Today a police quartermaster has an ever-expanding role. Even though one person typically will oversee all the assets a department owns, they will subcategorize that into special sections that report back to them. This is the case if their department has three officers or 500. One of those subsections that will typically morph into an all-encompassing entity is the Armorer. Armorers will start by taking inventory of any device that fires a projectile, and inert devices that don’t. Once assigned to the armory section you will be tasked with inventorying and maintaining any weapon the department may purchase. Often times this same person becomes the department expert and makes all future recommendation on weapons purchase as well as the method in which they are carried. If you are reading this because you just took on the role of the department armorer; congratulations you now have one of the positions in the department with the most liability, often with no extra compensation.
As the armorer your primary duties will now include inspecting, extraordinary cleaning, repairing, rebuilding of weapons, purchasing, inventorying, training and anything else related to weapons (oh and of course patrol!). These activities are usually spelled out by one broad sentence in the general orders that outline the position, “To ensure the safe operating conditions of all assigned firearms.” The armorer is also usually assigned to the agency’s firearms range. This is no small task either. Typically, little to no money is spent on this, but you will be responsible for ensuring that it is safe for personnel, covering everything from trip hazards, to air quality issues, depending on the construction of the range.
Nearly every agency we have seen also choses to combine the armorer role with firearms instruction. Making their armorer even more important to agency operations. You will now have to maintain, issue and service all weapons systems and be versed in every new case law, both local and national, that may come about so you can teach officers at least quarterly. Without versing yourself in case law you could be setting officers up to be arrested. Firearms instruction now more than ever not only involves qualification on paper targets, but it also covers firing under stress, firing from numerous disadvantaged positions (weak-hand, one-hand, etc.). The marriage of armorer and firearms instruction leaves this person with complete control over how agency personnel will respond in the worst situations any officer can face. Your training is often the only thing keeping them from going to prison for murder.
Your secondary duties include safety briefings, usually commensurate with a firearms qualification course, firearm operation instruction, ammunition testing, firearms testing, and compiling corresponding paperwork to all of these activities. A larger project that the armorer will routinely be in charge of is conducting tests, reviews, and long-range planning of firearms under consideration for agency procurement. And of all the duties assigned to an armorer, this one makes them a role player in your asset management operation, a key contributor to your agency budget team, and equal part administrator when it comes to issuing equipment. Or at least, they should be, and we’ll explain why.
The Armorer as an Asset Administrator
We’ve expounded previously on the use of quartermasters or asset managers as the primary personnel in charge of issuing, accounting for, even procuring equipment for your agency. We’ve also spoke about how fleet managers enter into that equation, to alleviate some burden from your quartermaster personnel. Armorers are also a component to agency equipment, and with the outline of their given role, it only makes sense to provide them administrative control over what they are in charge of: firearms.
Quartermasters can be the captain of the ship, but while good captains will try to do everything, great captains know how to delegate to the right people. While it may not be your quartermaster’s purview to assign responsibility, you should be assigning firearms and their ultimate control to armorers, through your asset management software, and allow quartermasters to have oversight control, so that they can monitor the activity involving firearms.
This also ensures that your armorer has complete access to firearms, related supplies, and has the ability to directly recall firearms on demand. While the need for this can be inconsistent, in those moments when it’s crucial, this becomes a flash point among leadership if it can’t be accomplished in straight-away fashion.
Mainly, this delegation makes most sense when considering the role of armorer in it’s entirety. If the armorer is indeed your source of information concerning firearms purchases, repair of firearms, and firearms safety, they should have ultimate control over this portion of your asset management system. If they don’t, it really makes them “in control” of something that is really out of their control. And that makes sense for no one.
The armorer is a crucial part of any agency’s operation, and providing the person in this role with proper oversight, control, and the tools to accomplish their mission are paramount. Ensuring they are fully integrated into your asset management operation is vital, and this means recognizing their role in equipment administration, and proper credentials in your asset management software.
Be safe out there!