There are several product categories that I’m excited about for 2013. The first is uniforms. Many manufacturers are trying to create a performance-based uniform to supply officers with durability, longevity, and comfort in all weather conditions. An example is the PDU Rapid shirt from 5.11 Tactical. The PD Rapid is a hybrid shirt that was developed for those departments in which PSOs wear an external body armor carrier. In the past, they would take that carrier and wear it over a standard uniform shirt, generally a polyester-wool blend, and they weren’t getting the performance aspects out of it that they needed. So 5.11 developed a shirt that was a hybrid between a standard uniform shirt—with a uniform body, epaulets, and a standard collar—and a performance body that is much like a rapid assault shirt. So PSOs get the moisture wicking performance from body armor, and the comfort and appearance of a uniform shirt.
Another category is duty gear. Over the last five to seven years there’s been a shift from leather goods into nylon and forage plastics. With the National Sports Shooting Foundation shot show coming up in mid-January in Las Vegas, I’m excited to see what manufacturers are going to be unveiling for next year and for the future. I have an example of one product that’s already on the market; it’s a molded nylon magazine pouch. Many customers will be familiar with this product. Based on the cost and maintenance of leather goods, many departments, companies, and PSOs are looking for these types of items, whether they are provided by a company or purchased individually. They are putting together a whole duty gear system that is lighter and easier to maintain, and that provides comfort during long shifts.
Finally, I’m also paying attention to the category of covert wear. Off-duty and covert type garments are in high demand. Many companies are, in fact, producing these items, primarily shirts, covert pants, and outerwear. The PSTA does well with the 511 covert vest. The covert vest is a midway garment designed to be worn over standard clothing. The pocketing design is fairly standard, with hip pockets and standard chest pocket, but there is also a hidden chest pocket with Velcro on the inside for other attachments. This allows the PSO to go through a pass-through and stay concealed while still accessing his equipment.