Police officers are trained to protect lives and property. They’re skilled drivers, shooters, and fighters. They know how to arrest, how to testify in court, and how to collect evidence. They’re calm and cool when facing danger. And they’re protective of other officers. But how about after transitioning from wearing a uniform to plainclothes? How do detectives prepare for danger? After all, they don’t have the luxury of wearing all that fancy, shiny gear that’s worn by patrol officers. Here’s a few safety tips for the detectives in your stories.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight,” right? Well, the same is true for shoes. Detectives should never, ever wear fancy, expensive shoes to that same battle. Why not? Because shoes such as the $1,500 leather-soled A. Testoni pictured above offer zero traction during a fight, or while running. Remember, sometimes it’s necessary to retreat in a hurry, and you certainly want your protagonist to make it to page 325. Detectives should always wear lace-up shoes that do not have all leather soles. And female detectives should never, ever wear heels.
TV investigators are often seen with handcuffs looping over their waistbands, with one cuff inside the rear of the pants and the other flopping around the outside. This is not an acceptable method for carrying handcuffs. They should always be secured in a holster of some type, such as the one pictured above. Carrying them improperly is an invitation for a bad guy to grab them and use the cuffs as a weapon against the officer.
The ratchet end of the cuff (the hook-like part hanging down in the image above) makes for an excellent weapon. Imagine an offender swinging the cuff, catching an officers cheek and ripping the flesh away. It’s happened.
Carrying a loaded firearm tucked into the rear waistband without a holster is a definite no. For starters, the weapon is not secure and could easily slip down inside the pants, which could be difficult to retrieve during an emergency. And an unsecured weapon is easily taken by an offender during a scuffle. But even worse, it would be downright embarrassing to have to fish your gun out of your pants while standing in line at the bank. So wear a holster. There are several designs specifically for plainclothes and undercover officers. For example, the Pager-Pal:
I know this like beating a dead horse, but ALL officers, including detectives should wear their ballistic vests. Wearing a suit and tie does not prevent an investigator from encountering dangerous people with guns. Suit jackets and shirts can be cut to allow a vest underneath (male and female). Or, if worn on the outside of the shirt during a known “situation”, but under the jacket, be sure the carrier portion of the vest is white and then wear the tie over the vest. That way the vest will sort of look like a shirt from a distance. The few seconds of, “What the hell is he wearing?” may allow the detective to get close enough to make the bust before the bad guy realizes the person approaching him is not just fashion-challenged.
And tuck the tail of the vest inside the pants, like a shirt tail. It’s there for a reason! Never roll it up under the vest. Doing so allows the vest to ride up, exposing vital organs.
Plainclothes officers should always display their badges near the shooting hand while their weapons are drawn. People have a tendency to focus on a gun instead of the ID. Therefore, they may not realize the man with the gun is indeed a cop. This includes other officers who may think the good guy is one of the bad guys who then may shoot one of their own before realizing their little boo boo.