Your Deadliest Weapon

You stand in front of your locker and prepare for work. You put on your nice newly pressed uniform (or coffee stained and needs a wash). If you wear your Kevlar under your shirt that goes on first. You button up your shirt and make sure your nametag and star/badge are securely pinned on. You tuck it in your pants and cinch up your belt. You slip your wallet in your pocket along with your cash.

I always carried four quarters and a little Swiss Army knife; the small one with tweezers and toothpick. It has a nail file. I like to keep my fingernails neat.

Your utility belt is hanging there on the locker door and you quickly examine it to ensure there is no caked-on mud left from the wrestling match with the drunk you locked up last night when he slapped his wife around. Hefting it up, you manage to secure it around your waste.


(Courtesy Kits Photography)

Over the years I noticed that Leather Utility Belts tend to shrink. Did you have that problem too?

You move your gear around on your utility belt until your holster is where you like it, handcuff pouch is resting where you were trained to find it in the middle of a tussle. Your ASP is in its holder and right where you want it to be when you need it; same with your pepper spray. Magazine pouches are positioned where you need them and are properly snapped down over your freshly loaded magazines.

If you wear a Kevlar vest in a carrier now is when you slide it over your head and secure it in place. Snugging up the Velcro on the side you make sure it is riding properly. New vests have an embroidered star on one breast and nametag on the other. You make sure you have a pen or two in the vest pocket. Perhaps you carry a flip out knife, you secure it in the front where it’s easy to reach.

I carried a Spyderco folding knife that was a gift from a grateful recruit I had trained. I still have it. I carry it when I go out for a ride on my motorcycle. Nice and light you forget it is in your pocket.

Now you see officers vests loaded with everything from their radio to tourniquets and cell phones. You check to make sure everything is secure and where it should be. Bright and yellow in its holster is the Taser unit every department loves and hates. Up front on the vest is your new body cam. Flexing a little you make sure nothing is hanging up or loose.

Once you are sure you have all your gear you reach up to your locker shelf and pull sidearm out of its case.

I always gave my pistol a wipe down with a silicon rag when I put it in the case and when I took it out.

You load your weapon as you were trained and seat it properly in your holster ensuring it is secured. Perhaps you put your hand on the butt of the weapon and jostle it around a little to make sure it’s locked in.

In 1983 I got a CPD leather jacket. When new they were stiff and shiny. All the sharp looking officers wore them, and they really looked great when they had broken in and softened up. I think I may go have one made without patches and maybe in another color to wear on my bike now that I’m retired.

If it’s cold out, you probably now pull on your jacket. Patting yourself down, you make sure all the pockets are filled to the brim with items you find you need to make it through your tour. Finally, you grab your hat and square it away on your head.

Before you lock your locker, you grab your equipment bag/case from the floor of the locker. What’s that bag weigh now, twenty, thirty pounds?

What does all this gear you are carrying weigh in at? I don’t know, but is it any wonder retired coppers have bad backs? I’m sure it is different for everyone.

Some the gear we mentioned can be deadly. Pistols, Tasers, ASP batons, can all kill someone. They usually don’t because you have been trained in the proper use. Should someone be injured you have your tourniquet to make sure they don’t bleed out and your radio to call for paramedics.

All these items are department authorized or issued and mandated, selected by a panel of their experts. You were trained to use them in department training classes. They told you exactly when, where, and how to use them. Those are strict guidelines and should an item you are wearing turn out to be a bad idea they can be taken away.

The most-deadly weapon you carry is one they can’t control and can’t take away, although they try. You brought your own mind to the game. You took all the classes and hopefully, you learned a thing or two about policy, law, and techniques. You see the news and should have an idea what’s going on around you.

No matter what the department says you are still the one who will pull the trigger and live with the consequences. You are the one who is there, and you are the only one who sees what you are seeing. You’ve processed what happened in the area over the last few days, hours, and minutes.

You know the department general orders or should. If you don’t the department will use them against you. If you know them, you can use them in your defense. Same with the laws. Know them.

Make sure you use your head. Don’t let emotion screw you up. The jerk in your face insulting your mother, wife, and children knows his buddy is recording everything. Use your head and don’t say something that might cause you problems. Don’t even whisper it. Use your head.

It’s not just a hat rack, it is your greatest weapon. It can be deadly, use it wisely.

As always, I enjoy your comments, both pro, and con.

Stay safe everyone, run low and zigzag,

– Robert Weisskopf (lieutenant of police, ret.)