Police Gear and the Responsibilities Associated With It

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Police gear is essential for effective law enforcement. For instance, vehicles and their accessories needed for tracking down criminals. Radar guns are necessary to enforce speeding regulations. Also, fingerprinting cannot be done without the proper supplies.When it comes to criminal and riot control, equipment such as guns, tasers, and pepper spray are often used. However, police department chiefs know that they must train their forces to use this gear carefully or they can be forced to endure tense public relations and potential lawsuits.In 2004, after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, police were employed for crowd control around Fenway Park. Unfortunately, an officer shot a pepper spray gun and a pellet struck Victoria Snelgrove, an Emerson College student, in the eye and killed her. The student reportedly was not posing any harm at the time of the incident. She was described as happily giving her friends high fives at the time- a fact which added more emotional weight to the story in public opinion.The story drew national attention and the Boston Police Department was forced to accept responsibility for the death. The incident called attention to the importance of training officers to handle their potentially threatening equipment with care and to know when to use it.This was not the first time police had been accused of using excessive force. One of the most famous cases involved police brutality is the beating of Rodney King. King was caught speeding by Los Angeles police officers. He was then brutally beaten and tasered. A bystander caught much of the event on video and the footage was broadcast around the world. The result was a public relations nightmare for the Los Angeles Police Department and raised tension in race relations.Even today controversy still exists as to what kind of police gear officers should have to do their job. At Smith College in North Hampton, Massachusetts students protested when campus police were given funds to purchase handguns. Students felt that the level of campus wrongdoing did not warrant police officers having guns. The University was forced to look at the situation under the scrutiny of the public.The lesson here is that law enforcement officials do need equipment to protect the public and themselves, but they must be properly trained to do so. Not only must they know how to handle the equipment, but they must be trained to handle their emotions under duress.Best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell makes several suggestions about partnering police in his recent best-selling book Blink to reduce violence. Police departments need to follow best practices when training their officers. Police chiefs must also make sure that the correct weapon is assigned for the situation.In addition, officers must understand how to properly use their weapons. This includes practicing proper gun maintenance. Courses are offered for recertification for handling firearms and should be taken on a regular basis. Some departments have no established gun inspection program and therefore the officer must understand the importance of cleaning and maintenance. Experts recommend that officers who find trouble with their guns should not tamper with them. Instead, they should turn the guns into the department.By performing maintenance and regularly inspecting law enforcement equipment officers keep a conscious understanding of the responsibility of carrying weapons. More importantly, risks involved with police gear and its use are placed front and center in the mind of the officer every day.