Planning for the unplanned

     There are only two things an officer can be sure of when it comes to mutual aid requests: (1) An officer never knows when the call will come; and (2) Assisting another agency during an emergency is anything but routine.      Mutual aid...


     A note to the administrator: Even for a single officer responding, consider the SUV-type patrol vehicle. They hold more and have better ground clearance. Depending on the mission, an SUV with four-wheel drive might be better. If the mutual aid request has anything to do with rescue or evacuation, the ability to pull, tow or jump a vehicle is a plus.

     If the mission is facilitated by an SUV, consider a chainsaw, Hi-Lift Jack, tow strap and shovel as part of the package.

     Transporting passengers is one thing; transporting equipment is another. For cameras and any optics or electronics equipment, storage should be shock, waterproof and able to be locked to stationary objects like the Hardigg Storm Case.


     If the agency seeking support uses electronic control devices (ECDs) in its policy — such as Taser or Stinger units — responders should carry extra cartridges. This should be augmented by extra nylon handcuffs, which are handy for other emergencies also.

     Always carry a cleaning kit capable of servicing more than one caliber. The Otis Technology Inc. Deluxe Law Enforcement Cleaning System covers small caliber pocket guns all the way up to shotguns in a cargo pocket-sized package.

     Night vision equipment should be provided for rescue or enforcement roles. It is better to send officers with thermal devices to any mutual aid. For fires and disasters, they can be used to locate persons. For other circumstances, they can be used to locate hazards. For civil disturbances, they are priceless.

     The powerful tactical lights are great for patrol use, but many mutual aid missions require task lights. However, if officers had to carry all the different specialized types of lights, they wouldn't have room for anything else.

     Two recently introduced products are appropriate for a large percentage of mutual aid tasks: the Streamlight Sidewinder and Safariland's Rapid Light System (RLS). With these two products, the officer deployed on mutual aid can carry out most missions.

     The Safariland RLS is a both a handheld and gun-mounted light in one. It boasts a 65-lumen LED beam, which is bright enough to be a primary light.

     We tested it as an entry light and found it to be brighter than most rail-mounted lights with superior beam concentration. It has the fastest weapon-mounting device we have seen so far. It slides on, then locks into place. It can be removed quickly and used as a hand light. Dismounted, it is only slightly larger than a roll of nickels. Most importantly for remote duty, it will give more than 50 hours of primary tactical use on three AAA cells. Now that's endurance.

     The Streamlight Sidewinder has four LED functions in a MOLLE mountable package with a rotating head. It has a bright-white LED that can double as a backup tactical light, which also has a locator strobe function. We tested this feature and it can be seen for thousands of feet at night.

     Our waterproof Streamlight Sidewinder has blue, red and infrared LEDs and runs on AA batteries. It can be used as a task, signal, or handcuffing light, as well as a trail marker. We used the red LED locator strobe (which flashes at a slower rate than a marking strobe) to indicate range limits at a practice shoot. Three days later, the light was still announcing its position.


     Officers deploying should not only carry their reporting forms but should also get a quick familiarization of reporting requirements at the agency they are supporting. Some of this information may be new to the agency being supported. For example, if the area is declared a disaster area, federal reporting requirements — especially equipment tracking — are often different than the usual workload.

     Every officer should have a digital camera that uses standard batteries and common storage devices. The best mutual aid cameras have data transfer cords, use AA batteries and SD cards, can take short videos, and are simple to operate.

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