Some of you may recall that I have very large feet. Size 15, to be exact. Very inconvenient. I also have particular foot-related needs that don’t serve me when when I need to shoe-shop. For instance, I like high-tops, which were very much the style back then that aren’t now. I like the support. I need comfortable shoes. that’s on account of having spent too much of my youth in shoes that didn’t fit because my parents were too thrifty to get me new ones. And I really, really don’t like dress shoes.

I’ve said before that I would prefer a workplace that required dressing nicely. The only problem with that is shoes. I’m addicted to steel toes and ankle support. That would, unfortunately, create problems when it came to dressing for an upscale work place. In order to close the gap on my one hesitation with dressing nicely — the hesitation that has me wearing Caterpillars to church on Sundays — I’ve decided once and for all to get a pair of dress shoes that are nice enough to get by and comfortable enough to wear.

One idea that came to mind are police shoes. Those guys have to spend a lot of their day on their feet and have to be able to run, so those shoes would have to be pretty practical, no? Besides, I was willing to bet that a number of cops probably had outsized feet as well.

As fortune would have it, I have an aunt that used to sell cop supplies. I always kept track of her career because it was assumed that when I graduated from college that I might move out there and work for her. The cop-supply thing was kind of funny because she was on the liberal side of my father’s family, which is populated with Democrats to begin with. She struck me as the activist sort if she hadn’t had children young. That she would sell supplies to those fascists in uniform, as I’d always imagined her imagining them, always struck me as a little funny. Then again, her husband struck me as a real Republican sort, so maybe she moderated her views. from what I understand, they sort of stumbled into it. First designing the website for an existing company and then, when the company sold, buying it.

Given her California (rather than Dixie) demeanor, it was always a bit of a surprise to see her sometimes wearing cop gear. A SWAT jacket or some police shirts or pants that had been returned and couldn’t be resold for one reason or another. Apparently, the pants that SWAT cops were are extraordinarily comfortable. She used to complain about how there was literally more paperwork involved to sell nightsticks than there was to sell guns. No joke. Guns could be sold to anyone that wasn’t on some sort of list but cop credentials had to be established before they could buy a night stick. I wondered if she would make these comments because they were amusing or because she wanted us to know that just because she sold guns does not mean that she approved of them.

So when I decided to see about getting some police shoes, I checked in with her. Turned out that they’d sold the business. No problem, I figured. I’m sure the current owners have shoes in my size. After all, big ole cops have big ole feet!

I forgot about our Napoleonic police forces in this country. Anybody else ever notice how cops often tend to be short? Obviously, at my height most people are at least somewhat short, but in a profession where you would expect people to be big, they aren’t. At least not as far as height goes. I read recently a discussion on a conservative blog about how most female cops shouldn’t be because almost all women are too short to be cops and what a travesty it is that police departments have done away with height requirements. It was a blog that I never comment on, so I didn’t respond the way I wanted to, which was to say “I bet more male than female police officers (in pure numeric terms) are below the old 5’10” requirement.

So her old website wasn’t able to help me. The good news was that it gave me a model number to look for. So when I’m ready to buy some good cop dress shoes, I’ve got a model in mind. Maybe I’ll get one of those sweet SWAT pants, too. And if I ever want to get a gun, I know where I can go.

But if I want a nightstick, I’m SOL. Those things are dangerous.


Category: Market

About the Author


13 Responses to Big Feet and Flat Feet

  1. Webmaster says:

    Oddly enough, I’ve heard it said that most people your height really should be wearing high-tops, boots, etc. More height (and more weight) means more stress on the ankle, which requires extra support.

    On the topic of gender and “minimum requirements”, the question is really one of whether the minimum requirement is meaningful to the job. This is one of the things where “equal access” laws, “disability” laws, and similar have gotten silly.

    When it comes to jobs where physical performance equates to life-saving ability, relaxation of requirements arguably can hurt. Yes, there are women who can bench-press 200 lbs, and haul someone from a burning building. No, not all women can, and even most women (and a fair number of men) can’t. I’d feel much safer around women firefighters if I knew that they were hired without relaxation of the physical requirements.

    On the other hand, the duties of a cop don’t really revolve around height. It’s much more about (a) the ability to handle “most” criminals in a one-on-one fistfight, (B) the ability to chase them down, and (C) the mental ability to do their duty and follow their training under stressful situations.

    So height alone? I don’t think that makes as big of a change (plus, it opens up the pool of potential officers and hopefully allows departments to be a bit pickier on some other criteria). On the other hand, if you relaxed the ability requirements (ability to lift X lbs, ability to run 100m in X seconds) to let women in, I’d start to be concerned about the police force.

  2. Peter says:

    Yes, there are women who can bench-press 200 lbs, and haul someone from a burning building. No, not all women can, and even most women (and a fair number of men) can’t.

    In several years of regular gym-going, only once have I seen a woman bench-pressing as much as two plates (135 lbs.) Just once.

    That being said, for all the fetishization of the bench press (Yo, man, how much can you bench?”), it really doesn’t carry over all that well to the sort of strength needed for real-world activities. Pull-ups are a better measure of useful upper body strength.

  3. trumwill says:

    Pull-ups are a better measure of useful upper body strength.

    Don’t pull-ups measure upper body strength in comparison to total weight? In other words, wouldn’t a smaller person whose strength would not be helpful carrying a ladder nonetheless be able to do more pull-ups than a slightly bigger person better on the ladder-carrying front?

  4. Webmaster says:

    Will,

    that’s the problem with using pull-ups as a benchmark. A 125-lb person’s “pull-up” is not the same as a 250-lb person’s.

    There are a number of exercises that can be used to measure strength that are objective (e.g. “weight lifted”) rather than relative (e.g. “number of times you hoisted your own body”). I used the bench press merely because it was the first one that came to mind, but there are any number that could be used. I pulled the weight out of thin air. I have no idea what the actual “requirement” is.

    I believe the underlying principle, however, is illustrated well by your question. It does us no good to hire someone who is 125 lbs and can do X number of pull-ups, if they have to go into a burning building and try to haul out someone who is twice their body weight only to fail.

  5. trumwill says:

    On the other hand, the duties of a cop don’t really revolve around height. It’s much more about (a) the ability to handle “most” criminals in a one-on-one fistfight, (B) the ability to chase them down, and (C) the mental ability to do their duty and follow their training under stressful situations.

    As a corollary to (A), though, it seems to me that overall size could be important in avoiding confrontations. If an officer is perceived as vulnerable, it could lead to bad results even if he or so is actually quite strong and combat-capable. An officer with vanity muscles, on the other hand, may be intimidating enough to offset that.

  6. Peter says:

    Don’t pull-ups measure upper body strength in comparison to total weight? In other words, wouldn’t a smaller person whose strength would not be helpful carrying a ladder nonetheless be able to do more pull-ups than a slightly bigger person better on the ladder-carrying front?

    Correct. The point is, in real-world situations the sort of relative strength as measured by a pull-up is likely to be more useful than the absolute strength as measured by bench presses.

  7. Webmaster says:

    An officer with vanity muscles, on the other hand, may be intimidating enough to offset that.

    If officers walked around in clothing as revealing as your standard bike cop, maybe. Functionally, though, most cop uniforms are pretty good at hiding an officer’s build. I’m willing to bet the “intimidation factor” of a given officer is much more a function of their badge, gun, and demeanor than of their particular build.

    Unless, of course, you’ve got an officer the size of Gary Coleman.

  8. ecco says:

    I don’t have anything to offer to the cop debate, but have you ever tried ecco shoes. They’re very comfortable for a dressier shoe, although their comfort versions aren’t a full on classic dress shoe. Alan Edmonds is also very nice, but they don’t tend to be as comfortable as are ecco shoes. Also, as warning, both brands tend to be expensive.

  9. trumwill says:

    The point is, in real-world situations the sort of relative strength as measured by a pull-up is likely to be more useful than the absolute strength as measured by bench presses.

    How do you figure? A 50lb ladder to be carried is a 50lb ladder. It doesn’t adjust for the size of the carrier. Is there a reason I’m missing that should make me wish to be carried out by a 150lb person that can do more pullups than a 200lb person that can bench press more in the event of a fire?

    I’m willing to bet the “intimidation factor” of a given officer is much more a function of their badge, gun, and demeanor than of their particular build.

    I’m not sure I agree. You’re right about the uniform compensating for that somewhat, but I think that build would have to play a factor.

    have you ever tried ecco shoes.

    I haven’t tried any of the brands you’ve mentioned. At least not to my knowledge. Thanks for the heads up.

  10. Brandon Berg says:

    Yes, there are women who can bench-press 200 lbs, and haul someone from a burning building. No, not all women can, and even most women (and a fair number of men) can’t.

    The ability to bench press 200 pounds is quite rare even among men. Most men can achieve it with training, but only a small minority have done that training. I would be surprised if one in ten men aged 25-35 could do it.

    Squat or deadlift would probably be a better measure of ability to move heavy things.

  11. Peter says:

    The point is, in real-world situations the sort of relative strength as measured by a pull-up is likely to be more useful than the absolute strength as measured by bench presses.

    How do you figure? A 50lb ladder to be carried is a 50lb ladder. It doesn’t adjust for the size of the carrier. Is there a reason I’m missing that should make me wish to be carried out by a 150lb person that can do more pullups than a 200lb person that can bench press more in the event of a fire?

    By its nature the bench press is an “artifical” sort of strength test. It involves lying on a rigid surface and pushing an easy-to-grip weighted bar in a single plane of motion perpendicular to one’s body. Very few real-world situations call for such a restricted movement.

    Pull-ups carry over much better to any sort of climbing and therefore have more real-world application. As Brandon’s comment notes, in terms of measuring the ability to carry heavy things, the squat or deadlift is more accurate than the bench press.

  12. Webmaster says:

    I think we got off topic a bit. Again: I did not mean to specifically single out the bench press in discussions of strength.

    My point is much like Will’s: I am more comfortable in the notion that certain jobs (like firefighting) require the ability to carry heavy things. Firefighters have to carry heavy ladders, guide the hoses, and yes, haul the occasional body out of a building. The size of a ladder, or the size of a human body, will not magically readjust itself on account of the size of the person trying to carry it, therefore certain minimum objective strength tests – be it bench press, dead lift, squat, whatever – ought to be required in order to get the job and to remain certified.

    I’m not sure I agree. You’re right about the uniform compensating for that somewhat, but I think that build would have to play a factor.

    You’d think that, yet bicycle cops remain almost uniformly unintimidating, despite the fact that they’re usually (a) extremely well built and (b) wearing spandex on most of their body (showing off their muscles). Mostly, I think it has to do with the “dork factor” of a bicycle helmet. It’s just extremely hard to take someone as “intimidating” when they’re wearing something that looks like that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

If you are interested in subscribing to new post notifications,
please enter your email address on this page.