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Jacob Harlow

Affiliation: National Tactical Officers Association
Occupation: Law Enforcement Officer, Firefighter, Instructor
Location: South Carolina, USA
Joined ExpertVoice: 2011

Expert Profile


Jacob Harlow has 14 years of law enforcement and firefighting experience under his belt and has been an ExpertVoice member for more than 12 of those years. He’s saved lives throughout his career, having taken part battling chemical fires, assisting in swift water rescues and more. 

Jacob sat down with ExpertVoice to share insights from his career, recommend gear and offer his best advice to newcomers in the tactical space. Here’s what he had to say. 

What is your current job?

“I currently work near Columbia, SC as a Lieutenant in Admin and Special Operations on the police force. I’m responsible for department training, emergency preparedness, department accreditation and records.” 

Why did you choose this career? 

“Service — the majority of my family is either military, law enforcement or in education. I decided on law enforcement in my high school years, and it was reaffirmed by 9/11.” 

What does your day-to-day look like in your job?

Jacob is seen here teaching an active shooter class to best prepare people for worst-case situations.

“It varies greatly. This week I helped my new training sergeant run his first quarterly department training. It was firearms and room-clearing based, and I taught the majority of it. Other days I may be teaching active shooter or first aid, doing threat assessments for locations, building lesson plans, updating our accreditation standards, updating emergency preparedness items, etc.” 

Let’s walk through gear you rely on every day. When you’re building your kit, what’s in it?  

“A normal office day consists of a department polo, Vertx or some other khaki tactical pants, and a pair of Merrells. I have a Kershaw open-assisted knife and my Glock 17 with a Streamlight TLR1 on it. It’s in a Safariland holster. 

“My active shooter/quick response kit items consist of my FN patrol rifle — it has a Trijicon 1×4 optic on it and Streamlight light. I have a Shellback plate carrier with level 4 plates and basic accessories on it (patches, magazine holders, pens, first aid, etc). It has a North American Rescue bleed out kit on it as well …. Mechanix gloves and Walker razor ear protection finish out the main items of the active shooter kit. 

“I have several pair of sunglasses for work as well, either Costa or Oakley. I have a pair of Brooks running shoes that I wear when I work out. They are really comfortable and hold up well.” 

Just a few of Jacob’s top brand picks: Brooks, Costa, Glock, Trijicon and Oakley.

What would you say to someone just getting started in the tactical industry?

“Areas of importance in no particular order that will take you far. 

  1. “Buy once, cry once. Save money up and purchase a quality product. Although it might cost a good bit more, it will last and serve you well during those crazy times. That cheaper product will break multiple times and you will end up spending more anyway. 
  2. “Less talking, more listening. There are always those who came before you and learned the hard way, learn what they have to teach you. You will never know it all, never stop learning. 
  3. It’s not about you. There are going to be times that really suck, embrace it. There is someone out there right now, having a harder time than you are so push through your trial. If you have a family, do not neglect them.
  4. Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing. You’ll have more than one opportunity to take a shortcut or do something questionable, either you have integrity, or you don’t.
  5. “Be an example. This is a deeds not words type thing. Bring up younger guys, be a positive example for your teammates and community. Do it through deeds. Stay humble.”

Could you share about a time where you felt like you made a difference in your job? 

“I’ve been involved with a large chemical fire, train derailment, large quantity of SWAT team uses, swift water deployment and rescues, life-saving events, officer involved shootings, an officer’s murder, other murder scenes, instructing thousands of community members and officers over the years, taught first aid that was then used to save several lives, and many other significant events. I would have to say all of those are important and I made a tangible difference. However, there’s one I’m pretty proud of.   

“Years ago, I coached a young man in high school soccer as a part-time job in addition to working as a police officer. This young man ended up coming to work for us, specifically me as I was a front-line supervisor at the time. I’ve watched him grow, learn new things, save lives and overall become a good man. He is now a shift supervisor and a productive officer. This occurred over an eight-year period, so this was a longer-term investment and good outcome. It makes you proud to see the effort you put into someone — even over a long time — work out well. I’m happy for him and his family.” 

Inspired by Jacob’s story? Join ExpertVoice and build your profile to share your story and learn about other experts. 

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