One of the biggest mistakes that I see officers do is in their placement of their duty gear. Agencies will often tell their officers what it is that they must carry on them at all times. If you are a police officer you will have your weapon, magazine pouch, radio, O.C. case, handcuff case and baton holder at a minimum. If your agency provides you with a Taser, you will have to carry that as well.
If you are working in corrections you will carry what ever your department will allow you to carry. Most of these agencies (in Corrections) will allow you to carry O.C., handcuffs, latex glove pouch at a minimum. Not all agencies in corrections have radios that they can provide to all officers that are on shift at any given time unless they are working in key positions. The same applies to handcuffs. Where you place your duty gear is just as important as being able to recognize a threat and react to it.
We constantly preach practice, practice, practice. And why do we practice? So that when the time arrives that we must act, we can do so without having to think about it. Let it be second nature.
Here are some of the don’ts when it comes down to your placement:
- Don’t place your handcuffs or O.C. towards your 4 or 8 o’clock. Some officers will place these items the rear on the strong side, or weak side, so that they are reaching back at a 45 degree angle to get to them (their 4 or 8 o’clock). Bad thing to do. Yes you can get them with one hand but not with either hand. You never know when one arm will be taken out of commission and you need to reach for it with your other hand.
- Don’t place handcuffs towards the middle of your back. You may be able to reach for them with either hand but all the pressure that is put on your lower back over time can lead to severe back problems. Also, if you fall back, you will have all that pressure going into your spine in one sudden movement. Remember, a spine will break before a pair of handcuffs does.
- Don’t take for granted practicing your draw techniques with either hand. It does not matter if it is your weapon, Taser, handcuffs or O.C. It is imperative that you practice, practice and practice. Know the intricacies of your gear. It is even more important if the specific item is new to you (or a new replacement with the same brand/model). Something that is broken in acts totally different than something right out of the package.
- If you carry a Taser in addition to your weapon, it is even more imperative that you practice between these two items. Know the difference in their placement. It is disheartening to hear that a good/great officer is facing possible criminal charges because they mistook their weapon for their Taser. Over the last year I have read of a few cases like these and it breaks my heart.
- Don’t place every item you have so close together that they get tangled up when trying to remove one to be used. Not only can it be confusing in high stress situations, but the added weight to the belt, and therefore your back, can create long term problems for you.
You should only carry on you what you absolutely need to do your job. Sometimes less is more. It may look cool to look like Batman walking around but you do not want to limit your ability/flexibility to do your job based on looks (just think Paul Blart; Mall Cop)
Remember to be smart out there and more importantly, BE SAFE!