10-43: Be Advised...
with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief
Innovations in duty gear: DutySmith proves that smooth is fast
When DutySmith was designing its new StreetForce Rapid Deployment line of products, they made a very good call — they called Officer Bob Hindi for his input
During COPSWest 2013, I ran into my friend Bob Hindi. Hindi is the developer of the Hindi Baton Cap and the author of the excellent training book (and companion DVD), Hindi Duty Belt S.A.F.E.T.Y. System Survival Training Guide.
When we spoke, Hindi was standing in the trade show booth for DutySmith, where he was demonstrating prototype designs for a new line of duty gear due out from the company early next year.
Hindi’s litany of contributions in both duty gear and officer safety training is far too long to articulate in this space. Suffice it to say that he’s just added yet another entry on that list.
When DutySmith was designing its new StreetForce Rapid Deployment line of products, they made a very good call — they called Bob Hindi for his input. The new line of products, announced officially at IACP in Philadelphia last month and due to hit the market in early 2014, is aimed at increasing officer safety by increasing the speed with which officers can access their equipment.
The thing I first noticed about the prototypes being shown is that the top flap of the gear is spring loaded. As soon as you unsnap, the flap is up and out of the way immediately. Hindi explained that one reason for this is to address the biggest problems created with flapless holders.
“A lot of guys like to go flapless, and the reason they like flapless is unobstructed deployment. But as we know, they take the risk of suspect takeaways, you have fall-outs, and inclement weather factors. Now, as soon as you unsnap, you’re basically flapless. Put it away, close it, access something else.”
This raised my only red flag. While I love how innovative the idea for spring-loading the flaps is, springs have a tendency to break. These springs seemed really durable, but only time and testing will tell precisely how long they last. Regardless, the good news on this issue is that those springs are they are replaceable through Duty Smith, apparently free of charge.
“Everything breaks now and then,” Hindi pointed out. “I’ve found that the snaps on holders break as well as Velcro closures that weaken. Springs in firearm magazines and the firearms recoil springs also break at times. I don't believe the manufacturers of those items provide the warranties on those product concerns, as we do our spring loaded hinges.”
Smooth Really Is Fast
The other “obvious” change they’ve made to typical duty gear design is bigger, deeper, notches on the sides of the holder. I can’t imagine they took off more than an eighth or a quarter of an inch of material, but the available “purchase area” is noticeably increased.
I handled the prototype OC carrier containing an inert OC canister, and was able to get excellent indexing grip. Even a gloved hand should have plenty of pepper to pinch.
It was, however, the least obvious change that had me grinning ear to ear. Now, the expression “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” has always bothered me — fast is fast, smooth is smooth, and slow is, well, slow. I know the philosophy behind the statement — and I agree with it to a certain extent — but I’m a words guy and the sentence is just irksome.
Anyway, something Bob showed me in this new line of duty gear put a new little wrinkle on that expression. Or should I say, removed a wrinkle.
“Here,” Bob said as he deployed an inert OC canister faster than the eye could even track it, “you have faster deployment — unobstructed deployment.”
Bob opened the OC holder and ran his finger up the front flap toward the metal snap. “Here, we’ve run a ramp, so the last snagging point — the one that usually gets snagged — has been removed.”
The typical snap found on a flap of duty gear has probably snagged tens of thousands of pieces of gear — OC, cuffs, whatever. It protrudes just enough that it’s just bound to get nicked sufficiently to put a hitch in your technique.
Adding this little ramp inside the flap is a very subtle change — so subtle that my picture of it didn’t do it justice — but it’s truly one of those “Why didn’t anybody think of that before” type things.
“What we’ve done is created a safer, faster, more efficient officer,” Hindi concluded.
Train, Train, Train!
The first elements of the new system will be available from a variety of LE dealers in early 2014, with additional elements being added as the year proceeds. In the event you decide to purchase this stuff as soon as it becomes available, I ask only one favor:
Please do your training repetitions on it while off duty, before taking it out on the street. Most police trainers I know talk about 2,000 reps as baseline for new gear. I really don’t know if you’ll need more, less, or precisely that number, but I do know that if you haven’t cemented into place the necessary neural pathways — aka muscle memory — with any new equipment, you’re doing yourself a terrible disservice.
Admittedly, Bob Hindi was lightning-quick with his gear before the advent of StreetForce, but I have no doubt he’s been able to increase his own speed with these new holders. I’d also bet he’s been practicing his strokes every day, multiple times a day.
That’s just who Bob Hindi is.