When it comes to circumstances where off-duty officers must intervene immediately, we should consider what we know about recent active homicide incidents — that is, a person begins killing and is still active when police are called on-scene.
The majority of these situations occur where gun possession is limited or prohibited — this reduces the potential of a lawfully armed citizen ending it. Second, the incident is rarely, if ever, negotiated to its end. Usually an officer neutralizes the shooter or the shooter commits suicide. Third, the idea is to strike defenseless persons, not trained armed officers. In this case, the faster the intervention, the better.
Knowing this, we should encourage HR 218-eligible persons to carry and require them to be effective from grappling distances to the practical limits of a handgun, about 25 yards. Officers should be ready to shoot, move and communicate; strictly adhering to department directives but also prepared to augment the effort on an emergency basis.
Our ideal package is the SIG SAUER P239 in .357 SIG. It works well in Bianchi's Model 100 holster, as both handgun and magazines are flat. When we experimented with this gun and cartridge combination, we discovered its superior after-barrier penetration and plus-25 yard accuracy, which explains SIG SAUER's new military contract. Several isolated incidents have indicated the faster bullet is unimpeded by vehicle doors and panels.
If the wardrobe requires pocket carry, the .38+P or .357 with a laser is ideal. Our pick is the Smith & Wesson M&P 340 CT. This is a 13.3-ounce .357 Magnum with a Crimson Trace LaserGrip. Thanks to the Safariland Model 25 Pocket holster, the M&P 340 CT can be carried safely in the pocket, even in running shorts. This holster is lightweight but covers the trigger guard, a requirement for pocket carry. The holster's detente keeps the gun in place.
No two things about it: Regardless of the manner in which a tactical knife is used, its use must be one-handed and fast. Our pick is Benchmade's 522 SBK Pardue Axis. It uses the ambidexterous Axis Lock, a brilliant mechanism that secures the blade with a hardened steel bar that seats itself in a machined slot in the tang. This gives these knives two unique traits. They open quickly and effortlessly, much smoother than a liner lock. The deadbolt-like lock is all about speed and strength.
The tactical knife is most likely employed for heavy cutting chores, not as a last ditch defense tool. Still, like the handgun, when the officer needs it, he needs it bad. We recommend a one-hand locking blade that holds a good edge and can stand in for other emergency tasks like quickly slashing window screens, household wiring and exposing search areas like car interiors. The other smaller percentage should include a blade that can be put into use quickly from the pocket.
Why is a pen recommended for off duty? For tough note taking, of course. The Benchmade 1150 is a precision machined fine writing instrument designed for extreme use. When we first received this tool, we promptly put it through several barriers like wallboard and sheetrock. Even when the all-weather writing tip is exposed, it can be driven through sheetrock and returned to duty.
The 1150 is sturdy enough for emergencies like knocking off door hinge pins or breaking car windows. Used correctly, a person can transition from writing to feeding it to a threat, without breaking stride. Administrators should consider keeping a stock of these pens on hand for presenting to officers as merit awards.
Taser and less lethal
Off-duty products are generally aimed at the civilian market and are self-defensive in nature. Because of this, the disparity must be overcome with practice, training and knowledge. Although the Taser C2 was designed for civilian use, it has a similar manual of arms as the on-duty version, including a drive stun feature. Provided the off-duty officer never strays from the parameters of department policy, this tool could be used.
Also in less lethal we recommend ASP's Palm Defender and Kimber Pepper Blaster. Both make excellent refillable pepper spray products. They are innocuous looking to the point that a person can have one in his or her hand while discreetly protected.