A Dark night of Beekeeping, Dust. Hollow Points, Retention and SAPS
It is a cold and dark winter’s night on the Highveld about 3 weeks ago.
I am about 35km south of Jhb Central. A good friend and I have been maintaining a set of beehives we have at our shooting range. It is an extremely rewarding hobby. Best done in the dark with the use of red headlamps and the correct attire. (Nonetheless I have been stung a few times, more about that later)
As is tradition we end the nights work with a beer. As cold as it is you actually get quite hot in the bee suit and stink of smoke. I was wearing a Khaki coloured type Buff to keep my head warm and the hair out of my eyes whilst working.
We waited for another friend to arrive, however he said he would pop around later as he had issues with one of his lambs……
We pack away our gear and share out some of the honey comb for later consumption.
I am carrying my Glock 17 in an OWB Daniels holster, on my back seat is my semi-auto shotgun. To say that the area was incident free would be farcical. Our range has been subject to numerous burglaries and the neighbouring farmer has been in more than 2 gunfights which have resulted in fatalities.
I leave the range as per our usual route.
At the point where the dirt road ends and the tar road begins the story get interesting.
Traffic is pretty heavy and the tar road is narrow I wait for a gap to pull onto the road, when suddenly I see an oncoming car pull off and stop in a flurry of dust about 5 meters from me. For a second or two I think it is our friend who was delayed, but I do not recognise the shape of the vehicle.
Its lights are in my eyes and not recognizing the vehicle. I throw the car into reverse and flip my lights on to bright and light up a White Ford Ranger, unmarked, with a canopy. The others car hazard lights come on. I see what looks like a uniform. I too put my hazards on and dip my lights and then exit my car. Quickly. (No I could not pull onto the Tar road due the traffic)
I am extremely jumpy. I step to the side of my vehicle and 5 police officers approach me in a extended line one of them identifies himself by his name and that he is from SAPS. He is more to the right of the other cops. My mind is racing. I have read too many stories of fake cops.
One cop has a shotgun, another an R5 or R6 the rest have pistols.
The cop approaches me and asks if I have firearms in the car.
My alarm bells are ringing. I truly am expecting the worst.
Against my will I reply that I have the Glock on my hip. I cannot remember the exact sequence of events, I think he reached for it first. I said to him I would take it out of the holster and hand it to him. He said no he would take it.
I again insisted that I would do so and he said “No!” stood behind me (My arms were partially raised) and lifted it out of the holster. Honestly I thought I was going to be shot. I twisted around to monitor him with my gun. He unloaded it and looked at the hollow points.
Without the use of expletives: Being disarmed is a really bad sinking feeling!
He asked for my licence and I said to them that I was reaching for my wallet. After some digging in my wallet I found my licence and handed it to him (My reading glasses are in the vehicle)
He remains behind me stooping into the beams of the headlights, so that he can try match the numbers. He declares that it is not the correct licence. I am more than scared and jumpy at this point. I ask/tell the cops that I am reaching into my pocket for my EDC torch.
I cannot remember if I hand over the torch or if I light up the licence and the pistol. After a while the officer acknowledges that the pistol matches the licence.
Somehow I notice that he is displaying a lot of interest in my “Hollow Points” (Can guess what is coming……?)
I am then told that the HP’s are illegal. I honestly cannot believe what I am hearing. This is the stuff that Gunservant writes about and other unfortunate gun owning souls experience yet now it is happening to me!
At this point psychologically I have had enough, and get an idea that perhaps the cops are perhaps who or what they say they are: SAPS on patrol.
I then quite firmly explain to them that HP are not illegal for civilians, but that they are for SAPS. I add that it is quite sad as it denies SAPS the tool to deal with shootouts. After a few minutes of “Hollow points are legal/ Hollow points are illegal” I must have convinced the 5 of them as my GLOCK is handed back, slide locked back, mag out minus the chambered round.
For some reason I do not load up immediately: Prudence or stupidity?
I cannot recall if re-holster the GLOCK in condition I received it. (Slide locked) or drop the slide on an empty chamber.
Then I am told that my OWB holster has to be in IWB holster. Again irritated but a bit more confident that I am not going to be shot I inform that the GLOCK has to be covered not concealed and that a jersey covering the holster and the GLOCK are sufficient to meet the FCA.
They accept this.
I am then questioned as the retention of the GLOCK in the holster. I demonstrate by raising and lowering the pistol in holster hearing the comforting sound of kydex on it.
It is then agreed that the holster does retain correctly.
I am then accused of being under the influence. I again state that I had told them earlier that I had consumed a beer when they had asked me.
Then I am accused of handling a firearm whilst under the influence, again I reply that I am not under the influence AND if I did handle the firearm it was under their instruction AND that I was the one who had pointed out that I had gun on my hip when they had asked about guns in my car. I emphasis that I have co-operated with them throughout.
This carries on for a while and I say that if they are convinced of this they must do what they must do.
I also encourage them to contact some of the local Community Police who could confirm my story as to my identity and what I was doing at the time.
At some point during this phase of the “argument” we have a lull in the conversation. The same sort of lull when one is expected to make an offer. I shrug my shoulders and repeat my point ask them to make the contact with the names I had mentioned.
After what feels like minute of silence the policeman who appeared in charge and had disarmed me said “Ok” and said I could go. I then asked him his name and he mumbled something, I then asked again to make sure I had heard correctly and he mumbled the same name. Honestly I got the impression that it was not even a name.
Feeling relived I invited them to look at some of the honeycomb in the rear of my car (Stupid/unnecessary in hindsight) . They had a look and then seemed even more satisfied with my story.
4 of the 5 Policeman (2 Females and 3 Males) walk back to their vehicle. One of the males came back and told me that he had lost his torch. He had spotted my headlamp lying near the honey in my boot.
To be honest, I said he could take it.
So….the results for me where:
I badly shaken me.
The loss of 1 HP and the headlamp.
As from my perspective it could have gone very very wrong.
(No doubt my perception of the SAPS did nothing to help my cause. However I do not believe it be un-justified. However in life that is how it goes, we will always be victims of our stereotypes whether they are informed or not.)
If the story can be told from the cops perspective.
They stopped a vehicle in an area that has presently seen lots of crime. Possibly they linked my vehicle to the farmer who owns the same vehicle. The time of night was also "dodgy hour" during a weeknight and an officer did identify himself.
The way they stopped de-bussed from the vehicle and fanned out was also correct if they were in fact looking for a suspect?
The officer also disarmed me, without pointing me etc. Would you let a suspect touch his hand over his own gun?
All well and good so far.
Bottom line: From my perspective is that because of MY perception of the police and the fact the general violent crime rate my nerves were strung out! Obviously the police cannot (yet) read our minds yet this would have played a massive role in my fight or flight response.
Looking back two parts of the initial encounter stand out for me:
When the police vehicle stopped its hazard lights came on. If it was a deception it was a good one as it gave me pause as to my next action.
When I saw a figure dressed in blue after exiting the vehicle this gave me further pause as to whether this was an attack or not.
From then on it was (as previously stated) my perception of the SAPS that kept my nerves taught.
Except for unmarked vehicle and the ignorance of the law on the questions mentioned, the Cops did everything right.
My loss of trust in the SAPS could have been fatal. This is the point of this post.
Do not become a victim of your stereotypes or perception.
I nearly was.