Written by: Greg Ellifritz
Did you see the news last week about the terrorist cell operating in Belgium? They were preparing a terrorist attack in that country and were arrested just a few hours before the start of their attack. How were they going to do it? They had Belgian police uniforms, explosives, and rifles. The terrorists were going to dress as cops, bomb police stations and shoot citizens in the street.
How many of you would resist a uniformed police officer pointing a gun at you? Most probably wouldn’t. That’s why the attack would be so effective. I’ve written about the problems of terrorists wearing police uniforms before. It’s an extremely common tactic used overseas. Just last week, criminals in South Africa wore police uniforms during a kidnapping attempt. It’s so successful that I’m absolutely certain that the tactic will soon be employed here in the USA. As a person concerned with your safety and the safety of your family, you MUST understand that this could happen. You must also have a plan in place to deal with it.
How do terrorists get police uniforms? It’s easy. They steal them.
I have a friend who works on an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in one of the largest cities in the USA. His unit has been investigating regular burglaries of dry cleaning businesses for years. In these burglaries, the only items taken are police uniforms that officers have dropped off for cleaning. This has been happening for almost 10 years and you don’t hear a thing about it in the media. We’re ripe for an attack of this nature.
Besides dry cleaner burglaries, think how easy it would be to burglarize a police officer’s home. Lots of not-so-smart cops have FOP emblems on their license plates or “thin blue line” bumper stickers. All the terrorist has to do is drive through a mall parking lot looking for obvious signs signifying that a cop owns one of the parked cars. The terrorist then casually follows the cop home to find out where he lives. As soon as the house appears unoccupied, the terrorists break in and steal the uniforms. It’s easy to do. If you are a cop, you shouldn’t have any police identifiers on your personal vehicle.
What can we do about the problem?
1) Closely scrutinize anyone who is wearing a uniform. Realize that wearing a uniform may be a ruse for a person to get access to secure areas for any number of reasons…espionage, theft, or even placing a bomb. This article is primarily about terrorists using cop uniforms, but a firefighter uniform, a military uniform, or even the uniform stolen from a UPS truck driver will cause you to pause before pulling the trigger. That pause is exactly what the terrorist is looking for.
2) Look for odd behavior. You could be the most diehard cop hater in the world, but you have to admit that people obeying the law generally don’t have to worry about cops just randomly shooting or beating them. You can also assume that cops probably aren’t throwing fragmentation grenades and setting the timers of bombs. If you see a police officer or officers doing something obviously “unpolicelike,” be on your guard.
3) Grooming standards. You should recognize that most police departments in the USA have grooming standards. You don’t generally see cops in uniform with long ungroomed beards or long hair. Cops will also be wearing a complete uniform in most jurisdictions. If a person is wearing a police uniform shirt, blue jeans, and tennis shoes, he’s probably not a cop.
In most states, potential police candidates must be over 21 years of age to even apply for the job. If the guy in the mismatched cop uniform looks to be 18 years old, something isn’t right. Pay attention to how your local cops dress so that you can recognize any discrepancies you might see. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity around dry cleaning businesses, laundry places, and costume shops. If you see suspicious activity, call the (real) police.
4) Equipment. Look for bulletproof vests as well. Most cops in the USA wear soft body armor under their shirts or an exterior body armor carrier. You can easily see the armor itself or its outline through the shirt. Body armor is harder to steal than uniforms. There’s a good chance that the terrorists won’t be wearing concealed body armor. Hard armor rifle plates in an external plate carrier aren’t normally carried by beat cops. Someone who is wearing a plate carrier as a cop is most likely in a police special assignment (like SWAT). Their plate carriers will have clearly identifiable “POLICE” patches on both front and rear. If the guy shooting at you is wearing an unmarked plate carrier, he probably isn’t a cop.
What kind of gun is the person in question carrying? You won’t see many American cops using an AK-style rifle on patrol. Their sidearms will also tend to be full sized Glock, S&W, Sig, or HK pistols. I’ve never seen a uniformed cop in the USA carry a Makarov, Tokarev, or Desert Eagle in his holster. Terrorists from the middle east and Africa might screw up this detail. They might mistakenly choose a pistol that they have the most familiarity with (the former soviet block pistols are cheap and readily available in the Middle East) instead of a gun that matches what the local cops carry.
Along with the gun, evaluate the officer’s gun belt. Most patrol cops in America don’t wear drop leg holsters. Also, since police departments usually buy their officers’ gunbelts and accessories, those accessories tend to be somewhat uniform. If the guy is wearing a leather gunbelt, with a drop leg tactical holster and nylon magazine pouches, he’s either working for a screwed up department or he isn’t really a cop. Most police officers’ gear will be of the same material and color as all the items on his belt. Mismatched gear is a danger sign.
Cops will also have a portable radio on their belts. If they are working, they need radio communications. Terrorists might forget those details or find it more difficult to acquire a radio than a uniform. A uniformed cop without a radio is a pretty rare sight.
5) Marked cars and multiple officers. If you see a cop, but don’t see a marked police car nearby, the “cop” might be an imposter. Very few agencies use regular foot patrol officers in today’s age. If an officer is assigned to foot patrol, he will most certainly NOT be armed with a long gun. Cops also tend to arrive in large numbers to any serious crime scenes. If there is shooting going on and you don’t see any other cops or hear the sirens of additional responding officers, something is wrong.
Pay attention to the tactics that foreign terrorists use. Those same tactics will be seen here soon.