Preparing your duty gear for a patrol shift

Submitted by:
Mark Puddy
N.I.H. Division of Police, Montana


When getting ready for your tour on patrol, get into a routine of checking your equipment. This is applicable to the equipment you carry, as well as your patrol unit, which I’ll cover in a follow-up tip one week from today.

At the beginning of each shift, as you put your uniform together, check and make sure all the equipment is still intact and in good condition. Inspect each piece of equipment on your duty belt; flashlight, TASER, handcuffs, baton, pepper spray, radio, primary and back-up weapon, magazines, ammo, and any other necessary item used to preserve the peace and save lives. As you check the handcuffs, retrieve them from the cuff case as if you were preparing to handcuff someone. Same is true for the ASP baton. Retrieve the baton as if displaying it as a use force option. Going through the motion of retrieval and display will “map” the correct motion in your mind. Training is the first step in taking control of your own physiological response during a crisis. In times of stress the motion should be duplicated unconsciously.

Retrieve each magazine as if you need to feed your handgun. Make sure all rounds of ammo are accounted for and haven’t escaped. I have known rounds of ammo to somehow dislodge from the magazine when placed into the weapons lock box at the sally port. Sometimes while in a hurry the magazines get tossed in the box, (or trunk of the patrol car). While pulling them out in response to the next priority call, they feel the need to explore, thus not in the magazine where they belong.

When checking your primary and back-up weapon, or TASER draw, and present your weapon as if displaying it as a use of force option. Scan and pull into retention. Unload the weapon and inspect the magazine, ammunition, sights, trigger and all other components. Look for rust, dust, mud, crud and any other form of material that is not authorized on your weapon. When finished, load, scan (front and your six), and reholster (without looking at your holster).

We should all strive to not fall into any routine, however some routines are worth adopting. The key is to develop and maintain good, safe and tactically sound habits. The effort is pointless if the routine is full of bad habits that set the stage for failure.

Stay safe.

Back to previous page