by Jay Bender
What is all that stuff you carry? Doesn’t it get heavy?
These are probably two of the most common questions police officers are asked when we get the opportunity to participate in a community relations event. Usually, it’s the kids who want to know what is in all those mysterious pouches on our belts or vests. The grownups want to know about the weight.
In Solon, each patrol officer is required to wear body armor, pepper spray, an expandable baton, a radio, at least one pair of handcuffs, (most officers carry two,) and our duty sidearm, a Glock 22, .40 caliber with two spare magazines.
The rest of our loadout is optional, but some items are so ubiquitous they may as well be required. For example, no officer I know would even consider going on patrol without at least one pair of latex or nitrile gloves. Protective gloves can help us preserve evidence without contamination, and more importantly can help protect officers from bloodborne pathogens and dangerous illegal drugs that can be absorbed through the skin.
Most officers also carry some type of trauma packet that includes clotting sponge and tourniquet. A flashlight and a multi-tool or utility knife are also a good idea. My gear weighs in at approximately 17 pounds, which is probably about the average for our officers.
How often do we use what we carry? Like anybody who carries tools at work, we certainly don’t use every tool on every day. Many of these items will rest quietly in their pouch for weeks, months or even years before they are needed. But we carry them with us because when we need them, we need them RIGHT NOW! If we are very fortunate, there are some we will never need.
And yes, it gets heavy!