|As the saying goes, you don’t take a knife to a gun fight…|
|By Bryan Avila, TDCJ Correctional Training Instructor - Sergeant of Correctional Officers|
Regardless of what job you have, you always need to make sure that you have the right equipment for the job at hand. After over a decade working in the Law Enforcement community, I am still surprised that most of us do not have the tools necessary for the job that faces us every day. These tools can be either abstract tools or concrete tools (no, not the cement type…).
Lets start off with the abstract tools. How many people do you know that do not know the policies and procedures of your agency the way that they should? Exactly my point. When we do not know the policies and/or procedures of the agency that we work for, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Crash and Burn. Unemployment line. This is probably the single most important thing that we need to know about our jobs. What do you think is the only thing that is going to save you when you find yourself in court? Policy and Procedure. If you know and follow them, you can never go wrong. Ever…EVER. Your supervisor may tell you that they will back you up when they make the wrong interpretation of the written word (policy/procedure), but when the rubber meets the road, they are going to go into cover their rear-end mode and let you flap in the wind because “you should have known better.” I know that it sounds cruel, but we have all seen it happen. Know your policies by heart.
Now to the concrete tools. What do you think you need to perform your job effectively? Well, that depends on the job, does it not? Working on the road as a Police Officer is relatively simple, equipment wise. Most agencies pretty much provides you with everything that you need: Weapon, duty gear, radio, vehicle (whether take home or not), baton, handcuffs, OC, Taser or whatever else they want you to carry. If they do not provide it, they tell you “this is what you need to get” and you buy it yourself (sucks but some agencies do this). The officers working in corrections are not that lucky. They get trained, clothed, and then told have at it as they are given keys to a cellblock full of offenders. They may be provided with OC and handcuffs but for the most part, that is it.
Most officers have to buy their own duty gear (handcuff case, OC case, flashlight, flashlight holder, baton holder, Kevlar gloves, etc) with very little guidance on what they may carry. They are only told what they may not carry. This is not one of those things that is the same across the country (most police agencies have the same gear/requirements) even though there should be some guidelines.
Look at the job that you do and then ask yourself “What do I need to do my job in the most effective way possible?” After you have asked that question, look for the answer in your policies, procedures, rules or regulations. And if you can’t find it, ask someone. Don’t find yourself under equipped for the task at hand. Tools are tools but knowledge is power…
Editor's note: Corrections.com author Bryan Avila started working as a Police Officer in 1994 while attending Norwich University in Northfield, VT. In 1999 he began working for the Vermont Dept of Corrections while still working as a Part-Time Police Officer. In 2007 he left public service until 2009 when he began working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. He is currently a Correctional Training Instructor- Sergeant of Correctional Officers, at the TDCJ Region I Training Academy located in Huntsville, TX.
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