Essentials for the patrol officer

     When firearms, protective vests, holsters, flashlights and safety equipment are in discussion, they catch attention. But what are officers carrying besides safety equipment? The items in cargo pockets, shirt pockets and on the duty belt also...

     An officer who contracts Hepatitis C may never receive compensation after being debilitated by the exposure many years later. Additional risks include hepatitis A and B, MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), and HIV.

     Officers should carry latex or nitrile gloves fitting over leather patrol gloves without stretching them to the point of tearing. This means purchasing oversize surgical-type gloves and using them any time the officer has to go "hands-on."

     If the patrol glove gets a blood splash, certain antibacterial soaps, according to manufacturer's recommendations, are sufficient to put them back in service. Keeping sanitizing wipes close by can't hurt either.

     Extra-thick surgical-type gloves are handy for a variety of tasks besides life-saving protection for the officer. For example, clean gloves facilitate evidence pickup and avoid cross-contamination. Put two gloves on the dominant hand when picking up evidence smaller than fist sized, like 1/4 kilogram of methamphetamine. While holding the evidence, pull the outside glove off the hand and completely over the evidence, reversing the glove. Write on the outside of the gloves for identification. Later, the uncontaminated seizure can be transferred to a container according to department procedures. This is handy for the officer who may not have evidence bags in his cargo pocket, but he certainly has a half-dozen gloves.


     Being able to see a far distance is excellent for officer safety. For a hazmat spill, staying inside the patrol car upwind with a pair of binoculars is the smartest approach. Scoping a street before approaching a call may relieve the officer of later heartache. However, most officers leave the binoculars behind because they are too bulky to stick in a cargo pocket.

     A monocular is a mini telescope. Designed for short-term viewing using moderate magnification, officers should carry one that has enough magnification to view a license plate in the dark the distance of a football field. High-quality optics of this size usually range from 5x to 8x and have a field of view that will take in about 300 to 350 yards at 1,000 yards and still weigh fewer than 10 ounces.

     New manufacturing techniques and coatings have produced durable, water-resistant products producing crystal-clear images. Lightweight monocular products fit easily in the shirt pocket. The binoculars may stay in the patrol car, but the monocular will stay in the foot pursuit.

     The patrol officer's monocular should be able to survive a vigorous downpour. What distinguishes one from another is the quality of the coatings on the lenses. Like most safety equipment, the rule is, "carry a lot, use a little."


     Having a pair of needlenose pliers on the belt is as handy as a 44-ounce coffee cup that fits in a cup holder. Folding pliers with tools in the handles have become very popular on patrol.

     Detectives recognize the utility of being able to handle the corner of an object without leaving trace evidence like a fingerprint. Without multi-tools, patrol officers would not use their Phillips blade when searching a vehicle, flathead blade for prying or place etched rulers in scene photos.

     Pliers on patrol have added an additional protective barrier to the officer. Stainless steel is easy to clean and sterilize, making biohazard handling easier. Pliers are perfect for prying up a floorboard, tightening a loose nut or clipping a wire. Additionally, a potentially caustic material is for the "claw" in the hand, not the gloved hand.

     Manufacturers have added the one feature officers really needed: one-handed opening, which makes the multi-tool as handy as the tactical knife. Several products come with full-length serrated blades.

     Put the patrol gloves on when selecting the multi-tool. The tool should be maneuverable, from sheath to hand, with the gloves.


     Many dispatch centers are Graphic Information Systems (GIS) capable. Because of this, communicating a patrol officer's location using latitude/longitude can be more efficient. The need for individual patrol officers to have GPS capabilities has grown astronomically in the past few years.

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