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Question a Cop: Why do they stand like that?

It is a well-known fact that communication between people is the rule of 55-38-7. Fifty-five percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is from vocal signals and only 7 percent is actually the words said. When communication is mostly r...

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Left to right: A Duluth police officer illustrates the belt rest pose, the pit tuck pose and the vest hang pose. Photos courtesy / Duluth Police Department

It is a well-known fact that communication between people is the rule of 55-38-7. Fifty-five percent of communication is body language, 38 percent is from vocal signals and only 7 percent is actually the words said. When communication is mostly reliant on body language, how we as police officers stand can be so important and yet it is oftentimes misunderstood.

Do you ever wonder what to do with your hands? Cops do. A uniformed police officer normally wears about 40 pounds of gear during their 12-hour shift. The placement of this gear leaves few comfortable places to put their hands. Imagine a scenario where your waist circumference increases 10 inches when you're at work and there is pointy and hard equipment around your waist that pokes into your arm and, over time, can wear a hole through the fabric of a uniform shirt. This is why officers must be creative in where they place their hands.

Here are four ways police officers stand because their duty belt is, well...uncomfortable:

The belt rest: Cops rest their arms on their belt because their equipment pushes their arms out, which feels extremely awkward.

The pit tuck: This is when a cop uses the armpit opening of their bulletproof vest to hang their hands.

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The vest hang: A natural transition from the pit tuck, the vest hang is clasping the top of the vest near their collarbones to keep arms from hitting the equipment on the duty belt.

The crossed arms: This can look intimidating, but cops use this stance solely for comfort. It's also a great way to warm up on a cold day.

Body language is so important when communicating and always is interpreted more so than the spoken word. Unfortunately, the above stances can come across intimidating, but that's not the intent. This is why cops need to be even better at delivering communication with their vocal signals and words. Cops are human, too, and just want to find a little comfort while carrying around 40 pounds of equipment each day. So, the next time you see a cop, shake hands or wave hello. You'll give them something natural to do with their hands if even for a moment.

“Question a cop” is an occasional column provided to the News Tribune by the Duluth Police Department.

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