Effective police work requires you to be prepared for anything – from your training to the equipment you bring into the field. This article looks at 50 essential police tools and equipment that are beneficial for law enforcement officers.
Top 50 Items Law Enforcement Officers Need to Have
With the following 50 pieces of equipment, you’ll be prepared for any situation.
1 – Clipboard
Writing notes and taking witness statements is difficult when you don’t have a surface on which to rest your paper reports. Furthermore, using a wall or the hood of your car looks unprofessional and may open you up to attack. A simple clipboard gives you a flat and hard surface that makes it easier to write.
2 – Mobile Computer
There may be times when you need to access your department’s database or find information about a suspect. With a mobile computer, especially one that’s connected to the internet via 4G or 5G, you get access to online and cloud-based tools to help your police work. The Honeywell CT60 and DT Research DT301Y are both excellent options.
3 – Power Bank
Electronic items often operate using rechargeable batteries. Examples include cell phones and newer versions of police radios. Portable power banks allow you to recharge these devices using a USB connection, so you don’t lose the use of the devices during crucial moments.
4 – Pocket Knife
Police officers don’t typically use pocket knives as weapons, barring emergencies. Instead, a good pocket knife is useful as a cutting tool that can provide access to locations or tear clothing to access a wound.
5 – Gun Holster
Every law enforcement officer in the United States receives a standard-issue pistol. A gun holster keeps your firearm safe while offering easy access. Look for a holster that clips onto your duty belt, holds your gun stable, and provides trigger guard coverage.
6 – Notepad and Pen
Not everything you write needs to go into a police report. Having a notepad and pen handy allows you to quickly jot down notes that help with your investigations. Consider investing in a tactical pen designed to withstand the rigors of your police work.
7 – Road Flares
There are several reasons why you may need to use road flares. These include controlling traffic around the scene of an accident or alerting other emergency personnel to the scene. Typically, you’ll use these flares as a temporary measure as you construct more permanent road barriers.
8 – Body Camera
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, seven states mandate the use of body cameras:
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
Even if your state doesn’t mandate a body camera, consider using one to help with investigations and provide recorded evidence for any testimony you provide.
9 – Two-Way Pager
Though pagers are outdated compared to cell phones and similar tech, some police officers still use them. They enable quick communication, allowing you to alert other officers to a situation when you’re unable, or don’t have time, to call it in over the radio.
10 – Flex Cuffs
Also known as “Plasticuffs” and “zip cuffs,” flex cuffs are tough zip-tie handcuffs that allow you to temporarily restrain someone. They’re useful in cases where you have to arrest several people and don’t have spare handcuffs. You can also use them to restrain legs, meaning they act as a hobble when you need restraints beyond standard handcuffs.
11 – Duty Belt
Most police departments issue duty belts as standard. Usually made of leather or nylon, these belts enable you to carry your firearm, radio, baton, and pepper spray in easily accessible pouches and holsters.
12 – Digital Tape Recorder
You may find it difficult to take notes when a witness provides details at the scene of a crime. With a digital tape recorder, you can record the speaker, so you have an accurate version of the testimony they provide.
13 – Pepper Spray or Mace
Pepper spray is both a crowd control tool and a means of defending yourself against attackers. Police officers use it to temporarily disable assailants, allowing them to regain control over a situation. Most police departments provide it as a standard piece of equipment – the spray forces involuntary eye closure, in addition to creating a painful burning sensation.
14 – Flashlight
A flashlight sheds light on a crime scene, allowing you to spot details you may not otherwise see under the cover of darkness. Law enforcement officers can use handheld flashlights to investigate tight spaces, as well as vest-mounted devices that cast light ahead of them.
15 – Spare Flashlight Battery
Losing power to your flashlight at an inopportune moment can be dangerous. You may leave yourself open to attack. By keeping a spare battery in your duty belt, you ensure your flashlight can always shed light on a situation.
16 – Firearm
Law enforcement officers receive training in how to properly use firearms. They then receive duty pistols, which they use as part of their daily work. The firearm you receive varies depending on your state and department, though the Glock 22 is the standard issue service pistol in most states.
17 – Radio
Another piece of standard-issue equipment, your police radio allows you to quickly contact colleagues and dispatchers. Some radios are mounted to the top of your vest, with others being handheld radios that slot into your duty belt.
18 – Spare Radio Battery
As with a flashlight, running out of battery for your police radio places you in a dangerous situation. You’ll be unable to call for backup or communicate your movements to your department. Carry a spare battery just in case your radio cuts out.
19 – Cell Phone
Keeping a cell phone dedicated to your police work ensures you’re always able to contact colleagues. Cell phones are also useful for taking notes, accessing information, and serving as guidance systems when heading to a new location. Ideally, you’ll have a rugged phone that can handle being dropped or jostled as part of your police work.
20 – Police Uniform
Your uniform is another piece of kit that your police department issues as standard. It typically includes a shirt, pants, boots, and a duty belt, along with your police emblem. Ideally, you’ll have several spares for your uniform, which you can use if your current uniform gets damaged.
21 – Radio Holder with Collar Mic
If you want to have your radio attached to your vest, you need a radio holder either built into the vest or attached to it. That holder should have a collar mic, allowing you to talk into the radio without removing it from its holder.
22 – Evidence Ruler
You may be called upon to photograph evidence as part of an investigation into a crime scene. Evidence rulers are often used by forensic scientists to measure scratches, bloodstains, and anything else that may give them an indication of what happened at the scene.
23 – Portable Barricades
Portable barricades allow you to cordon off crime scenes and road accident sites so others can’t access them. Examples of these barricades include the classic sawhorse models, Jersey barricades, and even police tape attached to cones.
24 – Multi-Tool
These portable devices house several blades, as well as extensions for simple tools like screwdrivers and scissors. While these tools aren’t as effective as their larger variants, they can be useful when investigating a crime scene.
25 – Binoculars
Say you need to observe a suspect from your vehicle. A pair of binoculars magnify your view of the individual, giving you more insight into what they’re doing. As such, they’re vital for gathering visual evidence that could lead to pursuit and arrest.
26 – A Raincoat
Rain can soak your uniform, making it harder to do your job. A simple raincoat offers protection against the elements. You may also use a raincoat to shield other people or warm them up if you’re out in the cold.
27 – Door Chocks and Wedges
These tools allow you to keep doors open, ensuring quick movement through a property. They’re also helpful if you need to hold a door open so you can photograph a crime scene.
28 – Anti-Bacterial Wipes
Police work can often be dirty work, especially when dealing with difficult terrain or handling people who may carry infections. Anti-bacterial wipes and hand sanitizer help you to stay clean, lowering the risk of an infection spreading.
29 – First Aid Kit
Police officers may need to apply medical treatment to themselves, colleagues, or members of the public. A first aid kit makes this possible. Ideally, the kit should contain rubber gloves, pressure bandages, hemostatic dressing, and a tourniquet, allowing you to provide emergency treatment while waiting for EMS personnel.
30 – Insect Repellant
The need for insect replant varies depending on where you work. Law enforcement officers in southern states, where humidity is a challenge, often find that insect repellant allows them to do their jobs more comfortably.
31 – Axe or Sledgehammer
Axes and sledgehammers are more situational pieces of equipment, rather than tools you’ll bring to every callout. Police officers use these tools to break down barriers, such as doors.
32 – TASER Gun
First introduced in 1974, TASER guns are energy weapons that administer non-lethal electric shocks to suspects. They come in several varieties, including handheld TASERS and versions that fire hooks that transmit electricity. Your station will likely assign a TASER to you if you’re allowed to carry one.
33 – Portable Scanner
A scanner is a radio receiver that scans the local area for calls related to police and emergency services. Scanners can also be used to transmit weather alerts or call for backup in emergencies.
34 – Laptop
It’s unlikely you’ll take a laptop into the field, especially if you have a cell phone or tablet computer. However, they’re useful for writing up reports, be that at home or the station. Of course, you can also use a laptop to access police databases and research cases.
35 – Bolt Cutters
Bolt cutters help you to break locks and get into places you’d otherwise not be able to access. They can also be useful in emergencies, such as situations where you need to free somebody from a crashed car.
36 – Dashboard Camera
Having a real-time record of what you see as you’re driving can be a valuable way to gather evidence. The footage captured via a dashboard camera may be used against a suspect at trial, or to exonerate you if you’re accused of misconduct.
37 – Rubber Gloves
Contamination is an issue in many crime scenes, be that contamination of evidence or individuals. Law enforcement officers should keep at least one pair of disposable rubber gloves handy for gathering evidence or administering emergency medical treatment.
38 – Baton/Nightstick
Batons and nightsticks come in several forms, with some of the most common being extendable nightsticks that slot into your duty belt. In addition to being used as weapons against assailants, batons can also help you with crowd control.
39 – Police Shotgun
Whether or not you have a police shotgun in your vehicle depends on your department and the situation. They’re typically used in armed deployments, especially if the suspects are believed to be armed and dangerous.
40 – Boots
The right pair of boots provide traction in difficult conditions and protect your feet in ways that sneakers and similar footwear can’t. Your station should issue a pair of boots, though it never hurts to have a spare pair in your vehicle.
41 – Handcuffs
One of the most essential pieces of police equipment, handcuffs restrain suspects so you can inspect them and transport them in your vehicle. They, along with their keys, are standard issue tools you’ll receive from your department.
42 – Car Cell Phone Charging Kit
Keeping your cell phone charged is vital during long shifts. An in-car charging kit allows you to use your vehicle to keep your phone charged, meaning you use fewer portable power banks.
43 – Barcode Scanner
The majority of states use a PDF417 barcode on the driver’s license they issue. A 2D barcode scanner allows police officers to scan these barcodes so they can access information about an individual’s driving history. Some departments may also use barcode scanners to keep track of inventory or catalog evidence.
44 – Riot Gear
Whether you carry riot gear or not depends on your role and the situation to which you’re arriving. Such gear includes shields, tactical protective pads, helmets, gas masks, and full armored suits.
45 – Ammunition
Your state should issue ammunition along with your firearm, though many allow you to buy your own ammo as long as it meets your department’s standards. Regardless, police officers should always have a couple of spare clips for their service pistol stashed in their duty belts.
46 – Portable Breath Analyzer
Part of a law enforcement officer’s job is administering roadside sobriety tests as part of possible driving under the influence (DWI) stops. Portable breath analyzers allow you to quickly run a blood alcohol test to determine if a suspect needs to be taken into custody.
47 – Bulletproof Vest
Protecting yourself against danger is the first step toward being able to protect and serve the public. Your department should issue a bulletproof vest, which guards against stabbing and shooting. Note that most vests lose their integrity if they’re shot once.
48 – Tape
In addition to using tape to cordon off crime scenes and areas of interest, you may need tape to conduct emergency repairs when you’re on the road.
49 – Drones
Though they’re a relatively new technology, drones are quickly proving useful in law enforcement. They allow you to surveil a scene from a distance, with their built-in cameras often providing detailed high-resolution footage of the scene.
50 – Tablet
A rugged tablet computer allows you to file reports and look up information when you’re on the road. Strength is key here, as police tablets can easily get dropped or jostled. The Honeywell RT10A and DT Research DT301Y are both great examples of Windows-compatible tablets that combine strength and a lightweight design.
Top 7 Tips for Upgrading Police Technology Tools
Out-of-date police equipment places officers at risk. If you’re considering an upgrade, keep these seven tips in mind:
- Always research the tech or tool you’re considering, so you understand its features and how you’ll use them.
- Make a written case for upgrading the technology or tool, which you’ll need to present to your head of department.
- Consult other police departments that use the tech or tool to learn more about how it works in the field.
- Focus on any tools or equipment that are showing signs of age, as these are prime candidates for upgrades.
- Look into state and federal grants that you may be able to use to fund the new technology.
- Don’t upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Always consider the practical use of the technology to ensure you don’t waste money on something that officers won’t use.
- Consult a law enforcement technology specialist from Energy Electronics to conduct an audit on the tools and equipment you have now, so you can determine what you need to upgrade.
Talk to a Law Enforcement Expert
Whether you’re interested in upgrading your existing equipment or wish to provide your law enforcement officers with new tools for the job, Energy Electronics can help.
We offer a range of police equipment, including tablet computers, laptops, cell phones, and mobile computers. If you’d like to learn more or wish to discuss a specific piece of equipment, use the form below to get in touch with one of our law enforcement experts.