For some reason, a lot of police officers do not treat knives and other edged weapons as a serious threat.
I imagine that some of this complacency comes from the fact that here in the USA, nearly everyone is walking around with some type of folding knife. Since the vast majority of people armed with a knife pose no actual threat to us, I believe that we, as officers, do not perceive the knife as the deadly weapon that it can be.
I highly suggest you see how quickly a man can be incapacitated or killed by a man with a knife:
Don’t say that you would never let anyone get that close to you. Every time you go to handcuff someone, they are that close to you.
Also, we all know that a subject can cover a distance of 21′ and start stabbing you before you can draw your firearm and shoot him. Consider this video of an actual chase, where the officer is aware of the danger, yet the subject is able to cover the distance and slash his face with a butcher knife before the officer can shoot him.
But edged weapons are not limited to folding knives. Sure, we run across people armed with a sword on occasion, but even more frequently we run into people armed with razor blades, bottles and other improvised weapons. Do we recognize these threats?
There are a number of people who learn to carry a razor blade in their mouth. Then when in close contact with an officer (such as during an arrest), they move the blade from their cheek to their front teeth and slash back and forth with the blade. Typically, the targets available to them are your face and neck. Those are also two of the most vulnerable places on your body.
Broken bottles are not to be dismissed either. Make no mistake: glass is very hard, very sharp and can cut through tissue as easily as a knife. For example, consider the horrific attack on officers in a UK prison in 2010. The press reported that one corrections officer was stabbed in the back, while a second officer was stabbed in the arm. While technically true, the extent of the injuries was much, much worse than presented.
The officer that was merely stabbed in the arm, actually had his arm completely layed open, which severed an artery. Here, two years later, he is still struggling to recover. Check out Robert Kaiser’s blog for some of the shocking photos of the injuries to both officers.
Here’s the bottom line: edged weapons are deadly force threats and should be addressed as such. Their range is much more limited than that of a pistol or rifle, but inside their area of effectiveness, they can be every bit as devastating as a firearm.
Remember the old “ability, opportunity and jeopardy” triangle for understanding a threat? Knives have the ability to kill and inflict great bodily harm. When in close distance, say around 7 yards or less, you are certainly in the range of the weapon, assuming their are no barriers between you and a healthy suspect. If the suspect places you in jeopardy, or reasonable fear of an imminent attack with that weapon, then you need to know how you are going to respond.
Don’t dismiss edged weapons as a lethal threat.
(Note: I did a review on the Ares cut resistant gloves from PPSS Group last week. PPSS generously donated two pairs of the gloves to give away to our readers. There is no cost to enter or anything. Feel free to check out the review and sign up for the giveaway on that page.)