Archive for the ‘Police Tools and Equipment’ Category
In the days before semi-automatics took center stage in the world of law enforcement, police officers carried revolvers as their weapons of choice. Cowboys called them six-shooters and gun buffs refer to them as wheel guns, and shooting enthusiasts love them. Why, then, did police officers make the switch? The answer is simple. Law enforcement officers were being outgunned by semi-automatic-toting bad guys.
Most revolvers are capable of firing only six rounds of ammunition. Semi-automatics can pop off fifteen or sixteen rounds as fast as a shooter can pull the trigger. During a gun battle, revolver-toting officers sometimes had to reload two or three times before the crook emptied his first magazine.
Reloading a revolver has always been a problem, especially when the officer was under fire. Cops carried their spare rounds of ammunition in rectangular, leather pouches called dump pouches. Dump pouches hold six bullets and are attached upside-down to the officer’s utility belt.
To access the extra bullets, officers simply unsnapped the pouch cover to “dump” the ammunition into their non-gun hand. The officer then had to feed the individual rounds into the open slots in the revolver’s rotating cylinder, one at a time. Needless to say, this process is much easier said than done when someone is shooting at you.
Barney’s dump pouches (two pouches) are attached to his utility belt, to the right of his tie (his left). The two release snaps are clearly visible near the bottom of the pouches.
The answer to faster re-loading? Speed loaders.
Speed loaders hold six rounds of ammunition (may vary depending upon the capacity of the weapon). The rounds are automatically positioned to line up with the bullet slots in a revolver’s cylinder. A twist of a knurled knob on the end of the speed loader releases all six rounds at once. Shooters could then easily and quickly re-load their revolvers during tense situations, even in the dark.
Revolver, speed loaders, and speed loader pouches. The pouches attach to a police officer’s utility belt.
A revolver’s cylinder is designed to swing out for reloading. The knurled button between the hammer and the wooden grip is the cylinder’s release button.
Speed loaders position rounds so they line up perfectly with the bullet slots in the cylinder.
A twist of the knob in the officer’s right hand releases all six rounds at once.
*This post is primarily for those of you writing historical fiction. You know, way back in the 1970’s or so, and before. FYI – It’s absolutely depressing to know that I’ve been around long enough to carry both dump pouches and speed loaders while on duty as a police officer. Sigh…
How do officers know, at a glance, when they’re addressing a ranking officer from another department? Well, the answer is as clear as everything else pertaining to law enforcement…it depends.
Police departments use many symbols of rank designation. Some department supervisors wear white shirts (some departments issue white shirts to all officers), while others issue gold badges to their higher-ranking officers. But the easiest way to tell an officer’s rank is to look at their collar insignia. Each pin is a representation of the officer’s rank.
Collar insignias, beginning with the top ranking officer (chief)
An eagle (birds) on each collar – Colonel, or Chief (some chiefs prefer to be addressed as Colonel).
Sheriffs and chiefs may also wear a series of stars to indicate their rank.
Oak leaf on each collar – Major
Two bars on each collar – Captain (the two bars are often called “railroad tracks”)
One bar on each collar – Lieutenant
Three stripes on the collar and/or the sleeve – Sergeant
Sometimes rank is indicated on the badge.
Two stripes on the collar and/or the sleeve – Corporal
Chevron, or single stripe – Private, or line officer
* An officer without a collar insignia is normally a private.
Hash marks on the sleeve indicate length of service. For example, each hash mark normally represents five years on the job. Sometimes, to avoid a sleeve fully-covered in long row of hash marks, stars are often used to represent each five years served. In the case of the officer above, each star in the circle represents five years of service, plus four hash marks, each indicating a single year. 5 stars and 4 hash marks = a total of 29 years on the job.
Other pins and medals worn by officers may include…
Here’s a closer look at the bling.
(from top to bottom):
– Name tag.
– Award ribbons – Community service award, length of service, expert marksman, lifesaving award, medal of valor.
– Pistol expert (to earn this award the officer must consistently shoot an average of 95% or better on the range).
– FTO pin worn by field training officers.
– K9 pin worn by K9 officers.
– Indicates outstanding service, above and beyond.
*Remember, ribbons and pins and other do-dads will vary in individual departments and agencies.
Pins on the back of name tags, ribbons, etc. are used to attach the insignias to an officer’s uniform. A small clasp (similar to an ear ring backing) is pressed over the pin tips to hold them in place.
Unfortunately, the clasps often fall off during scuffles with rowdy bad guys and, if the officer is not wearing a bullet-resistant vest, which was typical back in the day, could result in the pin tips puncturing the officer’s skin.
For a quick fix in the field, lost clasps can be temporarily replaced with pencil erasers.