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How agencies can help officers overcome obstacles that get in the way of protecting and saving lives

Cutting, breaching and prying capabilities help cops better prepare for unexpected barriers

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Cutting, breaching and prying capabilities help cops better prepare for unexpected barriers.


Sponsored by Hurst

By Police1 BrandFocus Staff

Breaching barriers is a science. If you look far enough in ancient history, Egyptian military forces were known to use breaching tactics to breach through more than just doors, but also gates, barricades and fortresses.

Fast forward to the 21st century, from San Bernardino to Virginia Beach, and all places in between, police have often encountered barriers that they don’t have the tools to get through.

The most common obstacle encountered by police, especially in mass casualty incidents or other hostage and/or rescue scenario, are locked doors. As a result of post-9/11 era security improvements, as well as the increased adoption of lockdown and barricade protocols as defensive measures, police are more likely than ever to encounter steel-reinforced doors, multiple dead-bolt locks, barred windows, just to name a few. So what’s an officer to do?

One option is to take a cue from the tools that fire rescue teams leverage, tools designed for rapid intervention teams that can be used in law enforcement. One of those options is the StrongArm by Hurst, the makers of the Jaws of Life extrication tool.

Law enforcement use cases for portable hydraulic power

From breaching doors to cutting through security bars and locks, the StrongArm is a portable, hydraulic combi tool that’s highly effective at knocking down what gets in the way.

Designed with law enforcement needs in mind, the tool has 6,744 pounds of spreading and prying power, ability to cut through Grade 43 chains and wooden two-by-fours. Plus, it has 34,000 pounds of cutting force as well.

“We’ve historically had larger rescue equipment, and we realized that with the combi [combination]tips and the Rabbit tool we had, if we put those on a smaller tool it would be great for forcible entry and RIT,” said Chip Johnson, regional sales manager and national law enforcement specialist at Hurst.

The StrongArm is only 31.3-inches long with its combination tips in place and weighs just 28 ½-pounds (the weight of a slightly overweight Boston Terrier) when equipped with its door opening tips and battery. Each tool comes with two sets of tips (door opener and combination), two li-Ion rechargeable batteries, and a battery charger.

With a four-position handle and large, easy-to-use tip change-out buttons (this comes handy when wearing officers are wearing protective gloves), the StrongArm will easily become any officer’s pick for responding to the unexpected. Uncertainty is ingrained in the duties of law enforcement, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be prepared for what’s to come.

No more jarring breakthroughs for law enforcement

“StrongArm is being used by law enforcement agencies from local sheriff’s departments to state-level bureaus of investigation to federal law enforcement agencies,” said Johnson. “Those users tell us about facilities where they’ve had to cut multiple locks and rather than having to fight and deal with each one, you can just walk down the hallway and cut the locks as you go.”

Finding a tool that is purposely built is critical, and that’s where details like the built-in picatinny accessory rail in a combi tool can be an indicator of officer-first design. Johnson said Hurst takes it a step further by putting user safety first.

“With the StrongArm you don’t have that ‘shock and awe’ of busting down a door with a battering ram but you also don’t have all that force and jarring action to your body either,” said Johnson. “And with the StrongArm you also get a steady and even spreading of the tips, so you have all the tool’s force working on the door’s material, even those reinforced heavy-duty metal doors.”

He also described how law enforcement agencies use the StrongArm for more than just forcible entry with many agencies using it to de-fortify a location after they’ve made their initial entry and taken individuals into custody.

“Then they use the StrongArm to remove any remaining hazards that can hinder the work of others, like forensic technicians working the scene, or endanger those other folks,” said Johnson. “So, they’ll go through the structure and cut or breach locks, remove bars from windows, open up other areas secured with locks and chains to ensure it’s a safe environment.”

It’s time to break down those barriers

It’s not just for hostage or mass casualty incidents in which officers will need a tool like the StrongArm. It’s during the most unexpected (a norm in public safety), like responding to a call for a child with their head stuck in a wrought iron fence, that calls for versatile tools.

“Now in most communities, that officer is going to see that and call for the local fire department to come and extricate the child from their predicament,” said Johnson. “But if that officer has a StrongArm in their vehicle, those spires don’t stand a chance against its 6,700 pounds of spreading force.”

As law enforcement roles and responsibilities continue to evolve, it’s important that we also focus on training and equipping our police properly with tools built for success. At Police1, we’ve covered plenty of examples in the past where police officers were delayed from saving lives by locked doors, and we can expect to see more, if we don’t give officers the tools they need.

The problem exists, and agency leaders can pave the way by connecting officers with tools that will literally and figuratively break down walls.

Get more info from Hurst

Read next: Spotlight: Hurst Jaws of Life committed to powerful, portable breaching tools