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The Signpost Newsletter

First Quarter 2018

PRAC's Current and Past Leaders

Who Has Been Steering the Ship?










Jerry Lawrence, 3/77 - 3/79

Tom Smith, 3/79 - 3/82

Diane Blackman, 3/82 - 3/83

Tom Hofsommer, 3/83 - 3/84

John Ramirez, 3/84 - 3/88

Bill Hendricks, 3/88 - 3/90

Chris George, 3/90 - 1/92

Bob Donohue, 1/92 - 12/93

Pam Helmke, 1/94 - 12/95

Russ Hauck, 1/96 - 12/97

John Havicon, 1/98 - 12/99

Michael Chiesa, 1/00 - 12/05

Lee Hickinbotham, Jr., 1/06 - 12/07

David Updike, 1/08 - 12/10

Pam Helmke, 1/11 - 12/13

Heather Reiter, 1/14 - 12/15

Matt Cerkel, 1/16 - present



For a detailed narrative by past-president Tom "Smitty" Smith on how PRAC was started back in 1976, see Heritage.


NOTE: bookmark this page to get back here, as you will be leaving the Signpost and going to the PRAC website.


Officer Safety is Not a "Thing"


by Charles Gillingham, Third Degree Communications, Inc.


Article submitted by Pam Helmke, Region 2 Director, from Third Degree Communications, Inc.  TDC provides comprehensive training programs designed to enhance the investigative skills of law enforcement, corrections and social services personnel. Seminars are POST Certified in CA. http://www.tdcorg.com/


Officer safety is not a "thing."  Officer safety is everything for you as an officer and is the justification for almost all of your actions in the field. It is not a legal justification by itself, to do anything in the field.  If you want to bullet proof your stops and searches remember to document and testify to ARTICULABLE FACTS. If you write in your report that you stopped or pat searched someone for "officer safety," welcome to a motion to suppress.



Remember, reasonable suspicion is lower than probable cause-the information can be less reliable and more than that needed for probable cause. Bottom line, reasonable suspicion will exist if you can articulate one or more circumstances that based on your training and experience and based on common sense that criminal activity is afoot. It has to be more than a hunch but it can be otherwise innocent behavior that can lead you to reasonable suspicion.



The United States Supreme Court has held that officer-safety concerns are legitimate and weighty due to officer's vulnerability.  Some circumstances that the Court has upheld detentions:

  • Suspect may have committed a violent felony;
  • Matches description
  • Running and hiding;
  • Conduct-refusal to follow commands
  • Jittery
  • Nervous
  • Won't show hands
  • Prior contact
  • Prior contact where suspect was armed
  • Prior contact where suspect resisted
  • Prior contact where suspect fled
  • Location plus something else
  • Multiple individuals
  • Night time with no back-up close        (continued on Page 8)

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