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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



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.
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A Grab Bag to Go

Preparation begins now.

January 12, 2010  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author


DeSantis Recruit Bag

I find it a necessity now more than ever to have a grab bag within arm's reach. To prepare for active shooters, school crises, and terrorism, you've got to have the necessary equipment and now! Most times I do not advise my recruit readers to go out and invest in a lot of equipment. But sometimes you have to grab the bull by the horns. We're talking about saving lives here.

Bags 101

During a discussion about "go bags" or "active shooter bags" (whatever you want to call them), I was surprised to find that some departments only issue them to members of their tactical teams, supervisors, or to senior guys. Sadly, some departments don't even issue them at all. OK, readers, lets get our shopping list ready. As always I demand that you check with your departmental rules to make sure all of these items are allowed on duty and ensure you are compliant.

There are several basic bags on the market, some designed and marketed for this very purpose. Most have shoulder slings or waist slings with several compartments for equipment. Others are similar to bandoliers or messenger bags. There are some who advocate the use of equipment vests instead.

My advice here is to select whichever one works for you and your station in life. You don't want to buy one that's too small, but it shouldn't be too cumbersome either. Go to a cop shop, camping supplier, or gun show and look, touch, and try on. Yes, I said try it on. See if it's a good ergonomic fit for your body and weapon movements.

Needful Things

As for what goes into the bag, I recommend packing several loaded magazines to fit your service weapon. If you have a secondary or backup (and you should) have some to feed that one as well. If you are selecting a secondary weapon, here is a great hint. Some manufacturers now offer the compact version of the same caliber service weapon and the big street magazines function in the compacts. This is a two for one deal if you can do it.

If you have a patrol rifle, have several extra magazines ready. If you still carry a shotgun, have more slugs. Extra ammo is a good thing in life. There are several departments that will allow officers to purchase their own patrol rifles for use. There are some procedures to go through, but at least you'll have your rifle with you instead of nothing.

Now for the other "things" that can make for a long list:

  • Battlefield dressings with clotting capability, strapping for a tourniquet, and gloves.
  • Extra flashlight or chemical light sticks.
  • Good combination edge (straight and serrated edge) utility knife. There are some rescue knives on the market that deserve a strong look.
  • Duct tape; there are thousands of uses, including as an emergency restraining device.
  • Door chocks; don't go crazy looking for commercially available ones. Ask a buddy with a wood shop to provide you with some wood wedges, which will work just fine and are cheap and easy. Put your department initials on each one (like EPD), so those following know it was the good guys there.
  • Wire cutters; go to a big hardware store and get a hefty pair of electrician's pliers or side wire cutters. Don't ask why; you will need them, so get them.
  • Roll of parachute cord
  • Room for your radio

There are more "things" you can include if you still have room. Here are other items I have seen. This is by no means a definitive list, only suggestions from some of my tactical operators.

  • Marking pens for doors; no "Kilroy was here," just for clearing rooms and doors
  • Bottle of water
  • Meal replacement bar
  • If you have a medical requirement and anticipate a siege, carry an extra dose of medicine if you need it. If not, some foils of pain relievers are good to have.
  • For those who may respond in plain clothes, some form of identification or extra shield. For these guys a mesh raid vest is best.

It is my hope that I have inspired you to prepare for the worst-case scenario. It is my prayer that you never have to respond under these conditions. But if you do, now you'll have some more life-saving tools to get the mission done.

Train to win and compete another day.

Tags: Bags, Tactical Gear, Active Shooters


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