Better And Better

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Things We Carry.

Detailing the process of getting ready in that last entry brought to mind how, as I get ready for work some days, I recall the title short story of Tim O’Bryan’s anthology The Things They Carried (1990), which I read my senior year in high school. So here’s my shorter take on the same thing, with apologies to Mr. O’Bryan. (I’ve not read his stuff in 15 years.)

I first began detailing this list as I was losing a chase after a 19 year old liquor store robber across a 5 mile wide cow pasture. He was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, jeans, socks, and running shoes. He was a little underweight, and was running, damnably, as 19 year-olds do when pursued by sedentary guys in their 30's with too much gear chase after them-- he conserved his energy and just trotted. Heh. That was his undoing-- I arranged a 5-agency manhunt for his skinny butt, and caught him myself 4 hours later. Shoulda just sprinted away when he had the chance.


The things we carry.

We put on uniforms. Long pants with extra pockets for flashlights and ticket books and possibly backup guns. Shirts with extra reinforced vents at the sleeves and patches, with name plates and badges and collar brass and sometimes even service pins. Hats. Heavy leather boots polished black and shiny, sometimes with steel toes.

We put on belts. A wide inner belt, to hold up the pants. Over that and the belt loops, a thicker, heavier Sam Browne belt of smooth black leather, with a large vanadium buckle. On that belt is a body microphone, to project our voice to the in-car camera system. Keepers, to hold the Sam Browne to our inner belt. Rings, to clip our keys to. Keys: office, car, camera system, handcuff, and a dozen others. We carry an enormous Safariland duty holster made largely of black plastic, which houses a Glock 31 .357 Sig pistol with 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, and a Streamlight M3 light on the accessory rail. (The whole pistol with the load and light weighs 2 lbs, 5 oz.) We carry ASPs, expandable telescopic steel batons that change from a 9" padded cylinder to a 26" intermediate impact weapon with the flick of the wrist. We carry handcuff cases with Smith & Wesson, Hyatt, Peerless, or ASP handcuffs. We carry pouches wih rubber gloves inside. We carry an extra handcuff case with cuffs. We carry Stinger aluminum rechargable flashlights. We carry Motorola 2-way scanning portable radios with remote shoulder microphone-speakers. We carry double pouches with spare 15-round magazines full of Gold Dot ammunition. We carry issue cell phones and sometimes personal cell phones. We carry TASERs. We carry large alphanumeric pagers. We carry this all on our belts.

We wear our underwear. Black socks that almost never can be seen above the tops of the uniform boots. When it's chilly we wear polypropylene long underwear. We wear the shorts of our choice, as they and our socks are the only items of clothing that we buy ourselves. We wear issue UnderArmor, to keep us from overheating inside of our ballistic vests. When it's cold, we wear black turtlenecks. We wear Point Blank or Second Chance or any of a dozen other brands of bullet-resistant vests, which cover our backs and bellies and sides and chests and shoulders, and which are rated NIJ Level 2 or better, and are claimed to stop most .357 Magnum rounds. We wear trauma plates with our vests. We wear backup guns.

We carry things in our shirt pockets. We carry ink pens, and backup ink pens, and sometimes backups to the backup ink pens. We carry long handcuff keys, and spare car keys, and flash drives, and business cards, and pocket notebooks. We carry Miranda warning cards.

We carry things in our pants pockets. We carry wallets, and ID cases, and pocket badges, and licenses, and pictures of our families. We carry pocket knives, and spare pocket knives, and coins, and folding money. We carry shotgun shells, and gum or mints, and personal keys, and sometimes small pocket lights, and other backup keys. Sometimes we carry bananas.

Sometimes we also carry things that we should not. Extra weight around the middle, or cigarettes, or paperwork that we've been meaning to finish, turn in, or shred. Sometimes we carry problems-- stress, prejudices, or fear.

We always carry pride.

We carry jewelry. We all wear wrist watches. Most of us wear rings on our fingers. Some wear necklaces. Some wear tattoos. Some wear scars.

We carry personal assistance devices. Many of us wear glasses. Reading glasses. Contact lenses. Sunglasses. Orthopedic insoles. Some wear hearing aides. Some wear knee, ankle, or back braces.

All these things we carry, and more.

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8 Comments:

At Monday, March 19, 2007 5:49:00 AM, Blogger HollyB said...

Most excellent post.

 
At Monday, March 19, 2007 9:48:00 AM, Blogger jrshirley said...

Pro mask.
I decided years ago, that I would rather die than wear the MOPP suit.
Calculated risk, I think: should I make thousands of soldiers wear this horribly hot gear in a desert environment for an attack that's unlikely, when I KNOW that heat casualties will follow? Eh.

 
At Monday, March 19, 2007 11:36:00 AM, Anonymous KCSteve said...

Due to a bad knee I long ago adopted the strategy of the African wild dogs.

I don't even try to keep up with my quarry, I just keep close enough they can't escape. They keep (well, kept - it's been a while) sprinting and otherwise burning excess energy. I just kept them in sight until they got tired. Then I made my move.

 
At Monday, March 19, 2007 2:27:00 PM, Blogger night lightning woman said...

This hits home. Funny, the days you carry the invisible burdens, the harness is the heaviest. May peace be with you.

 
At Monday, March 19, 2007 10:28:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

I thought that I had a bad knee. Then I had surgery on it.

NOW I have a bad knee.

I usually don't have many problems with it, until I get in and out of the passenger side of a car. Recently did grant where we rode two-man. Trying to get my 6'5" 270 frame plus all the gear I carry behind a $3000 laptop without breaking it required slow finesse that my right knee can no longer support. Embarrassing how hard it is to do, and painful. For the first time, I may have found a distinct issue where my weight has interfered with my job.

 
At Tuesday, March 20, 2007 1:37:00 AM, Blogger Strings said...

Matt: for all the burdens you (and your brother and sister officers) bear, we thank you!

 
At Tuesday, March 20, 2007 2:18:00 PM, Anonymous KCSteve said...

Matt

While I technically have an ACL in my right leg it's only just barely. Found that out when I popped the one strip of muscle still holding it together. I was apparently born with a bad knee and back in the 1970's had a bicycle wreck where I spun in a full circle around my right foot, turning at the knee. I don't recommend doing that. Nearly went to a doctor but it was able to take weight again in a week or so (yeah, I'm one of those). On the good side, the longer I wait to get it hacked on the better a job they can do. Heck, these days I can get a shiny new ACL even. Just one of the reasons why, as I get older and more in need of replacement parts I favor repeal of motorcycle helmet laws.

About three weeks ago I sprained my left ankle. Makes it interesting trying to limp on both legs.

For getting in / out of the car just make sure you have both feet on the ground. Requires getting the door all the way open which can be tricky in a parking lot but it hurts a lot less.

 
At Monday, June 30, 2008 9:08:00 PM, Blogger Dan said...

Cool post. Thanks for taking the time to write it. :)

 

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