Reading the headlines the other day, I saw that a police officer in another city had his entire gun belt stolen from his privately owned vehicle. What the...? Yes, the entire gun belt with ammo, cuffs, OC, police radio, and bullet launcher. Yes, this is exactly what we don't need on the streets: some thugs with a police radio and a police-quality handgun. Are you getting the big picture here yet?
With the position of police officer comes a role of responsibility. Your department entrusts you with all assorted types of equipment. Whether you like the caliber and brand names or not, they will do, and they are your responsibility. Your equipment in the hands of a criminal can be devastating. I hope the battery was dead in the stolen radio.
I still check the headlines nationwide about officers that have had patrol rifles or shotguns taken from their police vehicles. We have locks and procedures to keep them in the good guys' and gals' hands. Follow them! One department requires all weapons to be secured in the trunk or stored in the arms locker of the precinct when away for the vehicle for long periods of time. This order is a pain in the butt to follow, but it results in no stolen weapons.
Every officer and department are different. Some agencies have locker rooms to change in, and some officers dress at home and drive in. Whichever your situation, be mindful of what's in your car, especially if it's obvious to anyone what your profession is just by looking at you drive by.
Some cops' cars have so many police bumper stickers and other memorabilia on them that a five-year-old could figure out that this is a cop's ride. Go to a ball game or to the mall in one of these, and it's not difficult for anyone to guess which car just may have an extra gun in the glove box or some police equipment to snatch. Think about security on your private vehicle as well. Do not give crooks a reason to pop the windows and do not give them anything to steal.
Personal equipment is not exempt either. I know what it is like to be on an unsecured scene or 'hot scene'; you may not lock the car so you can reposition quickly. But most departments now have cars with remote locks to ease your access in such situations. Make use of this feature if it's available to you. The bottom line is you need to secure as much as you can in your vehicle when you can. Some thug snatching your car bag with all of your goodies that you paid for would infuriate you. Take extra steps to strap it in, keep the passenger window up, and lock up when you can.
I do not like people who steal, and I feel sorrow for the victims, but I do not like when cops are victims of anything. Besides the aggravation of losing personal or departmental equipment, this could be a disciplinary issue as well. Fully read and understand your department's policy on vehicle and equipment security. If you don't, you could take a trip before the disciplinary board on this one.
Make any equipment security procedures into habits; make them a part of your routine in order to safeguard all. None of us wants some gangbanger to get his mitts on our equipment. Safety starts with learning procedures and following them as a daily way of business.