How to buy gloves
The patrol glove is one of the cheapest forms of insurance a patrol officer can purchase. Of the dozens of occupational hazards listed and reported for law enforcement annually, gloves can mitigate a whole laundry list of them. Our recommendation is to purchase quality gloves and wear them all the time.
Law enforcement gloves are really only used for a few purposes, including protection of the hand and body or grip improvement. However, protection encompasses a wide range of duties, like reducing the disease transmission portal, protecting from sharp objects when searching or during cell extraction, protection during bike patrol, and protecting from temperature extremes, friction or vibration.
Gloves for law enforcement are task-specific. Only certain types of law enforcement tasks overlap where a single glove would be appropriate for many tasks. For example, a glove designed for reducing disease transmission might not be effective or durable enough for rappelling or shooting.
When purchasing gloves, be sure to look for features like pre-curved fingers, straps with hook and loop fasteners at the wrist, reinforced wear areas and options for the user to remove the trigger finger material. Also, the seams should not be on the fingertips and the material should not bunch in any of the webbing between the fingers.
Natural skins usually give the best dexterity and generally provide a better fit. Synthetic wear and grip improvement patches are signs of the manufacturer’s attention to detail.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind:
1. The climate in which the glove will be used
Although infectious barrier protection, cut resistance and puncture resistance are very worthwhile options, all of them are forms of insulation. It is much better to have a glove that can be worn for the entire shift. Cut and puncture resistance is a premium feature, but the tradeoff is dexterity and feel.
It’s important to remember that glove protection can be purchased year-round. Although insulated glove demand surges in the winter, the demand for cut resistant gloves, puncture resistant gloves and various tactical gloves are strong year-round. Officers in the hottest climates may purchase gloves to keep from burning their hands on hot surfaces in the summer heat, for example.
2. The duty habits and assignments of the officer
Although law enforcement duties are far from routine, officers have certain habits that stem from their strengths and weaknesses. For example, if the officer divides his/her time between bicycle and vehicle patrol, a reinforced or padded palm would be beneficial. Officers who routinely respond from patrol to a call out need padded knuckles, covered wrists and friction and flame resistance.
Ventilation on the back of the hand is a great warm weather feature. Synthetic materials like neoprene are great in wet weather.
3. Fit is more important than features
An inexpensive glove with a superior fit beats a top of the line glove that doesn’t fit every time. There is variation in sizing and fit between glove companies, and even between styles within a company. Wherever possible, try your gloves on to ensure the best fit, and for a patrol glove, bring cuffs and a cuff key when fitting. Put the gloves on. Set the key down on a hard surface. Pick up the key. Put the key in any pants pocket. Retrieve it. Unlock the cuffs. If these tasks cannot be performed, the fit is incorrect.
Gloves that are either too tight or too loose will wear out quickly. Gloves should fit snugly but not tightly. If they slip on easily when first bought, they will probably be too large when broken in. Conversely, even though a main feature of our gloves is a snug close fit, don't try to overdo it.
4. Questions to Ask:
• How does one clean this product?
• Are the gloves pre-curved?
• Elastic or strap closures on the wrist?
• Is the material subject to bug repellents, lotions or solvents?
Do you have any other suggestions for officers purchasing gloves? Please leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.
PoliceOne Special Contributor Lindsey Bertomen, a retired police officer, contributed to this report.