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Edged Weapons Part Two – The Armed Officer

I admit it, I love knives. There are just so many cool ones out there, it’s hard to choose. But while most us crimefighters carry a knife of some sort, many of us have never trained – mentally or physically – to use our knives as anything more than a basic utility tool. Here are a few things to think about if you carry an edged weapon at work.

Invest in a good knife. Let’s start with the obvious: cops are notoriously cheap. It’s just part of our basic DNA. Frugality is a good trait, but we cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to our basic life-saving equipment, such as our firearm, our body armor, or our edged weapons. There is a lot of great information and research out there, there are also a million idiotic blog posts from so-called “experts” about police and tactical knives so make sure you’re getting the facts. My friends at Spartan Cops posted this list of suggestions when it comes selecting a duty knife. (Guide to Selecting a Tactical Folding Knife for Police Work) Among other things, they talk about making sure your knife has a sturdy pocket clip, one-handed opening, good hand protection, and an appropriate blade length; all great advice from real experts. Take the time to learn about the type of materials used to make a good quality knife; a blade that is easy to sharpen is often easily dulled. Many of the finest blades are susceptible to rust, damage, or breakage. When you start looking at a knife (or two or more) to carry on duty, also consider how you’re going to utilize it and where you’re going to carry it, and don’t spend so much money on a knife that you’re afraid to use.

Take care of your investment. Too many officers think a knife is self-maintaining and trust me, they are not. Don’t just sit there thinking you will buy a stainless steel knife and stick it in your pocket until sometime in the distant future when you need it. Remember, the same knife you use to jimmy doors or cut seat belts with may also be the knife that you may someday use in a deadly force situation. A truly good knife requires the same care any important piece of equipment does, and with regular care and cleaning will give you a quality blade your grandkids may wear on-duty someday. Some officers prefer professional sharpening, but there are many sharpening kits available at very reasonable prices that make it easy, quick, and satisfying to produce a razor sharp edge! Also make sure that you regularly check any mechanisms, clips, and exterior of your knife to make sure it’s always ready to go, just like you. Many of the quality law enforcement blades available come with a coating similar to the bluing on a handgun, which helps protect your blade from the elements.

Controlling your equipment. As “Street Survival” instructor Mark Dunston talks about in a classic LETN video, officers must control their own equipment. Most officers carry their folding knife clipped to their front pocket. This may make that finely sharpened knife easily accessible to a suspect who wants to use it on you or one of your partners. Take “knife retention” as seriously as you do “gun retention.” Consider alternative carry methods including on your gun belt, inside your boot, around your neck, or in any other more secure location. On duty, I carried a Smith and Wesson folding knife hidden in my back pocket and a small Ka-Bar TDI law enforcement knife (designed by John Benner of the Tactical Defense Institute) in a holster on my pants belt under my duty belt. Both were easy for me to access but not visible to the public. I used the folding knife as my basic utility blade, but my Ka-Bar LE knife was my “Plan B” for a gun-grab situation or any deadly force encounter. Cops also need to control our other edged weapons, including our handcuffs, keys, pens and pencils; all of these have been used against American law enforcement officers time and again.

Mental preparation. On January 15th, 2009 a Sacramento County, CA deputy used his duty knife to stop a 58 year old man who attempted to disarm him from behind. The deputy stabbed the offender, who survived, several times until he ceased trying to take the officer’s gun. I met several of the deputy’s co-workers at a training class, and they all agreed that he was completely prepared to utilize his tactical knife to protect his own life. Learn from this deputy’s success, visualize yourself using your knife as a “weapon,” not just a utility tool. Find a quiet spot, breathe deeply and imagine a scenario where you recognize the threat, draw your knife, and stop your attacker. Allow yourself to feel the sweat, smell the blood, and visualize yourself winning the encounter, taking the offender into custody, rendering aid to yourself and others, and ending up at home, safe and well, physically, mentally and legally.

Knives aren’t just for Patrol. If you’re undercover, working in plainclothes, or even off duty, a good knife can be a great tool for you to have handy. Make sure you know the local laws regarding knives and what you can legally carry and also make sure you’re up to speed on departmental policy. Then find an edged weapon that is easy to conceal, easy to access, and most of all, easy to use. Someone in your agency or your squad is a knife aficionado; turn to them for advice and input regarding your selection of a personal edged weapon. Consider investing in a quality training course to enhance your edged weapons skills, and make sure to share any newly acquired knowledge with your co-workers. In law enforcement, a knife is a unique and ironic tool. Everyone cheered “Dirty Harry” when he stabbed the villain who had just disarmed him, but most agencies are too ambivalent, antagonistic or ambiguous about police officers using knives as a self defense weapon. We all claim to carry knives to extricate accident victims or scrape paint chips off of bumpers, but we all know that throughout history the edged weapon has been a savior for many a warrior, and that includes the modern day warrior, the police officer. Stay safe.

  • M_a6d52838fcaf76871a3f162b66e0b424_max600_max50


    over 4 years ago


    i'm sorry folks.. it is

  • M_a6d52838fcaf76871a3f162b66e0b424_max600_max50


    over 4 years ago


    the BEST blades I have found are at they are amazing.. i have a karambit and love it. It did take some getting used to in order to use it correctly though.

  • Investigator_monster_full_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great article!

    Now, if someone can direct me to Part 1, I would really appreciate it.

  • Dirty_harry_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great article! I feel naked without having at least one knife on me at all times.

  • Policememorial---a_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great article Betsy, thanks for sharing.

    On the subject of knowing your department policy on using knives in a use of force situation - it is good to have that policy in the back of your mind but don't let it over rule your survival instincts. As LEOs we have a duty and obligation to use deadly force under certain circumstances and in most cases the law doesn't specify the means or method by which that force may be applied. I personally am not going to worry about a bunch of PC chair warmers in city hall wringing their hands over the fact that I used an "unapproved" method of delivering deadly force to a suspect that I was in a fight for my life with. I don't care if I have to stab them, club them, bash their head against the sidewalk or chew my way through their throat, I am going to win that fight and go home to my family!

    Stay safe out there everyone!

  • Mpca_seminar_026_max50


    over 4 years ago


    It sounds like your blade has a tanto tip. Tanto tips are are best honed with an angle guide for the cutting edge. Then lay the back side of the blade flat against a fine stone to keep from having a rolled edge. Use a small amount of oil and a fine stone. Hope that helps you. Stay safe.

  • Img_1155_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I got me a real good knife, but its becoming dull. any good suggestions on how to sharpen it? it has an angled edge, not a soft curve.

  • Image_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Good article and it brings up a good point too few of us train like how we will fight in a life or death situation. Luckily I train with my Spyderco Police model whenever I get a chance. Edged weapons for self defense is severely under rated. I also recently purchased a 5.11 tanto surge as another back-up/primary blade since I mainly use the Spyderco as a utility knife. I recommend that everyone train themselves to use the tools at their disposal whether it be a firearm, knife, flashlight, baton, pac-set, etc. In conclusion fight to live and live to fight...

  • On_the_boat_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I admire a well-made piece of cold steel..

  • Cb46b4bfa58cfbd6_max50


    over 4 years ago


    One thing that has always amazed me is officers attempting to use tazers when confronted with a subject armed with a knife....But I guess thats a whole other article in itself. I preach to fellow officers about this almost daily.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    I never leave home without an Emerson.

  • P1010076_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I've always heard good from KABAR and, to a lesser extent, Gerber. Other than that, I'd suggest you go to your local knife show. I doubt you're going to spend 4 grand on an ABS mastersmith blade :P, but you can always ask around with the other smiths on what type of metal was used, if they used a blank or forged it, cooling process, ect.

    Please don't buy those cheap 20-40 dollar 440 stainless "China" steel knives. It will snap when you need it.

  • Me__new_orleans_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I spent 30 years in the Navy, with 25 of those in the Special Forces, and a knife is as much a part of me as my hands. Like any weapon or tool, its use must be learned and practiced. I know a lot of guys who carry knives, fixed blade and folders, but never practice getting them into the fight (especially during a struggle). They may as well leave them at home. My personal favorites, because they are reasonably priced, very well made, fit my hand, and are quick to use (only a switch blade opens faster), are the Kershaw "Ken Onion" series folders. I own half a dozen of them and NEVER leave home w/out at least one. I'm not certain if it is still available, but one best knife-related training films ever made (and one of the most graphic), was "Unarmed Against The Knife" which featured Danny Inosanto as the "bad guy" in numerous situations against officers. The video included interviews with officers who had been attacked by knife-wielders, re-inactments of actual attacks, crime scene footage, and emegency room fotos. It is a real eye-opener for most people. The Latino culture is a knife culture based upon generations of using knives as tools and, as the Latino population grows, so do your chances of encountering a perp with a knife. I remember the Sacto Co incident very well and remember thinking that the officer was probably a huge exception in that he had the presence of mind to go for his "back-up" knife so quickly; an act that clearly saved his life.

  • The_wall_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I was a knife person, long before I became an Officer. When I did became an Officer, I always carried two Knives, one for day to day chores of Police work, the second, I always called it my "When it hits the Fan Knife." The second Blade was always a Combat Style knife, at first it was a fixed blade, later on it was a high quality Combat folder. I am retired now, but I still carry two knives along with my Glock 30.

  • Joe_max50


    over 4 years ago


    I have been in Federal Law Enforcement for approximately 21 years now. In that time I have been trained in countless forms of defense and arrest control techniques. I am certified in Krav Maga Law Enforcement program, LEEWT (law Enforcement Edged Weapons Training), I am currently a Defensive Measures Instructor for the Federal Government and I am an advanced instructor in a program Called ACES (Advanced Combat Entry System).
    If you want to learn the most effective, easy to learn and easy to retain system I have ever learned it is the ACES program. It is taught by Guru Kieth Moffett of Kun Lun Pai martial arts. Out of concern for our community he only teaches this system to law enforcement and military personnel.

    Knives are great tools, learn how to use it and defend against it!
    Kun Lun Pai Martial Arts Academy
    7269 Lowell Boulevard, Denver Colorado 80030

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