Whether you’ve been dreaming of being a police officer since you were a kid or found it as a calling more recently, you’re now signed up for the academy and excited to get going with this phase of your life.
You’re ready to pack your bags and head out to learn everything you need to know about being a cop. But what will you need to take with you to the police academy? Do they provide you with uniforms, equipment and anything else you may need? Probably not, but the amount of gear you’ll need and just what that gear is largely depends on the particular academy you’re attending.
Your best bet is to check way ahead of time with the academy or police force and see what they recommend. There’s a good chance you’ll have to fork over a pretty substantial sum of money on equipment and gear, as most academies don’t provide you with the basics you’ll need.
The amount you’ll spend can vary anywhere from a couple hundred bucks up to $1000. Be prepared for this possibility and starting saving your pennies early. Some academies or police departments may offer an allowance for equipment or even help in finding a low-interest loan to help.
Again, check ahead and ask what essential items you’ll need to fulfill your duties. Remember that this initial investment on your part, although substantial now, is really nothing in the long-term when you think of the possible lifelong career you’ll have ahead of you.
CHIEF Supply has most of the gear you need, so let’s take a look; and remember, this is a general police academy gear checklist.
Physical Training (PT)
PT is an important component of any police academy, and you’ll want to make sure you’re outfitted in the proper attire to move comfortably throughout your training.
Running shoes – Your feet are unique and you probably know what style or shoe fits your feet the best, be that a wide fit or particular brand of shoe. As with most of the items and apparel you’ll need, dark colors, mostly black, with very few, if any, logos are a must. These Haix Black Eagle Athletic shoes fit the bill, and offer technology like anti-slip rubber sole surface, GORE-TEX waterproofing, and a micro-drying climate system.
Crew socks – Most academies require white crew socks to be worn with your running shoes. PowerSox offers a 6-pack of classic white socks at a reasonable price.
Training shorts – You’ll want something lightweight and breathable like these training shorts from Under Armour.
Training shirts – When it comes to finding the right t-shirtfor PT, less is more, meaning you want the plainest shirt available. Usually gray or black are fine for color.
Boots & Shoes
Besides running shoes for PT, you’ll need a nice pair of dress shoes and tactical boots.
Dress Shoes – Whether it’s for the academy or the police force, you’ll be required to own a pair of Oxford-style dress shoes to go with your dress uniform. Although this piece of gear is non-optional, you do have some choices when it comes to price. A top-of-the-line pair like these from Batescan run you north of $150, but if you’re watching what you spend, you can find sale prices as low as $46. Be careful about purchasing high-gloss shoes, as some academies prefer a more muted finish that requires you to polish regularly.
Tactical Boots – As with your everyday police uniform, you’ll be required to own a pair of tactical boots. Once again, there are many options available at different price points, so if you’re looking for a less expensive option, you can find it, like this one from 5.11 Tactical which is a quarter boot for under $100. Conversely, 5.11 Tactical also offers one like this, built from lightweight Ripstop nylon, and sells for close to $200.
Shoe Cleaning Kit – Your shoes and boots must be cleaned and polished at all times, so you’ll want to have a shoe care kit at the ready. Rothco Kiwi Shoe Shine Care Kit comes with two tins of black polish, a horsehair shine brush and shine cloth, so you’ll pass muster when the time comes.
Perhaps the most exciting component of the academy for most of you will be the range, where you’ll get to test your shooting skills. Most police academies do not provide you with the training gear you need, so you’ll have to purchase your own. Items you’ll need include:
Earmuffs – Investing in a good pair of earmuffs to protect your ears on the range is a wise choice. You can get away with an inexpensive pair like these from Radians which are just over $5, but for better protection, a pair of Sperian’s like these T2 Thunder Earmuffs are a better choice, as the soft pads on the headband offer maximum comfort.
Eye Protection Glasses – As with your ears, you’ll want to protect your eyes when at the range. Many options are available, but these Oakley Ballistic M Frame 3.0 glasses offer a secure fit, are impact resistant, and feature Oakley’s high definition optics.
Ready Bag – You want to arrive to the range looking like you know what you’re doing, not fumbling with your equipment everywhere. A ready bag is the perfect instrument with which to manage your gear and equipment. 5.11 Tactical is a long-time industry leader and they make a tactical patrol ready bag that’s water resistant and features both exterior and interior pockets for storing your equipment and providing easy access to it. This bag provides true versatility and can be used during the academy as well as when you’re on the force.
The police academy has accepted you and this is it. You’re not playing dress-up or make believe, you’re training for a dangerous job. Most police academies will require you to look and act the part, so you’ll need a duty belt and the various and assorted cases and pouches that go with it. Those can include the following:
- Handcuff case
- Magazine pouch
- Knife pouch
- Baton holder
- Mace spray holder
- Flashlight holder
- Radio holder
- Smartphone case
Two key pieces of equipment for your duties as a police officer are a flashlight and handcuffs. Most police academies require you to have these items for your training. As with some of the other items from our checklist, you have the choice of spending a little more money and considering it an investment in your future, or, if you’re a bit cash-strapped at the moment, there are less expensive options that still get the job done.
Flashlight – You simply can’t go wrong with a Streamlight Stinger flashlight. They are perhaps the most trusted brand in law enforcement when it comes to flashlights. Yes, you’ll pay a little more out of pocket right away, but for as important a tool as it is and will be in your law enforcement career, it’s indeed a wise investment. That model is over $100, but you can still find value from Streamlight for under $50, like this model which features multiple lighting modes and are lightweight as well.
Handcuffs – Another essential tool of the trade, well-respected brands in the industry include Smith & Wesson and Peerless.
Other possible items that may be required for the police academy include:
- Garment bag
- Tattoo covers/sleeves
- References & Templates
- E.g. crime scene template, traffic template, sniper template, etc.
- Classroom supplies
- Pens & pencils
As requirements vary by academy, no checklist is complete. However, this list features many standard items you will either need or be required to have when you begin your program.
Before you begin shopping for your gear, check with your specific academy or police force about their requirements. As the expense associated with going to a police academy can be dramatic, perhaps you should print out this checklist and mark the items that you may want to spend a little more on and invest in and those you can cut a few corners on.
Enjoy each step of this process and know that you’re on your way to a noble and fulfilling career helping others. We hope you’ll let CHIEF Supply be a part of that lifelong journey.