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Whenever I try to convince myself to leave my gun at home for a quick trip to town, I remind myself that I’m a cop—and even though I’m off duty, I never should let my guard down. Because of this, I’ve learned to be creative when it comes to concealing my pistols.
TDI Courier Bag
One concealment item I’ve been using for almost two years is the Ka-Bar TDI Courier Bag, with ambi-sling attachments and durable polyester construction. This bag is one of those products that makes you think, why didn’t I think of that?
Just as its name implies, it’s a courier’s bag—or at least it looks like one. However, this bag has a surprise lying in wait: The two double-zippered pockets are deceptively large and allow you to conceal a full-sized pistol with room to spare. The front pistol pocket is MOLLE compatible for holster use and has quick-draw pull tabs. I put my XD .45 Tactical with a Streamlight TLR-1s light attached in this pocket and fasten my shield to one of the MOLLE straps. The larger rear pocket includes an integrated mp3/cell phone pocket with headphone ducts, and a series of elastic straps that can hold a number of different items. In this pocket, I carry two extra mags and a JET-III M Tactical Defense Light from JETBeam.
TDI Courier Bag
• Two large pockets for concealing a full-sized pistol & other essential items
• Integrated mp3/cell phone pocket with headphone ducts
• MOLLE compatible
Approximate street price: $70
JETBeam specializes in military- and LE-quality LED lighting products. Their lights feature the latest LED technology and high standards of workmanship. I tested the JET-III M, which boasts an impressive 225-lumen output for two hours. The light is fully programmable for multiple functions and power settings. Using the CREE R2 LED package, and an aluminum reflector, it puts out a consistent beam of white light through its coated, mineral-glass lens. The body is well constructed from T6061 aircraft aluminum and is finished with a military-grade, hard-anodized coating. The bezel and tail cap have a crenate, stainless steel design and are capable of shattering glass. With the optional triple-bladed bezel, the flashlight becomes a formidable impact and gouging weapon. Overall, it makes a great standalone weapon and is easily concealable.
• 225-lumen output for two hours
• Triple-bladed bezel
Approximate street price: $84
DSM Safety Banner
To “hide in plain sight” means to hide our identity until our assistance is required. Then we need to act swiftly and with steadfast resolve. But it’s also at this moment where we, as off-duty cops, are most vulnerable. Several off-duty officers have been wounded or killed in recent years due to lack of proper identification in a scenario where they had to use their weapon.
For example: When we receive a “man with a gun” call, we’d be looking for exactly that. We’d get on scene and search for a man standing with a gun in his hand among the dead. If we aren’t careful, the “man with a gun” could be an off-duty cop not properly displaying identification. He may have done a good job of identifying himself to dispatch, but the info may have been distorted when it reaches you—or it may not reach you at all. You’ll never see his shield hanging around his neck if you’re approaching him from behind or targeting him with a rifle from a long distance. I shudder when I think about how easy it would be to misidentify a fellow officer in plain clothes. It’s dangerous to be the last man standing when your backup arrives, so carrying proper ID is crucial. Your life depends on it.
A solution to this problem is wearing a DSM (Don’t Shoot Me) Safety Banner. The DSM Safety Banner was designed by Sgt. Mike Lessman, who has more than 20 years of LE experience, including a career in SWAT, patrol and gang enforcement. In his research, Sgt. Lessman found that friendly fire tragedies occur due to misidentification by either civilians, or more tragically, by cops. The banner is designed to be carried out in the open on your belt for immediate identification. It should be placed on the off side of the belt so that your support hand can deploy it, while your gun hand is free to do its job. The banner comes in bright red/orange or green, and features reflective letters that encircle your torso and identifies you as police, sheriff, security or a CCW, legally-armed citizen.
Unlike the “thin blue line” products that can be readily purchased at the flea market, the LE-specific, DSM Safety Banners will only be shipped to your agency address—without failure. I know that when I see a DSM “Police” banner wrapped around someone in an active shooter scenario, there’s a good chance that they’re on my side. I keep track of my DSM banner with the same level of attention that I assign to my gun and shield.
DSM Safety Banner
• Bright, reflective letters for easy identification
• Ships to agency address
Approximate street price: $40
The Bottom Line
Don’t advertise what you do for a living by how you dress off-duty. The TDI Courier Bag doesn’t scream “shoot me first!” If you’re one of those guys that runs around off duty while wearing several items from LE catalogs, you’re inviting disaster. Like you, I too am proud of my service as a cop, however, I wear my pride internally. There’s no greater badge of honor than knowing that you averted disaster. I want to be the last guy the enemy sees as a threat—just before I engage them—and the first guy the cops properly identify when they arrive on scene.
Until next time, practice hard, and I’ll see you on the streets.