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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.

Maintain Your Gear, It Could Save Your Life

Don't wait for others to tell you to square away your gear.

March 28, 2011  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

At the beginning of your police career, you'll pay strict attention to smaller details. You'll double check everything, and your gear will all be in working order. In the academy, you knew you'd have to stand inspection. Knowing the FTO would check you and your equipment, you'd be ready.

Now that you're a solo officer, you'll start to slack off. I'm here to remind you to look into the mirror. Your survival may be at stake.

Agency regulations usually require officers to have all equipment serviceable, clean, tidy, ready for deployment, and ready for inspection. In my years of working the firearms range, I've seen handguns that have not been cleaned and cared for. I've seen holsters with cobwebs and dust lines, telling me the weapon hasn't been removed in months. I've seen bullets nearly green with age and tarnish; where were these officers when we rotated ammo?

Let me get this into my head; you're going to trust your life on an instrument that you haven't cared for in months?

If you're heading to work today, you should have physically checked your duty and secondary weapons. I'm not saying a break down, clean, and lube every day, but it should be checked for function. I lose my mind when I ask an officer about the last equipment check, and I get a blank expression.

This rule of thumb should apply not only to handguns and ammo but to all of your equipment. Give it a once over. If you take a spill or drop your gun belt, most standard handcuffs can double-lock themselves. I used to be impressed with some of the other guys I broke in under. I used to watch a few of them standing around waiting for roll call. They would be drinking coffee, smoking (we could back then), and talking; several would be taking the cuffs out and rotating the arms and preloading them so they could pop them on in a flash.

Guns were checked (we didn't clear our barrels). I used to love the flashlight checks. They shined them into our eyes, but they knew the batteries were strong and you were temporarily blinded for the night's laugh.

I used to have a first sergeant in the MP corps (Hooah!) who taught us about primary operator maintenance. His schedule was pay day and the 15th of each month, and then letting two weeks pass. Even if the equipment hadn't been moved since last maintenance day, it was rechecked. This prevents the equipment gremlins from attacking, and we could remain in a state of readiness.

There's an old saying that when in doubt, lower your standards. This might work for some. If you're a warrior, it won't be your standard. Your standards should be highest because the survival of you and others won't depend on the gremlins. It could depend on you.

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