As a police officer you have to carry a great deal of equipment with you at all times…
…which means that these critical tools need to be lightweight, robust, and compact.
This leads me to the following question:
“As a police officer, what kind of equipment should I carry?”
Well, that’s a great question! Below I will try to answer what that with this list of basic police gear:
It all depends on where you work, what your police district requires of you, and what kind of work you do. Below you’ll find what I think is an essential police gear list.
However, there is a world of difference between the equipment needs of officers who work in rural areas with miles of country road between them and backup, and officers who work in Manhattan or LA where help is available within minutes.
There are definitely officers out there who have to tote around more equipment than they should and they could probably do with less.
No matter where you work or what exactly your job entails, you’ll always need a few essentials with you each time. In this article, I’ll talk you through these, in my opinion, absolute necessities. In my case, I have some equipment on my body, my bag, and in my patrol car.
Check out my basic police gear list below
Equipment belt/duty belt:
Of course the first item on my list is handcuffs – an absolute necessity. In a previous article, I listed my favorite – and in my opinion, the most reliable – brands of handcuffs. In general, you can’t go wrong if you choose handcuffs from the major manufacturers.
I carry a set of chained handcuffs and a set of hinged handcuffs, which gives me flexibility in how I choose to restrain those under arrest. In addition, it gives me the ability to put handcuffs on two different people at the same time.
If you already know that you want a Peerless or a Smith & Wesson handcuff, check this article comparing those two.
My tactical flashlight is an equally critical tool on my belt. Necessary for dark alleyways, basements, and of course – nighttime. It is important that the flashlight isn’t clunky or heavy, but instead is compact and powerful enough to provide a steady beam while resisting damage from impact, shocks, and moisture.
If you need a large flashlight, it’s best to leave it in the patrol car.
There are only a few countries in the world where the police do not carry weapons (for example, Norway and Iceland). They are lucky to work in an environment where there is no need for constant armament! However, in most places in the world, the police go armed. I have a weapon in my equipment belt that I keep in its holster at all times; like the flashlight, it is compact, light, and powerful. It is critical that the holster provides enough security that no one can grab the weapon – be on the lookout for my upcoming article about my take on the best pistol holsters.
It is important to have at least one extra magazine in addition to the one that is in your gun. There is typically room for 15 shots in a magazine; if you have 15 shots in your weapon and at least 15 extra in your belt, you are likely well equipped. Magazines can weigh down the belt, so it’s important to carefully consider if you need to carry more than two.
Pepper spray is an incredibly useful tool for police officers in threatening situations where an officer needs to temporarily disable an individual without using a weapon or firearm. This non-lethal weapon hurts like hell but allows us to gain control of the person and the situation without causing serious injury or death.
Of course, I also carry a telescope baton with me at all times. Like pepper spray, this is a non-lethal weapon that allows me to gain control without the use of a gun. (Though if you aren’t good at throwing, this only works at short range.)
There are several different models of baton holders. I have a 360 degree swiveling baton holder that does its job well and takes up very little space on my equipment belt.
I always carry a keyholder for car keys, handcuff keys, and any other necessary keys essential to my daily work.
First aid kit
The last item on my belt is a Duty and Patrol first aid kit that contains vital health equipment. One of the foremost responsibilities of the police is to save lives whenever we can. Very often, I see first aid kits that almost only contain plasters for small wounds. The injuries police officers can face are gunshot wounds, stab wounds, wounds from traffic accidents, etc. In these cases you need more than a Bandaid!
In addition to other items, my first aid kit contains the following:
- Nasopharyngeal Airway (NPA) with lube
- Pressure bandage
Keep your eyes peeled for a separate article about first aid kits for police officers, as this is an incredibly important tool for us. It help cops save lives.
Police gear in patrol bag
The patrol bag can fit a lot of fun goodies, but it’s important not to overload it with unnecessary equipment. This will make it harder to find what you need when you need it. (It’s worth noting that the equipment you bring with you depends on where you work – whether it is hot or cold, urban or rural, etc.)
In my patrol bag I have the following equipment:
Sometimes it gets cold quickly when I’m on the job! I always bring an extra pair of long underwear just in case.
Gloves to warm my hands.
It is always essential to wear goggles to protect the eyes when needed. Whether you need them for moving through an area with fireworks, a shooting, or another source of danger, goggles are critical to protecting your eyes and yourself.
Zip tie handcuffs
As I’ve written in a previous article, zip tie handcuffs are a lightweight and nifty tool that can help you out in a pinch. You might come across situations where the two metal handcuffs you have are not enough, and 20 or so lightweight zip tie handcuffs might be the tool you need.
I only carry painkillers and nasal spray – basic stuff for headaches, allergies, or a stuffy nose. Long shifts get a lot longer when you’re also dealing with an unmedicated sore throat.
One of the most used pieces of equipment in my bag is a headlamp, a practical piece that I don’t have to carry, which leaves my hands free for other things.
Police gear/Equipment on the body
Every day, I wear my uniform and a light stab and bulletproof vest. My radio is attached to the uniform, and my mobile phone, keys, and wallet are in my pockets. I also have tactical gloves in my pocket that are needle-resistant and protect against cuts.
Equipment in the patrol car
I always have a heavy bulletproof vest and helmet in the trunk of my patrol car for emergencies, like an active shooter scenario.
- Always carry a lighter in your pocket! People appreciate if you can light cigarettes for them. Our “customers” often respond positively when you can help them with this.
- Have cigarettes in your bag or in the car. Believe it or not, many stressful situations can be much better if you can offer people a smoke!
Police gear – Conclusion
All of the equipment I have mentioned is just the essentials that I carry at all times. Of course, every different job and location will have slightly different specifications for your equipment and how it is stored. Officers in some departments drive large cars with room for a bullet proof ballistic shield. Others have room for rifles or shotguns.
No matter the differences, the important thing is that all the equipment we have with us makes sense in regard to the service we perform.
After all, we carry this equipment with us on assignments, we stand in it for hours, we fight in it, we maintain it. And everything comes in the car with us whenever we’re on the road. The heavier the car, the more difficult it can be to drive.
The best summary that I can offer, then, is this: Don’t bring unnecessary equipment!
What do you think? Do you think this is a good police gear list?
If you want to learn more about police gear, take a look at our article about patrol bag contents.