It's "Black Friday" this Friday and in just a few short days it will be "Cyber Monday"—it's officially time to let the shopping shenanigans commence.
Did you know there's an entire website devoted to tracking the death toll and injury count in shopping-related incidents on the Friday following Thanksgiving?
I suppose it should have come as no surprise that BlackFridayDeathCount.com (which currently gets my vote for best ULR ever) was the third result in an Internet search for "Crime on Black Friday." A blog post by a bail bonds establishment and another blog post from an attorney's office were one and two in the search return, respectively—seriously, I'm not kidding.
According to reports, a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were shot and killed outside the entrance to a shopping mall in Sacramento (CA) last year—an 18-year-old was later arrested.
Two years prior to that (2018) in Ottawa (Canada), a 27-year-old man was shot and killed in the parking lot of an area shopping center.
In 2012, two people were shot and wounded in Tallahassee (FL) over an apparent dispute about a parking spot at a local Walmart store.
In 2016, two people were shot—one fatally—outside a Macy's in southern New Jersey. A "bullet riddled SUV" and "dozens of shell casings" marked the scene shortly after midnight as Black Friday shopping was just getting underway.
In 2008, a Walmart employee on Long Island (NY) was trampled to death when more than 2,000 "shoppers" barged through the front door before dawn. Four other individuals—including a pregnant woman—were injured in the melee.
Wherever you patrol and whatever your shift, there will be mayhem and morons with which to contend on Black Friday. Among the most common violations you'll see are brandishing a weapon, menacing, inciting riot, assault/battery, and (obviously) theft/shoplifting.
Hopefully, however, you will also enjoy some downtime during which you can get ahead on your holiday shopping for family and friends—here is handful of ideas to get you started.
Sweet Stocking Stuffers (Under $25)
5.11 Level I Duty Socks
The best things to put into a cop's stocking is, well, warm stockings (socks). I'm a big fan of the 5.11 Level I Duty Socks, particularly of the 9" variety. They stay up above the calf all day long (few things are worse than socks that end up bunched up around your ankles all the time), and they offer just enough compression to be comfortable and not constricting. They're available from the 5.11 website and retailers like Galls and run (pun intended) at $13 per pair.
Black Rifle COTUS 20oz 2.0 Coffee Tumbler
It's really easy to get sucked into the vortex that is the BRC website (there's a plethora of stuff like t-shirts, coffee grinders, clever mugs, and whatnot) but a major favorite is the Constitution of the United States coffee tumbler. According to BRCC, this vessel is "perfect for enacting new tariffs and silencing whistleblowers" but it also keeps hot beverages hot for a really, really long time. It's components are BPA-free components and designed to fit in any standard cup holder. Retail price is $20.
Nice But Not TOO Nice (Between $50 and $100)
Gerber Highbrow Onyx Serrated Edge Knife
This compact tactical knife has a drop-point blade and eight flat-top serrations near the hilt. The sleek anodized aluminum handle makes it a smooth draw from a pocket, and the ambidextrous clip can be mounted for either left- or right-side carry. The open-assist is ample but unobtrusive. Not meant as a primary duty knife, the Gerber Highbrow Onyx Serrated Edge Knife makes for an outstanding backup blade or an off-duty tool for everyday jobs. Priced at $52, it's an outstanding value.
Leatherman Heritage Super-Tool 300 Multitool
Nothing says "I love you man" quite like a top-quality multi-tool, and the Gold Standard belongs to Leatherman. The Heritage Super-Tool 300 has 19 tools, including four screw drivers, needle-nose pliers, a nine-inch ruler, a wire stripper, a couple of knives, and (of course), the obligatory bottle opener. A person can spend plenty of cash on some of the items Leatherman has on the market, but for me, the sweet spot of the bat is this handy device priced at an even $100.
Santa is Awash in Cash (What Price Tag?)
The Shot Indicating Resetting Trigger (SIRT) Training Pistol was developed to complement live-fire training. These come in models resembling (but not affiliated with) Glock, Smith & Wesson, and SIG. The trigger reset is excellent, and although there is no felt-recoil and no slide action, this is probably better than dry-fire practice with a real gun because you can see with the two lasers whether or not you're jerking the trigger. It's also great to practice changing magazines (tactical reloads). It's pricey (at least for me) at between $339 and $439 depending on the model you choose, but well worth the investment.
Force Science Certification Perhaps
The best gift a person can give another person is that of knowledge, and while there are myriad ways in which this valuable gift may be bestowed, having a certification in Force Science Analysis is way up there on the list. This weeklong seminar will hurt your brain, but pain is weakness leaving the body and when it's all said and done, there's a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Tuition is $1,650—no small investment—and the participant will have to travel to some location, pay for hotel, meals, and all the other accoutrement required of such a trip, but as a FSI "Cert Holder" holder I can attest to the fact that it's worth every penny.
Over the years I've suggested a whole host of other options, and they merit mention in this space (ICYM). I love the Battle Mug, which is simultaneously frivolous and indispensable. In my opinion a person can never go wrong giving books. The most recent release I place in the "essential" category is Street Survival II: Tactics for Deadly Force Encounters, by Lieutenant (ret) Jim Glennon and Lieutenant (ret) Dan Marcou.
Then there is a plethora of non-police related gifts. For the outdoorsman or woman in your life, I challenge you to wander around Bass Pro Shops or REI for a half hour and not come away with something perfect for them and priced for you. Send a picture of your partner to MyCustomBobbleHeads and you'll get an amusing likeness of them they will either love or hate (either of which is a good outcome, in my estimation). There are endless options if your shopping list includes someone who likes a funny or ironic t-shirt (my current favorite is the "Let's Go Brandon" shirt I got off Amazon).
In the end, it really is the thought that counts. This Holiday season has the potential to bring with it some additional irritations and inconveniences (everything from hobbled travel to global supply chain problems), and there's no getting around the fact that those issues [rhymes with *truck gas*].
Make the most of what you can, and cast aside the rest. This weekend is still about giving thanks, after all.
Be well and stay safe my friends.