In Law Enforcement, you never know when a typical day will suddenly go south. A simple stop at a convenience store might turn into a full-on, hand-to-hand ambush. A call-out on a rural, icy back road might spin into hours stranded in the snowy night. In addition to the usual lists of gear and training, here is a checklist of 10 precautions (some obvious, some not) that you should definitely consider:
- Breakaway apparel. Loose hanging apparel provides critical handholds for someone trying to pull you into injury. Items that intentionally give way at the seams foil these attempts and allow you to slip into a more advantageous position. Try a breakaway tie if you wear a Class A uniform or a breakaway traffic vest if you find you are working in close proximity to pedestrians.
- Safety toe footwear. Another precaution for hand-to-hand struggles is safety toe footwear. Depending on their position, perps know a strong toe stab or stomp inflicts enough distraction to gain the edge. Safety toes can add a line of defense against these attacks for minimal cost.
- Triple retention holster. There is a reason ballistic vest manufacturers recommend that you pick a vest level that at least protects you from your service weapon — it might be used against you. Triple retention holsters offer the maximum amount of deterrence to someone else discharging your weapon. The small amount of time invested in practicing your draw is well worth the effort.
- EDW protection. You already know the importance of wearing your concealable vest for every shift and of keeping an active shooter kit ready for the worst calls. Why not use a concealable vest that also includes EDW (Electronic Discharge Weapon) protection? Just as there is a potential for your own gun to be turned on you, your own EDW has the same potential. EDW vests and gloves effectively protect the wearer from electro-muscular disruptions so that you can stay in action.
- Back-up weapon. Sometimes things go from bad to worse. It is in these times that a back-up weapon is the only defense you have left. Some officers carry a back-up gun, knife, light or tactical pen for this very circumstance. Some possible placements for these weapons are on the ankle, waist or MOLLE vest Please note: it is up to your department’s ROE for what you are permitted to carry.
- Medical kit. Until other units respond, you might be the only responder on scene that can treat the injuries of others or yourself. Kits that include first aid, CPR masks, medical gloves and gunshot trauma care are small additions to your trunk, belt or MOLLE that could make a big difference in preventing loss of life or limb.
- Rescue multi-tool. Compact and convenient, a rescue multi-tool should be within arms reach inside your vehicle. Look for one that includes a seat belt cutter and a window punch. From submerging vehicles to smoking crashes, these tools can save precious time.
- Detachment kit. If you are sent on a call that leads to you being stranded alone for hours or stuck in a cordoned area, a detachment kit can bring you assistance or sustenance until relieved. Pack a gear bag with things like water, MREs, cold-weather undergarments and flare beacons. Add a watch cap, gloves and system outerwear for adjustable warmth.
- Binoculars. A compact pair of binoculars might be an overlooked but essential tool. These offer you the chance to reconnoiter an area’s dangers before you arrive. Binoculars also allow you to locate other officers on scene, to identify strategic points to use and to remotely help other responders navigate from your perspective.
- RFID wallet. In today’s world, not every threat is a physical one. Thieves can mercilessly steal your identity just by being in proximity to you. Wallets with this technology shield your RFID-enabled cards from electronic pick-pocketing, preventing your finances from becoming another statistic.
You can’t prepare for every contingency, but with just a little preparation, you can address the ones that you could most likely encounter. The list above is by no means an exhaustive one, and we’d love you to share below what precautions you would recommend others add to their gear.