Moderator: Van Canna
Four researchers studied 120 victims admitted to an Edinburgh hospital for edged-weapon attacks.4 Of those, 20 died from their injuries, with 16 of them experiencing the most severe trauma to their chests and only 5 making it to the hospital for treatment.
Of 148 homicides from stabbing recorded by the Royal London Hospital, 67 had a single, fatal stab wound.5 The researcher calculated that of these 67 single wounds, 22 hit the heart and 17 the heart and a lung. Multiple stab wounds accounted for the remaining 81 homicides, and, of these, deaths occurred from chest wounds in 61 cases.
In another study, 36 percent of male assailants inflicted one wound compared with 57 percent of female offenders.6 Of these single fatal wounds, 27 out of 39 hit the chest of the victim. Of an additional 74 lethal stabbings reviewed by researchers, 27 single wounds were fatal, with 18 of these occurring in the chest.
A review of 20 years of law enforcement injury reports in the United States indicated that on average, 1,358 officers are attacked with edged weapons each year.9 This number has fluctuated over time, with its lowest point of 871 attacks in 1996 and the highest of 2,095 in 1992. On average, over the 20year period, between three and four knife attacks on officers have occurred every day. This statistic alone illustrates the need for further edged-weapon awareness.
THREATS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT
According to one researcher, the majority of civilian edged-weapon assaults occurred in the home and were inflicted with a kitchen knife, whereas a large number of injuries took place on the street with folding or sheath knives.10 Recently, three British physicians called for a ban on large, pointed kitchen knives after finding that at least one-half of the stabbing cases involved this type of instrument.11 Prior research has shown that the length of the blade is not as important as the sharpness of the tip when it comes to penetration of the skin.12
Consequently, a blade with a length of less than 3 inches can produce a fatal stab injury, while an adequately sharp instrument of any length can inflict a fatal slash to a sensitive area, such as the neck. “The ideal weapon is, in fact, a short thin-bladed knife, with a stiff blade, about 7 cm in length—many lock knives and small sheath knives fall into this group. Larger knives (ornamental daggers, militaria) required far greater force.”13
Unfortunately, most state statutes’ definition of a common pocketknife, which is legal to carry without a permit, provides little legal recourse in the reduction of these weapons on the street. As a result, officers tend to overlook the potential threat to their safety.
Gabe SuarezIn the past, officers making contact with an individual carrying a balisong (butterfly knife) automatically would view the person as a potential threat. They assumed that the subject could produce the weapon rapidly for immediate use.
Recently, a number of knives that can be deployed much more rapidly than the balisong and, yet, are legal to carry in most jurisdictions have been marketed to the civilian population.
The emergence of the one-handed opening knife presents a much greater threat as someone can draw it quickly from a pocket and open it in less than a second.
Some manufacturers design their knives so they open as the person draws it.
If suspects have knives clipped to their pockets, they are essentially “on guard” whenever their hand touches the clip.
Yet, many officers often fail to recognize this as a threat and may allow a suspect to retain the weapon during an encounter.
Frequently, individuals carry one-handed opening knives in their front pants pockets on the strong side of their bodies. Officers can easily identify these weapons by a metal clip that extends 1½ to 2 inches out of a suspect’s pocket.
The 21-foot rule, a dogma of law enforcement training, has held that at a distance closer than 21 feet, a suspect with an edged weapon in hand could stab an officer before that officer could fire two shots.
However, one researcher found that an individual can cross 30 feet in 2 seconds and suggested that the person could travel 70 yards before succumbing to injuries created by an officer’s firearm.14 According to the FBI, “There is sufficient oxygen within the brain to support full, voluntary action for 10 to 15 seconds after the heart has been destroyed.”15
This suggests that 21 feet is an insufficient safety zone during an edged-weapon encounter. Unlike shooting a firearm, lashing out with an edged weapon is a primitive, instinctive action that a subject can accomplish in that 10- to 15-second window.
At the beginning of the 20th century while conducting operations in the Philippines, members of the U.S. Marine Corps found that insurgents, although fatally wounded in the chest, still could move forward and issue a final blow from their edged weapons, seriously wounding or killing Marines.
These experiences support the FBI data that even after being mortally wounded, a suspect with a knife still can inflict injury or death to an officer.
What can officers do to protect themselves? Identifying the threat of a one-handed opening knife is the first step. Law enforcement agencies should review their policies, procedures, and case law in the formulation of a plan for disarming suspects carrying knives.
The greatest tool that officers have in their arsenal is maintaining distance as it gives them time to react to an attack. Because it is not always feasible to stay 30 feet away from a suspect, officers should consider the option of disarming the person and returning the weapon if no further probable cause exists.
This may prove problematic as officers encounter resistance from suspects who do not want to relinquish their weapons. As part of officer training, law enforcement agencies need to establish protocols for disarming suspects before officers interview them.
Ideally, this process would involve two officers—with at least one being armed with a less lethal weapon in the event that the situation deteriorates—as the other officer tries to disarm the suspect.
At no time should officers allow subjects to touch their weapons or take them out of their pockets, even if they offer to remove them and place them on the ground. Once suspects have made contact with their knives, they can quickly transition to opening the blade and assaulting the officer, with potentially deadly consequences.
In one study, for example, 45 percent of edged weapon attacks resulted in death from a single stab or slash.
16 CONCLUSION Based on prior years of law enforcement assault data, the profession knows that over a thousand officers will face an edged weapon in the next 12 months. Equally recognized is the fact that it may not always be possible to place a suspect outside the danger zone.
Law enforcement encounters tend to take place face-to-face, which may give a subject an advantage in an edged-weapon encounter. Consequently, officers need to be aware of the presence of knives and other edged weapons to reduce the delay in their reaction times.
While ballistic body armor provides a degree of protection against slash attacks, most modern pocketknives have the ability to puncture the material unless the weapon strikes a trauma plate.
Furthermore, vests do not protect vulnerable targets, such as the carotid and brachial arteries, that can lead to unconsciousness or death if severed. The subclavian and femoral regions also are exposed and can be vulnerable to an edged weapon with a blade length less than 3 inches.
However, with proper preplanning, officers can substantially reduce their exposure to an edgedweapon attack. They must recognize all edged weapons as threats and neutralize them before such weapons reach their intended targets.
Sort of related ...... some of my observations.
I ride a Harley. Many of my riding friends carry a knife in their right boot. I've also noticed that a number of motor officers also favor this mode of carry. When sitting on the bike, the knife is mere inches away from the rider's hand. An officer getting close to one of these riders at a traffic stop can put himself into the danger zone unknowingly.
Some ride with a blade underneath the seat. There is a gap between the rear cylinder and the frame which works nicely. There are lots of other gaps which could conceal a knife.
I am sure we've all seen the blades attached to the inside of gas caps. Sometimes the left grip conceals a knife.
A good biker's knife has rust, dirt and road kill remnants on it. A cut surely means serious infection.
Stay at arms length when dealing with a 'motorcycle enthusiast'. Make the rider turn, twist, and reach a distance when getting the paperwork. Make them turn off the engine, keep the kickstand up and balance the bike with their legs.
The Sicilians have an expression (which I don't know how to spell) "Manifageista" which is a person who simply doesn't give a fu**.
Jason Rees wrote:I pine for my youth. I was 19 when I disarmed a knife-wielding teen. With a kick. An inside crescent. Would I kick a knife now? Hells bells, no frigging way. But back then I thought I was hot s#$! Didn't hesitate.
Van Canna wrote:Jason Rees wrote:I pine for my youth. I was 19 when I disarmed a knife-wielding teen. With a kick. An inside crescent. Would I kick a knife now? Hells bells, no frigging way. But back then I thought I was hot s#$! Didn't hesitate.
I saw a man being knifed to death back in the old country...very scary sight, something that stays with you for the rest of your life.
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