I have been blessed with a take-home car for most of my career. This has made it easy for me to set my car up once and leave it until I get a new car or my assigned car is down for repairs.
I have made many additions and changes to what I carry in my patrol car over the years, and I think I have finally figured it out after more than twenty years.
In the car and readily accessible, I try to keep the essentials I regularly use. These include:
-Flashlights. I always have one on my belt, but I also have two rechargeable lights in the car. You really can never have enough lights and batteries.
Extra ammunition is good thing, regardless of who it is for.
-Gloves. I have frisk gloves in my door pocket, ready to go. This makes them easy to locate and access if I need them in a hurry. I also have cold-weather gloves in my gear bag. Leather work gloves are helpful when dragging dead animals and debris out of the roadway, but those are in the back, as I don’t use them daily.
-Notebook. A folding binder with a yellow legal pad is in my gear bag. It probably sees more use than anything else in my car. For cases involving multiple people and their information, I have found that a large notebook becomes too difficult to keep everything straight.
-Ticket and warning books. These are in my gear bag as well. I don’t write many tickets, but I keep these handy.
-Coat/Jacket. I keep a light jacket and a raincoat handy. You can end up soaked and frozen if you have to get them out of the trunk.
-Cuffs. I keep two sets of cuffs on my spotlight and another in my door pocket. There are times when you cannot have too many cuffs.
-Hand sanitizer. Goes without saying. Keep this around. Sanitizer and a small pack of baby wipes have many uses; nothing more needs to be said.
-Shower Curtain. Old cops recommended this to me when I was a baby cop, and I have passed it on to every one of my trainees over the years. There will be people you do not want to put in your car. It is handy to lay the shower curtain down, have them sit on it, then wrap them like a burrito to keep your car mess-free. I distinctly recall a very intoxicated driver who had spectacularly soiled himself many years ago. I was delighted I had the shower curtain. They are less than $10 at Wal-Mart and worth every penny.
In The Trunk
In my trunk, I generally keep the stuff I don’t use every day, or that needs to be secured behind more than just your windows.
The shell cards and extra shells go with the shotgun.
-Long guns and spare ammo. I keep my M4 and Mossberg shotgun in the trunk of my issued Dodge Durango. The rifle is in a locked mount, and the shotgun is in a case. The steel rack in the rear hatch also secures these. I would like them to be more accessible, but they must also be secure. If possible, I stop short of the call and get the rifle or shotgun out before I arrive on the scene. I also keep spare ammunition cards for the shotgun and a few spare loaded mags for the rifle. The only time you can have too much ammo is when you are swimming or on fire.
A Halligan tool – knowing how to use it is a patrol-level skill.
-Halligan bar. I was a resident trooper of a medium-sized town in CT when the Amish school shooting happened in Nickle Mines, PA. When I read about how the suspect barricaded the doors and windows and cops could not make entry, I asked for every car to have a Halligan bar. It has proven very useful over the years.
-Life vest. Also, very inexpensive at Walmart and easy to throw to a victim in the water.
Gloves, sun screen, and small tools.
-Tools. I have kept a small tool kit in my car forever. You never know when you will need a screwdriver, bits, or pliers.
-Evidence kit. A necessity if you process crime scenes yourself.
-First Aid. I keep my first aid bag, AED and Narcan in the hatch, right where it is visible to access.
Medical gear and more. Your trauma kit needs to be easily accessible without fighting the rest of the gear.
-Blanket. Self-explanatory. I have found people who broke down, lost hikers, etc. Having a warm blanket can make a real difference.
-Fire extinguisher. Also, right at the back of the hatch area; easy to access and visible.
-Stop sticks. Right on top and easy to grab.
These are just the highlights, but they will get you thinking about your car and its setup.
What would you add or remove from my list?