The right duty gear is important. It will keep you safe during all types of high-risk incidents.
Over the past 25 years, I have had various positions including grunt, security forces, U.S.M.C. Special Operations, deputy, investigator, and S.W.A.T. team leader. I have used a lot of gear during this time, and I want to go over some of the essential pieces that I think all officers should have starting out.
When you begin a career in law enforcement, you will be issued a lot of standard equipment, some of it is great, but some….not so much. I know some officers even have to purchase their own duty gear, clothing, and PPE! I will get into this subject another time…
We all can’t afford the best equipment, but also, we don’t want to invest our hard-earned money in the garbage that will not protect us.
Here are 6 pieces of duty gear that I think is critical for every officer.
- Active Shooter Vest-This can be thrown in the back of the car, is lightweight, can carry a standard 10×12 ballistic plate, and might have some pockets. They are typically not the kind you see with tons of pouches, and cummerbund, but you can modify them up with what you need. What I like about FirstSpear’s First On is that it has integrated magazine pouches and a sewn-in pocket for things like a small IFAK kit or tourniquet. These types of vests do not hold soft armor, but typically can go over soft armor you might already be wearing. You can find all sorts of price ranges for these, but I think this is reasonably affordable and does what it needs to do in an emergency.
- Knife– I use my knife every day for all sorts of situations. My wife is always eyeballing me when I’m cutting threads off my pants with my knife or using it to open the mail, but I use it for everything! Find one that makes sense. All of us want to really have a big, Chuck Norris, street-fighting knife, but a couple of things to consider 1) How big is too big so that you can conceal it comfortably *think EDC.2) Bigger blades can be harder to keep sharp. Not saying you don’t need multiple knives in your life because you do, but the one I have is just a perfect size, extremely sharp, and does the job. Check out Benchmade 8551BK Mediator. Its push button with G10 handles has great action and balance with an insanely sharp blade. Perfect to have for EDC or on duty.
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- Tourniquet-If you can’t afford a proper IFAK kit, for the love of God, at least have a few decent tourniquets. NAR (North American Rescue) is the gold standard in tactical first aid and yes there are other good brands, but this is what I carry because I don’t trust cheap tourniquets to do the job when it’s life or death. I mean technically you can use your shirt, pants, or dirty underwear as a tourniquet, but put a real tourniquet high up on your list to buy.
- Hearing Protection-Life on the shooting range, life in the Marines, life at war. Unfortunately, hearing protection wasn’t high up on the priority list in my 20’s and now in my 40’s, I’m paying for it. Don’t be me, invest in quality hearing protection right now. An affordable, quality set of hearing protection that I like is the Howard Leight Impact Sport electronic earmuff. It comes with the directional microphones so you can actually hear the things you need to while shooting and then they stop amplification at sounds of 82DB and higher. They aren’t bulky like some other earmuffs I’ve tried. They have an adjustable headband and fold-up for easy storage. These run on 2 AAA batteries and boast about 350 hours of battery life. You can definitely spend more on another set, but these offer amazing protection (22DB) for the price and will keep you going deaf from all those range days!
- Handheld Flashlight-Another life-saving device. From fall protection, natural disasters, blinding a dangerous suspect, searching for dope, to casually blinding your family on evening walks. Don’t rely on your shitty flashlight your Dad got from the hardware store15 years ago with the 16 D cell batteries. The new lights being made today have tremendous lumens (basically the visible light output), good flood (to light up rooms), and good throw to light up targets at longer distances. Probably good to have one USB one and a battery one, just to be on the safe side. It’s no fun having your light go dead and not have spare batteries, so USB charging is great. I am a complete flashlight geek and I collect them like my hundreds of old t-shirts and hats. One of my favorites is this Surefire Stiletto Pro. I have this with me everywhere and here’s why. At 1000 lumens, anodized aluminum body, and black melonite-coated pocket clip, it’s perfect to keep on you, rugged, and lights up everything in my path.
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- Eye Protection –There are so many different jobs where you need good eye protection. I have an eye issue already, so I have to be extra cautious about flying projectiles. When you need ballistic eye protection check out Oakley SI Ballistic M Frame 3.0. They make some great glasses (Multicam!)
I sell what I love and what I use in the field. These are just suggestions, there are tons of options out there when it comes to duty gear.
We are here to help you, or your department make informed decisions!