Updated LE Inventory List

Things have changed since 2004 (last time I wrote about this) and I thought it might be appropriate to revisit the topic.


I don't know anyone who still carries a revolver on duty anymore, but if you do, make sure you have those two extra speedloaders with you. For pistols, most cops are wearing two spare magazines (sometimes three). I know a couple of officers who only carry one spare magazine and they are usually the veterans who remember carrying a revolver plus twelve rounds. Their attitude is that they now have a handgun with ten (or more) rounds in it and if they carry one spare magazine they still have more bullets than when they first started out. My question is, "How many is enough?" No one can seem to answer that question with a definitive number, but most cops I ask that say, "There is no such thing as enough." Without being labeled "squirrels" they carry three spare magazines... but if you check out their cruiser there is always more in the trunk or door panel pocket.

So, after the handgun and spare magazines, what else? Never go on duty without a radio THAT WORKS. Yeah, the "that works" part is pretty important. I went on duty a few years ago in a relatively bad neighborhood and refused to leave the station until I had a radio that functioned - to include the emergency switch to let the world know if I was in trouble and needed emergency assistance. While the Chief thought it was a pain for me to refuse to work without a properly functioning radio, he also thought it was pretty smart. If you get issued a different radio for each shift, test it to make sure it works. If you are issued a radio that matches your ID number (like on my agency), test it periodically to make sure every function works. It is your lifeline and you should treat it as if it is the only tether you have to keep you on the LIFE side of the life or death divider.

In examining any Use of Force Continuum, or Force Option Model, we see that there are several more tools we need to add so that we are capable of delivering all of the various levels of force. We need at least:

  • A chemical weapon or OC Spray
  • An impact weapon
  • Restraining device / handcuffs
  • An electronic control device (ECD)

Having been exposed to tear gas (a true chemical "weapon") in the service, and having become an instructor for OC Spray about fifteen years ago, my preference in law enforcement is the OC Spray. I found it to be more immediately effective with a reduced risk of long-term effects. Sure it takes awhile to recover from, but cold water is easy to find in abundance and, after all, it's not your face that feels like it's on fire. To reduce the potential impact of environmental concerns such as wind, I prefer to use the stream delivery system as compared to fog or foam. There are several companies that make an OC/CS mix and that is quite harsh - though pretty effective. Whatever mix or delivery system you choose, make sure that it is up-to-date, sufficiently full, and don't leave it inside your closed up car on a hot day.

There is a plethora of impact weapons that are available. When I first started a straight nightstick was the norm. Then, to add versatility to the tool, side-handle designs, such as the PR-24, were introduced. They carried with them the same challenge that straight nightsticks did: they were too often left in the patrol vehicle because they couldn't comfortably be carried on the belt IN the car. Along came ASP with their friction-lock collapsible baton and that challenge was overcome. Once the administrators got over the reality of their officers carrying a metal pole to strike people with, the popularity of ASP grew quickly. To be fair to ASP, it's not a metal pole. It's an expandable aircraft aluminum pole. If you're taught how to use it correctly, it's quite effective as an impact weapon. The bottom line (for me) is this: The friction-lock expandable baton ON YOUR BELT is always better than the wood or polycarbonate straight baton you left in your cruiser.

Handcuffs: Yes, I also put restraining device(s). For the longest time I carried one pair of handcuffs on my gunbelt. I've known highly motivated officers who have always carried two and I know one cop who has always carried four. I never planned on arresting that many people alone, so I never thought I'd need more than one. Having been there and learned better, I now carry two, but still usually only need one. I know a pretty intelligent cop who carries two pair of handcuffs but then also slides two or three flexi-cuffs into his belt. He puts them along the outside and they are held in between his gunbelt and everything on it: OC spray pouch, holster, ASP holster, etc. They just wrap around him on his belt and are always there. That's a pretty smart idea.

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