Duty belts have always held great importance in the police force. It is the final piece of uniform equipment we put on before we head out the door and it is almost always the first duty item we remove when the shift is over!
We hate ’em, we cuss ’em, we squirm around all shift while wearing them, but duty belts serve as a necessary means by which to carry that all-important police equipment while leaving our hands free.
Duty belts restrict our movements, keep us from sitting properly in vehicles and hang us up on things like seatbelts, etc. while exiting our vehicles.
The trick has always been to wear the best duty belt we can, while striking that important compromise between safety and comfort.
A little history: In the old days, Coppers only had to carry a few items: a weapon and a holster, maybe a nightstick (which was usually twirled on a leather loop and held by the wrist, not on the duty belt) a “call box” key and a set of handcuffs!
Contrast that with today’s officer, who sometimes resembles a modern pack mule, loaded down with safety equipment.
The duty belts of today carry an average of (10) ten pounds of equipment, and sometimes even hold up to 15 pounds. The items carried on the modern duty belt may include: (2) two or more sets of handcuffs and keys, a flashlight, one or (2) two batons or impact weapons, copper mugs australia LOTS of ammunition in heavy speedloaders or magazines, a tape recorder, O.C. spray and holster, a Taser and, of course, the duty weapon. Of course, add to this the nearly mandatory soft body armor we all wear (which ALL pinches us between the bottom of the vest and our duty belt) and we are carrying tons of uncomfortable, ill-fitting junk.
No wonder modern officers all have backaches at the end of the day!
Ask the workplace insurance companies, physical therapists, doctors and chiropractors who deal daily with police officers and their backaches, they’ll corroborate what I’m saying: duty belts are breaking our backs!
Due to the excessive weight requirements of belt-carried safety gear demanded today, it is absolutely necessary for duty belts to be properly fitted, properly supported and made of strong, stiff-edged material that will support the weight of the equipment without “rolling” or “sagging.”
Furthermore, the properly fitting duty belt can’t be overly stiff or restrictive, as this causes backaches or binds the officers needlessly. An ill-fitting duty belt will at some point turn into a health and safety hazard, causing pinching, fatigue, back pain, hip/back misalignment and bruising.
All police officers are built differently, with different body types. Additionally, female police officers are built differently than male officers and require a properly fitted duty belt. Therefore, duty belts must be made to fit all body types, frames and sizes.
But, even if we get a properly-fitted duty belt, made from the latest materials, that’s still not enough.
I think we should revisit the “Sam Browne” belts of yesteryear. Remember those shoulder straps that helped hold up the weight of the duty belt? Before they became just ornamental junk on dress uniforms, they actually had a purpose.
Hunters and soldiers in the field know that only so much weight can be carried around the waist before fatigue, soreness and hip problems set in. Therefore, all first-class hunting and military waist packs (called fanny packs) have shoulder straps to help distribute the weight evenly.
Think about it – structurally, our shoulders are designed to carry and support weight. Instead of trying to keep a duty belt from slipping down around our waists by cinching it tighter and tighter, why don’t we have shoulder straps going up to our shoulders to support that weight