Officer Safety Bulletin: Blackhawk SERPA Auto Lock System Holster
There’s a new e-mail floating around regarding an officer safety issue. It was sent from a reliable source, involving a FLETC negligent discharge. The list of forwards was about as long as your arm and numbered over a hundred agencies (including NASA). Like SERPAs or hate them, it would be prudent to at least read it. There are a number of private training organizations that bar their use during their training, though of course there are others who prefer it or see advantages to it. (Officer.com recently published a good article on building a substantive thigh platform, for instance.)
This is particularly interesting given the recent adoption of a model of SERPA by the USMC and the frequency of its use by military personnel. BOLO Report is not passing judgment on the holster. LE bureaucracy, like that of the military, frequently overreacts to problems in a big way, so this could mean a lot or nothing We just wanted to bring it to your attention.
“A…student accidentally discharged his weapon into his thigh at FLETC/Glynco last week. He had purchased a Blackhawk SERPA Auto
Lock System holster and was using it for the first time. In October of this year, an agent shot himself in the buttocks during a staff qualification at FLETC …using a Blackhawk SERPA. USAF OSI has prohibited their personnel from purchasing or carrying this holster.
In our efforts to continually stay abreast of issues relating to officer safety, the National Training and Emergency Operations Branch (NTEOB) routinely evaluates the law enforcement equipment issued to or carried by OI personnel.
Recently, one such piece of equipment, the Blackhawk SERPA Auto Lock System holster, has come under scrutiny due to safety concerns involving the design of its retention safety device. There have been several recent documented cases, involving law enforcement and civilian personnel, where unintentional discharges have occurred while weapons were being drawn from this holster. Many of these unintentional discharges have resulted in gunshot injuries to the officers/agents involved.
The SERPA is one of the only holster system designed to use the trigger finger to release the retention safety device. This method of releasing the safety device is contrary to our training methods and techniques, which emphasize attacking the holster from the “top down.” In addition, this retention system is completely different from the standard thumb-break holsters currently issued by OI. While it is true that one of the Cardinal Rules of firearms safety was violated by the individual placing his or her finger on the trigger before they were ready to shoot, we believe that the design of the SERPA holster facilitates this action by engaging the trigger finger well before the individual is prepared to shoot.
In light of these events and in accordance with OI policy, specifically Part 2, Section 2, Subsection IV B, NTEOB is suspending all use of the Blackhawk SERPA Auto Lock System holster by OI agents acting in an official, on-duty capacity. NTEOB will thoroughly research and evaluate the safety and effectiveness of this holster system and report on its findings.
In the meantime, those agents who may be affected by this safety bulletin should be directed to utilize their standard agency-issued holster to secure their weapon on their person.