City Paper is not for tourists
Washington Police Supply, along with the Pleasure Place and the Leather Rack, completes Dupont Circle’s triangle of kinkware. This new boutique caters to the needs of customers into bondage and discipline. It also stocks some merchandise for uniform fetishists. Naturally, appointments are needed for private showings of the uses of these wares.”
Private indeed. As T-shirt winner Florencio Ramos continues, the store does “sell equipment to police officers, secret service and FBI agents.” That much, a female voice confirmed when I rang the buzzer. But for more information, or access to the store, I had to talk to the owner, Greg.
That presented a problem, because Greg didn’t want to talk. In fact, Greg wouldn’t even tell me his last name. (It’s Skenderis. I earn my salary.)
Our conversation went something like this:
Me, respectfully, with an attempt at camaraderie: I do this weekly column….I take it you sell equipment to law enforcement officers….So anyway, I was hoping to come by some time, and you know, just hang out….
Greg, flatly: I don’t think so. We just sell to police—I don’t want to encourage anybody else to come by.
Me: Well, I don’t have to encourage them. I can discourage them.
Greg: I don’t want any publicity.
Me, thinking, “Oops, too late”: Well, it’s not really publicity. It’s not an ad, it’s just that people in the neighborhood are curious, you know….
Greg: It’s not really a public store. I’m sorry.
Me: Well, can you tell me what kind of things you sell? I mean, I assume it’s like the FOP [Fraternal Order of Police] store?
Greg: Not really.
After a few more cryptic exchanges, Greg bade me adieu.
And with visions of night scopes and tasers dancing in my head, I called the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to find out what normal officers—never mind FBI and Secret Service agents—might purchase from such a store.
“I know one thing,” says public affairs Officer Quinten Peterson. “Mag lights, you know those flashlights?” Other paraphernalia cops tend to buy, says Peterson, include extra (or lighter) Kevlar bulletproof vests, police shoes, extra handcuffs, rain gear, and holsters for the smaller guns cops prefer to carry when off-duty. (Non-service revolvers must be purchased in Maryland or Virginia.)
Sure, on the gearhead/manhood scale of doodads strapped to utility belts, cops score second only to Batman. But have you also noticed that they tend to be pretty dapper?
Girls, you can commiserate. Looking good on the job takes some work. “Say, for example, the department issues you five pair of uniform pants, five to seven long-sleeve shirts, and five to seven short-sleeve shirts,” says Peterson. “You’d have to do a lot of laundry, ironing, dry cleaning. You may want or need to change your shirt once or twice a day, especially in the summer, to keep that fresh appearance. It’s easier to buy some extras.”
Also, says Peterson, though buff leather jackets are all the rage among the force, the MPD simply can’t afford to buy one for each officer. Cops who want to go that extra fashion mile must purchase the jackets themselves.
Most MPD cops get their extra uniforms from Jimmie Muscatello’s Military & Civilian Tailors, which actually makes the uniforms for the department, says Peterson, who is not familiar with Washington Police Supply.
But other cops are, and they divulge that, contrary to my paranoid fantasies, Washington Police Supply is a perfectly aboveboard operation. It sells gear to cops, and occasionally, one officer noted, self-defense equipment to civilians, especially women.
Being both those things, I went on a mission with a friend to buy some pepper spray.
And just by uttering those magic words, the buzzer sounded, and we were welcomed.
No questions asked.
The foyer leading into Washington Police Supply is lined with pamphlets from Point Black Body Armor (the world’s leading manufacturer of concealable, tactical, and corrections armor, the brochures noted), Sure-Fire tactical and laser sights, metal detectors, and a whole lotta flashlights.
Looming over the establishment was Clint Eastwood, draped in a poncho, chomping a cheroot, sixguns in his hands.
Besides me, my friend, the guy behind the counter, and the poster of Clint, the only other person in the store was—cue Dragnet theme—a uniformed MPD officer, deep in thought. He was pondering a selection of, you guessed it, flashlights. Taking each in hand, he tested the weight, the balance, and oh yeah, the beam.
I had been told by cops that the “serious” equipment was kept out of sight of non-cop customers. Visible to me were the leather jackets, along with sergeants’ pins, Kevlar vests, some only-one-hand-needed Gerber and Spyder Co. utility knives, walkie-talkies, plastic emergency handcuffs, and badge holders, but not, as Greg had alluded, the keychain-and-cap-type souvenirs that glut the FOP store.
There was, however, pepper spray. Several kinds. In fact, for the James Bond wanna-be or, perhaps, the sexually harassed CPA, there is a pepper-spray pen.
I chose to purchase Pepper Patrol, which comes with a handsome, red-leather keychain case and an extra refill.
I feel a lot safer now. It’s a dangerous city, and the cops can’t be everywhere. I just hope the muggers stay downwind.