With so many product options to choose from these days, it's easy to make the wrong purchase. How do you narrow it down to the right, quality stuff?
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First, a few facts about gear.
Not all gear is created equal. A lot people think one manufacturer is the same as the next. Not true. Many manufacturers have no clue how the product is supposed to perform, and they don't always follow protocal for testing — nor do they consult with the people who are going to use the gear. They're out to make a buck. Do your homework.
You get exactly what you pay for. There is no such thing as good and cheap gear. If you need a pair of gloves and only spend $5, they're just that — five buck gloves you wear on your hands.
Nothing last forever. If you buy a quality product and use it regularly, it will typically need to be replaced within 3-5 years. Often a manufacture will tell you their product will last forever. This translates to: "until you use it a few times or store it poorly," at which point you'll need to buy a replacement.
If you don't take proper care of your product, it won't always perform the way you expect it to. Every piece of equipment needs to me inspected, cleaned and maintained in order to work properly.
If you only take price and appearance into account, you miss the big picture.
Everyone understands that the economy is tanking, but the bottom line is, gear saves lives.
Normally an officer or watch commander places a request for a piece of equipment. The officer goes down to the supply department and is given a replacement. Many times this replacement items is used. That's not what I'm talking about in this article. I'm talking about who made the decision to buy the equipment in the first place — what they were thinking.
The selection process for most agencies is done through a bidding process that attempts to get the best price while allowing manufactures to be competitive in the marketplace.
Even though this procedure may sound fair, it doesn't educate the person placing the order. You ask for a riot suit and you could get something that's flammable. Maybe you get gloves that don't allow you to operate your equipment or weapons. Or, you ask for a helmet and, sure enough you get a helmet — a plastic helmet that provides safety if hit in the head, but does interact well with your equipment.
This type of protocol is based on three important factors.
Durability. This speaks for itself. The piece of equipment or gear will hold up to the normal conditions of use. A good example of this tactical gloves. The gloves may allow for great dexerity and flexibility at first, but get stiff and shrink after they get wet. You may have landed a "good deal" on a pair of gloves, but you have just placed your officer in a situation that could jeopardize his life.
Functionality. This is extremely important because it affects the officer's ability to perform his or her own duties and responsibilities. Again, using the gloves as the example: If the gloves have to be taken off to put on, clear and seal their protective mask – or to clear a malfunction on their weapon – then (as with durability) this can pose a great danger to that officer, as well as others.
Serviceability. Do the gloves allow the officer the ability to operate without interruption and distraction? Wearing gloves for any reason reduces the sensitivity of the officer's hands and fingers, which can affect trigger control; if the gloves become too tight, binding or too scratchy this can reduce blood circulation and impede the officer's physical and mental stability.
Establishing equipment committees
When you have a committee in place this reduces the fault or blame on having any one officer be the deciding vote of what weapon, gear or product you purchase. In addition, this it will allow for a more direct feed back into the purchase for making a well rounded and focused purchase.
Committee head – The person who signs the checks.
Committee Secretary or Recorder – This person will document all minutes of the meetings for any recall or reflection at a later date; to include video recording any demonstrations or in house testing
Patrol representative – This is an active member consisting of 1 male and 1 female of patrol to represent the officers in patrol who will be wearing, using and handling the gear, weapons or products
Tactical representative – "
Bicycle patrol representative – "
Motors representative – "
FTO representative – "
Detectives/special assignments representative – "
The assigned committee should have meetings every quarter to inspect and evaluate their weapons, gear and products. They should also be allowed to attend yearly trade shows and other conferences to establish relationships with the manufactures of their equipment. They are the voice of the agency and need to be consulted prior to purchasing weapons, gear or products.
After all, they will be the ones using them.
About the author
Dave Young is the Founder and Director of ARMA, now part of the PoliceOne Training Network. He is also the Chairman of PoliceOne.com Advisory Board, and a training advisor for CorrectionsOne.com. Dave graduated from his first law enforcement academy in 1985, and now has over 25 years of combined civilian and military law enforcement and training experience. He was a sworn corrections and law enforcement officer in the state of Florida and has served as a gate sentry, patrol officer, watch commander, investigator, Special Reaction Team (SRT) member, leader and commander in the United States Marine Corps.
Dave has participated in and trained both military and law enforcement personnel in crowd management operations throughout the world. Dave is recognized as one of the nation's leading defensive tactics instructors specializing in crowd management, chemical and specialty impact munitions, protocol and selection of gear and munitions, ground defense tactics, and water - based defensive tactics.
He has hosted television shows for National Geographic TV Channel on Non Lethal Weapons and the host of Crash Test Human series. He is a former staff noncommissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps, a member of the Police Magazine advisory board, and a technical advisory board member for Force Science Research Center. Dave is an active member of the American Society for Law Enforcement Training (ASLET), International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA).