Locked in a struggle with a suspected shoplifter who tried to grab his gun from its holster, Pittsburgh police officer William Kunz reached for a knife with a 2-inch blade he kept in his duty belt, says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He stabbed the man once in the abdomen during the fight on Sunday at a store, a move that likely saved his life. The knife wasn’t standard-issue; many officers keep them for cutting anything from crime scene tape to the seat belts of trapped car crash victims. Like other tools that aren’t department-issue — handy items like flashlights, binoculars and pens — the utility knife became the officer’s weapon of last resort.
“You never know what you might need if you can’t get to another weapon on your belt,” said Officer Don Adamsky, an instructor at the Pittsburgh Police Training Academy. “When it’s a life-or-death situation, you use what you can grab.” Screwdrivers, ratchets, digital cameras, window scrapers, shoelaces, and a number of other items you might find on an officer’s duty belt or in his gear bag are there because years of experience have proved them invaluable.