I was doing some reading on Ferguson, and came upon a video from the Washington Post with some detail shots of cops in Ferguson, and some labels (inadequate, for what they don’t say about it, and what they don’t ID). At the 16 second mark I did a double take.
That guy is wearing a K-Bar. A fucking K-Bar*. Don’t get me wrong, I like K-Bars. I’ve owned one since 1993. I had two versions of it when I deployed to Iraq. They are really good at what they are for. What they are for is hand to hand combat; up close and personal. What they aren’t is any sort of defensive tool. Knife fighting is ugly work. It’s brutal, and dangerous. One of the situations which gets handled badly in the press (and one in which I give cops a bit more leeway when I hear there was a shooting) is one with a knife, because the minimum safe distance from someone who has a knife is a lot longer than you think it is, and the amount of damage someone can do with them is often more likely to be fatal than a similarly placed gunshot.
So what is he doing with that knife?
He’s armored (the bulky sleeves on his vest… those are deltoid armor. Military Issue body armor doesn’t have them). Also, if the situation is that volatile, why are his arms exposed? He’s almost certainly packing a sidearm. He isn’t alone. You could tell that (even if you didn’t have any other evidence than this photo) from his weaponry. He’s got a grenade launcher** (probably loaded with CS/Tear Gas). That’s a support weapon. It’s not the sort of thing a cop on their own is going to be carrying at high ready. The people using it are going to be (in any well managed deployment) from the second, or third rank.
But this yahoo has a close in weapon only good for killing people. He’s wearing it in a quick draw rig. What the fuck? Does he think he’s going to be going toe-to-toe with someone in a dark alley? Has he been reading too many pieces about trench warfare because it’s the centenary of WW1? I’m agog.
I also want to know who let him hang that from his rig? When they did their inspections before they headed out (in the Army it’s called a PCI, for “pre-combat inspection”. It’s when your first line supervisor looks you over to see you have everything you need, and that it’s in the right place. Ammo, water, bandages, helmet, dry socks, lip-balm, etc.) how did this not get called out?
If one of my guys had been getting ready to go on a patrol and was packing a machete, I’d tell him to leave it behind, unless we were expecting to be busting some brush. The guy is a cop, for fuck’s sake. He’s not in the jungles of Guadalcanal. He’s staring down a bunch of people angry because one of their kids was gunned down and left to lie in the street, and the authorities are saying, “he had it coming”. He’s not going to be ambushed and knocked down, his only available weapon a big honking knife; in a kill, or be killed situation.
The only way that happens is if his command is so fucked up they instigate an all out assault on the cops by the citizens. So he’s got a screwed up view of his role. Either his command doesn’t see it, or doesn’t care.
Which is a big part of how we got where we are.
*It’s actually a K-Bar style knife. Note the hexagonal shape of the pommel. K-Bars are round, also forget the “Gerber” in his pocket, that’s a tool knife, handy for cutting rope, slicing seat belts, sectioning an apple. What that knife most decidedly isn’t is a weapon. It’s built all wrong.
**All the detail they give, just tells you what some of the types of grenades it can launch.