Checklist: Waterproofing your gear

Waterproofing is designed to ensure that the officers assigned to water conditioned areas can survive and work safely in waterborne environments. Here is a list of optimal duty gear to be worn in waterborne environments:
Leather, ballistic nylon or foam molded duty belt with belt keepers

• Ensure nylon or synthetic leather is water proof or resistant.
• Scotch guard can reinforce all nylon gear.
• Allow for easy on and removal.

Firearm holster with actual weighted training firearm (lanyard recommended)

• Check to see if firearm will fire under water.
• Check to see if holster allows for easy drawing your firearm in the water.
• Check the retention rate of your firearm in the water.

Handcuffs and case with key

• Must check to ensure cuffs are water resistant.
• Must use oil lubricant on cuffs weekly (at minimum) to prevent rust.
• Ensure officer have extra sets of keys to their cuffs.
• Back up cuffs are recommended.
• If using flex-cuffs ensure officer has access to a cutter.

Impact Weapon and Carrier

• Ensure officer can manually open baton on command.
• Must use an oil lubricant as needed to prevent rust.
• Ensure baton has a safety power grip for control.
• Metal/aluminum, expandable and side handle batons are not as dependable in the water as straight sticks and rapid rotation batons.

Assigned concealable body armor (heat seal recommended)

• Ensure vest is heat sealed to limit moisture in vest.
• Check vest for buoyancy levels.
• Check vest for water retention.
• Check vest for added weight when in water.
• Check vest for ballistic protection if submerged in water and time periods.
• Check vest for increased or decreased flexibility.
• Most vests float!

Radio with case (waterproof recommended)

• Check radio for water proof or resistant.
• Ensure radio’s frequencies are reachable to station from area assigned to patrol and KNOW the dead spots.
• Beware of voice lapel/mike cable if in a struggle.

Hat (if used)

• Hat is recommended for protecting the head from heat.
• Cloth or mesh is recommended to allow heat to reflect and not absorb heat.
• If allowed, a chin strap for easy removal.
Pants and Shirts

• Ensure clothing is checked for buoyancy and flexibility when submerged in water.
• Clothing should be reflective to light if possible.
• Allow for easy wear and removal if needed.
• Lighter weight pants are recommended.


• Should not restrict hands in gripping and controlling a subject.
• Should allow the officer to control and deploy their firearm and gear when needed.
• Should allow for easy wear and removal.


• Check gloves for buoyancy and flexibility when submerged in water.
• Check socks for water retention when submerged.
• Allow for easy wear and removal.


• Check footwear buoyancy and flexibility when submerged in water.
• Footwear should be reflective to light.
• Allow for easy wear and removal.
• Mid- or high-top ankle protection is recommended.

About the author

Dave Young is the Founder and Director of ARMA, now part of the PoliceOne Training Network. He is also the Chairman of Advisory Board, and a training advisor for Dave graduated from his first law enforcement academy in 1985, and now has over 25 years of combined civilian and military law enforcement and training experience. He was a sworn corrections and law enforcement officer in the state of Florida and has served as a gate sentry, patrol officer, watch commander, investigator, Special Reaction Team (SRT) member, leader and commander in the United States Marine Corps.

Dave has participated in and trained both military and law enforcement personnel in crowd management operations throughout the world. Dave is recognized as one of the nation's leading defensive tactics instructors specializing in crowd management, chemical and specialty impact munitions, protocol and selection of gear and munitions, ground defense tactics, and water - based defensive tactics.

He has hosted television shows for National Geographic TV Channel on Non Lethal Weapons and the host of Crash Test Human series.  He is a former staff noncommissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, a member of the Police Magazine advisory board, and a technical advisory board member for Force Science Research Center. Dave is an active member of the American Society for Law Enforcement Training (ASLET), International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).

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