Lincoln Award – Florida Day 5

My last day of gangs class was great. We covered topics that I did not have a lot of knowledge in and I took away more than in the previous two days before. It was day three of early starts and late finishes and to be honest I am quite tired now but I was not giving up.

After class I returned to my hotel, ate and got changed ready for my final ride along of the trip which was with the Pinellas County Sheriffs Office. During the visit to their Special Operations Evening the Captain of the unit arranged for me to ride with the DUI Unit. This is a specialist task force set up to target drivers who are impaired and they work to improve general road safety.

I was collected from my hotel by one of the team in a unmarked car that to put it bluntly completely shows up anything we have in the UK. This thing was a beast! It contained some serious kit and the engine sounded mean but (as I was to experience later) I could tell it had a lot more to offer!

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When I got to the office which was located within the County Jail I was shown round the processing room which consisted of evidential breath testing machines and rooms where field impairment tests are completed (walking in a straight line etc). Then it was briefing time. This briefing was like any other team briefing I have been in and was the usual mix of force updates, chatting about things that have gone on, the deployments for the shift and the usual banter that follows when something someone has dealt with hasn’t quite gone to plan. The Sergeant had brought in a tray of sandwiches and cakes so we all tucked into that before hitting the roads.

I was introduced to the Deputy I would be riding with and after a bit of admin we went out. Like the other ride alongs I had been on we had the discussion about UK cops being unarmed and how things differ between the two countries from a policing point of view. It didn’t take long before we started stopping vehicles.

At the start of every stop I could not help but being cautious. I am the same in the UK as you never know who or what is in a car. I could not help but think about the amount of guns there are in the US and you do not have to look very hard to find videos of US cops being shot at with no warning as they approach a car. Being unarmed and my warranted powers miles away in England it was very easy to feel vulnerable.

The Deputy who had collected me from the hotel had stopped a car and I was taken to his location to witness a drink drive procedure taking place. I watched as a field impairment test that in the UK we would use for drugs offences was completed. This was the walk in a straight line, touch your nose etc. I had to ask why they do not conduct road side breath screening tests like we do in the UK. It is not the process they adopt there. After several minutes the test was still taking place and I was asked how long a test takes place in the UK. When I said that I would either be letting someone on their way or handcuffing them in half the time we had been standing there we agreed that the UK way was far better.

For the next few hours we toured the streets stopping people and backing up others in the unit where we were needed. At around 11 pm I needed to head back to the hotel as had to get ready to return home in the morning. I was taken back and once there I shook hands with my new friend before parting company.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my course in gangs and the investigative tactics used by US law enforcement. I was extremely grateful to the St Petersburg College, St Petersburg Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department (especially Ricky from their Community Relations Dept who I had spoken with before arriving and for helping me during my visit)  for allowing me come and learn from them. The local police experience on top of my class room learning was without doubt the most enjoyable learning experience of my career.

THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU!!!

This trip was made possible by membership of the International Police Association. Visit http://www.ipa-uk.org for details of IPA news and membership.

 

 

 

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IPA Street Gangs To Organised Crime Seminar

On Wednesday the 12th of September 2018 the International Police Association held a Street Gangs To Organised Crime Seminar at Leicestershire Police HQ. Story by Martyn Linton.

Last year I was speaking with one of the IPA Vice Presidents about learning opportunities within the IPA and I suggested a seminar on gang crime. The idea was quickly taken up and it was a pleasure to attend it last week as a speaker.

The event was very well attended with people from within policing and partner agencies and what impressed me the most was that officers had travelled from Ireland and even Iceland for the event! With an audience like this I had better be on top of my game!

First up were two colleagues fro the Gangs Enforcement Unit for Portland, Oregan in the US. Brian and Charlie are very experienced gang enforcement cops and they spoke about gang issues in their city, the set up of the unit (very impressive – the UK should take note!), samples of cases they had worked and a summary of how they operate. I was to learn a lot more in the bar afterwards!

Photo 12-09-2018, 16 45 29                With officers from the Gang Enforcement Unit – Portland, Oregan, US

The following presentations came from Dr Matt Hopkins from the University Of Leicester, representatives from the Gangmasters Labour & Abuse Authority, and the UKBA team that deal with serious criminality and money laundering offences.

My good friend and former colleague Mark Bullen (former Hertfordshire Police officer) delivered his presentation of Russian Organised Crime & Prison Tattoos. Mark left the police and has delivered training in this subject to law enforcement agencies worldwide. He has also written a book called Thief In Law – available on Amazon.

Closer to my personal history Detective Superintendent Rich Agar from West Midlands Police spoke about work he and his team had done in identifying people who were coming to notice and were likely to go into a life of crime.

Then it was my turn. I was presenting on County Lines and Violence and tactics that police officers can use in the course of investigating this. I started with a short explanation of personal experiences I had as a youngster involved with the bad crowd and how I left them all behind to avoid a life of badness.

I then spoke about the components needed to form a County Line, tactics used and best practice from an investigators point of view having successfully investigated numerous drugs offences and acts of serious violence.

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The final presentation of the day was from an organisation called Street Doctors. They are a charity organisation that work with youngsters to teach them about the principles of first aid that can be used should they become involved in a stabbing etc. They also work to prevent violence through education.

This seminar was a great success. I met new people and learned from others who spoke. I have been invited and have accepted an offer to travel to the US to spend time with the US gang officers to gain more experience. I will also be speaking with D.Supt Agar from West Midlands Police who is their force lead on County Lines.

This educational event is on of many open to members of the International Police Association. Visit http://www.ipa-uk.org for more information and how to join.

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I.P.A Section Estonia 25th Anniversary

London North Social Secretary Kiran Gharial travelled to Estonia for their 25th anniversary event. Here is his story.

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In mid-July 2018, I attended I.P.A section Estonia’s 25th (and the Republic of Estonia’s 100th) anniversary celebrations. And what’s great to know is that the ‘heatwave’ was reaching 30*+ !!

I arrived in Tallinn on the morning of Sunday 15th and was met at Police HQ by IPA board member Lauri, who kindly arranged for me to stay overnight in a room within the ‘Halls of Residence’ generally occupied by student officers.

During the afternoon, I managed to go ‘Downtown’, try some of the local beers and watch the World Cup final in a lively Sports bar!

The next morning, Monday 16th, Lauri gave me a tour of the Headquarters, which was most interesting – Tallinn’s version of New Scotland Yard.

Afterwards, I got my luggage together as it was time to board the awaiting mini-bus (which included IPA members from Austria, Canada, France and Germany) for the 2-hour journey to the ferry-port. Upon our arrival, we were met by another IPA board member Ullar, who (along with other Estonian volunteers) was to be our guide throughout the friendship week. There were other IPA members already present (including an American, Norwegian and Dutch couple, a member from Belgium, Portugal and Finland).

We loaded our luggage onto the awaiting ferry, made our way upstairs for a good view out to the sea, and found some time to relax and get acquainted with one another as it set sail to the Estonian Island of Kihnu.

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As we arrived at the Island, we were transported to our accommodation. A very basic & traditional makeshift venue – similar to going on a weekend Cub/Scout camping trip, in the middle of nowhere! The facilities were very simple and – best of all – the toilets were a kind of port-a-loo with a hole in the ground! A case of “sold as Seen”!

Anyways, me managed to settle in – the lucky ones had their own rooms whereas others (such as me) ended up sharing a dormitory with half a dozen others. Yep!  Brings me back to my youth days.

In the evening, we were entertained by a local band that played traditional Estonian folk music – similar to Irish folk music! After dinner ‘n’ drinks, there was time to let your hair down and join in some country dancing! Yee-ha!!!!

Tuesday 17th, we had a tour of the Island – a small island in the Baltic Sea with a strong spirit. Originating from seal hunters and fishermen, Kihnu traditional culture is listed by UNESCO and widely loved among visitors from all over the world looking to explore its colorful village life.

The men, who are mostly fishermen, go out to sea for months at a time, leaving behind their wives & children. Women govern the Island in their absence, and act as guardians of its folk traditions and culture, which are part of everyday life and are of the utmost significance for the community.

On the Island, we visited a local church and kihnu museum (community centre). For those that didn’t have a fear of heights there was the opportunity to climb to the top of Kihnu lighthouse as well as a 125 ft communications tower! Guess what? I did both.

Blog 3Later, we had a seafood BBQ and some of us opted to go for a swim in the sea. In the evening, there was more music and folk dancing before calling it a night. It was quite an experience!

Wednesday 18th, we made the return trip to the mainland and after disembarking from the ferry we headed straight to the driving school (similar to the Met’s, Hendon) for an input into driving safety. Those who were interested (Yes! – I was one) could opt to drive one of their Hyundais’ around a circuit, which had a section secured and watered down. Not much a ‘skid pan’ but more a case of noticing the difference braking makes, with and without A,B,S. Actually, I quite enjoyed it considering I was driving a L.H.D vehicle with a manual gearbox, and this was with a qualified instructor who told me that we, Brits, drive on the wrong side of the road – the cheek of it!! [No Comment]

Next, we moved into the workshop where we were shown the implications of being involved in a collision with and without a seatbelt. Even under 30mph, it makes a hell of a difference! And finally, how to escape from a vehicle that ends up submerged under water. Interesting, but, God-Willing, it’ll never happen!

This was followed by a wonderful late lunch at the school before we made our way to check-in at our spectacular beach resort hotel, where we were able to relax and chill-out for a while before dinner, socializing and then bedtime.

Thursday 19th, we made our way across the border and into Latvia where we were given the opportunity to try out canoeing along the river Salaca, with its wonderful picturesque scenery – something like out of the film ‘Deliverance’.

Blog 4Totaling 95km in length, we canoed approximately 12 km – with 4 pit stops -, which included exploring various caves within its red sandstone cliffs. It was a fantastic experience with breathtaking scenery that I won’t forget!

Back over the border, this was followed by a visit to the Matsalu National Park, to embark on the ‘Stiklu Bog Natural Trail’ – a 4 km trail, where a wooden footpath spanned along several bog lakes and in the middle of the trail you could climb a bird-watching tower with spectacular 360® views of the scenery!

By early evening, we returned to our hotel for dinner and then some of us got together for drinks and a chat by the poolside before calling it a night.

Blog 5Friday 20th, was the day of the official opening ceremony of I.P.A Section Estonia’s 2018 Summer Days, at the 5* Hotel Lepanina and it started off with a morning trip to Parnu County marina, where we were split into two groups and took it in turns to (i) go on a sea cruise on a historical 72-year old sailboat – “Jenny Kruse”, where there was an opportunity to hoist the sails and let the elements take control as you ‘chilled-out’ on the upper deck and explored the lower deck regarding its living conditions and historical background and then (ii) visit Parnu museum, which included alternating exhibitions of art & history and took you on a fascinating journey through time starting from ‘The Stone Age’ continuing through the medieval trade routes and the Baroque fortified city to the nostalgic Soviet era.

By the time we got back, in the afternoon, IPA members from various other countries – that were here for the friendship weekend only – started to arrive. There were guests from Russia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

We all started to gather around an external hall for dinner and getting acquainted. This was followed by the opening ceremony, which started off with a speech from the IPA Estonian President, Uno Lass, welcoming everybody to the event. Following this, the IPA flag was raised to officiate the opening. And, to round things off, we had a night party through to the very early hours!!

Blog 6 split 2Saturday 21st, was a day packed full of fun activities which started off with a game of ‘Volleyball’ – but with a twist! Participants were split into teams of four, whereby each person in his/her group held onto the corner of a sack and used a combination of team skills to flick a ‘water-bomb’ (balloon) over the net. Looked easy but, oh boy! what a challenge. Sadly, our team came last. Never mind as all good fun. Next was an obstacle course – something like “It’s a knockout” (for those who remember) whereby we were split into two teams and assigned various tasks to complete. On this occasion, our team came first!

Finally, we were introduced to a water sport called ‘SubPolo’ whereby we were split into teams of four (as in 4-a-side) and had to try and balance ourselves on surfboards whilst trying to score a goal at the other end. No matter how skillful each person was, everyone ended up in the water at some stage or another. But it was such good fun for everyone!

Come evening, with everybody fully freshened up and following dinner, there was a grand firework display by the scenic seashore beside the hotel!

Blog 7And, finally, a D.J played some modern classics and funky tunes to round the ‘Summer Days’ festival off in a spectacular extravaganza! Sunday 22nd, following breakfast, it was time to say goodbye and farewell to new made friends and known acquaintances. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Uno & Merike, Ullar & Ene, Enn, Lauri, Maret, Mairold, Kairi, Kristi, Dina – and all the local helpers and volunteers – for their kind generosity & hospitality as well as to congratulate IPA section Estonia on the success of their 25th (and the country’s 100th) anniversary celebrations!

This trip was one of many open to members of the IPA. Visit http://www.ipa-uk,org for more information about the IPA and for details on how to join. Membership is open to serving and retired police officers/specials and staff.

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Lincoln Award – Florida Day 4

Story By Martyn Linton

Day two of Gangs class starts at 8am. I’ve sunk a few coffees after a semi late night and I’m ready for the days learning. The learning for the day is investigative techniques, the development of intelligence and social media.

The training location is home to a number of police recruits and at the beginning of the day it is a pleasure to see the respect shown as they salute as the US flag is raised and they say their oath. The recruits have an almost regimental appearance about them. It is yes sir, immaculate uniforms, marching to class after parade and stopping to allow experienced cops to pass in hallways.

At lunchtime I was taken to a Cuban restaurant by the class instructor and two local detectives. Having never eaten Cuban food before I enjoyed the experience.

After class I was collected by Lieutenant Gary Dukeman from the St Petersburg Police Department. He is in charge of the training centre. Lt Dukeman took me on a tour of the city police HQ. As we wondered around the building it was interesting to hear how they operate and what the different teams did. I did have to giggle when I met the Chief’s PA. I was introduced as a Detective from the UK and on hearing this I learned I was not the only visitor who had visited from the UK. GMP and Cumbria had beaten me to it.

When my tour ended I met my ride along for the evening called Matt. Matt is a dog handler in the city and after introductions I looked around his patrol vehicle. The kit he was carrying would prepare most for war. I had to ask why cops in the city carried so much. It was explained that in the event of an active shooter it was all hands to the pump until SWAT could arrive. It makes sense with so many guns out there. I couldn’t help but think about useless I would be in the UK if faced with that and it was scary.

We hit the streets. We had the chat about difference in UK/US policing culture. Yes the unarmed topic came up! I had spoken about my course that I was completing in Florida. Matt took me into some gang neighbourhoods. The houses had wooden slats on the external part of the house. As we sat talking I could see several bullet holes in the wood of one house. Matt explained to me that the holes followed a drive by shooing. He also explained that the area had suffered with a number of drive by shootings which had lead to them closing the road at one end of the estate to prevent ease of access/escape. The poverty in the area could not be ignored – it hits you straight in the face.

Towards the end of the evening we heard a officer on the radio who had a male run away from him as he approached him taking drugs in a park. Unlucky for that male when he popped out at the opposite end of the park we happened to be driving past. He was detained and whilst the drugs use did not result in an arrest he still went to jail as he had a outstanding warrant!

I could have stayed out with Matt all night but I had my final day of class the following day so shortly after 10 pm we said our goodbyes outside my hotel and I went in for much needed beauty sleep.

This trip was part funded by the Lincoln Award granted by IPA Section UK. Membership of the IPA has several benefits. Visit http://www.ipa-uk.org for details and how to join.

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Lincoln Award – Florida Day 3

Story By Martyn Linton

I started the day at half six in the morning feeling a little sorry for myself. After the visiting the County Sheriff’s Office the night before I got drinking in the hotel bar with a couple who were from another US state. Time flies when you’re having fun I guess.

After breakfast and a taxi ride to the college I was taught about proactive use of gang informants, intelligence strategies and investigative tactics – the detail I cannot go into.

I had been invited by Ricky my contact with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to attend the Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Night. This was a demonstration by a number of Special Ops teams to community members being held at a local airport. After class I was in a cab and straight off to join in.

I arrived and heard officers from units such as the helicopter team, diving team, SWAT team and DUI Unit (a proactive traffic unit who target impaired driving) talking about their work. My contact Ricky outed me to the group as a visiting Detective from the U.K. which generated some interest from those present and other cops. After the talks everyone went outside for a dog handler demonstration by a K9 Officer.

I walked around the site and spoke with the different teams that had equipment and vehicles on display. It was good to compare how things are done in the US compared to the UK. I always say it’s a small world. The Captain in charge of the Special Ops Team approached me and said his neighbour was a cop with my force Surrey Police. Small world indeed!

The time came for me to leave as I needed some food and sleep as had class the following morning. I left having learned about policing culture in the US and with an invite from the Captain to ride along with the DUI Unit.

Thank you Ricky for the invite and thank you to the officers who I spoke with during this event.

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Lincoln Award – Florida Day 2

Story By Martyn Linton

This was the day my trip would properly kick off in terms of my US law enforcement culture learning.

I travelled to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office which was located around ten miles north of my hotel. Here I met Ricky who is their Community Programs Manager. We had spoken by email a couple of weeks prior to me arriving.

After introductions , a chat about the structure of the organisation and the IPA tradition of exchanging gifts I was taken on a tour of their HQ.

We entered the yard and straight away I saw a general purpose patrol vehicle which I simply found eye opening. This car was a 5.0 litre beast! I couldn’t help but to picture in my head some of the patrol cars I’ve driven and the high mileage Vauxhall Astra that wasn’t fit to keep chickens in was a shocking comparison!

I saw other vehicles but my day three blog will talk about them as they feature in an event I attended today. What did catch my eye was two military vehicles. What on earth are they for? It was explained that the Sheriff’s Office get end of line military vehicles for very low cost and they are commissioned for police use. The vehicles above are used when there is a natural disaster such as a hurricane etc.

We then went for a drive. I was taken to the County Jail. Here it was explained how the custody process pre trial and post conviction works. After this I was taken to the K9 School and Firearms Training Centre.

Whilst cruising down the highway I got sight of a Florida Highway Patrol car attending a collision. Their vehicle was interesting. It was far from the blue and yellow hi viz we have in the U.K. and by all accounts is a bit faster.

The time came for me to return to my hotel and the following day (today) I was due to start the training course I flew out to complete. The course being Gangs The Transnational Threat – Target The Entire Gang. More on that in my next post.

I found my visit to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office most enjoyable and I want to publicly thank my contact Ricky.

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Lincoln Award – Florida Day 1

Story by Martyn Linton

In October 2017 I wrote about my happiness at being awarded the first ever Lincoln Award given by Section UK.

I had applied for the Arthur Troop Scholarship to attend the US to take part in a course titled Gangs The Transnational Threat – Target The Entire Gang. There were other candidates for this scholarship but no one from the U.K. was successful. Applications are reviewed by the international board. The Lincoln Award is a U.K. alternative.

The course is one that is attended by various US law enforcement agencies and dates are announced as and when so I had a wait to find out when I could attend. That’s date is this week and after two flights I now find myself in St Petersburg, Florida.

I arrived late last night and when I got to my room I introduced myself to the bed and crashed! I woke up later on and the minus five hour time difference threw me at first when I saw 7am. I went back to sleep!

I got up a couple of hours later and went for breakfast. The friendly waitress kept the coffee mug topped up. Today was a day of leisure. I decided to go for a walk so after studying a map off I went. I was armed with a Section UK challenge coin for the first cop I bumped into who said hello.

I covered about six miles during my walk. I walked around the marina, explored an area with local bars and visited the local court house. It was a hot day and all of a sudden the heavens opened and within minutes I went from dripping sweat to being the UK’s contestant for the unattractive wet t shirt competition. I didn’t care as it was nice to cool off.

I headed back to the hotel to dry off and change clothes. Then I ate lunch which was washed down with a bottle of Melbec. The boring stuff followed. Ironing of clothes that had been stuffed into a bag for the journey.

A bit later on I went downstairs and sat at the bar where I got talking to a couple of locals and other people who lived in the US but were visiting the area. The question was asked where I was from and why I was there. I was comfortable to tell them. It was a nice atmosphere where I wasn’t watching my back. Those who know me will know how I have my back to a wall and people watch when I’m a bar. I blame working doors when I was a youngster and my career.

I was very taken back at how the US citizens view the role of a Detective. Firstly there is the it’s a type of promotion view. Then there was the general respect for law enforcement. What followed was general chat about the difference in crime trends and interestingly the debate about legalising of Cannabis. In the US some states have legalised it.

The highlight of my afternoon/evening was an email from a lady called Gail who has been my link to the course. This is a lady I will meet in a couple of days but already have labelled a ‘International Legend’. The email was to invite me to have a ride along with a local Dog Handler. Who am I to say no?

Tomorrow (or later today) I visit the Pinella County Sheriff’s Department. I am truly taken back by the hospitality the US are giving me!

This opportunity would not have been possible without my membership to the International Police Association.

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