Essentials for the patrol officer

     When firearms, protective vests, holsters, flashlights and safety equipment are in discussion, they catch attention. But what are officers carrying besides safety equipment? The items in cargo pockets, shirt pockets and on the duty belt also...


     When firearms, protective vests, holsters, flashlights and safety equipment are in discussion, they catch attention. But what are officers carrying besides safety equipment? The items in cargo pockets, shirt pockets and on the duty belt also should capture attention. Accessories such as gloves, monoculars, multi-tools and GPS devices deserve a closer look.

Patrol gloves

     Officers wear gloves to protect their hands from various environments. Some gloves have added features, such as barrier resistance, designed to protect the wearer from bloodborne pathogens. Others have cut resistance, usually from an added layer of ballistic material.

     Gloves with extra barriers can be less breathable and too warm for hot climate wear. Conversely, the cold weather officer must select a product warm enough for winter wear. Whatever the need, the first rule about patrol gloves is to wear them from the moment officers log on to the end of their watch.

     Select gloves by safety, dexterity and comfort. Officers should always check if they can shoot wearing the gloves. Most manufacturers recognize this attribute and make precurved fingers and police gloves without seams on the fingertip. Police gloves are form fitted so the thumb and pointer finger can stretch completely apart for grabbing and supporting the weight of the upper body. More importantly, the material doesn't bunch up at the web of the hand for full contact on a firearm, baton or steering wheel.

     Padded knuckles aren't necessarily for personal defense. Anyone who has done any barricade shooting or moved along a cinder block wall will appreciate this protection.

     Barrier protection, usually made possible by a membrane lining, is a bonus. While science has provided better membranes, they still do not breathe as well as plain leather gloves. The membranes do, however, make gloves more water resistant.

     Cut resistance expands the capabilities of the patrol glove. While many envision the purpose is to allow the officer to go hand-to-hand with a knife-wielding individual, the cut-resistant liners are most handy around chain-link fences and traffic collisions that expose sheet-metal.

     Some cut-resistant fibers are itchy, especially when wet. Wear them for a while in the store — the patrol glove should be comfortable enough for the whole shift.

     Puncture resistance is at the pinnacle of glove design. Usually placed at the palm and fingertips, this feature should be mandatory in specialized environments like processing centers, prisons and probation enforcement.

     This protection is most commonly accomplished by fibers woven tightly enough to prevent an ice pick or needle from entry — making the glove a little more expensive, but worth every dime.

     Every glove offers some protection by adding a barrier over the skin. The lightweight leather or leather and fabric models are adequate for most patrol duties. Pathogen protection and puncture resistance should be added depending on the risk of exposure to the officer. Remember gloves are tear, puncture and pathogen resistant, not proof.

Surgical gloves

     Using gloves all the time is not being overly cautious. Statistically, a life-threatening exposure can be as dangerous as a driving or use-of-force injury. Taking advantage of the stabilized moment and donning an extra barrier is pure common sense.

     HIV used to be the catchphrase for law enforcement fears. Actually, Hepatitis C, a pathogen spread by blood contact, is just as scary and many times more common. An estimated 80 percent of the drug-using prison population nationwide is at risk for Hepatitis C at any given time. The estimate for HIV is less than 20 percent. Hepatitis C can live outside of the body for up to seven days. A person can have overt flu-like symptoms on initial exposure, which then can go dormant for up to 25 years. Many people have Hepatitis C and don't know it.

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