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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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Preparing Yourself for Duty

Prepare yourself for duty by taking care of the little things.

November 12, 2012  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of William Harvey.
Photo courtesy of William Harvey.

When I talk with recruits, many have the same question. How do you remember to do all of this stuff? When I ask what they mean, they answer that they must have constant readiness no matter what comes up, respond to a call in matter of minutes, or that they must know what to bring. Granted these and several other questions are answered with the word of experience. So how do you get this experience?

I got my dose of experience in U.S. Army basic training back in the '70s. As much as I hated it, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me to prepare me for life. For those of my readers who are military veterans, thank you for your service. You fully understand what these little lessons are about. For those of you who have never served, let me give you a brief insight.

I don't care how tired you are when you get off. You set up your uniform and your equipment. Minutes are precious before the next shift. Sleep is still on your mind, so the finer details are taken care of. No fumbling with changing name tags and those back clasps (a.k.a. damits). What if you got called in for a major case? You are en route and squared away.

After days off, I still have the same routine I had since my military police days. Boots are polished. Weapons are checked. Paperwork and other equipment is set and ready to go. The uniform is ready. I can wake up the next morning. All is done, and it's a smooth sail into work. Knowing how things can go, the toast will be burnt, coffee will be is too weak, the kids are not cooperating, and traffic is backed up. So goes life. The police set up is done, so you have one less reason to be late for work and one less reason to be frustrated to start the day. I mentioned weapons checked, so this also means routine cleaning and maintenance.

Planning is simple, it takes minutes to avoid hours of frustration. I stay amazed at those who don't listen or catch the weather reports. You don't tune in and you go off in the cold, rainy morning. If you listened to the weather dude, you may have worn a long sleeve uniform shirt. If it's raining, take a towel to dry off and the hat cover as well. Put them together. While you're listening to the radio or television when getting ready for the weather report, have you noticed that they also have highway reports? Listen and apply, don't just get up, drive in, and show up. Be prepared for the tour of duty at hand.

Going into night shift or the seasons change, you'll have to have some time in the dark. Check your flashlights for a charge and whether you need batteries.

Schedules are no different. You have to prepare your time just as you prepare your equipment. Next time you go to training, there will always be someone coming in the door. They are flustered because they forgot it was training today. It has only been posted on the shift calendar for six months. They are having a hissy fit for they did not get a sitter or they had to call off other plans. They forgot.

With all of the gadgets with calendars, there's no reason not to know. Years ago, we had pocket calendars, notes on the refrigerator, work calendars on the desk, in the patrol car and in the locker. Now, it's in your pocket synchronized with pay sheets, staffing reports, and the like. No excuses.

There are many other little tidbits of getting along. Most of you will learn by experience, which is just as tough a teacher as a drill sergeant. Learn, apply and be successful but share the knowledge to the next generation. Success should be contagious.

Tags: Uniforms, Military-related, Shift Schedules


Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

E C @ 11/16/2012 7:44 AM

This is an excellent article, thank you. Being a former Army Ranger and an LEO w 13 years on, I totally get this. It is still good to be reminded of the importance about what the chief is stressing in this article.

Dan Leger @ 11/18/2012 6:50 AM

Well written brother. When I was an MP at Ft. Stewart GA., then the 24th ID, I had a "Plat Daddy" who always said...
"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail"

D.K. LUJAN @ 11/21/2012 6:25 AM

Very well written and I do the same thing day in and day out. Whether I was on night/day shift. Be prepared is your best policy for survival. I was very thankful to the Boy Scouts, and the U.S. Army (24 yrs). Thanks.

S.S @ 11/21/2012 7:25 AM

Preparing yourself for duty should be 2nd nature. Before I leave my house and as soon as I get into my unit I recite the prayer to ST. Michael who is the patron saint for police officers. Saying that prayer is just as important to me as putting on my vest. It's a must. Good Article!!!

S.S @ 11/21/2012 7:31 AM

to those of you who don't know it. It goes as follows:
Oh St. Michael the Archeangel defend us this day in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil . May God rebuke him we humbly pray and do thou of Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the devine power of God, cast into hell, Satan and all his evil spirits who wander through this world seeking the ruin of souls amen.

R. Bourne @ 11/22/2012 6:06 AM

Great article. Being a Navy veteran, (21 years), I certainly relate to this. We must be vigilant in every aspect. We need to remember that the job does not stop when we're off the clock. It continues long after that. Our heads needs to be constantly sviveling.

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