Good Rookie Investments

July 22, 2019
The little things you purchase yourself add up from the start. Make wise equipment investments as a rookie.

Whenever I welcome a new officer into the fold, I have a little talk with them. One of the discussions is how to invest into your future with smart equipment purchases. Face it, you are the least paid - so do not waste your money. Without sounding like the old grandfather figure, weigh out the differences between needs and wants.  In my years, I have seen scores of monies wasted from leather briefcases and other unapproved equipment. This does not include all of the “tacticool” items.

Check policy and regulations first! Often times the recent police academy graduate has been by the local cop shop or online making purchases. The academy staff gets you ramped up on what you are going to need. Sidebar discussions with instructors add to the shopping list. Your department may actually issue you some equipment therefore you do not need to purchase it. Most issue you your necessary gear. Will it be to your preferences, maybe not but it is issued due to policy or even via the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). I have seen issued gun belts, weapons, ammunition and flashlights.  

Necessary investments may still have policy attached so be informed and invest wisely. Sunglasses are a necessary item! Safety before cool and fashionable. Check the regulations for any limitations as to style. Most departments warn against mirrored lens. First and foremost, get optically correct and polarized lens. They cost more but the protection for your vision is paramount here. With developments from the military, some offer quality eye protection. An all-day assignment on a bright day, reflections can lead to eye fatigue and maybe injury. I consider proper sunglasses as an officer safety item.

Back-up or secondary weapons will probably have some regulations as to type, caliber and approved ammo, check with your rangemaster. Of course, you may have to qualify with said weapon. Thoroughly research approved or recommended carry weapons before purchase. Consult with veteran officers as to holster/carry selections. Holsters can be pricey. In my case, it required several purchased to find the one that was just right for me.

Knives and multi-tools can be restricted as well. I am pro-knife for its usefulness about daily actives. Yes, there are some departments that have  very restrictive to a no knife carry regulations. I can understand no long blade sheath knifes in daily uniform. You are not going to clench it between your teeth as you arrest someone. Let’s be realistic, of course SWAT and EOD units may have these allowances.  A small multi-blade knife (Swiss Army style) or multi-tool will be used daily about normal functions. This is a safety concept especially when you try to use another instrument not designed for the purpose you are attempting to perform. It is all about efficiency and safety. Use the right tool for the job.

Watches to me are a necessary item. I know some of the younger set may not even wear one. I get it, the car has clock, the cell phones and data terminals all have time displays. However, a quality time piece can be a very expensive investment. Find the features that you desire – digital or analog? Need an alarm? Backlighting or luminescent dials? Shockproof and waterproof are considerations.  Before you select the chronograph timepiece, you are not timing race cars not flying. More buttons and features that you may not need. Remember this is a tool not jewelry – function first!

Operational security is an investment. I know you are excited that you are now a law enforcement officer but invest some time and thought here. Personally, I like to keep my family safe first. I am not against exhibiting pride in the vocation but think first. If you are waving the blue-line on your car, think twice. If your spouse and children were out and about, then some cop-hater observes the car and family for a confrontation. Before plastering your autos with stickers, think Opsec first and foremost. Additionally, consider how you are going to safely store your weapons and other tools to safeguard your family. I do not want a tragedy – firearms safety begins with you. Secure your weapons from the prying eyes of inquisitive children. Lockboxes and small weapons safes are a consideration. Face it, if the neighbors know you are a cop and have weapons, so will a burglar.

Needful things to consider - I encourage purchasing a small range bag to carry your necessary items to the range. Invest in good quality hearing protection and eye protection. Yes, I know most every range has that same scratched up, one size fits all safety glasses and foam ear plugs. Make your training enjoyable and productive. If you have a comfort level and can actually see the targets, you will perform better. Equipment maintenance tools are considerations as well. Good quality weapon cleaning kits are inexpensive, so you can keep your weapons operationally ready. Do not forget to get a knife sharpener to keep your knives sharp – a dull knife will hurt you. There are certain items every officer will need from time to time. A small pouch for those personal things you could need to make a bad shift bearable. Such as some lip balm, antacids, pain reliver (ibuprofen) and those needful things.  You do not want to have to dash into a convenience store or even do without.   

I have mentioned this in prior articles. Financial planning needs to start now. You are so happy to get the job and retirement is never thought of. Meet with a certified financial planner and start a savings and investment plan now. The years will fly by and you want to be prepared when this career is over.  

This is not a comprehensive list by any means. I am sure we all have more items to add or reconsider. The goal of this was to inform entry officers who have the least means to make educated selections and purchases.  

About the Author

William L. Harvey | Chief

William L. "Bill" Harvey is a U.S. Army Military Police Corps veteran. He has a BA in criminology from St. Leo University and is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute of the University of Louisville (103rd AOC).  Harvey served for over 23 years with the Savannah (GA) Police Department in field operations, investigations and completed his career as the director of training. Served as the chief of police of the Lebanon City Police Dept (PA) for over seven years and then ten years as Chief of Police for the Ephrata Police Dept (PA). In retirement he continues to publish for professional periodicals and train.        

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