Once again, the Westport Historical Society stumped its visitors. No one identified this object:
It was part of their “Westport in 100 Objects” exhibit. The featured item changes every 2 weeks. If you stop in and identify it, you win something from the gift shop.
So what was it?
Known variously as a sap, slapper or blackjack, the heavy leather pouch is 8 12 inches long, and filled with lead (sometimes a flexible steel rod too). Unlike a baton, a sap’s size and shape allows it to be concealed inside an officer’s pocket.
Saps may not look as intimidating as a gun or a baton, but they sure are dangerous. A sap is dense enough to break bones, and the leather edge is rough enough to cause a dull, ripping laceration to the face when jabbed. Slappers are ideal in tight quarters, like a fight on the ground against a large suspect.
Slappers are rare these days, forbidden by many jurisdictions across the country. Even so, some uniforms still come with a sap pocket.