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What are the Different Types of Police Equipment?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are many different types of police equipment, and the equipment carried by a particular officer depends on the policies of that officer’s agency and his or her role within law enforcement. A police officer often carries basic equipment such as a handgun, handcuffs, a flashlight, handcuff keys, other restraining devices, pepper spray, a baton, and other basic gear such as tape for roping off a crime scene and a radio for communicating with other officers. More specialized police equipment might be carried by a tactical officer and can include more powerful firearms, body armor, and a battering ram.

The police equipment carried by a particular officer often varies, and includes items that he or she is required to carry due to agency policies, as well as any items he or she may find helpful. One of the most basic pieces of police equipment is the firearm a police officer carries. This is usually worn on the hip of the officer, though some officers may wear a firearm in a shoulder holster. The specific gun used by an officer depends on the standard practices and policies of a police department and the preferences of the officer.

Common police equipment also includes various types of restraining devices, including handcuffs and zip ties, as well as handcuff keys and a pocket knife. This is usually a folding knife that requires only a single hand to use. Police officers also wear or carry a badge that identifies them as officers of the law, and the officer may be required to wear a standard uniform as well. Many officers also have secondary weapons such as batons, often collapsible batons, and pepper spray.

There are also pieces of police equipment that officers might not carry on their person, but which many officer have in their vehicle. This includes equipment for maintaining a crime scene, such as tape, road flares, and portable barricades. Police officers also usually carry radios to communicate with other officers, often worn on the shoulder or belt.

Some pieces of police equipment are more specialized and typically worn or utilized only by tactical officers. These include body armor, heavy firearms such as automatic rifles and tear gas guns, and shields used for pacifying participants in a riot. Battering rams are also frequently used by tactical officers, and these can be single or two-person rams. Such police equipment is typically utilized by officers in special units such as the special weapons and tactics (SWAT) team.

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Discussion Comments

By chivebasil — On Mar 31, 2012

I saw a museum exhibit recently of all kinds of different police badges from around the country and around the world. It was a lot cooler than you would have expected.

Police badges are kind of like currency, they contain lots of careful and distinct detail. Police forces pride themselves on their badges and they treat them with a respect and care that goes far beyond the materials it cost to make the badges. Accordingly, a lot of thought goes into their design. I never would have though of police badges as aesthetic objects but they really are cool to look at.

By backdraft — On Mar 30, 2012

You see more and more cops using military equipment these days. It seems like every time I see video of a protest or riot the police who respond look more and more like special forces troops. I understand that the police have to be prepared to protect themselves and to uphold order, but they are also dealing with civilian populations who often have no violent intent. Maybe the storm trooper outfits are a little much.

By ZsaZsa56 — On Mar 30, 2012

I heard recently about a taser that shoots a projectile for very long distances which tases whoever it strikes. Basically it is a taser gun.

Now, you might be rolling your eyes thinking, great, just what the world needs, another crazy taser. But this new invention actually has a number of important implications for policing.

If the technology improves then it would be possible for the police to carry a device which could completely incapacitate any attacker without using deadly force. Basically, cops would not have to carry guns any longer. I don't know how cops feel about this but I think it would be an important step forward in humane policing. The ability to take a man's life is a power that no one should know.

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