Things a Veteran Knows   1 comment

Posted at 4:04 pm in Law Enforcement,Police life

This editorial originally appeared on Officer.com in July 2006.

Our discussion forum continues to be a source of inspiration for me (hey, you try to think of something that appears to be clever and informative every week!) for ideas for columns. Over the past couple of weeks, contributors there have posted their own pearls of wisdom, gained from long and sometimes painful experience. Here are some of them (a few of which I actually wrote myself):

  • Keep at least one clean uniform readily available at all times.
  • Nothing works as well as Lincoln Shoe Polish.
  • Wash your hands both before and after you go to the bathroom.
  • A pack of cigarettes, no matter how old, can be of great value in getting a reluctant witness or suspect to talk to you. Smokers, especially those under stress, will often do anything for a cigarette.
  • If you investigate a wreck when it’s -20 degrees, use a pencil. The ink in your pen will freeze.
  • Carry at least two things you can write on — in separate pockets.
  • When you get to the jail, put your car keys in the locker with your gun.
  • A ninety-eight cent flashlight from Wal-Mart is better than nothing if your fancy expensive rechargeable one goes dead.
  • If your supervisor ever says, “Trust me,” you can’t.
  • If the dog in the front yard doesn’t appear to like cops, it’s a good bet the people inside won’t, either.
  • You should be able to drive an entire pursuit or prolonged emergency response, and never spill your coffee.
  • Always run cab drivers for warrants.
  • Your “war bag” should contain, among other things:
  1. Wet wipes
  2. A box of pens
  3. Shoe laces
  4. Aspirin, Tylenol, or something like it
  5. A bottle of hand sanitizer
  6. A roll of duct tape
  7. A paperback novel that you haven’t read yet
  8. Regular and Phillips screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, and an adjustable wrench
  9. A package of zip ties in various sizes
  10. An energy bar or two
  11. Spare batteries for everything you have that uses them
  12. A supply of small sealable plastic bags
  13. A jar of Vicks Vap-O-Rub® or its generic equivalent
  14. Emergency cash, some of it in coins
  • Keep your backup gun where you can reach it with either hand.
  • Always carry a knife, preferably a non-folding one.
  • Admit nothing, deny everything, and demand proof. Consider making counter-accusations.
  • Keep a spare set of car keys in your pocket.
  • An occasional pizza delivered to the radio room for no particular reason will return its cost a hundredfold.
  • A spare set of empty magazines for use at the range is an excellent investment.
  • Anyone that begins a sentence with “To tell the truth,” won’t.
  • Check to see if you are upwind before using the pepper spray.
  • Never make a threat that you are not prepared to carry out immediately.
  • The only thing that works better than making threats is carrying them out.
  • Underage drinkers will have memorized all of the information on their phony ID card, but they won’t be able to reproduce the signature without looking at it.
  • Polyester uniforms and road flares do not play nice together.
  • You will never go wrong in topping off your fuel tank before you start patrol.
  • Know what every convenience store clerk and gas station attendant on your beat looks like, and what they wear.
  • Education is nice. Experience is better.
  • Keeping a journal is a great idea. Telling someone that you’re keeping a journal is a terrible idea.
  • At the outset of every stop, every confrontation, every call where you anticipate violence, pause for a microsecond to ask for strength, ferocity, accuracy, kindness, empathy, and wisdom.
  • When an announcement for an opening in a special assignment is issued, the desirability of the special assignment varies directly with the likelihood that someone already had it locked up long before the announcement was made.
  • Hug your significant other and kids every day, as if you will never get to do it again.
  • When you can’t remember a time when you thought your job was fun, it’s time to leave.

Thanks to the forum members that helped with this list, even though you didn’t know that’s what you were doing. Thanks to the old hands that passed down this wisdom to me and the people that chose this path with me. Thanks to the people that have and will come after us, and who will learn that some truths are universal.

Written by Tim Dees on June 28th, 2013

One Response to 'Things a Veteran Knows'

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  1. Amen!

    I think I’ll print this out and include it with the packet of information I give every Step 1 recruit I get…

    Christopher Hawk

    18 Nov 13 at 17:39

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