Why all cops should carry a lock-out kit
The reason may not be what you think
By Rocky Helton
Police see things most people will never see. Every officer has their own abyss they have gazed into. No two cops will experience the same thing, even if they are on the same call for service. What affects one may not affect the other or it can affect them totally differently.
Although I work first shift, I still handle an average of 10-15 calls for service per day. The variety of calls I respond to is huge, even within a single day. I could go to a domestic violence call, a crash (with or without injury), a juvenile who won’t attend class (or worse, hasn’t shown up for their Zoom meeting), a shooting or stabbing, debris in the roadway, or a 911 disconnect and all before lunch.
How can cops get to the other side of their police career without being jaded or cynical and with their sanity still intact?
If things are getting to you at work, then take a vacation or even just a day off to get some balance back. If you do not feel like you are coping, know that you are not alone. Speak to someone sooner rather than later. That could be your partner, another officer, a counselor, a PEER support group, a spouse or even the Suicide Prevention Line (1-800-273-8255). The most important thing you can do is look after your mental health.
So, this brings me to a simple tip to bring balance while you are at work. Buy a lock-out kit.
“Why a lock-out kit?” I hear you ask.
The answer: Everyone I have ever helped using my lock-out kit has been appreciative and usually cannot stop thanking me enough. Most of the time they could not afford a locksmith and would have had to break a car door or window to get in. Every time I help someone who is locked out of their car, whether it is still running, has a kid or dog inside, or whether they are just trying to get to work or daycare, the person always leaves with a positive police interaction.
For the $60 I paid for the lock-out kit, I brought joy into another person’s life and therefore brought joy into my own. At the same time, I am changing the balance of good to bad calls while I’m at work. If you look back to the list of the calls I typically respond to, you will see that very few of them provide tangible positive experiences. This makes it even more important to be able to have some positive experiences like a lock-out call mixed in with the chaos of the abyss.
I have had shifts where I have never had to use my lock-out kit but then I have had multiple shifts where I have used it three times. There may not be an easier way to connect with your community and regain balance than getting a lock-out kit for your cruiser. Get one for your community. Get one for your own mental health. And stay safe while you stare into the abyss.
About the author
Officer Rocky Helton is the Military Liaison Group Member for the Cincinnati Police Department. He served in the U.S. Army for three years and has 7 years of police service, five with the City of Cincinnati.