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‘Tool belts’ help keep cops equipped

Jackson Bell

Whether they know it or not, every Burbank Police officer carries the

legacy of Sir Samuel James Browne with them whenever they’re in



Browne, a turn-of-the- century British general, is the man

credited with inventing the leather belts police officers wear to

carry essentials such as guns and handcuffs.

Sam Browne is police jargon for belts worn by male officers, while


Sally Browne is the name given the belts of female officers, Burbank

Police Sgt. William Berry said.

“Sam Brownes are basically our tool belt,” Berry said. “They carry

everything we need to do the job except common sense -- we need to

provide that on our own.”

Mandatory items carried on a belt include a standard-issue Glock

handgun, two magazines of bullets, a collapsible steel baton, a

radio, two pairs of handcuffs and pepper spray. Cases are attached to


the belt to carry items. In addition to mandatory items, officers may

carry keys, knifes and cell phones on their belts.

Fully loaded, the standard-issue belts, which can weigh between 10

and 15 pounds, are made of leather and are fastened with a clip

instead of a buckle for easy access, Community Resources Officer Vee

Jones said.

Special Response Team officers and other special-unit officers

wear lighter nylon versions to increase mobility, Jones said.


The belts retail for about $50, and all police recruits are

required to purchase their own, she said.

Most officers consider the belts a minor nuisance that’s necessary

to perform their jobs. Jones said occasionally, officers require

treatment for back injuries.

“It’s heavy, it rubs against your hip bone and can be irritating

and can cause back problems,” she said. “But [officers] don’t think

about it and just get the job done.”

Berry believes one reason that belts have doubled in weight during

his 30 years with the department is because officers only carried

guns, bullets and handcuffs when he joined.

Regardless, Berry said he has had the same belt since joining the

department because of its durability.

“My Sam Browne is older than a lot of cops working here,” he said.