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Bathroom Issues for Law Enforcement

Bathroom Issues for Law Enforcement

There’s a big issue in police work that’s generally ignored but that we all know exists. Oh, we talk about it alright, although not so much in mixed company, but we sure don’t write about it. In fact, I can’t believe I’m even bringing it up, but it’s something that rookies need to know about and veterans have all agonized over. When “nature calls,” it can be a big dilemma for your average crimefighter. Here are a few things to ponder, share, and discuss at tomorrow’s roll call.

Where Do I “Take Care of Business?”

Ideally, it’s great if you work in a jurisdiction or in an area that keeps you close to the station or close to a government building of some sort (the courthouse, city hall, a fire station) that has minimum standards for cleanliness and a relatively welcome atmosphere for cops. However, most of us aren’t that lucky. What’s your alternative? You need to make sure you can go someplace where you can secure the door and have significant privacy.

This is an officer safety issue! If you’re going to remove your gun, gun belt and/or be distracted, you need to make sure you’re in a secure area. Most convenience stores, coffee shops or other cop-friendly establishments have decent restrooms and if you get to know and trust the workers, you can feel relatively secure stopping by when you need to.

What Do I Do With All of This Gear?

Let’s face it, at some point during your shift, you’re probably going to have to take off your gear and drop your pants. How do you secure all of it? This is another of the many good reasons to make sure your holster, your mag pouches, and your keepers are in good shape. When you take your gun belt off, you want to make sure everything is going to stay in place. Develop a system or a routine for taking everything off and putting it back on; try to do it the same way every time. Try not to lay your belt on the floor, and make sure it’s always within reach.

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Get everything back on and in place when you’re done, well before you get back out into the public eye. You don’t want to be looking down and snapping on the last of your keepers when you walk back outside and bump right into a guy about to rob the store! If you absolutely have to use a “public” restroom (one with multiple stalls) make sure you get all of your gear back on and secured in place before leaving the stall. And if you’re in plainclothes, don’t make the mistake that so many other cops have made; don’t leave your gun in the stall!

What Do I Do If I’m On a Call or Surveillance?

In certain situations, you may get stuck spending many hours in the same location. During my rookie days I remember the first time I took a residential burglary report on my own. After the scene was secure and the detectives and evidence tech’s had come and gone, I sat with the victim family and finished up my report at their kitchen table while drinking coffee and reassuring them that they would be safe. All those cups of coffee finally caught up with me and I was forced to ask to use their bathroom.

The crime scene was no longer active, and the victims were extremely accommodating, but what if I’d been at a homicide scene, or at an active domestic dispute, or worse, standing on an outer perimeter in the middle of winter during a hostage/barricade situation or directing traffic for hours at an accident scene. This is where “prevention” and “anticipation” are going to be your two best friends. Follow cowboy logic: don’t wait until you have to go, go when you have the chance!

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