Essential Gear For Going Into Police And Security
This article is expanding upon a video that DonutOperator made about ‘must have’ police gear for people new to the force. There’s a lot of good information there, but I wanted to add more (and there are a couple of things he mentions there that I feel are worth correcting, since Donut has been out of the force for a bit). A lot of this is stuff I wish I knew when I started off, and instead learned through Ye Olde School Of Hard Knocks. So like all officers who have sustained a permanent injury, I’m passing information on to the newbies.
There’s going to be some overlap and differences in these lists, but since many people start their law enforcement careers in security (myself included) I feel like this doesn’t get covered anywhere as much as it should. You can go online to people like DonutOperator, MikeTheCop, FreeFieldTraining, or other varieties of police magazines online, and find tons of information for cops. But if you’re security and looking for information, you’ll hear crickets. Security, just as much as police and military, can help pull people out of poverty. It’s a sustainable career option for inner city youths. For quite a few, security eventually goes on to become ‘police’, meaning they contribute to their local communities. It cannot be overlooked.
As per usual, I’m going to be breaking this article down into 4 parts: Essential gear, essential hygiene, essential advice, and essential miscellaneous stuff that doesn’t fit well into any category.
Regardless of whether you are out in the country or scuffing concrete, you need to take care of your feet. Quality footwear goes a long way. I say this as someone who has burned through boots like toast before. I’ve killed 3 pairs of cheap boots in 6 months on the job before, your feet will hate you and it will start to add up for cost. Take the plunge for a pair of proper, quality boots. What exactly you will need is going to vary based on your climate and geography, for example: here in Texas, bitter cold isn’t much a concern but rain and humidity sure is. We tend to wear jungle boots or high boots to prevent water from getting in as well as keeping a change of socks handy.
I won’t pretend to know what your circumstances are, but I will say that I and many others have had good experiences with Rothco, 5.11, and Rocky S2Vs. I had a pair of Rothco Forced Entry boots that took a little bit of time to break them in, but once I did they lasted 3 years of horrendous abuse. I have heard of some others encountering customer service issues with Rothco; me personally I’ve shopped for Rothco products exclusively through third party dealers like Galls and I’ve never had a single problem. YMMV. I’m currently trying some Korean jungle boots that I’ve found to be nice for foot patrols in the rain, which are what you see in that picture up there. Normally zip up boots allow for water and snow to get in and soak your feet, but this pair is designed around that. There are some real good $300+ boots made out of stuff like Gore-Tex as well. You’re gonna want a pair of boots that will last you years.
But while we’re on Galls: If you want to get a good deal on footwear, poke around Galls.com which has been the secret weapon for security and police since the dawn of high speed internet. This site stocks surplus and deals to public servants of all stripes. I know the Bates Strike Boots that Ryan Gosling wore in Blade Runner 2049 can also be purchased through Galls. (Some people buy a Walther PPK because it was James Bond’s gun or a Beretta 92 because it is the Bruce Willis gun. I get that some people will absolutely buy clothing because they saw it in a movie as well. Hell, some people want to become police because they saw cop movies they like. Doesn’t matter why you do, what matters is how you do it). Ryan Gosling is also apparently pretty into the world of gun culture, like the dude is lowkey a CarnikCon fan. He even wore a Dugan Ashley shirt in public, which is why Dugan has pictures of himself with Ryan Gosling’s picture on his sweater.
Clothing is an important consideration, which anybody new to the line of duty will learn real fast. I was fortunate enough that I did lots of wilderness stuff in Boy Scouts as well as volunteering in SAR a bit before I went into the line of duty, so I had learned a lot through that. For those without the level of exposure that I have, Tommy of FreeFieldTraining has made several videos on clothing (here, here, and here). Tommy is a good one, like me he got his start in security and he still works in security while being a cop. The difference here is that Tommy is a full time cop who does security on the side, my plan of action is working security full time and volunteering in the reserve police. Still, if you want very useful albeit slightly dry information like I give, Tommy is a very good source.
I’m not going to go super in depth into tourniquets when I have written an article on building your own IFAK where I cover them. Something I will say is that Donut kinda portrays the CATs in a negative light, though I know he didn’t intend to do this (he even holds a CAT up to demonstrate the windlass in the video) talking about how the CAT windlasses kept breaking. This has changed. The new Gen7 CATs with the gray strap have reinforced windlasses on them, they are also a simplified design to previous CATs so you only have to wrap them once instead of twice. These and their rigid holders have by and far seen the most field use in my area and it’s what paramedics load onto the ambulance across the country.
Donut also talks about the RATS tourniquet which I have been wholly unimpressed with myself. The only redeeming value I’ve seen in them is that any idiot can wrap them, but this is a moot point since I’ve seen both citizens and cops fail to crank them down correctly to cut off the blood flow. I don’t mean to rag on Donut for this, but the CAT Gen7 and SOFT-T Wide Gen4 are the main ones I recommend as of the time this is written. Those two are vetted among the medic community and they’ve set a standard the TCCC commitee now holds other tourniquets to.
The other thing here is that Donut links Amazon… Yeah don’t buy tourniquets on Amazon. A lot of them are cheap Chinese knockoffs that look the part and you pay full price for, but break in an actual scenario. Instead you want to buy your first aid equipment from North American Rescue (who give a 15% discount to all first responders), SOLATAC, and SkinnyMedic’s personal store Medical Gear Outfitters.
Rite In The Rain
Rite In The Rain is a nature-friendly completely waterproof notepad and the pens that work with them (not all pens work) the ink never fades. These notepads look like paper, feel like paper, and with pencils and most pens, they write like paper. But they are completely waterproof, you can literally open it up and write on it in the rain. I’ve flushed them down the toilet, recovered them, and they still work just fine. They come in a variety, including ones specifically designed for incident reports, regular lined notebooks, special lined ones for Fire and EMS, and more. These are more expensive than your basic bitch 99 cent notepads you buy at the store, but worth every penny.
I’ve made mention that pen lights are nice to have in my article about building your own IFAK. Another one that’s nice is a headlamp, especially when you work primarily outdoors. This is for security who have to case the grounds at night and cops who work out in the country, the headlamp will help you keep your hands free so you can poke around without tripping and eating shit. Not that I’ve ever done that and it certainly wasn’t captured on a security camera and that footage certainly didn’t make the rounds among my peers.
Lights are one of the most useful and somehow one of the most overlooked things out there. Here is a cool video from FreeFieldTraining talking about flashlights. The 2 lights I personally would recommend in the line of duty are Fenix PD-35 and Streamlight Stinger HL, carry them both. Light sizes are a double edged sword. Small lights are a joy to carry around, you can easily carry 2, 3, 4, even 5 on you. The problem is they don’t make very effective weapons or throw as far. Larger lights, even if they are a lower lumens rating, have further throw because of the larger lens. They also make more effective batons. The Dallas PD loved those ol’ big D battery MagLites, they would literally throw the light sideways like a baseball bat and send it crashing into the backs of knees of fleeing felons. I still have my big ass MagLite, but it’s in the trunk of my car as an emergency reserve flashlight.
Donut mentions in the video that Uncle Mike’s makes some good bags and organizers for the car. As I’ve mentioned before: Uncle Mike’s is a lot alike Blackhawk- their holsters are HOT GARBAGE so they get a bad rep for it, but the rest of the stuff they make is actually quality. As far as security goes, having a bag of stuff you can keep with you in your POV or on post helps a lot. I load mine up with extra batteries for my flashlights (as in plural, as in more than one flashlight), extra pens, various types of charging cables my phone and for other phones for the other guards, extra carabiners for key rings, the works.
You’ll want to get into the habit of carrying your ID on a breakable chain around your neck, especially if you are in security. This is a habit I picked up training under the Houston PD and it saved my life during my first year of working security. The point of this is that you can keep both hands visible when you produce ID, it doesn’t take much effort to find a blue on blue incident because someone didn’t identify themselves properly. Like that security guard up in Chicago who stopped an active shooter at a club but all he had on was a hat that said “security”. Not very high vis, so when the police showed up they killed him. Was similar to my incident, where the company I was with didn’t provide me with a jacket so during the winter months I was wearing a black M65 field jacket I had because that’s all I had that matched the color. Dallas PD rolled up on my ass and saw a guy in a black coat with a gun. Keeping my ID around my neck like that probably stopped me from getting shot that night.
And on that security guard up in Chicago, some professional advice: Working security for bars and clubs can be risky, because improper uniform/identification is common and you may not realize you’re even doing it. But when you get involved in a blue on blue, or you get stuck with a charge for impersonating a public servant because you didn’t have the proper stuff on you (that’s a felony, by the way) you’re going to have a few regrets. I have heard of city cops being dicks and pulling security aside to test them and if they don’t have the right stuff, they arrest them for impersonating a police officer. I’ve never had it happen to me personally, though I have had a firefighter ask for my credentials. (Firefighters can also have you arrested, by the way. For a number of reasons. I’ve seen firefighters do that for people trying to look up a woman’s dress who is unresponsive on the side of the road).
Another reason the breakable chain is good is because if someone tries to grab it in a knock down, drag out fight it won’t be over for you. It also makes it easier for paramedics to get it off of you if they need to hit you with a defib. Pretty much anything from the waist up (jewelry, bras, piercings, etc) has to come off before they can zap you. Otherwise, you can suffer some serious burns from the electric current.
And if you wear prescription glasses like I do, another thing I’d recommend is that you buy a Paul Harrell 89 Cent Nerd Strap for your glasses. I’ve broken my glasses several times over, to the point where my eye doctor expects me to come by with certain frequency to get them repaired. When you get into a fleet accident or someone tackles you and your glasses go flying off, you’ll regret not having that nerd strap. You’ll also want to keep a pair of emergency contacts handy in case your glasses do break. It’s usually not fatal, but there have been officers killed in the line of duty because they wound up losing their glasses shortly before a gunfight. (See: Miami Dade)
Though during the daytime, I wear contact lenses and cheap sunglasses. Never expensive sunglasses, only cheap ones. Because when you get into a fight with someone and break them, it’s a trip to CVS and $10 to replace. No sweat. Sunglasses are important, not just for the sweet sweet cop aesthetic but also because you want to take care of your eyes.
And before anyone asks why I haven’t gotten Lasik yet: I won’t get it until I’m out of the line of duty. See, if you’ve had Lasik getting hit with pepper spray can cause permanent damage to your eyes. I don’t want to risk that, nor do I want to risk getting crippled out of my dream career if I can help it.
This is another good one for security, because police can sometimes take your handcuffs when they go to get the guy you’ve detained load him/her into the back of their cruiser. I know some security who carry cheap cuffs to swap out with the quality cuffs for when the police arrive. Problem there is either the extra weight and bulk, or that you’re sacrificing a pair of quality handcuffs for a cheap crappy pair. Pink handcuffs solve this problem, and as an added benefit you get to see the look on someone’s face after you put them in hot pink handcuffs. Me personally, I love the Smith & Wesson Model 100, both chain and latched, and they come in the color pink as well.
Also, make sure you get proper handcuff pouches!! Don’t just clip them to belt keepers like I’ve seen guys do before. I actually know of a detective who did that, got into a foot chase with a crackhead, as he went to detain them his handcuffs opened up and the handcuff teeth skewered through him. My partner had to slap cuffs on the crackhead and the detective needed 7 stitches in his ass from where the handcuff teeth skewered him. Get a proper handcuff pouch.
Guardian Angel Devices Light
These lights are an excellent thing for various public workers and public servants to have. Maybe not as widely applicable for police, but I certainly could have used these when I was volunteering in Search & Rescue. These are also useful for security at big public events to help you wave traffic or whatever. If you’re curious about how they work, Tommy of FreeFieldTraining has done a video on them here. These ones and the Rite In The Rain notepads are very useful for people of similar outdoor professions, be it construction workers, toetruck drivers, etc.
Camel Crush Cigarettes/Bic lighter
Donut mentions in the video I linked that carrying a pack of cigarettes and a lighter is a good thing for police to do. This is also useful for EMS as well as security who work places like bars or public events. For those of you who are non-smokers and don’t know what the cool kids do about cigarettes, you’re gonna want to buy the Camel Crush because those are the designated “you can bum a smoke off me” packs. You can also buy those cheap bic lighter multi-packs and keep the spares in your bag for when another officer who is a smoker takes a lighter from you. It happens. Or you can use hot pink lighters like I do, I’ve always had people return my pink lighters. As it turns out, the color pink is highly practical.
Safariland bolts/ELS kit and an Allen wrench (Hex Key)
I run a lot of Safariland gear (who doesn’t) and keeping an allen wrench and some spare bolts or an ELS kit handy, be it in your bag or car, is a good idea for whenever this becomes loose or gets broken. It will happen to even the best of gear, especially when you beat the hell of out it like every cop ever does. You will have to re-tighten and repair and probably replace at least one holster at some point in your career. You will have to cut a pair of broken or jammed handcuffs off someone at some point in your career. You will wreck a patrol car at some point in your career. Shit happens, people make mistakes, and machines break down over time.
On that note: If anyone is looking to buy a decommissioned patrol car for a personal vehicle, DON’T get the ones that have 60,000 miles on them. Those are the ones that got retired early because they got the hell beat out of them. You want the ones that have 150,000+ miles on them because there’s a good chance those were campus cops or mall security who just drove it around a parking lot all day. (Or better yet, buy an old Toyota. There’s a reason you see them everywhere in the Middle East and Africa- they take a licking and keep on ticking.)
This is the stuff that’s less physical gear oriented and more general well being.
Hand Sanitizer/Pocket Tissues
As Donut mentioned in the video, some hand sanitizer is good. I would recommend the stuff that also comes with Aloe in it so that it doesn’t dry out your hands. Don’t be afraid to double up on it, either. I carry some on my person, in my jacket, in my bag, and in my car when I’m on duty. Pocket tissues are another good one to carry in a jacket or bag, especially if you have allergies like I do. Getting snot all over your uniform is a great way to get a complaint, or have someone take a picture of you to make fun of on social media. And if you’re in police, being able to wipe a crying child’s nose or tears is a great look.
This is something I cannot stress enough, particularly if you are young and doubly so if you are in the line of duty: ALWAYS. WEAR. SUNBLOCK.
It’s not a macho thing. I grew up in a rainforest. I’ve traveled various parts of Central and South America. I’ve lived in Texas for the past 5+ years. I’m used to this climate, I’ve been sunburnt literally 3 times in my life, and I still wear sunblock everywhere. It’s important to take care of your skin. What I’ve found works for me is this lotion Aveeno makes that’s also got SPF 15 in it. SPF is usually a dick measuring contest between brands to try to get you to buy the product, the number is only one part of it. What also matters is the other stuff in it. This Aveeno lotion protects my skin and lets my skin breathe which is what matters when you’re dealing with the swampass of being in full uniform for hours on end. If you find yourself developing more acne once you go into the line of duty, it’s almost certainly from sweat and stuff that’s clogging up your pores. I don’t want to say white boys, but white boys may need something stronger like SPF 60 stuff and they may need to reapply it several times throughout the day. Lot of Irish-American cops out there, I’ve seen some of those boys burn even when it’s overcast outside. Take care of your skin.
This stuff is quite literally a godsend. I do not care what crimes the creator of foot powder has committed, inventing foot powder absolves them of all wrongdoing. This stuff is important to put on, it’s good to reapply halfway through, and it’s especially good to reapply when you’ve been doing foot patrols in the rain. There’s green and blue colored foot powder out there, the green label has menthol in it so it may irritate your skin. Stick with the blue stuff.
There’s also foot cream out there, as well as lotion. It won’t ever do what foot powder does, but I have found that applying it to my feet before I go into work helps. Foot lotion is before, foot powder is afterwards.
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of police work (and security, EMS, and Fire). When detaining people and applying first aid, bodily fluids and flesh on flesh contact is virtually unavoidable. You’re going to want to get tested every 3 months, particularly for herpes, HIV, and hepatitis which are the most common stuff you’ll get exposed to. I’ve been bled on, spit on, pissed on, thrown up on, almost shit on… it comes with the uniform. The reason you want to get tested every 3 months is that some stuff can still lay dormant in your system or not be picked up yet on a test. Also be aware that there’s a variety of ways some stuff can be transmitted, such as herpes. Herpes is actually the most common STI in America because it can be transmitted a number of ways, even if you are wearing a condom. Further complicated by the fact that most people who have herpes don’t know they have it until they have an outbreak, and you can go a full year before you have an outbreak.
If you are in the line of duty or you are sexually active, you should be getting tested regularly. It should be destigmatized, and to put my money where my mouth is: That picture is my most recent test results. This article was written October 2019, those are my test results from August 2019.
And for my fellow officers, if you have been exposed to HIV in the line of duty get to a hospital and get Prophylaxis. In layman’s terms: It’s like chemo for the AIDS virus. The difference between this and chemo though is: When HIV gets into your system, it’s a race against the clock before it reaches your lymph nodes and then you’re pozzed for life. If they get Prophylaxis into your system quick enough, it can kill the virus before it multiplies. It’s a bunch of pills and a syrup that you take. You’ll feel like 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound sack for about two weeks, but that’s a lot better than being poz. Worker’s Comp also covers it, just make sure you fill out a full exposure report.
The Prophylaxis thing is actually something sex workers told me about, too, as well as good places to get tested and lots of information on STIs. Whatever biases you have against sex workers, you need to drop those for this line of work. Sex workers know things, they are involved in things, and they can be your eyes and ears on your beat. Many of them are also more than willing to learn about guns and self defense because their demographic is so overlooked, so don’t be afraid to flex your knowledge to them. Sex workers are our friends.
This isn’t listing stuff to buy, but something you absolutely should take into consideration throughout your career. Either this is stuff I did right or stuff that I wish I knew beforehand.
Instructors As References
Get the contact information of your instructors. They will be some of your greatest references. In fact, I kept in contact with one of the Houston PD cops who I trained under and certified me when I started off in security. He was recently crippled out of the line of duty, and since he knew I’m trying out for the police force he gave me his duty belt to use.
Network Before You Join
If you’re considering going into police or security: NETWORK!!!
Make friends with cops, talk to them on their days off, go to the shooting range with them, meet them for lunch. A lot of these connections are for life, even if you or they leave the force. It may sound like a cliche, but it truly is like a family. And regardless of how anti-authoritarian or anti-establishment you are, everyone should know at least one cop as a friend.
Security Is Just As Important As Police
There’s a lot of stuff they train police for that you need to know but won’t as security. There’s a lot of experiences security has that police should get, as security is generally a softer approach and can help you build rapport. I would encourage everyone, if at all possible, to get dual-certified in security and police.
In the wake of 9/11, it’s now common practice to be dual-certified in Fire and EMS; I very much want to see a future where it’s common practice to be dual certified in police and security, or dual-certified in security and something else. Hopefully this future will be one that isn’t spurred by a national tragedy. Though, security eventually goes on to become police, police eventually retire and become security. It’s the cycle of life. This is also the case for a lot of corrections officers, and if you plan to become a Sheriff’s Deputy you have to work corrections at their local jail anyway (unless you transfer in from another LE agency).
And a tip for my medicbros out there: Security pays good if you have EMT certs. Like even if it’s just an EMT-B cert, you can make some good money working security. Alternatively, look into becoming a registered nurse as a retirement goal. Plenty of paramedics retire and become RN for the same reason police often retire and become security: they can do half the work with half the risk and get paid twice as much. Also look into joining the police reserves if you’re on the EMS side, there’s lots of medical training and knowledge that police and security DESPERATELY need and you can absolutely provide. I know that Sam, a.k.a. PrepMedic on YouTube does this as a full time paramedic and reserve Sheriff’s Deputy as well as being on a SWAT Team and I think he’s an active firefighter as well.
You Don’t Have To Go Into Law Enforcement
Law enforcement is the biggest career booster, but you don’t have to go into law enforcement. There are plenty of other niches out there. Security, corrections, bounty hunter, detective, parole officer, private investigator, forensics… List goes on and on. And regardless of what you do get into, I guarantee they are shorthanded and appreciate the extra manpower. We need you.
Although a tip I will give non-law enforcement: Try to be patient with the rookie cops. Most of them are very badge heavy and trying to make a name for themselves, the sheen hasn’t quite worn off for them yet so they aren’t looking at the bigger picture. They will think you are cutting in on their moonlight. (I’ve seen security sometimes be like this, but I’ve never seen it to the degree I have in police.) Now the cops who’ve been there and done that, they’ve seen a thing or two and they know better. Honestly some of my favorite people to hang around are ex-cops who have retired from the force. My grandmaster of TaeKwonDo was a cop for a decade plus change, he and I still keep in touch even after I moved across the state. In the words of No Country For Old Men: “I always loved hearing about the old timers. Never missed an opportunity to. Sometimes I wonder how they’d fare today.”
There’s something you can definitely find that is worthwhile and rewarding even if it isn’t law enforcement. I know people who tried out to become cops who got crippled at the academy or during field training, so they became security or parole officers where they spend most of their time behind a desk and they still enjoy it.
Like I said earlier, security is a good way to pull inner city young adults out of poverty. Most people who work for security are between the ages of 18-24, don’t have a car, and live somewhere within a city. If you get on with the right company, it can be a welcome relief to have a stable career where you are appreciated. You’re not going to have to worry about what you’ll be doing a year or two down the road. You can also write a lot of stuff off as a tax expense, such as the mileage on your car, ammo you buy, holsters you buy, there’s a ton of stuff you can write off as a tax expense. Some companies also give benefits such as healthcare. Maybe not as complete as military or police, but definitely something. There are some people who think they can do a shitty job and it be okay just because it’s security. My response to those people is “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
Volunteer In EMS (or SAR)
As I stated above, there’s a lot of medical training and knowledge that police and security DESPERATELY need. Most EMS and Fire departments will give you free first aid training in exchange for volunteer or part time work. Like doing a ride along one weekend of every month is a great way to get practical experience and network, it’s far more valuable than those revolving door papermill classes. SAR (Search & Rescue) is another good one to volunteer with. I gave a shout out to Demp of SOLATAC in my post on building your own IFAK. If you’re in the Louisiana area, he’s currently putting together his own SAR team that I very much plan to volunteer with. I believe the name he’s running with right now is LA Rifles but once it’s up and running I’ll include a link to it.
Try Competition Shooting
Most police and security, their interest in firearms begins and ends with it being a job requirement. (I’m one of 3 serious shooters in my agency right now.) Most cops and security, the most frequently they shoot is for passing quals. I would highly advise anyone who carries a gun for a living to try competition shooting. Those boys are the cutting edge and can really help you improve your shooting technique. I’ve taken up IDPA shooting this year and while I’m one of the seldom few there who carries a gun for a living, it’s very much a community of people who want to lift each other up. Most of the guys I shoot with are ex-military or average Joes with CHLs who want to keep their skills sharp. The main instructor is also a security guy, who has been a student of Craig Douglas’s since 2002 and incorporates a lot of Craig’s stuff in the drills. The most common I’ve seen are IDPA, IPSC, and 3-Gun but there’s sooooo much out there you can get involved with. However I would recommend to generally avoid bullseye shooting because as the Newhall Incident has shown us, that doesn’t quite prepare you for a gunfight the same way shooting human sized, human shaped targets do.
Don’t Let Them Get Your Goat
You’re going to have to deal with everything in the book when you go into this job. I’m talking people who try to guilt trip you, try to shame you, insult you, hurl racial slurs at you, spit on you, piss on you, I’ve even had a hobo throw a bag of poo at me one time.
When I say everything, I do mean everything. I’ve been called “wetback” and “sand n*gger” in the same shift. They just saw tan skin, and the shoe fit. I’ve also been called “some white-looking ass” while in black neighborhoods. You’re gonna get these people who see the uniform and do anything they can to try to feel some semblance of power over you. Don’t let them goad you on, it’s not worth the complaints, reprimanding from higher ups, witch hunts on social media, general headache, and potential legal action that could result from it.
And a tip for people out there: If you ever see an on-duty police officer dealing with that and you want to make that officer’s day, go up to him and tell him that you’re offended by that person’s language. You’ve just given that cop the green light to whoop that person’s ass. A public servant cannot be offended in the line of duty but a member of the public absolutely can be offended, at which point it becomes disturbing the peace which can be responded to with a use of nonlethal force. This also segues into the next point…
Don’t bother looking for fights
This is something I need to remind the new guys who are still young and heal quickly and they’re full of piss and vinegar. And doubly so for security, because you get paid either way- it’s only a hard job if you make it hard for yourself. For security and especially for police, the fight will come to you while you’re in uniform. And in that scenario, they get to choose the nature and severity of their own ass whooping.
The smart ones know how to stop a fight before it even begins, which directly translates into the ones who are respected by the general public. Particularly if you are young, because it’s usually the young rookies who are getting into fights all the time for the above stated reasons. Any idiot can throw hands, people aren’t going to respect you if you can only keep the peace by being an asshole. There are a multitude of ways to go about it, this is a concept known as Officer Discretion. Demonstrating that you’re smarter than the average bear is a great way to build trust and respect among your supervisors as well.
There are only two types of people in these kinds of jobs: people who are honest and punctual, and people who are unreliable liars. You will get stuck with one reputation or the other and it will determine how a number of things in your career go.
Energy Drink and Complete Cookie
Normally I’m a huge proponent of 3 square meals a day and 8 hours of sleep every day. This is wishful thinking in police and security. Some days, you’ll be lucky if you have even 2 full meals. Something I would recommend for security, though I fail to see it having a role in the police world, is an energy drink and a Complete Cookie. This helps hold you over for when your relief flakes out on you last minute and you’re stuck working a double shift or a bunch of extra hours. You might not always be able to UberEats something over to you.
I support Bang! energy drink because they support first responders. In fact, while I was at AKon this year cosplaying Spike Spiegel, I was rolling around with some bros in the Dallas PD and Dallas FD. The Bang! girls came by and gave us literal crates of energy drinks for free. In a world where there’s a lot of negative publicity surrounding anyone in the line of duty, it’s nice to have a company who very vocally supports us and gives us useful stuff.
I also find the Complete Cookie to be more filling than most any powerbar out there, particularly for the price. They are on the cheaper end of supplements. If you don’t want to use energy drinks (because let’s be real, that shit’s kind of like pouring battery acid into your body) then Muscle Milk is a viable option. I normally abstain from energy drinks unless I’m working a 12+ hour shift. I do have one of those YETI mugs that I fill with Black Rifle Coffee, because
I’m a brand slut like that it’s cliche but very much the norm in this line of work.
Here’s some miscellaneous security advice I’ve learned in my time working this career
I don’t work security for big companies anymore. If you need to get your commission card because you’re still wet behind the ears, they’re useful for that. They got contracts for days, but management is always a shitshow. They’re never consistent or transparent in what they tell you, and as far as my personal dealings… I’ve been fucked over by every single major company I have worked for. I’ve consequently left them out to dry in some way or another. I’m real tired of busting my ass for companies who don’t care about me.
Conversely, some of the previous clients I’ve met I still keep in touch with. These can also be good references, say something happens that makes your company lose the contract with them. If they like you, they could very likely re-hire you by requesting it in the new contract. This is actually one of the few careers where job hopping isn’t looked down upon, because contracts happen and get cancelled all the time. There are guys in previous companies I’ve worked for that I keep in touch with, too.
Don’t burn any bridges. I’ve done a lot for some of the guys I’ve worked for. One of the biggest reasons I’m not going through the academy for police reserves at the time I write this is because the guys I’m currently with (the school resource officer gig I’m doing right now) are in a rough spot and they’ve been good to me. So I’m not gonna leave them twisting out in the wind, if that means I have to wait a little longer before I become a cop then so be it.
My bouncer days are over. I refuse to work security anymore for hospitals or anywhere alcohol is consumed on the premises. Those are without a doubt the highest rates of uses of force. I don’t do armored cars at all because you get paid too little to deal with dangers that are too great. I’m talking rifle wielding professional criminals (as in multiple attackers), while you’re armed with a pistol and either stuck in a coffin on wheels or with your head in a safe. The guys who can be armored car drivers, more power to ya. But I would never take that gig.
Good places to work security for include car lots, golf courses, and private schools. I’ve worked private and public schools and I loved both of them. And especially old money. If you can get in with a gig working security for old money, absolutely jump on that. Federal contracts can work you like a dog but pay good and have benefits out the wazoo. Most of the real good stuff however, you won’t get unless you’re current or former law enforcement or you’re ex-military. That is the stuff like weddings, construction sites, the highly competitive world of PPOs, security for political places like embassies, bodyguards for politicians or celebrities.
But one of the real good things you can get without that, so long as you’re armed security and qualified on shotgun as well as handgun, is working hurricane relief. Like you can get paid $50 an hour to stand on a rooftop with a shotgun all day. It ain’t just banks that will hire, plenty of construction gigs with thousands of dollars of raw materials will hire you to keep watch so copper strippers or the likes won’t rob them blind. Local hotels like to beef up their security for hurricanes since they take in displaced families. FEMA always has contracts with security, especially if you have medical certs or background like I do. I know guys who have spent 6 months in New Orleans working security in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, came home with 6 figures in their bank account. I know guys who’ve worked security in Galveston, Texas after Hurricane Harvey, made about $800 a day. Plan long term, but those disaster relief contracts are lucrative.
On that note, when you are getting on with disaster relief or really any temporary work, make sure you request to get paid weekly or bi-weekly. If they insist on paying you only at the end of the contract, that is a red flag that they plan to cut and run.
Get a CHL. It is invaluable in this line of work for more reasons than you think, and the more you get into the habit of carrying and the more you learn about guns the better. This can be a real good gateway, especially if you already have your comission card it will make it much quicker to get your CHL. If you get pulled over by a cop you’ll want to hand them your commission card along with your driver’s license and/or CHL. If you don’t have a CHL, this is your “I’m a good guy” card that tells them you aren’t dangerous. Though this could help you or fuck you. If the cop has worked with good security, or he was security before becoming a cop, that bodes well for you. If the cop has worked with bad security (or if you are trying to obviously milk that you’re security for brownie points) you’ve just fucked yourself. Me personally, I’ve never lead with “I have a concealed pistol” or “I am security” when I get pulled over. I usually just hand them all 3 cards and let the cop ask the questions. It goes smoother that way. This segues into my next point:
Get a good driving record. Everyone wrecks a patrol car at some point during their career but if you are a liability in that area, it doesn’t bode well for you. My usual rate is getting a speeding ticket once a year, which I can exponge with defensive driving or deferred adjucation. I only have one at fault accident on my record, when my brakes failed and I skidded into the guy in front of me at a light a couple years ago. So shit happens, they understand. But if it’s a chronic habit of you speeding excessively (my tickets never exceeded over 15mph) or you’ve got several at fault accidents on your record, that’s going to be a big mark against you. There’s been a huge push, particularly in the law enforcement world, to crack down on driving. To the point where supervisors will chew out cops for running red lights. You’ll have points docked during field training if you are speeding. It’s part of a concept being pushed now called “arrive alive”.
This should just about cover it for essential stuff I wish I knew and had before going into the line of duty.
If it wasn’t already clear, I can highly recommend Tommy of FreeFieldTraining for people curious about information on police and security.
PoliceMag is a great online resource for information, they even have a section of the website dedicated to training & careers
PoliceOne is another good online resource, not quite as article heavy as PoliceMag but it is a good spot to network and keeps up to date listings of police jobs.
ActiveSelfProtection is a YouTube channel run by one of the top self defense instructors in the country. He exclusively does after action reports and he focuses equally on CCWs, police, and security.
Another person I’d give a shoutout to is local trainer here in Texas, this guy is a pro who’s trained lots of police and security, as well as Fire and EMS. He works with agencies to arrange deals so even people on a tight budget receive quality training. I can absolutely attest to its quality, my agency pays for training with this guy every 3 months. Robbie Allmon of P2 Concepts
As usual, I’m supporting charity. This one is a GoFundMe for a fallen Texas peace officer, Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal. Most commonly known as the first Texas police officer to wear a dastār (a type of Sikh turban) in the line of duty, Deputy Singh has been a hard working honest cop who’s done a lot of relief work in the wake of hurricanes with local Sikh communities. He’s also done humanitarian work in 3rd world countries such as India. On September 27th 2019, he was shot and killed performing a routine traffic stop. The Sikh community has come together to create a GoFundMe for his wife and children, you can find that here.