UpComing Classes

Emerald City Writer's Conference


October 18-20, 2013; Bellevue, WA

A Basic Guide to Weapons

Chat with a Cop

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Deep Cover Operation involving a clean room

Question - I am writing about a woman who is deep undercover (DOD or ATF), working as a chemist with a suspected WMD manufacture. How do I arm her - or do I arm her? She is working in a clean room at least part of the time so I don't know that she can carry while on the job.
Suggestions?   Laurel

Is the suspected WMD manufacturer a chemical or other type of modern sophisticated plant?  Or is it a less than reputable business that is lax on safety and security?  Those questions go a long way as to whether or not the Agent goes in with a weapon.  Additionally, is the Agent working in an area where some type of protective gear (like a disposable protective jumpsuit or more) is required?  All of this also comes into play when a Agent is undercover (U/C).

Now, if the Agent felt there could be trouble or some type of gun play, trust me they would figure out how to arm themselves.  Nobody wants to show up at a gun fight carrying only a pocket protector.

Let's just say the lab your Agent is working U/C in is one of those technically WahZoo operations with security coverage at the max.  If there was absolutely no way for me to carry my weapon hidden on my body into the safe room, I'd personally stash weapons in different secure hidey-holes around the facility.

That being said a great place for women to stash a gun is down the front of their pants.  Right below the waist band, untuck or blouse your shirt. No one would notice.  However, again that depends if the person has to go through a metal detector, x-ray or other type of security device.

All of the agencies I contacted about deep cover replied, "An agents safety supersedes the job at hand."  However, it's important to note the U/C Agent has a lot of say in whether the operation will go forward or not.  If an agent doesn't feel comfortable they can stop the entire operation.  Everyone on the outside usually defers the U/C agent because they have a better idea of all the by play that is going on inside the organization they have infiltrated.

I highlighted the words: usually defers, because cases like life undercover operations comes down to a balancing game.  It is quite possible to be blindsided (due to tunnel vision) when only the U/C makes the call if the case should continue.  Sometimes the U/C can get caught up with the idea of the arrest and ignore (or simply not see) the the entire picture because they are so focused on the goal - arrest. 

My first year with DOJ a Fullerton Police Officer, Tommy de la Rosa, was ambushed and murdered while working in an undercover capacity.  My team was working surveillance, on a different case, in Los Angeles County the day the murder took place.  Upon being told of the incident, DOJ supervisors shut down all operations and sent us back to the office.

I have attended several training classes regarding the undercover operation that cost Tommy de la Rosa his life.  Everyone involved with the operation later admitted somethings didn't feel right.  But no one admitted to the feeling of wrongness before Tommy was murdered.  Later investigation and hindsight showed the crooks had no intention of brokering a narcotics deal.  Their sole purpose was to kill Tommy de la Rosa and take what they wanted. 

Everyone involved with the operation was devastated and only wished they had spoken up and said wait,   We need to slow down and take another look at what is going on.  Even cops succumb to peer pressure.  But during a U/C operation the consequences can be deadly.

That is my long-winded way of saying U/C's usually have a lot of autonomy.  I would believe, based on the information I received, Deep Cover Operatives even more so.  The need for a weapon could be and should be discussed by the U/C agent and their team. 

Yes, a deep cover operative can and usually will have some type of team.  The size would vary based on the operation.  Someone needs to be there to help keep the U/C grounded as well as exchange information.  

During the discussion the pro's and cons of taking a weapon into the facility could be hashed out.  Or maybe a place to stash a weapon would be pointed out, or maybe the team would be able to stash a weapon inside the room for the U/C.  Lots and lots of options.

Let me know if that answers your question.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Question - How many weapons do you carry?

Question:  In the class you were carrying nine weapons and a clip. On a normal day of say, wire tapping, what would be the realistic number of weapons you'd carry?

The previous question refers to a workshop I presented at the Emerald City Writer’s Conference.  October 1-3, 2010, Bellevue WA.
Great Question:  During the class, for demonstration sake, I showed I could easily conceal nine weapons and a loaded magazine on my person.  When I was working the number of weapons I carried depended on what I was doing at the time.  For office work, ('wire tapping' was overseen and monitored in a room in the office) I rarely carried or rather wore more than my issued primary weapon--a Glock 23 40cal semi-automatic with an extra magazine--and my favorite knife.

If I planned to hit the field I might add to that by carrying a backup weapon and extra ammo magazines attached to my belt and/or shoved in my pockets.
Oh. I forgot. I also usually carried a set of handcuffs in one of my back pants pockets.  Which means clothes shopping with me was always an experience.  Most women’s fashions don’t have many pockets.

And. I.  Needed.  Pockets.

I carried most of my gear there, in my pockets.  A lot of my female counterparts felt fine carrying their work stuff in specially prepared purses for women in law enforcement.  (Those handbags had special holsters sewn to the bag to make retrieval of the weapon and other gear quick and easy.)  

After a fight I had in court while wearing a dress and carrying a purse, my days of not wearing my gear off duty or in civilian clothing were done.  Which kinda sucked because that meant my dress wearing days were over.  Well they were until I found a fabulous thigh holster.  But, seriously, in an emergency who wants to raise their dress to pull their weapon?  IMHO no coolness there.

So when I shop for pants I have to look hard for stylish pants that had good standard pockets.  I am finding today’s women’s pants even more frustrating.  I had a hard time finding women's pants with rear pockets and who's bright idea was it to give women short half-deep rear pockets?  I can barely fit my knife in one of those, let alone a full magazine.
But, I digress. 

To get back to the question.  I wore and took whatever my gut and the job at hand allowed for.  Was I going Under Cover (U/C)?  Was I simply going into the field to do interviews?  Surveillance?  Where was I working?  In the desert?  By the ocean?  It was easy to conceal more weapons in cooler climates than warmer ones.  However, working in Palm Springs, CA, a place only slightly less hot than hell, I wore shorts with my U/C weapon holstered at my side along with a spare ammo mag and knife.

Everything was well concealed.  Most people never knew I was armed.  If you were not watching and looking for specifics, you'd never notice the subtle bulges.  By always wearing the same weapons while working plain clothes - regular duty, U/C, or off-duty  - I was very comfortable and familiar with what I could do and how to react.

I would often wear new holsters and gear in and around the office to get used to the fit and how the item affected my gait, movement or comfort. You have to trust me, in the middle of an emergency is not the time to find out your holster won't remain on your belt when you go to pull your weapon.

No, that didn't happen to me.  If we weren't  holding bad guys at gunpoint I would have laughed my arse off at my teammate pointing his weapon at the crooks with the holster still attached.  Bet you never saw that on 'Cops'.  Needless to say I was a strong advocate of practice, practice practice . . . before you implement.

I did laugh my butt off once we had the scene secure.  So did everyone else . . . once I told them (it was expected, just one of those cop things).
Wearing weapons while in uniform was a whole different situation.  I wore a lot on my belt (I called my gun belt a Batgirl utility belt) and I had a few things concealed on my person.  But that is something for another blog.    

Normally, I would not carry nine weapons concealed on my person at one time.  My average was four to five . . . Unless I was going into an extremely hot zone.  You know, like the in-laws.      

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ECWC Fling Factor Question and Answer

Hey everyone.  Hope you had a great week.  I am currently on the road toward home from the Seattle RWA's Writer's Conference, aka Emerald City Writer's Conference, aka ECWC.  I was honored to teach at this years conference and had a great time.

Unfortunately, fifty minutes is not much time to distill and regurgitate all the information I hoped to impart.  The class participants were wonderful, especially since I failed to give them the promised Q & A at the end due to the lack of time.  So for the next few days, weeks . . . I will be answering all the questions I failed to get to on Saturday.

Okay Ladies I'm rolling up my sleeves and digging in.