Tools of the Trade: Law Enforcement

It’s worth while for us to think about what law enforcement needs and why, so that if bureaucrats or politicians are cutting necessities from law enforcement budgets, you will know and can speak intelligently on the subject.

To start with, what law enforcement needs is for America to maintain a free-market, capitalist, competitive economy. Competition results in better mousetraps, which translates into better life-saving equipment for police.

A very good example of that is BODY ARMOR. Richard Davis, “the man who bullet-proofed America’s police” is a citizen who was shot in an attempted robbery. He was lucky, surviving with little damage due to his attackers’ poor weapon choice and his preparations. As a result of that experience, Davis designed and put into production “the first practical, concealable soft body armor wearable all day under a uniform shirt”. The inventor eventually started “Second Chance Body Armor”. At first he sold exclusively to police, then to civilians. So citizens benefited from the free-market system, legal concealed carry, and attention to law enforcement needs. The National Institute of Justice says that over 3,000 law enforcement officers’ lives have been saved by this type of body armor.

You can read the whole fascinating story at the link immediately below, written by one of the foremost self-defense authorities, deadly force expert witnesses, and experienced police officers in America.  American Handgunner The Pin Shoot Meeting Gun Shot Survivors

And surprisingly, the author of that article says, “Over the years, as the saves accumulated, I saw almost half of them were vehicle crashes.” Read the article for that officer’s personal experience of that. It can work for you too.

An officer can expect to pay over $200 dollars for a vest with a good level of protection. Departments that care about their officers should be able to get some break on the price, or maybe even buy them for their officers.

A little-used but potentially vital item is the “patrol carbine”. Because sometimes you can’t wait for SWAT – like 18 minutes of gunfire in this —V— case:

The sardonic, black humor of the sometimes vulgar narration sums up very well in five minutes the case for a patrol carbine in every cruiser.

It wasn’t until the late 60s that law enforcement even began to switch to semiautomatic pistols. Today’s iconic law enforcement and military pistol, the 17-shot Glock 9mm, didn’t become popular until the late 90s. Revolvers are cheaper, but the Glock changed the rules, because it is absolutely the most reliable semiautomatic the world has ever seen. No other “service pistol” has ever been torture-tested to the extent the Glock has. There are other excellent semi-autos, and some are better suited for individual officers, but whichever of the quality semiautos is chosen, it offers great advantages to police and citizens alike: much higher magazine capacity (engage multiple opponents), 2-second reloading (instead of 6 seconds), usually shorter, lighter trigger pulls (potentially better accuracy). It does cost more than a revolver. But what’s it worth to avoid a police funeral?

Ammunition has improved radically as technology and documentation have provided better tools for designing bullets. In the day of the police revolver, the popular police projectile was a round-nosed lead bullet. NYC cops called it “the police widow-maker”. Even worse was full metal jacket ammunition. Both types were prone to shooting all the way through the human body, and to ricochet, sometimes causing injury or death to innocent parties. To issue either of these types to police today, in either revolver or semiauto, may actually constitute criminal negligence and may lead to wrongful death lawsuits.

Bullets will always be potentially lethal, but the handgun hollowpoints of the last 30 years have been improving steadily and dramatically. The better ones have been designed so that on a frontal torso shot, they are far more likely to stay inside a human body, or to exit with such low energy that they pose minimal risk to other people. They’re also far more likely (NOT guaranteed) to stop felons with one or a very few shots, radically lessening the risk of lawsuits for alleged murder or unnecessary use of force. Guess what, they cost more. They require much more precise manufacturing, and that’s not cheap. Neither are lawsuits or police deaths.

Your law enforcement agency should issue excellent fight-stopping ammunition. This is a relatively low-cost way to help protect officers and the citizens they serve. And the agency should make sure their officers carry spare ammunition.

Patrol officers should be carrying their handguns in a “snatch-resistant” holster, because in every confrontation between a cop and a suspect, there is always at least one gun present: the officer’s. And it’s hanging out there in plain sight. If an offender makes a grab for it, a “snatch-resistant” holster will give an officer desperately needed seconds to gain control of the situation and save his or her life. Such holsters are more precise, more complex, and, guess what, more expensive. Again, what is it worth to save an officer’s life?

Two more things that will help an officer in a gun-grab situation: TRAINING and a back-up gun. Training in gun retention techniques is very important. A back-up gun can be crucial if the officer’s gun malfunctions, is shot empty, or if it’s easier to trust the snatch-resistant holster for the very few seconds it takes to draw a back-up gun.

Training, by real professionals, guess what, costs money. A back-up gun and the training to use it costs additional money. Serious training, real-world training, should test judgment under stress, movement under stress, shooting under stress, equipment, malfunction clearance, and gun-retention ability.

PRACTICE: using a handgun is what is called a “fine-motor skill”. It requires frequent repetition to maintain peak performance. That means a police-only shooting range, ammo and scheduled time off work to maintain that skill.

Handgun competition is one good way to maintain handgun skill. It costs money to conduct a relevant pistol competition.

Support your local police – at the town hall budget meetings!

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