|Is your duty belt designed for women?|
When was the last time you gave your duty belt much thought? Do you view it as a necessary evil or as a tool that helps keep you safe and alive? How is it set up? Is it comfortable as well as functional?
So many women are wearing outdated, uncomfortable, and downright unsafe duty rigs; are you one of them?
Generally speaking, female hips are wider, we have a lower center of gravity, and our torso is shorter than that of our male counterparts, so we should not be wearing gear designed for the male body. Many manufacturers have embraced the female-specific market, so there is no reason you need to wear men’s gear.
If your mostly-male department issues everyone the same equipment, do some research and bring your findings to your supervisor, training staff or quartermaster. Police equipment companies want your business, and their representatives are usually more that happy to help you justify purchasing and wearing their gear.
Your duty belt should be set up to allow you access to all of your tools quickly and with minimal effort. Carry most, if not all of your tools toward the front, off of your spine and kidneys. Make sure your holster allows for a proper draw and that it sits low enough and off of your hip to prevent the permanent nerve damage that plagues many female patrol cops. If you lack enough “real estate” on your waistline, prioritize what you carry on your belt (within policy, which you may have to help change) and come up with creative solutions to your lack of space, such as carrying your TASER on the front of your tac vest or on your thigh.
Belt keepers help separate your tools and provide you a more stable platform to draw your weapons, make sure you wear a minimum of four keepers and that they are in good shape. Keep your duty rig clean, supple, and check frequently for damage or defects. You are ultimately responsible for your own safety and survival, and that includes the right equipment for this very dangerous job.
Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety's School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy's website at www.femaleforces.com.