Mike Davis remembers it in slow motion. The time he, as a special weapons and tactics (SWAT) officer, almost shot a fleeing suspect.
“I’m pulling through my trigger, and as I’m pulling the trigger, I’m yelling commands: ‘Police! Show me your hands! Show me your hands!’”
His eyes go vacant because he’s there — in the moment. His hands are holding an invisible weapon, finger poised on the trigger.
“The suspect is saying ‘F-you, f-you,’ as I’m still advancing and pulling, and pulling, and all the sudden, as I’m getting closer and closer and closer, ‘cause I don’t know what’s going through this guy’s head, if he’s realizing I’m not backing down — this is on a SWAT operation, this is an actual thing, I’m remembering it right now — I know I’m getting close to the point where rounds are going to start going down range. And I remember seeing this —”
With “this” he displays his hands, fanned-out fingertips just peeking out at pocket-level.
“And my finger comes off the trigger. I put him on the ground. He was put in handcuffs. He was searched. He was cussed out. ‘What are you doing? Why wouldn’t you listen to me? You have no idea how close you were to not being alive anymore.’”
Davis takes a breath.
“You know, that’s happened to me. And it’s hard.”
Davis is a 17-year veteran of law enforcement in Utah. He’s served in the Navy reserves, which overlaps his 17 years with the Davis County Sheriff’s Office, which overlaps with his time on a local SWAT team. He won’t say which one, nor will he grant permission to print the name of his current department, where he works a swing-shift as a patrol officer.
“I’m not too worried about myself, but I’m more worried about my family,” Davis says. “It’s bad enough I park a target outside my house sometimes” — a marked police vehicle — “and I try to park in the garage when I can.”
This intimate knowledge of the stresses and traumas that mark a career in law enforcement led Davis to create a company called Threat Based Threads. It started two years ago with a single design, a skull with firearm-shaped features, printed on a t-shirt.