The challenges of policing in the rain are many, but before I introduce you to them, there’s this …
Rain and Mud
Delightful, they are not.
When it’s you, who
Must roll and fight
In slop and goo
To cuff a wily crook.
On your nose and your shoes.
On your clothes
And your gleaming silver badge.
Sodden, mushy, and swampy.
Unavoidable, yes it is.
And off to jail they go.
Cell doors slamming tightly shut.
Two bestselling mysteries.
Cops and the Rain
Yes, the awful “poem” above was absolutely cheesy and repugnantly horrible, but its purpose was to begin the discussion about cops and rain. Well, that and I couldn’t think of a decent segue into the topic.
Chances are pretty good that you’ve not given much thought to what it’s like to work in the rain as a police officer, right? But you should consider it. After all, it’s not always sunny and dry between book covers. Therefore, fictional officers should encounter the same unique wet weather challenges faced by their real-life peers, such as:
- Keeping weapons and ammunition dry.
- Preventing water from finding its way into portable radios.
- Struggling to apply handcuffs to the wet and slimy wrists of a soaking wet and muddy suspect.
- Having to thoroughly clean mud from the exterior and interior locking mechanisms of handcuffs.
- Pursuits on wet roadways where hydroplaning makes the act akin to driving without a steering wheel or brakes. Fun times. Whee!
- Blue light glare reflecting from raindrops and wet things (pavement, buildings, car windows, windshield, etc.). So not only do they not have brakes or steering capabilities in hydroplaning situations, they’re driving blind, as well.
- Flashing lights, windshield wipers, blowing debris, radio chatter, light from in-car computer terminal, phone ringing, siren wailing and yelping, suspect in back yelling, screaming, spitting, kicking the back of the driver’s seat and rear doors—all major distractions while driving in wet conditions.
- Struggling with a suspect while wearing a long, bright yellow raincoat—nearly impossible.
- Locating the vinyl rain cover for your hat. When they’re most needed they’re never in the spot where they’re normally kept. Trust me, a cold, wet, dripping hat is most unpleasant to wear.
- Trying to run after a suspect through wet grass, puddles, and ankle-deep mud while wearing a police uniform, a fully-loaded duty belt, heavy vest, and rain gear—nearly impossible.
- Hard rain makes it difficult to see … anything. Such as the guy with the gun who ran into the cemetery … at night.
- Never fails. There will be a car crash and/or a power outage that switches off every stoplight on the beat, during each and every rain storm. Directing traffic in the pouring rain is a horrible experience. And cold.
- Protecting crime scene evidence from the elements without compromising or contaminating it.
- When the shooting starts, having to instantly locate the pass-through pocket/gun slit in the long, bright yellow raincoat. Not the best time to figure out how this clumsy maneuver is done.
- Catching an outdoor call the first few minutes of the shift and then wearing wet, cold clothing for the next several hours. The feel of icy-cool Kevlar and wet polyester against your body is no picnic.
- K-9 officers have a set of their very own challenges—muddy paws and wet fur, for example. The stinky “wet dog” odor inside police cars smells bad. Really bad. Especially when combined with the odors left behind by the puking, sweating, peeing drunk who occupied the passenger seat earlier in the shift.
Well, they do …