The challenges of policing in the rain are many and 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.
Oozing, cold, and slippery.
But a task that is a must.
And haul off to concrete jail.
Cell door slamming tightly shut.
Two bestselling mystery books.
Policing in the Rain
Yes, the “poem” above was absolutely cheesy and repugnantly horrible, but its purpose was to begin the discussion about cops and rain. After all, it’s not always sunny and dry between book covers, right? Well, that and I couldn’t think of a decent segue into the topic.
Hey, I’ll bet that 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. Well, doing so presents its own unique challenges, such as:
- Keeping your weapon and ammunition dry.
- Preventing water from finding its way into your portable radio.
- Struggling to apply handcuffs to the wet and slimy wrists of a soaking wet and muddy suspect.
- Having to thoroughly clean drying mud from the locking mechanism of your handcuffs
- Pursuits on wet roadways where hydroplaning makes the act akin to driving at high speeds without a steering wheel or brakes.
- The dreaded blue light glare reflecting from raindrops, windshields, storefront windows, and other wet things (pavement, buildings, etc.). So not only do you not have brakes or steering capabilities, you’re now driving blind, as well.
- Flashing lights, windshield wipers, blowing debris, radio chatter, suspect in back yelling, screaming, kicking, and spitting—all major distractions while driving in wet conditions.
- Struggling with a suspect while wearing a long, bright yellow raincoat-–nearly impossible.
- Locating the rain cover for your hat. It’s
notnever in the spot where you normally keep it. And a cold, wet, dripping hat is most unpleasant to wear.
- Trying to run after a suspect through wet grass, puddles, mud, while wearing a police uniform and slick-bottom shoes—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. During each and every rain storm there will be a car crash and/or a power outage that switches off every stoplight on your beat. Directing traffic in the pouring rain is a cold, miserable experience.
- Protecting crime scene evidence from the elements without compromising it, contaminating it, or watching it wash away.
- When the shooting starts, having to instantly locate the pass-through pocket/gun slit in the raincoat or winter jacket. 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 ten hours. Believe me, 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 odor alone is enough to send our senses into rehab, and that’s just the handlers. Wet dogs inside police cars smell bad. Really bad. Especially when combined with the odors left behind by the puking, sweating, peeing drunk who occupied your passenger set earlier in the shift.
Policing in the rain is definitely for the dogs!