Seattle Police Department Gears Up
Full gear and full
face flip-up helmets are
now an option for officers in Seattle
Among the general public, motorcycle
gear has evolved rapidly over the last two decades
from ¾ shell
helmets being the norm to full face helmets taking over a large
percentage of the market share outside the cruiser market.
Far more jackets and pants are
with padding in the
shoulders, back, elbows, hips and knees than ever before. The
options available today make it much more likely you’ll walk away
from a crash than ever before if you choose to wear gear.
But look around at most law enforcement
officers and you continue to see 20th century
‘traditional’ style gear that dates back to before many of us were
born. Very little padding if any at the critical points, substandard
¾ helmets when a wide range of full face are available, minimalist
gloves and otherwise continue to be the gear of choice among
Traditions are hard to break. Just ask
John Abraham who is a motorcycle police officer, as well as the head
of motorcycle safety inside the Seattle Police Department. In 1991,
Abraham was involved in a head-on collision with a suspect (later
charged with attempted murder) while on duty riding his motorcycle.
Since then Abraham has been rallying SPD for better gear.
Several years ago, the
SPD approved Abraham’s
request to issue full-coverage textile suits to the 39 officers on
the force who ride in the fall, winter and spring months – at the
department's expense (not always the case as you’ll see in a moment).
Initially the department used gear made by Motoport, migrated over
to Gerbing textile suits and has finally settled on Aerostich's Road
Crafter two-piece suits.
specially-designed suits are made in black and feature additional
reflective piping, loops for holding microphones, additional pockets
and impact armor at all the key points with the exception of the
back. The suit also claims
to be waterproof but Aerostich admits the
zippers may leak.
Abraham managed to get
SPD to allow officers to wear heated gear while riding. However,
each officer must pay for their own additional gear, which seems
reasonable considering they may want to use it off-duty as well. The
approved heated gear is none
other than that of Tumwater-based Gerbing’s Heated Clothing.
Within the SPD, the standard issue boot,
similar to those worn by RCMP in Canada, is
dating back to before the last world war. However,
that boot leaks in
heavy rain, and once again Abraham has worked with the department to
Gortex-lined military-style boots to be
within the department on rainy days. Again, the officers must pay
the boots themselves since they may use them outside of work hours.
But Abraham hit on his biggest milestone
last winter when the department agreed to the use of a flip-up full
face helmet, rarely seen in use by law enforcement officers.
choose HJC's Sy-Max 2 model which offers a variety of options
including various tinted face shield and interior drop down lenses,
replacement liners and a quick-release chin strap buckle. When the
helmets arrive, the
SPD affixes their official stickers to the helmets,
sends them out to the radio shop for microphone and ear piece
and then puts them to work.
Times are changing for the better. Now if
you think you see a police officer, but disregard them because he or
she is wearing full gear, think again - it just may be one.