When you mention the phrase “tools for critical response,” to most police officers and SWAT cops, they think first and foremost of the guns, knives, and other tools for dynamic entry. While those are all essential, there are also some subtle tools like the tactical doorway wedges and disposable handcuffs that help make the job easier. Here is a roundup of just a few of the products I’ve seen lately which make tactical work just a little less hazardous.
The doorway wedge everyone is talking about is the Wedge-It. A team can use it to wedge a door open 90 degrees or wedge it closed, depending on the mission. They are indispensable for clearing areas like office buildings whose offices all look the same.
When gun-mounted lasers first became popular more than a decade ago, I was skeptical. I put one on my Glock 22 and was quickly converted. Range guys like me found that there were certain times when laser sighting has its advantages.
The Crimson Trace Laser is the most instinctive laser I know. Crimson Trace lasers work by simply squeezing the grip, something a shooter would do naturally. For duty guns like the Glock, the Lasergip product has the switch at the web of the hand. It is a simple thing to paint the target with a tiny red flower.
The new Laserguard models have a laser in the front of the trigger guard. The switch activation is approximately the same.
Of all the things a gun equipped with Crimson Trace can do, the best application is for the officer behind the ballistic shield. This officer can look through the port and direct bullets with a laser. Anyone who has carried the ballistic shield for any length of time can quickly recognize the utility of this product.
Streamlight Sidewinder Compact
One product that really impressed me was Streamlight’s Sidewinder Compact LED tactical flashlight. This product has 20 light functions in a single module. It comes with a helmet clip which works just fine on the latest lightweight Kevlar. It has several different color LEDs, including a bright white one, which lends itself quite well to clipping on a ballistic blanket. The spring steel clip will also clip into MOLLE equipment. Powered by a single 123 battery, this product is a “no-brainer” for any aspect of law enforcement or search and rescue work.
BLACKHAWK! CQB Ram
A Breaching Officer is a rare breed. I have had several friends who have spent a few years breaching on a team. One can always distinguish them from other critical incident team members by they way they study unique doorways, hinges, and entry ways. A closed door is a challenge. A barricaded one is only a minor inconvenience.
Studying doorways sometimes makes people nervous on a call, besides the fact that most Breaching Officers I know look like they don’t need tools to rip the door off the hinges.
After the exterior door is down, it is handy to have something more maneuverable for those stubborn interior doors. One technique is to sling a smaller ram for interior breaching. The BLACKHAWK! CQB Ram is the way to go. When I played with this tool I found I could stand way clear of the fatal funnel and accurately deliver entryway punishment, without the shock of the devastating blow being transferred to my fingertips. This is the heaviest 23 pounds an officer can swing.
Barrett M82 and Barrett Model 99
I have had the pleasure of shooting the Barrett M82 and the Barrett Model 99 in .50 BMG using HSM 690 grain ammo. There are plenty of videos going around of spectacular shots made with a shoulder fired .50 BMG. While I cannot attest to the accuracy of each of these videos, I can speak with authority on the accuracy of both Barrett products I shot. I have had several range opportunities with these rifles and was able to consistently hit a steel torso at 700 yards. Some of the soldiers I have trained with have much better stories about the accuracy and reliability of the M82A1. If anyone hears me talk about M16s, I generally say something along the lines of “...t’s the most recognized firearm in the world…” I cannot say the same thing about any Barrett product because the bad guys never get to see one.
It should be clearly understood that the .50 BMG has a special niche in tactical intervention. There are certain situations where the officer must take the shot and shearing winds preclude a lesser bullet. There are other situations where the superior vehicular penetration of this bullet is the only answer.
CRKT M21-04G and McGowan M.A.K 1
Critical response knives have several characteristics which distinguish them from knives generally found on patrol. Critical response officers often need beefier spines and longer blades in case their knife becomes an ad hoc prying tool. I once had a $300 knife with me on patrol and I almost shed a tear when I had to use it to pry open a heavy door whose handle had been removed. As a rule, use a moderately priced knife that can take a beating.
The two knives worth mentioning are not just moderately priced; they are downright inexpensive considering their features. The CRKT M21-04G is a little longer than most folders with the new AutoLAWKS feature. This locking mechanism secures the blade as if it was a fixed blade. The M21-04G is a little thicker in the spine. It has a very subtle belly in the blade which gives it a little extra swing weight. I specifically selected this knife because of the G10 scales, which are more temperature extreme friendly and place the balance further into the blade.
The McGowan M.A.K.-1 (Multiple Access Knife) by CRKT sort of looks like a fixed blade, but the steep chisel edge and 90 degree tip give it away. Originally designed for emergency rescue, complete with glass breaking and pry bar options, it is inexpensive enough to be standard issue for each team member.
ESS Profile Turbofan
Every team member should have eye protection which offers ballistic protection. The ESS Profile Turbofan is rates at ANSI Z87.1-2003+ and has a two speed fan which can run 150 hours on a single AA battery. I got a chance to test these goggles and their prescription inserts. They are excellent protection for secondary projectiles and offer outstanding peripheral vision. I found that I could get these goggles up on a carbine stock without interfering with my cheek weld.
Safari land (Defense Technology) introduced a new breaching device appropriately called a Wallbanger, named after designer Sandy Wall, a 28-year veteran of Houston PD. It is a modular device which ties together several different types of breaching elements which a critical response team would have in their arsenal. Really, is quite remarkable and drew quite a crowd at SHOT 2010. It is a vast improvement over the utility pole and will improve standoff distances for a breacher.
What do I think is the best critical response tool any officer can have?
I hope you guessed: A good pair of running shoes that fit well and a few miles of peaceful trails. If I had a recommendation for long term policing, it would be the power of the workout. Oh, and carry your badge and BUG.