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Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

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.

Carrying the Load

Don't weigh yourself down with needless gadgets.

November 30, 2009  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Maybe we've read too many gear articles or issued out way too many "things," but I think backpacks are the next police issue. Stop and look at your duty belt and count the accoutrements of war you're carrying.

Count only the issued or the required ones—belt, holster, bullet launcher, extra ammo with carrier, handcuffs, radio, impact instrument, OC aerosol spray, and four keepers to hold it tidy. You could have an electronic control device (ECD). Did I forget the ballistic vest? Now, go weigh all of this. Are you getting the picture?

Did I forget your cell phone, glove carrier, flashlight, keys, extra cuffs, knife or multi-tool with carrier, microphone or Secret Squirrel Decoder Ring? It is no wonder that most cops in their latter years have back problems. This is why I stress taking time to keep yourself fit and the importance of stretching (on, as well as off duty).

I guess it must have been cool in the old days when a copper carried only a pocket pistol, truncheon, and cuffs. They had far less stuff to carry, to keep up with, and to care for.

Today, we have a litany of specialized police tools and instruments issued. I always laugh when a new product comes out and wonder if the holster manufacturers are tooling up for the new nicky neat police gadget. Does it come in basketweave?

With some items, I really wonder about the inventors. Do they actually believe we're going to hump this stuff around? I keep wondering if we are going to use cargo pants and load-bearing hook-and-loop closures. MOLLE compatible vests are next.

The reason I bring this up for thought is the amount of other things we carry, such as a secondary weapon, extra knife or two, extra ammo for both of your weapons, add another knife and whatever else you can conceive of. I actually know a cop who carries a mouthpiece for when he becomes physical; he has that level of protection. What's next? How do you carry, place, and control all of this "stuff"?

Once you have all your street gear on, consider performing a jump test. Stand up, perform a few classic jumping jacks, run up a flight of steps, and then get in and out of the patrol car a few times.

Immediately perform an equipment check and find out how much stuff fell off, what has loosened up, and then what needs to be repositioned. Next, have a trusted friend with you when this occurs. How much noise discipline do you have? Can you walk up on someone without rattling or squeaking?

Usually, this is when a reality orientation moment hits you. Now you come to grips with and then correlate your amount of physical output to the ratio of equipment you are humping around.

In other words, if you carry all that equipment you'll want to understand that you're not going to sprint without equipment loss. You won't be springing over fences like a movie cop without getting hung up on your ankle holster.

To be honest, I feel we are like tortoises and if we fall on our backs we will never get up. Look at what the other senior officers are carrying and their methodology of carry. What do you really need or can get by without that doesn't compromise your safety or mission?

It is a strain to carry and account for all the needful things of life. Rely on your FTO and academy staff to get you thinking about how you'll carry the load and perform. Besides, by the time you read this there will be yet another nicky neat item invented to carry. Better call the holster guys up now!

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