The most important part of being a police officer is ensuring you’ve prepared yourself for any situation. While this job comes with its fair share of unpredictability, stocking up with the right equipment will help make most situations much easier for you to deal with.
Of course, there are so many items you could potentially need while on patrol, so we’ve created a list of the most important pieces of gear a police officer should ensure they have before heading out. That way, you can do your job effectively.
Let’s start with an obvious inclusion: the duty belt. No matter what other kinds of gear from this list you decide to carry with you while on patrol, you need a place to store all of it. The duty belt is the best option for most gear because it makes each item very easy to reach, all while holding them securely in place while you’re on the move.
Outer Carrier Vest
Another vital piece of equipment officers can use is an outer carrier vest. This vest will not only give you more places to store your other gear that won’t fit on your duty belt, but it’ll also help protect you in a firefight. Furthermore, wearing an outer carrier will reduce fatigue and remove weight from your hips (when gear is mounted on the carrier as opposed to a duty belt) which is a common cause of back pain. Many of these vests come with the option to insert ballistic panels and rifle plates, but they’re also fully customizable, so you can add additional protection and pockets where necessary.
Without a proper radio, any police officer in the field is essentially on their own—and this is never ideal. You’ll want to keep tabs on who is responding to which call, as well as have the ability to call in backup when needed. In order to do that, you need a radio that you can carry on your person at all times. Most precincts will provide you with one, but if you want a quality upgrade, you might need to buy one of your own.
One thing that makes law enforcement jobs different from most others is that you’ll sometimes have to work into the late hours of the night. While patrolling in the dark, the ability to see clearly becomes much more vital, which is why you should always carry a flashlight on you. Without one, it’ll be much harder to see when you’re performing a search. Situational awareness is key, so never leave the station without a proper flashlight!
Speaking of aiming, that brings us to your primary weapon. Your standard issue sidearm is an essential part of any police officer gear set. Without it, you won’t be able to protect yourself and others while in the line of duty. Make sure to ensure your firearm is fully loaded with a round in the chamber and properly holstered. Sometimes there are only seconds to spare when a situation arises and you want to be sure your firearm is ready to perform at a moment's notice.
Of course, if you don’t have ammo, your sidearm will essentially be useless. While having a full mag in the clip and a few extras on your duty belt is customary, having a couple of extras never hurts. You can either store these in your outer carrier or inside your vehicle gear bag if you don’t have any more room. Either way, it never hurts to be too prepared when it comes to ammunition.
Even if you prepare yourself with extra ammo, situations could occur in which you won’t be able to use your primary weapon anymore. In these cases, having a backup will be essential. You can choose to carry an extra pistol if you’d like to be able to carry it on you, but many officers opt to carry a rifle with them in their vehicles. This will open up more options to help you prepare for any scenario you might run into.
While being prepared for the worst is important, officers should always have a non-lethal weapon option that they can go to if needed. That’s why items such as batons, tasers, and pepper spray are a must for officers on patrol. While each one works differently, all of them will help you take down a perp without the use of excessive force.
Unfortunately, accidents can happen while in the field. When they do, you’ll need the proper tools to help someone who has suffered an injury. A fully stocked medical kit will assist you in most of these circumstances. Gloves, bandages, disinfectants and tourniquets are among the most common materials that should be in this kit, but you can include anything other items you deem necessary.
In many instances, perps won’t be acting alone. When this occurs, it never hurts to have an extra pair of handcuffs. You can either buy a holster that holds two pairs or keep the second set in your back pocket or with a cuff strap. Either way, having an extra pair is ideal.
Pens and Notepads
Two commonly overlooked pieces of gear that all officers need to have while on patrol are pens and notepads. Whether taking notes on a case or writing down witness statements, these items are essential for the job. Some officers have electronic devices that can do the same thing. While we encourage you to use those if you have them, having the old-fashioned pen and paper will make for a good backup.
While we’re on the topic of electronics, though, one that you should always have is a high-capacity flash drive. Whether you’re collecting important files or crime scene footage, you need a way to bring it back to the precinct for further examination. While sending data over the internet is easier than ever, nothing is more secure than a physical flash drive.
Water and Snacks
Finally, while these last two items might not strictly classify as gear, you should always make sure you carry some water and snacks in your law enforcement vehicle. Some shifts might get a little long, and even though you can take meal breaks, it never hurts to have something extra to snack on when needed. Plus, water is essential to staying hydrated while on patrol, so you should carry a bottle or two in your car, at the very least.
Now that you know what you need, you should find a quality police gear store to supply you with the equipment essentials. Luckily, you’re already in the right place. While we don’t carry water and snacks, we’ll be able to provide you with most of the other gear mentioned in this blog post. We believe in only providing the best when it comes to law enforcement gear, so you’ll know you’re getting a quality product when you shop with us.