The History And Development of American Police Duty Belt

The History And Development of American Police Duty Belt

When it comes to duty belts, to some extent, it has experienced a long period of development since the era when Sheriff cowboy in the western United States pushed the turnstile of the bar and asked everyone to put their hands where he could see. On the other hand, the changes brought about by this development are not great. Today, many law enforcement departments across the United States still adhere to the traditional Sam Browne belt (such as LAPD), and some departments even retain the cross strap, as well as the RCMP next door, Although this kind of messenger belt is jokingly called "suicide strap" by many people (because this kind of messenger belt is easy to be pulled by people and then the whole person is pulled down) ¹) But this does not affect the practicability of Sam Brown Belt. This belt designed in the 19th century was originally designed to bear weight.

Sir Samuel James Browne was a captain of the second jab regiment of the British Indian army. In a battle, he attacked a 9-pound cannon of the enemy. Unfortunately, his left arm was cut off by a sword, but he still succeeded in preventing the enemy from reloading shells. This heroic move became an important factor for the British army to win the battle. He also received the Victoria Cross for this. The order of commendation stated that "in the battle with the rebel forces led by Khan Allie Khan on August 31, 1858, he advanced the enemy's position at dawn and attacked the enemy's artillery with a messenger cavalry under the fire of the enemy's 9-pound artillery, This prevented the reloading of enemy artillery and opened fire on our attacking infantry. During the battle, his left knee was seriously wounded by the sword, and soon his left arm was cut off by the sword. Finally, the gun was captured by the infantry and the enemy artillery was annihilated. " ²。 Sam Browne had difficulty carrying a sword after he was injured, so he designed a hard belt with shoulder straps to prevent the sword from shaking around, so that he could use the sword with his right hand. He remained in the British army and invented the belt now named after him.


For law enforcement, tradition is of great significance. Because tradition defines the social role of law enforcement departments and determines the social status of law enforcement departments. For example, as the oldest police station in the United States, the motto of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) is still 'Fidelis ad mortem'. Although Sam Brown belt is also part of the tradition, its evolved and upgraded version is more suitable for modern police.

Now, most police stations have abandoned the use of "suicide shoulder strap" for the sake of their own safety, but this does not affect the law enforcement departments to take it as an indispensable part of the dress uniform, especially when the police attend a series of major activities such as ceremonies and police burial ceremonies.

Revolver Era

In order to support leather equipment (such as handcuffs, magazines, holsters, etc.) and other equipment carried by police officers to protect their own safety, the leather of Sam Brown's belt is further hardened. Until the early to mid-1980s, revolvers had been a common duty gun for police in the United States, so it also decided the design of duty equipment at that time. At that time, police officers would load six bullets into the revolver (which is the maximum capacity of most revolvers), and then load another 12 bullets into the double magazine case or the later invented quick loader. This is only one more round than the ammunition capacity of a magazine of Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol used by most police officers, which is equal to the ammunition capacity of Glock 17 loaded and carrying a full magazine. It seems that the working environment of police officers at that time was so difficult that they had to pull the suspect's collar and load bullets manually. But this was also caused by the limitations of scientific and technological development at that time.

Like many equipment improvements now, the birth of the fast loader is out of practical needs. The fast loader can load six rounds of ammunition into the gun at one time. The police officers can complete the ammunition loading faster only with a little practice, but even so, it can not be compared with the loading speed of the magazine of the current semi-automatic pistol.

Practice based re escalation

Sometimes classics must make way for practicality, which is also true for Sam Brown's belt. Unfortunately, the leather equipment carried on most police officers' daily patrol belts weighs about 15 kg (about 7.5 kg). The original messenger shoulder belt can disperse these weights to the right shoulder. Due to the cancellation of the shoulder belt, these weights can only be borne by the police officers' waist.

Until 2001, the leather equipment used by U.S. law enforcement agencies had not changed much in essence, but police officers had more and more equipment to carry on their belts. For example, double magazine case, handcuffs bag (some local police stations, such as LAPD and LASD even distributed two handcuffs to the police), pepper spray sets, walkie talkie leather covers, mobile phone sets, flashlight sleeves, PR-24 T sticks, medical gloves, tether guns, tether box covers and holster, all of which made the weight soar. Over the years, it will cause pain in the waist of police officers and even damage the health system.

However, 2001 was an extremely important year for the development of police equipment in the United States (obviously not because of the 9 / 11 incident). Bianchi International (now part of safariland) launched a new equipment called Accumold elite series, which has a leather appearance and combines the high strength of synthetic fiber, This kind of equipment is more solid and durable than the original leather equipment, and meets the consistent requirements of law enforcement departments for image. At the same time, the biggest advantage of this equipment is that its weight is only half the weight of traditional leather equipment. Once released, this equipment became popular in major police stations across the United States. Every year, a large number of police officers claim industrial injury compensation for back injuries caused by frequently carrying heavy equipment (which may be the main reason why LAPD is more inclined to choose Accumold elite series instead of Aker). The birth of Accumold elite series provides an effective solution to reduce the burden and injuries of police officers, It is based on practice to upgrade again.

Female law enforcement officers

With the increasing standardization of duty equipment, more and more women have joined the law enforcement departments, which has also led to further equipment improvement for female law enforcement personnel.

Based on the different body shapes of female law enforcement officers and male law enforcement officers, a new inclined duty belt appears. The inclined angle of the belt is suitable for the waist of female law enforcement officers, so that the rear of the belt will not sink into their hips, and there is no gap in the front of the belt. In addition, various fittings of female law enforcement officers should be equipped with an inclined gasket so that their weapons can be vertical rather than inclined inward. At the same time, the gasket can enable female law enforcement officers to draw out weapons more smoothly.

Tactical Vest

At present, some more advanced law enforcement departments in the United States and overseas are generally reconsidering the uniforms of patrol police officers. These law enforcement departments pay more attention to the comfort of patrolling, so the image of police officers is also moving away from the traditional appearance. It is undoubtedly a very difficult process to innovate from abandoning traditional classics. The resistance of conservatives and communities to the image of these law enforcement agencies is predictable. Most people, especially police officers, don't like this change. At present, many departments are using police tactical vests to make compromises, which seems to be a bit of a catch-up.

One of the biggest challenges in designing Police Tactical Vests is that they can not show a "Military" appearance, because the design concept of tactical vests comes directly from the military. Many of the police officers' equipment has been moved from belts to vests. Vests can carry police badges and surnames. Some vests even look very similar to conventional uniform shirts. Magazine cases, medical glove bags, handcuffs and other equipment can be placed in special pockets at the front, side and rear of the vest, so as to reduce the weight of the police officer's waist and distribute it to his shoulders. Some tactical vests can even be inserted into bulletproof plates, which further ensures the life safety of police officers.

retrospect and prospect

For police officers, it is best to maintain the tradition and inherit the classics. Because the public is also the witness and witness of these traditions and classics, the images of traditions and classics are more helpful for the public to understand and obey the authority of law enforcement departments. However, sometimes these traditions and classics need to give way to practicality. If police officers feel uncomfortable because of maintaining their traditional image or cause physical damage, their work can not be done well. At the same time, it will also damage the image of police officers, and it is obvious that the public will not accept police officers whose image is damaged.

From the Sam Brown Belt adopted shortly after the first World War to the tactical wear and various law enforcement equipment carried by police officers today, it has experienced a long time of development. However, these developments still need to continue to help police officers carry the law enforcement equipment they currently need.

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