Gear-endowed. Gear-centric. Gear-atosis. Gear-obsessed. Tackleberry. Tacticool. Tacti-nerd. These are all much more politically correct terms for a phrase we used in the Marine Corps for the Jarhead who was a walking Blackhawk! catalog. These individuals would have the latest and greatest gadget that ensured that everyone knew they were too cool for a regular Marine Corps infantry company-or that they really didn’t have a better way to spend money.
After transitioning to a life in law enforcement I found that there were even more tacti-sexual individuals in this line of work. We all know at least one-he or she disappears into the locker room after roll call with a newly received catalog from Galls, LA Police Gear, or another purveyor of high speed, low drag equipment like a little boy that just discovered dad’s secret Playboy stash. I’ve always hesitated to make a trip to the urinal behind one of these guys because I’m afraid of what I would overhear inside the shitter stall.
Maybe your gear-infected coworker just bookmarks the pages and visits them on his or her smartphone and is more discrete than the serial killer who lives next door. Maybe you’re the spouse of a law enforcement officer. Maybe it’s you. I’ve been there a few times myself. Admitting there is a problem is the first step in fixing it. I’ll help you identify them in this list of 7 ways to know if a cop is a gear-opotamus.
Number 1: The thought of wearing something other than clothes made by 5.11 makes your skin crawl. Don’t get me wrong, I have articles of clothing made by 5.11, and for the most part, it’s ok, especially my BDU class C uniform for work. I even own a couple of pairs of the olive drab and coyote pants. I only wear them for training at work, to go fishing, or to go camping, but they aren’t a date night selection for those rare occasions that Mrs. Donut and I get to sneak away from the sugar donuts. I don’t think they do anything for her, and they are a dead ringer for announcing to the world that I’m an off duty cop. If you don’t work at an academy and you have every shade of 5.11 pants and shirts that they sell, you have 5.11 fashion model syndrome.
Number 2: You know the Safariland item numbers for everything on your belt and recommend them to your coworkers incessantly. I’m not picking on Safariland-it can be any manufacturer of law enforcement equipment-but if you have studied the equipment catalog so many times that you’ve committed it to memory, please get a hobby. If you denounce the very existence of a product manufactured by another company and brow beat those who have that gear non-stop, you may be a gear-evangelist.
Number 3: You never leave the house without at least 5 knives and 3 pistols on your person. If your hands are never more than 6 inches away from an instrument of lethality when you hit the road for a walk with your family, you are officially tacti-afflicted. I’m all for off duty carry, hell I mow my grass with a pistol just in case, but I can limit myself to the pistol and a single pocket knife for just about any event. I do carry a back up gun while I’m on duty, but only one. At least on my person.
Number 4: You change holsters, flashlights, and gloves like most people change socks. A good holster, flashlight (or two), and a good pair of search gloves are absolutely worth their weight in gold. They are also expensive as hell, and I’ve made do with shitty ones for a few years just to avoid falling prey to chasing the “perfect” ones. They are the gear equivalent of Bigfoot. If you find them, let me know-you’ll be famous.
Number 5: The 9 pound patrol rifle you were issued now has to be fired as a crew-served weapon because it weighs so much. If you need an assistant gunner while shouldering your patrol rifle because it now resembles a Swiss Army knife with optics and a 100-round drum magazine, you have entered the taxonomy of the rambodeltanavysealrangerraider-sapien–at least you are doing your part to keep your local gun store in business. But seriously, why do you need a bayonet?
Number 6: Your patrol car rides at least 6 inches lower than everyone else. Everyone likes the warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with having something for every possible scenario, but if you have utilized absolutely every available storage space inside your vehicle, you are an on-duty-prepper. So what if it’s 100 degrees outside, the thought of taking those packages of Hot-Hands, your Yak-Trak non-slip boot adapters, and multiple layers of coats and jackets out of your car makes you lose sleep. So what if the interior of your car resembles an Army-Navy store? And why wouldn’t you carry at least 5,000 rounds of ammunition for every weapon you carry in your car? That’s logical, right?
Number 7: You spend your own money to buy new emergency lights for your car because the new one lets you select from 1,000 different flash patterns. Our state law requires at least one forward-facing red and one rear-facing red and blue light to qualify as a police emergency vehicle. Those lights can be an old school teardrop light. I kind of miss the reminder to shut off my lights that the old rotating light bars provided. And the more lights I have, the more I have to deal with washing out my field of view at night. I really don’t care if your new deck lights will strobe to the music inside your car and can induce seizures from a mile away, here’s a new Whelen catalog and some lotion, please go away Officer Clark Griswold.
Please feel free to add any other signs that I missed in the comments section or on my Facebook page, it’s time to go patrol the Donut.