Officers must report for work with all assigned equipment. That’s a lot of equipment to remember. Some items are more easily forgotten than others. Most officers will come up with ways of ensuring they bring all their equipment to the job. The most popular method is to keep a duty gear bag which contains all the items that go on the officer’s duty belt. Officers will also stock and carry a patrol bag which will contain all the other items an officer may need.
While these are popular methods, they are not foolproof. While most officers may have a mental checklist, our patrol officer checklist will save time and ensure important items are not left behind. It’s designed to be deliberately comprehensive. Use our list as a guideline, or print the PDF version for easy use whenever.
Duty gear bag: When an officer changes out of uniform, the duty gear bag is used to hold most of the officer’s equipment, keeping it together and handy for the next tour.
Duty belt & keepers: Simply put them in the bag and forget about them
Firearm & holster: The firearm and holster should be retrieved from where the officer secured them for safekeeping. The weapon should be safely loaded and charged, then holstered and added to the gear bag.
Handcuffs & case: While these also go in the duty bag, it’s always a good idea to add a couple of drops of oil to the cuffs — especially if they have been exposed to the rain.
O.C. spray and holder: These are also carefully placed in the duty bag. Some manufacturers have button guards preventing accidental sprays, but others do not--so be careful.
Expandable baton & holder: These two items will also be secured together in the duty bag.
Radio holder & collar mic: Some collar mics will stay attached to the radio, but if not they should be secured in the bag
Portable radio & charged battery: These are usually retrieved from a portable radio charging station and added to the duty bag or clipped to the officer’s belt. The officer will want to have their radio turned on as they travel through their jurisdiction to report for work.
Fully charged flashlight & flashlight ring: The flashlight ring will be kept in the duty bag, however, the flashlight will probably be in a separate location attached to a charger.
Magazine pouch & loaded mags: As with handcuffs, the magazines may need a touch of oil from time to time, especially when they are exposed to moisture.
If all equipment was secured at the end of the last tour, the officer should only need to remember, gun, radio, flashlight, and duty gear bag. However, that’s just the required equipment. The Patrol Bag will carry all the other items each officer believes they may need during the course of their patrol tour.
The good thing about a patrol bag is that once it’s set up to the officer’s specifications it is always ready for the next shift. That is provided, when items are used they are promptly replaced. The patrol bag can be secured in the officer’s locker, or in their vehicle, so it will always be available when the officer reports for duty.
The items each officer keeps in their patrol bag will vary. The checklist is somewhat comprehensive. Hopefully suggesting a few items officers may not have considered.
Extra handcuffs: It’s always a good idea to keep an extra set of duty cuffs on hand, just in case the officer’s primary handcuffs fail.
Disposable flex cuffs: Keep a few sets of flex cuffs in your patrol bag for use in multiple arrest scenarios.
Extra loaded magazines: An officer should always have a couple of extra magazines loaded and ready to go.
Additional box of ammunition: Many officers will keep an extra box of duty ammunition because you can never have too much ammunition.
Extra long-gun ammunition: The same rule applies to the patrol rifle or shotgun, extra ammunition and magazines should be carried, just in case.
Extra flashlight & spare battery: Flashlights tend to fail at the worst possible times. A night-time crime scene or extended search can really eat into the life of a rechargeable battery. Always good to have a backup flashlight, battery, or both.
Car cell phone charger: Cell phones are an important part of each officer’s communication. A low battery alert is an unwelcome discovery for any officer.
Multi-tool: Officers will find a thousand uses for a good multi-tool. From using the pliers for emergency equipment repairs to using the screwdriver to remove the license plates from a car, it’s the officer’s go-to tool.
Vicks VapoRub: A little dab under the nose will mask extreme odors at crime scenes.
Binoculars: These come in handy when watching a suspicious person or vehicle from a distance.
Shelf-stable food: Energy bars are great to have on hand for long crime scene assignments when you can’t leave to take a meal break.
Small digital tape recorder: This can be used as a backup to the body-cam recorder and also for taking statements
Small digital camera: This is much better for documenting crime scenes, than using a personal cell phone camera.
Assorted reading materials: These can include motor vehicle and criminal statute guides, and maybe a book of crosswords for extended periods of standing-by.
Door chocks or wedges: These can either be used to keep a door open or to keep doors secured during a building search.
Extra pens, office supplies, and ruler: The ruler is used to give scale to evidentiary photographs.
Protective outer covering: With the added risk of Coronavirus exposure, PPE has become essential. This includes having a disposable outer covering to protect the officer from potentially infectious contacts.
Extra masks: Each officer should have an ample supply of N95 or equivalent masks.
Extra rubber gloves: A box of rubber gloves in the proper size, should be in every officer’s patrol bag.
Anti-bacterial wipes: A package of wipes are a must for wiping down the interior surfaces of the patrol car at the beginning of each shift.
Tourniquet and clotting powder: In cases where serious trauma occurs, such as gunshots or other serious wounds, these can save an officer’s life.
First-aid kit: This should include band-aids of various sizes for covering scrapes and scratches protecting the officer against infection.
Over-the-counter medications: Having basic over-the-counter medications such as pain killers, antihistamines and gastrointestinal drugs saves time and provides immediate relief.
Raincoat & small towel: Keeping a raincoat in the car ensures the officer will not get caught out in the rain unprepared. A towel to dry off with after being in the rain is a smart item to include.
Dry socks: An officer with wet feet and hours to go on their tour will appreciate being able to put on a dry pair of socks.
Insect repellant wipes: The officer that has planned ahead will grab a few packets of insect repellent wipes before entering the woods, just in case the mosquitoes are biting.
Chemical hand warmers: Used in the dead of winter, when caught outdoors at a crime scene or traffic post, place one of these in each glove and your hands will stay toasty for hours.
Insulated gloves: It never hurts to have an extra pair of insulated gloves as a backup. Officers’ gloves may become wet or damaged, compromising the integrity of the gloves.
One pair of rubber gloves: These can be quickly deployed when encountering a bleeding subject.
Folding knife with pocket clip: Clipped inside the officer pants pocket, this will be the officer’s go-to tool in emergencies, such as cutting seat belts.
Pocket notebooks and index cards: The 3X5 index cards can be folded in half and used to mark items of evidence on the ground, and may also be used for note taking.
Leather search gloves: these provide some protection against sharp objects during suspect frisks.
Business cards: Many police officers carry professional business cards. These are given out to persons requesting an officers identity or to the victims of crimes. They help the officer look professional and can also help forge connections with the community.
Each police officer will determine the essential items to have on hand and what they should carry in their patrol bag. A well-stocked patrol bag demonstrates the officer is thinking ahead and anticipating future situational needs.
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