This post is a direct response to a reader who asked me what one thing I would recommend he purchase for everyday use as a police officer. If you have read my columns you know I am a knife aficionado. I have repeatedly told you to get an everyday carry knife (EDCK) for those utilitarian moments of life. If you watch the TV show "NCIS" then you will recall Special Agent Jethro Gibbs' Rule # 9: Never go anywhere without a knife. So, here goes....
I know that there are some chiefs and sheriffs that have explicit policies governing or nearly prohibiting the use of edged instruments while on duty. Some agencies and some entire states are taking stances against officers' usage of last-ditch weapons and fighting blades. But that still leaves open the rescue, utility tool, or smaller pocket knife. I am not going to address belt knives, boot knives, or forward-assisted, double-edged, serrated, titanium-treated zombie-proof blades. I am talking about a daily use utility tool, that's all.
If you don't own such a knife, you should. I watched an officer struggling with packaging evidence the other day. He had scissors out and was trying to cut, poke, and shape a piece of cardboard needed to stabilize a fragile piece of property. Finally, I asked if he needed my pocket knife. Once he agreed to use it the process went smoothly, efficiently, and probably much more safely. When you use items outside of their intended design, bad things will happen. Hint: Don't use scissors to cut like a knife. They are not that sharp and you will make a mess of the project.
You may be doing something as easy as cutting a bagel in half or opening a package. In the daily rigors of police work, it could be cutting crime scene tape. Whatever the task, at some point during the day you will need some form of a working blade. So go out there and get one.
I could tell you what works for me, but my general advice is to get your hands on a knife you find that fits your needs and hands. As there are many varieties of knife designs, so are there many applications. I tell most officers to look for a Swiss Army multifunction-type knife configuration, better known as a multi-tool. In addition to a blade, you will get other useful devices in one package.
Whatever you choose doesn't have to be large. Focus on function, such as how it carries in your pocket. There are other configurations for emergency service applications that fit the bill as well. Again, one knife does not fit all applications. Stop in to an outdoor or hardware store to view the varieties of knives. Again, ask to see, feel, and try them out. This should be a purchase that is a fit for you, not the guy waiting on you.
Another important matter is the fact that this is a tool, so it must be cared for. Get a sharpener to touch it up. A dull knife is worthless and often will hurt you. And if you don't want it to break needlessly, only use the knife for that which it was designed. I have seen far too many blades snapped because they were used as prying tools. Again, this is a safety matter.
I do not intend to turn you into an edge-head like me. What I want is for you to be efficient and effective in all you do. Don't yet believe me? Go back to Gibbs' Rule #9.