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Features

Rating Riot Gear

Officers of the Scottsdale PD Regional Response Team review their crowd control kit.

December 17, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

Damascus FlexForce Gear is a modular armor system that protects Scottsdale RRT officers from thrown projectiles. Photo: Mark W. Clark
Damascus FlexForce Gear is a modular armor system that protects Scottsdale RRT officers from thrown projectiles. Photo: Mark W. Clark

POLICE Magazine asked some of the officers of the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Police Department's Rapid Response Team to review and rate their riot apparel, footwear, and turtle gear.

Damascus • FlexForce Gear

The FlexForce Modular Hard Shell Crowd Control System from Damascus is a flexible hard armor system that a lot of cops refer to as "turtle gear." Scottsdale RRT gave the FlexForce gear a 3.2 on a scale of 1 to 5.

Scottsdale RRT officers said the FlexForce gear gives them excellent protection from thrown items. They praised it for its lightweight construction, and they liked the fact that it is easy to put on and take off.

But they also noted that the FlexForce gear is designed more for corrections than law enforcement. They reported that the gear was extremely hot, especially when wearing body armor, stiff, and bulky. The most critical concern noted by several of the officers was that the FlexForce gear’s torso interfered with access to their duty gear and duty handgun. One officer said Damascus should consider redesigning the torso for better duty belt access. Another suggested the use of tactical drop-down holsters with the gear.

Original S.W.A.T. • Classic 9-inch Boot

Original S.W.A.T.'s Classic 9-inch is a versatile boot with a nylon upper and polishable toe and a moisture-wicking, anti-microbial lining. On the 1-to-5 scale, the Scottsdale RRT rated the Original S.W.A.T. Classic 9-inch as above average with a  3.6.

Officers praised the versatility of the boot, saying it was good for a variety of duty assignments from patrol to crowd control to tactical. They also liked the lightweight construction and the side zipper design. One officer said the boots were so comfortable that they "felt like a pair of sneakers."

Asked what they would improve about the boots, some of the officers said they would like them to be more flexible. Because of the heat in Scottsdale, the officers also would like the soles of the boots to be thicker to minimize pavement heat and be more breathable.

Smith Optics • Tactical Goggles

Scottsdale RRT officers use Smith Optics' Tactical Goggles to protect their eyes from debris and from thrown projectiles. They give the eyewear an excellent rating of 4.6 on a 5 scale.

The officers said the goggles are extremely comfortable and attributed that comfort to soft head bands and padding. They also liked the "easily interchangeable" clear and dark lenses, which offer a "good field of view."

These goggles were so universally praised that the only negative comment on the reviews was that they "fog too easily" and can be difficult to clear.

Tactical Assault Gear • Phase 2 FR Balaclava

On the 1-to-5 rating scale, the RRT officers scored the TAG XGO Phase 2 FR (fire-resistant) Balaclava as a 4.2.

Officers said the TAG balaclava offered excellent protection. They also praised its soft feel and the breathability of the moisture-wicking fabric.

Members of the RRT team wore the balaclava while training in the Arizona heat. So naturally their biggest complaint about the head and face protection was that it made them too hot.

TRU-SPEC • Xfire TRU

The Tactical Response Uniform (TRU) from TRU-SPEC has two elements, pants and shirt. It is available in a standard version and in a fire-resistant version called the Xfire. The Scottsdale RRT wears the Xfire version. Overall, the officers of the Scottsdale RRT gave the Xfire TRU average ratings, rating the TRU a 3.3 on a scale of 1 to 5.

Some officers praised the design of the TRU. They liked the lightweight, zippered shirt and the many pockets in the TRU pants. Others said the TRU was very well suited to the RRT mission and other tactical operations.

Fire protection was obviously a concern for the RRT unit, but that fire protection comes at a cost of comfort. Some officers complained that the XFire fabric is stiff and that it does not breathe well in the Arizona heat. 

Voodoo Tactical • Nomex Gloves

Scottsdale RRT rated these fire-resistant gloves from Voodoo Tactical a solid 4.2 on the 1-to-5 scale.

The Nomex gloves received high marks for comfort. Officers said the gloves were lightweight, soft, and supple, and were impressed that they didn’t require breaking in. Fire protection from the gloves was rated as excellent.

Officers also noted some aspects of the gloves that they would like to see improved. Some said the gloves were too loose fitting and uncomfortable when paired with their other gear. Construction quality was also an issue of concern. RRT members said that some of the gloves had torn at the seams during training.

Related:

Regional Response to Crowd Control

Crowd Management: Preparing for the Storm

The History of Crowd Management

Tags: Original S.W.A.T., Tru-Spec By Atlanco, Damascus, Voodoo Tactical, Smith Optics, Tactical Assault Gear, Scottsdale (Ariz.) PD

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