Police officers provide protection to civilians and are employed by governments on all levels. They are trained to use various types of force when they encounter violent criminals and are knowledgeable about the laws that govern their districts. Police officers also sometimes provide education for citizens on pertinent issues, such as drug awareness and self-defense training. Because of the complexity of their roles, officers must have the proper resources, including tools and equipment, to do their jobs effectively.

Firearms

The equipment most commonly associated with a police officer is his firearm. Police officers use firearms to diffuse violent situations and stop criminals when absolutely necessary. Common pistol calibers used by cops include .45, .40, 9mm and .357; well-known brands include Glock, Sig Sauer and Berretta. Glock and Sif Sauer are used by about 75 percent of police officers in the U.S. Cops also have access to a more powerful arsenal of weapons, including shotguns (for close proximity force) and machine guns (commonly used by SWAT teams), depending on how much force is needed. Police officers are bound by law to use a firearm only when necessary and/or when an individual's life is in jeopardy.

Other Weapons

Since firearms are not generally a first resort, officers must also rely on other weapons to diffuse difficult situation. These weapons are effective, but less lethal. Police batons come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are commonly used to subdue violent criminals. Tasers are another well-known weapon used by police officers. They deliver bursts of electricity that temporarily restrain a person. Pepper sprays are the least lethal of police weapons and are a combination of chemicals (generally sprayed into the eyes) used to subdue uncooperative individuals.

Handcuffs

Handcuffs are used to restrain a person and prevent them from getting away while an officer completes an investigation or while transporting a suspected criminal to jail. Depending on the situation, police officers may use traditional metal cuffs or plastic zip tie cuffs. The choice generally depends on the size of the individual and the nature of the crime.

Additional Equipment

Police departments general provide heavy-duty flashlights for officers to ensure they have the brightest light possible and the flashlight equipment works properly under all conditions. Armor in the form of bullet-proof vests are used to protect police officers from bullets and from injury in the midst of large crowds. Gun holsters are a necessity to ensure officers have the ability to store their firearm on the hip, so it is easily accessible.