Cruiser Cam Video That Launched The Police Officer Safety Industry

In our very first training program, there were so many police officer safety issues that it almost boggled the mind.

It was In the Line of Duty series Volume 1 – Program 1, and to this day, more than 20 years later, it can still  save cops’ lives, as it has since 1995. It is in your face proof that when the most garden variety officer safety tactics are discarded, even broad daylight stops can turn into horror stories in seconds.

In that program, circa 1995, a Georgia State Trooper (Benjy Hodges) had stopped a vehicle for speeding along infamous I-95.

He had approached the passenger in the front seat, and an officer from the county’s s.o. had gotten the driver out and was supposed to be monitoring  him while Hodges dealt with the passenger.

It turned out to ultimately become the first officer involved shooting ever caught on tape  in which a cop shot a subject.

When my partner (Don Marsh) and I first saw the cruiser cam video at the St. Louis PD’s Film and Police Video Unit, we just looked at each other and really didn’t say a word.

It was obvious that cruiser cam video was going to be a seismic shift in the way police officers were trained and educated. Video documented events will helps answer a critical questions: Does law enforcement in the US need improved training?


That single clip of crystal clear video of an officer involved shooting was mesmerizing to us, and we knew for a fact, that it would do the same for cops everywhere in the U.S.

In the Line of Duty series was effectively ‘born’ that day when we realized how very  powerful it would be to combine law enforcement video with analysis and lessons learned from the actual police officers involved in critical incidents.

Now, depending on whom you talk to in law enforcement agencies, there are anywhere from three to 10, 20 or more officer safety rules of the road which should never be violated if a cop truly wants to get home safely to his family at the end of the shift.

There are dozens more in the subsets right below anyone’s top 10 (or however many).

For many years, Sgt. Richard Simpher was Line of Duty’s technical adviser, and he was as solid as it gets.

Over those years, Rich superbly analyzed many of the police videos we featured on our Line of Duty series programs, and he became so good, all we had to do was ‘wind him up’ and let him go.

He was the Energizer Bunny in human form—with a lot more energy and smarts.


I have learned that , at most, officer safety issues could be boiled down to 3 things:

  • Never let your guard down on contact and cover
  • Always watch deadly hands
  • Always practice superb arrest and control tactics

If ever there was a police/ cruiser cam video where those officer safety tactics went  down the toilet, it was the traffic stop Trooper Hodges made that sunny day on I-95. Not Trooper Hodges’ officer safety tactics but rather his back-up.

The police officer, a pretty near dead-ringer for Rod Steiger in “In the Heat of the Night” or Jackie Gleason in “Smokey and the Bandit” probably did the best he could.

However, it turned out to be such a harrowing performance as cover officer, to this very day, it will cause veteran cops to cringe and shout at the screen.

For, he lost any semblance of composure and focus, waffling back and forth from the subject he’d supine on the trooper’s cruiser hood and watching Trooper Hodges interact with the passenger.  At one point, Trooper Hodges’ spidey senses had piqued, and he told the deputy that if the driver made a move to “shoot him”.

That seemed to further exasperate the deputy, and when you watch the cam video, you’ll clearly see that, as he’s turned towards Trooper Hodges, his gun and holster were literally in the driver’s face.

The holster itself was a Level Zero, and by that I mean there was no safety on the holster, and all anyone would have to do is grab it and shoot.

Two or three times, the driver looks at the gun and holster with the look of a ravenous wolf.

Any cop on earth, watching that video, would have zip, nada and zero doubt the salivating driver could have grabbed the gun, killed the deputy and, quite possibly, the trooper.

As far as ‘watching deadly hands’ is there a single veteran cop who would say that, as long as a subject’s hands are unrestrained, they COULDN’T be potentially deadly?  Hmmmm?

There were also no arrest and control tactics, none.

So, when Trooper Hodges saw that the passenger had a gun on the console and told him (the passenger) not to go for it or he’d  shoot him, you can only imagine how the deputy basically emulsified on the side of the road.

Trooper Hodges did end up shooting the non-compliant passenger, and somehow by dint or miracle neither officer was harmed. Still, complacency, confusion, utter lack of tactics could have made the outcome an ugly one.

Did I mention that the deputy was not wearing a vest?

That program will never fail to rivet police officers’ eyes and ears, and it is a living testament to Sgt. Simpher’s very astute observations.

In looking back, it’s amazing to me how many officer safety programs we have produced where Rich’s simple, yet profound observations continue to hit the old tenpenny nail square on the head.

I’ll have more to say about critical officer safety issues, so stay tuned, please.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Ron Barber – Line Of Duty

Cop Killers With Hidden Cuff Keys

SC Trooper Stabbed To Death
A couple weeks ago, I was amazed to read about a South Carolina trooper who’d been stabbed by a longtime scumbag after a traffic stop. I wasn’t amazed because the officer had been stabbed. That happens to coppers several times a week. I wasn’t amazed because the p.o.s. had a lengthy and violent past. That’s, often, a given when police deal with subjects on stops, calls, emergencies, etc.

The Hidden Cuff Key
What amazed me most was that in only two articles of the dozen or so I read about this incident was it mentioned that this scumbag had a cuff key hidden in his necklace. And, he ACCESSED it, too, and, briefly, was able to escape his cuffs. I’m still looking for additional details.

However, it gets me to my central thesis on this rant. Why in hell don’t officers immediately remove ALL jewelry and any other items on a violent subject’s person that could conceivably hide a cuff key?

This is life-and-death potentially, and the time for playing nice-nice with an individual who has just tried to stab you has long past. Get the damned jewelry i.e. watches, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, hair combs, anything and everything that could conceal a cuff key OFF! Get the cell phone, get the cigarette pack, get the purse, take the wallet. C’mon, this is your life we’re talking about here! I’ll go so far as to add that even ‘big hair’ is suspect.

The Hair Weave
In one of our new Golden Nuggets programs produced this year, GN04 – Life-Saving, Street Smart Tips for Cops, I talked about a woman with a hair weave who’d been concealing all kinds of drugs in her hair, and it wasn’t until a complete comb through by a corrections officer that it was discovered.

And, THAT wasn’t done until it was discovered she had been dealing drugs to other inmates. Where the hey was she getting and secreting the drugs?!

Sherlock Holmes used to say that after all other options were eliminated (in crime-solving) the last one was the solution. In this case, it was the woman’s big hair.

Hank Earl Carr (Cop Killer)

Now, for all you officers 30 or under, the name Hank Earl Carr probably means nothing to you. So, I’ll tell you who he was.

One of the most evil, murderous, lying, conniving sons of bitches who ever lived. Carr murdered his little step-son, and when the cops came, he bobbed and weaved, coming up with every damned excuse he possibly could to obfuscate his involvement. His girlfriend, the little boy’s mother, pathologically lied with him every step of the way.

When Carr was handcuffed (in front) by two veteran Tampa homicide detectives for a ride downtown for additional questioning, he tried to wriggle out of the handcuffs, basically in broad daylight and in front of the two coppers.

They verbally warned him not to try that again. He didn’t. Instead of trying to wriggle free of the cuffs, he accessed a hidden cuff key (arguably in a necklace that hadn’t been confiscated/searched), and murdered the two detectives on the way to h.q.
In his escape, he then lured a young Florida trooper to pull in right behind him after a short pursuit. Then, he slaughtered the trooper.

Ultimately, Carr blew himself away after a standoff at a convenience store where he’d taken a woman hostage. It’s all there in Line of Duty’s training program, ‘Tampa Cop Killings’ which, to me, should have been mandatory viewing for all law enforcement officers these last 20 years or so.

Alabama Officer Murdered

The Mobile(AL) P.D. worked with Line of Duty on still another training program, “Murder of an Alabama Officer” in which an arrested lowlife sprouting nonsense was able to access a cuff key and the blade within.

He cut a veteran officer’s jugular, and the officer was dead on the sallyport floor in a couple minutes.

I’m, quite honestly, surprised more cuff keys aren’t being found. It takes incredibly thorough pat downs and, often, done multiple times to do the job properly. And, you cannot tell me every gang-banging, violent scumbag out here wouldn’t love to be the first on his block to get over on the cops. That’s bragging rights in the big house, and you know it.

Always remain aware that, as Joe Friday said long ago on ‘Dragnet’, those are “just the facts”.

See what ITLOD has to offer.

Here are previews to both our programs on the Tampa Cop Killings and Murder of an Alabama Officer.

V09P11 – The Tampa Massacre
SI26 – AL Officer Stabbed to Death

I am proud to recommend them highly for every law enforcement training library in the civilized world. Plus, for reading my blog, we’re offering you 2-for-the-price of one. If you’re interested please visit our online store at, or e-mail or call 1(800)462-5232.

If you don’t think it turns out to be one of the best investments in training you ever made or will make, let me know. I’ll refund your every nickel.

Best, and in Officer Safety,
Ron Barber

Interview with Richard Blackburn – Trooper Coates’ killer

Interview with Trooper Coates’ killer and posting photos of cop killers

Over 20 years ago, Line of Duty produced one of its most enduring training
programs, “Interview with a Cop Killer”.

I went to South Carolina and interviewed Trooper Mark Coates’ murderer
Richard Blackburn at length. (PHOTO OF BLACKBURN. TAKE A FREEZE

According to Google – at summer of 2018,  it is still one of our most watched training programs ever.

It was, to my knowledge, the very first time a convicted cop killer had ever been
interviewed about his crime with the complete, horrific incident caught on cruiser

In fact, two cruiser cams.

He looked pathetic, lost and obese when the corrections officers brought him into
the interview room in a wheelchair at the (( )) where he was serving
a justifiable life-without-parole sentence. Believe me, there wasn’t a cop alive
in South Carolina who didn’t want to see Richard Blackburn executed long prior
to my interview with him.

Blackburn (to me) seemed to want to cooperate and did not dodge any question
I threw at him.

First, I asked what prompted him to ultimately explode in fury at Trooper Coates.

He said he initially felt put out, because Trooper Coates had picked his old
beater out for a speeding stop and yet, Blackburn claimed, there were other newer
model cars that had sped by faster than he was driving.

It’s an invaluable program, one that, I feel, truly tried to get into the psyche of a
cop killer, and, apparently, over the years many law enforcement officials agree,
because it has been watched and studied so very often. Still is.

Which gets me to my point.

When a Florence, SC officer was shot to death and several other cops were also
wounded earlier this week, I tried to stay on top of it and post every breaking

That included ultimately posting a photo of the officer’s alleged killer.

Plenty of you responded negatively and implored me to delete the subject’s photo.

You had a damned good reason, too. He’d just killed a great veteran officer and
seriously wounded several others. Why give him a scintilla of publicity?

I hear you, I do.

However, as a journalist who actually tries to provide as much fact as I can in a
major story, this man’s photo and background seemed to be critical to me.

Without his heinous actions, there would have been no story.

If the Chicago Tribune over 50 years ago didn’t publish the photo and background
of Richard Speck next to the student nurses he’d methodically murdered, it would have
been an unspeakable oversight.

When a cop is slain ITLOD, don’t you think it’s absolutely imperative to show his (or her)
photo and as much of his (or her) background humanly possible?

Don’t you want to try to learn from absolutely any aspect of the killer’s personality, background,
motive, or reasoning?

That, of course, includes his photograph or, perhaps, multiple photographs which can, often,
supplement just exactly who is this and why he did what he did.

20 years ago, if I’d provided only an audio interview with Richard Blackburn, wouldn’t you have
much rather SEEN this man, watched his expressions, studied his mannerisms, learned from
his physical machinations?

I absolutely think so.

Personally, I think it’s TRULY reprehensible when a media outlet does NOT provide photos and
as much descriptive information as possible about a cop shooter or cop killer.

I see that more and more often when the suspect is a minority, and I hate to say that, but it’s
the truth.

I choose the high ground and will always give you every iota of information on a cop killer,
including photos.

To me, we must learn from tragedy, and that should include learning all we can about the
perpetrators of life’s most horrific, horrendous events.

P.S. FYI, here’s a preview link to our interview with Richard Blackburn:

If you’re interested in the complete interview, please visit our online store at,
or e-mail or call 1(800)462-5232.

Always in officer safety,
Ron Barber
In the Line of Duty

Kyle Dinkheller’s Dad Doesn’t Give Up

When I first saw the cruiser cam video of Deputy Kyle Dinkheller’s murder, I had tears in my eyes. In fact, it was some years before I was able to watch the video without teary emotions and anguish.  So, I will never understand how those closest to Kyle have been able to keep it together over these last two decades.


Kyle Dinkheller came from a wonderful family. I know, because I interviewed several of them and was glad to call his grandfather and his dad friends.  His granddad is gone now, but his father, Kirk Dinkheller, is still beating the drums as hard as he can in support of officer safety.

Kirk was kind enough to respond to my request that he address several questions I had looking back on the 20 years since the murder of his son. 


I am pleased to share Kirk’s answers to my questions.

Kirk Dinkheller – Father

1. From your perspective, what changes have you seen that have been implemented by law enforcement since Kyle’s death?

One of the changes I have seen is a lot more training on the use of force. All the officers I have talked to tell me they take Kyle’s video and break it down frame-by-frame and learn from it. Kyle’s video is a great training aid.

2. What misconceptions have been discovered about Kyle that are important and should be noted?

The biggest misconceptions are that Kyle got in trouble a lot for pulling his weapon on stops and for being disrespectful. Everyone I have talked to said that never happened. I have watched all of Kyle’s traffic stops, and I can tell you the same thing. He was always courteous and respectful.

One situation came to light regarding a stop Kyle made when he was working a bad car accident on I-16 in Laurens County. He stopped a car that did not pull over for law enforcement going to the accident, for driving too fast for conditions and for disregarding the safety of the first responders. Kyle reprimanded the driver for his actions and wrote a ticket. Apparently the driver knew the sheriff and voiced a complaint. The sheriff required Kyle to write a letter of apology and hand deliver it to the driver in question. Kyle felt he had handled the situation correctly, and he had an issue with being required to apologize. Kyle reluctantly complied with the order to keep the peace and to protect his job. Some people, including myself, wonder if that situation may have caused Kyle to hesitate that day.

3. What would you as Kyle’s dad like the long-term impact of Kyle Dinkheller’s death to have on law enforcement?

I would hope the long term impact would be that all officers, new and old, watch Kyle’s video every six months, and (they) learn something new each time. Also, I would like officers to take training to heart, and remember to do their job right and go home at the end of their shift. That is all that matters. I want them to remember that no two traffic stops are the same. Even if one seems routine, officers need to approach all stops with the worst case scenario in mind.

4. Have you any stories from cops who have viewed the dash cam video of the murder of Deputy Kyle Dinkheller and, perhaps, and adjusted their own tactical approaches? Has the dash came video saved officers’ lives in your opinion?

I know Kyle’s video has saved a lot of officers’ lives. Re-training and re-watching the video can save lives. I have heard from many officers who have viewed the video and later been on a stop where something brought Kyle’s video to mind. Some officers have told me they encountered people who were out of the car and wanted to go back to their vehicle. Because of the Dinkheller video, they stopped the person from returning to the vehicle. One officer I talked to went back to the car for the person and found a gun. I have heard this kind of thing often through the years.

5. What do you feel are/should be the most important lessons as a result of Kyle Dinkheller’s murder?

I feel the most important lessons to learn (come) from Kyle’s mistakes on this stop. There is so much to learn. I know Kyle never thought this stop would turn out the way it did, and he was giving the guy every opportunity to give up and go on with life. Unfortunately, that did not happen. I would love for everyone to take training to heart and remember this video. Kyle met the devil that day, and he wasn’t ready to meet the devil. I hope everyone learns from the video so when they meet the devil, they are ready. I will continue to go around the country showing Kyle’s video and talking about him in hopes that it help law enforcement officers stay safe and go home at night.

Thanks to his dad, friends and family, thanks to great trainers and teachers, Kyle Dinkheller
continues to give back in death much, much more than most do in a lifetime.

A bittersweet, yet powerful truth imho.

For those of you unfamiliar with our training program on ‘The Murder of Deputy Dinkheller, here’s a preview.  Order via our online store, or e-mail us at

Be looking for my upcoming blog on a high-risk felony stop of a suspected mass killer
that turned out to be more like a scene from Smokey and the Bandit.

Thanks for joining me!
Ron Barber | Line Of Duty

Kyle Dinkheller – 20 Years After Ambush

From The Desk Of Ron Barber:

20 years ago, when I produced the Kyle Dinkheller training video, I knew it had the potential to have a dramatic role in enhancing police officer safety for many years to come.  The murder of Deputy Dinkheller had had a profound, lasting effect on his fellow officers at the Laurens County(GA) SO. When I came down there with a camera crew, it was obvious to me that Kyle was loved by his peers, family and area citizens and had been caught up in a horrific situation.

Related imageI’m no expert, but it certainly seemed that many of the officers I interviewed were suffering PTSD. I’ve often wondered if they ever got any real help in the intervening years.  Even the department’s chaplain (a wonderful man) was still in pain and spoke so highly of ride-alongs he’d done with Deputy Dinkheller, in which Kyle had spoken of his belief in God and had probed the chaplain for his wisdom and guidance.

It was because of the Deputy Dinkheller video we ultimately produced a training program specifically for chaplains, ‘Police Chaplains/When a Cop Dies’.  I recall asking the chaplain what HE did for support, and he said that he had gone to other chaplains, and that had been a somewhat healing balm for him.  Meanwhile, the training program Line of Duty produced on the murder of Kyle Dinkheller began taking on a life of its own.


The Dinkheller video then and now elicits almost primordial emotions in many officers who have seen it and learned from it.

The seemingly interminable amount of time that elapsed as Andrew Brannan retrieved a rifle from his truck and began systematically executing Kyle affects absolutely anyone with a heart or soul.  “Shoot him, shoot the son of a bitch!” cops exhort every time they see the video for the first time. Let me add, too, they are, often, screaming at the video at the top of their lungs, although, of course, nothing can be done to change the facts.

After all these years, I am very proud to say that, in a way, I feel like Kyle was a friend, a damned good friend. I can’t even begin to imagine the grief and anguish his fellow officers, family and friends must still feel.

“Two decades later, a traffic stop out on a country road is still teaching police officers about deadly force — and the heavy costs of hesitation.”

A year or two ago, I received a call from a CNN reporter wanting to talk to me about the Dinkheller murder and, most specifically, the Line of Duty program on the Murder of a Georgia Deputy.  My gut instincts told me to have nothing to do with anything CNN, which I have long regarded as the most callous, ultra-liberal, cop hating network existent.  So, I recommended to Kirk Dinkheller, Kyle’s dad, that he, too, turn down any feelers from them.  We both passed on any dealings with CNN and thought the matter had ended.  Then, several months after our conversations, CNN came out with the article “The Trigger and the Choice”.  Somehow, the reporter, Thomas Lake, had gotten access to the Line of Duty video on Kyle Dinkheller and had also gotten approval to cover a large police training session where the program was shown.

Mr. Lake prefaced it by saying “Two decades later, a traffic stop on a country road is still teaching police officers about deadly force–and the cost of hesitation”.

He wrote a hell of an article, and I made it a point to contact him after it had been published and apologize for my qualms about cooperating with him.

I am also asking all you trainers and law enforcement educators to consider our Line of Duty program “The Murder of a Georgia Deputy” for your classes and in-service training, if you haven’t already.

I urge every trainer & officer’s family to read this article at CNN.

Like Kyle’s dad Kirk, who has become a good friend, I want to play any role possible in ensuring Kyle did not die in vain. It’s a painful and poignant reminder that there are still highly relevant lessons learned these many years later.

Meantime, I’m going to have Part II of the Kyle Dinkheller Training Video blog soon.

It’ll include absolutely vital information from Kirk Dinkheller on exactly that impact he feels the death of his son has had and continues to have.

Also, I’ll have an interview with ex-Atlanta cop Patrick Savage, who has, on his own dime, put together an 88-minute documentary on the murder of Kyle, a documentary soon to be released nationwide.

In officer safety and respect—
Ron Barber
In the Line of Duty