Government data shows that there were almost 60,000 assaults on law enforcement officers in the last decade. In 2016, 66 law enforcement officers were criminally killed in the line of duty, according to the FBI. Police duty gear and tactical gear are essential to keeping officers safe, but with so many choices in tactical gear on the market, how do you decide what’s worth investing in? There’s no one way to conduct law enforcement and different aspects of the job bring different challenges. But in general there a few tactical gear supplies that every officer must have, and some every officer shouldhave.
Things Every Officer Must Have
- Duty Weapon It goes without saying that this should be loaded, clean, and maintained regularly.
- Body Armor Ok, so it’s not the most comfortable thing in the world, but bulletproof body armor may be the most valuable piece of tactical gear you carry. Since 1978, bulletproof vests for police officers have saved the lives of 87 police officers just in New York City alone, and the chance of dying from being shot in the torso goes up 3.4 times if you aren’t wearing the vest.
- Good Shoes This is as important as your weapon. Your shoes should be comfortable, support you all day, and allow you to run through nearly anything but lava.
- Intermediate Weapons. Every agency has their preference, but you need a baton or some mace so you have an option between verbal orders and deadly force.
- Flashlight A heavy, bright flashlight is another absolute must. Check the batteries regularly, and invest in a tactical flashlight if you can.
Things Every Officer Should Have
The tactical gear on this list is valuable and useful, but it’s often not required. Consider getting it anyway.
- Water or Sports Drink Water doesn’t usually qualify as tactical gear, but you’ll never regret having extra around for hot duty days or even a long standoff in the sun.
- Extra Handcuffs And while you’re at it, maybe some leg restraints, too, if you’re allowed. You never know when you might end up with an extra suspect or someone that needs two. Also get a long handcuff key to make it easier to deal with cuffs in a hurry.
- Gloves You tactical gear should include good gloves. You’ll want nitrile covered gloves such as EMTs have to protect you from bodily fluids, but it’s also great to have a pair of tactical gloves with kevlar palms and knuckles so you can go rooting around through anything.
- First Aid Kit And not one with just band-aids in it. Get the best one you can afford.
- Reliable Maps It’s always safe to assume that your technology will fail at some point. An old-school map could just save you.
- Backup Weapon If your primary weapon gets taken, the backup could save your life. The FBI data says that in the last 10 years, 33 law enforcement officers were murdered with their own weapons. Don’t be that kind of statistic: this is crucial tactical gear.
- Multitool Or at the very least a pocket knife. You never know when you’ll desperately need to cut something or get into a thing.
There are a lot more items that could go on this list, and it should be adapted to your particular needs. Ask more experienced colleagues what they recommend and watch how everyone does their jobs. Then get the tactical gear you need to make sure you come home every night.