Equipment checks for your patrol vehicle

Submitted by:
PoliceOne Senior Editor Doug Wyllie


I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about a television show called Alaska State Troopers — a show my buddy watches but I had (at the time of our discussion) never seen. Specifically, we were talking about a recent episode in which a Trooper apparently had difficulty getting his patrol shotgun free from the rack.

Absolutely no disrespect to this Trooper, but my friend and I were both struck by the same thought: If he had to use that long gun in what I like to call a “hot, hairy, hurry” he might have been in trouble. That bear he had to dispatch was not shooting at him — although an injured bear could charge him and cause a variety of other safety issues — but a violent offender certainly might be. A shotgun or patrol rifle that cannot be withdrawn from its secure rack in the event of a major situation is pretty much like not having that weapon in the car at all.

We’ve talked in the past about the importance of regularly checking your squad car — whether that be for booby traps rigged to hurt or kill you or doing a regular check to verify that your MDT doesn’t become a dangerous projectile in the event of a crash. I’m pretty sure I also once wrote up a tip on doing a pre-shift walk-around inspection — but cannot seem to locate that one at present. Consequently, here’s a reminder that in any such walk-around inspection, you’ll want to verify that everything you might need during your shift is in proper working order as well easily accessible to you.

If something has an on-off switch, make sure that on = on and off = off. If something has batteries, make sure you’ve got good ones installed, and backups stowed someplace handy. If something opens and closes, or locks and unlocks, make sure of those mechanics operate properly... up to and including whether or not gun lock will instantly open when the need arises.

As someone who has spent a fair number of hours pushing small airplanes around the sky, I can tell you that the best pilots are absolutely meticulous about their pre-flight checks. This attention to detail tends to typify their every move, from “wheels in the wells” to “touchdown and taxi.” You may do well to consider adding this type of activity to your pre-shift routine.

Doug Wyllie is Editor in Chief of PoliceOne, responsible for setting the editorial direction of the website and managing the planned editorial features by our roster of expert writers. An award-winning columnist — he is the 2014 Western Publishing Association "Maggie Award" winner in the category of Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column — Doug has authored more than 900 feature articles and tactical tips on a wide range of topics and trends that affect the law enforcement community.

On a daily basis, Doug is in close personal contact with some of the top subject-matter experts in law enforcement, regularly tapping into the world-class knowledge of officers and trainers from around the United States, and working to help spread that information and insight to the hundreds of thousands of officers who visit PoliceOne every month.

Doug is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers' Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Even in his "spare" time, he is active in his support for the law enforcement community, contributing his time and talents toward police-related charitable events as well as participating in force-on-force training, search-and-rescue training, and other scenario-based training designed to prepare cops for the fight they face every day on the street.

Contact Doug Wyllie

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