and
effectively applied, squad formations represent one of the most practical
methods of controlling crowds and riots as well as providing for officer safety.
Squad members working as a single unit, presenting a professional demeanor,
and instant obedience to commands provides maximum impression. But,
squad formations are effective only when all members operate as a team.
Unit integrity is essential for the team. Each officer must maintain personal
discipline. Independent actions of any one member can jeopardize the work of
the team and place officers in danger.
Continued on next page

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Crowd Control Formations, Continued
Team
makeup

The number of officers within a squad can vary. Officers within each squad
may further be broken down into teams. The following table identifies the
different roles and responsibilities of the officers within a squad.
Role
Squad Leader

Responsibilities
•
•
•

Point Officer

•
•
•
•
•

Team Leaders

•
•

Squad Members •
•
•
•

Receives orders from the platoon leader or the
tactical commander
Gives orders for assembly, formation, and movement
of the squad
Gives assignments to team leaders or squad members
At the front and center of most formations
Usually has the first contact with the crowd
Takes a position where the squad leader directs
Other squad members base their positions depending
on the position of the point officer
May also be the assistant squad leader
Receive orders from the squad leader
Frequently in charge of and in possession of special
weapons such as chemical agents or less than lethal
weapons
The remainder of the squad
Receive orders from their team leader or the squad
leader
May be assigned to carry and utilize special weapons
and/or chemical agents
Support team members

Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-25

Crowd Control Formations, Continued
Formation
selection

Selection of an appropriate formation to use in specific situations is typically
made by the officer in charge. The nature of the crowd may be such that
peace officers may have to assume responsibility for team response.
In selecting the appropriate formation, consideration must be given to such
factors as, but not limited to, the:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

size, demeanor, attitude, and intent of the crowd,
surrounding terrain,
availability of dispersal routes,
objectives of the department,
number of officers,
training and experience of the officers, and
available equipment and resources.
Continued on next page

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Crowd Control Formations, Continued
Types of
formations

There are a number of basic squad formations that have been successfully used
for years in every type of crowd or riot situation. Squad formations must be
flexible so that they can be modified to meet the existing situations.
The following table identifies some of the most common squad formations
used by law enforcement agencies.
Formation
Column

Description/Use
•
•

•
•
•
•

Officers line up one behind the
other
Used to:
- move a squad from one
location to another,
- divide a crowd, or
- lead into other formations
Maintains discipline en route to
the location
Promotes confidence of
individual squad members
Easy to maintain
Appearance can be intimidating
to the crowd

Example
O
O
O
O
O
O
O

Continued on next page

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5-27

Crowd Control Formations, Continued

Types of
formations
(continued)

Formation
Skirmish Line

Arrest/Rescue

Description/Use

Example

•
•

Aligns officers on a straight line
Used to:
- move small crowds in a
specific direction
- contain a group or maintain
set limits, or
- block access to restricted
areas (e.g., doorways, streets,
etc.)
• Easy to form (especially from a
column)
• Can be supplemented with other
columns
•
•

•
•
•
•

Officers form a circle around a
designated group or individual
facing outward
Used to:
- protect officers
- rescue a subject, or
- affect an arrest or multiple
arrests
Dynamic perimeter within a
hostile environment
Can be intimidating
Lack of mobility (some officers
moving backward)
Difficult to transition smoothly
with crowd

OOOOOOOOOOO

OOO
O
O

O
X

O

O
O

OOO

Continued on next page

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Crowd Control Formations, Continued

Types of
formations
(continued)

Formation
Diagonal
(Echelons)

Wedge/Vee

NOTE:

Description/Use
•
•

A slant line of officers
Used to:
- clear a crowd from the side of
a building, enclosure, or wall
- change the direction of a
crowd
- force groups into side streets
or open areas
• Point officer has most contact
with the crowd
• May require backup to prevent
crowd members from getting
behind officers

Example

O
O
O
O
O
O
O
O

•

V-shaped formation with the
point officers at the front and
remaining officers forming at
45 degree angles on both flanks
• Used to:
- break crowd into segments,
- clear intersections, or
- penetrate a crowd to execute
an arrest/rescue formation
• Difficult to maintain
• Difficult to move laterally

O
O
O
O
O

O
O
O
O

There are numerous variations of these common formations
along with additional formations that may be used by different
law enforcement agencies.
Continued on next page

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

5-29

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers need to understand the tactical principles involved in the
management and control of crowds in order to ensure the protection of the
First Amendment rights of the crowd, and the safety of the entire community.

Phases
of riot
development
[24.05.EO5]

There are several phases that crowds of individuals must go through before
becoming a riot.

Crowd
management
[24.05.EO5]

Ensure that the event remains lawful while providing for the protection of the
First Amendment rights of persons involved.

Crowd
control
[24.05.EO11]

Control the situation and prevent violations of the law when there is a
potential or imminent threat by violence without infringing on the First
Amendment rights of persons involved.

Riot control
objectives
and principles
[24.05.EO12]

The law enforcement objectives and management principles of riot control are
the protection of lives and property, and the restoration of order.

Riot control
formations
[24.05.EO13]

Selection of an appropriate formation to use in specific situations is typically
made by the officer in charge. The nature of the crowd may be such that
peace officers may have to assume responsibility for team response.

5-30

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. In your own words, describe how the tactics used to manage a peaceful
crowd at a community celebration differ from those that may be used to
control a rowdy, boisterous crowd protesting deforestation outside the
headquarters of a large corporation involved in lumbering. What tactics
would be the same?

2. Describe how the demeanor and personal conduct of an individual officer
vary when working on the line in a crowd management situation to
working on the line at a crowd control situation with a high potential for
violence.

Continued on next page

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5-31

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Without looking back in the chapter, identify the primary law enforcement
objective for each of the following situations.
Situation

Primary Law Enforcement
Objective

Controlling a crowd at an inner city
street rock concert on a hot August
night where alcohol is being served

Managing a crowd of students who
are peacefully protesting a tuition
increase in front of the
administration building of a local
junior college

Controlling a violent crowd of
people who are attempting to
overturn and set fire to a vehicle

Continued on next page

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Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

4. Describe your own most recent experience as a member of a crowd at a
planned event. Were you aware of any law enforcement presence? If so,
what tactics were used to manage and/or control the crowd?

5. List three actions, behaviors, etc., an individual officer could display when
faced with individuals in a potentially violent crowd that could have a
negative impact on the law enforcement objective. List three that could
help calm individuals and enhance the objective.

Continued on next page

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Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Student notes

5-34

LD 24: Chapter 5 – Crowd Management and Control

Glossary
Introduction

The following glossary terms apply only to Learning Domain 24:
Handling Disputes/Crowd Control.

civil
disobedience

An unlawful event involving a planned or spontaneous demonstration by a
group or groups of people

civil
dispute

Any problem between two or more parties where no criminal act is involved

crowd
control

Techniques used by peace officers in response to either a preplanned or
spontaneous event, activity, or occurrence where there is a potential or
imminent threat of violence

crowd
management

Techniques used by peace officers in response to a known event, activity, or
occurrence

defusing

A process of reducing the potential for violence and bringing emotional levels
to a manageable level to restore order

exigent
circumstances

Emergency situations requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life
or serious damage to property

mediation

A problem solving technique that allows peace officers to assist persons
involved in a dispute in reaching their own solutions to a problem

resolution

A solution to a problem that is accepted by both parties to the dispute and that
makes further peace officer action unnecessary
Continued on next page

LD 24: Glossary

G-1

Glossary, Continued
riot

A crowd or assembly whose actions lead to the use of force or violence
against persons or property

riot
control

Techniques used by peace officers in response to an escalation of crowd
violence where reasonable force may be necessary to prevent additional
violence, injuries, death or the destruction of property

unlawful
detainer

A civil lawsuit filed by a landlord in order to legally evict a tenant

rout

Disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons acting together in a
manner that suggests an intention to riot although they do not actually carry
out the intention.

G-2

LD 24: Glossary

CROWD MANAGEMENT
AND
CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE GUIDELINES
March 2003

Crowd Management and Civil Disobedience Guidelines
Copyright 2003 California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training
Published December 1998
Revised March 2003

All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any
means electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter
invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training
(POST), with the following exception:
California law enforcement agencies in the POST peace officer program and POST-certified training presenters
are hereby given permission by POST to reproduce any or all of the contents of this manual for their internal use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and colleges, professional
associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-of-state may purchase copies of this
publication, at cost, from POST at the address listed below.
This publication is currently only available online. For information about the contents of this publication, contact
Jody Buna, Training Program Services, at jody.buna@post.ca.gov or call 916.227.4896.

COMMISSIONERS
Joe Flannagan, Chairman
Sergeant, Alhambra Police Department
James P. Fox, Vice Chairman
District Attorney, San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office
Lee Baca
Sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Lou Blanas
Sheriff, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department
Patrick Boyd
Detective, San Jose Police Department
Marc Cobb
Sergeant, Long Beach Police Department
Ted Hunt
Police Officer, Los Angeles Police Department
Bill Lockyer, Ex Officio Member
Attorney General, State of California
Arthur Lopez
Chief of Police, Oxnard Police Department
Kenneth J. O’Brien
Executive Director, Peace Officer Standards and Training
Rana Sampson
Community Policing Associates
Laurie Smith
Sheriff, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department
Michael R. Yamaki
Appointments Secretary to Governor Gray Davis

i

PREFACE
Penal Code Section 13514.5 requires the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to establish
guidelines and training for law enforcement’s response to crowd management and civil disobedience.
These guidelines contain information for law enforcement agencies to consider when addressing the broad
range of issues related to crowd management and civil disobedience. The guidelines do not constitute a
policy, nor are they intended to establish a standard for any agency. The Commission is sensitive to the
needs for agencies to have individualized policies that reflect concern for local issues. The Commission
intends these guidelines to be a resource for law enforcement executives that will provide maximum
discretion and flexibility in the development of individual agency policies.
Questions or comments concerning these guidelines may be directed to Jody Buna, Law Enforcement
Consultant, Commission on POST, at (916) 227-4896.

KENNETH J. O’BRIEN
Executive Director

ii

INTRODUCTION
In the United States all people have the right of free speech and assembly guaranteed by the First
Amendment of the Federal Constitution and California State Constitution. Law enforcement recognizes the
right of free speech and actively protects people exercising that right.
The rights all people have to march, demonstrate, protest, rally, or perform other First Amendment activities
comes with the responsibility to not abuse or violate the civil and property rights of others. The
responsibility of law enforcement is to protect the lives and property of all people. Law enforcement should
not be biased by the opinions being expressed nor by the race, gender, sexual orientation, physical
disabilities, appearances, or affiliation of anyone exercising his/her lawful First Amendment rights. Law
enforcement personnel must have the integrity to keep personal, political or religious views from affecting
their actions.
When it becomes necessary to control the actions of a crowd that constitutes an unlawful assembly, the
commitment and responsibility of law enforcement is to control lawfully, efficiently, and with minimal
impact upon the community. A variety of techniques and tactics may be necessary to resolve a civil
disobedience incident. Only that force which is objectively reasonable may be used to arrest violators and
restore order.
All agencies should familiarize themselves with the terms, definitions, and guidelines set forth in this
document. These are the generally accepted principles by which agencies respond to lawful and unlawful
assemblies. The material in this document is designed to assist law enforcement executives in addressing the
broad range of issues surrounding civil disobedience.

iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Guideline # 1: Law Enforcement Objectives..................................................................................... 1
Guideline # 2: Incident Command System (ICS) and Standardized Emergency Management
Systems (SEMS)........................................................................................................... 2
Guideline # 3: Principles of Crowd Management ............................................................................. 3
Guideline # 4: Stakeholder Involvement............................................................................................ 4
Guideline # 5: Management and Supervisory Responsibilities ....................................................... 5-6
Guideline # 6: Crowd Behavior .......................................................................................................... 7
Guideline # 7: Tactical Fundamentals ............................................................................................... 8
Guideline # 8: Dispersal Orders ......................................................................................................... 9
Guideline # 9: Use of Force: Force Options....................................................................................... 10
Guideline #10: Use of Nonlethal Chemical Agents ............................................................................ 11
Guideline #11: Mass Arrest and Booking ........................................................................................... 12-13
Guideline #12: Criminal Investigation................................................................................................ 14
Guideline #13: Incident Documentation ............................................................................................. 15
Guideline #14: Training for Managing Crowds and Civil Disobedience......................................... 16
Information Guide: Protestor Tactics – Trends – Techniques ......................................................... 17-18
Terms and Definitions ........................................................................................................................... 19-22
Applicable Statutes
California Penal Code – General ............................................................................................. 23-25
California Penal Code – Weapons Law................................................................................... 25
California Vehicle Code ............................................................................................................ 25
California Election Code........................................................................................................... 25
Applicable Case Law
Use of Force................................................................................................................................ 26
Unlawful Assembly.................................................................................................................... 26
Riots ............................................................................................................................................ 26
Lynching..................................................................................................................................... 26
Authority to Close Disaster Area ............................................................................................. 26
Fighting/Noise/Offensive Words – First Amendment ............................................................ 27
Obstruction of Street/Sidewalk or Other Place Open to Public............................................ 27
Obstructing/Resisting/Delaying Peace Officer........................................................................ 27
Throwing Substances at Vehicles............................................................................................. 27

iv

GUIDELINES DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
Al Benner, Ph.D.
Captain, San Francisco PD

Mike R. Hillmann
Captain, Los Angeles PD

C.Stoney Brook
Law Enforcement Consultant

Pamela Howard
Sergeant, San Diego Marshal’s Office

Don Cameron
Cameron Consulting

Frank McKee
Officer, San Francisco PD

Dennis Cole
Captain, San Diego County SD

Bruce Naliboff
Lieutenant, UC Davis PD

Gregory Cowart
Director, California Department of Justice

Richard E. Odenthal
Captain, Los Angeles County SD

Steve Craig
President, PORAC

Carol Ann Rohr, Attorney
Franscell, Strickland, Roberts and Lawrence

Daniel DeLeon
Officer, Sacramento PD

Randy Rossi
Assistant Chief, Calif. Department of Justice

Duane Fredrickson
Sergeant, Eureka PD

Rod Sanford
Pacific Institute of Defensive Tactics

Tracy Hall
Investigator, Redding PD

Ollie Sansen
Asst. Dir., Contra Costa PSTC

Douglas Hambleton
Lieutenant, Berkeley PD

Joyce Souza
Sergeant, UC Davis PD

Murl Harpham
Captain, Eureka PD

Ed Springer
Lieutenant, San Francisco PD

Sid Heal
Lieutenant, Los Angeles County SD

Mario Rodriguez
Senior Consultant, California POST

Special thanks to the executive representatives from the following agencies and organizations for their assistance in the
final review of this document:
Alameda County SD
Brea PD
California Academy Directors’ Association
California Peace Officers’ Association
California Police Chief’s Association
California State Sheriffs’ Association
Fresno PD
Garden Grove PD
Joe Callanan Consultants, Inc.
Kern County SD
Los Angeles PD
Los Angeles County SD
Long Beach PD
Martin J. Mayer – Mayer, Coble, and Palmer
National City PD

Newark PD
Oakland PD
Peace Officers’ Research Assoc. of California
Redding PD
San Luis Obispo PD
San Francisco PD
San Bernardino County SD
San Diego PD
Santa Rosa PD
Santa Monica PD
Santa Ana PD
Shasta County SD
Solano County SD
Tiburon PD
Walnut Creek PD

v

GUIDELINES DEVELOPMENT UPDATE COMMITTEE
Dennis Ahearn
Lieutenant, Berkeley PD

Mike Hillmann
Captain, Los Angeles PD

Jon Arnold
Captain, Huntington Beach PD

Michael Lewis
Lieutenant, Sacramento County SD

Tracy Beaupre
Officer, Redding PD

David Little
Officer, CHP

Jody Buna
Law Enforcement Consultant II, POST

Jim Morgan
Sergeant, San Bernardino County SD

Robert Clark
Captain, CHP

Bruce Naliboff
Investigator, Yolo County District Attorney

Dennis Cole
Director of Training, Jaycor Tactical Systems

Carol Rohr
Deputy City Attorney, Santa Monica

BobGreen
Los Angeles PD

Rick Russell
Lieutenant, Marin County SD

Greg Hammond
Sergeant, CHP

Charles Varga
Sergeant, Riverside County SD

Murl Harpham
Captain, Eureka PD

vi

Guideline #1: Law Enforcement Objectives
Law enforcement agencies should establish policies and procedures that recognize and address law
enforcement objectives and provide for the legal protection of the Constitutional rights of all persons.
Discussion:
When establishing policies and procedures, every agency should consider that all persons have the right to
march, demonstrate, protest, rally, or perform other activities protected by the First Amendment of the United
States Constitution. Law enforcement has the responsibility to protect the lives and property of all people.
Peace officers must not be affected by the content of the opinions being expressed nor by the race, gender,
sexual orientation, physical disabilities, appearances, or affiliation of anyone exercising their lawful First
Amendment rights. They must have the integrity not to let personal, political, or religious views affect how they
perform their duties.
* Issues to Consider:
Protection of Constitutional rights
Fair and impartial enforcement of laws
Protection of life and property
Protection of vital facilities
Prosecution of violators
Public and peace officer safety
Potential for disruption to commerce and community affairs
* This sampling is not in order of priority.

1
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #2: Incident Command System (ICS) and Standardized Emergency Management
Systems (SEMS)
Law enforcement agencies should use the Incident Command System as mandated by the Standardized
Emergency Management System when managing crowds and acts of civil disobedience.
Discussion:
The ICS is considered the model for managing the response to unusual critical incidents including crowd
management and civil disobedience situations. SEMS, established by Government Code Section 8607(a),
incorporates ICS and must be utilized by law enforcement agencies to apply for reimbursement from the State of
California. Law enforcement’s use of ICS is outlined in the Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations
(or “Red Book”).
SEMS consists of five organizational levels that are activated as necessary: Field Response, Local Government,
Operational Area, Region and State (Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations, 1998 Edition, Annex,
A, Page 11). The Field Response Level also consists of five primary Incident Command System functions.
Field Response Level uses the following five primary ICS functions:
Command
Operations
Planning/Intelligence
Logistics
Finance/Administration
The Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations can be ordered by contacting the Law Enforcement
Branch of the California Office of Emergency Services at 916.262.1744.

2
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #3: Principles of Crowd Management
Agencies should establish policies and procedures designed to manage crowds.
Discussion:
A public assembly, whether for lawful or unlawful activities, may require the response of law enforcement. The
response can range from observation to crowd management strategies.
Not all crowd situations involve civil disobedience. Law enforcement’s responsibility is to objectively discern
at what juncture a demonstration leaves the realm of legal protest and becomes an abridgement of the rights of
others.
* A Sampling of Crowd Management Strategies:
Coordinate incident planning and preparation
Arrange pre-meeting with group organizers
Develop unified and streamlined chain-of-command
Coordinate pre-incident training
Insure pre-incident community education
Establish stakeholders interest and involvement
Deploy sufficient numbers of law enforcement and public safety personnel to control and/or respond to
anticipated events
Establish overt police presence
Insure law enforcement response is timely
Designate public assembly areas when reasonable
Separate opposing factions
Establish and attempt to maintain contact with the crowd
Insure personnel has proper and sufficient equipment including specialized tactical resources
Establish inner and outer cordoning
Insure on-scene incident command
Provide effective means of communication
Establish rules of conduct, including force options
Establish mobile field booking and arrest teams
Establish dismounted and mobile tactical formations
Define unlawful activity
Develop unlawful assembly declaration
Prepare to use specialty vehicles as necessary
Development media management plan
Establish photo/video journal of chronology of events
Establish photo/video journal of arrest and booking
Continually gather and assess tactically significant intelligence
Identify and employ means to detect metal, explosives, terrorists, and suicide bombers
* This sampling is not in order of priority.

3
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #4: Stakeholder Involvement
Agencies should establish procedures to identify, develop, and utilize stakeholders.
Discussion:
Stakeholder involvement is critical to the overall success of managing crowds and civil disobedience. Law
enforcement should facilitate the involvement of stakeholders when planning for and responding to crowds and
civil disobedience situations.
* A Sampling of Community and Public Agency Stakeholders:
Adjacent Law Enforcement Agencies (i.e., Mutual Aid)
Agency Counsel and District Attorney
Animal Control
Business Community
California Department of Transportation (Cal Trans)
City Manager/County Administrator
Clergy
Community Support Groups
Correctional Facilities
Elected Officials (Mayor, City Council, County Supv., etc.)
EMS Providers, Ambulance Services
Fire Services
Hospitals
Judicial
National Guard
Office of Emergency Services
Outside Agencies
Parks and Recreation
Public Transportation
Public Works
Red Cross
Refuse Service
Salvation Army
Schools
Social Services
Utility Companies
Volunteers
Liaison with California Anti-terrorism Information Center (CATIC)
* This sampling is not in order of priority

4
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #5: Management and Supervisory Responsibilities
Managers and supervisors should be guided by their agency’s policies and procedures and be familiar
with the Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations (published by the California Office of
Emergency Services).
Discussion:
Managers and supervisors have unique roles at critical incidents. A supervisor may be the manager of an
incident until relieved by a ranking officer and should be familiar with both roles. Managers and supervisors
should be trained in the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS), and, in particular, the Incident
Command System (ICS). A pre-established checklist may be helpful for reference during an incident. Existing
models are available from many law enforcement agencies and in the Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency
Operations.
* A Sampling of Supervisory Responsibilities:
Ensure agency policies are followed
Respond quickly and safely to the scene or staging area
Determine safe avenue of approach to scene or staging area
Establish a command post if appropriate and not already done
Delegate responsibility of incident command post and subordinate elements
Establish a secure tactical communication
Assess the situation via briefing and/or observations
Assume command when appropriate
Indicate assumption of command to subordinate
Make appropriate notifications
Utilize SEMS
Refer to the Civil Unrest/Disorder Check List, Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations
Establish priorities of action (containment, isolation, control, arrest, etc.)
Establish a staging area and designate a coordinator
Establish a journal and report writer
Allow time for readjustment, reassessment, and decision making
Avoid unrealistic pressure; slowing down is a wise option
Deploy disciplined control forces rapidly yet efficiently (economy of force)
Emphasize teamwork and avoidance of individual action
Establish contact with participants/leadership (be candid in discussions)
Consider a rapid response force pre-staged for assistance
Maintain support for emergency services (e.g., fire, rescue, etc.)
Ensure all personnel have appropriate equipment
Attain a signed crime/offense report from victim when possible
Ensure personnel understand agency use-of-force policies
When possible, don’t cite and release demonstrators at the scene
Consider the use of barriers and screens around demonstrators
Conduct a post-event critique
Be available for decision making

5
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #5: Management and Supervisory Responsibilities (Cont.)
Provide ongoing training of managers and supervisors
Train and equip response force prior to incident
Be familiar with mutual aid policies and principles
Slow down the incident as necessary
Define mission and establish objectives for the incident
Establish and review intelligence information
Practice unity of command
Accept responsibility
Assume command from supervisor
Establish an ICS organization
Obtain briefing from supervisor
Acquire logistical support
Set enforcement profiles (e.g., carry, pain compliance, nonlethal chemical agents, etc.)
Notify appropriate persons (e.g., police chief, sheriff, mayor, city manager, etc.)
Consider protracted events and personnel staffing
Conduct a post-event critique with all personnel and participating agencies
* This sampling is not in order of priority.

6
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline # 6: Crowd Behavior
Agencies should be prepared to respond to various types of crowds and recognize behavior patterns or
characteristics.
Discussion:
Law enforcement agencies should be aware of the various types of behaviors associated with crowds that may
require law enforcement response. Generally crowds can be categorized into two groups: Lawful or unlawful.
This behavior can range from lawful assembly to civil disobedience to rioting. The ability of law enforcement
personnel to maintain or restore order is highly dependent upon a thorough understanding of the factors
involved.
* A Sampling of Crowds and Crowd Behaviors:

CrowdsSporting events
Labor disputes
Parties/social gatherings
Entertainment events
First Amendment demonstrations
Anarchists
Social agenda driven events (e.g., abortion, animal rights, jury decisions, environmental issues, anarchists, etc.)
Parades
Traffic collisions
Crime scenes
Disasters
Media events
Community celebrations
Political events
Mobile Crowds

Crowd BehaviorsLawful
Orderly
Compliant
Non-compliant
Active resistance
Violent resistance
Rioting
* This sampling is not in order of priority.

7
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #7: Tactical Fundamentals
Each agency should develop tactical precepts to address the management of crowds and civil
disobedience.
Discussion:
The tactical precepts agencies develop will depend upon available resources and the situation itself. Crowds and
acts of civil disobedience are dynamic and require a flexible response. Tactical fundamentals include
containment, control, communication, tactical information, response, and coordination. Agencies should strive
to plan and prepare for incidents above and beyond the basic fundamentals. The Mobile Field Force, as outlined
in the Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations (otherwise know as the “Red Book’), is the standard
mutual aid resource and has local application as well.
* A Sampling of Fundamental Tactical Considerations:
Designated areas for dispersal
Operation plan development
Use of barriers for isolation and containment
Unlawful assembly declaration/announcement
Arrest and control teams
Mobile booking teams
Arrest and processing procedures for non-compliant and disabled subjects
Mobile tactical formations
Use of specialty impact ammunitions
Use of nonlethal chemical agents
Transportation issues
Dismounted tactical formations
Mounted tactical formations
Communications issues
Use of canine
Separation of opposing factions
Mobile Field Force concept
Media considerations
Photo/video record of events
Documentation and reporting process
Traffic management
Personnel support and relief issues
Specialty equipment
Medical considerations
Contingency planning
* This sampling is not in order of priority.

8
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #8: Dispersal Orders
Law enforcement agencies should establish procedures for declaring unlawful assemblies and issuing dispersal
orders.
Discussion:
Law enforcement agencies should understand the law as it pertains to an unlawful assembly. Law enforcement’s
decision to declare a crowd unlawful must be based upon reasonable and articulable facts. The definition of an
unlawful assembly has been set forth in Penal Code Section 407 and interpreted in court decisions. The terms
“boisterous” and “tumultuous” as written in Penal Code Section 407 have been interpreted as conduct that poses a
clear and present danger of imminent violence [In re Brown (1973) 9 Cal. 3d 612, 623.].
The intent of a dispersal order is to permanently disperse a crowd, not to merely relocate the problem. It should be
made clear that the crowd is expected to immediately leave the area, and include a warning that force may be used
which could result in serious injury [Deorle v. Rutherford 272 F.3d 1272, 1284.(9th Cir. 2001)]. The dispersal order
must be given in a manner reasonably believed to be heard and understood by the intended audience. Based upon the
circumstances, law enforcement may need to consider multiple announcements from various locations. Dispersal
orders may be delivered in English and in other languages that are appropriate for the audience. Regardless of how
delivered, law enforcement should record the name of the individual making the statement and the date and time each
order was administered. Dispersal orders should not be given until control forces are in position to support
crowd movement.
Dispersal Order Example
“ I am (peace officer’s name and rank) a peace officer for the (name of jurisdiction). I hereby declare this to be an
unlawful assembly, and in the name of the People of the State of California, command all those assembled at (specific
location) to immediately disperse, which means to break up this assembly. If you do not do so, you may be arrested
or subject to other police action. Other police action could include the use of force which may result in serious injury.
Section 409 of the Penal Code prohibits remaining present at an unlawful assembly. If you remain in the area just
described, regardless of your purpose, you will be in violation of Section 409. The following routes of dispersal are
available (routes). You have (reasonable amount of time) minutes to disperse.”
* A Sampling of Methods Used to Deliver and Document Dispersal Orders:
Loud speech
Amplified sound
Display signage indicating unlawful assembly and dispersal
Gain attention of the crowd and document affirmative responses prior to declaration of unlawful assembly
Position law enforcement personnel to the rear of a crowd to confirm and document the sound of the
dispersal order transmission
Acquire multiple language capability
Video/audio recording equipment for documentation
* This sampling is not in order of priority

9
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #9: Use of Force: Force Options
Agencies should develop use of force policies, procedures, and training for managing crowds and civil
disobedience.
Discussion:
When dealing with crowds and civil disobedience situations, law enforcement must be a disciplined and wellorganized control force. The decisions to use force and the force options that may be applied in response to these
incidents range from law enforcement presence to deadly force. Peace officers need not use the least intrusive force
option, but only that force which is objectively reasonable under the totality of the circumstances (Scott v. Henrich,
39 F. 3d 912, 9th Cir. 1994, and Forrester v. City of San Diego, 25 F. 3d 804 9th Cir. 1994). Graham v. Connor, 490
U.S. 386, 109 S. Ct. 1865, 104 L. Ed. 2d 443 (1989). The reasonableness of the force used to affect a particular
seizure is analyzed under the Fourth Amendment and determined by balancing the nature and quality of the intrusion
on the individual’s Fourth Amendment interests against the governmental interests at stake.
Prior to an event, agencies should continually review their use of force alternatives in response to potential actions by
protesters. Training should reflect reasonable use of force alternatives in order that officers are prepared to consider
the tactics/force options available. Chew v. Gates, 27 F. 3d 1432, 1443 (9th Cir. 1994).
* A Sampling of Use of Force Considerations:
Determine compliance or non-compliance of crowd
Physically moving non-compliant offenders
Anticipate possible actions of demonstrators
Identify criminal violations involved
Develop arrest protocol
Develop use of pain compliance protocol
Plan for disabled, elderly, and children demonstrators
Determine availability of personnel
Evaluate availability of other public safety resources
Include protection devices for involved personnel
Plan for the safety of bystanders
Evaluate mobility of suspects/protestors
Determine avenues of controlled departure
Anticipate potential for medical resources
Establish protocols for less lethal munitions
* A Sampling of Force Options:
Law enforcement presence
Verbalization
Firm grip
Compliance techniques
Control devices
Nonlethal chemical agents
Electrical control devices
Impact weapons/batons
Less lethal (i.e., sting balls, grenades, bean bags)
Deadly force
* These samplings are not in order of priority

10
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #10: Use of Nonlethal Chemical Agents
Agencies should develop policies and procedures for the deployment of nonlethal chemical agents during
incidents of civil disobedience. The application of nonlethal chemical agents must be reasonable under
the totality of the circumstances.
Discussion:
Nonlethal chemical agents, properly deployed by trained law enforcement personnel, are designed to
cause temporary discomfort. The application of nonlethal chemical agents, including oleoresin capsicum
(OC), has proven effective in a wide variety of civil disobedience situations. Use of nonlethal chemical
agents during civil disobedience may be reasonable depending on the totality of the circumstances. Each
agency should consider when, where, and how nonlethal chemical agents may be deployed.
It is important that every agency have properly trained personnel for the deployment of nonlethal chemical
agents. Nonlethal chemical agents, protective masks, maintenance, storage, and security are the responsibility
of the agency.
* A Sampling of Nonlethal Chemical Agent
Deployment Issues:
Law Violations
Non-compliance, civil disobedience situations
Peace officer safety
Personnel available
Methods of delivery available
Weather conditions
Wind direction
Physical location/terrain considerations
Cross contamination problems
Mobility of protestors (suspects)
Effect on law enforcement horses
Types of agents available
Protective devices for involved personnel
Decontamination
The potential exposure to children, elderly,
and disabled members of the crowd

* A Sampling of Nonlethal Chemical Agent
Policy Considerations:
Training
Reporting
Types of agents
Delivery methods to be utilized (application,
spray, expulsion, pyrotechnics, etc.
Amount of agents to be purchased
Identify person(s) who can authorize the use
of nonlethal chemical agents, and under what
circumstances
Decontamination/observation
Storage of nonlethal chemical agents
Replacement and/or rotation of expired agents
Use on animals
Mutual aid for procurement (chemical
collaborative)
Non-compliance, civil disobedience situations
Purchase, storage, and distribution of
protective masks

* These samplings are not in order of priority.

11
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #11: Mass Arrest and Booking
Agencies should develop procedures for managing mass arrests and bookings.
Discussion:
The most successful law enforcement strategy for dealing with mass arrests and bookings is proper planning,
training, and comprehensive briefing of involved peace officers prior to the event. Mass arrests are dynamic
situations, and any process must be flexible enough to handle challenges confronting the field force.
The impact of a large number of arrests on public agencies should be evaluated.
It is imperative that agencies maintain continuity and accountability of arrestees from the arrest site
(crime scene) through the booking process. Many cases are lost due to the inability to match up the
arresting peace officer to the arrestee. The arrest report should articulate each arrestee’s specific
criminal act(s). This process will aid in criminal prosecution and the reduction of civil liability.
A coordinated effort between all involved criminal justice entities is essential to ensure successful arrest,
booking, and prosecution.
It is imperative that agencies maintain continuity and accountability of evidence. Consideration should be given
to maintaining evidence beyond the criminal prosecution, pending potential civil litigation.
* Sampling of Mass Arrest and Booking Considerations:
Booking/processing area: On site or
o Temporary holding facility
o Security
o Weather issues
o Media issues
Identified arrest teams
o Armed
o Unarmed
o Protective clothing
o Handcuff release devices
Documentation (photo/video/written) of arrests
o Date
o Time
o Location
o Offence(s)
o Arresting peace officer(s)
o Identification of arrestees

12
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #11: Mass Arrest and Booking (Cont.)
Computer access for identification
Telephone capabilities
Identified booking teams
Prisoner transportation
o Special needs (e.g., wheel chairs)
Segregation issues
o Gender
o Gangs
o Juveniles
Personal needs issues
o Restrooms
o Water
o Food
Coordination with
o Medical
o Jail
o Court
o District/City Attorney
o Probation/Parole
o Public Defender’s Office
Sufficient handcuffs/restraint equipment
Sufficient forms/paperwork
o Booking forms
o Field release from custody
o Field interview cards
o Evidence collection/storage of materials
Master report writer
Public Affairs/Media Relations Rep.
o Public Service Announcements
* This sampling is not in order of priority.

13
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #12: Criminal Investigation
Law enforcement agencies should establish procedures to investigate and prosecute criminal activity
associated with civil disobedience.
Discussion:
Crowd behavior and civil disobedience that result in criminal misconduct should be investigated.
Arrest/charging sections are not always the same. It may be appropriate to establish a victim other than law
enforcement. Private persons arrests and/or signed crime/offense reports should be considered. Sections to be
considered should be based upon applicable laws and advice from prosecutors. Conspiracy charges are often
appropriate but frequently overlooked.
Crowd behavior and civil disobedience that result in criminal activity should be investigated as any other crime.
Charging sections to be considered may include, but not be limited to, trespass, unlawful assembly, failure to
disperse, rioting, wearing a mask during the commission of a crime, vandalism and conspiracy, if warranted.
When gathering information regarding different groups and their actions, agencies should also confer
with the agency’s legal advisor regarding legal guidelines and court decisions affecting intelligence
activities by law enforcement agencies.
* A Sampling of Investigative Considerations:
Identify potential violations
Consult with city/district attorney prior to and after the event
Identify a master report writer
Identify an evidence coordinator
Gather documents which may aid in your investigation (including press releases, internet
material, signs, banners, etc.)
Review similar activity the group has been involved with in other jurisdictions
Obtain all available video evidence
Review each individual arrest
Record specific chants and who is leading them
Photograph the event
Maintain evidence beyond the criminal prosecution, pending potential civil litigation
* A Sampling of Evidence Considerations for Conspiracy Investigation:
Computers and all discs
E-mail accounts
Telephone records
Fax machines (machine memory can have programmed phone numbers)
Video recordings
Clothing and other items showing affiliation with similar groups
Documents (correspondence, address books, journals, etc.)
Manifestos
Photographs (including criminal activity and site before and after)
* These samplings are not in order of priority.

14
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #13: Incident Documentation
Agencies should establish policies and procedures for documenting crowd management and civil
disobedience incidents.
Discussion:
Thorough documentation is a key element which supports not only criminal investigation and prosecution
but also gives an account of law enforcement’s response to an event. Documentation should begin as soon
as possible. Additionally, proper documentation can aid law enforcement in anticipation of potential civil
litigation.
The extent of documentation is based on the resources available to an agency. Several types of
documentation can be used. Agencies should evaluate existing documentation methods and the need for
additional resources.
* A Sampling of Methods of Documentation:
Still photography
Audio recording
Video recording
Written log/journal
Reports (including after-action reports)
Media reports/footage
Communication and dispatch tapes/printouts
* A Sampling of Subjects to be Documented:
Public disruption
Property damage
Injuries (private citizens, participants, and law enforcement)
Collective and individual behavior
Individual arrests
Individual actions
Use of force
Physical evidence
* These samplings are not in order of priority.

15
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Guideline #14: Training for Managing Crowds and Civil Disobedience
Agencies should establish procedures for training law enforcement command and line members in
managing crowds and civil disobedience situations.
Discussion:
It is important for agencies to prepare for incidents through training and simulation exercises. Command
personnel needs to understand resources, operational strategies, capabilities, force options, and limitations
of field forces as well as the law and policies. Operational personnel also need to understand the law,
policy, tactics, and mission objectives.
Officer discipline is an essential component in successfully managing crowds and civil disobedience.
Discipline is achieved through regular training in the areas of tactical fundamentals and First Amendment
rights issues. Training should not be a single incident occurrence, rather, a continual process. Training
should be presented in a dynamic, relevant, and realistic format.
* A Sampling of Training:
Agency policies and procedures
Case and statutory law
Basic Course
Continuing Professional Training (CPT)
Arrest and control techniques
Team arrest techniques
Mass arrest techniques
Baton/impact weapon techniques
Nonlethal chemical agents
Less lethal munitions (e.g., specialty impact munitions)
Law enforcement SEMS/ICS
Incident Command Post and field exercises
Media relations
Mutual aid
Command decision-making
Supervisory leadership
Tactical decision-making
Crowd dynamics
* This sampling is not in order of priority

16
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Information Guide
Protestor Tactics – Trends – Techniques
The following information has been compiled from various sources involving several large public
demonstrations. Information described should be considered foundational to detecting protestor behavior
that may involve unlawful activity.
Aggressive, antagonistic, provocative, animated
(European influence)
Predominantly white and young
Advocate “non-violence,” “direct action”
Black clad – “Black Bloc” cell groupsconfrontational towards police
White coveralls (G8 Summit)
Facial coverings: protective masks and
bandannas (soaked in vinegar, carried in zip-lock
bags)
Swim goggles
Backpacks
Two-way, recreational radios, cellular
telephones, NEXTEL
Bicycles – communications and reconnaissance
Things to tie, bind and clog such as duct tape,
super glue, wire, and staple guns
Helmets: motorcycle, military, football (face
guard removed), construction, etc.
Paint, “day-glow orange,” yellow, red, black
Body padding, shin guards, knee/elbow pads,
carpet, rubber
Protective (thick) clothing: chemical suits or rain
gear (yellow/orange)
Large trucks/vans, out of state plates
Police monitors– colored hats
Highly mobile and dynamic groups
Body armor such as foam, cushions, and garbage
can lids,
First Aid: bandages, gauze, etc.
Squirt bottles filled with urine, water, etc.
PVC pipes and banners
Footwear- boots with steel toes

Use of Internet- planning, coordination, and
control (Independent Media)
Fire (intimidation, confusion)
Roadway obstacles (traffic blockades)
Large trash receptacles (incendiary)
Banner hanging (buildings and bridges)high-angle rappelling devices, clothing, and
equipment
Welder’s gloves (handle expended with
chemical agents)
Convergence Centers (planning/assembly
areas)– pre-rented, abandoned buildings
Paramedics in crowd (travel in groups)
Pirate radio stations (direct actions)
Legal assistance (attorneys identified by
colored caps)
Bomb threats/hoax devices (intended to
divert law enforcement)
Public transportation (trains, subways,
buses)
Do not like to be photographed, followed,
or monitored by uniformed police
Engage in intimidation
Jail solidarity (when arrested are “noncooperative” in attempt to clog system)
Practice “non-violence” training: Ruckus,
DAN, etc.
Lock down devices (bicycle locks, chains,
“sleeping dragons,” etc.)
Use hand signals to orchestrate crowd
activity
Weather Balloons
Pre-target surveillance

17
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

Potential Targets
Financial Institutions
Federal, State, and Municipal Buildings
Police facilities
Prisoner detention facilities and arrestee
processing locations
Restaurants
Corporations/stores
University and corporate research facilities
Roads, freeways, and overpasses- especially
main arteries- blockades
Political figures (including Cabinet level
individuals)

Weapons
Rocks and bottles
Unsecured trash receptacles, fencing, light
standards, newspaper racks, etc.
Molotov cocktails (rag inside liter bottles)
Rubbing alcohol, peroxide, and spices
(homemade pepper spray)
Urine filled squirt guns and plastic bottles
Sling-shots, ball bearings, bolts, metal nuts
Sticks, crowbars, golf balls, rakes, razors
(equestrian injuries)
Street theatre paraphernalia
Commercially manufactured OC
Vegetable oil and marbles
Large nail clippers (tackle plastic cuffs when
arrested)
Pre-positioned rocks
Catapults

18
This guideline is not intended to be a standard for any agency. Each agency should adopt and follow its own policy in
accordance with existing law and the jurisdiction it serves.

TERMS AND DEFINITIONS
Active Resistance - To intentionally and unlawfully oppose the lawful order of a peace officer in a
physical manner.
Arrest Protocol - The formal process of placing subjects under arrest, taking into custody, and associating
the arresting peace officer(s) with the specific individual arrested.
Arrest Teams - Personnel assigned to arrest duties during civil disobedience/civil disorder operations.
Booking Teams - Personnel assigned to custodial and processing duties during civil disobedience/civil
disorder operations.
Chemical Agents - See Nonlethal Chemical Agents.
Civil Disobedience - An unlawful event involving a planned or spontaneous demonstration by a group of
people.
Civil Disorder - An unlawful event involving significant disruption of the public order.
Collective Behavior - The unlawful behavior of a group of persons involved in situations where normal
cultural structure and controls are not observed, such as unruly crowds, civil disobedience, and riots.
Command - The authority a person lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of his/her rank and
assignment or position.
Compliance Techniques - Reasonable, lawful use-of-force methods intended to encourage suspect
cooperation.
Compliant Behavior - Behavior consistent with submitting to lawful orders of a peace officer without
resistance.
Control Devices - Devices intended to assist peace officers in gaining control of subjects who refuse to
submit to lawful authority (e.g., batons, electrical stunning units, restraint, chemical agents, etc.).
Cordoning - Surrounding or enclosing a particular problem area; also referred to as perimeter control.
Critical Facilities - Any location essential to the well-being and safety of the community requiring law
enforcement protection during a critical incident (e.g., law enforcement, fire and other government
facilities; public utilities; housing developments; shopping centers; hospitals; banks; gun stores; surplus,
and supply centers; etc.).
Crowd Control - Law enforcement response to a pre-planned or spontaneous event, activity or occurrence
where there is a potential for unlawful activity or the threat of violence.
Crowd Dynamics - Factors which influence crowd behavior.

19
.

Crowd Management - Strategies and tactics employed by law enforcement agencies to deal with lawful
assemblies in an effort to prevent escalation of events into an unlawful assembly or riot.
Crowd - A number of persons collected into a close body.
Decontamination - Procedures taken to reduce the effects of any nonlethal chemical agent.
Discipline - Pattern of behavior consistent with demonstrating self-control, teamwork, moderation, and
restraint.
Dispersal Order - Lawful orders communicated by law enforcement personnel commanding individuals
assembled unlawfully to disperse.
Dismounted Tactics - Non-mobile tactical formations generally involving team, squad, and platoon-sized
units.
Electrical Devices - Electrical stunning devices utilized by law enforcement to control resisting subjects.
Essential Elements of Information (EEI) - Critical tactical information, obtained from any source,
received prior to and/or during an event which is considered so essential that without it, meaningful
planning cannot proceed.
Flashpoint - Specific location(s) which can be anticipated to attract criminal elements and become the
origin or focal point of civil disorder.
Force Options - Reasonable force applications utilized by law enforcement to effect arrest, overcome
resistance, and prevent escape.
Formations - Coordinated unit tactics utilized by law enforcement to control crowds, stop unlawful
activity, and disperse and/or arrest violators.
Incident Command System (ICS) - The statewide model for field-level management of emergencies
mandated by the Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS). ICS is specifically designed to
allow its user(s) to adopt an integrated organizational structure equal to the complexity and demands of
single and multiple incidents without being hindered by jurisdictional boundaries (Law Enforcement Guide
for Emergency Operations, 1998 Edition, Annex A, page 6).
Leadership - The art and exercise of influence to direct personnel to obtain willing obedience, confidence,
respect, and loyal cooperation.
Less Lethal Ammunition - Speciality impact ammunitions, hand-delivered or propelled from launching
devices, designed to immobilize, incapacitate, or stun a human being. Refer to PC Section 12601(c).
Management - The process of planning, organizing, coordinating, directing, budgeting, and controlling
resources.
Mobile Arrest and Booking Teams - Mobile teams designated to assist field personnel with mass arrest
and booking.

20
.

Mobile Field Force - An organized, mobile law enforcement tactical force equipped and trained to respond
to unusual occurrences. The mobile field force is currently the statewide standard configuration known as
“Mutual Aid Response Mobile Field Force” (Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations, 1998
Edition, Section IV, “Mutual Aid Response Mobile Field Force,” Page 53).
Mobile Tactics - The ability to rapidly deploy law enforcement personnel using vehicles. The vehicles
may also be used for crowd control and containment.
Mob - A disorderly group of people engaged in unlawful activity.
Mounted Tactics - Crowd control while mounted on horses.
Non-Compliant Behavior - Behavior which does not yield to a lawful order.
Nonlethal Chemical Agents - Devices utilized by law enforcement agencies which may include CS, CN,
OC, and HC (smoke).
Operations Security - Methods to prevent sensitive information which may compromise the integrity and
safety of a law enforcement operation from being improperly disseminated.
Pain Compliance - Stimulation of nerves or the manipulation of joints to elicit a sense of unease or distress
in a subject, causing that subject to comply. Examples include use of control holds, impact weapons,
nonlethal chemical agents, electronic stunning devices, etc.
Passive Resistance - A commonly used term referring to non-violent opposition to the lawful directions of
law enforcement during arrest situations.
Perimeter Control - See Cordoning.
Photographic Teams - Law enforcement photographers assigned to memorialize designated activity
involving civil disobedience.
Platoon - A tactical component consisting of two or more supervised squads.
Policy - Statements of principles and values which guide the performance of a specific department activity.
Policy establishes limits of action and reflects a statement of guiding principles that should be followed in
order to achieve an agency’s objective.
Procedure - A method of performing an operation or a manner of proceeding on a course of action within
the limits of policy.
Public Disruption - The interruption or disturbance of public order.
Rapid Response Force - See Mobile Field Force.
Stakeholder - Entities having a legal, professional, economic, or community interest/responsibility in the
event.

21
.

Sectoring - Defining an overall area of operation and dividing it into sub-sections based upon geographical
and/or artificial boundaries.
Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) - A system required by California Government
Code for managing response to multi-agency and multijurisdiction emergencies in California. SEMS
consists of five organizational levels that are activated as necessary: Field Response, Local Government,
Operational Area, Region and State (Law Enforcement Guide for Emergency Operations, Annex, A, Page
11).
Squad - A tactical component consisting of a minimal number of supervised personnel.
Tear Gas - The term used in the California Penal Code for what law enforcement more accurately refers to
as “nonlethal chemical agents.”

22
.

APPLICABLE STATUTES
California Penal Code - General
69
71
102
148
148.1
148.2
148.4
148.9
151
169
171f
182
197
218
219
219.1
219.2
240
241
242
243
244
245
246
247
247.5
248
302
372
374

Resisting or deterring officer
Threat of injury made to peace officer in performance of his duties
Retaking property from officer
Resisting or obstructing public officer
False reporting planting of bomb
Interfering with fireman or EMT
Tampering with fire alarm
Giving false identification
Advocating injury or death of peace officer
Picketing in or near courthouse with intent to interfere or obstruct administration of
justice or influence judge, juror, witness, or officer of the court
Entering state capitol without authorization-disorderly conduct
Conspiracy
Killing in defense of self or property and arresting fugitives or quelling riot
Derailing or wrecking train
Wrecking train or firing bridge; penalty
Throwing missile at vehicle of common carrier
Throwing missile or shooting at trains, street cars, or vessels
Assault - defined
Assault; Assault against peace officer, or other specified persons engaged in
performance of duties
Note: see 241 PC subsections
Battery - defined
Battery; punishment
Note: see 243 PC subsections
Throwing acid w/intent to disfigure or burn
Assault with deadly weapon, firearm, assault weapon, or machine-gun (ADW)
Note: see 245 PC subsections
Discharge firearm at inhabited dwelling, vehicle or aircraft
Discharge firearm at unoccupied aircraft or motor vehicle or uninhabited building or
dwelling house
Discharging laser at aircraft
Interfere with helicopter operation - light or bright device
Disorderly conduct at church service
Maintaining public nuisance
Littering and waste matter defined
Note: see 374 PC subsections

23
.

California Penal Code - General (Cont.)
375
396
403
404
404.6
405
405a
405b
406
407
408
409
409.5
410
415
415.5
416
420
422
422.6
451
452
453
455
463
555
587
588
591
594
602
602.5
602.8
602.10
602.11
616
626
640
647
647c
726

Use of offensive substance in place of public assembly; manufacture of offensive
substance
Price gouging during state of emergency
Disturbing an assembly
Riot - defined
Incitement to riot
Punishment of participants in riot
Lynching - defined
Lynching - punishment
Rout - defined
Unlawful assembly
Participating in a rout or unlawful assembly
Refusal to disperse when ordered
Closing areas in emergency
Duty to suppress riot or rout
Fighting, causing loud noise, or using offensive words in public place
Unlawful acts committed in buildings or grounds of Colleges or University
Duty of crowd to disperse when ordered; Restitution for property damage
Obstructing entry on government land
Threats to commit crime resulting in death or great bodily injury
Civil Rights; Interfere with property damage or speech
Arson
Unlawfully causing a fire
Possession or manufacture of combustible or explosive material or fire bomb
Attempts to burn
Burglary during state of emergency
Entry without permission
Note: see 555 PC subsections
Injuring or obstructing railroad tracks, rights-of-way or structures
Injuring public road or bridge
Note: see 588 PC sections
Injuring or tapping telegraph, telephone, or cable telephone line
Vandalism
Trespassing
Unauthorized entry of dwelling
Trespass - Entering cultivated, fenced, or posted land
Physical obstruction of student or teacher from attending or instructing at a
University of California, California State University, or Community College
Obstruct entry/exit of health care facility, place of worship, or school
Tampering with posted legal notice
Definitions - miscellaneous crimes - schools
Note: See 626 PC subsections
Infractions committed on or in facilities or vehicles of a public transit system
Note: see 640 PC subsections
Disorderly conduct - defined
Accosting person in public place, disorderly conduct, impose, or begging
Unlawful assembly - officer’s duty to disperse

24
.

California Penal Code - General (Cont.)
727
835a
836
4600
12600
12601

Arrest for refusal to disperse
Use of reasonable force to effect arrest
Arrest by Peace Officer
Destroying or injuring prison or jail (including jail property)
Peace Officer may purchase, possess, or transport less-lethal weapons
Less-lethal weapon - definitions

California Penal Code - Weapons Laws
171b
171c
171d
171f
374c
417
626.9
626.10
12020
12024
12025
12031
12303
12590
12651

Bringing firearm or other specified weapons into courthouse or public meeting
Bringing loaded firearm into state office, state capitol grounds, or public school
grounds
Bringing loaded firearms into residence of Governor or other constitutional officer
Entering state capitol without authorization - disorderly conduct within
Discharging firearms on a public highway
Drawing or exhibiting weapon in a rude or threatening manner
Note: see 417 PC subsections
Bringing or possessing firearm on grounds of public school, college, or university
Knives, razors, tasers, stunguns, etc., on school grounds, exceptions
Manufacture, importation, sale or possession of disguised firearms or other deadly
weapons prohibited; carrying concealed weapons prohibited; exceptions
Possession of deadly weapon with intent to commit assault
Unlawful to carry concealed firearms without license
Loaded firearm; carrying in public place or in vehicle
Possession of destructive device prohibited
Carrying a firearm or deadly weapon - wearing uniform of peace officer
Purchase, possession, or use of stun gun

California Vehicle Code
23110
23112

Throwing substance at vehicles
Throwing, depositing, or dumping matter on highway

California Election Code
18340
18380
18502
18540

Prevention of electors from assembly; misdemeanor
Vandalism at polling places, violations; misdemeanor
Interference with officers or voters; imprisonment
Use of force, violence, tactic of coercion or intimidation; penalties

25
.

APPLICABLE CASE LAW
Use of Force
Graham v. Connor, 490 U. S. 386 (1989)
Scott v. Henrich, 39 F. 3d 912 (9th Cir. 1994)
Hammer v. Gross, 932 F. 2d 846 (9th Cir. 1991)
Fikes v. Cleghorn, 47 F. 3d 1011 (9th Cir. 1995)
Eberle v. City of Anaheim, 901 F. 2d (9th Cir. 1990)
Forrester v. City of San Diego, 25 F. 3d 804 (9th Cir. 1994)
Mayard v. Hopwood, 105 F. 3d 1226 (8th Cir. 1997)
Frazell v. Flanigan, 102 F. 3d 877 (7th Cir. 1996)

Unlawful Assembly
In re Brown, (1973) 9 Cal. 3d 612
Collins v. Jordan, 110 F. 3d 1363 (9th Cir. 1996)
Chambers v. Municipal Court, (1997) 65 Cal. App. 3d 904
In re Wagner, (1981) 119 Cal. App. 3d 90
In re Kay, (1970) 1 Cal. 3 d 930, 943

Riots
People v. Bundte, (1948) 87 Cal. App. 2d 735, 744, cert denied 337 U. S. 915
People v. Cipriani, (1991) 18 Cal. App. 3d 299, 304
People v. Jones, (1971) 19 Cal. App. 3d 437
People v. Davis, (1968) 68 Cal. 2d 481

Lynching
People v. Patino, (1979) 95 Cal. App. 3d 11
People v. Jones, (1971) 19 Cal. App. 3d 437

Authority to Close Disaster Area
Los Angeles Free Press v. City of Los Angeles, 9 Cal. App. 3d 448, 457 (1970) cert. denied
401 U. S. 982

26
.

Fighting/Noise/Offensive Words - First Amendment
Cohen v. California, (1971) 403 U. S. 15, 91 S.Ct. 1780
In re Brown, (1973) 9 Cal. 3d 612
Jefferson v. Superior Court, (1975) 51 Cal. App. 3d 721
Chambers v. Municipal Court, (1977) 65 Cal. App. 3d 904

Obstruction of Street/Sidewalk or Other Place Open To Public
In re Cox, (1970) 3 Cal. 3d 205, 220
People v. Man, (1974) 39 C. A. 3d Supp. 1, 4-5

Obstructing/Resisting/Delaying Peace Officer
In re M.L.B., (1980) 110 Cal. App. 3d 501
People v. Patino, (1979) 95 Cal. App. 3d 11
People v. Curtis, (1969) 70 Cal. 2d 347, 354-5

Throwing Substances At Vehicles
People v. Whitney, (1978) 76 Cal. App. 3d 863

27
.

Foot Pursuits
[21.02.EO13]

Introduction

Foot pursuits are one of the most dangerous and unpredictable situations for
officers. All foot pursuits must be considered high risk.

Inherent
dangers

Foot pursuits can be difficult to control or coordinate. There are a number of
inherent dangers regarding foot pursuits.
During a foot pursuit:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

the fleeing subject may be armed.
the fleeing suspect controls the route, not the pursuing officer(s).
officers may lose track of their own locations as well as that of the subject.
an officer may be separated from his or her partners.
radio transmissions often become very difficult to understand.
officers can drop and/or lose equipment (e.g., radios, batons, keys, etc.).
officers may be led into high risk areas and become vulnerable to an
ambush situation involving additional suspects.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-41

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Safety
considerations

Officers must consider not only their own safety but the safety of fellow
officers and the public before initiating a foot pursuit. The following table
identifies factors and safety considerations regarding foot pursuits.
Factor

Considerations

Public safety

•

If a foot pursuit represents an unusual risk to the
officer or the public, it may be more desirable to
establish a perimeter and initiate a systematic search
of the area.

Physical
condition of
pursuing
officers

•

During a foot pursuit, the blood supply to an officer’s
brain slows in order to supply blood to the officer’s
muscles enabling the body to “speed up.”

•

When sprinting after a subject, officers may
inadvertently hold their breath during the initial 30+
yards of the pursuit. This can further deplete the brain
of oxygen.

•

If two officers are in very different degrees of physical
condition, there is a greater possibility of the officers
becoming separated during the pursuit. (e.g., One
officer becomes winded and has to drop back or quit
while the other continues alone.)

•

Officers who are winded or fatigued may have greater
difficulty maintaining control of their firearms during
a physical confrontation with a suspect.

Continued on next page

2-42

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Safety
considerations
(continued)

Factor

Considerations
•

Officers wear and/or carry in excess of 25 pounds of
leather and equipment. Fleeing subjects may have no
additional weight to carry.

•

Officers may be wearing heavy footwear unsuitable
for running while fleeing suspects may be wearing
running shoes.

•

Holsters can break or snaps come loose during a
rigorous pursuit making it more difficult for officers to
maintain control of their primary and backup firearms
and weapons.

•

Pieces of equipment can easily flap or shake loose or
get caught on objects during a foot pursuit leaving the
officer without necessary items such as radios,
handcuffs, keys to the patrol vehicle, etc.

•

Officers lose the capability of retrieving equipment
that may be left behind in the patrol vehicle.

Ability to
•
follow through
at end of
pursuit
•

Officers must be physically capable of functioning
effectively even at the end of a lengthy foot pursuit.

Available
equipment

Retention of
weapons and
equipment

If a physical confrontation between the subject and
officer takes place at the end of the pursuit, the
pursuing officer must still be capable of gaining and
maintaining control of the subject.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-43

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Justification

Officers should have justification for initiating a foot pursuit of a fleeing
suspect (e.g., the officer observing suspected or actual criminal activity).
Individuals may attempt to flee from an officer for reasons which are
unknown to the officer. For example, they:
•
•
•
•
•

are on probation or parole and do not wish to come into contact with
officers,
have committed other unrelated offenses,
have known wants or warrants out for them,
fear retaliation if seen talking to officers, or
already have “two strikes” against them and do not want to be arrested for
the third.

The implication that “only a guilty person would run from an officer” may not
always be true. In some cultures, law enforcement officers are feared and an
individual may simply be afraid.

Indications
of a plan
to flee

Officers should be aware of a number of possible indicators that a subject,
(who they are approaching or have approached), is about to flee. These may
include, but are not limited to, subjects:
•
•
•
•
•
•

looking around or “scanning” for an avenue of escape,
standing on the balls of their feet,
rocking back and forth or “bouncing” in position,
jumping off of or out of a vehicle,
backing away from an approaching officer (or patrol unit), or
attempting to distract an officer’s attention.
Continued on next page

2-44

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Guidelines
for foot
pursuits

The following table presents basic guidelines for conducting a safe and
effective tactical foot pursuit of a fleeing subject.
General Guidelines
Plan of Action

•
•

Working with
a Partner

•
•

Vehicle
Pullovers

•

•

Officers should discuss safety factors as well as
possible plans for taking action in situations
involving fleeing subjects.
Plans may include, but are not limited to:
- actions they would take if a fellow officer is
wounded and a subject flees on foot.
- coordination of who will transmit radio traffic.
- appropriate use of or escalation of force.
If partner officers stay together during a foot pursuit,
there is a greater likelihood that a safe and successful
outcome will occur.
If partners become separated, officers should
reevaluate the level of risk before continuing the
pursuit.
If a foot pursuit begins with the subject fleeing from
a vehicle the officer has just stopped, officers should
generally remain with the vehicle rather than pursue
the subject on foot.
The remaining vehicle may contain:
- additional suspects,
- items that would identify the fleeing suspect,
and/or
- other evidence of criminal activity.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-45

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Guidelines
for foot
pursuits
(continued)

General Guidelines
Pursuits
Around Blind
Corners

•

•

High Obstacles •
(e.g., fences,
walls, etc.)
•

Officers should pursue subjects around blind corners
as widely as possible in order to better see what they
may be approaching. (This tactic may also be
referred to as “cutting the pie,” “slicing the pie,” or
“fanning.”)
If conditions prevent such action, officers may
choose to, when possible:
- use a hand-held mirror to see around the corner
first,
- peer around the corner at a level lower than
where a subject would expect to encounter the
officer, or
- call off the pursuit.
High obstacles may prevent officers from seeing:
- a subject who is lying in wait,
- a vicious dog or other animal,
- dangerous drops or hazardous terrain, or
- other hazardous obstacles on the other side.
Before pursuing a suspect over a high fence or wall,
officers should:
- stop,
- listen, and
- attempt to peer though, over, or around the
obstacle near the point where the subject went
over.

Continued on next page

2-46

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Guidelines
for foot
pursuits
(continued)

General Guidelines
Drawn
Firearms

•

Whether or not officers should pursue a subject with
their firearms drawn is generally based on specific
agency policy and may depend on the:
- seriousness of the offense,
- officer’s perception of risk,
- potential for an accidental discharge, and/or
- risk of creating a weapon retention problem.

Poor Visibility

•

Officer safety hazards are greatly increased when a
pursuit is initiated in bad weather, low light, or
nighttime conditions.
Officers may be inhibited from:
- keeping sight of the suspect,
- staying with a partner, or
- identifying hazardous obstacles (e.g., ditches,
rocks, barbed wire, etc.).

•

Pursuits into
Buildings or
Structures

•
•

•

Officers should avoid continuing the pursuit if the
subject flees into a building or other structure.
Following the subject could lead to:
- an ambush situation with “suspect-friendly”
supporters,
- a possible hostage situation, or
- the likelihood that the subject may have access to
weapons within the building/structure.
Under such conditions, officers should:
- establish a perimeter around the
building/structure,
- call for additional support or backup, and
- if conditions allow, coordinate with other officers
to conduct a systematic tactical search of the
building/structure.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-47

Foot Pursuits, Continued

Guidelines
for foot
pursuits
(continued)

General Guidelines
Losing Sight of •
the Suspect

If officers should lose sight of the fleeing subject at
any time during the pursuit, they should:
- stop, look, and listen for possible locations where
the subject could be hiding or the direction the
subject may be moving,
- consider establishing a perimeter in the area,
- call for additional support or backup, and
- if conditions allow, coordinate with other officers
to conduct a systematic tactical search of the area.

Continued on next page

2-48

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Examples

Example:

An officer initiated a traffic stop. The driver of the target
vehicle stopped the vehicle and immediately exited the
car and began running down the street. Rather than
pursue the subject on foot, the officer remained with the
subject’s vehicle and contacted dispatch to advise other
units of the situation. The officer gave the location,
direction in which the subject was running, subject
description, and requested assistance. Other units in the
area responded and set up a perimeter. The subject was
located and arrested. By keeping dispatch advised and
requesting backup, the officer apprehended the suspect.

Example:

An officer responded to a domestic violence call. The
suspect in question was on parole for assault. As the
officer drove up to the subject’s residence, he observed
the subject standing outside the house. Before exiting
the car, the officer advised dispatch of the situation, gave
the subject’s history, and requested additional units to
respond to the location. The officer exited the patrol car
and approached the subject who began to run toward an
alley. The officer pursued on foot, advising dispatch of
the direction of travel. As the officer continued the
pursuit, he directed the responding backup units to set up
a perimeter. The fleeing subject ran toward a waiting
officer on the perimeter and was apprehended. The
officer coordinated efforts with other units to safely
locate a potentially violent subject.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-49

Foot Pursuits, Continued
Examples
(continued)

2-50

Non-example:

Using the same scenario as in the previous example, the
officer did not notify dispatch of the subject’s history or
request backup in advance. Instead, when the subject fled,
the officer pursued and during the pursuit communicated
the situation to dispatch and requested backup. Before the
units could arrive, the subject turned and confronted the
officer in the alley. The two struggled and the officer was
injured. By not requesting backup for assistance with a
subject with a history of violence, the officer placed
himself in unnecessary danger.

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

TRAINING SPECIFICATIONS
FOR THE
INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

January 1, 2007

Specifications are compiled and issued by the
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Learning Domain

Page

Content and Minimum Hourly Requirements................................................................................................ i
#70

Role and Authority of the District Attorney Investigator ...........................................................70-1

#71

Court Processes, Motions, Grand Jury........................................................................................71-1

#72

Civil Process ...............................................................................................................................72-1

#73

Concepts of Evidence, Search and Seizure.................................................................................73-1

#74

Investigative Techniques & Surveillance ...................................................................................74-1

#75

Victim, Witness and Informant Management .............................................................................75-1

#76

Trial Preparation and Support.....................................................................................................76-1

#77

Family Support Investigations ....................................................................................................77-1

#78

Child Abduction Investigations ..................................................................................................78-1

#79

Financial Crime and Public Fraud Investigations .......................................................................79-1

#80

Public Assistance Fraud Investigations ......................................................................................80-1

#81

Crimes Committed by Public Officials/Officers.........................................................................81-1

#82

Special Victim Investigations .....................................................................................................82-1

#83

Gang Activity Investigations ......................................................................................................83-1

#84

Officer Involved Incidents ..........................................................................................................84-1

#85

Environmental Crime and Consumer Fraud Investigations ........................................................85-1

#86

Investigator Safety ......................................................................................................................86-1

#87

Surveillance ................................................................................................................................87-1

#88

Professionalism and Ethics........................................................................................... ...............88-1

#89

High Tech Crimes and Computers..............................................................................................89-1

#90

DNA Collection and Usage... .....................................................................................................90-1

#91

Juvenile Process ..........................................................................................................................91-1

#92

Interview and Interrogation Update ............................................................................................92-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
Learning Domains and Course Hours

Learning
Domain Domain Description
# 70
# 71
# 72
# 73
# 74
# 75
# 76
# 77
# 78
# 79
# 80
# 81
# 82
# 83
# 84
# 85
# 86
# 87
# 88
# 89
# 90
# 91
# 92

Minimum
Hours

Role and Authority of the District Attorney Investigator ................................................ 6 8
Court Processes, Motions, Grand Jury
................................................................. 4
Civil Process .......................................................................................................................... 2
Concepts of Evidence, Search and Seizure ............................................. .............................. 4
Investigative Techniques and Surveillance ........................................................................ 4 6
Victim, Witness and Informant Management ........................................................................ 4
Trial Preparation and Support ............................................................................................. 6 8
Family Support Investigation ............................................................................................... 2
Child Abduction Investigation ............................................................................................... 2
Financial Crimes and Public Fraud Investigations................................................................. 4
Public Assistance Fraud Investigations.................................................................................. 2
Crimes Committed by Public Officials/Officers.................................................................... 4
Special Victim Investigations ................................................................................................ 4
Gang Activity Investigations.................................................................................................. 4
Officer Involved Incidents ..................................................................................................... 4
Environmental Crime and Consumer Fraud Investigations ................................................ 2 4
Investigator Safety .............................................................................................................. 4 2
Surveillance........................................................................................................................... 4
Professionalism and Ethics .................................................................................................... 4
High Tech Crimes and Computers ...................................................................................... 6 4
DNA Collection and Usage ................................................................................................... 2
Juvenile Process .................................................................................................................. 2
Interview and Interrogation Update ....................................................................................... 2
Minimum Instructional Hours.............................................................................................. 76
Administrative Time .............................................................................................................. 2
Presenter-developed Comprehensive Exam & Review ......................................................... 2
Total Minimum Required Hours.......................................................................................... 80

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #70
ROLE AND AUTHORITY OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY INVESTIGATOR
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the role and authority of the District Attorney Investigator.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Identify Cconstitutional and statutory authority and mandates, including:
1.

State Constitution

2.

Government Code

3.

Penal Code

4.

Business and Profession Code

5.

Family Code

6.

Civil Code

7.

Election Code

8.

Case law

9.

Subpoena power and additional authorities

B.

Discuss the Hhistory and authority of the District Attorney Investigator

C.

Identify the Rrole and duties/functions of the District Attorney Investigator, including:

D.

1.

Pre/post complaint investigation

2.

District Attorney Investigator vs. general law enforcement function

3.

Distinction between “investigating” a case and “making” a case for criminal purposes

Identify the Wworking relationships with:
1.

DA/Legal staff

2.

Law enforcement community

3.

Legal community

70-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

E.

F.
III.

4.

News media

5.

General public

Discuss the Ccommon ethical issues encountered by the District Attorney Investigator,
including:
1.

Discovery

2.

Conflict of interest

3.

Contact with defendants represented by counsel

4.

Confidentiality

5.

Political activities

6.

Ex parte communication with Judges

7.

Contact with witnesses and Informants

8.

Agent of Attorney (state bar rules apply)

Recognize Rrehabilitations/pardons

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
NoneThe student will participate in one or more learning activities that address contemporary or
emerging issues relevant to the role and authority of a District Attorney Investigator.

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 68 hours of instruction on the role and authority of
the district attorney investigator.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

70-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #71
COURT PROCESSES, MOTIONS, GRAND JURY
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need an understanding and working knowlegeto know and understand of court criminal
processes and procedures, and the role and authority of the Grand Jury.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Give examples of the Iinvestigator’s role in:
1.

Charging

2.

Defendant’s appearance in court

3.

Preliminary hearing (including Proposition 115)

4.

Superior court arraignment

5.

Pre-trial motions including:
a.
b.
c.

B.

Bail
Discovery
Motions in Limine

6.

Disposition without trial

7.

Trial

8.

Post-trial motions

9.

Death penalty phase trial

10.

Jury verdict impeachment

11.

Post-sentence motions

12.

Certificates of Rehabilitation [P.C. 1203.4(a)]

13.

Lifer hearings

Recall the Rrole and authority of Grand Juries, including:
1.

Tactical considerations
a.

Oversight role

71-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

b.
2.

Selection process/composition
a.

III.

Investigative vs. indictment

Background investigations

3.

Confidentiality

4.

Subpoenas/SDT

5.

Indictments

6.

Accusation

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on the court process, motion
and grand juries.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

71-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #72
CIVIL PROCESS
January 1, 2002

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to understand and have a working knowledge of civil process and procedures.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Civil processes available to the investigator, including:
1.

III.

Code of Civil Procedure
a.

Inspection warrants

b.

Depositions

2.

Summons process and service

3.

Subpoena/ SDT process and service

4.

Penalties and remedies

5.

Administrative processes

6.

Civil subpoena fee requirements for peace officers

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

Required INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of instruction on the civil process.

VI.

Origination Date
January 1, 2002

72-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #73
CONCEPTS OF EVIDENCE, SEARCH, AND SEIZURE
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need an understandingto know and understandworking knowledge of concepts and
admissibility of evidence, including search and seizure.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

B.

Explain how the Application of Evidence Code applies in the following:
1.

Corroboration

2.

Impeachment

3.

Admissibility of rebuttal evidence

4.

Prior statements/testimony

5.

Privileges/in camera hearings

6.

Hearsay and exceptions

7.

Best evidence

8.

1538 Evidence Code- Prior identification by witnesses

9.

353 Evidence Code

10.

Co-Defendant Statements (e.g., Aranda)

11.

402 Hearing

Describe the Ttypes, appropriate uses, and affidavit construction of search and arrest
warrants, including legal aspects of service and return, for the following:
1.

Contingency Warrants

2.

Surreptitious Entry Warrants

3.

Sealed

4.

Steagald

5.

Skelton

73-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

C.

D.

III.

6.

Telephonic search warrants

7.

Telephone records searches

8.

Pin registers (DNR)

9.

Special Masters

10.

Extensions of time

11.

Ramey Warrants

12.

Code of Civil Procedures 187

13.

Unlawful flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP)

14.

Extradition

15.

Rendition

16.

Body attachments

17.

Wire tap

Discuss Ccurrent legal issues involving search and seizure laws concerning the following:
1.

Consent

2.

Vehicle

3.

Persons

4.

Buildings

5.

Containers

Identify Llegal aspects of physical evidence, including:
1.

Chain of custody and authentication

2.

Body evidence

3.

Handwriting exemplars and directed writings

4.

Release and/or other disposition of evidence

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

73-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on concepts of evidence,
search, and seizure.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

73-3

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #74
INVESTIGATIVE AND SURVEILLANCE TECHNIQUES
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know andan understanding of various investigative techniques, including
sources of information, investigative tools, use of surveillance equipment, and interviewing.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Describe the Llegal limitations and procedures for obtaining records information from:
1.

Public agencies
a.

2.

Private agencies
a.

B.

C.

State and Federal Public Information Act

Right to Financial Privacy Act (Government Code)

List the Iinformation and services available from the following information sources and
commercial on-line systems:
1.

DMV off-line services

2.

Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit (LEIU)

3.

DOJ off-line services

4.

CDC Law Enforcement Automated Data Service (LEADS)

5.

FBI off-line services

6.

Internet

7.

On-line public records databases (e.g., Choice Point, Lexus Nexus, West Law)

8.

Megan’s Law

9.

Technology to Recover Abducted Kids (TRAK) System

Explain the Pprovisions of the Education Code concerning access to students and school
records

74-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

D.

E.

F.

Identify the Llegality and use of:
1.

Hypnosis

2.

Polygraph

3.

Electronic surveillance

4.

Voice stress analysis

Give examples of Pphysical evidence techniques, including:
1.

Genetic Fingerprinting (DNA Analysis)

21.

Cal ID

32.

Cal Photo

43.

Audio/video enhancements

54.

Public and private sources

Discuss Llegal and practical concerns related to:
1.

G.

H.

Recordings (audio/visual/digital)
a.

Interviews

b.

Surreptitious

2.

Preservation of notes/recordings

3.

Miranda update

Describe Pprocedures for conducting a line-up, including:
1.

Live and video line-up (including Evans)

2.

Photo line-up

3.

Object identification (guns, hats, clothing, etc.)

Discuss Mmajor case management techniques
1.

Voluminous evidence issues

2.

Multiple victims/defendants/jurisdiction

3.

Organizational systems

74-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

III.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Discuss the importance of conducting lawful, safe and effective surveillance operations

B.

Recall the legal issues associated with surveillance, including:
1.

Lawful intrusion into areas where an expectation of privacy exists

2.

Creation of law enforcement files
a.

C.

Surveillance log

3.

Wiretaps (confidential communications)

4.

Application of traffic laws

List resources available to support a surveillance operation, including:
1.

Aerial support

2.

DOJ resource pool

IIIIV. REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.
IVV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

VVI.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 46 hours of instruction on investigative
techniques.

VIVII. ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002
VIII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

74-3

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #75
VICTIM, WITNESS AND INFORMANT MANAGEMENT
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the proper procedures to use when dealing with victims,
witnesses, and informants.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

B.

Discuss Iissues related to the management of informants including:
1.

“Jailhouse informants”

2.

Non-custodial defendants/informants

Give examples of Llegal and practical issues in dealing with victims/witnesses, to include:
1.

Identification, location, and subpoenaing
a.

Out of local area witness
(1)

b.

Uniform Witness Act

Witness from foreign countries
(1)

Formal

(2)

Informal

2.

Due diligence

3.

Background checks

4.

Dealing with reluctant/uncooperative victims/witnesses (e.g., bond and warrant, 878
et seq, and PC 1332 and CCP 1988)

5.

Victim/witness unit liaison

6.

Witness expenses and fees

7.

In-custody witnesses, including logistics

8.

Practical aspects of airline transportation /F.A.A. regulations

9.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) considerations

75-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
10.
C.

Victim/witness transportation and coordination

Identify Llegal and practical considerations in protecting witness, including:
1.

Witness ProtectingProtection programs
a.

Local

b.

State

c.

Federal

2.

Change of identity issues

3.

Intimidation issues
a.

D.

E.

III.

PC 136

Explain Mmethods for selecting expert witness, including:
1.

Financial considerations

2.

Transcripts on prior testimony

Identify Eelements of a conditional witness examination (PC 1335 - 1362), including:
1.

Video recordings

2.

Legal restrictions

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on victim, witness and
informant management.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

75-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #76
TRIAL PREPARATION AND SUPPORT
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to understandknow and have a working knowledge ofunderstand the techniques of
trial/case preparation and support.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Critical analysis ofAnalyze case file reports to determine deficiencies and weaknesses

B.

Define Ppriors

C.

D.

1.

Three strikes

2.

PC 969(b) - Prison priors

Identify Pprocedures for obtaining and/or preparing exhibits or demonstrations of
evidence, including:
1.

Demonstrative exhibits/models

2.

Photographs (including aerial photography)

3.

Audio/visual/digital
a.

Editing

b.

Filtering

4.

Diagrams

5.

Maps

6.

Computer generated exhibits (i.e., PowerPoint, LCD projectors)

7.

Jury considerations (i.e., comprehension and attention span)

Determine the Ttactical role of the investigator during trial, including:
1.

Investigating officer

2.

Jury selection

3.

Assist in formulation of trial strategy in consultation with the Deputy District
Attorney

76-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
4.

III.

Solving unanticipated problems:
a.

Interviews

b.

Backgrounds

c.

Equipment/videos

d.

Physical evidence

e.

Locating missing witnesses

f.

Victim/witness security

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
The student will be required to review a case file and discuss possible investigative and trial
strategies.Given a simulated case study or equivalent material provided by the presenter, the
student will participate in one or more learning activities that address the review, strategies,
analysis and tactical role of an investigator in trial preparation.

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 68 hours of instruction on trial preparation and
support.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

76-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #77
FAMILY SUPPORT INVESTIGATIONS
January 1, 2002

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques of family support
investigations.

II.

III.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Determination of paternity

B.

Failure to provide

C.

Welfare/public assistance

D.

Civil vs. criminal remedies

E.

Title IV – D of the Social Security Act (Federal)

F.

Security of and access to records

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV,

INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of instruction on family support
investigations.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

77-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #78
CHILD ABDUCTION INVESTIGATION
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques of civil
liabilities related to child abduction investigations.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Identify Ccivil mandates and laws

B.

Identify Ccriminal remedies

C.

Describe Rrecovery and placement of children

D.

Identify Iinternational abductions

E.

Discuss Ttreaties

F.
III.

1.

Parental Kidnapping Prevention (PKPA)

21.

Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

32.

Hague TreatyConvention on the International Aspects of Child Abduction

Recognize potential civil liabilities for investigators

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of instruction on child abduction
investigations.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

78-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #79
FINANCIAL CRIME AND PUBLIC ASSISTANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATIONS
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques of financial
crime and public assistance fraud investigations.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

B

Recognize the crime elements of Iinsurance fraud, including:
1.

Auto

2.

Workers Compensation

Consumer fraud
1.

Civil

2.

Criminal

3.

Regulatory

4.

Administrative

B.

Recognize the crime elements of real estate fraud

C.

Identify the legal aspects and investigative techniques involved in asset forfeiture

D.

Discuss theories of theft

E.

Identify the legal aspects and investigative techniques of securities law

F.

Recognize the elements for crimes against the elderly/dependent adults

G.

Recognize the elements for crimes involving Welfare Fraud

H.

Recognize the elements for crimes involving Identity Theft

I.

State the intent of Title IV – A of the Social Security Act (Federal)

J.

Define Early Fraud

K.

Define Ongoing Fraud

L.

Identify the legal aspects and investigative techniques of child care program fraud

79-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

III.

M.

Identify the legal aspects and investigative techniques of medical fraud

N.

Identify the legal aspects and investigative techniques for food stamp stings

O.

Identify the legal aspects and investigative techniques of internal theft

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on financial crime
investigations

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VI.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

79-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #80
PUBLIC ASSISTANCE FRAUD INVESTIGATION
January 1, 2002

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques of public assistance
fraud investigations.

II.

III.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Title IV – A of the Social Security Act (Federal)

B.

Early Fraud

C.

Ongoing Fraud

D.

Child care program fraud

D.

Medi-Cal fraud

E.

Food stamp stings

F.

Internal theft

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of instruction on public assistance fraud
investigations.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

80-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #81
CRIMES COMMITTED BY PUBLIC OFFICIALS/OFFICERS
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques of crimes
committed by public officials and public officers.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

B.

C.

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for Mmisconduct by public
officials, public employees, candidates, and campaign workers, including:
1.

Political Reform Act

2.

Theft of public funds

3.

Bribery

4.

Conflict of interest

5.

Brown Act violations

6.

Government records crimes

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for Ccrimes against the
administration of justicejudicial process, including:
1.

Perjury

2.

Subornation of perjury

3.

Falsification of evidence

4.

Obstruction of justice

5.

Jury tampering

Investigative Techniques
1.

D.

P.C. 832.7 – Access to peace officer records

Crimes committed by peace officers
1.

Filing false reports

2.

Theft of evidence

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INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

III.

3.

Perjury

4.

Unlawful release of confidential records

5.

Conflict of interest

6.

Bribery

7.

Weapons violations

8.

Domestic violence

9.

Worker’s compensation fraud

10.

Insurance fraud

11.

Assault under the color of authority

12.

Theft and embezzlement

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES
The student will be required to investigate a case, evaluate possible violations and report
findings.participate in one or more learning activities that will identify actions to be taken during
an investigation of crimes committed by public officials. At a minimum, the activity or
combination of activities must address:

V.

1.

Initial steps or techniques

2.

Evaluating possible violations

3.

Establishing the elements of the crime(s)

4.

Reporting findings

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on crimes committed by
public officials.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

81-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #82
SPECIAL VICTIM INVESTIGATIONS
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques of special
victim investigations.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for Eelder/dependent adult
abuse (P.C. 368), including:
1.

Sexual

2.

Physical
a.

Abuse

b.

Neglect

3.

Emotional

4.

Financial
a.

5.
B.

Undue Influence

Mandated Reporting

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for Cchild abuse, including:
1.

Sexual

2.

Physical

3.

Emotional

4.

Drug Endangered Children (DEC)

5.

Multidisciplinary Interview Team (MDIT)

6.

Sexually violent predators

7.

Mandated Reporting

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INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

C.

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for Ddomestic violence, including:
1.

D.

E.
III.

Stalking

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for Ssexual assault, including:
1.

Adult

2.

Custodial

3.

Institutional

4.

Statutory rape prosecution (SRVP)

Stalking

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on special victim
investigations.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

82-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #83
GANG ACTIVITY INVESTIGATION
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques of for gangrelated activity investigations incidents.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for gang-related incidents to
include:
A.1. Narcotics and dangerous drugs
B.2. Conspiracy
C.3. Witness intimidation
D.4. Jury tampering
E.5. Money laundering
F.6. Coordination with local/regional task forces

B.
II.

7.

Identifying characteristics and crime trends associated with criminal street gangs

8.

Counterfeiting

9.

Identity Theft

State the intent of the Street Terrorism Enforcement Program (STEP)

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on gang activity
investigations.

83-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

83-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #84
OFFICER INVOLVED INCIDENTS
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the legal aspects and investigative techniques used in the
investigation of officer-involved incidents.

II.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Identify the role of the District Attorney Investigator in the investigation of officerinvolved Fatalitiesfatal incidents, including custodial deaths

B.

Identify the role of the District Attorney Investigator in the investigation of officerinvolved Uuse of excessive force (non-fatal) incidents

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on officer-involved
incidents.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

84-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #85
ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME AND CONSUMER FRAUD
INVESTIGATIONS
January 1, 2002Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand civil process and procedures, and the legal aspects and
investigative techniques of environmental crime investigations.

II

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for environmental crime incidents
to include:
A.1. Spills
B.2. Intentional dumps
C.3. Illegal storage
D.4. Transportation issues
E.5. Safety considerations
F.6. Homicide vs. accident
1.7. OSHA
G.

Investigative techniques

H8. Evidence collection
I.9. Task force approach
B.

Recognize the legal aspects and investigative techniques for consumer fraud crimes to
include:
1.

Civil

2.

Criminal

3.

Regulatory

4.

Administrative

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INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
C.

Explain the civil processes available to the investigator, including:
1.

III.

Code of Civil Procedure
a.

Inspection warrants

b.

Depositions

2.

Identify the summons process and service

3.

Identify the subpoena/ SDT process and service

4.

Recall penalties and remedies

5.

Identify the administrative processes

6.

List the civil subpoena fee requirements for peace officers

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 24 hours of instruction on environmental and
consumer fraud crime investigations.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

85-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #86
INVESTIGATOR SAFETY
January 1, 2002Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand the safety considerations necessary for plainclothes
investigators.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Demonstrate Ssafety techniques specific to plainclothes investigators, including:
1.

Arrest situations

2.

Serving court process (e.g., warrants, subpoenas, etc.)

3.

Search warrant service considerations
a.

4.

Covering uniformed /plainclothes officers

5.

Identification issues

6.

III.

Planning

a.

High-risk crime responses (e.g., burglary, robbery, etc.)

b.

Tactical vs. plainclothes

Prisoner Transportation
a.

Restraint devices

b.

Removal orders

7.

Personal and family safety considerations

8.

“Will to survive”

REQUIRED TESTS
None

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

86-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 2 hours of instruction on investigator safety.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

86-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #87
SURVEILLANCE
January 1, 2002

I.

LEARNING NEEDS
Students need an understanding and working knowledge of surveillance equipment and
techniques.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Conducting lawful, safe and effective surveillance operations

B.

Legal issues associated with surveillance, including:
1.

Lawful intrusion into areas where an expectation of privacy exists

2.

Creation of law enforcement files
a.

Surveillance log

3.

Wiretaps (confidential communications)

4.

Application of traffic law

C.

Jurisdictional protocols

D.

Conditions which impact surveillance operations, including:

E.

1.

Vehicle

2.

Driver

3.

Roadway

4.

Weather

5.

Traffic

Surveillance methods, including:
1.

2.

Moving vs. static
a.

Pedestrian

b.

Vehicle

Photographic/optical

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INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE

F.

G.

III.

3.

Vision enhancement (e.g., night vision devices)

4.

Auditory

Use, care, operations and capabilities of surveillance equipment, including:
1.

Optical

2.

Photographic

3.

Electronic equipment (e.g., body wires, bird dogs)

4.

Chemical samplers

Resources available to support a surveillance operation
1.

Aerial support

2.

DOJ resource pool

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONAL ACTIVITIES
None

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on surveillance.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

87-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #88
PROFESSIONALISM AND ETHICS
January 1, 2002Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understanding of an investigator’s professional, ethical and legal
responsibilities.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Discuss Tthe duties and obligations of a peace officer as described in the Law Enforcement
Code of Ethics

B.

Discuss Tthe duties and obligations of a peace officer as described in the canons of the
Code of Professional Conduct and Responsibilities for Peace Officers

C.

Give Eexamples of and potential ramifications consequences of unethical and
unprofessional conduct, including:

D.

1.

Verbal abuse, discourtesy or inappropriate language

2.

Discrimination/racism/sexual harassment

3.

Unlawful use of force

4.

Violation of a person’s civil rights, including false arrest, unlawful detention and
unlawful search/seizure

5.

Substance abuse

6.

Misuse/compromise confidential information or privileged communications

7.

Theft or misappropriation of property or evidence

8.

Obstruction or miscarriage of justice, including falsification or destruction of official
documents, perjury, planting false evidence, “Code of Silence”, and non-enforcement
of specific laws by personal choice

9.

Acceptance of gratuities

10.

Inappropriate off-duty behavior

11.

Converting on-duty contacts into off-duty relationships

Explain why a peace officer (investigator) should respond to unethical and unprofessional
conduct by another officer

88-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
E.
III.

Discuss solutions to unethical and unprofessional conduct encountered by an investigator.

REQUIRED TESTS
None

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONAL LEARNING ACTIVITIES
The student will participate in one or more learning activities be requiredthat demonstrate the
ability to critique a series of reenactment/descriptions of possible unethical or unprofessional
conduct by an investigator. At a minimum, each activity or combination of activities must and
will be required to include a discussion of the legal, professional and community relations
consequences of the behavior.

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
The students shall be provided with a minimum of 4 hours of instruction on ethics and
professionalism.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

88-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #89
HIGH TECH CRIMES AND COMPUTER
January 1, 2002 Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to become familiaran understanding and working knowledge of with computers,
their use and using computersas aninvestigative tools and methods of gathering evidence into
investigate high tech crimes.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

List Ccomputer system components

B.

Identify Ccomputer storage devices

C.

Identify Ccomputer peripheral devices

D.

Discuss Ccomputer crimes in the United States

E.

Give examples of Mmajor groups of computer crime, including:

F.

G.

1.

Crimes where the computer is the target of criminal activity

2.

Crimes where a computer is the instrumentality of the crime

3.

Crimes where the computer is a repository of evidence in criminal cases

Identify Ccategories of computer crimes, including:
1.

Insider crimes

2.

Support of criminal enterprises (e.g., counterfeiting)

3.

Malicious hackers

4.

Telecommunications fraud

5.

Computer contaminations

6.

Child pornography

7.

Hate crimes

8.

Espionage

Define Internet crime

89-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
H.

Identify the use of Ssearch warrants and searches of computer data and equipment

I.

Recognize appropriate methods of Sseizure of computer data and equipment

J.

Identify Llegal aspects, evidence collection and investigative techniques of high tech crime
investigations, including

K.

1.

Use of computer to commit traditional crimes

2.

Unauthorized access or use of computers (PC 502)

3.

Theft of computer data

4.

Cell phone fraud

5.

Intellectual property

6.

Trade secrets

Explain Ccapabilities and advantages of using computers as an investigative tool,
including:
1.

Spreadsheets

2.

Database

3.

Graphics

4.
III.

a.

Visual Investigation Analysis (VIA)

b.

Link analysis

c.

Digital photography

d.

Plotter

e.

Scanners

Document storage and retrieval

REQUIRED TESTS
The presenter-developed comprehensive test will include items from this domain.

IV.

REQUIRED INSTRUCTIONALLEARNING ACTIVITIES
None

89-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 6 4 hours of instruction on high tech crimes and
computers.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
January 1, 2002

VII.

REVISION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

89-3

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #90
DNA COLLECTION AND USAGE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know the applicable law and understand the methods for collection and use of
DNA samples in the criminal justice system.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Discuss the purpose of DNA in the criminal justice system, including:
1.

B.

Explain the impact of DNA evidence on the duties performed by a District Attorney
Investigator

C.

Recognize the legal protocols (e.g., PC 296 et seq) for the collection, preservation and use
of DNA samples, including:
1.

III.

Use as evidence to identify, arrest, convict, or exonerate individuals

Differentiate evidence versus collection

D.

Demonstrate appropriate collection of DNA (e.g., buccal swab sample) using an approved
DNA collection kit

E.

Explain the process of submitting a DNA sample for lab analysis

F.

Identify systems and databases that maintain DNA profiles and the types of information
provided

G.

Recognize the minimum information required for generating an inquiry into the systems
and databases that maintain DNA profiles

REQUIRED TESTS
None

IV.

REQUIRED LEARNING ACTIVITIES
The student will participate in one or more learning activities that demonstrate the ability to
identify the components of an approved DNA collection kit, intended uses and how to submit a
collected sample.

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of instruction on genetic fingerprinting
(DNA).

90-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

90-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #91
JUVENILE PROCESS
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and distinguish the differences between juvenile and adult processing in
the criminal justice system

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

III.

Differentiate the legal requirements for processing of juveniles versus adults including:
1.

Qualifying offenses

2.

Differences between adult criminal system and juvenile court law

B.

Recognize the conditions when admonishment of a juvenile’s rights is or is not required

C.

Recognize the conditions when a District Attorney Investigator must seek a waiver of a
juvenile’s rights

D.

Distinguish the difference between juvenile and adult subpoena service, terms of probation
and hearings

E.

Recognize the situations in which a juvenile can be taken into temporary custody due to
habitual disobedience or truancy

F.

Explain the options available to a District Attorney Investigator for access to juvenile
records

REQUIRED TESTS
None

IV.

REQUIRED LEARNING ACTIVITIES
The student will participate in one or more learning activities regarding application of law to a
facts specific circumstance to illustrate juvenile processing. At a minimum, the activity or
activities must address filing, admonishment, subpoena service and access to records.

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of instruction on the juvenile process.

VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

91-1

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
SPECIFICATIONS FOR LEARNING DOMAIN #92
INTERVIEW AND INTERROGATION UPDATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

I.

LEARNING NEED
Students need to know and understand effective practices in the application of interview and
interrogation techniques for trial preparation.

II.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
A.

Differentiate between an interview and interrogation

B.

Give examples when Miranda admonishments must be given

C.

Describe the purpose and limitations of an interrogation

D.

Differentiate between an admission and confession

E.

Demonstrate appropriate techniques in the utility of interviews and interrogations, to
include:

F.

III.

1.

Cognitive interviewing

2.

Documentation

3.

Admonishments (e.g., Miranda, Beheler)

4.

Implications for trial preparation

Discuss the relationship between the District Attorney Investigator and the Deputy District
Attorney regarding investigations and trial preparation.

REQUIRED TESTS
None

IV.

REQUIRED LEARNING ACTIVITIES
The student will participate in one or more learning activities that will demonstrate interview and
interrogation techniques in a real-time setting. At a minimum, the activity or activities must
address, cognitive interviewing and documentation.

V.

HOURLY REQUIREMENTS
Students shall be provided with a minimum of 2 hours of instruction on interview and
interrogation update.

91-2

INVESTIGATION AND TRIAL PREPARATION COURSE
VI.

ORIGINATION DATE
Effective 30 days after filing with the Secretary of State

91-3

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 18
Investigative Report Writing
Version 3.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 18
Investigative Report Writing
Version 3.1
© Copyright 2008
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published 1999
Revised January 2006
Revised July 2008
Workbook Correction January 20, 2009
This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:

From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Deborah Linden - Chairman

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Michael Sobek, Vice Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Long Beach Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert T. Doyle

Sheriff
Marin County

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Scott Himelstein

Public Member

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Henry T. Perea

Councilman
City of Fresno

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Michael Sobek

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Gil Van Attenhoven

Senior Special Agent
California Department of Justice

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law
Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD18: Investigative Report Writing
Table of Contents

Topic

See Page

Preface

iii

Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook

iii
iv

Chapter 1: Introduction to Investigative Report
Writing

1-1

Overview
Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process
Uses of Investigative Reports
Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 2: Field Notes
Overview
Introduction to Field Notes
Notetaking Process During a Field Interview
Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

1-1
1-2
1-6
1-11
1-18
1-19
2-1
2-1
2-3
2-9
2-15
2-18
2-19

Continued on next page

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

i

Table of Contents, Continued

Topic
Chapter 3: Fundamental Content Elements of
Investigative Reports

3-1

Overview
Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative
Report
Fundamental Content Elements
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

3-1
3-3

Chapter 4: Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-1

Overview
Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports
Writing Clearly and Precisely
Proofreading
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities

ii

See Page

3-9
3-15
3-17

4-1
4-3
4-9
4-21
4-23
4-25

Supplementary Material

S-1

Glossary

G-1

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course
training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising peace
officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where the
POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
•
•
•

chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

iv

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis section at the end of each chapter to
review the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary section for a definition of important terms.
The terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and
underlined the first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 18: Investigative Report Writing

Chapter 1
Introduction to Investigative Report Writing
Overview
Learning need

A peace officer’s ability to clearly document the facts and activities of an
investigation not only reflects on the officer’s own professionalism, but also
on the ability of the justice system to prosecute the criminal case.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.

In this chapter

After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to:

E.O. Code

•

18.01.EO2

explain the legal basis for requiring investigative reports.

This chapter focuses on background information regarding the writing of
investigative reports. Refer to the following table for specific topics.
Topic

See Page

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process

1-2

Uses of Investigative Reports

1-6

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report

1-11

Chapter Synopsis

1-18

Workbook Learning Activities

1-19

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-1

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process
[18.01.EO2]

Introduction

As much as 40% of a peace officer’s work involves writing. Good
investigative skills can be diminished if officers do not have the necessary
writing skills to record their observations, findings, and actions clearly and
concisely.

Investigative
report

An investigative report is a written document prepared by a peace officer that
records in detail the officer’s observations and actions as they relate to a
specific event or incident.
Each investigative report is a legal document that becomes a permanent
written record of that event or incident.

Judicial
process

A suspect’s freedom, rights or privileges cannot be taken away or denied
unless there is sufficient cause to justify such action.
In order to ensure due process, officers, prosecutors, judges, etc., must have
sufficient information and evidence to initiate or continue the judicial process
and successfully prosecute or exonerate a suspect.
Continued on next page

1-2

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process, Continued
Officer’s
reports
and the
judicial
process

The judicial process cannot function without the investigative reports written
by the officers who have the direct knowledge of an event or incident.
An officer’s report must present each event or incident in a complete and clear
manner. Any investigation, arrest, prosecution, or other action taken must be
initiated, supported, or justified by the information included in the report
written by that officer.
Because peace officer’s reports are so important to the judicial process, each
one must be able to stand up to critical review and legal scrutiny.

Statutory
requirement

State and federal statutes mandate that law enforcement agencies report certain
events and incidents. Penal Code Section 11107 requires each sheriff or
police chief executive to furnish reports of specified misdemeanors and
felonies to the Department of Justice.
Such reports must:
•
•
•

describe the nature and character of each crime,
note all particular circumstances of that crime, and
include all additional or supplemental information pertaining to the
suspected criminal activity.

Although the statutes are directed at the executive level, officers in the field
are the ones who carry out the task of writing the reports. It is those officers
reports that contain the information that will eventually be forwarded to the
Department of Justice.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-3

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process, Continued
Specified
crimes

Specified misdemeanors and felonies that require investigative reports, as
required under Penal Code Section 11107, include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Failure
to file a
report

forgery,
fraud-bunco,
bombings,
receiving or selling stolen property,
safe and commercial burglary,
grand theft,
child abuse,
homicide,
threats,
offenses involving lost, stolen, found, pledged, or pawned property,
domestic abuse, and
sex crimes.

Peace officers have a legal and moral duty to investigate and report crimes or
incidents that come to their attention. Failure to uphold this responsibility can
have negative consequences for officers.
•

Deliberate failure to report a crime may be considered a violation of
agency regulations and grounds for disciplinary action.

•

Any officer who knowingly files a false report will be guilty of a crime.
(Penal Code Section 118.1)
Continued on next page

1-4

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Investigative Reports and the Judicial Process, Continued
Ethics

All reports are to be true, unbiased, and unprejudiced. These are easy words
to say, but sometimes hard to live by. It is not always easy to know or find out
the truth. Clearly it is the peace officer’s moral obligation to seek the truth,
lying is wrong. Truth and public trust cannot be separated.

Agency
policies

Different agencies vary in their policies, regulations, and guidelines regarding
the roles and responsibilities of peace officers for writing investigative reports.
It is the responsibility of each officer to be familiar with and follow that
officer’s specific agency policies.

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-5

Uses of Investigative Reports
Introduction

Even though it is the officer in the field who gathers the initial information
regarding a crime, that officer may not be the person who must use that
information to make decisions regarding further actions. Those decisions are
usually made by other people removed from the actual event. They must rely
on the information in the investigating officer’s report to make decisions.

How
investigative
reports are
used

The investigative reports written by peace officers have many different uses
within the criminal justice system and beyond.
The following table identifies a number of ways investigative reports can be
used.
Reports are used to...

by...

assist with the identification,
apprehension and prosecution
of criminals

•
•
•
•

assist prosecutors, defense
attorneys, and other law
enforcement agencies

•
•
•

serving as a source document for
filing criminal complaints,
providing a record of all
investigations,
providing information to identify the
mode of operation of an individual
offender, or
providing a basis for follow up
investigations.
providing records of all investigations,
serving as source documents for
criminal prosecution, or
documenting agency actions.

Continued on next page

1-6

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued

How
investigative
reports are
used
(continued)

Reports are used to...

by...

assist officers prior to or
during court appearances

•
•

aid in determining potential
civil liability

•

•
assist decision makers and
criminal justice researchers

•

•

refreshing the officer’s memory
before testifying, or
preparing to provide hearsay
testimony at preliminary hearings.
documenting events such as:
- accidents or injuries on city or
county property,
- industrial injuries, or
- fires or other events that prompt a
peace officer response.
presenting justification for an officer’s
behavior or actions.
providing statistical information in
order to:
- analyze crime trends,
- determine the need for additional
employees and equipment,
- determine personnel deployment
requirements,
- assess community needs,
- generate uniform crime reports, or
- identify specialized law
enforcement needs.
satisfying mandatory reporting
requirements for specific criminal
acts. (e.g., child abuse, incidents of
domestic violence, missing persons,
etc.)

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-7

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued

How
investigative
reports are
used
(continued)

Reports are used to...

by...

serve as reference material

•

providing information to:
- the public
- insurance companies,
- the media, or
- other local, state, and federal law
enforcement agencies.

provide information for
evaluating an officer’s
performance

•

giving the evaluating agency insight
into the officer’s ability to:
- write clearly, accurately, and
mechanically (error-free),
- demonstrate a knowledge of law,
- demonstrate a knowledge of
agency policies and procedures,
- investigate criminal acts, and
- recognize potential evidence and
relevant information.

Continued on next page

1-8

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued
User
needs

Investigative reports must take into account the needs of each potential user of
that report. The report must provide not only a clear word-picture of the event
or incident but also the critical information necessary for those users to do
their jobs.

Report
users

The following table identifies a number of prospective users and how they will
use an officer’s investigative report.
Prospective Users
Immediate supervisors
and Field Training
Officers

Purpose for Using an Officer’s Investigative
Report
•
•

Detectives and
investigators

•
•

To determine the next action (e.g., referral
for further investigation, file a complaint,
forward to a prosecutor, etc.)
To evaluate an officer’s:
- ability to convert observations and
verbal information into a written format
that others can use
- performance during an investigation
To gather information to use during the
follow up investigation of a specific event or
incident
To clear or close out cases

Representatives of other
law enforcement agencies

•
•

To develop mandatory crime reports
To aid in further investigations (e.g.,
Highway Patrol, Fire Department)

Prosecuting and defense
attorneys

•
•

To prepare their cases
To determine if officers acted appropriately
to ensure the rights of the suspect

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-9

Uses of Investigative Reports, Continued

Report
users
(continued)

Prospective Users

Purpose for Using an Officer’s Investigative
Report

Other attorneys

•
•

To evaluate the basis for civil litigation
To establish a basis for appeals

Parole, probations and
custody personnel

•
•
•

To determine probation conditions
To set requirements for parole
To aid in classifying inmates based on
special needs or security requirements

Involved parties

•

Under certain circumstances, victims,
witnesses, or suspects may gain access for
court preparation.

Media representatives

•

As a source of news material

Insurance agencies

•

To provide information for their own
investigations
To verify claims

•

1-10

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report
Introduction

Peace officers are faced with a variety of events and incidents. The specific
contents of an officer’s reports must reflect that specific event or incident.
Although the details may vary, there are six characteristics that all effective
investigative reports have in common.

Characteristics
of an effective
report

No matter what type of investigative report is being written (i.e., arrest
report, incident report, etc.) that report must be:
•
•
•
•
•
•

Factual,
Accurate,
Clear,
Concise,
Complete, and
Timely.

Peace officers can use the acronym FACCCT to help them remember these
characteristics.

Leadership

In a free and democratic society, all segments of the criminal justice system
are open to public scrutiny and subject to public record. A police report is
often the first and most significant documented account of a possible crime.
As such, the police report is a fundamental instrument of democratic law
enforcement. Therefore, we place high value on our officers’ ability to write
good reports. A good report is one that the officer is proud of and will stand
the test of time. It must be factual, clear, concise, and complete. Accuracy
and attention to detail will provide others in the criminal justice system with a
clear picture of what happened.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-11

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Factual

Critical decisions made based on an officer’s investigative report require that
each report be factual. Users of the report must have an exact and literal
representation of the event or incident.
The factual report provides an objective accounting of the relevant facts
related to the event or incident under investigation. Any conclusions made by
the reporting officer must be based on objective facts. These facts must be
articulated and documented within the body of the report.

Accurate

The decisions made and actions taken by the users of the report must be
supported by accurate information. There must be no inconsistencies or
discrepancies between what took place and what is documented in the
officer’s report.
If any specific information is found to be inaccurate, the credibility and
reliability of the report itself may be jeopardized.
Accuracy is achieved by carefully, precisely, impartially, and honestly
recording all relevant information.

Clear

An investigative report must speak for the investigating officer at a time when
that officer is not present. There should be no doubt or confusion on what the
investigating officer is reporting. If the information is not clear and
understandable.
Continued on next page

1-12

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Clear
(continued)

Clarity is achieved by the use of appropriate language and logical order. The
following table identifies a number of factors that can affect the clarity of an
investigative report.
Factor
Organization of
information

Recommendations/Rationales
•
•

Language used

•
•
•

Writing mechanics

•
•
•
•
•
•

Information is easier for the reader to understand
when facts and events are presented in
chronological order.
Events relating to the incident should have clear
and logical ties to one another.
Simple, common language will make the writer’s
meaning clear.
Readers do not need to be impressed, they need to
be informed.
Slang or profanity should not be used unless it is in
the form of an exact quote.
A poorly written or sloppy report can imply poor
or sloppy investigative skills.
Proper use of commas and other punctuation
marks can help convey the writer’s meaning.
Writing in the first-person will help the reader
clearly understand who did what or who said what.
Pronoun use must leave no doubt in the reader’s
mind as to exactly whom or what the writer is
referring.
Errors in spelling, word choice, or grammar can
distract readers.
Handwriting must be ledgible.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-13

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Concise

Reports should be brief yet, contain all relevant information the users will
need to do their jobs. Wordiness can make a report less readable and
therefore less effective.
Accuracy, completeness, or clarity should never be sacrificed for the sake of
brevity. The following table identifies a number of factors that can affect a
writer’s ability to write concisely.
Factor
Word selection

Recommendations/Rationales
•
•
•
•

Sentence structure
and grammar

•
•
•

Relevance

•

Statements should be direct and concrete.
Use of abstract phrases can confuse or mislead the
reader.
Plain English is the most effective way to convey
information.
Do not use a synonym for a word, merely to avoid
repeating a word. Using the exact word may seem
less interesting, but it will eliminate
misunderstanding.
Sentences should be short yet complete (subjectverb-object).
Fragments can be misinterpreted or lead to
confusion.
Long drawn out sentences can be confusing and
misleading.
Only the information that will be needed by the
user should be included in the report.

Continued on next page

1-14

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Complete

An officer’s report must contain all the relevant information and facts the user
of that report will need. If the user must contact the writer to gather additional
information, the report is not complete.
A report is
complete when...

Description

it presents a
complete wordpicture of the event
or incident.

•
•
•

Descriptions are comprehensive.
Physical conditions are noted.
Users are able to visualize the scene.

there are no
questions left in the
user’s mind
regarding the event
or incident.

•
•
•
•

Key information regarding the what, when, where,
who, how, and why is recorded.
Facts are presented.
Statements are supported by details.
The order of events is clear and easy to follow.

the actions taken by
officers are
reported.

•
•
•

Actions are described.
Decisions are justified.
Statements regarding probable cause are present.

both supporting and
conflicting
information is
presented.

•

Information that may conflict with stated
conclusions or actions must also be included.
Investigators, prosecutors, etc. can only determine
the merit of information that they are aware of.

NOTE:

•

Report formats used by officers can vary. Some jurisdictions
require that certain information be noted on a standardized form
that is often used as the report’s face sheet. Officers who use
such formats must be sure that all relevant blocks or portions of
the standardized forms are completed, even if the same
information is duplicated in a later narrative.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-15

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Timely

No decisions can be made or actions taken if an officer’s report does not reach
the users in a timely fashion. Evidence can be lost, suspects or witnesses may
disappear, and the support and good will in the community can be lost if
action toward resolving a case is delayed.

Common
characteristics

The following table illustrates the six common characteristics of an effective
investigative report.
Characteristic

Well Written

Poorly Written

Factual

The victim could not
provide additional
information about the
suspect.

The victim could not remember
what the guy looked like but
thought he was a minority.
There seems to be a number of
those around lately.

Accurate

On 1-5-99 at 16:00 hrs.

During the first part of the day
shift...

Clear

She left for work at 0700
hrs. and returned for
lunch at 1130 hrs.

She went to work as usual in the
morning and when she came
home for lunch like she always
does she found the conditions
stated as such.

Concise

She discovered her TV
and VCR were missing.

She looked around and she
found some books knocked
over. She looked around some
more and noticed her TV and
VCR were not where they were
supposed to be.

Continued on next page

1-16

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Characteristics of an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Common
characteristics
(continued)

Characteristic

Well Written

Poorly Written

Complete

I told her that an evidence
technician would be sent
to her home.

I told her someone would
follow up.

Timely

Officers should be aware of their own agency policies
regarding when reports need to be submitted.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-17

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

A peace officer’s ability to clearly document the facts and activities of an
investigation not only reflects on the officer’s own professionalism, but also
on the ability of the justice system to prosecute the criminal case.

Investigative
reports
[18.01.EO1]

An investigative report is a written document prepared by a peace officer that
records in detail that officer’s observations and actions as they relate to a
specific event or incident.

1-18

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. Why should the ability to take accurate field notes and to write effective
investigative reports be personally important to a peace officer? Why is it
legally important to the officer’s agency?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2. You are preparing to write the report after investigating a residential
robbery where a number of expensive antiques were stolen. List the
prospective users of that officer’s report. Explain what decisions will be
made or actions taken by each. What type of information will each be
looking for within that officer’s report?

Prospective Users

Decisions/Actions

Information Needed

Continued on next page

1-20

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Sergeant Richards is reviewing a report written by Officer Young
regarding an investigation of a domestic violence incident. What qualities
should the sergeant look for in the report to determine if Young’s
performance as a peace officer was adequate? What qualities of the report
might indicate that Young’s performance was inadequate?

4. Consider your past experiences with conveying information in a written
form. Who were the readers of your document? Were they able to
understand the message you wanted them to receive from your document?
What is your strongest writing skill? What areas do you have the most
difficulty with?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Complete the following table with the appropriate characteristics of an
effective report represented by the letters FACCCT. In your own words,
describe why each characteristic is important to the identified prospective
users.
To be effective
an investigative
report must be...

Prospective Users
An investigator
assigned to the
case

A reporter from
the local
newspaper

A defense
attorney

F

A

C

C

C

T

Continued on next page

1-22

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

6. Read the following narrative from an officer’s investigative report. Would
it meet the FACCCT standard? If not, mark the specific statements that
need improvement. Describe why and how each should be improved.
While I was patrolling on the street next to the city park, I saw a man who
was in the park after closing hours stumble and fall down. He tried to get
up but fell down a second time. When I stopped to check on the man, he
appeared to be drunk. He was carrying a bag which contained a half
empty can of beer. I asked him if he had been drinking and he said he had
a few beers with a friend but was now on his way home. He also told me
that the path through the park was a shortcut. I asked the man for ID and
he produced his driver’s license. I arrested the man because the man was
drunk and had an open container of alcohol while being in the park after it
was officially closed.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

1-23

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Additional
classroom
activities

1-24

Writing an investigative report that is factual, accurate, clear, concise,
complete, and timely is a skill that requires practice. As part of the classroom
activities, students will have the opportunity to enhance their own writing
skills under the supervision of the instructor.

LD 18: Chapter 1 – Introduction to Investigative Report Writing

Chapter 2
Field Notes
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that the information gathered during their initial
investigation in the field will become the foundation for their investigative
reports.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be E.O. Code
able to:
•

discuss the importance of taking notes in preparation for
writing reports.

18.02.EO6

•

apply appropriate actions for taking notes during a field
interview.

18.02.EO2

•

distinguish between:
- opinion,
- fact, and
- conclusion.

18.02.EO3
18.02.EO4
18.02.EO5

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on taking field notes that will be used to write
investigative reports. Refer to the following chart for specific topics.
Topic

2-2

See Page

Introduction to Field Notes

2-3

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview

2-9

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions

2-15

Chapter Synopsis

2-18

Workbook Learning Activities

2-19

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Introduction to Field Notes
[18.02.EO6]

Introduction

The officers who investigate a crime or incident are responsible for providing
the information other participants in the criminal justice system need to
effectively do their jobs. Officers should rely on accurate sources of
information when writing their reports.

Field
notes

Field notes are abbreviated notations written by an officer in the field while
investigating a specific incident or crime.
An officer’s field notes are the primary source the officer will use when
writing the investigative report. If the officer’s field notes are incomplete,
difficult to read, or poorly organized, they will be of little use to that officer.
NOTE:

When
to take
notes

There are a number of formats and styles used when taking field
notes. Officers should select the format or style they are
comfortable with.

Field notes are recorded while information is fresh in the investigating
officer’s mind. They should be taken:
•
•
•
•

at the scene of an event or incident,
when interviewing persons (e.g., victims, witness, suspects, etc.),
whenever an officer wishes to record specific facts for inclusion in the
report, and
any time the officer wishes to remember specific details at a later time.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-3

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued
Important
considerations

When determining what to include in their field notes, officers should
consider the points noted in the following table.
Consideration
Field notes are more
reliable than an officer’s
memory.

Field notes are the primary
source of information for
the investigative report.

Explanation
•

An investigative report is often written
several hours after the investigation of a
specific event or incident has occurred.

•

Certain types of information such as
statements, times, observations, addresses,
etc., can be easily forgotten or confused
with other information if not recorded
while still fresh in the officer’s mind.

•

Well taken notes provide officers with the
detailed information they will need to
have in order to accurately write their
reports.

•

Well organized notes will help officers
capture vital information regarding the
events, persons, statements, and other
information related to the investigation.

Continued on next page

2-4

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued

Important
considerations
(continued)

Consideration
Detailed field notes reduce
the need to recontact the
involved parties at a later
time.

•

Complete field notes should contain
enough information to answer any pertinent
questions about the incident or persons
involved.

Field notes can be used to
defend the credibility of an
investigative report.

•

An officer’s field notes can be an indicator
of that officer’s thoroughness and
efficiency as an investigator.

•

During a trial, an officer may be asked to
identify the source the officer used when
writing a specific report. If the officer
relied on field notes the reliability and
credibility of the report may be easier to
defend.

NOTE:

Information
to include

Explanation

Field notes are discoverable in court. If kept, they should
be prepared accordingly.

Every event or incident is different; therefore, the facts and information the
officer must gather will differ. An officer’s field notes should contain the
facts and information that will aid that officer in answering the questions what,
when, where, who, how, and why.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-5

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued
Information
to include
(continued)

The following table identifies some examples of the basic information officers
should capture in their field notes.
Basic Information

Victims and
witnesses

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Occurrence

•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Examples of
Additional
Information

Full name
Age
Date of birth
Race
Sex
Telephone numbers (home,
cellular, and work)
Address
Email address(s)

•

Type of crime
Location
Date and time of incident
Date and time reported
Was physical evidence
handled?
- Who observed it?
- To whom was it given?
Chain of custody for evidence
Direction of the suspect’s
flight
Type and description of
weapon(s)
Threat made with weapon(s)
Direct statements made by the
suspect (e.g., “I’ll kill you!”)
Case number
Assisting officer’s actions

•

•
•
•

How to contact by
phone and in
person
Place to contact
Best time to contact
Place of
employment
(including address)
Person(s) involved
- Informants
- Reporting party
- Victims
- Witnesses
- Suspects
- Officers
- Members of
other agencies
- Medical
personnel
- Members of the
media

Continued on next page

2-6

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued

Information
to include
(continued)

Basic Information
Suspects

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•

•

Race
Sex
Age
Type of body build (i.e.,
heavyset, medium, small
frame)
Approximate weight
Approximate height
Color of eyes
Color of hair
Hair style (e.g., long,
short, curly)
Existence of facial hair
Clothing
- Type (e.g., hats, jeans,
jackets, etc.)
- Color
- Style (e.g., casual,
conservative)
Prior knowledge of name
and street name
Unusual physical
attributes
- Scars
- Tattoos
- Limp
- Moles
- Unusual odors
- Missing teeth
Can the victim identify the
suspect?

Examples of Additional
Information
•
•

•

•

•

Unusual or memorable
gestures
Speech peculiarities
- Accents
- Tone (e.g., loud,
soft)
- Pitch (e.g., high,
low)
- Speech disorders
Jewelry
- Rings (identify
which hand and
finger)
- Necklaces
- Earrings
- Body piercing
Right or left handed
- Which hand was
dominant?
- Which hand held the
weapon?
- Which hand opened
a door?
- Where was a watch
worn?
Any gang affiliation?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-7

Introduction to Field Notes, Continued
Incident
specific
information

The type of crime or incident will also indicate what specific information is
required for the officer’s notes.
For example, specific information for a burglary may include, but not be
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

2-8

point of entry,
point of exit,
property damage,
types and value of property taken,
description of suspect’s vehicle,
nature and location of evidence collected, or
unique characteristics of the crime.

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview
[18.02.EO2]

Introduction

The effectiveness of an officer’s investigation may be dependent on that
officer’s ability to obtain information and statements from the involved
parties.

Interviews

An interview is the process of gathering information from a person who has
knowledge of the facts an officer will need to conduct an investigation.

Role of
statements

The field notes taken by officers during an interview must be clear, accurate
and complete.
Statements can be critical in tying together the specific facts of a specific
incident or crime. The existence of some crime elements may only be
revealed within the statements of witnesses, victims, and the suspects
themselves.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-9

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Before the
interview
begins

Before beginning any field interview, officers should prepare properly. The
following table identifies a number of actions the interviewing officer should
take.
Actions Prior to
the Actual
Interview
Separate the
involved parties

Guidelines

•
•

Establish rapport

•
•
•
•
•

Recording
the
interview

If possible, move the person to a location where
there will be no interruptions or distractions.
Focus the person’s attention on speaking with the
officer rather than interacting with others.
Tell the interviewee why the interview is being
conducted.
Describe the interview process that will be
followed.
Assure the person that by using this process, the
officer will be able to gather that person’s statement
accurately.
Be courteous, considerate, and patient.
Control the interview by remaining calm and polite.

Some officers may choose to use a small tape recorder while conducting an
interview. Officers should be aware this may inhibit the person from talking
freely. Electronic equipment can also malfunction, leaving the officer with
little or no information.
Even if an officer is recording the interview, that officer should also take
thorough and complete notes of the conversation.
Continued on next page

2-10

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Three step
process

The most effective way for officers to gather clear, accurate, and complete
information while conducting an interview is to use a systematic process.
One such process involves the following three steps.
Step One:
Step Two:
Step Three:

Step One:
Listen
attentively

Listen Attentively
Take Notes and Ask Questions
Verify Information

In the first step of the process, the officer’s focus should be strictly on the
other person. The officer should be listening --- not taking notes.
The following table identifies a number of guidelines for officers during step
one of the notetaking process.
Action

Guidelines

Ask the person to
recount what has
happened.

•
•

Allow the person to speak freely.
Have the person describe the incident just as that
person understands it, using that person’s own
words.

Keep the person
focused.

•

If the person begins to wander from the specific
topic, guide the person back to the subject (i.e.,
“You mentioned that....” “Let’s go back to...”).
Maintain eye contact and use nonverbal gestures
(e.g., nodding the head) to encourage the person.

•

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-11

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued

Step One:
Listen
attentively
(continued)

Action
Listen carefully to
what is being said.

Guidelines
•

Be particularly attentive to the essentials of the
incident the person describes by including the:
-

role of the person being interviewed (victim,
witness, etc.),
type of crime, if any, that has been committed,
time of the occurrence, and
exact location of the person during the crime or
incident.

Continued on next page

2-12

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Step Two:
Take notes
and ask
questions

When the person has finished, the officer can begin to write information. The
following table identifies a number of guidelines for officers during step two
of the process.
Action

Guidelines

Obtain
identification
information.

•

Ask the
interviewee to
repeat their
account of
what
happened.

•

•

•
•
•

Ask additional
questions.

•

Confirm the person’s role in the event or incident.
(e.g., victim, witness, possible suspect, etc.)
Note the person’s:
- complete name,
- address and phone number (home, cellular, work
and email address), and
- any other information necessary for identification
purposes.
Guide the interview by asking questions that will keep
the person from becoming distracted and wandering
from the point.
Stop the person and ask questions when necessary to
clarify points.
Write down information in short statements, recording
only the most important words.
If a statement is particularly important, quote the
entire statement.
Obtain detailed descriptions of property, suspects, etc.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-13

Notetaking Process During a Field Interview, Continued
Step Three:
Verify
information

For the investigative report to be reliable, the officer’s field notes must be
accurate. The following table identifies a number of guidelines for officers
during step three of the process.
Actions

2-14

Guidelines

Review
information
with the
person.

•

Ask for
confirmation.

•

Have the person confirm important details such as:
- direct quotes,
- time relationships,
- information regarding weapons, or
- physical descriptions.

Make
modifications
or corrections
as necessary.

•

Information may have been initially recorded
incorrectly because the officer:
- misunderstood something the interviewee said,
- wrote something down incorrectly, or
- the officer’s wording may have incorrectly
characterized the interviewee’s statement.

Verify
changes.

•

Once any changes have been made, the information
that has been added or modified should be verified.

•

Repeat specific information to verify the information
is accurate and complete.
Give the person an opportunity to add facts as
necessary.

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions
[18.02.EO3, 18.02.EO4, 18.02.EO5]

Introduction

An effective investigative report must be factual. It must present an objective
accounting of the relevant facts related to the event or incident under
investigation. An officer must be able to distinguish between opinion, fact,
and conclusion.

Opinions,
facts, and
conclusions

The basis for determining relevant information requires peace officers to make
the fine distinctions between an opinion, a fact, and a conclusion. The
following table illustrates these distinctions.
Description

Example

Opinion

•

A statement that:
- can be open to different
interpretations,
- expresses a belief not
necessarily substantiated by
proof.

The victim was in
pain.

Fact

•

A statement that:
- can be verified or proven
- has real, demonstrable
existence.

The victim’s arm
was broken.

Conclusion

•

A statement that is based on the
analysis of facts and opinions.
Conclusions should always be
accompanied with the supporting
facts and opinions. Conclusions
presented without supporting
information may be considered
unwarranted.

The victim was not
able to explain what
had happened
because she was in
pain due to her
broken arm.

•

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-15

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions, Continued
Factual
but
irrelevant

It is possible for information to be factual yet still not be relevant to the
incident or event being investigated. The following table illustrates points that
are all factual but may or may not be relevant in an investigative report.
Factual and Relevant

Factual but Irrelevant

The address of the incident/crime
scene

The route followed to the scene of
the incident/crime

A description of how the suspect
was apprehended

The number of fences the officer had
to jump while apprehending a
suspect

Statements given by witnesses

Humorous comments given by
bystanders

Continued on next page

2-16

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Opinions, Facts, and Conclusions, Continued
Relevant and
irrelevant
information

The following are examples of relevant and irrelevant information.
Victim’s Statement

Relevant Facts

Irrelevant Facts

“I just bought this bike from the
guy down the street a couple of
weeks ago. It wasn’t new but it
was in really good shape. After a
long ride, I parked the bike in
front of my building at the
bottom of the stairs. I didn’t
bother locking it up or anything
because I thought it would be
safe there, you know.”

The bike was left
unlocked in front
of the victim’s
residence.

I thought it was
safe there.

“I went inside my apartment to
fill my water bottle and was gone
for less than 5 minutes.”

The bike was left
unattended for
about 5 minutes.

The victim went
into his apartment
to fill his water
bottle.

No suspect was
“When I came out, the bike was
seen or heard by
gone. I was really mad and
the victim.
started yelling and cursing. I
looked up and down the street but
didn’t see anyone or any signs of
my bike.”

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

The victim yelled
and cursed when he
realized his bike
was stolen.

2-17

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that the information gathered during their initial
investigation in the field will become the foundation for their investigative
reports.

Content of
field notes
[18.02.EO6]

When determining what to include in their field notes, officers should consider
the following.
•
•
•
•

Field notes are the primary source of information for the investigative
report.
Detailed field notes reduce the need to re-contact the involved parties.
Field notes are more reliable than an officer’s memory.
Field notes can be used to defend the credibility of an investigative report.

Taking notes
during an
interview
[18.02.EO2]

The most effective way for officers to gather clear, accurate, and complete
information while conducting an interview is to follow a systematic process.

Opinions,
facts, and
conclusions
[18.02.EO3]

An opinion is a statement that can be open to different interpretations and
expresses a belief not necessarily substantiated by proof. A fact is a statement
that can be verified or proven and has real, demonstrable existence. A
conclusion is a statement that is based on the analysis of facts and opinions.
Conclusions should always be accompanied with the supporting facts and
opinions. Conclusions presented without supporting information may be
considered unwarranted.

2-18

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. In your own words, explain what makes a fact relevant for the purposes of
an investigative report. Are all relevant details facts? Explain your
answer.

2. Using only your memory, recount exactly what you were doing from 1800
hrs. to 1900 hrs. two days ago. Write your actions as if you were taking
field notes for an investigative report. How much of your account do you
feel is exact? How much is speculation or assumption?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-19

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

Read the following scenario and then answer the following questions.
At 2245 hrs., you were called to a local supermarket where a man was
caught by the store’s night manager attempting to shoplift a bottle of vodka.
The suspect struggled and tried to hit the night manager in an attempt to
escape.
Upon arrival, you handcuffed the suspect and walked him to the patrol
vehicle. All individuals involved declined your offer for medical
assistance. You asked the store’s night manager, Joe Smith, to tell you
what happened. Appearing shaken he told you the following:
“Well... let me get it together now... OK officer... I’m the night manager
here and I was in the back when one of the clerks, Ester over there, came
over and said there was this guy over in aisle three that was just hanging out
and looking kind of suspicious. So, I went over there just to see for myself,
and this guy saw me looking at him, so he started moving toward the front
of the store. Well, I thought his coat looked funny, you know, like he had
something under it so I kind’a followed him until I caught up and tried to
make conversation, you know, to get a better look. You gotta be careful,
you know... don’t want to offend any legitimate customer, you know. Well,
he turned around and looked at me and then instead of stopping, he just
bolted for the door. He took off so I took off and he must of slipped or
something cause he dropped the bottle of vodka he’d tried to get away with.
I kept after him, still in pretty good shape ya’ know ‘cause I work out, and
grabbed the guy’s jacket. Well he spun ‘round and before I could get any
kind of grip on the guy, he belted me! Caught me a good one right here
under my eye... still bleeding some I guess... but I didn’t let go and I got
him down on the ground, stuck my knee in his back, and I guess one of the
clerks had called ‘cause that’s when you guys got here. So what happens
now? Nothin’ like this has ever happened to me before, ya’ know.”

Continued on next page

2-20

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Continuing the scenario from the previous page, begin step two of the
notetaking process. Ask Mr. Smith to repeat his account of what
happened. Assuming his account remains the same, write your notes
below.

4. What additional questions would you like to ask Mr. Smith?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. After you finished interviewing Mr. Smith, you talked to the suspect. You
read him his Miranda rights, and he acknowledged he understood and
waived them. He told you the following:
“I didn’t do nothing man! This guy just jumps me! I mean I just went in
there to get some booze, ya know, cause I’m going to this party over at my
buddies and I wanted to take something with me and this dude starts
giving me a hard time and starts chasing me down the aisle. I wasn’t
doing anything. I was goin’ to pay for the stuff, ya know, but the guy, he
just started yelling so he’s the one that chased me out, ya know. Then the
dude grabs my jacket so I swung at the guy. It was self-defense, man! I
gotta right to defend myself, ya know!
Assuming his account remains the same when you ask him to repeat it,
write your notes below.

6. What additional questions would you like to ask the suspect?

Continued on next page

2-22

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

7. Look back at the statements given by Mr. Smith and the suspect. In the
following table note the facts, opinions, and conclusions that are provided.
Opinions

Facts

Conclusions

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-23

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Additional
practice

2-24

Taking complete and accurate field notes is a skill that requires practice and
experience. During classroom discussions and activities, officers will have
additional opportunities to practice taking field notes related to arrest
situations and criminal investigations.

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

2-25

Workbook Corrections, Continued
Student notes

2-26

LD 18: Chapter 2 – Field Notes

Chapter 3
Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize in order for an investigative report to be of use
in the judicial process, the report must be well organized and include facts
needed to establish that a crime has been committed and all actions taken by
officers were appropriate.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...

E.O. Code

•

summarize the primary questions that must be answered
by an investigative report.

18.03.EO3

•

identify the fundamental content elements in
investigative reports including:
- initial information,
- identification of the crime,
- identification of involved parties,
- victim/witness statements,
- crime scene specifics,
- property information, and
- officer actions.

18.03.EO4
18.03.EO5
18.03.EO6
18.03.EO7
18.03.EO8
18.03.EO9
18.03.EO10

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on the content elements in effective investigative reports.
Refer to the following table for specific topics.
Topic

3-2

See Page

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report

3-3

Fundamental Content Elements

3-9

Chapter Synopsis

3-15

Workbook Learning Activities

3-17

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report
[18.03.EO3]

Introduction

No matter how an investigative report is organized, it must be factual,
accurate, clear, concise, complete, and timely (FACCCT). It must provide
prosecutors, investigators, and other participants in the judicial process with
the accuracy of the information needed to do their jobs.

Investigative
report
formats

An investigating officer communicates with the other participants in the
judicial process through that officer’s written investigative report. The
adequacy of that communication is dependent on the officer’s ability to
logically organize events and clearly state the relevant facts related to the
incident.

Agency
policy

Each agency has its own policies regarding formats and forms officers must
use when writing investigative reports. It is the responsibility of each officer
to be familiar with and comply with their agency’s requirements.

Community
policing

Police reports have a variety of users in the community. Prosecutors, judges,
insurance agencies, and attorneys all rely on police reports to ensure a fair and
just outcome. A well-written report can be a significant tool in providing
justice for victims. Police reports are useful in prosecutions, in defense
against wrongful accusations, as a permanent history in long-term
investigations, and in holding peace officers accountable when they are
involved in the incident. The peace officer is the “eyes and ears” of the event.
A good report will greatly increase the effectiveness of everyone involved.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-3

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

The users of an officer’s investigative report should be able to locate the
answers to six primary questions within the body of the report. These
questions are noted below.

Primary
questions

•
•
•
•
•
•

What?
When?
Where?
Who?
How?
Why?

If an officer is not able to answer a question, the report should provide as
much information as possible. This information may prove vital for
investigators assigned to the case.

Supporting
facts and
information

The information that answers each question will vary depending on the details
of the specific incident or crime.
NOTE:

The following table is not intended to be all inclusive. Specific
crimes will require certain information that should be noted by
the investigating officer in the report.
Continued on next page

3-4

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

The following table presents examples of the specific facts and information
that can be included in the body of the report to help answer each question.
Supporting Facts/Information
What...

When...

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime that was committed?
are the elements of the crime?
were the actions of the suspect before and after the crime?
actually happened?
do the witnesses know about it?
evidence was obtained?
was done with the evidence?
weapons were used?
action did the officers take?
further action should be taken?
knowledge, skill or strength was needed to commit the
crime?
other agencies were notified?
other agencies need to be notified?

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed?
was it discovered?
were the authorities notified?
did they arrive at the scene?
was the victim last seen alive?
did officers arrive?
was any arrest made?
did witnesses hear anything unusual?
did the suspect decide to commit the crime?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-5

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

Supporting Facts/Information
Where...

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed?
was the crime discovered?
was entry made?
was the exit?
was the weapon obtained that was used to commit the
crime?
was the victim found?
was the suspect seen during the crime?
was the suspect last seen?
were the witnesses during the crime?
did the suspect live?
does the suspect currently live?
is the suspect now?
would the suspect likely go?
was the evidence found?
was the evidence stored?

When noting locations, officers should include:
•

•

the exact address including:
- wing,
- housing unit,
- floor of the building, etc., and
identification of the area (e.g., business, apartment complex, private
residence, vehicle.)
Continued on next page

3-6

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

Supporting Facts/Information
Who...

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

are the involved parties in the incident? (i.e., victim(s),
witness(es), suspect(s))
were the participating officers?
was the complainant?
discovered the crime?
saw or heard anything of importance?
had a motive for committing the crime?
committed the crime?
had the means to commit the crime?
had access to the crime scene?
searched for, identified and gathered evidence?

Also with whom...
• did the victim associate?
• did the suspect associate?
• was the victim last seen?
• do the witnesses associate?
• did the suspect commit the crime?
When noting information regarding specific people, officers should include
that person’s full name, including middle name or initial. The correct spelling
of each name should be confirmed by the officer as well.
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

3-7

Questions Answered by an Effective Investigative Report,
Continued

Supporting
facts and
information
(continued)

Additional information regarding specific people can include, but not be
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•

phone numbers (home, cellular and work),
addresses (home, work, and email),
age and date of birth,
social security number,
occupations, and
physical descriptions as required.
Supporting Facts/Information
How...

•

•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed? (e.g., force, violence, threats,
etc.)
did the suspect leave the scene? (e.g., on foot, by car, etc.)
did the suspect obtain the information necessary to commit
the crime?
was the crime discovered?
was entry made? (e.g., smashing, breaking, key, etc.)
was the weapon/tool for the crime obtained?
was the weapon/tool used?
was the arrest made?
much damage was done?

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

was the crime committed?
was a certain weapon/tool used?
was the crime reported?
was the crime reported late?
were witnesses reluctant to give information?
is the suspect lying?
did the suspect commit the crime when she/he did?
did the suspect commit the crime where she/he did?

•
•

Why...
(if known)

3-8

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Fundamental Content Elements
[18.03.EO4, 18.03.EO5, 18.03.EO6, 18.03.EO7, 18.03.EO8, 18.03.EO9, 18.03.EO10]

Introduction

Every incident is different and different crimes require different information.
On the other hand, certain content elements remain constant regardless of the
crime or the formats used to present the information.

Fundamental
content
elements

The following table identifies the fundamental content elements that are
common within all investigative reports.
An effective investigative report contains...
initial
information...

•

establishing how the officer(s) became involved
with the specific incident and additional
background information.

identification of
the crime...

•

including the facts that are necessary to show that
the specific crime has taken place.

identification of
the involved
parties...

•

such as the reporting person(s), victim(s),
witness(es), or suspect(s).

witness/victim
statements...

•

noting the details of the events the involved parties
observed or experienced.

crime scene
specifics...

•

necessary to accurately reestablish the scene and
events of the crime.

property
information...

•

including descriptions and details pertaining to
stolen items as well as physical evidence.

officer actions...

•

including descriptions of all actions taken by peace
officers that are related to the incident.

NOTE:

The order in which information is presented in an investigative
report is dependent upon the format used and agency policy.
Continued on next page

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Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
Initial
information

Each investigative report should describe the manner in which the peace
officers learned of the incident. The initial information should also describe
the officer’s immediate observations and any actions they took upon arrival at
the scene.
Content elements specific to the initial information may include, but are not
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•

Identification
of the crime

the name(s) and badge number(s) of the responding officer(s),
how the officer(s) learned of the incident (e.g., radio dispatch),
the exact date and time the officer(s) arrived,
the exact location, and
details regarding the officer(s) own observations of who was where and
what was happening upon arrival.

The facts which are the evidence of a crime are referred to as the corpus
delicti, or the body of the crime.
Specific crimes have their own required crime elements. Investigative reports
must clearly identify these facts in order to establish that a crime has
occurred.
Crime identification information within the body of the investigative report
must clearly state the:
•
•
•

common name of the crime,
statutory code reference number for the crime (i.e., Penal Code, Health &
Welfare Code, etc.), and
existence of each of the required crime elements necessary for the crime to
be complete.

NOTE:

Additional information regarding the crime elements for specific
crimes is included in the supplementary materials at the end of
this workbook.
Continued on next page

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LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
Identification
of involved
parties

The involved parties of a crime can include the person who reported the
incident, victim(s), witness(es), or suspect(s). Officers should take care to
collect complete and accurate information that clearly identifies each as well
as providing a means of further contacts if necessary.
Specific information regarding the involved parties should include, but is not
limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

full names,
sex, ethnic origin,
date of birth (DOB),
home address,
home phone, cellular phone,
workplace, school or email addresses,
workplace or school phone,
their role in the incident (i.e., reporting party, witness, etc.), and
the reporting party’s relationship with other involved parties.
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Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
Witness/
victim
statements

Statements of the involved parties (i.e., witnesses, victims) help place events
in their proper sequence and establish the elements of the crime. Along with
the person’s statements, officers should note:
•
•
•
•

location/proximity of the person to the event,
circumstances and actions observed or experienced,
complete and detailed descriptions, (e.g., items stolen, distinguishing
features, injuries sustained, etc.) and
information regarding suspect(s). (e.g., name, aliases, identifying marks,
relationship to the victim, etc.)

If the reporting officers use a person’s exact words within a report, quotation
marks and the word said followed by a comma should be used to introduce
the speaker’s words.
Example:

Smith said, “I don’t know. I’d really have to take a closer
look. I’m just not sure if that’s all that was taken.”

If the reporting officer paraphrases what the speaker said, quotation marks are
not used.
Example:

Smith said she was not sure if anything else was taken.
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LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
The users of any investigative report should be able to clearly understand and
accurately visualize the scene of the crime as well as the events that took
place.

Crime
scene
specifics

Investigative reports should include, but not be limited to, identification and
description of:
•
•
•
•

the physical condition of the scene itself,
the chronology of events,
location of physical evidence, and
all information supporting the existence of the elements of the crime.
(e.g., the point of entry, the location of key objects)

NOTE:

Property
information

Investigative points to be noted can vary based on the specific
crime that is being reported.

Any item pertaining to the crime must be identified clearly and described
within the investigative report. Such items may include stolen or damaged
property as well as physical evidence.
Information should include, but not be limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

brand names,
model/serial numbers,
description (including color, unique markings, dimensions, etc.),
value of stolen item,
identification of the owner/possessor/finder,
location where found (or stolen from),
relationship of the item to the crime/incident, and
physical evidence, including methods of collection and preservation.
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Fundamental Content Elements, Continued
An investigative report is not complete unless it clearly identifies all actions
taken by the officer or officers.

Officer
actions

Officer actions to be noted can include, but not be limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Information
in support
of officer
actions

Complete and accurate descriptions of an officer’s actions should also include
the officer’s reasons or justifications for taking those actions. This can
include, but is not limited to the:
•
•
•
•
•
•

3-14

stops made,
searches conducted,
seizures of evidence,
arrests made,
standard procedures followed (e.g., knock and notice, field showups, etc.),
Miranda admonishments,
use of force,
medical attention (offered, accepted, or refused),
safety measures taken,
disposition of suspects, or
methods used to preserve evidence or capture essential information.

exigent circumstances that led the officer to act (i.e., enter without
permission, use force, etc.),
basis for an officer’s reasonable suspicion to conduct a cursory/frisk
search for weapons,
probable cause to conduct any other authorized searches,
probable cause to seize evidence,
probable cause leading to an arrest, and/or
detailed information describing acts or conditions that justify the level of
force used to gain or maintain control.

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize in order for an investigative report to be of use
in the judicial process, the report must be well organized and include facts
needed to establish that a crime has been committed and all actions taken by
officers were appropriate.

Primary
questions to
be answered
[18.03.EO3]

The users of an officer’s investigative report should be able to locate the
answers to six primary questions within the body of the report.

Initial
information
[18.03.EO4]

Establishing how the officer(s) became involved with the specific incident and
additional background information.

Identification
of the crime
[18.03.EO5]

Including the facts that are necessary to show that the specific crime has taken
place.

Identification
of the involved
parties
[18.03.EO6]

Such as the reporting person(s), victim(s), witness(es), or suspect(s).

Witness/victim
statements
[18.03.EO7]

Noting the details of the events the involved parties observed or experienced.

Crime scene
specifics
[18.03.EO8]

Necessary to accurately visualize the scene as well as events that took place.

Continued on next page

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Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Property
information
[18.03.EO9]

Including descriptions and details pertaining to stolen items as well as physical
evidence.

Officer
actions
[18.03.EO10]

Including descriptions of all actions taken by peace officers that are related to
the incident.

3-16

LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. List reasons why it is important to fully document within the report the
officer’s reasons or rationales for taking specific actions. Describe the
possible effects on an investigation, the officer, and the officer’s
department if this information is not included.

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Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2. In order for the crime of vandalism (Penal Code Section 594) to be
complete, the necessary crime elements include:
-

an act of a person or persons
with malicious intent
to deface, damage, or destroy with graffiti or other inscribed material
personal or real property
not their own.

The following statement is an excerpt from an investigative report. Has
the writer noted sufficient information to establish that the crime of
vandalism has been committed? Underline the information that supports
the existence of each element of the crime. If an element is not present,
identify the information that is missing.
...As my partner and I approached the scene, we could see the spray
painted markings on the windshield of a blue Ford Taurus, CA license
number 12345, which was parked in the street in front of 9876 Rose Lane.
The owner of the Taurus, Clyde Smith, who lived at 9876 Rose Lane came
out of the house carrying two empty cans of spray paint that he found in
the gutter three houses down, at 9870 Rose Lane...

Continued on next page

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LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. You are an officer who has responded to a call involving a home burglary.
The homeowner tells you that her son’s computer, the family’s television,
and three pieces of her jewelry were taken. List questions you can ask the
homeowner that will aid you in describing the stolen property later in your
report.

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Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

4. Without looking back in the chapter, list the seven fundamental content
elements of an investigative report. Give a reason why each element
should be included when possible. Provide examples of the type of
information that could be included within each element.
Content Element

Reason for
Importance

Type of Information
Included

Continued on next page

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LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Assume that you are a supervisor and have received the following
narrative from an investigative report. Based on the information given,
you will be required to decide on the next action that should be taken.
On 01-5-08 at 1600 hours my partner and I were called to the scene of a
residential burglary. The home owner, Alice Smith, met us as we arrived
and gave the following information.
Smith left for work today at 0630 hours, locking all doors and windows.
She returned home for lunch at 1130 hours and discovered the front door
had been kicked in and was left standing open. She entered her home but
found nobody inside. She discovered her TV and VCR were missing
along with a home computer. Smith said that the only other items
disturbed in the house were several books that had been knocked off a
shelf in the office. Smith will attempt to locate serial numbers for the TV,
VCR, and computer and forward that information to us.
Smith did not see anyone around her home, but did observe a blond male
driving a red car. The driver was turning off her street, when she came
home. Smith did not recognize the person and had not seen the vehicle in
the area before. She could not provide any additional descriptions of the
driver or vehicle.

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3-21

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. (continued) Complete the following table with the information provided in
the report. Note any information that you feel is missing or that is unclear
or confusing.
Facts/Information Included

Missing/Confusing
Information

What?

When?

Where?

Who?

How?

Why?

Continued on next page

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LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Additional
classroom
activities

As part of the classroom activities, students will have the opportunity to
practice their investigative report writing skills after viewing a series of video
scenarios depicting possible criminal activities. Classroom instructors will
evaluate each student’s work and provide individual feedback.

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3-23

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Student notes

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LD 18: Chapter 3 – Fundamental Content Elements of Investigative Reports

Chapter 4
Investigative Report Writing Mechanics
Overview
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that an effective report must exhibit the writer’s
command of the language and be relatively free of errors in sentence structure,
grammar, and other writing mechanics.

Learning
objectives

The table below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be E.O. Code
able to:
•

apply guidelines for recommended grammar used in
investigative reports including use of:
- proper nouns,
- first person pronouns,
- third person pronouns,
- past tense, and
- active voice.

18.04.EO1
18.04.EO2
18.04.EO3
18.04.EO4
18.04.EO5

•

organize information within a paragraph for clarity and
proper emphasis.

18.04.EO6

•

select language that will clearly convey information to
the reader of the investigative report.

18.04.EO7

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4-1

Overview, Continued

Learning
objectives
(continued)

In this chapter

After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to:

E.O. Code

•

distinguish between commonly used words that sound
alike but have different meanings.

18.04.EO8

•

proofread for content and mechanical errors, including:
- Spelling
- Punctuation
- Grammar
- Word choice
- Syntax

18.04.EO9

This chapter focuses on common report writing conventions. Refer to the
following table for specific topics.
Topic

4-2

See Page

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports

4-3

Writing Clearly and Precisely

4-9

Proofreading

4-21

Chapter Synopsis

4-23

Workbook Learning Activities

4-25

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports
[18.04.EO1, 18.04.EO2, 18.04.EO3, 18.04.EO4, 18.04.EO5]

Introduction

Grammar may be defined as the rules and guidelines used by writers to make
their message clear and understandable to the reader. There are a large
number of grammatical guidelines in the English language and peace officers
should be aware of them when writing investigative reports.

Proper
nouns

A noun is a naming word. It can be used to identify people, places, or things.
Proper nouns name specific persons, places or things and always begin with
a capital letter.
When referring to a specific person within a report, officers should use
proper nouns (Tom Smith, Alice Jones) to clearly convey to the reader whom
they are writing about. After the full name has been used once, just the last
name may be used when referring to the same person. (Smith, Jones)
Example:

Tom Smith said he saw the woman leap from the deck and
run across the yard. Smith went on to describe the woman
as...
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4-3

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that substitutes for a noun or a proper noun. There are
two types of pronouns of which writers of investigative reports should be
aware.
Pronoun

Use when
referring to
the:

First
person

person writing
the report.

Third
person

person, place,
or thing being
written about.

Examples of
Pronouns

Examples of Use

•
•

I/My/Mine/Me
We/Our/Ours/Us

•

•
•
•
•

He/His/Him
She/Hers/Her
It/Its
They/Their/
Theirs/Them

•

•

•
•
•

NOTE:

I told my
partner...
Our vehicle
was...
He said that it
was ...
She told her
sister...
It was no longer
present...
Their father was
...

First person pronouns can also be used within quotes to refer to the
person speaking. (e.g., Wilson said, “I ran as fast as I could.”)
Continued on next page

4-4

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

First
person
pronouns

When writing investigative reports, officers should use first person pronouns
when referring to themselves. By doing so, the reader has a clear understanding
of what the officer actually did, observed, experienced, etc.
Referring to themselves as “the reporting officer” or “the writer of this
report” or using third person pronouns can be needlessly awkward and
lead to confusion as to who was actually doing what.
Example:

My partner and I spoke with the witness about what they
saw and heard during the fight.
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4-5

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Third
person
pronouns

When a third person pronoun is used within an investigative report, it must
clearly refer to or agree with the noun or proper noun that is directly before it.
Alone, third person pronouns lack any specific meaning. It must be clear to
the reader, exactly who, what, or where the pronoun is referring to.
The following table illustrates how the use of third person pronouns can lead
to confusion within a report if not properly placed.
Confusing

Clear

Jones saw the man’s car crash into
the tree. He immediately reported
the accident.

Jones saw the man’s car crash into
the tree. Jones immediately reported
the accident.

Smith told his neighbor to get rid of
the junk car he kept in front of his
house.

Smith told his neighbor to get rid of
the junk car the neighbor kept in
front of his house.

After McFay gave her daughter the
gun, she began to worry.

McFay began to worry after she gave
the gun to her daughter.

NOTE:

To avoid confusion, it may be preferable to repeat the proper
name rather than use a third person pronoun
Continued on next page

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LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Past
tense

Since most investigative reports are written about things that have already
happened, the words that are used should clearly indicate the events have
already taken place.
Verbs are words or groups of words which express action. A verb’s tense
refers to the time the action took place. A past tense verb expresses an action
completed in the past. A present tense verb expresses an action currently
taking place.
The following table illustrates some examples of present and past tense verbs.
Present Tense

Past Tense

He says his wife did kick him...

He said his wife kicked him...

I then have Officer Baker . . .

I then had Officer Baker...

She states her husband...

She stated her husband...

On 04-06-98 at 0735 hours I
respond to a call...

On 04-06-98 at 0735 hours I
responded to a call...

The suspect arrives at the scene...

The suspect arrived at the scene...

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LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-7

Recommended Grammar for Investigative Reports,
Continued

Active
voice

The word “voice,” when used to describe a type of verb, refers to whether
the verb is active or passive.
A verb is in the active voice when the subject of the sentence is the individual
or thing that is actually doing or performing the action. A verb is in the
passive voice when the subject of the sentence is someone or something other
than the doer or performer of the action.
Officers writing investigative reports should use verbs in the active voice
rather than the passive voice. Most readers find sentences written in the active
voice easier to follow and understand.
The following table illustrates differences between using a passive or active
voice in an investigative report.
Passive Voice

4-8

Active Voice

The victim was given the report
form by me.

I gave the report form to the victim.

The seminar was attended by law
enforcement personnel.

Law enforcement personnel
attended the seminar.

The witness was talked to by me.

I talked to the witness.

The suspect was patted down for
weapons by my partner.

My partner patted down the suspect
for weapons.

The driver was asked for his
driver’s license by me.

I asked the driver for his driver’s
license.

NOTE:

The subject of the sentence does not have to be a person. It can
also be a place or thing.

NOTE:

A common indicator of passive voice is the word “by” in the
sentence.

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely
[18.04.EO6, 18.04.EO7, 18.04.EO8]

Introduction

Effective investigative reports must present all relevant information simply, or
logically. They must be written in plain English in order to be useful for the
reader.

Paragraph
organization

Paragraphs are the structural units for grouping information. No matter which
format is used for the investigative report (narrative or category), all
paragraphs within the report must be clear and easy to understand.
When writing an investigative report, the first sentence (lead-in sentence) of
each paragraph should clearly state the primary topic or subject of the
paragraph. The sentences that follow within the paragraph should present
facts, ideas, reasons, or examples that are directly related to that primary topic.
The following table presents examples of poorly organized and well organized
paragraphs.
Poorly Organized

Well Organized

When we arrived, the husband let
us into the house. We were
responding to a 9-1-1 call. My
partner and I had been dispatched to
an incident of domestic violence. A
woman called for help to keep her
husband from beating her.

My partner and I were dispatched to a
domestic violence incident after a
woman dialed 9-1-1. The woman
called for help because she was afraid
her husband would beat her. When
we arrived, the husband let us into the
house.

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Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Paragraph
organization
(continued)

Transitional
words

Poorly Organized

Well Organized

Marie Parker said her husband
refused to answer the door at first
when he heard the man on the other
side begin to shout. I took her
statement approximately 45 minutes
after the assault took place. She was
sitting in the family room when her
husband went to see who was at the
door.

I took Marie Parker’s statement
approximately 45 minutes after the
assault took place. Parker said she
was sitting in the family room when
her husband went to see who was at
the door. Initially her husband
refused to answer the door when he
heard the man on the other side begin
to shout.

Transitions are words or phrases that show relationships between thoughts,
sentences, or paragraphs. By selecting appropriate transitional words, officers
can help readers move smoothly and logically from detail to detail and
sentence to sentence within the investigative report.
The following table suggests only a few of the possible transitional words and
phrases officers may use within their reports.
Type of
Transition
Time

Words/Phrases
•
•
•
•
•
•

Immediately
In the meantime
At the same time
When
Before
Prior to

Examples
Caster said he noticed the door
was not completely shut, so he
decided to find out why.
Immediately after entering the
room, he saw the window was
broken.

Continued on next page

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LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Transitional
words
(continued)

Concrete
vs abstract
words

Type of
Transition

Words/Phrases

Examples

Place

•
•
•
•
•
•

Near
Beyond
Next to
Under
Behind
Around

Caster said he saw broken glass
on the floor under the window.
Near the glass, he saw a large
brick.

Order

•
•
•
•
•
•

Finally
In addition
Lastly
First
Then
Further

In addition, Caster saw his
laptop computer was not on the
desk where he left it the night
before.

Officers who are writing investigative reports should select simple, common,
concrete language whenever possible. The use of simple language can help
keep reports concise and brief, addressing relevant information quickly and
clearly.
Words that are used to make an investigative report sound eloquent or
scholarly may actually serve to make the report wordy, vague and less
effective. Inflated language is never appropriate and officers should resist the
temptation to impress their readers.
Continued on next page

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4-11

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued
Concrete vs
abstract
words
(continued)

The following table presents examples of abstract words along with more
concrete alternatives.
Abstract Words

Concrete Words

•

a number of

•

seven

•

at a high rate of speed

•

75 MPH

•

appeared intoxicated

•

breath smelled of an alcoholic
beverage

•

hostile behavior

•

repeatedly struck the officer

•

physical confrontation

•

fight

•

verbal altercation

•

argument

•

extensive record

•

six DUI offenses over two years

•

employed

•

used

•

dispute

•

argument

•

inquired

•

asked

•

in the vicinity of

•

near

•

articulated

•

said, told

•

hit

•

punched, slapped, or clubbed

Continued on next page

4-12

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued
Words
that
sound
alike

Officers should take care to use the correct word for what they are trying to
say when writing investigative reports.
There are a number of frequently used words that sound alike but have
completely different spellings and meanings. The following table identifies
the most commonly confused sound-alike words.
Words

Definitions

Examples

Accept

To take with approval or
agree to

I accepted the medal with
pride.

Except

To omit or exclude;
preposition meaning ‘but’

We did everything except
interview the witness.

Access

An approach, admittance, or
route

There is an access road
running east to west in front of
the drug store.

Excess

Surplus; an amount greater
than wanted

The amount of cocaine found
was in excess of what had
initially been reported.

Advice

Worthy suggestion or
information; noun

My sergeant gave me advice
on how to handle the situation.

Advise

To give suggestions, data, or
counsel; verb

My sergeant advised me on
how to handle the situation.

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4-13

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued
Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Affect

To act upon or produce
change or influence; verb

The suspect was affected by
the pepper spray.

Effect

Result of cause; belongings;
noun

Dilated pupils are a physical
effect of the drug.
The coroner removed the
personal effects from the
victim.

Allude

Make reference to

The witness alluded to the
suspect’s collection of guns.

Elude

Escape or evade

The suspect eluded arrest by
going into a store.

Assure

To offer assurances

The officer assured the victim
that the batterer would be
jailed.

Ensure

To make secure or certain

The officer ensured the
suspect was correctly
handcuffed.

Insure

To make secure or certain (as
with ensure); or to guarantee
life or property against risk.

The man insured his house
against fires and floods.

Continued on next page

4-14

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Brake

To stop a vehicle

Her car’s brakes failed, and
she ran into the truck in front
of her.

Break

To burglarize a home or other The officer watched the
structure; forcibly entering or suspect break into the store.
exiting a house; to damage

Cite

Refer to an official document
or rule as proof; verb

The district attorney cited the
Penal Code.

Site

Place or setting of an event;
noun

The officers returned to the
site of the crime to gather
more evidence.

Sight

Ability to see

The contraband lay on the
table in plain sight.

Elicit

To draw out or forth; evoke

The officer was able to elicit a
confession from the suspect.

Illicit

Something not permitted by
law.

The suspect had committed a
lewd and illicit act.

Formally

Something done
The suspect was formally
ceremoniously or in a regular, indicted for the crime.
methodical fashion

Formerly

Something that happened in
the past

He was formerly a firefighter.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-15

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Hear

To perceive sound

The officers could hear the
argument through the door.

Here

Place or location

I asked the victim to come
here and answer some
questions.

Its

Adjective showing
possession

The car lost its rear tire after
striking the pot hole in the
road.

It’s

Short form of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ It’s been six years since the
suspect contacted his brother.

Know

To be cognizant of or be
acquainted with

The victim claimed that she
did not know the suspect.

No

Negative

The suspect shouted, “No.”

Pain

Strong sense of hurt

The victim screamed in pain
after being shot.

Pane

Window glass set in a frame

The burglar had broken the
pane to gain access to the
house.

Continued on next page

4-16

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Passed

To move forward or around;
to circulate

As we pursued the suspect, we
passed four other vehicles on
the highway.

Past

History; ended or
accomplished; beyond

The suspect had a number of
past convictions.

Personal

Belonging to someone

The victim’s personal
property was put in a bag.

Personnel

Company’s employees

The department had a
personnel meeting.

Precede

To go before in time, place,
or rank

The burglary preceded the
rape.

Proceed

To advance, go toward

The burglar then proceeded to
the bedroom.

Pride

Self-esteem

The officer took great pride in
his work.

Pried

To raise, move, or force with
a lever (past tense of pry)

The burglar pried the window
open with a screwdriver in
order to enter the building.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-17

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Principal

Chief official; chief actor or
perpetrator present at time of
crime

Manuel Ortega was the
principal person in the
robbery of the bank.

Principle

Rule of conduct; law of
nature or scientific fact

Peace officers are expected to
uphold high moral principles.

Quiet

Still or silent

When we arrived at the
dispute, the house was quiet.

Quite

To a great degree, completely

The suspect was quite agitated
and began swearing.

Scene

Location of an event

The officers secured the crime
scene.

Seen

Past tense of “to see” (sight)

The suspect was seen driving a
green car.

Steal

To take without any right

Robbery and theft are forms of
stealing.

Steel

Strong alloy of iron

The pipe was made of steel.

Than

Introduces comparative
clauses

The suspect was taller than
me.

Then

Designates time (next)

The suspects then fled from
the bank on foot.

Continued on next page

4-18

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

There

At or in that place; to,
toward, or into that place

Morez went there after she
talked with the officer.

Their

Possession of them, by them

The brothers went by their
home on their way to the
corner.

They’re

Short form of ‘they are’

The woman said, “They’re
going to shoot him.”

Threw

Past tense of “throw”

She threw the vase at her
husband.

Through

Motion from side to side or
end to end within something

The suspect ran through the
mall to evade arrest.

To

Movement toward a place,
person, or thing

The victim stated he was going
to the grocery store when he
was stopped.

Too

Also, besides, in excessive
degree

The reporting party stated that
the noise was too loud for her
to hear the person talking.

Two

The number two (2)

The building had two
entrances.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-19

Writing Clearly and Precisely, Continued

Words
that
sound
alike
(continued)

Words

Definitions

Examples

Waist

Part of the body between the
ribs and the hips

The suspect grabbed the victim
around the waist and wrestled
her to the ground.

Waste

To consume, weaken, or
squander

She wasted water by washing
her car twice every day.

Weak

Not strong

His use of heroin left him very
weak.

Week

Seven days’ duration

The suspect stalked his victim
for three weeks.

Your

Belongs to a specific you or a
specific person

Young heard Johnson say,
“Your dog is on my property
again.”

You’re

Short form of ‘you are’

The officer said you’re under
arrest.

Wave

To signal

She waved to her neighbor.

Waive

To surrender or relinquish

She waived her Miranda rights.

Continued on next page

4-20

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Proofreading
[18.04.EO9]

Introduction

Proofreading may seem time-consuming to both experienced and
inexperienced writers. In the case of investigative reports where accuracy,
clarity, and completeness are essential, proofreading is critical.

Proofreading
content

As noted in chapter one of this workbook, the content of an investigative
report must be factual, accurate, clear, concise, complete, and timely
(FACCCT).
When proofreading reports, officers should ask themselves:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

is the correct crime(s) cited in the report?
are all the elements appropriately articulated?
are the facts correct (based on the officer’s field notes)?
is the report well organized?
is all necessary information included?
is the information in the proper order?
are things said efficiently, or are statements too wordy?
are all conclusions supported by facts?
are there any gaps in logic?
are the names spelled correctly?
Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-21

Proofreading, Continued
Proofreading
mechanics

A report’s effectiveness and an officer’s credibility can be damaged by a
report with too many mechanical errors. When proofreading the reports they
have written, officers should look for:
•
•
•
•
•
•

inappropriate use of the parts of speech (e.g., use of nouns, pronouns
verbs, etc.),
language that may be vague or confusing,
incorrect or inappropriate use of words,
spelling errors,
inappropriate punctuation, and
incorrect use of law enforcement abbreviations.

NOTE:

Reading
aloud

Slowly reading a completed report aloud is one of the most effective methods
for proofreading the content and mechanics of any document. When sentences
are heard, it may be easier for the writer to identify obstacles such as:
•
•
•
•
•

4-22

Additional information is provided in the supplementary
materials portion of this workbook.

mechanical errors,
gaps in logical flow,
skewed time sequences,
incorrect verb tenses,
cumbersome phrasing, etc.

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

Peace officers must recognize that an effective report must exhibit the writer’s
command of the language and be relatively free of errors in sentence structure,
grammar, and other writing mechanics.

Proper
nouns
[18.04.EO1]

Persons should be referred to by their proper names to avoid confusion. Once
the full name has been used once, the last name may be used when referring to
the same person.

First
person
pronouns
[18.04.EO2]

Officers should refer to themselves in the first person (i.e., “I,” “we,” etc.).
Use of a person’s name or a third person pronoun is appropriate when
referring to another person.

Third
person
pronouns
[18.04.EO3]

When a third person pronoun is used, it must clearly refer to or agree with the
noun or proper noun that is directly before it.

Past
tense
[18.04.EO4]

Past tense verbs should be used to clearly indicate that events have already
taken place.

Active
voice
[18.04.EO5]

The active voice should be used to ensure the information presented is direct,
brief, and clearly establishes the actions of the sentence.

Paragraph
organization
[18.04.EO6]

When writing an investigative report, the first sentence (a lead-in sentence) of
each paragraph should clearly state the primary topic of the paragraph.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-23

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Concrete
language
[18.04.EO7]

Officers should select simple, concrete language that readers clearly
understand.

Words
that
sound
alike
[18.04.EO8]

Officers should not confuse words that sound alike but have differing
meanings and spellings.

Proofreading
[18.04.EO9]

There are two relatively distinct tasks involved when officers proofread their
investigative reports.

4-24

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. You have just been handed the following narrative from an officer’s
investigative report. The officer who wrote the report has also asked you
to suggest other revisions that would improve the quality and effectiveness
of the report. List the recommendations you would make. Identify any
specific errors within the report.

On 5-31-99 I was dispatched at 1153 hrs. to 33 “A” Street for a reported
theft. I arrived at the address at approx. 1156 hrs. As I got out of my car
I could see Mr. Jones waiting on the porch of his apartment waiting for
me. As I walked towards Jones I asked him if he was the one who called
in the report. He said yes. I asked Jones to tell me what happened. Jones
told me he parked his mtn. bike against the stairs of his apartment while he
ran into his apartment to fill his water bottle. Jones said he was inside for
no more than 5 minutes. When he came out his bike was gone. Jones then
gave me a complete description of his bike. I asked his neighbor if she
saw anything but she said no.

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-25

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

2. Rewrite each of the following sentences using active voice, first person, or
any other modifications necessary to make sure the writer’s intent is clear.
In all sentences Officer Brown is the reporting officer.
a) Officer Brown had been approaching the suspect and at this time he
noticed that the woman appeared intoxicated.

b) Jones was asked by Brown to describe the gun, and she said that she
didn’t know much about them, but it was small enough to fit in his
waste band.

c) Logan was then transported by Brown to jail for booking. During the
search procedure, Logan said, I except responsibility for everything
but shooting her. I guess I better ask advice from my attorney.

d) The suspect was patted down for weapons by Brown’s partner. The
immediate effect was to cause Russell to exhibit hostile behavior.

e) At this time Johnson was being advised of his Miranda options by
Brown’s partner. The suspect was asked if he understood each right as
it was read by him to him. He said yes.

Continued on next page

4-26

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

3. Rewrite the following segment from an officer’s investigative report.
Correct all mechanical errors as well as any other modifications you feel
would improve the segment.
On 5/3/99 about 1147 I was dispatch to a report of a petty theft. I talked to
Mark Jones. He told me that he went into his home to get some water.
When he returned to the past location of his bike, someone stole his bike.
It was a mountain bike, red with black trim. He told me that he had seen
no one. His neighbor came out and I asked him if he had scene anyone
take it but he said no.

4. Why is it important that the first sentence of a narrative paragraph clearly
state the primary topic or subject of the paragraph?

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-27

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

5. Circle the correct word choice for each of the following sentences.
a) The [affect/effect] on the car was minimal.
b) The Browns said they were returning to [there/their/they’re] home.
c) The [cite/site/sight] was covered with trash and broken glass.
d) The witness saw two boys [braking/breaking] the windows.
e) The other driver was going over 70 MPH when she [passed/past] us.
f) Someone [pride/pried] the hinges from the frame of the door.
g) The injured man refused to [accept/except] medical aid.
h) Jones [alluded/eluded] to the location of the stolen vehicle.

Continued on next page

4-28

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

6. Write a sentence that illustrates the proper use of each of the following
words.
Word

Examples of Proper Use

threw
proceed
waste
principal
proceed
waist
through
principle

Continued on next page

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

4-29

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

7. Rewrite and reorganize the following statements/sentences into a clear
narrative paragraph.
-

07/07/99
1945 pm
The suspect ran north on Wilson street with what appeared to be a
metal bar in his hand.
My partner and I were called to the incident in response to a silent
alarm.
A man was standing below a rear window of the building.
A rear window was cracked but remained locked and secured.
As I approached the rear of the building on foot, the man began to run
away.
The suspect was approximately 6 ft tall, 180 labs, wearing dark pants,
a black nylon jacket, black baseball cap, and was a white male with
brown hair and medium build.

Continued on next page

4-30

LD 18: Chapter 4 – Investigative Report Writing Mechanics

Supplementary Material
Overview
Introduction

The following materials can be referred to by peace officers when writing
investigative reports.

In this section

Refer to the following table for specific reference documents included in this
section.
Topic

See Page

Parts of Speech

S-2

Punctuation

S-4

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations

S-6

State Abbreviations

S-12

Crime Information Reference Guide

S-13

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-1

Parts of Speech
Introduction

The sentence is the basic structure of written English. It is made up of words
that have unique characteristics and functions.

Parts of
speech

The eight parts of speech are identified in the following table.
Description

Examples

Noun

Names a person, place, or
thing

The officer stopped the car.
The suspect fled from the
officers.

Pronoun

Takes the place of a noun

He ran between the cars.
They were close together.

Verb

Expresses action or state of
being (“be verbs”)

The officer ran after the
suspect.
The suspect was fast.

Adverb

Describes a verb, adjective,
or other adverb

The suspect ran quickly.
He became extremely
exhausted

Adjective

Describes a noun or
pronoun

The tall suspect turned
around.
The short suspect continued to
run.

Continued on next page

S-2

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Parts of Speech, Continued

Parts of
speech
(continued)

Description

Examples

Preposition

Shows how a noun or
pronoun is related to
another word in a sentence;
followed by nouns or
pronouns

The suspect jumped out of the
car, over the retaining wall,
and into the store.

Conjunction

Connects words or parts of
sentences; can be
coordinating or
subordinating

My partner and I approached
the car.
I was cover officer while my
partner was contact officer.

Article

Comes before and usually
limits a noun

A bag of powder was lying on
the back seat.

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-3

Punctuation
Introduction

Punctuation marks give writers a way to achieve some of the effects they
would convey in spoken conversations. (i.e., pauses, changes in tone or pitch,
inflections, etc.) They can influence the meaning of words, the flow of
thought, and the emphasis intended by the writer.

Common
punctuation

The following table identifies the most common punctuation marks used
within investigative reports.
Mark

Main Uses

Examples

Period (.)

Marks the end of a sentence
that is not a question or
exclamation

Stewart went to the back of
the store and told the
manager what she saw.

Comma (,)

Separates items in a series

She reported that a
microwave oven, a computer,
and a stereo system were
missing from the apartment.

Separates nonessential
phrases and clauses from the
rest of the sentence

In the meantime, Jones swept
up the broken glass.

Separates two independent
clauses in a compound
sentence

The victim was in pain, but
he was still able to speak with
us.

Indicates the beginning and
end of direct quotes

Stanley said, “I just didn’t see
the car coming.”

Quotation
marks (“ ”)
NOTE:

Punctuation is generally not placed inside quotation marks.
(i.e., commas, periods)
Continued on next page

S-4

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Punctuation, Continued

Common
punctuation
(continued)

Mark

Main Uses

Examples

Colon (:)

Signals a series is about to The victim reported the
follow
following items were missing
from the apartment: a
microwave oven, a computer,
and a stereo system.

Apostrophe (’)

To show possession in
nouns

The victim’s car was totaled.

To form a contraction

She couldn’t tell the direction
he came from.

NOTE:

The use of contractions in official reports is discouraged except
in direct quotes.

NOTE:

Usage of semi-colons may be discouraged, please check
agency policy and procedures.

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-5

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations
Introduction

Peace officers use abbreviations in their notes to expedite time and then write
the complete words in their report.

Guidelines
for use

Abbreviations should be such that the meaning will be readily understood to
the person reading the notes. Officers may use abbreviations in their notes but
should write the word out for their reports.
Abbreviations containing all capital letters do not require periods (e.g., DMV,
CHP).
NOTE:

Review agency policies and procedures before using
abbreviations.

The following is an alphabetical listing of common law enforcement
abbreviations.

A

Assisted and advised
Address
All points bulletin
Also known as
Ambulance
American Indian
Arresting officer
Apartment
Arrest
Asian Indian
Assault with deadly weapon
Assistant
Attempt
Attention
Avenue

A&A
Add.
APB
AKA
Amb.
I
A/O
Apt.
Arr.
A
ADW
Asst.
Att.
Attn.
Ave.
Continued on next page

S-6

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
B

Blood alcohol count
Black (color)
Black (descent)
Blocks
Blonde
Blue
Be on the lookout
Brown
Building
Business and Professions Code

BAC
Blk.
B
Blks.
Bln.
Blu.
BOLO
Brn.
Bldg.
B&P

C

California Highway Patrol
Captain
California drivers license
California identification card
Caucasian
Cleared by arrest
County
Complainant
Convertible
Chief of Police
Criminal Justice Information System

CHP
Capt.
CDL
CID
W
CBA
Co.
Comp.
Conv.
COP
CJIS

D

Dark
Date of birth
Dead on arrival
Defendant
Department
Department of Motor Vehicles
District
Direction of travel
Division
Doing business as
Driving under the influence

Dk.
DOB
DOA
Def.
Dept.
DMV
Dist.
DOT
Div.
DBA
DUI
Continued on next page

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-7

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
E

East
Eastbound
Emergency room
Expired
Estimated

E
E/B
ER
Exp.
Est.

F

Felony
Female
Field sobriety test
Four door

Fel.
F
FST
4D

G

Gray
Gone on arrival
Green

Gry.
GOA
G

H

Had been drinking
Hazel
Headquarters
Health & Safety Code
Highway
High School

HBD
Hzl.
Hdqts.
H&S
Hwy.
H.S.

I

Identification
Identity
Indian, American
Information
Informant
Inspector
Injury
Injury on duty
Intersection

ID
ID
I
Info.
Inf.
Insp.
Inj.
IOD
I/S

J

Juvenile

Juv.
Continued on next page

S-8

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
K

L

Left front
Left rear
License
Lieutenant
Light

L/F
L/R
Lic.
LT
Lt.

M

Male
Maroon
Medium
Memorandum
Mexican, Latino, Hispanic
Miles per hour
Miscellaneous
Misdemeanor
Modus operandi
Motorcycle

M
Mar.
Med.
Memo
H
MPH
Misc.
Misd.
M.O.
M/C

N

National Crime
Information Center
No further description
No middle name
Not applicable
North
Northbound

NCIC
NFD
NMN
N/A
N
N/B

Officer
Oriental

Off.
O

O

Continued on next page

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-9

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
P

Parked
Passenger
Pedestrian
Penal Code
Permanent identification number
Pickup
Point of impact
Point of rest
Possible

Pkd.
Pass.
Ped.
PC
PIN
P/U
POI
POR
Poss.

Q

Quiet on arrival
Quiet on departure

QOA
QOD

R

Railroad
Referral by other agency
Registration
Reporting officer
Right front
Right rear
Room

RR
ROA
Reg.
R/O
R/F
R/R
Rm.

S

Sergeant
South
Southbound
Station wagon
Street
Supervisor
Suspect

Sgt.
S
S/B
S/W
St.
Supv.
Susp.
Continued on next page

S-10

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations, Continued
T

Teletype
Temporary
Traffic accident
Two door

TT
Temp.
TA
2D

U

Uniform Crime Reports
Unable to locate
Unknown

UCR
UTL
Unk.

V

Vehicle
Vehicle Code
Vehicle identification number
Victim
Violation

Veh.
VC
VIN
Vict.
Viol.

W

Warned and released
Watch Commander
Welfare & Institutions Code
West
Westbound
White (color)
White (descent)
Witness

W&R
W/C
W&I
W
W/B
Wh
W
Wit.

Yellow

Yel.

X

Y

Z

LD 18: Supplemental Material

S-11

State Abbreviations
Introduction

Peace officers may have to refer to specific states within their reports. The
U.S. Postal Service has standardized the abbreviations for the states and some
Canadian provinces.

Abbreviations

The following table identifies the U.S. Postal Service’s standardized
abbreviations.
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Dist. of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
NOTE:

S-12

AL
AK
AZ
AR
CA
CO
CT
DE
DC
FL
GA
HI
ID
IL
IN
IA
KS
KY
LA
ME
MD
MA
Ml
MN
MS
MO

Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
British Columbia

MT
NE
NV
NH
NJ
NM
NY
NC
ND
OH
OK
OR
PA
RI
SC
SD
TN
TX
UT
VT
VA
WA
WV
WI
WY
BC

State postal abbreviations do not require periods.

LD 18: Supplemental Material

Glossary
Introduction

The following glossary terms apply only to Learning Domain 18:
Investigative Report Writing

active
voice

The use of verbs that refer to or agree with the subject of the sentence actually
doing or performing the action

conclusion

A statement that is based on the analysis of facts and opinions

corpus
delicti

The body or elements of the crime

FACCCT

Acronym for the characteristics of an effective investigative report; factual,
accurate, clear, concise, complete, and timely

fact

A statement that can be verified or proven

field
notes

Abbreviated notations written by an officer in the field while investigating a
specific incident or crime

first
person
pronoun

A pronoun that refers to the person speaking (e.g., I, my, we, our, etc.)

investigative
report

A written legal document prepared by a peace officer that records in detail that
officer’s observations and actions as they relate to a specific event or incident
Continued on next page

LD 18: Glossary

G-1

Glossary, Continued
interview

The process of gathering information from a person who has knowledge of the
facts an officer will need to conduct an investigation

noun

A word that is used to identify or name a person, place, or thing

opinion

A statement that can be open to different interpretations and expresses a belief
not necessarily substantiated by proof

passive
voice

The use of verbs that refer to or agree with someone or something other than
the doer or performer of the action of a sentence

past
tense

A form of a verb that expresses an action that has already taken place

present
tense

A form of a verb that expresses an action that is currently taking place

pronoun

A word that can be used as a substitute for a noun or a proper noun

proper
noun

A noun that names a specific person, place, or thing

third
person
pronoun

A pronoun that refers to or agrees with the noun that is being spoken about
(e.g., he, she, it, etc.)

Continued on next page

G-2

LD 18: Glossary

Glossary, Continued
transition

A word or phrase that shows a relationship between thoughts, sentences, or
paragraphs

verb

A word which expresses an action or state of being

verb
tense

A form of a verb that refers to the time an action takes place

LD 18: Glossary

G-3

CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING

Basic Course
Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 21
Patrol Techniques
Version 4.1

THE MISSION OF THE CALIFORNIA COMMISSION ON PEACE OFFICER STANDARDS AND TRAINING IS TO CONTINUALLY
ENHANCE THE PROFESSIONALISM OF CALIFORNIA LAW ENFORCEMENT IN SERVING ITS COMMUNITIES

Basic Course Workbook Series
Student Materials
Learning Domain 21
Patrol Techniques
Version 4.1
© Copyright 2005
California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)
All rights reserved.
Published February 2000
Revised October 2001
Revised August 2004
Revised July 2005
Workbook Correction January 20, 2009

This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means
electronic or mechanical or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or
hereafter invented, without prior written permission of the California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training, with the following exception:
California law enforcement or dispatch agencies in the POST program, POST-certified
training presenters, and presenters and students of the California basic course instructional
system are allowed to copy this publication for non-commercial use.
All other individuals, private businesses and corporations, public and private agencies and
colleges, professional associations, and non-POST law enforcement agencies in-state or out-ofstate may purchase copies of this publication, at cost, from POST as listed below:

From POST’s Web Site:
www.post.ca.gov
Go to Ordering Student Workbooks

POST COMMISSIONERS

Deborah Linden - Chairman

Chief
San Luis Obispo Police Department

Michael Sobek, Vice Chairman

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Anthony W. Batts

Chief
Long Beach Police Department

Lai Lai Bui

Sergeant
Sacramento Police Department

Collene Campbell

Public Member

Robert T. Doyle

Sheriff
Marin County

Bonnie Dumanis

District Attorney
San Diego County

Floyd Hayhurst

Deputy Sheriff
Los Angeles County

Scott Himelstein

Public Member

Ron Lowenberg

Dean/Director
Criminal Justice Training Center
Golden West College

John McGinness

Sheriff
Sacramento County

Jeff Lundgren

Deputy Sheriff
Riverside County Sheriff's Department

Henry T. Perea

Councilman
City of Fresno

Laurie Smith

Sheriff
Santa Clara County

Michael Sobek

Sergeant
San Leandro Police Department

Gil Van Attenhoven

Senior Special Agent
California Department of Justice

George Anderson
Representing Attorney General
Jerry Brown - Ex Officio Member

Director of Division of Law
Enforcement

THE ACADEMY TRAINING MISSION
The primary mission of basic training is to prepare students mentally, morally, and physically to
advance into a field training program, assume the responsibilities, and execute the duties of a
peace officer in society.

FOREWORD
The California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training sincerely appreciates the
efforts of the many curriculum consultants, academy instructors, directors and coordinators who
contributed to the development of this workbook. The Commission extends its thanks to
California law enforcement agency executives who offered personnel to participate in the
development of these training materials.
This student workbook is part of the POST Basic Course Training System. The workbook
component of this system provides a self-study document for every learning domain in the Basic
Course. Each workbook is intended to be a supplement to, not a substitute for, classroom
instruction. The objective of the system is to improve academy student learning and information
retention.
The content of each workbook is organized into sequenced learning modules to meet
requirements as prescribed both by California law and the POST Training and Testing
Specifications for the Basic Course.
It is our hope that the collective wisdom and experience of all who contributed to this workbook
will help you, the student, to successfully complete the Basic Course and to enjoy a safe and
rewarding career as a peace officer serving the communities of California.

PAUL CAPPITELLI
Executive Director

LD 21: Patrol Techniques
Table of Contents

Topic

See Page

Preface

ii

Introduction
How to Use the Student Workbook
Chapter 1:

Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Overview
Basic Patrol Concepts
Preventative Patrol
Directed Enforcement Patrol
Contact and Cover Officers
Officer Safety While On Patrol
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Chapter 2:

ii
iii

Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Overview
Preparing for a Patrol Assignment
Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations
Use of Communication Equipment
Pedestrian Contacts
Plainclothes/Undercover Officer Contacts
Foot Pursuits
Chapter Synopsis
Workbook Learning Activities
Glossary

1-1
1-1
1-3
1-9
1-12
1-14
1-20
1-27
1-29
2-1
2-1
2-3
2-11
2-19
2-28
2-40
2-41
2-51
2-53
G-1

Continued on next page

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

i

Table of Contents, Continued
This page was intentionally left blank.

ii

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

Preface
Introduction
Student
workbooks

The student workbooks are part of the POST Basic Course Instructional
System. This system is designed to provide students with a self-study
document to be used in preparation for classroom training.

Regular Basic
Course
training
requirement

Completion of the Regular Basic Course is required, prior to exercising peace
officer powers, as recognized in the California Penal Code and where the
POST-required standard is the POST Regular Basic Course.

Student
workbook
elements

The following elements are included in each workbook:
•
•
•

chapter contents, including a synopsis of key points,
supplementary material, and
a glossary of terms used in this workbook.

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

iii

How to Use the Student Workbook
Introduction

This workbook provides an introduction to the training requirements for this
Learning Domain. It is intended to be used in several ways: for initial
learning prior to classroom attendance, for test preparation, and for remedial
training.

Workbook
format

To use the workbook most effectively, follow the steps listed below.
Step

iv

Action

1

Begin by reading the: Preface and How to Use the Workbook,
which provide an overview of how the workbook fits into the
POST Instructional System and how it should be used.

2

Refer to the Chapter Synopsis at the end of each chapter to review
the key points that support the chapter objectives.

3

Read the text.

4

Complete the Workbook Learning Activities at the end of each
chapter. These activities reinforce the material taught in the
chapter.

5

Refer to the Glossary for a definition of important terms. The
terms appear throughout the text and are bolded and underlined the
first time they appear (e.g., term).

LD 21: Patrol Techniques

Chapter 1
Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol
Overview
Learning need

To safely and effectively fulfill their duties of public protection and service,
peace officers must be able to develop appropriate law enforcement patrol
strategies under a wide variety of circumstances and conditions.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...
•

discuss patrol strategies officers may employ to provide
protection and service within their assigned areas of
patrol, to include:
-

E.O Code
21.01.EO1

preventative
directed enforcement

•

discuss considerations for selecting a patrol strategy.

21.01.EO2

•

select appropriate actions for peace officers who are
conducting security checks.

21.01.EO4

•

distinguish between the roles and responsibilities of
contact and cover officers.

21.01.EO7

•

select appropriate actions officers should take to
maintain their own safety and the safety of others while
on patrol.

21.01.EO8

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-1

Overview, Continued
In this chapter

This chapter focuses on other background information pertaining to patrol
strategies. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

1-2

See Page

Basic Patrol Concepts

1-3

Preventative Patrol

1-9

Directed Enforcement

1-12

Contact and Cover Officers

1-14

Officer Safety While On Patrol

1-20

Chapter Synopsis

1-27

Workbook Activities

1-29

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Basic Patrol Concepts
[21.01.EO1, 21.01.EO2]

Introduction

Community patrol is one of the most frequent assignments a uniformed officer
will perform.

Leadership

Uniformed officers, whether in a car, on bicycle, motorcycle, horseback, or on
foot are mobile, visible and the most likely members of an agency to have
contact with the community. Uniformed officers respond to calls, work on
problems, initiate positive contacts, and are, in large measure, the image of the
agency. Officers’ demeanor and their interactions with the community they
serve will determine how the entire agency is viewed.

Ethics

The Constitution and Bill of Rights apply to everyone. Making assumptions
and stereotyping a whole neighborhood by assuming that everyone who lives
in a troubled area or neighborhood is suspect is wrong. Don’t assume that
everyone living in or near a troubled area is suspect. People must be treated as
individuals and assumed “innocent until proven guilty.”

Community
policing

People do care and want peace officers to help them to maintain a high quality
of life. Patrol officers have a stake in their assigned areas. Community
members care about their neighborhood and need patrol officers to help them
keep it safe. There is a joint responsibility for this job. Where there is a low
tolerance for litter, graffiti, speeding, and public disturbance, the message is
clear that people care.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-3

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued
Fundamental
elements of
patrol

Effective law enforcement patrol is made up of two fundamental elements:
protection and service.
Fundamental
Element

Knowledge of
assignment
area

The community expects that law enforcement
patrol officers will:

Protection

•

provide public safety, and isolation from criminal
activity.

Service

•

address the public’s concerns and needs efficiently
and professionally.

In order to provide protection and service, officers must acquire knowledge of
the beat they have been assigned to patrol. Such knowledge includes not just
knowing the basic layout and makeup of the area, but also recognizing
locations within the area that may require the officers’ specific attention.
The following table lists examples within their specific assignments which
officers should become familiar.
Continued on next page

1-4

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued

Knowledge of
assignment
area
(continued)

Areas where...
criminal acts
may occur

Examples
•
•
•
•
•
•

disturbances may
occur

Shopping centers (e.g., purse snatches, auto
burglaries, etc.)
School grounds (e.g., narcotics activities, child
molesters, etc.)
Bars, night clubs, and other locations of nightlife
activities
Bus stops, convenience stores, isolated restaurants
or bars,
and other poorly lit areas with pedestrian traffic
Abandoned buildings (e.g., arson)

•

Youth gathering spots such as:
- recreation centers or school events
- amusement centers
- public parks and beaches
- sporting events
- secluded “drinking spots” (e.g., “lover’s lane,”
wooded locations, etc.)

•

Adult congregations such as:
- bars or coffee shops
- churches
- sporting events
- swap meets
- concerts
- motorcycle rallies
- public parks and beaches
- family/community celebrations

•

Community meetings involving:
- emotional issues or negative public sentiment
- public political debates

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-5

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued

Knowledge of
assignment
area
(continued)

Areas where...
public safety
hazards may exist

Examples
•

•
•
•
there is a potential
for natural disaster

•
•
•
•
•
•

Poor road conditions such as:
- dirt roads
- poorly marked dead-end streets
- inadequate lighting or traffic signs
- streets with potholes
Construction sites
Chemical and industrial plants and storage
facilities
Ponds, rivers, lakes, or beaches used for fishing,
swimming, or other water recreation
Man-made dams susceptible to seepage or
erosion
Low lying areas that can easily flood
Earthquake-prone zones
Hillsides with a potential for mud or rock slides
Open fields susceptible to fire during dry periods
Areas prone to fog or other weather related
conditions

Continued on next page

1-6

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued
Patrol
strategies

Officers may employ two basic patrol strategies to provide protection and
service within their assigned patrol area.
Strategy

Primary Objective

Example

Preventative
patrol

•

To be highly visible in
order to discourage
occurrences of unlawful
or problem activity

Conducting visible patrols
through a parking structure
where there have been a
large number of auto thefts
with the intention of
dissuading potential thieves
from stealing cars

Directed
enforcement
patrol

•

To concentrate patrol
activities on particular
circumstances, persons
or problem areas

Hiding from view and
maintaining surveillance of
a parking structure where
there have been a large
number of auto thefts with
the intention of arresting a
car thief in the act of
stealing a car

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-7

Basic Patrol Concepts, Continued
Trained
observer

No matter what patrol strategy is deployed, officers on patrol must rely on
their own observation and perception skills.
Officers must function as trained observers. Officers on patrol are expected
to:
•
•

Observation

practice disciplined observation, and
apply their training and experience to accurately perceive what is
occurring or is about to occur.

To an officer, observation means the ability to gather information by noting
facts or occurrences with a heightened sense of awareness.
While on patrol, officers must use not only their eyes, but all of their senses
including hearing, smell, etc., to obtain information from the outside world.
Observation can be enhanced by:
•
•
•

training (knowing what to look for),
experience (knowing where and when to look for it), and
a variety of special tools. (e.g., binoculars, night vision scopes, etc.)
Continued on next page

1-8

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Preventative Patrol
[21.01.EO1, 21.01.EO4]

Introduction

Preventative patrol strategies provide protection from criminal activity. It has
been consistently demonstrated that visible law enforcement presence can
reduce criminal activity.

Preventative
patrol
techniques

To be an effective deterrent to crime, law enforcement presence should be
highly visible within the community, especially in areas that are high risk
crime targets. Preventative patrol actions include:
•
•
•

Security
checks

maintaining a law enforcement presence and visibility within the
community,
conducting frequent security checks of high-risk targets and businesses,
and
conducting checks of persons who may be involved in suspicious
activities.

There are three fundamental objectives when conducting security checks of
businesses, residences and other structures.
•
•
•

To help the officer remain knowledgeable about the specific structure or
area (e.g., layout, normal activity in and around the area, normal
conditions of the structure, etc.).
To discover any suspicious activity or evidence of criminal activity (e.g.,
burglary).
To enhance community relations by maintaining high visibility.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-9

Preventative Patrol, Continued
Conducting
security
checks

When conducting security checks, officers should:
•
•
•
•
•

cover as much of their assigned area as possible including secondary
thoroughfares (e.g., alleys, walkways, parking areas, etc.) as well as
primary streets,
pay extra attention to high crime risk areas,
vary patrol patterns and routines to prevent predictability,
employ appropriate investigative tactics and equipment (e.g., use of
spotlights, flashlights, alley lights, etc.), and
implement additional patrol methods whenever possible (e.g., foot patrol,
bicycle patrol, etc.).
Continued on next page

1-10

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Preventative Patrol, Continued
Indications
of criminal
activity

During a security check, officers prevent crime by their presence and find
opportunities to detect criminal activity.
When checking
structures, officers
should...

Examples

look for signs of
property damage
and/or forced entry.

•
•
•
•
•

Broken windows
Open doors
Pry marks around windows or doors
Broken equipment
Cut phone or power lines

look for unusual
conditions.

•
•
•
•
•

Lights off that are normally on
Activities during nonbusiness hours
Presence of suspicious vehicles
Persons involved in suspicious activity
Persons not in appropriate locations (e.g. no
clerk(s) at convenience store counter)

check access areas.

•
•

Areas around the structure
Access to the roof

NOTE:

For additional information regarding indicators and law
enforcement actions related to potential criminal activity, refer
to LD 23: Crimes in Progress.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-11

Directed Enforcement
[21.01.EO1]

Introduction

Realistically, officers cannot simultaneously cover all parts of their assigned
geographic areas. Use of a directed enforcement patrol strategy can target
areas where problems are likely to occur by concentrating patrol activities on
particular circumstances.

Determining
target areas

A thorough knowledge of the (1) area of assignment and (2) available resources
is necessary to be able to respond to locations where problems are likely to
occur.
NOTE:

Personnel
and
equipment

Your agency’s crime analysis unit may be able to provide
information on day-of-week and time-of-day patterns for criminal
activity, suspect and victim profiles, parolee information, field
interview patterns and calls-for-service patterns just to name some
of the information that can help an officer make an informed
decision on where to patrol, and what suspect activity to look for.

When employing a directed enforcement strategy, personnel and equipment
can be deployed depending upon specific crime patterns or service needs.
For example:
•
•
•

undercover officers may be assigned to foot patrol in an area that has
recently had a high number of violent crimes.
additional law enforcement vehicles may be assigned to patrol an area that
is plagued by a cruising problem (e.g. bicycles, horses, etc.).
investigative and enforcement efforts may be directed toward an area that
has a high amount of drug activity.

NOTE:

For additional information on directed patrol activities, please
refer to LD 3: Policing in the Community, Chapters 1 and 3.
Continued on next page

1-12

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Directed Enforcement, Continued
Examples

Example:

On weekend nights hundreds of juveniles gathered to
“cruise” and “hang out” in the downtown area of a city.
This created many law enforcement problems for officers
assigned to the area. A plan was devised so that officers
were deployed into three groups: uniformed foot-patrol,
uniformed vehicle-patrol, and plainclothes officers.
Officers on foot patrol handled problems associated with
drinking, fights, vandalism, etc. Officers in vehicles
handled most of the traffic violations. Plainclothes officers
acted as observers and relayed information to the uniformed
officers who then responded. Careful planning and
effective coordination enabled the officers to respond
effectively to problems as they occurred.

Example:

An officer learned that a dance was to take place at a club
located on her beat. The dance would attract teenagers
from all over the city and, although alcohol was prohibited,
there was a potential for offsite drinking. The officer made
a point of frequently cruising by the club during the
evening to observe and to promptly respond to any
problems.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-13

Contact and Cover Officers
[21.01.EO7]

Introduction

The first officer on scene must take a leadership role for the initial assessment,
making contact with the involved parties, and determining if law enforcement
action is required. To accomplish these tasks safely, this officer may need to
rely on additional support from one or more officers.

Definitions

The contact officer is the officer initiating an action who becomes responsible
for conducting the contact.
The cover officer is the officer responsible for surveillance and control of a
suspect in order to free the contact officer to perform a thorough investigation.
NOTE:

Cover and
concealment

Officer safety is a primary responsibility of all peace officers at
all times. The contact officer should never rely solely on the
cover officer for protection.

“Cover” is a term often associated with combat tactics. Under such
conditions, cover refers to anything that may stop or deflect an opponent’s
weapon (e.g., brick walls, buildings, portion of the vehicle with the engine
block, etc.).
Concealment refers to anything that prevents an opponent from observing the
officer (e.g., bushes, small trees, tall grass, dark shadows, large crowds, lines
of moving vehicles, etc.). Concealment alone does not stop or deflect bullets.
NOTE:

For additional information regarding cover and concealment,
refer to LD 35: Firearms/Chemical Agents.
Continued on next page

1-14

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Responsibilities

It is vital that each officer understand the roles and responsibilities of contact
and cover officers.
The contact officer is
responsible for...

The cover officer is responsible for...

•

initiating action.

•

•

conducting the essential
business required, such as,
but not limited to:

protecting the contact officer from
possible interference (e.g. onlookers
or associates of the suspect(s)).

•

alerting the contact officer that a
weapon or contraband is located on
the suspect.

•

maintaining constant observation of
the overall situation; being aware of
possible dangers and potential
interferences.

•

providing a command presence to
discourage hostile acts, assaults, or
escapes by the suspect.

•

securing any weapons or contraband;
this allows the contact officer to
continue searches.

•

preventing the destruction of
evidence.

•

intervening with appropriate force to
protect the contact officer if a
suspect reacts violently.

-

-

-

alerting cover officer that
a weapon or contraband is
located on the suspect,
conducting thorough
systematic searches,
maintaining control of the
suspect,
recovering evidence,
recording necessary
suspect or incident
information,
handling radio
communication, and
writing traffic or
misdemeanor citations.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-15

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
One-and
two-officer
units

Depending on the jurisdiction, officers may be assigned to patrol alone or with
another officer in the patrol unit. The following table identifies how the roles
of contact officer and cover officer pertain under each condition.
IF an officer is
assigned to a...

THEN...

one-officer unit

•
•
•

two-officer unit

Switching
roles

•

the first officer to arrive and initiate any activity
assumes the role of contact officer, and
determines if there is a need to call for a cover officer
(i.e., backup).
Additional personnel, whether responding to a call for
cover or simply stopping at the scene to offer
assistance, should automatically assume the role of
cover officer(s).
the officers should agree upon who will act as the
contact officer and cover officer in advance of each
contact.

In some instances, once the initial contact has been made, officers may decide
to exchange contact and cover officer duties. The switch should be verbally
communicated and understood by both officers. Such a switch may take place
when:
•
•

it is tactically advantageous to do so (e.g., when the suspect’s position
changes), or
one officer has specialized training or expertise in a given area (e.g., as a
Drug Recognition Expert (DRE), better rapport with a suspect, more
knowledge regarding the area, bilingual, or a specific personal skill).
Continued on next page

1-16

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Switching
roles
(continued)

In such exchanges, the officer assuming the role of cover officer must be in
position and fully prepared to respond to any sudden action by the suspect
before the original cover officer relinquishes that duty to take on the role as
contact officer.

Initial
briefings

It is essential that contact officers requesting cover and officers responding
clearly communicate with one another. Responding officers should be briefed
on the details of the contact as thoroughly as possible. The following table
identifies elements of such contact officer/cover officer communications.
Upon arrival, the contact officer
should advise the cover officer of:

After receiving the information, the
cover officer should brief the
contact officer on:

•

•

•
•
•
•
•

observations made or evidence
obtained.
whether or not a search for
weapons has already been
conducted.
the reason for the contact and
suspected criminal activity.
the contact officer’s immediate
plans.
any previous knowledge of the
suspect(s) and/or an appraisal of
their potential for violence.
any other suspicious persons or
activity in the area.

NOTE:

•
•

previous knowledge of the
suspect(s).
observations made while
approaching the scene.
any significant radio
communications the contact
officer may have missed.

Both officers should verbally confirm what has been told to them
by the other officer to ensure that communication was correct.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-17

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Positioning

The exact positioning of the contact and cover officers will vary according to
the situation and circumstances. The following table provides general
guidelines for establishing positions of advantage.
Contact officers should
position themselves to ...

Cover officers should position themselves
to ...

•

•

•

avoid moving between
the cover officer and
suspect(s), and
not be in a position of
vulnerability.

•
•
•

NOTE:

Weapon
searches/
handcuffing

have a clear and unobstructed view of the
suspect(s), and the contact officer,
have the best peripheral view of the
surrounding areas,
avoid crossfire situations between
officers, and
control the likeliest route of escape.

Additional information regarding contact and cover officer
positioning is provided in LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers and LD 23:
Crimes in Progress.

The most hazardous moments of the majority of contacts with suspects occurs
during a patdown search for weapons or when the suspect is being handcuffed.
Because of the inherent danger, the role of each officer must be clear. For
example:
•
•

contact officer conducts the search or cuffing while the
cover officer acts as security.
Continued on next page

1-18

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Contact and Cover Officers, Continued
Multiple
contact and
cover officers

Some major crime scenes or disturbances involving several subjects may
require multiple contact and cover officers (e.g., when two or more subjects
must be separated and other witnesses individually questioned, when a
potentially hostile crowd may interfere, etc.).
In such cases assignments should be absolutely clear and as specific as the
situation permits. Assignments should be made by the:
•
•

Release
of cover
officer

primary officer (i.e., the first contact officer on the scene), or
supervisor.

Circumstances such as hostile bystanders or the continued presence of
suspect(s) companions may dictate that the cover officer maintain position
until all of the business of the contact is completed.
Because of this fact, it is the responsibility of the contact officer to determine
when the cover officer can be released.

Examples

Example:

A two-officer patrol unit initiated a stop for a possible
DUI. The contact officer, during the initial contact with
the driver, realized that the driver might be under the
influence of drugs. Because the officer’s partner was a
drug recognition expert, the contact officer immediately
communicated this information to the cover officer and
they decided to switch roles.

Example:

Two officers had contacted a subject loitering in a
residential area. The subject spoke only Spanish and the
contact officer did not. The contact officer decided to
switch roles with the cover officer, who spoke Spanish.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-19

Officer Safety While On Patrol
[21.01.EO8]

Introduction

Due to its repetitive nature, a patrol assignment has an inherent danger of
appearing routine. As a result, officers can easily become complacent and
careless leading to fatal errors.

Inherent
danger

While on patrol, officers can encounter some of the most dangerous and
threatening conditions. Officers are killed or assaulted in the line of duty when
on patrol more than any other law enforcement assignment.
Officers on patrol are more likely to encounter the following types of
potentially dangerous incidents.
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Domestic violence and/or disturbance calls
Investigating suspicious persons
Arrest situations*
Ambushes*
Crimes in progress*
Vehicle pullover*
Off duty incidents*
Pedestrian contacts
Building search
* High incidence categories

NOTE:

The above list is ranked by level of risk to the officer, with the
highest risk involving responding to a domestic
violence/disturbance call. (California Law Enforcement Officers
Killed and Assaulted Study in the Line of Duty, (2001). The study
covers 1995 - 1999, during which 33 officers lost their lives in the
line of duty due to felonious assault.
Continued on next page

1-20

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued
Fatal
errors

Statistical analysis of incidents involving officers killed or assaulted in the line
of duty has found that most of the deadly incidents could have been
prevented. Officers should keep in mind and avoid committing any of the
following fatal errors while on patrol.
Fatal Error

Example

Inappropriate attitude
• Careless or
complacent
• Overconfident
• Too aggressive

During a wind and rain storm, several business
alarms were activated. After determining the
first two were false alarms, the officer assumed
that all the alarms would also be false. The
primary contact officer decided to release the
cover officer and respond to the remaining
alarms alone. Later, while responding to
another of the alarms, the officer was assaulted
by a burglar fleeing the scene.

“Tombstone courage”
• Overly anxious to
show one’s own
courage
• Attempting to handle
dangerous situations
beyond one’s ability

A patrol officer, responding to a silent burglary
alarm, observed four armed suspects drive away
from the building. The officer broadcasted a
crime report and requested backup. Without
waiting for backup units, the officer pursued the
suspects and stopped the vehicle. As the officer
approached the vehicle, one of the suspects
jumped from the car and shot the officer.

Poor or no planning
• Rushing into the
situation without any
plan of action
• Failure to establish a
plan of action prior to
engaging the suspect
• Not considering
alternative actions

A two-officer patrol unit saw a young man
running from a convenience store followed by
the store clerk yelling “stop him.” The clerk
was obviously injured. Without taking any of
the appropriate actions (notifying dispatch,
determining contact/cover roles, etc.) both
officers exited the vehicle and began chasing
the young man. The officers placed themselves
at risk by not having a plan of action, as well as
placing the store clerk and others at risk if there
had been other suspects still in the store.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-21

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Fatal Error

Example

Inadequate
communication
• Not establishing roles
(cover, contact, etc.)
• Failure to work with
other officers as a
team
• Failure to notify
dispatch of actions

A patrol officer stopped a suspected stolen car
with two occupants. A backup unit arrived and
the assisting officer approached. Without
asking for any information, the backup officer
dragged one occupant from the car. The
passenger pulled a weapon from his waistband
and shot the officer. The backup officer did not
wait for direction from the contact officer but
acted independently, placing himself and the
officer in danger.

Physical and mental
fatigue
• Not enough rest
• Attention and reflexes
are compromised
• Not staying in good
physical condition

An officer was up two consecutive nights with a
sick child. Near the end of that day’s shift, the
officer stopped a pedestrian for questioning and
conducted a patdown search for weapons.
Because the officer was tired and anxious for
the shift to end, the search was poorly
conducted. Later during the contact, the officer
was assaulted by the suspect with a weapon the
officer had failed to find during the search.

Poor positioning
• Abandoning a safe
location
• Being too close or in
front of the suspect

While questioning a suspect detained for
questioning regarding a nearby burglary, an
officer became distracted by a call coming in on
the radio in her patrol unit. When the officer,
who failed to allow a proper distance between
herself and the suspect, turned momentarily
away from the suspect, the suspect grabbed for
the officer’s weapon. Even though the officer
was able to retain her weapon and gain control
of the suspect, her poor positioning had placed
her at unnecessary risk.

Continued on next page

1-22

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Fatal Error

Example

Ignoring danger signs
• Allowing the
assignment to become
“routine”
• Lack of alertness

Over time, two officers received repeated calls
regarding domestic disturbances at the same
residence. The male suspect had always been
cooperative and had never resisted the officers.
When the officers responded again to the same
location, they found the man had been drinking
but appeared to be compliant as usual. The
officers failed to search the man prior to
transporting him and a knife was found on the
man when he was searched at the detention
facility. The officer’s assumption that the call
was “routine” could have proved deadly.

Failure to watch a
suspect’s hands
• Becoming distracted
and allowing suspects
to arm themselves or
assault the officer

A suspect, arrested for a DUI offence, was
handcuffed with his hands behind his back,
placed in the back of the patrol unit, and
transported to a detention facility. When the
officer removed the arrestee from the patrol car,
he failed to notice that the arrestee managed to
slip the handcuffs to the front of his body. The
suspect struck the officer across the face with
his cuffed hands and fled from the scene on
foot.

Relaxing too soon
• Not maintaining a
position of advantage
• Letting one’s guard
down

An officer transported a suspect to the
emergency room for medical attention prior to
taking the man to the detention facility. The
suspect, an elderly man, had been quiet and
compliant during transport. During the
admission process at the hospital, the officer
turned away from the man to talk to the in-take
nurse. The suspect, in an attempt to escape,
took advantage off the officer’s distraction,
grabbed a nearby metal instrument, and struck
the officer.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-23

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Fatal
errors
(continued)

Fatal Error

Example

Improper use or no use
of handcuffs

One officer detained two young men for
questioning. The officer handcuffed one man’s
left wrist to a nearby chain link fence to prevent
him from running away while he conducted a
patdown search on the other man. With the
remaining free hand, the handcuffed man
grabbed a nearby piece of wood and struck the
officer in the back of the head.

Failure to search or
conducting a poor
search
• Making assumptions
based on
overconfidence or
inadequate technique

Two officers chased a suspect into the suspect’s
home and found him hiding in a closet. They
took the suspect into custody. Believing the
suspect was alone, the officers failed to search
the remainder of the house. As the officers
were escorting the suspect outside, the suspect’s
brother, who had been hiding in another
bedroom, began shooting at the officers from
the bedroom window.

Poor care and
maintenance of
equipment
• Dirty or inoperative
weapon
• Failure to keep
equipment in top
condition

While being searched, a suspect was able to
grab the contact officer’s handgun and shoot the
officer. When the cover officer drew her
service weapon and fired at the suspect, the
weapon failed to discharge. The officer had
failed to properly clean her handgun when she
had last used it on the firing range, causing the
weapon to become jammed.

Continued on next page

1-24

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued
Elements
of officer
safety

Officer safety refers to the practical application of tactically sound procedures
to perform law enforcement activities in a safe and effective manner.
Officer safety involves:
•
•
•
•

Officer
safety
guidelines

the attitude and physical conditioning of the officer,
initial and ongoing training,
appropriate care and use of equipment, and
utilization of available resources.

There are several general safety guidelines which officers should know. By
practicing these guidelines, officers can avoid fatal errors:
Safety Guidelines

Additional Information

Approach every
contact with officer
safety in mind.

• Guard against complacency and overconfidence
regarding stops, calls, and investigations that
make up a patrol officer’s daily tasks.

Be mentally prepared.

• Never assume a call is a “false alarm.”
• Maintain good communication with
contact/cover officers.
• Prepare for a “worst case scenario.”

Maintain skills.

• Maintain good physical conditioning to promote
self-confidence. Take advantage of recurrent
training to maintain skills and overcome
complacency.
• Stay current on improvements in equipment,
tactics, and techniques.

Always be aware of
the suspect’s hands.

• In the majority of cases involving officers killed
or assaulted in the line of duty, the suspects used
their hands to arm themselves.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-25

Officer Safety While On Patrol, Continued

Officer
safety
guidelines
(continued)

Safety Guidelines

Additional Information

Be aware of and use
available cover.

• In every situation, identify items that would
provide adequate cover if needed.
• Use, be ready to use, and/or move to cover when
necessary.

Ask for backup when
necessary.

•
•

Use available
communication
systems.

•
•

Be aware of distance
and positioning.

•
•

Utilize proper safety
equipment.

•

Seek backup in high risk situations (e.g., building
searches).
If assistance is requested, wait for that assistance
to arrive before abandoning cover or taking
action.
Use available communication systems to transmit
appropriate and accurate safety and tactical
information.
Understand the limitations of your
communications equipment.
Identify, plan, then move to positions of
advantage.
Avoid abandoning a safe location or rushing into
a potentially dangerous area.
Body armor is the single most effective item of
safety equipment that a peace officer can use.

NOTE:

NOTE:

1-26

Although body armor greatly enhances
an officer’s survivability in a lethal
confrontation, it should never replace
proper tactics when handling high risk
incidents.

Additional safety guidelines are presented throughout this
workbook as well as LD 22: Vehicle Pullovers and LD 23:
Crimes in Progress.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Chapter Synopsis
Learning need

To safely and effectively fulfill their duties of public protection and service,
peace officers must be able to develop appropriate law enforcement patrol
strategies under a wide variety of circumstances and conditions.

Patrol
strategies
[21.01.EO1]

There are two basic patrol strategies patrol officers can employ to provide
protection and service.

Selection
of a patrol
strategy
[21.01.EO2]

An officer’s choice of a patrol strategy is dependent on a number of factors:

Security
checks
[21.01.EO4]

When conducting security checks, patrolling officers should:

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•

Desire for public visibility
Type of criminal activity in the designated area
Existence of problem areas
Existing environment or conditions
Area demographics
Community activities
Availability of community resources
Geography/topography
Adequacy of access and egress to various locations
Department/agency policies and resources

cover as much of their assigned area as possible including secondary
thoroughfares (e.g., alleys, walkways, parking areas, etc.)
pay extra attention to areas that have a high crime risk,
constantly vary patrol patterns and routines to prevent predictability,
employ appropriate investigative tactics and equipment, (e.g., use of
spotlights, flashlights, alley lights, etc.) and
implement additional patrol methods whenever possible (e.g., foot patrol,
bicycle patrol, etc.).
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-27

Chapter Synopsis, Continued
Contact
and cover
officers
[21.01.EO7]

The contact officer is the officer initiating an action who becomes responsible
for conducting the contact. The cover officer is the officer responsible for
surveillance and control of a suspect in order to free the contact officer to
perform a thorough investigation.

Officer
safety
[21.01.EO8]

Officer safety refers to the practical application of tactically sound procedures
to perform law enforcement activities in a safe and effective manner.

1-28

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Approach every contact with officer safety in mind.
Be mentally prepared.
Maintain physical and tactical skills.
Always be aware of the suspect’s hands.
Be aware of and use available cover.
Ask for backup when necessary.
Use available communication systems.
Be aware of distance and positioning.
Utilize proper safety equipment.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Workbook Learning Activities
Introduction

To help you review and apply the material covered in this chapter, a selection
of learning activities has been included. No answers are provided. However,
by referring to the appropriate text, you should be able to prepare a response.

Activity
questions

1. How can a cover officer’s demeanor contribute to the protection of both
the contact and cover officers?

2. While performing a security check of a local sporting goods store, an
officer discovers a broken ground floor window near the employee
entrance/delivery bays at the rear of the building. Broken glass is evident
outside the building. The time is 8:00 am on a Monday, and the store is
not scheduled to open until 10:00 am. How should the officer (oneperson unit) proceed? How would this differ, if at all, if the officer made
this discovery during store hours?

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-29

Workbook Learning Activities, Continued
Activity
questions
(continued)

1-30

3. Two officers arrive at the scene of a disturbance at a local high school
football game. Witnesses report that three students (2 males, 1 female)
had been throwing bottles. One bottle struck another student on the head,
knocking her unconscious. School officials called an ambulance, which
arrived just after the officers. The three bottle throwers are being held
near the field by a group of teachers. The suspects are exhibiting signs of
intoxication and are beginning to struggle with those detaining them.
Outline appropriate contact and cover officer actions from this point
through placing the suspects into the patrol vehicle.

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Workbook Corrections
Suggested corrections to this workbook can be made by going to the POST
website at: www.post.ca.gov.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

1-31

Workbook Corrections, Continued
Student notes

1-32

LD 21 – Chapter 1: Basic Concepts of Law Enforcement Patrol

Chapter 2
Patrol Methodologies and Tactics
Overview
Learning need

To maintain flexibility and effectiveness, peace officers need to know the
basic tactics and procedures of patrol.

Learning
objectives

The chart below identifies the student learning objectives for this chapter.
After completing study of this chapter, the student will be
able to...

E.O. Code

•

21.02.EO3

describe patrol officer responsibilities when preparing for
each patrol assignment, to include:
-

•

checking all personal equipment
acquiring any necessary information and
materials/supplies
inspecting each piece of equipment issued at
beginning of shift
mental preparation

discuss tactical considerations and guidelines for
patrolling effectively:
-

determining appropriate speed,
patrol vehicle placement, and
avoiding silhouetting and telltale noise.

21.02.EO6
21.02.EO7
21.02.EO8

•

demonstrate proper procedures for transmitting and
receiving a radio communication.

21.02.EO9

•

discuss information an officer should include when
generating a crime broadcast.

21.02.EO10

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-1

Overview, Continued

Learning
objectives
(continued)

In this chapter

After completing study of this chapter, the student will
be able to...
•

demonstrate safe and effective tactics for approaching
and detaining a pedestrian subject.

21.02.EO11

•

select appropriate actions when encountering a
plainclothes/undercover officer while on patrol.

21.02.EO12

•

discuss safe and effective tactics for initiating a foot
pursuit of a fleeing subject.

21.02.EO13

This chapter focuses on actions and tactics officers may employ while on
patrol. Refer to the chart below for specific topics.
Topic

2-2

E.O. Code

See Page

Patrol Methodologies and Tactics Overview

2-1

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment

2-3

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations

2-11

Use of Communication Equipment

2-19

Pedestrian Contacts

2-28

Plainclothes/Undercover Officer Contacts

2-40

Foot Pursuits

2-41

Chapter Synopsis

2-51

Workbook Activities

2-53

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment
[21.02.EO3]

Introduction

Having proper equipment to handle expected duties is key to officer safety and
effectiveness while on patrol. All equipment carried by an officer while
assigned to patrol must be authorized, serviceable, and well maintained. The
ultimate responsibility to see that all equipment is available and meets this
criteria belongs to each officer.

Preparation

Preparation prior to beginning a patrol assignment generally includes:
•
•
•
•

Mental
preparation

preparing mentally to do the job,
checking all personal equipment,
acquiring any necessary resource information and materials/supplies, and
inspecting each piece of issued equipment at the beginning of the shift.

Before the beginning of a patrol shift, officers must also prepare themselves.
Mental preparation is vital to move from civilian routine, cares, concerns, and
worries to the roles and responsibilities of professional officers.
Mental preparation must include:
•
•
•

getting enough rest to prevent physical and mental fatigue,
maintaining good physical conditioning with proper exercise and diet,
continually adding to and refreshing one’s own knowledge and skills,
focusing on the proper attitudes and emotions, and putting personal
problems or issues temporarily aside (e.g., family/relationship problems,
financial problems, issues and tasks outside law enforcement duties, etc.).
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-3

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Mental
preparation
(continued)

Mental preparation also includes recognizing one’s own limitations that
particular day. If an officer is ill or taking certain prescription or
nonprescription medications that could hinder or infringe on that officer’s
ability to function, the officer should request a different assignment for that
day. If not done, such officers may not only be placing their own safety in
jeopardy, but also the safety and well being of others.
NOTE:

Agencies may have specific policies regarding the use of
prescription and nonprescription drugs and medications while on
duty. Officers are responsible for knowing and complying with
their own agency policies.
Continued on next page

2-4

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Personal
equipment
and
supplies

An officer’s personal equipment includes any item issued to the officer which
remains with the officer at all times. The specific type of personal equipment
carried by officers may vary by agency.
Prior to each patrol shift, individual officers are responsible for checking their
own personal equipment for serviceability, appearance, and conformance with
agency policy.
Equipment to be
Checked

Examples

Components of
the officer’s
uniform

• Badge and name
plate
• Shirt
• Pants

• Hat
• Shoes

Items carried or
worn by the
officer

• Body armor (e.g.,
vest)
• Leather/nylon web
gear belt
• Holster and handgun
• Backup weapon (if
applicable)
• Chemical agents
(e.g., pepper spray,
etc.)

• Handcuffs and other
restraint equipment
• Impact weapon (e.g.,
baton)
• Flashlight, fully charged
or with working batteries

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-5

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued

Personal
equipment
and
supplies
(continued)

Equipment to be
Checked
Other supplies

Examples
• Clipboard and
writing implements
• Citation book
• Inclement weather
gear
• Helmet and face
shield
• Gloves (e.g., leather,
rubber, latex)
• Binoculars
• CPR mask
• Evidence collection
supplies (e.g.,
fingerprint kit)
• Court calendar

• Area map(s)
• Legal reference materials
(e.g., Penal Code,
Vehicle Code,
Municipal/County Code,
etc.)
• Report forms
• Citation forms (“Notice
to Appear”)
• Any other equipment
approved by agency
policy
• First Aid Kit

Continued on next page

2-6

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Weapons

Before any firearm inspection is conducted, the weapon must be rendered safe.
Patrol officers should perform a safety inspection of their own handguns and
other weapons. Problems identified during an inspection should be addressed
immediately or as soon as possible.
The following table identifies inspection points when conducting a weapons
inspection.
Equipment
Handgun (including
backup)

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•

Cleanliness
Exterior components (e.g., barrel, hammer,
slide, slide lock, safety, etc.)
Interior components (e.g., chamber,
cylinder, firing pin, etc.)

Holster

•
•

General wear
Safety straps/snaps

Ammunition, magazines,
loaders (including backup
gun)

•
•
•
•
•

Correct type and caliber
General cleanliness
Amount
Age or freshness
Operating parts (e.g., body, follower,
spring, feed lips, floor plate)

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-7

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued

Weapons
(continued)

Equipment
Chemical agent device

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•
•

Content amount
Expiration date
Trigger device
Nozzle

NOTE:

NOTE:

Information
acquisition

Shake each device prior to each
shift.

For additional information regarding inspection, care, and
maintenance of weapons, refer to LD 35: Firearms/Chemical
Agents.

Prior to beginning a patrol assignment, each officer must take responsibility
for acquiring all necessary resource information as well as other materials and
supplies.
Possible sources for acquiring information include, but are not limited to:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

the daily incident log,
crime reports affecting assigned area,
agency crime analysis unit
briefing boards,
the hot sheet/watch bulletin,
warrants,
debriefing by off-going shift, and
specialized units such as:
- investigation,
- narcotics,
- gangs,
- robbery,
- burglary, etc.
Continued on next page

2-8

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued
Issued
equipment

Typically, each officer will receive a variety of equipment at the beginning of
a patrol shift that must be returned at the end of that shift.
An officer rarely has the same equipment issued each shift. Instead, each
item is handed out randomly and, over time, is used by many different
officers. For this reason, officers should be particularly careful and thorough
when inspecting each piece of issued equipment.
The following table identifies equipment that may be issued to patrol officers
and considerations for inspection of that equipment.
Issued Equipment
Patrol vehicle

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Rear seat for contraband/weapons
Fuel level
Emergency equipment (e.g., lights, flashers,
siren, p.a. system, etc.)
Tires, brakes, horn
Vehicle code equipment violations, current
registration tabs
Damage (interior and exterior)
Mileage report, service dates, etc.
Trunk equipment (e.g., spare tire, jack, flares,
first aid kit, crime scene tape, fire extinguisher,
etc.)
In-car video equipment

NOTE:

For additional information regarding
vehicle inspections, refer to LD 19:
Vehicle Operations.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-9

Preparing for a Patrol Assignment, Continued

Issued
Equipment
(continued)

Issued Equipment

Inspection Considerations
•
•
•

Shotgun

•

Proper ammunition
Amount of ammunition
Components (i.e., barrel, extractor, ejector, firing
pin, and safety)
Operation of shotgun rack (manual or electronic)

NOTE:

Portable hand held
radio

NOTE:

2-10

•
•
•

For additional information regarding
inspecting shotguns, refer to LD 35:
Firearms/Chemical Agents.

Batteries/charge
Transmission/reception
Damage

Patrol vehicles also include motorcycles, bicycles, etc. Each
should be carefully inspected.

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations
[21.02.EO6, 21.02.EO7, 21.02.EO8]

Introduction

Effective patrol involves more than simply driving through an assigned area
and responding to radio calls. It requires officers to engage in situations
which enable the officer to observe specific areas requiring attention.

Predictability

A patrol assignment is often erroneously referred to as “routine.” One of the
primary objectives of a patrol assignment is to prevent any semblance of an
anticipated routine.
When officers establish predictable patrol patterns, their effectiveness in
suppressing crime is often compromised. Suspects have been known to
deliberately observe an officer’s patrol pattern in order to plan criminal
activity and avoid detection.

Speed

Officers should patrol at a speed that is reasonable for the tasks they are
performing (e.g., patrolling in heavy traffic, patrolling in a residential or
business area, etc.).
Driving at a slower speed while on patrol:
•
•
•
•

provides a maximum opportunity to observe while maintaining effective
control of the vehicle.
contributes to public awareness and visibility.
maximizes contact with members of the community and provides a
positive law enforcement image.
decreases engine noise enabling an officer to get closer to criminal activity
without being detected.
Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-11

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Emergency
responses “Code 3"

An “emergency response call” cannot be defined exactly. However, applied to
law enforcement it means a situation exists that requires immediate law
enforcement attention for the protection of individuals or property. An
emergency response call is also known as a Code-3 response.
NOTE:

The exceptions granted under Vehicle Code Section 21055 may
not protect officers from criminal prosecution or their agencies
from civil liability if the officers cause an accident due to their
own reckless driving or wanton disregard for the safety of others
(Vehicle Code Section 21056).

NOTE:

Agencies may have specific policies regarding Code 3 driving
conditions. Officers are responsible for knowing and complying
with their own agency policies.

NOTE:

For additional information regarding emergency response driving
and law enforcement vehicle operations, refer to LD 19: Vehicle
Operations.
Continued on next page

2-12

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Vehicle
placement

Officers should always make a reasonable effort to stop or park their patrol
vehicles in a lawful manner.
Although it may seem minor to the officer, a patrol vehicle illegally parked
when no emergency exists can infuriate members of the community and
unnecessarily damage community relations with law enforcement. Parking
illegally when no emergency exists can also expose a law enforcement agency
to liability if the vehicle’s placement contributes to a collision.
The following table presents general guidelines for selecting a location when
parking law enforcement vehicles during non-emergency and emergency
situations.
Situation
Non-emergency

General Guidelines
•
•
•
•

Select a location that is protected from vandalism
or tampering (e.g., nails, pipe bombs, etc.).
If conducting preventative patrol, park in an area
that would provide maximum visibility to the
public.
If conducting directed enforcement patrol,
consider legal as well as visibility factors when
selecting a location to park.
Always secure the vehicle and take the keys.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-13

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Vehicle
placement
(continued)

The following table presents general guidelines for selecting a location when
parking law enforcement vehicles during non-emergency and emergency
situations.
Situation
Emergency

General Guidelines
•
•
•
•
•
•

Consider the nature of the incident (e.g., responding
to a crime in progress, traffic situations, etc.).
If the vehicle must be parked in an illegal location,
the officer should move the vehicle to a legal location
once the emergency is over.
Allow for placement, ingress, and egress of other
emergency vehicles (e.g., ambulance, fire equipment,
etc.).
Consider the available terrain and type of building
when selecting a location.
Flashing or amber lights may be left on to let the
public know the vehicle is parked in that location for
a reason.
Always secure the vehicle and take the keys.

Continued on next page

2-14

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued
Silhouetting

Being aware of artificial light (e.g., street lights, apartment/residential
floodlights, etc.) while on patrol is critical to officer safety.
If an officer assumes a position between a suspect and a source of back light,
the officer’s silhouette could:
•
•
•
•
•
•

Ways to
avoid
silhouetting

make the officer a potential target,
provide the suspect with the exact location of the officer,
identify how many officers are present,
indicate what actions the officer is taking (e.g., surveillance, approach,
etc.),
take away the element of surprise on the part of the officer, and
allow the suspect to plan an alternate course of action.

The following table identifies a number of actions an officer may take to avoid
the potential problems associated with silhouetting while on patrol.
Officer
Activity
Within a patrol
vehicle

General Guidelines
•
•
•

On foot patrol

•
•
•

Be aware of sources of backlighting when traversing
open areas (e.g., streets, alleys, fields, etc.).
Position the patrol vehicle away from street lights or
other sources of backlighting.
Disable interior patrol vehicle lighting that is
activated when a door is opened.
Avoid walking through spotlight or head lamp beams
when approaching pedestrians and/or vehicles.
Do not stand in doorway, hallways, or in front of
windows.
Do not peer openly through windows.

Continued on next page

LD 21 – Chapter 2: Patrol Methodologies and Tactics

2-15

Basic Patrol Tactical Considerations, Continued

Ways to
avoid
silhouetting
(continued)

Officer
Activity
Using a
flashlight/map
light

General Guidelines
•
•
•

Telltale
noise

Hold the flashlight in such a way as not to illuminate
oneself or other officers or units.
Use red bulbs or diffuse the light source to minimize
light intensity.
Keep flashlight use to a minimum and only when
necessary.

Making any telltale noise can jeopardize officer safety while on patrol. The
following table identif