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Departments : The Winning Edge

Stocking Your Patrol Bag

A sturdy accessible carry-all packed with carefully culled duty essentials sets you up for a successful shift, whatever the day may bring.

December 28, 2010  |  by Adrian Stroud

Streamline Your Gear

Although I've just told you about all of the stuff to load yourself down with, I also want to remind you of a mnemonic I learned in the 1980s: K.I.S.S. It stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. This means you should judge carefully what you pack for the road.

When I was hired, my sergeant took me into the training room on one of my first days. He showed me an enormous stack of forms on a nearby table and said simply, "Pack that into your briefcase." We have all faced this. Even in a "paperless system," forms abound.

We are forced to carry parking stickers, abandoned MV stickers, alarm tags, forms, you name it. So choose only what you need to carry. If those forms exist at the station, leave them there. Most officers have laptops now, so that helps.

What I used to do was regularly assess what I carried on the road. If any stuff was never used (like outdated forms), I dumped it and re-assessed. Also consider the weight of all the stuff you're lugging in and out of your cruiser every day. The old expression "watch your back" has a double meaning here.

If you take care of your back, it will be a pain-free friend in your retirement years. One good trick is to use the shoulder strap that comes with your bag to distribute the weight instead of the carry handle. Also, lift with your legs instead of leaning over and lifting the bag straight up. If you have been on the job a while, you have had to fight with violent arrestees. That hurts your back when you hit the mid-century mark. You don't need to add to that strain, so choose wisely what you want to bring with you.

Allow for Access

It's also important to decide where you'll store your bags on patrol. In the old days, we had cruisers with bench seats and very little equipment up front. Nowadays, the front seats of our cruisers are impossibly jammed with laptops, radar, various radios, switch boxes, etc. This poses very serious problems in accessing your gear, and safe patrol tactics.

I used to practice sliding over to the other side of the bench seat if I needed to escape my cruiser if ambushed. That is impossible now due to the bucket seats and the center console jammed with equipment. We are now forced to put our equipment bags in the back seat, behind our cage. This makes it hard to get to the gear bag and poses a security problem when transporting prisoners. If you can keep your patrol bag on the passenger side front seat, that's ideal. If not, then whenever you take a prisoner on board, remember to put your gear bags in the trunk, secured.

Know Your Inventory

More than once, I was engaged in a neighborhood melee and I could picture some important article of gear that I desperately needed but was in my locker, or in my P.O.V., or at home. I learned the hard way to carry whatever I could possibly think of, and I have an excellent imagination when it comes to preparing for "what if" situations.

In all my years the gear I carried saved me in dangerous situations, and made many long stakeouts, plane crash scene securing details, and perimeter homicide watch details much more comfortable. Remember, employ the proper tactics, train frequently, and carry the proper gear. You are the SWAT team until the SWAT team gets there.

Adrian Stroud is a retired police officer and worked in law enforcement in Connecticut for 30 years.

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Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

mnork @ 2/18/2011 12:07 PM

Keep in mind, most times when you will need items in said bag, you will already be out of your car. So does it matter if you go to your trunk or your front seat to get it. I don't think it matters enough most times, but does is when you get into your patrol car crash. Most of us will get in at least one during our careers. When you do it may be minor, but it maybe a roll over. If it is a roll over, keep in mind, everything in your compartment not strapped, bolted, tied down, and becomes a missile. If it is big enough say 2-3 pounds or bigger, it may become a deadly missile. Food for thought.

PO. Jeff Stewart @ 1/19/2016 8:13 AM

What do you think about Lifepads and Lifetabs for Active Shooter go bags? The site is also your thoughts Cellox vs. Quick Clot?

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