One of our readers, a patrol sergeant, told of a training range incident in which one of his officers wound up splashed with paint; like up to his elbows and with splatters on his uniform and belt gear. While the officer held out his dripping arms, he asked his boss to secure his sidearm before it got gunked-up as well. The sarge tried to remove the gun from its level-three security holster. It took him about 45 seconds to accomplish this, despite Drippy’s frustrated instructions to, “Push that down, rock that forward, no, not that way! Push again, then no, don’t …” It was comic entertainment for on-looking officers — but not for the sergeant and Officer Drippy.

In the aftermath, the lesson wasn’t lost on the sergeant. In an emergency, could his lack of familiarity with that security holster cost lives, one of them perhaps his own? At line-up, he discussed the incident. Among 10 officers, there were six types of level two and three holsters with three very different retention systems. No officer present could quickly and surely operate all of them.

One officer said he had read online in a belly-down prone position trying to pull his sidearm, if his holster’s hood was prevented from freely rotating forward, blocked by the ground or other obstacles, he wouldn’t be able to draw without rocking up on his side. He had tested it, and it proved true. He wondered if other security holsters used by squad members were also subject to this or other restrictive conditions. They didn’t know; it would have to be tested.

From that point the colloquy went geometric: Were all squad members familiar with each other’s firearms? No. Did everyone know who carried what backup guns, where, and could all operate them? No. One officer was surprised to learn his 3-nights-a-week partner carried a micro-compact pistol in a second handcuff case. When asked why he hadn’t told his pal, he replied the subject hadn’t come up.

Four carried different types of alternative cuffs in addition to standard handcuffs. How did they work? Only one cop was carrying plain single-loop restraints. Others required minimal training to use quickly and properly, but familiarization was required.
By John Morrison


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American COP October 2012

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