Law Enforcement

Selecting Handgun Ammunition

Selecting Handgun Ammunition for CarrySelecting handgun ammunition for self defense can be difficult. Where do you start and what should you look for? Not all bullets are created equal, and selecting the right ammunition can be a challenge. If you are shopping for ammunition for self defense, you want that ammunition to perform every time and you want the best possible performance out of it.

We need to realize how a bullet will stop a threat. There are basically three ways that this can happen.

  1. Psychological effects; when a person is shot, they may realize “Oh, I’ve been shot” and stop because of the psychological reaction.
  2. Traumatic damage; this includes damage to the Central Nervous System, meaning the brain and upper spine. This is a difficult target, especially in a dynamic situation, which most self-defense situations are.
  3. Dramatic decrease in blood pressure; this happens when bullets hit center mass and cause so much damage to the vital organs that the threat is no longer able to continue to be a threat. In a dynamic situation, this is the most likely, as the center mass is the largest and most common target.

Now that we have an understanding on the ways to stop a person, I am going to focus number 3, because we are talking about dynamic self defense here. When a bullet from a handgun enters the body, a bullet causes a permanent cavity. This is the path that the bullet travels through and will destroy anything in its path. A bullet will also cause a temporary cavity, which is the fluid shock wave outside of the bullet’s path. As I said, this is a temporary cavity. The body is made up of roughly 70% water. If you have ever seen a shock wave from something hitting water, that is similar to what happens when a bullet enters the body. The bullet enters, creating a violent shockwave, and then the body comes back together because of its elastic properties.

So what am I getting at in the last paragraph? A handgun round is a poor self defense round. Why you ask? Let’s look at a .357 Sig round, traveling at 1319 feet per second. That is not fast enough to create a large wound cavity. Yes, it creates a wound cavity, but nothing like a 5.56 NATO (.223 Rem) round traveling at over 2200 feet per second. A 5.56 NATO round travels at such a high velocity that when it enters the body it creates a much larger shock wave that will not only destroy everything in its path, but the shock wave is so drastic compared to a handgun round that the body’s elastic properties are not able to come back together, therefore causing significant damage to anything in the bullet’s path and around the bullet’s path.

Now we have a good understanding on what happens to the body when it is struck with a bullet. Let’s talk about what to look for when selecting a good self-defense round.


You will need to find ammunition that is reliable. Most name brand FACTORY LOADED ammunition is a start. Look at brands such as Federal, Speer, Winchester, Remington, etc. You will want hollow point ammunition, not ball ammo. Ball ammo is for practice. Do some research and find out what is good. I prefer Federal HST personally. When you select the brand, it is imperative that you make sure it is reliable in your particular firearm. It is important to note that not all ammunition will function reliably through every firearm. It doesn’t matter how well the ammo hit the target, if it does not feed and function in your particular firearm, it does you no good! Don’t be cheap! We are talking about personal protection here. Buy 200-250 rounds of the ammo you plan to carry and test fire it in your gun, shoot all 200-250 rounds through your gun and make sure that it feeds and functions each and every time. If it does not, well then it is time to find some ammunition that does. Additionally, inspect each and every round that you load into your magazine and make sure that it is free of any defects that could cause issues such as bullet set back (where the bullet is pushed too far into the case), nicks or damage to the case or mouth of the bullet.

Penetration & Expansion

Ammunition for CarryYou want to select a bullet that will consistently penetrate a minimum of 12 inches of properly calibrated ballistic gelatin. The reason we say 12 inches is because we must ensure that the bullet can reach the vital organs with an angled shot or a shot that must first penetrate an intermediate barrier such as an arm.  Some believe that the larger the bullet, the better. This is not necessarily true. Having a large bullet that doesn’t penetrate deep enough to reach the vital organs will just cause a nasty flesh wound.

Let’s talk about over penetration as this can be a concern, especially with ball ammo, but is less likely with expanding rounds. Concerns of over penetration mostly come from frontal shots. Depending on a person’s body, some are thinner than 12 inches, which the bullet can exit the body and pose a danger to anyone down range.

To address this concern, ballistic testing has been done and shows that in order for a bullet to penetrate the skin on the backside of the body, it has to penetrate the equivalent of 4 inches of ballistic gelatin. This is because of the skin’s elastic properties.

With that being said, it is important that we select a bullet that will perform consistently each and every time. Some bullets can fail to expand because the hollow point gets plugged up. We need the bullets to expand when they hit. The purpose for the expansion is to cause a larger hole and cause faster blood loss. I have had the opportunity to attend a ballistic demonstration last year. I am not going to name the manufactures of the bullet’s that did not perform so well, but I will name the outstanding performer. In the tests that I saw, Federal HST performed exceptionally. The hollow point did not get plugged when it penetrated through cotton, denim, plywood, and auto glass. The round also penetrated the ballistic gelatin just over the 12 inch mark and properly expanded.

Author: Terry Pretzloff

Following your gut: Officer’s hunch saves kidnapping victim

Officer Ally Jacobs ‘went from zero to hero overnight’ for taking action when she knew something wasn’t right

In November of 2010 I was privileged to speak at the California Women Leaders in Law Enforcementconference in Pasadena. It was a huge, enthusiastic group and I had an outstanding experience.  After my closing keynote address, a woman came up to me and said excitedly “I just texted my friend and told her she was in your presentation!”

She was talking about Officer Ally Jacobs of the UC Berkeley Police Department, who I often speak about as an outstanding example of a female cop who followed her intuition when it was needed the most.  I gave her friend my business card.

Later that day I was at the airport running for my flight home and my cell phone rang.  “Hey Sarge, this is Officer Ally Jacobs.”  We chatted for a few minutes about the conference, my presentation “Career and Tactical Survival for Women” and life in general.  We promised to keep in touch and said goodbye. As I boarded the plane, I thought to myself “there’s a woman who doesn’t wait for things to happen, she makes them happen.”

Ally famously “made things happen” in August of 2009 when she was sitting in a meeting with her UC Berkeley colleague Lisa Campbell in the Special Events Office.  Lisa, a cop-turned-civilian, told Ally she had an appointment with a really “weird” guy and wanted Ally to sit in on the meeting.  The man, Phillip Garrido, wanted to hold a religious event on campus.  Ally immediately ran a check on Garrido and found out that he was a sex offender on parole for rape.

“If I’m going to be sitting in a room with somebody, I’m going to run them,” she told me.  She printed his lengthy rap sheet and waited.

Garrido came to the meeting wearing a cast-off, ill-fitting suit and introduced two young girls with him, 11 and 15, as his daughters. In contrast to Garrido’s intolerable hygiene, the girls were clean and obviously well kept, although terribly pale.  Ally, also a mother of two, began chatting with the girls while Campbell kept Garrido distracted.

The girls talked about their mom, their sister, their pets and their homeschooling.  They were polite, but their demeanor was somewhat robotic, and the youngest seemed especially socially stunted.  Ally also thumbed through the booklet Garrido had brought with him, which contained a business card from Antioch, Calif., an area nearly an hour from the UC Berkeley campus.  Her gut told her that something wasn’t right, and her police experience told her that Garrido was probably mentally ill, off his meds and using drugs. As soon as the meeting ended, Ally called Parole and left a message.  She feared for those little girls.

Garrido’s parole officer called her back and told her that Garrido didn’t have children.  Ally said that the girls had definitely looked like Garrido, so the parole officer made contact with Garrido at his home but at that time did not address the various violations, including being out of his restricted area and in the company of minors. However, on August 26th, Garrido was told to bring his family to the parole office in Concord, which he did.  Garrido’s “family” included the two girls, his wife Nancy, “Alyssa Franzen,” 29, who was eventually identified as kidnapping victim Jaycee Lee Dugard.

Kidnapped at age 11 by Phil and Nancy, Jaycee had given birth to Garrido’s daughters — the first when Jaycee was only 14 years old.  She was given no medical care or assistance and had her second daughter three years later.  The rest of Jaycee’s story unfolded slowly, but it was clear that her 18-year nightmare was coming to an end.  And for Ally Jacobs, life would also never be the same.

Ally first learned of these stunning developments when the parole officer called her cell phone as she was on her way home from work.  She was filled in on the investigation but was told “this is an FBI case, you can’t tell your department anything.”  She complied, and the next day, her day off, she got a phone call from work telling her to get to the station now.  There were hundreds of news vans and reporters in front of the campus police department, and only Lisa Campbell had an inkling of why they were there.

“I went from zero to hero overnight,” Ally told me.  She gave that first press conference with virtually no warning, and then all of a sudden everyone from Diane Sawyer to Oprah wanted to interview Lisa and her.  The press staked out her house, people stalked her; it was a very surreal time.  Nothing prepared her for the incredible invasion of her privacy.

“This is when critical incident counseling would have first come in handy.” Ally said.  She felt as though no one “had her back,” that she was on her own in so many ways. But she continued to move forward, receiving international attention and accolades while dealing with internal issues at her police department.

She was “written up” for her initial failure to notify the department — even though she had authored a police report that was signed off by the sergeant before going home that first night — and received a written reprimand, which she took in stride.  She also received a Certificate of Congressional Recognition, a Key to the City of Brentwood (she’ the second person ever to receive that honor), a Certificate of Senate Recognition, various meritorious service awards, the IAWP Excellence in Performance award, a Medal of Distinction from the California Peace Officers Association and so many more.

She was interviewed by everyone from Lisa Ling to Anderson Cooper, and yes, she traveled with her kids and her mom to Harpo Studios in Chicago to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show.  Her agency did not allow Lisa and her to travel to most of these interviews, so they were primarily done via satellite. While many of her co-workers were very supportive, one supervisor groused that he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

“All you did was make an f-ing phone call,” he told her with contempt.

As the aftermath progressed, Ally became friends with Duggard’s FBI handler Special Agent Chris Campion, and Chris eventually facilitated a phone conversation between Jaycee’s mother, Terry Probyn, and Ally.

“That was my closure,” Ally said, noting that Terry told her that “not a day goes by that we don’t think about you and thank you for bringing her back.”  Ally hopes one day to be able to meet Jaycee, but she respects her need for privacy and healing.

Ally was also was invited to be at the Garrido’s sentencing, where she had an unexpectedly tough time.  Sitting in the courtroom with Phil and Nancy Garrido sitting 20 feet away, she felt nauseous and disgusted.  As the charges were read, Ally began to weep when she first learned the details of the initial kidnapping, including that Garrido has used an electronic control device (ECD) on Jaycee.

“That just seemed so egregious,” Ally exclaimed.  As a mom, she kept thinking about her own kids.  Garrido pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison, his wife Nancy received 36 years.

In many interviews, including mine, Ally Jacobs has stated how proud she is of Jaycee Lee Dugard for enduring all that she has suffered and what a wonderful mother she is for protecting and caring for her daughters while she was still a child herself.  Jaycee chronicles her ordeal in her book, A Stolen Life, which I highly recommend.

But as a cop, a woman, and a mom, I’m extremely proud of Officer Allison Jacobs.  As is typical in our profession, accolades and awards often lead to petty jealousy and criticism.  As the Garrido case unfolded, Ally learned who her friends were and who her detractors were.  But she tends to be philosophical about it all.

“I solve cases using my instincts every day, this one just happened to make news,” she says with a smile.

Still “making things happen,” Ally is now pursuing an advanced degree and telling her story to other cops in a presentation that often earns her standing ovations:

“When you see something, say something; don’t be afraid to take risks.  We (law enforcement) are sometimes afraid to act because of liability or cynicism or some other excuse; but why would we ignore our instincts?  Be thorough, do your job.  We need to put our egos aside and cooperate with each other.”

Cooperation is what eventually brought Jaycee home.

Few of us are prepared for the type of sudden and intense attention Ally Jacobs received (and is still experiencing) as the result of following her gut. Police administrators need to recognize that critical incident debriefing and aftercare are as necessary in these types of situations as they are following an officer involved shooting.

Ally stresses in her presentation the need counseling and closure, even if that “closure” comes in stages.  She also reminds cops to remember what it felt like to be a rookie, to enjoy their jobs and to ask themselves every day “would I be happy with my actions today, or would I be embarrassed?”  Ally stresses personal accountability, regardless of the circumstances.

“This happened to me for a reason,” she told me.

And I believe she’s absolutely right.  Crimefighter. Woman warrior. Role model. Game changer. That’sOfficer Ally Jacobs, and I’m proud to call her my friend.

About the Author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy’s website at

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter


Article originally posted on PoliceOne, republished with permission from Dave Smith & Associates

Tip: Lose your sight, lose the fight

Dave Smith
“JD Buck Savage”

If you wear glasses or contact lenses at work, make sure you have a second pair of glasses readily available to you at all times.  If your glasses become damaged or you lose a contact lens, you need to immediately get your sight back and a “back up” pair of glasses will make that happen.  If you’re a day shifter and you wear prescription sunglasses, make sure you always have your “clear” glasses (and a flashlight) with you as well.


About the Author:

As a police officer, Dave Smith has held positions in patrol, training, narcotics, SWAT, and management. Dave continues to develop new and innovative programs across the spectrum of police training needs designed to assist your agency and your personnel in meeting the challenges of policing in the new millennium. As a trainer, speaker, and consultant Dave brings with him unparalleled access to modern law enforcement trends.

Dave is now the owner of “The Winning Mind LLC,”  the Director of Video Training for PoliceOne Video and author of the new book “In My Sights.” His experiences as officer, trainer, manager, and police spouse lend a unique perspective to his signature class, “The Winning Mind.”  Visit Dave’s website at

Contact Dave Smith and Follow Dave on Twitter


Article originally posted on PoliceOne, republished with permission from Dave Smith & Associates.

Officer Brandy Roell: Always a fighter, forever a warrior

In the ambulance, the medics had commented that they had never seen anyone so badly injured remain so calm

It was September 8, 2008.  Rookie Officer Brandy Roell found herself being loaded onto a medical helicopter from an ambulance.  She’d just been in a surreal shootout with 43-year-old felon and would-be cop killer Andres Vargas.  Brandy had been left alone in the Vargas residence to finish the fight on her own after her FTO, who had also been wounded, and his uninjured back up officer had fled the house.  Vargas was armed with an AK-47, but despite her initial injuries, Brandy provided her own cover and made her way down the stairs and to the patio area of the house, where Officer Pete Garcia risked his own life to carry her to safety.  She’d made it out of that house of horrors, but the rest of her journey was just beginning.

In the ambulance, the medics had commented that they had never seen anyone so badly injured remain so calm.  “Are you in pain?” they asked her.  She told them her stomach hurt.  She also asked them to please straighten out her leg.  Her legs had been injured by debris in the initial blast of rifle fire, and when she had made her way down the stairs, a round from the AK-47 had pierced her gun belt and her keepers from behind, striking her spine and blowing a huge hole through her abdomen, exposing her intestines.  She heard one of the medics exclaim “holy shit!” as they examined her and discovered her extraordinary wounds.  “We have to get her there now!” he said, referring to the trauma center.

They cut off her clothing and stabilized her as they raced to meet the chopper.  The media was there – word had gotten out that two cops had been shot and Vargas was holding the SWAT team at bay outside of his house – and the medics yelled “cover her up!” as they transferred her to the helicopter.  Despite her injuries, she was aware of the media presence and she asked fellow public safety personnel to “contact my family.”  She didn’t want her kids, 8, 6, and 4, to see her on the news and become frightened. Selflessness is a core element of Brandy Roell’s true nature, and even as she fought for her life, she worried about those closest to her.

Brandy remembers only a little of the chopper ride before she lost consciousness.  She was treated at the University Hospital in San Antonio.  The initial surgery was extensive; Vargas’s round had entered her lower back and had blown a hole from the bottom of her breast bone twelve inches down to just above her pubis.  Her right leg was badly damaged, as was her spine and bladder.  She was unconscious for nearly a month.  She remembers little of those first 30 days, but she knows that her 8 year old daughter came to visit.  “She needed to see for herself that I was alive,” Brandy told me.  She was later told that the hospital was also crowded with cops as her brothers and sisters from SAPD gathered around.

As Brandy slowly gained consciousness, she recalled little things, like being bothered by the noise of the television set in her room.  There was talk of amputating one of her legs, which left her depressed.  She was thin but swollen, and in terrible pain.  She was afraid to move, and when she tried, she told me “I was surprised by how much didn’t work.”  After three months in the hospital, Brandy was transferred to a rehabilitation center.

She was told by one of the doctors she would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.  “I just looked at him and thought ‘that might be a pain in the butt,” she told me with a laugh. “I got up and started moving by myself…a little bit, a couple of steps at a time.”  She was left with no feeling in her left leg or on the bottom of her right foot, but she learned to use her hips to swing her legs, making her surprisingly mobile.  She generally has to use a cane, which frustrates her, and the internal damage has left her with a whole host of issues, including the inability to conceive another child.

As Brandy told PoliceOne’s Dave Smith in an on-camera exclusive for our “Will to Win” series, she feels guilty about her three kids.  “Sometimes I wonder if I was being selfish, becoming a cop.”  She is in constant pain and can’t always do the things she wants to do as a young  mom of three active kids.  “But I just try to show them the courage that I have,” she said, “and they are good little troopers.”

Brandy is now medically retired from the San Antonio police department.  Because she was still in field training at the time of her shooting, she is financially frozen and stuck at rookie pay.  At times she feels bitter.  “I didn’t get to do the things I really wanted to do, like work a homicide.”  Her husband is very understanding, but his life changed as well.  Their plan was for her to work as a police officer while he went to school full time to get a better job; that dream was shattered by her catastrophic injuries.  She received several awards for her bravery, but as she told me “I’m not the same person anymore, and I don’t know if that person is ever going to come back.”

“I think about how proud I was the day I graduated the academy,” Brandy says. “Wow, I was a police officer! I was so proud and happy that I had the opportunity to change people’s lives.”  Brandy hasn’t given up on her strong desire to change lives, and she wants other police officers to learn from her story.  “Never, never, never give up.” she told Dave Smith.  “Train hard, no matter how experienced you are.  The criminals are training hard, and we have to be ready.”

She advises officers who have lost their career like she has to find something about your situation that you can teach others, something that you can share.  “Give back” is her motto.  She is now becoming an activist fighting against human trafficking.  And, she told both Dave and I, “never leave another officer behind.”  Officer Brandy Roell was left behind that day, but she did what warriors do; she fought back, and she won.

About the Author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy’s website at

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter


Article originally posted on PoliceOne, republished with permission from Dave Smith & Associates

A behind-the-scenes warrior: Amy Peterson-Uribe and the TAPS Foundation

Already this year we’ve lost 14 American law enforcement officers in the line of duty. All of these heroes left behind devastated family members — spouses, partners, siblings, parents, and of course, children.

Amy Peterson-Uribe knows what it’s like to be one of those left to pick up the pieces.

On May 10th, 2005 at 11 a.m. Amy was at home napping after working the night shift at the Phoenix (Ariz.) Children’s Hospital when the phone rang. It was her husband Adam, a second-generation Phoenix police officer, who was currently on duty.

“I think dad has been shot.”

You’re Just in Limbo
Adam’s father, veteran PPD Officer David C. Uribe had been shot in the head after making a traffic stop. As news of the shooting hit the air, Adam had been unable to reach his father on the phone and feared the worst. As his commander pulled up next to him, his worst fears were realized. Adam hung up the phone, Amy quickly dressed and a family friend came to the house to pick her up.

Arriving at the hospital, Amy remembers walking a gauntlet of other officers and their family members before coming to the bedside of her father-in-law. She stood with the rest of the Uribe family as they circled David’s bed, knowing that their patriarch would not recover. Officer David Uribe was taken off of life support and pronounced dead three hours later.

David Uribe, whom Amy still calls “Dad,” was buried with full honors and then the family was left to grieve and somehow resume their “normal” lives. Amy, a military veteran and mother of three, channeled her grief into dealing with the aftermath of her father-in-law’s murder. She began working with coordinators of memorial events — she wrote notes to well-wishers and attended meetings held by Concerns of Police Survivors and The 100 Club of Arizona. In May of 2006, the Uribe family attended National Police Week in Washington, D.C. and then returned home — one year had passed since David Uribe had been gunned down.

“It gets critical after the first year” Amy recently told me on the phone. “After that first year, you’re just in limbo.”

The TAPS Foundation is Born
Grief can do terrible things to a family, and people are rarely the same after such a traumatic loss. Adam and Amy ended their marriage in 2007. By then, Amy had already begun counseling survivors and working with The TASER Foundation for Fallen Officers. She was asked to sit on the CEO Advisory Board for The TASER Foundation to make sure all survivors were properly notified and their voices would be heard during events and fundraisers. It was during that year that she developed the concept that would eventually become The TAPS Foundation.

As a survivor and as someone who had already heard countless other line of duty death stories, Amy began to notice the lack of knowledge and consistency regarding benefits for the fallen. As she researched the issue, she also learned that this wasn’t unique to the police profession — fire and military had similar issues. She saw tragic circumstances where wills weren’t updated accordingly, families weren’t aware of grants to assist in such things as school expenses and Police Week travel, and so often neither the families nor the agencies were aware of the support services available. Because she is uniquely tied to all three professions, Amy decided to do something about the oversight she continued to witness, but first, she had some personal work to do.

As the now-single mom of three, Amy felt she needed to find out who she was as an individual before she could continue to help others. She also needed to lick her wounds and heal and needed to regain her confidence.

“I didn’t want to start this foundation with doubts in myself. I was constantly second-guessing my decisions. I needed to finish my own grieving.” She packed up the kids and moved to the Houston (Texas) area and began to lay the groundwork for the TAPS Foundation, whose mission is to educate and assist all first responders — police, fire, and military — as well as their agencies and families in learning about the benefits and resources available to them in the event of injury or death in the line of duty.

The TAPS Foundation — named for the mournful song that no family ever wants to hear — became an official non-for-profit organization in the Fall of 2011. Amy is the CEO and handles military and police agencies. TAPS President Felicity Rose Harris primarily handles fire and EMS agencies. Grief counseling is handled by Amy, as are in-service training seminars and public speaking engagements.

The Foundation’s goal for 2012 is to increase awareness for organizations that benefit survivors, increase the number of first responders who have updated their information and have advanced directives / wills in place, and eventually be able to give grants to the children of first responders who are in need of counseling following a traumatic event. Amy works with other organizations such as C.O.P.S. as well as with individual agencies and corporate sponsors. As she told me, “TAPS doesn’t want to compete with anyone, we want to enhance what they do and help to inform the right people.” TAPS is also planning its first annual gala — my husband and I will be there — in March.

Amy’s enthusiasm for the TAPS Foundation is incredibly infectious. She laughs easily but has a touch of that humorous cynicism typical of first responders. She’s a dynamic speaker and a tenacious advocate. She also knows her stuff. As I threw scenario after scenario at her she was able to provide answers with confidence, and more importantly, without condescension. Amy is a survivor, but she’s also a warrior, and she’s fighting for police, fire and military families everywhere.

The TAPS Foundation can be accessed online at, on Facebook, and on Twitter as @tapsfoundation, or you can email Amy at[email protected].

About the Author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy’s website at

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter


Article originally posted on PoliceOne, republished with permission from Dave Smith & Associates

Cold Weather Training Tips

Let’s face it, about 6 months of the year Minnesota is cold, so why not train and prepare for a defense situation in the cold? A lot of people complain and don’t take this seriously and will only go to the range when the weather is nice. Firing a round may determine life or death. Get out to the range and train! Here are some tips to make your cold weather training successful.

When you are selecting clothing, make sure that you dress in layers. You want to keep your clothing slim and tight, but not so tight that you will restrict your movement. Choose clothing that is slim and tight enough so you can manipulate your gun efficiently with no restrictions.

How about gloves? Gloves are an important piece of clothing when training in cold weather. The same applies with gloves, select gloves that will be warm, yet slim. The last thing you want are gloves that won’t allow you to manipulate your firearm.

It is important to keep blood flowing when you are in the cold. Don’t stand around, keep moving, and keep the blood flowing to your extremities. If you have to, do some push-ups, burpees, or jumping jacks. If you find it necessary to do one of those activities to warm up, make sure that you don’t exert yourself too much. You don’t want to start sweating. Sweat mixed with cold weather is bad and can cause discomfort and even hypothermia.

You need to fuel your body properly in order to be comfortable and function. It is important to eat something solid, a well-balanced meal with carbohydrates, fats and protein before you go out to the range. This will help you sustain out in the cold. About mid-morning, make sure you eat a snack that will keep you going until it is lunch time. Lastly, stay hydrated. Although it is cold out, don’t fill your belly with warm coffee, that doesn’t count! Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, especially if you are moving a lot.

We stress mindset, because mindset is extremely important in shooting. Stay positive and have fun! If you go to train in the cold and think “It’s cold out, this is going to be miserable,” well then you just set the bar for a miserable time at the range. Prepare yourself for a cold day at the range mentally. Know that it may be cold, but you will have the proper cold weather gear and mindset to stay positive and have a productive training session.

Author: Terry Pretzloff

Former DEA Agent Loses Appeal

Those of you who have attended our Permit to Carry class have seen the video that we show of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent who shoots himself in the foot while giving a lecture on gun safety to children.

The former agent, Lee Paige, sued the DEA after this video appeared in the news and went viral on the internet. As you can see from the video, Paige shoots himself just after he says, “I’m the only one in this room professional enough, that I know of, to carry this Glock 40.”

Paige claimed that the video, taken by a parent in attendance, invaded his privacy, ended his ability to work undercover, and his ability to give motivational speeches. Additionally, Paige claimed that he received humiliating comments from his friends, family and from people who recognized him when he was out in public.

So you all want to know the outcome? In December 2010, a U.S. District court judge ruled that Paige was not able to prove who released the video. It was also founded that the video contained no private facts about Paige, because the lecture occurred in an Orlando community center, which was open to the public. The appellate judges found that the DEA’s handling of the video as part if the investigation was “is far from a model agency treatment of private data.”

What can we learn from this?


Treat ALL guns as though they are loaded, and ALWAYS preform a clearance check every time you pick up a firearm!

Most firearm accidents occur with firearms that the user thought was unloaded. You can never be too cautious when handling a firearm. ALWAYS make sure you perform a clearance check to prevent an accident from happening.

Never point your firearm at anything that you are not willing to destroy!

Your gun has to point somewhere, so make sure that somewhere is in a safe direction. A safe direction means that the firearm is pointed so that even if it were to discharge it would not cause injury or damage. A safe direction could vary depending on the circumstances. Be aware of where the front end of the firearm is pointed at all times.

Keep your finger OFF the trigger and outside the trigger guard until you are on target and have made the decision to shoot!

When you hold a firearm, you should NEVER put your finger on the trigger until you are on target and are ready to fire. This is an extremely important rule!

Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it!

Be 100 percent sure that you know your target and what is beyond your target. Depending on your firearm and ammunition, the bullet has the potential to travel a great distance. Observe the area before you shoot. Make sure there are not people or anything you are not willing to destroy behind your target.

Author: Terry Pretzloff

Minnesota Police Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

Lake City, MN Police Officer Shawn Schneider passed away 11 days after being shot in the head while responding to a domestic disturbance between a 17-year-old girl and her ex-boyfriend on Lyon Avenue.

According to news reports and court documents, Officer Schneider helped the girl out of the home when 25-year-old Alan Sylte, Jr. shot him in the head. Sylte was later found in the home dead from a gunshot wound.

Officer Schneider was honored on 01/07/2012 by his community and the 2,000 fellow Police Officers and other first responders before he was laid to rest.

I attended the services to honor Officer Schneider along with other officers from my department. When we arrived in Lake City, I was greeted by a resident who shook my hand, thanked me for coming to Lake City and thanked me for my service. Although I was appreciative of his comment, Officer Schneider deserves the thank you much more than I do, he gave his life for his community.

To the Schneider family, friends, and the Lake City community – I am sorry for your loss and your hero will never be forgotten.

Donation locations have been setup for the family. Those locations include:

Alliance Bank, Lake City

Shawn Schneider Family Support Fund
Alliance Bank
105 E. Lyon Ave., PO Box 455
Lake City, MN 55041

Drop off donations at any of their 10 locations
visit for a list of locations

Fiesta Foods, Lake City

Fiesta Foods is taking donations to help Officer Schneider & his family. Cashiers will ask if you’d like to donate. Minimum $1 increments.

Lake City Police Department

LakeCity Police Department
209 South High Street, PO Box 448
Lake City, Minnesota 55041
651-345 – 3344

Wabasha County Sheriffs Department

Wabasha County Sheriff’s Office
848 17TH Street East
Wabasha, MN 55981-5033

Red Wing Police Department

Law Enforcement Center
430 West 6th Street
Red Wing, MN 55066

Plainview City Police Department

241 W. Broadway
Plainview, MN 55964

Winona Law Enforcement Center

201 West 3rd St.
Winona, MN 55987

ScottCounty Law Enforcement Center

301 Fuller St. S
Shakopee, MN 55379

Fillmore County Sheriffs Department, Preston Minnesota

Fillmore County Law Enforcement Center/Jail
901 Houston Street NW
Preston, MN 55965-1080


Olmsted County Sheriffs Department, Rochester Minnesota

101 4th St SE
Rochester, MN 55904


Big Tony’s, Alma Wisconsin

107 N Main St
Alma, WI 54610


Home Federal

All Branches in Rochester Minnesota

Lake City Youth Baseball Association

Donate via paypal at

Drop Box Donation Sites

Lake Pepin Floral, Lake City
Kwik Trip, Lake City
Burger King, Lake City
The Galley, Lake City
The Bronks, Lake City
Kennedy Snyder Drug, Lake City
Gerkens Town & Country, Lake City
Federal Mogul, Lake City
The Railhouse, Lake City
Dison Cleaners all Locations, Rochester
Paul Busch Auto Center, Wabasha
Dons Lawn & Sport, Wabasha
Lake City Disposal, Lake City
Huettl’s Meat Market, Lake City
Corner Closet, Lake City

Author: Terry Pretzloff

Drug wars: This isn’t your mother’s cartel

Modern cartels pose one of the biggest threats to law enforcement not just on the southern border, but nationwide

In the early 1980s when I was a young narcotics cop — and the first and only female in my unit — all we heard about were the Colombian drug cartels. It was every young narc’s fantasy to get the “big score” that would lead us straight to a Colombian connection. The cartels were famously ruthless, and it took many years and too much bloodshed for them to be dismantled in the late 1980s, but dismantled they were.

Nearly three decades later, the modern-day Mexican drug cartels pose one of the biggest threats to the safety of American law enforcement officers not just on our southern border, but throughout this nation. Recently, I was privileged to speak with crime analyst, author and cartel expert Sylvia Longmire about this complicated and dangerous situation.

First and foremost, Sylvia is truly a role model for any woman in law enforcement or the military. She is a medically retired Air Force captain and former Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. She is an experienced investigator and has worked extensively in the fields of counterintelligence, counterespionage, and force protection. During her last assignment, she worked at HQ AFOSI as the Latin America desk officer, analyzing issues in the US Southern Command area of responsibility that might affect the security of deployed Air Force personnel. For over four years Sylvia worked as a senior intelligence analyst for the California state fusion center and the California Emergency Management Agency’s Situational Awareness Unit, focusing almost exclusively on Mexican drug trafficking organizations and southwest border violence issues.

For the last six years, she has regularly lectured on terrorism in Latin America at the Air Force Special Operations School’s Dynamics of International Terrorism course. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of South Florida in Latin American and Caribbean Studies — this woman knows her stuff! Sylvia is currently an independent consultant, freelance writer, and dynamic public speaker, and like many of you, she balances a busy career with an even busier young family.

Not just a border issue
As I talked with Sylvia, three words immediately came to mind: Passionate, focused and frustrated. As a part-time resident of Arizona, I’m amazed that the violent drug wars on our southern border don’t seem to get the national attention they warrant, and I asked Longmire about that. She shares my frustration.

“Ninety percent of the illegal drugs consumed by Americans come from Mexico,” Sylvia told me. The drug trade in the US is almost entirely connected to the cartels, and it’s no longer just a “border” issue. The U.S. Justice Department’s Drug Intelligence Center reported in April of 2011 that Mexican drug cartels were operating in 230 American cities. Longmire estimates that number could now be nearing 1000.

“If you make a traffic stop and you seize a bunch of dope, you’re going to have a cartel problem,” she said, “and someone is probably going to come looking for their dope.” In other words, that drug seizure of a lifetime for a patrol cop is could turn into a security issue for the local police department and maybe even for the community itself. Longmire recently completed her first book, “Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars” to help bring this issue to the forefront, and it’s a must-read for every cop (and concerned citizen) in North America.

There are six or seven primary cartels operating the Mexican drug trade. Longmire cites the brutal drug-related torture and murder of four men in Shelby County, Alabama in August of 2008 and the November 2010, record-breaking methamphetamine seizure in Gwinnett County, GA as only two of countless examples of violent, high-level Mexican cartel criminal activity well north of the US/Mexican border. So what should the average street cop, detective, narc, and even dispatcher be aware of?

Cartels in your community: What to consider
 Understand that there is no single drug involved; cocaine, marijuana, and meth are primarily cartel-controlled, and the substances don’t just come from Mexico. The cartels use public lands within the United States to grow massive amounts of marijuana, often exploiting their own people to plant, tend and harvest it.

2.) The cartels are highly organized and although they are often able to hide successfully in Mexican communities intimidated by their financing and their brutality, they often use local street gangs and criminal infrastructure to move their merchandise within the United States. When you find an illegal drug, it’s more than likely cartel-connected. And the “haulers” may not be Mexican; the cartels will use any criminal organization willing to get involved.

3.) There is an increasing willingness for the cartels to engage US law enforcement officials on our own soil. It’s in the criminals’ best interest to avoid the police, but if you make a large seizure, disrupt local operations, or prevent transportation of their product, be prepared. The cartels are extremely brutal and generally without conscience. They have no problem seeking out you, your residence or your family to exact revenge or get you or your agency off of their backs.

4.) Be prepared to see more high-quality black tar heroin from Mexico, and the price is starting to plummet, making it more available. This means that in certain cities, you may start seeing more of it used by middle class teenagers and young adults. Some of the better stuff doesn’t even need to be injected anymore, getting rid of that “shooting up” social stigma. Mexican meth is also manufactured in huge quantities using “super-labs” and ingredients often imported from China; some of it may be in gel form.

How can American law enforcement help fight this war? Intelligence and information-sharing are two key weapons. Just like drug dealers have turf wars, so do cops. Longmire admits there are a lot of hurtles that the police culture needs to overcome. Our reporting systems are not well-connected and we tend to be too localized. Most criminals are not going to identify themselves as part of the cartels, so cops have to ask the right questions and document everything said. We need to access fusion centers, talk to each other, and remember that we’re all on the same team…really.

After all, this issue is not just a “war on drugs” and should not be confused with the controversy surrounding illegal immigration. This is a war against the violence being inflicted upon our citizens, our children and on us, and it’s a war we must win!

About the Author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy’s website at

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter


Article originally posted on PoliceOne, republished with permission from Dave Smith & Associates

Police leadership: Becoming a ‘cop whisperer’

As a leader, if you are balanced, calm, focused, consistent, confident, and humble, it’s likely that those who work for you (or with you) will be the same

I am constantly reading. Thanks to my bibliophile husband and his Amazon account, my nightstand is stacked with a dozen or so texts at any given time and my I-Pod is filled with a variety of audiobooks. In the last few weeks I’ve been listening to Robert Sutton’s “Good Boss, Bad Boss” — the follow up to his outstanding bestseller “The No Asshole Rule.” And because we have a new rescue pup in the Smith household, I’m re-reading The Dog Whisperer’s first book, “Cesar’s Way” by Cesar Milan. I usually listen to books while I workout or during long flights, and generally I read at night before I go to bed.

I woke up the other morning as I often do, with 15 article ideas swirling around in my caffeine-starved brain. After consuming half a pot of freshly brewed coffee, the nagging concept in the back of my brain’s right side for weeks finally jumped to the forefront. “Leadership!”

I sat down at the computer and typed out random words from each author’s primary concepts. Strength, compassion, skill, pride, demeanor, humanity, self-reflection. From two very different perspectives, these two experts were saying essentially the same thing. “It’s all about your ability to lead, stupid.” I grabbed our hardcover version of Sutton’s book and a yellow highlighter, and I spent the next week comparing and contrasting the two books side by side.

This became a bit of an emotional journey for me. I forced myself to dredge up significant mistakes I’d made both as a sergeant and as a dog owner. Damn. Self-reflection sucks. I discovered that errors I’d made both with people and with dogs had surprising similarities. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a terrible boss or a bad pet owner, but I could have done a whole lot better; we all can. So stay with me, fellow crimefighters, this isn’t my usual PoliceOne article, but let me show you what we can all learn from “The Dog Whisperer” and “The No Asshole Guy” that can help us do our jobs better.

What is a Boss?
Dr. Sutton likes to use the word “boss” rather than supervisor, manager, or leader because of its simplicity; a boss is an authority figure who has direct and frequent contact with subordinates and is responsible for personally directing and evaluating their work. Cesar Milan calls this being a “pack leader.” Whether you’re a SWAT team sniper or one of four border collies in charge of a flock of easily distracted sheep, you are looking for real leadership, not someone with a title.

Think about the best boss you ever worked for. What made them a great boss? Chances are, they set high standards for the team without being a bully. They were probably slow to anger, and even-handed when doling out discipline, workload or perks. You likely knew what was expected of you and you enjoyed coming to work. Bosses with these traits have what Milan calls a “calm-assertive” personality.

The Importance of Energy
Here’s where I continue to struggle as a boss and as a “pack leader.” My “energy;” my moods, my demeanor, my focus, tend to fluctuate greatly. (trust me, when my kids, my husband, and my co-workers read this, they’ll be nodding their heads so hard in agreement they’re likely to hurt themselves). I am constantly attempting to achieve what Milan calls “balance.” It’s simple stuff really; using breathing exercises, thinking before I open my mouth, and having the proper perspective all help.

As a leader, if you are balanced, calm, focused, consistent, confident, and humble, it’s likely that those who work for you (or with you) will be the same. Dr. Sutton believes that bosses should not only be judged by what they get done but how their people feel about it along the way. “The best bosses balance performance and humanity,” Sutton states. Good bosses should be “getting things done in way that enhance rather than destroy dignity and pride.”

And don’t assume that you are a balanced and humane boss; ask your people what they think, and take their feedback seriously. In police work, it’s not just about serving the community or serving your own management, it’s about serving those who follow you. .

Always Being Watched
Whether you like it or not, you’re a role model when you’re a boss. In fact, your people probably know a whole lot more about you and your habits than you do about them. They are watching your approach on a traffic stop, how you conduct a search, what you say to people, how you talk to and about your own boss, even what you eat and how you conduct your personal life.

How you act is usually much more important than what you say, especially when dealing with cops, who tend to be experts at detecting deception. Animals instinctually and intensely watch the “pack leader,” this is part of the continual learning process. As Cesar Milan says, “you can lie to a person, but you can’t lie to dogs.” Generally speaking, you can’t lie to your officers and trainees either. That doesn’t mean you’re not going to make mistakes; but when you do, admit them, ask for forgiveness, then ask for input on how to improve, and move on.

Living in the Now
One of my favorite things about dogs is they don’t hold grudges, they don’t dwell on the past, and they are always looking forward to the next adventure with great enthusiasm. In other words, as Milan says in his book, they “live in the moment.” In the Street Survival Seminar we talk about the importance of living in the now as well as the learning the art of forgiveness. Some attendees misinterpret this as “forgive and forget.”

In “Good Boss, Bad Boss,” Dr. Sutton discusses the outstanding concept of “forgive and remember.”

In police work, one of best ways we can learn is to examine our own screw ups, as well as the mistakes and misdeeds of others, but we must be careful not to use a good employee’s mistake to humiliate or discredit them. We also must learn to forgive ourselves, make any necessary improvements in how we lead, and then move on. In other words, get rid of the “gotcha” mentality in your organization, even if you have to do it one day, one employee, one example at a time. Learn to live in the now!

Leadership lessons can come to us from unexpected sources, and good leaders are always learning. My latest lessons came to me from a Mexican-American dog handler, a Stanford University professor, and a rescue dog looking for someone to be his pack leader. Where will your next lesson come from?

About the Author

Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy’s website at

Contact Betsy Smith and Follow Betsy on Twitter


Article originally posted on PoliceOne, republished with permission from Dave Smith & Associates