Archive for the ‘Police Tools and Equipment’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Uniform Bling: How To Tell Who’s Who

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…

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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.

PostHeaderIcon Revolver v. Pistol: Do You Know The Difference?

Pistol (semi-automatic)

The term “Pistol” means a weapon originally designed, made, and intended to fire a projectile (bullet) from one or more barrels when held in one hand, and having:

  • a chamber(s) as an integral part(s) of, or permanently aligned with, the bore(s);
  • and a short stock designed to be gripped by one hand at an angle to and extending below the line of the bore(s).

Pistol nomenclature (below)


The term “Revolver” means a projectile weapon of the pistol type, having a breechloading chambered cylinder so arranged that the cocking of the hammer or movement of the trigger rotates it and brings the next cartridge in line with the barrel for firing.

Revolver nomenclature (below)

*All of the above (text and images) are from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). Thanks to the folks at ATF for allowing the reproduction and use.

For Writers: Semi-autos and fully automatic (machine guns) automatically eject spent cartridges. Revolvers DO NOT. Therefore, writers, chances are slim and mostly none of finding empty revolver cartridges at a crime scene. Please remember this when writing the “aha” moment in your WIP.

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It’s Shark Week at the Writers’ Police Academy!

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We are extremely excited and pleased to announce that literary agent/Query Shark Janet Reid has just joined the 2015 Writers’ Police Academy faculty.

The Query Shark herself will host and teach the following workshop.

How to Write a Killer Fiction Query with Janet Reid (Query Shark)
Learn to craft a compelling query that introduces your work and entices a literary agent to ask for more. Come away with a list of things to avoid, and a list of things to include. Opportunities for Q&A, of course. Bring your own query if you want it used as a class example (not required).

Believe me, this is a rare opportunity you will not want to miss, so sign up today. Yes, we reached our typical sold-out number within one hour after registration opened this year. However, thanks to extra room availability we still have a few spots available.

Note: Janet Reid’s WPA workshops are open to all, therefore no sign-up is required. We’ll soon be posting the times of her sessions on the WPA schedule page. For now, though, we do know she’ll be offering the same session twice. Once on Friday afternoon and once again on Saturday afternoon. We’re offering it twice so everyone will have a chance to attend if they choose to do so.

Remember, everyone, there’s far more to see and do at the WPA than one could ever hope to do in a single weekend.

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