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 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 their duty belt. Some officers also stock and carry a patrol bag which contains all the other items they 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 you change out of uniform, your duty bag is used to hold most of your equipment, keeping it together and handy for the next tour.
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 your handcuffs and handcuff case 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: Your pepper spray and its case should also carefully be placed in the duty bag. Some manufacturers have button guards preventing accidental sprays, but others do not--so be careful.
Expandable baton & holder: Your baton and its case should also be secured together in the duty bag.
Radio holder & collar mic: Some collar mics stay attached to the radio, but if not they should be secured in the bag. Don't forget to pack your radio pouch, too
Portable radio & charged battery: These are usually retrieved from a portable radio charging station and added to your duty bag or clipped to your belt. You should have your radio turned on as you travel through your jurisdiction to report for work.
Fully charged flashlight & flashlight ring: Your flashlight ring should go in your duty bag, along with your fully charged flashlight.
Magazine pouch & loaded mags: As with handcuffs, magazines may need a touch of oil from time to time, especially when they are exposed to moisture. Don't forget to bring along pouches for your magazines.
Now, let's take a look at the most common items in your patrol bag.
Extra handcuffs: It's always a good idea to keep an extra set of duty cuffs on hand, just in case your 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: You 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: This same rule applies to your patrol rifle or shotgun: you should carry extra ammunition and magazines, just in case.
Extra flashlight & spare battery: Flashlights tend to fail at the worst possible times. A nighttime crime scene or extended search can really eat into the life of a rechargeable battery. It's 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 can 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 any officer's go-to tool.
Vicks VapoRub: A little dab under the nose will mask extreme odors at crime scenes.
Binoculars: Binoculars 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 your 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: Like ammunition, you can never have enough writing utensils. The ruler is used to give scale to evidentiary photographs.
With the increased risk of Coronavirus exposure, personal protective equipment has become essential duty gear. It's very important that police officers stay safe during COVID-19, so here are some helpful items to bring along with you.
Protective outer covering: A disposable outer covering can help protect you from potentially infectious contacts.
Extra masks: You should have an ample supply of N95 or equivalent face coverings.
Extra rubber gloves: A box of rubber gloves (in the proper size) should be in every officer's patrol bag. They offer protection from everything you touch.
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, a tourniquet and some QuikClot can save lives.
First-aid kit: Your first aid kit should include band-aids of various sizes for covering scrapes and scratches. Keeping these blemishes covered will protect you from infections.
Over-the-counter medications: Having basic over-the-counter medications such as pain killers, antihistamines and gastrointestinal drugs saves time and provides immediate relief.
You never know for certain what the weather is going to be like. With the right items, though, you can stay prepared for anything.
Raincoat & small towel: Keeping a duty jacket in the car ensures you 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: When caught outdoors at a crime scene or traffic post in the dead of winter, 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. Your primary pair may become wet or damaged, compromising their integrity.
Finally, don't forget the small stuff. These items are the perfect size to keep in your pocket for quick, easy access.
One pair of rubber gloves: These can be quickly deployed when encountering a bleeding subject.
Folding knife with pocket clip: Clipped inside your pants pocket, a knife is a go-to tool in emergencies, such as cutting seat belts. Read our guide on how to choose a tactical knife to make sure you find the perfect one for your shift.
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: Leather gloves provide good protection against sharp objects during suspect frisks.
Business cards: Many police officers carry professional business cards. You can give these out to people requesting your identity or to the victims of crimes. They help you look professional and can also help forge connections with the community.
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