Modern Police Gear: What is all that stuff?

The Crime Doctor, by J.C. De Ladurantey

by J.C. De Ladurantey

Traditions give us perspective on where we came from, and they play a big part in police departments, beginning with the belt. What the heck is on that gun belt anyway?

Sam Browne

For starters, it’s not called a gun belt. It is termed a “Sam Browne,” after a 19th century Lieutenant Colonel and Commandant of the Punjab Cavalry. His soldiers had trouble carrying all their ‘stuff’ so he designed what is in use today.

The Sam Browne is a stiff leather belt to support the gun holster and safety gear required by the modern police officer. Until the 1980’s, the revolver was the usual duty weapon and we carried six rounds (generally 38 caliber) in the weapon and 12 more in pouches or speedy loaders. As the belt added more items, we needed snaps to hold the Sam Browne onto the uniform pants belt.

Expanding Requirements

When automatics — either 44 or 45 caliber — were added to the arsenal, we needed additional ammo pouches. Then, all hell broke loose with mace or pepper spray, radio holders, cell phone cases, a tactical flashlight, and batons (or PR-24’s as they are called) and holders, expandable baton holders (also known as ASPS), and even vinyl glove holders. We would stuff plastic handcuffs into a back pocket for that ‘just in case’ situation. Other optional equipment would include a leg control strap and restraint mitt for the violent and combative suspect.

Then the Taser came along, requiring a Taser holder and cartridge holders. And now they have video-integrated body cameras. Good grief, where do they put everything? Did I mention they are also wearing a bulletproof vest under their shirt?

All of the extra weight (up to 20 lbs.) led to injured backs and the need for a pack mule. How do they even get out of the car?

The Future?

Today, many Departments are moving to an external vest that will accommodate ammo magazines, the radio with a shoulder mic, and smaller flashlights to take weight off the hips and distribute it more evenly across the shoulders.

Good grief, we have invented the ninja turtle!

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J.C. De Ladurantey, Author

J.C. De Ladurantey, Author

Dr. Joseph C. De Ladurantey is a retired Chief of Police for the City of Irwindale, California. With over 40 years in law enforcement, and a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Public Management, he brings a broad range of real-world experience to the classroom and keyboard. He has published two textbooks, written several articles for professional publications and is in possession of too many unfinished manuscripts for other books. He published his first crime novel, Cowards, Crooks, and Warriors, in April 2015.

Since 2011 he has hosted a radio show “Making Your Memories” on Orange County radio station KSBR, 88.5 FM specializing in Rock & Roll and Doo Wop music of the 1950’s and early 60’s.

He resides with his wife Sandra in San Juan Capistrano, California.

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