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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
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Get an Everyday Carry Knife

You might be surprised at how much you will use an edged tool if it's on hand, and wonder how you ever did your job without it.

January 18, 2012  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

CC_Flickr: borkazoid
CC_Flickr: borkazoid

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.

Tags: Knives, Utility Knives, Duty Gear


Comments (5)

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

John Carp @ 1/24/2012 6:01 PM

As a 23 yr. LE vet, I can tell you that I go no where without a knife!

I carry a HSLD serrated zombie proof, nuclear proof, super slicer!

After filling a box, next to my holster box with knives that didn't work, I like this one. But the real reason I write back,... is that one day I was at a drive up package store and a child came running up screaming knife, knife, knife! Being a good copper, I thought the place was being robbed! I jumped out of my POV and saw the little boy motioning to follow him. He lead me to a mini van and pointed to his two or three year old sister that had some how wrapped the seat belt around her neck, in her car seat and had hung her self.

She was BLUE! I asked/told the parents I was cutting the seat belt and did so! She fell back in to her seat with a plunk and began to "pink up" immediately! There were some humerous aspects of this terrifying event, to follow,... but suffice to say I will never be without a knife again! For all it's SEAL worthy "tacticalness", this knife is a tool! No other sort of blade would have worked as well in the situation I spoke of due to the tightness of the wrapping.

Most respectfully

john

RICHARD L ISAACS @ 1/24/2012 6:26 PM

THOSE LOOK LIKE SPYDERCO KNIFES. GOOD CHOICE. IF YOU HAVE A KNIFE WITH A DEVICE THAT LOCKS IT IN THE CLOSED POSITION, THROW IT IN YOUR FISHING TACKLE BOX. DEALING WITH A LOCKED CLOSED KNIFE DURING A LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION IS A DISTRACTION THAT COULD CAUSE YOU YOUR LIFE.

Craig @ 1/25/2012 3:57 AM

One Christmas I was given a Spyderco knife...it looked pretty chinzy and I though, "What a crappy knife". Until I used it. Holy cow, those things are sharp. They're cheap enough to throw in the tackle box when they start to dull up.

I prefer my Applegate folder (it's a two-edged folder), but the Spyderco knifes are real go-to tools.

kevin wright @ 1/25/2012 10:33 AM

I too never go anywhere without a knife and now at family events people expect me to have it so they can open products. I have had great results with spyderco and the price point allows me to own several and always have one with me. Not to start another discussion but I also always have a small led light (surefire e1b) with me.

RICHARD ISAACS @ 1/30/2012 6:02 PM

I CAN'T BELIEVE IT, FIVE COPS WHO ALL AGREE ON A TOPIC. IS IT A COLD DAY IN HELL?

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