Equipment & Technology

The Top 10 Items You Should Have in Your Patrol Bag


What are the top ten items in your patrol bag that are NOT issued by the department? No, your girlfriend or boyfriend doesn’t count!

Department issued versus personal supply

One thing I’ve discovered after being around various police departments for so many years is that some agencies supply everything under the sun, while some don’t know the sun exists.

Fortunately, my department supplied all safety and first aid equipment. As a result, I was not required to purchase too many items needed for daily operations. Naturally, the quality of these items could be up for debate. But in general, they tried to adequately keep us well stocked in everything. This included extra magazines and ammunition in addition to those carried on my Sam Browne.


The downside was that some items were kept in the trunk of our patrol units, such as first aid supplies. Since most departments need to share cars, the gear can get abused. Actually, some police departments have cruisers that never see down-time. They get passed from one shift to another. As such, the gear in the trunk can begin to look like a spilled potluck if people are not careful.

Patrol bag

So back to the patrol bag, here are a few items that I carried in addition to my department issued equipment:

  1. Purell hand sanitizer. I used a little spray bottle every time I touched something nasty if I didn’t have a chance to prepare with latex gloves.
  2. Surgical face mask. It wasn’t for me. I kept it for the “spitters.”
  3. It’s difficult to “spy” on potential bad guys from a marked police unit. But a set of Bushnell binos came in handy on a regular basis.
  4. Leatherman pocket tool. It was like carrying a mini-toolbox in my patrol bag.
  5. Baby wipes. These kind of duplicate the hand sanitizer, but I used them to wipe down the steering wheel and unit microphone before going into service. I also used them on telephone receivers in the station. All of these things can get pretty nasty from frequent use by so many people.
  6. Quick reference guide to every conceivable social service in the county. You can look like a hero when you’re able to provide a person in distress with useful information.
  7. Check lists for major incidents. I photo copied protocols from our department General Orders for things like OISs, or SWAT activations. I reduced them on the photo copy machine, then laminated each one and placed them on a ring in my gear bag.
  8. Tylenol. I’m allergic to aspirin, so I carried my own pain reliever with me. It seemed like I needed these frequently.
  9. My personal CPR mask. The department issued this item in the first aid kit in the trunk, yet I wanted my own.
  10. Night vision monocular. Yes, this was an expensive toy, but it came in handy more times than I can articulate.

What is your preference?

There were about 10 additional items in my patrol bag that were eventually replaced by the iPhone. So I won’t date myself by listing them. But my phone would be in my gear bag. For several reasons, I typically chose not to carry it on my person, although there would be exceptions.

What is your favorite brand of patrol bag? Do you prefer a suitcase size, or something smaller and compact? Is it an economical bag from Target, or something top shelf from the 5.11 Tactical Series?

If you have one that you’re happy with, that is fantastic. Otherwise, consider one of the Vertx® bags. Their products are top of the line in quality and craftsmanship. If you find one you like, be sure to use the special promo code LET2017 for Law Enforcement Today readers, to receive 20% off at checkout.

The Vertx® EDC Satchel as seen in this YouTube video is just one example of several bags they offer.

In addition to the EDC Satchel, which can be used as a compact patrol bag, Vertx® offers backpacks, courier, and sling bags. I’m confident you’ll find one to meet your needs. Remember to use the promo code LET2017 for your discount at checkout.

– Jim McNeff

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LET Staff

The staff of Law Enforcement Today is compiled of career cops. Cumulatively we possess nearly a century of experience in the business of police work. Our backgrounds derive from the East Coast, West Cost, South and Upper Midwest. Moreover, we connect with our readers through social media everyday. As a result, we have our finger on the pulse of American law enforcement.


I had a first responder bag I carried with me. I was an EMT also. Had a pocket just for items like this.

To get a discount on this or any other Vertx product make sure that you use this discount code LET2017 for 20%

One small jar of vicks vaporub for db’s.
Extra ammo

I’ve modified my bag contents a few times, as I worked out what worked and did not. Extra batteries and ammo are a must, but I also carry a Kiwi boot buffing brush, which is great for not only keeping the footwear nice, but also removes dust, detritus and the occasional crumb from the uniform. I keep a sleeve of zipties, a 100-foot skein of 550 paracord, a small package of bandaids with a tube of neosporin alongside it.

I always carry dog treats for some unhappy dogs.

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