Archive for the ‘Uniforms’ Category
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?
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 – Sergeant
Sometimes, a supervisor’s rank is indicated on their badge
Two stripes – 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. In the case of the officer above, each star in the circle represents five years of service, plus the four hash marks = a total of 29 years on the job.
Other pins and medals worn by officers may include (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
- FTO pin issued by the state of Virginia.
*Remember, ribbons and pins may 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) can 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.