5 Essentials for Prepared Cops

Oct 23, 2022
SWAT Officer


The realm of Law Enforcement and the gear that comes with it is no secret to those of us in the profession.


Neither is it a secret that officers range from the barely prepared... to the over-the-top-gear-whore.


I have been in this career for over 20 years and just like the Farmers Insurance commercials say; I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.  Over the years I have come to realize that everyone has their own sense of how prepared they should be for patrol.  I know that I certainly have my own thoughts.  And those thoughts may not match everyone or anyone else’s.   Just because you have all the gear and gadgets in the world does not mean that you are prepared for the job.


What I have seen is that a lack of preparedness on patrol leads to a lack of confidence and skill.


There are simple ways to make sure that you are prepared for your shift in order to be the best officer you can be for yourself, your squad mates, and the citizens that you serve. 


[FREE DOWNLOAD] 11 Uncommon Items Patrol Officers Should Carry




First and foremost, as I am sure you all are expecting to hear, is to be physically fit.  Be able to hold your own. Learn to fight.  I will say it until I blue in the face that when you enter this profession, you lose all rights to be out of shape.



This doesn’t mean that you have to be a chiseled specimen of a human being.  However, eating right, working out regularly, training a martial art, and yes the dreaded word, cardio, will do wonders for how you feel and perform.  Wearing all the gear that we have to wear for years on end takes a tremendous toll on our bodies.  Why wouldn’t you want to combat that as much as possible and reap all the other benefits that come with it?  Not the least of which is being able to run someone down in a foot chase and still have enough in the tank to take them into custody. 




Sleep.  Sleep. Sleep.


Sleep is a major component to being prepared for the job.  If you can’t stay awake on midnights or are dragging and groggy during days, then you can’t perform at your best.  Now, I am guilty as can be of this one. 


I used to live by the statement “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”.  How many of you have said the same thing?  Eventually that catches up with you.  It did to me.



I am still not where I want to be with my sleep, but I am striving all the time to be better.  To have better habits so that my old man body can recover.  There is no denying the benefits of a full 8 hours of sleep will give your body.  If you are working hard, working out hard, spending the time with your family, and have any sort of social life; your body needs that time to rest, recharge, and recuperate. 


[FREE DOWNLOAD] 11 Uncommon Items Patrol Officers Should Carry




Besides taking care of your body physically, taking care of your body mentally is extremely important.  Like I stated in the beginning, I know a thing or two because I have seen a thing or two.


In my 20 plus years I have seen some extremely disturbing things.  I am sure we can all relate.  And even though you think that you are numb or immune to things now, what you don’t’ realize is that every messed up call you go to just compiles on top of one another inside of you.  Even though it may not seem like a big deal anymore while you are on that call; when you have calls like that once a month, once a week, once a day, they add up.


I heard someone say once that our trauma (yes, trauma) from work is like a pile of rocks.  Each time we go on a call like that one rock gets added to a backpack that we wear.  Over time that back pack becomes full and heavy.  The seams begin to split until one day, when you are least expecting it, the bottom of the bag rips and all the rocks fall out.


What the rocks falling out looks like is different for everyone.  I tend to get angry very easily.  I may snap at my daughter, my family and friends, or the guys in my unit.  For some it may be a step back into complete solitude (I have been there before too).  Understanding this is crucial. There is no shame is finding someone to talk about everything with.  I know that my department and many others have special counselors that are well versed in what first responders go through.  They have tools that can help.  There is no shame in asking for help.  I will say that again for those in the back…..THERE IS NO SHAME.   If you need the help, get it so that you can be your best.  





Learn the law.  Know your local, state, and federal laws.  Understand what you can and can’t do and why you can or can’t do them.  Knowledge is power.


If you can’t explain the reasons why you do what you do, then it’s time to change that.  Don’t wait until you end up in a lawsuit over something you “thought” you could do because you saw a buddy do it once.  Study your law books.  Pay attention during your legal update in-service classes.  Seek out legal classes (like those from Street Cop Training).  There are groups out there downloading their epic resumes into the classroom for us to soak up and use so that we can be better. 




Lastly, have a good attitude.  I see more and more disgruntled officers these days.  Officers that have barely been on a job a year too, not just the old salty veterans.  Take pride in what you do and who you do it for.  If you don’t like it, leave.  It is that simple.


If you show up with a bad attitude and shoot down everything that your department is doing or constantly talk poorly about people you work with, it’s time to take a look in the mirror.  Maybe you are the issue.  We all have things that happen and policies that are made that we don’t agree with. However, it’s the same everywhere.  Same circus, different clowns.


If there something you don’t like, be the change to fix it.  





If you take all of these things into consideration, along with many more, you will find yourself so much more prepared walking into roll call every day.  Take pride in yourself and your abilities.  Eat healthy, get quality workouts in, sleep well, take care of your mind and sanity, and show up with a good attitude.  If you can do these things, I know I would love to have you on my squad.  


[FREE DOWNLOAD] 11 Uncommon Items Patrol Officers Should Carry