There is one more item that I feel is absolutely mandatory to be on an officer's gunbelt: a flashlight. Actually, I carred two and think every officer should. Most of us have enough room for it, but few of us think it's necessary. First, make sure the light you bet your life on (and you probably are) is a good quality dependable flashlight that you maintain just like your handgun. The large majority of police shootings happen during reduced light conditions and we are simply risking ourselves but not taking into that environment the one tool that will help us out most. So, why two? Well, inevitably you will get that call for a daytime B&E in a condemned building that is dark inside. And, just as inevitably, your backup will be the guy who doesn't have a flashlight because he's on day work. If you have two, you can hand one off. AND, almost just as inevitably (thanks to Mr. Murphy), when you're working at night and the bulb dies in one of your lights you still have a functioning light. Or if you lose a light searching a building you still have a backup. "Two is one; one is none" is a rule that most of you / us have heard. Get a good versatile dependable flashlight - and then get a second one and put them both on your gunbelt. They usually take up about the same amount of space as the ring for your six D-cell maglight that you always leave in the cruiser anyway.
Now I need to add a couple of things that I believe are nice to have, but many agencies don't mandate them, provide them, or regulate them in any way. One day that lack of leadership will come back to haunt them. One item is a decent knife. Whether your agency ignores it, calls it a Rescue tool, permits you to carry a utility tool, or whatever, having a good knife is often necessary. Further, if your agency is on top of things, it's another level of lethal force available to you in ugly situations. So, find yourself a good quality folding knife that you can carry either on your gunbelt or comfortably in your pocket. The Dieter CQD by Masters of Defense (now owned by BlackHawk Products Group) is an exceptionally versatile folding knife. It's definitely an "on your belt" knife but is built to last and offers the ability to cut nylon, tape, etc without even having to open the blade. Virtually all of the Spyderco folders are decent size and quality to have in your pocket and I encourage you to put one in your WEAK side pocket. Why? Because if you're in a fight to keep your handgun, having a knife in your weak hand isn't a bad thing. (Make sure your agency trains you and permits this via published policy)
I'm also a fan of having a multi-tool / utility tool on the gunbelt. Because of the nature of police work, we just never know what we will or won't need through the course of a patrol shift. Having a collection of common tools available on your gunbelt all the time comes in quite handy - which is what those tools were specifically designed for. Get a quality tool though. Some of the best come from SOG, Gerber and Leatherman. My agency issues the SOG Power-Pliers to each officer and mandates carrying them. I can't begin to count how many license plates have been taken off of vehicles being impounded by the Philips or slot head screwdriver bit folded out of the Power Pliers.
The last thing I'd consider mandatory is health-protection supplies. We often deal with people who are bleeding, sick, etc and there is just no replacement for a good pair of rubber/latex gloves. If you work in a real hellhole, they're nice to put on UNDER your Hatch Kevlar-lined leather gloves. Again, redundancy is good. For about $6 now you can get a pocket size pouch that has a pair of gloves and a resuscitation face shield in it. I was just in a first-aid class yesterday where it was commented that on the scene of a serious accident the officer was directing traffic rather than providing first-aid. Sometimes that is an affect of policy; sometimes that's because the officer isn't confident in his first-aid training. And sometimes it's because he's not properly equipped. Gloves and a face shield are easy and cheap. Get them and make them part of your everyday carry on duty.
There are plenty of other pieces of equipment that I'm sure you all could / would add to this list. I'd love to hear them so please feel free to email them over. I intentionally did not cover what I keep in my patrol vehicle because that would almost double the length of this article. Yes, I know that I didn't include body armor here. If you're in a uniform and not wearing body armor there's not much I can do to help you out. Uniforms are targets: be a hard target. 'Nough said about that.
I also specifically avoided discussing what should be in your trunk, gun-rack, etc. That's a whole 'nother article all by itself.
Next week we'll take a look at what changes / gets added for a soldier. After you've read both pieces you should have some level of appreciation for the demands placed on an average soldier - and this little bit here should give you an appreciation for the average cop. Neither does an easy job, but it's easier WITH all the right gear than without it.