A recruit told me his story of woe about a traffic-accident investigation that became involved. Of course, this dastardly crash occurred right before his planned dinner break. Care to guess the rest of the story? He got really hungry as this investigation waned through the night.

His stomach growled, while sitting and waiting for a couple of wreckers. The recruit asked me, if he should have called another officer to bring him some chow?

Failure to prepare is preparing to fail, as my old command sergeant major once told me. Choice words for many teaching points and this one as well. You could say that my less-than-prepared recruit's sergeant should have checked on him. Yes, but there are limits.

Field supervisors will assist for additional support, safety, creature comforts (bathroom break) most of the time. Had this crash turned into a shift-long call, somebody should have scored him a stack of sliders and a soda.

A good question: What's in your carry bag? More and more officers are now carrying healthy alternatives to vending machine grazing fodder. I recommend carrying one or two energy bars or meal-replacement bars in the bag to carry you through. We all know what the gnarling stomach feels like; we can survive the growls.

Low blood sugar and energy levels are very important in staying alert and prepared. These can improve your physical and mental performance. Having a meal replacement bar in the bag and then into your empty tummy is the logical solution. I'm not going to recommend any brands. Do some research and pick the best solution after considering the following points:

  • Taste: Some of these are downright yummy and others taste like reconstituted cardboard. Yes, there are some that are as good as your favorite candy bar.
  • Ingredients and nutrients: Read the label closely. Caloric intake varies from energy bar numbers to actual meal numbers. Hence the name meal replacement bars. I am reminded to always give the sugar count a close read to prevent sugar spikes and crashes. Seek a blend of protein and essential nutrients, rather than sugary snacks.
  • Cost: Next to taste, most look at cost rather the other pointers here. Cost can vary from couple of bucks to nearly five dollars, depending on size, quality and brand names. I check my health food store for specials or even box size qualities because they're great on vacation or traveling; instead of a burger in a bag, eat something healthier.
  • Survivability: This requires testing, because I don't know what conditions you operate in. In your car bag, can a bar withstand the interior temperatures of the summer? How tough is the wrapping? Look at the expiration date on the wrapper as well.
  • Little things that go burp in the night: Some of these bars can be a digestive nightmare to some. Test them while off duty so you don't ruin a night at work with a worrisome digestive track. Some require water to wash down; others are so tough and chewy they could pull out your dental fillings.

Don't worry about adding another item to the bag; you'll want something to keep a bad assignment from getting worse. So if you're hungry, your stomach is growling, and you need energy and nutrients to drive on, carry a bar or two.

As I was taught in the Army, it's not what you eat, but whether you eat. Make it healthy, when you can.

Author

William Harvey
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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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.

View Bio
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