BURLINGTON, NC -- You have probably seen photos and video of police officers wearing special gear during the Charlotte protests.
While we generally refer to this equipment as "riot gear," Sergeant Majors of the Burlington Police Department says it's actually called "crowd control gear."
Most police departments have variations of this equipment. In Burlington officers are outfitted in bullet-proof vests and helmets with plastic face shields, plastic body shields and batons. Majors said the face and body shields offer protection from object thrown at police. The batons, she said, are made to push people back, not hit them.
And while the equipment is used for physical protection, the way it looks plays a role in it's effectiveness.
"It's absolutely a protectant for us that's all it is it's a show of force if it has to be to be able to use to move people to protect us from people throwing hitting us with rocks bottles and that kind of stuff that's what it's for," Majors said.
Majors also said that when police might wear this uniform even when protests are peaceful It is used to keep crowds under control.
"It does not have to be a violent protest," he said. "When you have people that are passive and they're not wanting to move, we can use that the same way we would use it if people were being violent and looting or something of that."
He said when police go to control a crowd they stand shoulder to shoulder so they can push the crowd back.
Police departments may also have shin guards as part of their gear. Majors said it varies between departments.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have also used tear gas during protests. Majors said Burlington does have tear gas but not every officer has access to it. She also said it is mostly used when police respond to a building that is barricaded to get the people inside to come out.
If you've seen video of Charlotte protests you'll notice some people run from the tear gas and others don't.
"It just depends on if they get contaminated or not it could bounce or the wind maybe blowing in a certain direction so it doesn't it doesn't even touch them," Majors said.
Tear gas starts to affect a person in about 30 seconds. It causes watery, burning eyes, skin irritation and difficult breathing.
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