Police officers have a lot to keep track of, including the approximately 15 pounds of equipment they carry around their waists daily.
The exterior equipment belt officers wear is secured to their standard belt by four belt keeps, small velcro loops that keep it from sagging.
Officer Joshua Sung from the Indiana University Police Department said personal preference plays a role in equipment belt organization, but the most important items are always kept up front for easy access.
Sung said he likes to carry two pairs of handcuff keys in two different places on his belt.
Some keys have a rubberized grip for easier handling, and Sung said some even come with an attached flashlight for use in the dark.
IUPD officers carry loaded .40 caliber Glock 22 handguns. Each magazine for the gun holds 15 bullets, and Sung carries two extra magazines. He said some officers carry three extras.
Sung's extras are kept in a double-magazine pouch attached to his equipment belt.
Each Glock is also equipped with an attached flashlight called a TRL-1 mounted weapons light. Sung said the attachment is more convenient than trying to hold a flashlight in one hand and gun in the other.
The gun has a special holster that doesn’t allow the user to simply pull it out. There’s a strap called the hood covering the top of the holster, and a locking mechanism must be passed before the gun is released.
Some locking mechanisms involve a button on the interior of the holster, and others require the officer to rock the gun back to be released.
“It’s not like the olden days where it’s just a strap, or you can just pull it out,” Sung said.
The mechanism, called the retention, is reminiscent of a child-safety lock.
Sung said some officers carry a backup gun in an ankle holster, but not him. Others carry knives.
IUPD officers generally carry multiple pairs of Smith & Wesson handcuffs. Sung said these are used on a daily basis.
The handcuffs have a double locking mechanism which requires the officer to press a button on the side of the cuffs to ensure they stop tightening around the cuffed individual’s wrists.
The pepper spray
Officers are required to be pepper sprayed at the IUPD Police Academy before they can carry the substance at IUPD, Sung said.
“It’s like fire,” he said. “It’s like the sun touching your face for an extended period of time, like two hours.”
IUPD officers carry bottles of MK-3 pepper spray in the front of their belts, which Sung said is one of the non-lethal weapons the department employs to control suspects.
He said pepper spray is a good option for noncompliant persons that doesn't have the intensity of pulling a gun.
Sung said he carried at least two LED flashlights when he worked night shift, but he now carries one on the day shift. He said keeping them charged is crucial.
“Darkness is your enemy during the night time,” he said.
There’s an orange emergency button on the radios IUPD officers carry that can be pressed to give that officer exclusive radio airtime for ten seconds.
Sung said he’s never used the button — intentionally.
He carries a Motorola APX 6000 P25 radio with a shoulder-mounted microphone attachment but said some other officers have ear mics.
The shoulder mic creates the characteristic crackling police radio chatter often heard in cop movies, but the ear mics ensure no one else can hear what’s being communicated.
Sung carries two kinds of gloves: standard medical gloves and a sturdier black pair he uses for searches of individuals.
He said he replaces the medical gloves, which are held in a small pouch with a CPR mask, about every other day.
“We deal with blood a lot,” he said. “We go on a lot of medical assists.”
The bulletproof vest
There are two kinds of bulletproof vests: ones that are worn over the shirt and ones that go under it.
Sung said the over-the-shirt option is more comfortable for easy removal, but the under-the-shirt vest looks more professional.
The classic police shield is displayed on the left side of the vest with the officer’s name pin directly under it. The right side has an assortment of pins depending on the officer. Sung has one for five years of service and two others for training units he’s a part of.
There’s a pocket hidden inside of the vest containing a tactical trauma kit. The kit contains chest seals, a tourniquet and other essentials in case an officer is injured.
“If I was ever in a life or death situation where I needed to tourniquet myself, I would pull this out,” Sung said.
The office essentials
Sung carries at least two black pens on him at all times. Right now he has Uni-Ball Signos, but he said he’s not particular.
He keeps a small reporter-style notebook and a USB flash drive in the pocket of his shirt as well.
Sung also carries his business card, a card authorizing him to do blood alcohol content tests, an Indiana Code cheat sheet, a list of the addresses for every dorm on campus, all of the badge numbers of IUPD’s officers, a card listing the Miranda and Pirtle Rights and a UITS card.
He said the most important card he carries is his CrimsonCard.
How it all compares
Officers with the Ohio State University Police carry the same firearm IUPD officers do, as well as pepper spray, but they also carry a taser or extendable baton, according to a public safety dispatcher.
IUPD officers are permitted to carry batons, but Sung said he doesn't currently keep one on him.
Miami University Police Department Sgt. Andy Rosenberger said officers at MUPD also carry the .40 Glock, pepper spray and tasers. Tasers took the place of police batons in that department.
“We feel the taser is a better option as far as use of force goes,” he said. “It’s better than having to pull your firearm.”
Kent State University Police Services officers don’t carry tasers, community resource officer Tricia Knowles said. They do, however, carry pepper spray, a Glock and a baton.
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