Law Enforcement Equipment
Another benefit of a career in law enforcement is that you will learn to use a variety of equipment and will sharpen your skills with this equipment over the course of your career. Whether the equipment is a police cruiser, a cell phone, or a helicopter; whether the department uses computers for report writing or typewriters; whether officers carry handguns or shoulder weapons; whether agents ride in cars, trucks, or boats; the condition, amount, and availability of equipment for doing the job is a chief factor in any enforcement effort. From Doppler traffic radar to wiretapping equipment, agents require some kind of department- or agency-furnished equipment with which to do their jobs. Standardization of equipment within departments is commonplace and allows for a single course of training and a single standard for qualification with equipment.
There are still some agencies that expect employees to bring their equipment with them to the job. Much like hiring a tradesman to do carpentry or plumbing, officers are expected to supply equipment that is unique to their profession. Fortunately, the number of these agencies is small and growing smaller each year.
Supplies should also be considered part of the equipment issue. Before taking a position at an agency, find out if the department uses factory ammunition or reloaded casing for firearms training. Does the department provide pens and pencils, or drawing equipment for diagramming crime and accident scenes? Is coffee provided, or do officers have to bring or buy their own? Is there an allowance provided for cleaning uniforms, or is it the responsibility of each officer to pay the price of the laundry? Do agents get supplemental income to purchase clothing if they serve in plain clothes? All of these variables should be considered when approaching an agency for a job. The more supplies and equipment that are provided by the agency the further the salary offered will go. Candidates need to assess the wage and benefits while simultaneously considering the level of equipment that is provided by the department.
Despite what you may have previously believed, the most important piece of equipment for any law enforcement officer or agent is the pen. Officers use pens more often and in more ways than any other piece of law enforcement equipment—to write a summons or speeding ticket, fill out a report, document evidence, sketch a crime scene, and more.
It isn't that driving a newer model car or working with a faster computer will make a law enforcement agent better at their job. Access to good equipment and ample supplies that are essential to fulfilling the mission goes a long way toward making the work environment more agreeable, which consequently tends to elevate attitudes and reduce stress. Keeping these things in the back of your mind when applying for positions can be helpful in establishing your level of expectation upon being hired.