Store stocks batons, guns, bulletproof vests

CUFFS 'N' STUFF CATERS TO COPS

March 21, 1993|By Frank Lynch | Frank Lynch,Staff Writer

The name confused more than a few would-be customers who telephoned a new Bel Air business -- Cuffs 'N' Stuff.

"Most people thought we were opening a kinky sex shop," said Brian Walter, co-owner of the shop at 108 S. Main St.

"Callers wanted to know if we were going to have leather products, whips, chains and everything related to that type of business. You could hear the disappointment in their voices when they were told our shop would cater primarily to professional police officers."

Mr. Walter, a lifelong Harford County resident who left the Maryland State Police last month after 5 1/2 years of service, said he and his partner, Walter Bananto, a retired U.S. Secret Service agent, still chuckle about those calls to their shop, which specializes in law-enforcement equipment.

"Government agencies have cut back to the point where police officers must replenish everything out of pocket," said Mr. Walter. "Officers are issued new equipment when they graduate from the academy, but after that they are on their own."

Mr. Bananto said the Bel Air shop is the third of its kind in the state. The others are the Cop Shop in Baltimore and Maryland Police Supply in Essex.

Cuffs 'N' Stuff carries an array of law-enforcement equipment, including ammunition, bulletproof vests, batons, boots, handguns, shotguns and handcuffs.

The most popular item among the citizens is Mace.

"Most citizens really feel uncomfortable handling a firearm," said Mr. Walter, a native of Harford County who worked out of the Glen Burnie Barracks when he was a state police officer.

He said that he expected 90 percent of sales to be to law-enforcement officials.

Mr. Bananto, 46, said he had done little since taking a disability pension six years ago. In 18 years of service, he said, he suffered 19 job-related injuries.

Above his desk hang autographed photographs from Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan, another photo of Presidents Reagan, Bush, Carter and Nixon and a certificate issued by the Vatican for time spent protecting Pope John Paul II during his 1987 visit to the United States.

"Protecting the president and foreign dignitaries is stressful, but when the assignment is finished and no one got hurt there is a tremendous feeling of pride in a job well done," Mr. Bananto said.

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