First of all, this is a tactical column for those who have graduated the academy and are on the streets. But, for the recruit and academy reader, it will give you a leg up on setting up your uniform.
Now, some departments have strict rules and regulations on how the uniform and duty belt are set up and for that matter what you can and cannot carry. There are some departments that allow some latitude for the officers. Regardless, the problem lies with how well you have established your sound discipline.
Listen to Others First
The other day I heard a of couple officers dashing down the steps, and it sounded much akin to sleigh bells on a horse. With their rattle, rattle, jingle, jangle they could not have stealthed up on a statue that day.
Let's do this in layers first. Uniform only, what is in your pockets today? Loose change, challenge coin, pocket knife, lip balm…what else? The first step is to calm down the uniform. Some departments still issue whistles and shoulder chains. If there's something you don't really need and it's safe to do so, stow it in your briefcase.
Next, the duty belt tends to fill up fast. Yes, the required items of life are the bullet launcher, more projectiles, handcuffs, batons, chemicals, radio, and let's throw in TASER as well. Some of you have to add cell phones, glove dispensers, flashlights, and keys.
Now, put all of your accoutrements and necessities on and then jump up and down a few times. What did you hear? If you are still undecided as to your stealth abilities, or lack thereof, go up and down a flight of stairs a few times. What are you hearing?
Solutions for Soundproofing
After your jump, determine where the origin of the noise was. Now evaluate it.
Keys are easy to silence by wrapping a rubber band around them. Cell phones can be put on vibrate. For items on the duty belt that "clunk" into each other, look at their position akin to each other. Does your front pocket pen strike your shield? Push it down in the pocket. Magazines rattling could be the result of a worn spring.
Obvious noise makers include your radio and voice. Radio earpieces can cut down on radio noise. Consider using hand signals for tactical movements. The fewer voices heard, the more you will have the element of surprise.
Think you've got it? The final test is your walk. If you are walking down the hall for a coffee, then it doesn't matter. If you are checking out a building alarm, then walk with stealth and energy in your feet. We refer to this as "cat feet," walking silently but in a ready position similar to a cat on a stalk. If all of this is considered, you have increased your tactical advantage.
Light discipline is all together a different topic, but consider a few pointers here. Our uniforms are traditionally shiny. Use your non-weapon hand to cover your shield for stealthy movement in low light. Be aware that your night sights glow for you, but others can see them also. Be aware that not just sound but light can also unintentionally broadcast your presence. It's important to keep your location on the downlow in every respect to maintain a tactical advantage.
Think tactically in all things you do.