Cop Gear Assignments

This question originally appeared on Quora.

Answer by Tim Dees, retired cop and criminal justice professor, Reno Police Department, Reno Municipal Court, and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Police Department:

Like any other challenging course, it's a relief to be done and exciting to move on to the real thing. The elation is short-lived, however.

Despite having learned a lot about a topic that most people don't understand well (even though many think they do), the real-world task of applying that knowledge to practical situations can be bewildering.

I had a similar experience when I became an EMT. I thought I had learned everything I needed to know, but the first time I was confronted with a real-live patient who was expecting me to do something for them, I couldn't decide where to start.

The first time you walk into the police station as a new rookie officer, you feel like you belong anywhere but there. Everyone around you is relaxed and confident. You don't know what to say, where to stand or sit, what you're supposed to do first or next. Your gunleather creaks every time you move because it's stiff and hasn't broken in yet.

This is where your field training officer (FTO, called a coach or mentor in some places) can make life easy or hard for you. He can leave you to fend for yourself and not tell you what you're supposed to do, or, worse yet, he can call you something derogatory like "boot" or "rookie" and make you feel like an idiot. When I became an FTO, years later, and I saw my new trainee looking especially lost in the briefing room, I'd try and pick out the oldest, saltiest, most senior cop in the room and point him out to the trainee. "See that guy? He also had a first day."

How your first few days go depends, again, on the FTO. Some FTOs put the rookie behind the wheel of the car right away. My first FTO didn't let me drive the entire time I was with him. My second (and last) FTO split the driving with me 50-50. He would ask me at the start of the watch, "Do you want to drive first or last?" At the midpoint of the watch, he would tell me it was time to switch.

My first assignment was in the drunk wagon, patrolling downtown. There was always at least one wagon on duty (we had two), and it was arguably the busiest unit in patrol. Even on a slow shift, the wagon team would make at least ten arrests, and three times that number was not unheard of. Most of the cases were simple ones -- drunk in public and other "quality of life" issues -- but there were a lot of searches of people, handcuffing, and trips to the jail.

My policy as an FTO, learned from other FTOs I had the opportunity to watch and learn from, was that I did the first one of everything: the first traffic stop, the first crime report, the first field interview, etc. If the task was a complex one, like a DUI arrest, I might do the first three or five. As each of the three four-week training phases progress, the FTO is supposed to shift more and more of the workload to the trainee. In the FTO program model, my department used (by the time I was an FTO, but the one I trained under was far less structured and formal), called the "San Jose model," there were three four-week phases, each on a different shift and under a different FTO. This was followed by a fourth phase with the original FTO, sometimes called the "ghost" or "shadow" phase. In this two-week period, the FTO works in street clothes, with the trainee in uniform. The FTO is there only as an observer (unless something goes really, really wrong), reporting on the trainee's activities.

During the FTO program, the FTO writes an evaluation on the trainee every day. The trainee is rated on about 20 different categories, such as personal appearance, knowledge of the law, patrol car operation, interviewing skill, defensive tactics, report writing, etc. The number and types of categories vary from one agency to the next. Each category is rated on a scale of one to seven, with anything below a "4" as "below standard." Any rating of 1, 2, 6, or 7 has to be documented in the narrative portion of the evaluation. A recap, summary evaluation is written every two weeks. As you might expect, quite a bit of paperwork is involved in this process. Most agencies do it electronically now (This company: Law Enforcement Public Safety Documentation Software produces the software that manages this process).

Now that concealed weapon permits are somewhat more common, carrying an off-duty gun may not be a new experience for the novice officer. When I was a rookie, carrying a gun off-duty was almost exclusively something that cops did, and most new cops can't wait to do it. Academy students are told to keep the guns concealed, but few newbie cops can resist showing off the hardware now and then. It's something that most cops, fortunately, grow out of as they mature in the job.

The field training program is the first exposure to actual police work, but I know the first time I really felt like a cop was the day I got into the car alone for the first time. It's still bewildering. I wound up calling a sergeant for advice on my very first call for service. I was supposed to take a report on a stolen car, and when I arrived and spoke to the complainant, I found he was drunk. We weren't supposed to take reports from drunks, but at the same time I didn't want to have someone make a complaint against me for refusing to take the report. The sergeant told me to write an incident report documenting the circumstances, and that took care of it.

I don't think there are very many jobs that have as much of a learning curve as policing. It's not only a knowledge challenge, but also an intense socialization. Just about every aspect of your life changes. The job is difficult to acclimate to, and just as difficult to make the adjustment when you leave.

New York State Police
Common nameNew York State Troopers




Flag of the State of New York

MottoExcellence Through Knowledge
Agency overview
FormedApril 11, 1917; 100 years ago (1917-04-11)
Employees6,423 (as of 2007)[1]
Annual budget$727,000,000.00 (2009–10)
Legal personalityGovernmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction*State of New York, U.S.
Troops of the New York State Police
Size54,556 sq mi (141,300 km2)
Population19.4 million
Legal jurisdictionNew York
Governing bodyNew York State Executive Department
General nature
Operational structure
HeadquartersBuilding 22 W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus
Albany, New York
Civilians1,747 (as of 2007)[1]
Agency executiveGeorge P. Beach, Superintendent
Official Site
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The New York State Police (NYSP) is the official state police force of the U.S. state of New York, and employs over 4,900 sworn state troopers. It is formally part of the New York State Executive Department.[3]


There were a number of proposals for a State Police force during the early 1900s but bills for its creation faced considerable opposition from union interests.[4] Finally in 1917 in response to, and from the publicity surrounding, the 1913 murder of a construction foreman named Sam Howell in Westchester County, a bill for the creation of the New York State Police was passed.[notes 1] The New York State Police was officially established on April 11, 1917 by the New York State Legislature.

The division's first superintendent was George Fletcher Chandler, who was responsible for much of the division's early organization and development. Chandler coined the term "New York State Troopers" and was an early advocate of officers carrying their weapons exposed on a belt, which was not common practice at the time.[5]

The New York State Police is also responsible for protecting the Governor of New York and Lieutenant Governor of New York.


George P. Beach, retired Lt. Col. of the New York State Police, was confirmed by the State Senate as superintendent on June 9, 2016. He succeeds Joseph D'Amico, following his retirement. Joseph D'Amico became superintendent of the New York State Police in January, 2011.[6] He replaced John Melville, who was acting superintendent replacing Harry J. Corbitt. Corbitt, who was nominated by former New York State GovernorDavid Paterson, replaced acting superintendent Preston Felton. Felton had replaced the retired Wayne E. Bennett. Corbitt announced his resignation on March 2, 2010, amid controversy.

Structure and organization[edit]


The State Police is headed by the Superintendent of the State Police, who is appointed by the Governor of New York.

  • Superintendent
    • Field Command
      • Uniform Force
        • Field Troops
        • Uniform Special Services
          • Aviation Unit[7]
          • Emergency Management Unit
          • School and Community Outreach Unit
          • Bomb Disposal Unit
          • Canine Unit
          • SCUBA Teams
          • Special Operations Response Team
          • Marine Unit
          • Mountain Bicycle Patrol
          • Snowmobile Unit
          • All-Terrain Vehicle Patrol
        • Highway Safety and Traffic Enforcement Services
      • Bureau of Criminal Investigations
        • Gaming Detail
        • Narcotics Enforcement Unit
        • Computer Crime Unit
        • Violent Felony Warrant Squad
        • Community Narcotics Enforcement Teams / Gun Investigative Unit
        • Forensic Investigation Support Services
      • Office of Counter Terrorism
        • State Police Intelligence Center
        • Border Intelligence Unit
        • CALEA Intercept Unit
        • Criminal Gun Clearinghouse
        • Criminal Intelligence Unit
        • Counter Terrorism Center
        • Electronic Surveillance Unit
        • Financial Crimes Unit
        • Gang Intelligence Unit
        • Narcotics Intelligence Unit
        • Source Development Unit
        • Special Investigation Unit
    • Division Headquarters
      • Administration
      • Technology and Planning
      • Employee Relations
      • Human Resources
      • Internal Affairs Bureau


The NYSP divides New York state geographically into eleven "Troops," each comprising a specific geographic area, usually several counties. Each is supervised by a "Troop Commander" usually of the rank of Major.[8]

  • Troop A - Allegany County, Cattaraugus County, Chautauqua County, Erie County, Genesee County, Niagara County, Orleans County, Wyoming County
  • Troop B - Clinton County, Essex County, Franklin County, Hamilton County, St. Lawrence County
  • Troop C - Broome County, Chenango County, Cortland County, Delaware County, Otsego County, Tioga County, Tompkins County
  • Troop D - Herkimer County, Jefferson County, Lewis County, Madison County, Oneida County, Onondaga County, Oswego County
  • Troop E - Cayuga County, Chemung County, Livingston County, Monroe County, Ontario County, Schuyler County, Seneca County, Steuben County, Wayne County, Yates County
  • Troop F - Greene County, Orange County, Rockland County, Sullivan County, Ulster County
  • Troop G - Albany County, Fulton County, Hamilton County, Montgomery County, Rensselaer County, Saratoga County, Schenectady County, Schoharie County, Warren County, Washington County
  • Troop K - Columbia County, Dutchess County, Putnam County, Westchester County
  • Troop L - Nassau County, Suffolk County
  • Troop NYC - New York City(Bronx County, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York County (Manhattan), Richmond County (Staten Island), Queens County)
  • Troop T - New York State Thruway, Interstate 84 (1991–2010)[9][notes 2]

Each Troop encompasses 2–4 "Zones" which are referred to simply by a Zone number. There are up to several "sub-stations" located within each zone.

Uniforms and ranks[edit]

Trooper uniforms are made of grey wool, with the exception of the Gore-Tex jacket. Prior to 1958, uniforms (shirts, jackets and britches) were not grey, but made of equal parts white fiber and black fiber to symbolize the impartiality of justice. The NYSP is one of only five state police forces that do not wear a badge on their uniform shirts.[10] Like a U.S. Flag, trooper uniforms are burned when no longer serviceable. The black stripe down the leg of the trouser is worn in remembrance of fallen comrades. The purple color of the tie and hat band represents an elite unit. Troopers wear a tan felt Stetson hat with a leather security strap and purple band around it.[11]

Rank insignia

Chevrons are black on a gray background and are worn on the upper sleeves of both the shirt and the jacket. Rank insignia for Technical Lieutenant through Superintendent are worn on the collars of the shirt and the shoulder loops of the Gore-Tex jacket.

Communication officer for the state police (911 operators State police)[edit]

Communication specialists are often the life line for citizens throughout the state who are in need of immediate emergency assistance. These specialized individuals take citizen complaints, dispatch troopers to calls for service and emergencies, and answer cellular 911 calls. These employees also provide medical information to citizens over the telephone, ranging from instructions on delivering a baby to performing CPR on an unresponsive person.[12]

Car numbers[edit]

A patrol car number will contain the Troop and Zone or group prefix: for example, car 1A30 would be a patrol car in Zone 1 of Troop A. Prefix numbers 1 through 4 are used for geographic patrol zones, while 5 is used by BCI Investigators, 6 by Portables, 7 by other local agencies dispatched by NYSP, 8 by special state units (e.g. State Park Police), and 9 by dispatchers. Cars not carrying prefixes, for instance K55, are Troop Headquarters cars. The New York State Police also use a standard number-blocking system to identify the type of unit carrying a particular number:


  • L1 - Major
  • L2 - Captain (executive officer)
  • L5 - Bureau of Criminal Investigation Captain
  • L10-L49 - Troop Administration - Marked cars
  • L50-L69 - Troop Administration - Unmarked cars
  • L70-L89 - Miscellaneous Administration
  • L90-L99 - Troop Communications
  • L101-L109 - Traffic Incident Management Team

Uniformed Troopers

  • 1L1 - Captain (Zone Commander)
  • 1L2 - Lieutenant
  • 1L10-1L49 - Marked Cars
  • 1L50-1L79 - Unmarked Cars
  • 1L80-1L89 - Miscellaneous Units

Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI)

  • L5 - BCI Captain
  • 5L1 - BCI Lieutenant
  • 5L15-5L24 - BCI Senior Investigators
  • 5L25-5L199 - BCI Investigators


  • 6L1-6L99 - Administrative Portables
  • 6L100-6L499 - Trooper Portables
  • 6L500-6L599 - BCI Portables

Special Units

  • Henry (H) - State P.D. Headquarters Division
  • Nora (N) - State Environmental Conservation P.D.
  • Robert (R) - State P.D. Academy Units
  • Sam (S) - State P.D. Special Investigations Units


Recruits must complete a 26-week training academy prior to being appointed as a state trooper. The residential school is located at the NYSP Academy in Albany, New York. Recruits must then complete 10 weeks post academy field training with a trained field training officer (FTO) holding the rank of trooper prior to permanent troop assignment.


Officers of the New York State Police are issued the Glock 37 chambered in .45 GAP as the service pistol. The New York State Police previously used the Glock 17 from 1989 to 2007, the Glock 17 replaced the Smith & Wesson Model 686 (NYSP issued the Model 681).[13] The Glock 37 was chosen after the shooting death of Trooper Andrew Sperr in Chemung County on March 1, 2006. The Glock 37 was chosen because it has the .45 caliber ballistics but in the smaller Glock 17 frame.[14]

The State Police's vehicle fleet is primarily made up of Ford Explorer and Ford Taurus vehicles, which are slowly replacing the Crown Victorias that the State Police previously used as its primary patrol car. It also uses for routine patrol, Dodge Chargers, Chevrolet Caprice, Ford Expeditions and Chevrolet Tahoes. All marked cars are painted dark blue with yellow reflective decals.

Vehicles in the Concealed Identity Traffic Enforcement program (CITE) are unmarked and feature Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles.

Effective Spring 2011, New York State Troopers were trained and issued Tasers for patrol purposes. The tasers were donated by the NYS Trooper Foundation to give Troopers, who almost always patrol alone, yet another alternative than deadly force to subdue combatants.

Troopers are also armed with Remington 870 patrol shotguns, Rock River ArmsAR-15 "LAR-15 Tactical Entry Model", and for backup troopers can carry the sub-compact Glock 39 .45 GAP.

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the New York State Police, 131 officers have died while on duty.[15]

See also[edit]



External links[edit]

A Troop L patrol car in New York City, in September 2010
  1. ^Sam Howell was shot seven times while delivering the payroll to his employers. He identified two of the four men who shot him by name before succumbing to his wounds. The local sheriff and the constable were unable to arrest the men though from pressure by the local laborers.[4]
  2. ^NYSP Troop T was responsible for protecting Interstate 84 from 1991 to 2010 because the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) maintained Interstate 84. However, due to the transfer of maintenance from NYSTA back to the NYSDOT in October 2010, NYSP Troop T no longer patrols Interstate 84 as patrolling duties were reassigned to Troop F and Troop K.

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