What does the general public think of when they hear “police equipment”? A badge, a gun, a black-and-white vehicle with bright lights and loud sirens; perhaps a nightstick or pepper spray. The reality, of course, is far more complex. Modern police officers face a barrage of evolving challenges that require thoughtful preparation, and technology plays a huge role in that prep.
Crafting a comprehensive police equipment list in the modern era is no easy task, especially when budgets are stretched thin and time is in short supply. However, the long-established basic tools of law enforcement simply aren’t enough anymore. Investing in the right technology solutions pays off in the form of more positive outcomes, more capable officers and a better relationship with the community.
Benefits of modern police equipment
A 2022 poll about the biggest challenges of law enforcement shows that, overwhelmingly, agencies struggle with recruitment and retention. Out of the 700-plus responses, 52% indicated that they were grappling with training and retaining qualified officers — perhaps because of the other factors that made the list. Risk of prosecution for on-duty actions, officer wellness and morale and media coverage of police issues were also mentioned as being ongoing difficulties.
While an equipment overhaul can’t solve every problem an agency faces, it can address the biggest ones head-on. Technology makes it possible to improve training methods, increase transparency and even boost morale. Additionally, the technology itself can be a perk for young prospects; as Sgt. Jason Spencer of the Metropolitan Nashville PD put it, “Right now, recruiting is difficult, but it helps if you’ve got something that’s immediately interesting. Especially if people can look at it and say ‘Hey, these people are a little more technologically advanced,’ it can be a helpful thing to entice people who are trying to decide which agency is the best fit for them.”
With that in mind, approach this list of equipment for police officers as an opportunity to address some of your agency’s biggest pain points.
Be sure to read The essential guide to law enforcement equipment for even more information about outfitting today's officers.
Police officer equipment checklist
When interactions between officers and civilians aren’t recorded, they can quickly turn into a “he said/she said” scenario. To increase transparency and ensure that the truth is recorded, equip your agency with high-definition cameras that capture every moment.
Body-worn camera: To avoid camera failure at critical moments, look for BWC models with long battery life, a wide field of view, live streaming options and — of course — clear resolution.
In-car camera: In-car cameras also play an important role in modern police work. In addition to providing additional angles of events, state-of-the-art in-car cameras can also serve as automatic license plate readers, alerting officers to stolen or suspicious vehicles.
POV camera: To completely cover all of your bases, consider a point-of-view camera that can sit closer to the eye level of the officer. These devices should be durable, mountable and weather-resistant, as well as easy to integrate with your existing body camera network.
A uniform is an important symbol for a law enforcement officer, but these wearable accessories help keep officers safe and ensure they’re ready for just about any scenario.
Bulletproof vest: Bulletproof vests can dramatically minimize damage in the event of an altercation. Constructed of interlaced tethered fibers, bulletproof vests can absorb the impact of a bullet, lessening the impact for the officer wearing it.
Smart weapon holster: When run-of-the-mill patrols turn into life-and-death scenarios, officers only have a split second to react. A smart weapon holster works with an officer’s body camera to begin automatically recording the moment a firearm is pulled out of its holster. This lets the officer focus on the situation at hand while still ensuring every moment is captured.
Cameras, wearables and weapons serve officers well in the field, but that’s not where the police officer and police detective equipment list ends. The technology below helps ensure that agencies are organized, well-trained and have the support they need in almost any scenario.
Conducted energy weapon: CEWs like the TASER 10 create more time and space in which to de-escalate potentially violent situations and resolve conflicts. Newer models have brought advances in the technology driving these energy devices; for example, the TASER 10 CEW has a 45-foot range.
Drones: There’s an increasing demand for drone technology in law enforcement agencies due to their versatile nature — high-quality drones can assist with everything from search and rescue to crime scene reconstruction to large event security.
Integrated evidence management system: With so many cameras in use, agencies often have hundreds of hours of footage to comb through when it comes time to look for specific evidence. With a comprehensive digital evidence management system (DEMS), not only is that evidence easier to organize, but the software can actually unearth valuable insights and make it easier to share files with prosecutors and other stakeholders.
Portable interview kit: Another key form of evidence is interviews with suspects, witnesses and other civilians. Ideally, these interviews would take place in a dedicated room, but that’s not always the reality. Having a portable interview kit on hand gives officers a reliable mobile solution that allows them to conduct and record these critical conversations at any time, no matter where they are.
Virtual reality training software: No police equipment list would be complete without training materials, and virtual reality is quickly becoming a top training tool for agencies around the world. VR offers enhanced realism that helps officers prepare for the realities of the job — while often being easier to schedule and more cost-effective than in-person training.
AED and Medical Response Kit: Police officers are often the first on-scene when someone is injured or experiencing cardiac arrest. Companies like Zoll make AEDs and Medical Response Kits that are designed to go inside a police vehicle. The kits themselves provide instructions and have enabled officers to save lives all over the world.
Equip your agency with modern solutions
Every agency and officer will have unique needs and requirements, so this list may not cover everything you need. Working with trusted partners like Axon can help ensure your needs are met so you can serve your communities.
Checking off every item on this police equipment list doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. With Axon’s Officer Safety Plan, you can equip your agency with the latest technology and take advantage of the cost savings of bundling these products. The Officer Safety Plan includes the devices and software that modern agencies need to best serve their communities, including TASER energy weapons, body cameras, signal sidearms and a comprehensive software suite. Get in touch to learn more.