Trending Topics

Summertime patrol: 5 ways to beat the heat

Protecting yourself is vital if you plan on helping others, deterring crime and getting home at the end of your shift


A New York City police officer wipes his face next during an August 2006 heat wave in New York.

AP Photo

There are a few essentials you need on your beat during the hot summer months. Protecting yourself is vital if you plan on helping others, deterring crime and most importantly, getting home at the end of the day.

Below is a list of five essential things to help you beat the heat. Add your suggestions in the box below.

1. Water

Bring plenty of it. A jug, camel bag, canteen, case of bottles, whatever your fancy, but have it at your disposal. That next foot pursuit or standing out in an intersection for two hours directing traffic will dehydrate you before you know it.

2. Bug spray

It’s essential, especially here in Texas where I work. If you don’t believe me, you will after you tromp through some high grass and your ankles become the next meal for an army of chiggers.

3. Sunblock

Highly recommended for bald cops and motor jocks, who are constantly exposed during daylight hours. Even if you work the midnight shift, you never know when that late call may come in at 0630 hours, and you’re stuck out in the sun till 10 a.m.

4. Exercise

If you are not in some type of relatively decent shape, the sun, heat and humidity will whip your butt even quicker. Having stamina and a strong heart is a year-round must, but particularly being conditioned to the heat and used to sweating will help you survive.

5. Ballistic vest

I know, I know, it’s hot as hell, but hey, bottom line: Deal with it. You need it. Your family needs it. No one wants to bury your ass just yet, so wear your vest. And wash the cover at least once a week or your buddies may nickname you Pigpen!

One last thing...have clean towels. You may be raining copious amounts of perspiration off your noggin, and when you are finally able to crawl back into your cruiser, the first thing you are gonna want (and need) to do is dry your head off.

These are some common-sense guidelines to get you through the summer months. If you’re a rookie, ask veteran officers for additional tips specific to your region of the country.

Stay safe out there.

How do you stay cool while working patrol in the summer? Share your top tips below.

Police1 readers respond

  • My mom does furniture shows and works in the floral industry. A national first-place floral designer and artist, she is always looking for new gadgets to help me stay cool or warm on the job. She bought me an Ergodyne cooling band that I wear around my neck with advanced PVA cooling technology. It cools as the water evaporates. My Dad found me an Ontel Arctic Air freedom personal cooling fan. Looks like a headset worn around the neck for answering a cell phone hands-free. It is rechargeable and has three speeds. Working off comfort chill technology, the Arctic Air Freedom draws in air and cools it then releases it around you to keep your head and neck 20 degrees cooler! To all my brothers and sisters in blue stay cool, stay safe!
  • Get your agency to approve baseball-style caps and wear one. Customary police hats do nothing more than add to the heat. Ball caps will protect your head from the sun and will help shield your eyes too.

Lt. Hawkes is a 23-year police veteran. In addition to his years of highway drug interdiction, Lt. Hawkes has worked in patrol, K9, investigations, narcotics, and administration. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Dallas Baptist University and is a graduate of the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Justice Leadership and Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas. He has been the recipient of both State and Local awards, including the Medal of Valor. His book, Secrets of Successful Highway Interdiction, which can be purchased here, contains eleven chapters on Highway Drug Interdiction.