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A Basic Guide to Weapons

Chat with a Cop

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Questions Regarding the San Diego Police Department

Here are questions one of my chapter-mates has graciously allowed me to post here on my blog.

Hi Margaret,

What weapon does the San Diego PD use? Basically, I have my heroine using a Sig Sauer. She is 30 years old - is that too young to make homicide detective?

Keeping in mind that this is a paranormal world, let's say my heroine was attacked. She gets free. Two men are now fighting and she's seen some really freaky stuff.  She shouts, "Freeze!" If they do not respond is it legitimate for her to fire off one round above their heads into a cement wall to try to get them to stop (or is this too much TV? LOL!)? Or does she simply stand there with her gun hoping her order of Freeze will get their attention?

I really appreciate any assistance you can give. These are very tiny points in the story, but my editor is asking questions and I'm trying to make sure I have answers that will satisfy her. Anything you can clarify would be a big help.

Thanks so much,

Patrizia, no problem. Never worry about asking me anything, I do my best to answer all questions.

First off, age of your Homicide Detective. Thirty is not too young for a SDPD Homicide Detective, under the following circumstances:

If she joined the Police Dept. right around her 21st birthday that would give her an easy five years to make Detective, which would put her age around 26 - 27 years old as a non-Homicide Detective.

Your heroine would then have to make a name for herself.  You know, be a Superstar Detective in whatever Division she was in (Narcotics, Gangs, Sex Crimes etc.). She’d need great busts, high profile cases, lots of positive media attention. What I’m talking about are cases that demonstrate great ‘Police Work’ and above average Investigative Skills that would get her noticed by the Brass. That could get her into Homicide early.

Your 30 year old Homicide Detective would be well known and respected, however once in Homicide she would be treated like the newbie she is (especially compared to all the other older, more seasoned Homicide Detectives . . . AKA – Dinosaurs).  ;-) So she would get all the crap cases until she proved she could handle more complex cases.

Types of weapons issued: SDPD issues Ruger P89, Sig 229 or Sig 226, and Smith & Wesson (not sure of the model).  So your Detective could carry the Ruger.

If an officer wants to purchase their own weapon they are authorized to carry Beretta, Smith & Wesson or Glock. The only way for an officer to carry either a .40 cal or a .45 is if they purchase their own weapon. 

Warning shots: For the SDPD, warning shots are completely prohibited.

There are several ways your Detective could handle this situation. She could OC (tear gas) both men to get their attention. Patrol Officers are required to carry OC as a Detective she would have the option of carrying OC.

Not many Detectives carry tazers, but that could be another option, with her tazing the most aggressive of the combatants. That would help her take control of the situation.

My personal favorite attention getter was racking a round into my Reminington 870 pump- action shot-gun. The sound is distinctive and people will stop and stand tall, their eyes wide. Of course, she could use the less lethal version of the Remington 870. It’s basically the same weapon – same attention getting sound, only colored differently, but loaded with rubber bullets.

Let me know if this helps,



  1. I'm not currently writing about a police officer, but I love keeping information like this in the back of my mind in case it comes up in a story. Thanks for giving us the "real scoop." Love the notion of getting people's attention by racking a round into your shot-gun! Seems like that would stop anyone cold.

    1. Janet, I'm glad to be of help.

      You, know how warped my humor can be. So I am truly happy someone else (okay someone I consider sane) also thinks using the sound of 'racking one into the chamber' is a neat idea.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Last night on the news I was surprised by an account of firemen getting rowdy and starting a fight. I know this might not be up your alley. From the firemen and police who I know, they are many cuts above the average citizen because of their training and their willingness to put their lives on the line. I just can't picture this as a typical MO for firemen or police. What are your thoughts?


    1. Bob, I am sorry to say that doesn't really surprise me. Although, Firefighters and Police don't usually have very nice things to say about each other (yes, there is a rivalry there too) they do have similar behaviors.

      The short answer is just like cops, firefighters CAN develop a mentality of I deserve to play hard because I risk my life for the public at large and they don't understand me - or my sacrifices.

      I'm not saying you are wrong, just that there CAN be bouts of poor behavior from time to time.

      The long answer will probably end up being a blog. Thanks loads for the fodder.

  3. Wow, Margaret! I love all the details!

    1. Barrie, I hope they help.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Hi Margaret, I'm not writing about a cop right now, but I will certainly tag this site as a favorite. Thanks for sharing your expertise - this is fabulous info. Almost makes me want to write in a cop - or at least an encounter. Hmmm.....

    1. If you should decide to write in a cop you know where you can find me.

      Hmmm and an encounter sounds . . . intriguing - LOL.

  5. Margaret, this is great. Since it's on your blog, I can link directly here for my editor. ( : I can't thank you enough for answering questions. I agree with the others, a blog like yours is a fabulous resource for writers.

    Oooh, and I just saw that you have a class on Investigations coming up. I may lurk, but I'll probably sign up.

    1. Gabriella, I'm more than happy to share my knowledge. I'll be posting the second part of the SDPD answers in a couple of days.

      I'd love to have you in the class. The lectures sometimes help writers figure out plot points or at least questions they didn't know they had. LOL

  6. Hi, Margaret

    I (Lyn Washington, from your class) have a question about the rubber bullets. This has puzzled me for a long time. What kind of rubber are they? Sponge rubber, hard rubber? How big are they? What color are they? How dangerous are they?

    Heehee. When I was a kid, some of us would cut across a farmer's field that was between the elementary school and the orphanage. The farmer would load her shotgun with rock salt and zing away! I understand that rock salt stings pretty fierce. :) Too bad you can't use it for mob control. :lol:

    1. Hello Lyn, great to hear from you.

      I need to do a little research. I'll have your answer in a few days.

  7. Well, I jumped through all the hoops to comment, but my Gravatar image didn't show up. Sigh.

    1. I thought your first Avatar was interesting, but I love geometric shapes.