Knives & Edged Tools

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This directive is for internal use only and does not enlarge an employee’s civil liability in any way. The directive should not be construed as creating a higher duty of care, in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party civil claims against employees. Violations of this directive, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office for non-judicial administrative action in accordance with the rules and laws governing employee discipline.
DIRECTIVE TYPE: Policy SUBJECT: Knives & Edged Tools NUMBER: OPER-348.00
APPROVED BY: Sheriff Ken Christesen EFFECTIVE DATE: 3/5/2017
NMLEA STANDARDS: Not Applicable LAST MODIFIED: 2/8/2017 LAST REVIEW: 2/14/2017


This policy establishes guidelines for the carrying and use of knives and edged tools by San Juan County Sheriff’s Office deputies.


It is the policy of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to allow deputies to carry knives and edged tools on their person for utility purposes. All knives will be carried in a discreet manner so as not to affect the public image of the Sheriff’s Office. While the primary reason for carrying a knife is utilitarian in nature, this policy does not prohibit the defensive or offensive use of a knife in exigent circumstances.


The following definitions shall apply for the purposes of this policy:

  • Deputy – All commissioned Sheriff’s Office personnel regardless of rank as well as reserve deputies while acting in their official capacity for the Sheriff’s Office.

  • Edged Tool – Any tool with one or more sharpened edges designed for rescue operations. This includes, but is not limited to, seat belt cutters, window punches, and utility tools.



The Sheriff’s Office recognizes that a knife or other edged tool may be a necessary instrument while conducting law enforcement duties. The purpose of these tools is primarily to perform emergency rescues and other utility cutting purposes.

Deputies will handle any knife or edged tool in an appropriate and safe manner so as to ensure the safety of themselves, their fellow deputies, and the general public. Deputies will not exhibit or handle a knife in a careless or alarming manner.


Both folding knives and fixed blade knives are authorized for carry.


Knives will not be worn in an offensive or alarming manner such as with an exposed blade.

Folding knives must be folded and secured by a fastening device to ensure safety, knife retention, and concealment. The knife shall be carried in the least obtrusive manner possible and consistent with the deputy’s duty assignment or tactical deployment.

Fixed blade knives shall be secured in a sheath and reasonably concealed from view. Reasonably concealed from view can be defined as no portion of the sheath and no more than two inches of the handle exposed.

SWAT Team members, while engaged in SWAT Team duties, are permitted to carry a fixed blade knife either upon a load bearing vest or in any other manner of attachment deemed safe by the SWAT Team commander.

Edged tools may be carried in a capacity that allows for quick access during times of emergencies without creating a distracting or unprofessional appearance.


A knife is not intended for use as a weapon and personnel are discouraged from using it in this capacity. However, it may be used in defensive or offensive capacities under exigent circumstances. Nothing in this policy is meant to contradict the Sheriff’s Office Use of Force Policy which states that “…where the use of deadly force is objectively reasonable, it will also be considered reasonable to apply that force by whatever means is necessary such as the use of another weapon, tool, vehicle, or physical technique.”

The use of a knife in a defensive or offensive manner is considered a use of deadly force and is governed by all Sheriff’s Office policies regarding such.


Deputies carrying a knife are prohibited from displaying it in any offensive or threatening manner without legitimate justification.

All knives, visible and concealed, will be secured in the lock boxes provided at the jail or in the deputy’s vehicle before entering any jail or booking facility. This prohibition may be waived during an emergency situation with prior approval from both a Sheriff’s Office supervisor and a detention center or jail supervisor.


  1. SJCSO Policy OPER-304.00 “Use of Force”