Growing up you likely got in trouble for dropping things. You dropped the glass and spilled the juice; you got in trouble. You dropped a picture and broke the frame; you got in trouble. If you dropped something expensive; you got in a lot of trouble. As you got older if you dropped things you either got in trouble or got ridiculed and called clumsy, or got laughed at for having a case of the dropsies.
As an adult you get pissed off at yourself when you drop your fresh, hot cup of coffee from Starbucks as you are getting into your car. You are mad at yourself not only for dropping the coffee and wasting whatever it cost you, but you are made because you now have coffee all over your shoes and pants.
The combination of that lifetime of conditioning and the tendency to clench your hands when you are under stress is something you may need to find a way to detrain in your officers.
Here is a simple experiment. Take a group of officers to the range and give them a cup of coffee or water to hold when they are on the line and then have the targets turn so the officers need to engage them and watch what they do. They first time this happens many will bend down and put the cup on the ground then stand up, draw and shoot. In a force on force scenario have a deadly threat present itself when the officer has a pen in one hand and notebook in the other and see what happens. You can do the same when they have a can of OC spray or a Taser in their dominant hand and see what happens.
It is not a natural response for officers to open their hands and rid themselves of anything that is not helpful or useful in that instant so they can access their firearm or more effectively deal with a close in threat using empty hand techniques. It needs to be a trained and conditioned response.
If the threat is close and violent then using a can of OC or a Taser that has malfunctioned or been ineffective as an impact tool can be a very viable option, but will be an unlikely response unless it has been trained.
You have likely seen officers hold on to items that are not useful in the moment and may even impede their response. You may have been critical of the officer and wondered, or asked, “Why didn’t you just drop that?” A better question might be, “What have we done to train our people to drop those items and respond more effectively?”
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