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Columns : In My Sights

Personal Maintenance

One of your responsibilities as a crime fighter is keeping your critical tools, including your firearm and yourself, in good working order.

February 07, 2017  |  by Dave Smith - Also by this author

In the modern world there are many great reminders to help us make sure we do our maintenance chores right on time. My refrigerator has a little red light that reminds me it is time to replace my water filter. Tons of my electronic gizmos have warning signals that remind me to recharge, or check for software updates. I just wish the critical tools in my life had the same reminders.

My firearms don't have any indicators telling me that I need to clean and lube their little parts, or that being carried around all the time can be pretty hard on that particularly critical piece of machinery. Neither do our cuffs. I remember struggling with a doper, desperately trying to cuff him in the middle of a city park with just one other crime fighter, and the cuffs had jammed and wouldn't swing free to lock on the dirtbag's wrist. I never failed to check my cuffs every shift thereafter (talk about a powerful example of "learning effect").

Certain assignments have always been afforded extra time for maintenance, by virtue of the fact that the criticality of their position demands and requires it. Motor units have to make sure their motorcycles are in good order. Air units are also required to maintain equipment and personnel at a very high level, as the pilot and the machine must be operating properly from takeoff to landing.

One of the great things about being a crime fighter today, in addition to the fact that we are in the Golden Age of firearms and equipment, is that we are in the "Clean Age" of equipment maintenance. I am amazed by how many sweet devices and chemicals are available to clean and protect everything from my firearms to my boots.

"You don't run dirty ammo through your firearm; take care of yourself like you do your guns."

So what is your excuse? When was the last time you performed preventive maintenance on your cuffs, your firearm, your expandable baton, your OC, not to mention your magazines? Ask yourself, "Do I make a habit of the life-saving act of maintenance?" Remember, in his groundbreaking book Officer Down, Code Three, Pierce Brooks found that one of the 10 fatal errors our brothers and sisters make is simply failing to maintain a properly functioning firearm. Seriously?

We should habitually check and clean this essential lifesaving tool, and all of its components. Magazines often get neglected, yet they are as essential a component of your firearm as the firing pin, and they are constantly exposed to the trauma of being dropped. And even if you have a duty set of magazines that never get used, they are under the constant tension of being fully loaded.

We also need to think about maintenance of the most essential tool of law enforcement…us. Our minds and bodies are constantly under the stress of life and the adventure of maintaining a civil society. Unfortunately, we don't have little lights or stickers on our foreheads to remind us it is time to sleep or eat or workout. Working graveyards and getting to court and the kid's game and that off-duty gig at the stadium often find us breaking down due to illness or stress.

Consider three workouts a week as your physical and mental health "preventive maintenance." It's even better to get four in, but as little as two can "maintain" a moderately good level of fitness. If you're pressed for time, remember you can achieve a good workout in 10 minutes in your living room; do some basic joint mobility movement, and then crank out some pushups, squats, dips, crunches, and burpees. Start with 10 reps each and build from there. Even better, do this every day.

Sleep needs to be a priority as well; hit the rack early and get up early. Those morning hours are a great source of uninterrupted time for all kinds of maintenance, including exercise. Also, think about the fuel you're putting in your body. You don't run dirty ammo through your firearm (I hope); take care of yourself like you do your guns. Compile a "food log" for a couple weeks just to monitor the fuel you are giving yourself, and see if you are setting yourself up for long term problems or for wellness. If your diet is heavy on protein, greens, and good fats then you're probably OK; if it's heavy on carbs then you might need to put yourself in check.

Remember the old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Let's maintain the critical tools in our life and work, crime fighters, so we are always ready when duty calls.

Dave Smith is an internationally recognized law enforcement trainer and is the creator of "J.D. Buck Savage." You can follow Buck on Twitter at @thebucksavage.    "If you can't go all in, then stay all out."


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Mark McCardia @ 3/22/2017 4:08 PM

37 years down with a few more to go. The last 15 years I really let myself go. Injury after injury caused my workouts to fade away, while the weight piled on. But its never too late! About 8 months ago started a fun workout routine and started eating cleaner, then recently started tightening up the diet to start losing fat. And have just started a brand new(for me) martial art. At the rate Im improving, I will retire better than when I started! Never give up!

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