Cop Details: Sweat, Hats, And Fruit-Of-The-Looms

The mercury is bumping the top of the tube. A walk in the park is like a stroll through a potter’s kiln. Shade is just a darker place to be hot. No relief anywhere, and it’s only April!

A drop of sweat slowly works its way down the backbone, wiggling and squirming to avoid contacting the t-shirt. Finally, it dips below the waistband, beneath the belt and gun belt. Success! Target achieved. Another drop forms between the shoulder blades and then starts its downward journey, followed by another, and another, and another.

Outside the clothing, cousins of the slaloming sweat drops line up at the hairline, preparing for a march down the officer’s face. Their task is an easy one. Find the eyes and dive in. While there, cause as much burning and itching as possible before the overheated, red-faced cop uses a hand to swipe them away. Those that fail to meet the objective, of course, meet their end, falling to their demise off the nose and chin. And so it goes for the officer who’s required to wear thick, long sleeve winter clothing after cold weather has packed up and gone for the year.

You see, many police departments have policies regarding when uniformed officers may switch from heavier, long sleeve shirts to short sleeves, and from short to long. Some departments even specify a date for the change, with a brief grace period to allow for an extra long winter, or fall. But what happens when winter and summer fail to read the department guidelines? Well, I can tell you, it’s no fun wearing one of those hot, long sleeve shirts over a Kevlar vest during the middle of the day, in the south, where the heat can grow to near cake-baking temperatures. And let’s not forget the relentless humidity that’s thick enough to eat with a spoon.

Neckties are also part of the winter uniform.

Ties are not typically worn with short sleeve shirts.

I guess I should also mention the effect all that sweating has on those heavy, dense, vests.  Let’s just say that Kevlar cannot be submerged in water. No machine washing. No taking them to the river for pounding with rocks. So…you do the math.

Sweat (lots of it) + heat =


And, with the seasonal uniform change (pants are normally all-season material) comes the switching of hats, especially for sheriff’s deputies and many state troopers who wear campaign hats.

Winter campaign hats are made from a thick, dense felt.

Summer hats are made from straw, and are much lighter and cooler.

Plastic rain covers are available for all hat styles.

So, the next time you pass an intersection in early spring, on an exceptionally hot day, and see a whistle-blowing officer directing traffic while wearing long sleeves…well, just know that beads of sweat the size of gumdrops are making their way toward the Fruit-Of-The-Looms…


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My Aching Back: What’s On Your Gun Belt?

Admit it. You’ve complained at least once in your life about having to carry, lift, push, or pull something heavy while at work. Right? Well, try this on for size…suppose your boss told you that from this day forward you’d be required to wear a bowling ball strapped to your waist for each of your entire 8-hour shifts. Pretty crazy, huh? But not so crazy for patrol officers, because that’s exactly the weight they carry around their waists each and every day throughout their career. And that’s not including the heavy and cumbersome bullet-resistant vest tucked neatly under those ever-so-stylish uniform shirts.

So what’s on those duty belts that weighs so much? For starters…

Pistols are loaded with (depending on make and model) up to 16 rounds, or so. That’s approximately 1/3 of a box of bullets. (15 rounds in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. Cops always carry a round in the chamber. That slide-racking thing you see on TV is exactly that…for TV only!)

Some magazines contain 15 rounds. Therefore, 2 extra magazines = 30 rounds. 30 + the 16 in the pistol = 46 rounds. A full box of bullets = 50 rounds.

Radio w/clip-on external mic and speaker

Radio w/out external mic and speaker

Rechargeable metal flashlight

Some officers carry two sets of handcuffs. Others opt for one.

Two types of cuffs. Most officers carry the chain-link cuffs because they’re easiest to apply during a scuffle. Hinged cuffs are normally used when transporting prisoners, because the hinge design limits hand and wrist movement.

Two handcuff cases. Handcuffs are normally worn at the center of the lower back to enable easy reach with either hand.

The thin leather straps with the shiny silver snaps (between the handcuff cases) are called belt keepers. They’re used to attach the gun belt to the officer’s regular belt (the one used to hold up their pants). Keepers loop around both the gun belt and the regular belt, and are then snapped into place to prevent the gun belt from falling down. No fun when your gun belt falls to your ankles while chasing a bad guy!

Handcuff keys are available in several designs. However, they’re universal and each work on all standard cuffs. The bottom key in the above photo is the factory default key that comes with each new set of cuffs. The others are purchased separately, if wanted/needed.

Most officers now carry expandable batons, meaning a quick flick of the wrist and hand extends a hidden, telescoping length of baton. The end of the baton features a solid tip that maximizes the power of the baton when used for striking.

Suddenly that briefcase feels a little lighter, huh?


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