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William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

Maintenance Day and Other Rituals

Develop habits that can save your life.

July 03, 2007  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Back when I was in the U.S. Army MP Corps we were taught to set aside time for personal equipment maintenance. This was easy to remember because we did it on the 15th and last day of the month, which was payday. Every item we carried was to be inspected, cleaned, lubed, and so forth. I highly recommend you do the same. Warriors need to prepare for their calling; policework is no different.

You think that once you get out on the streets you will take care of yourself and equipment. For some of you, I am definitely preaching to the choir. But to the rest of you, I fear you will become wrapped around the axle and get lackadaisical; take heed.

Once you are on your watch and whatever ungodly shift rotation you end up on, set your own day and time for equipment maintenance. Once this routine becomes established, it will only take minutes. But these minutes are the ones warriors invest in.

Even if you have not fired your weapon and you think it has not been exposed to extreme service conditions, it still deserves to be inspected and cleaned! Pop out all of the ammo in the magazines to rest the spring, and inspect each round. Remember, not only is this your weapon and lifeline, but others may also depend on you to use it—and it had better function when it matters. Do not forget to conduct safety checks before cleaning, during cleaning, and before reloading. An officer in south Georgia recently lost his life while cleaning a weapon.

Check all of the other equipment on your belt and at your disposal. Check those handcuffs; they need cleaning and love also! After you wrangle down a suspect the last thing you want is for your cuffs to be jammed. Check your belt knife. Is it sharp, clean, and operational? Check your TASER, OC spray, and any extra gloves on your belt. Check your holster, no matter what the safety level is, to be sure the retention devices are working properly.

Flashlights should be charged and clean. When was the last time you ever wiped off the lens? Is that extra bulb still in the end cap or briefcase? Check for leaking batteries. Inspect your patrol briefcase: all the forms, goodies, and whatnots in there?

The goal here is to have a young warrior ready to perform at a moment's notice. Others are depending on you and the life you save could well be your own.

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