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A new look is coming to the Sheriff's Office!

01/11/2019

If you’ve ever spent time around a police officer who’s been in the profession for any amount of time, you can almost guarantee that they suffer from lower back pain.  It’s not a new problem, and it’s something that several companies have all tried to address in the past with different devices, whether it be suspenders, or something that attaches to the duty belt.  But the fact is, as technology has changed and advanced over the years, duty belts have become heavier and police officers have been required to carry more and more gear.  All of this extra weight compounds the problem.  However, one option that has been growing in popularity over the last few years has been the load bearing vest, or LBV.  LBVs have faced some controversy in the past over concerns that the police could look too “militarized,” but research shows that there are significant health benefits for police officers and police agencies that make the transition.

Many agencies in the south do not require officers to wear a ballistic vest while they’re at work.  It could be speculated that there are several reasons why, but the heat and humidity are certainly factors that make that list.  However, police officers have two tools available to them on a daily basis that could save their lives by simply putting them on every day; those are a seat belt, and a ballistic vest.  In 2017 when I took office, one of the first things I changed was to require deputies to wear both their seat belts, and their ballistic vests, because we are committed to keeping our employees, as well as our community as safe as possible.  An external vest gives deputies the ability to take them off when at the office working on reports, which allows them to get some of that weight off of their shoulders during their shift, and also allows them to remain cooler during the summer months.

The Sheriff’s Office has been conducting internal research on several different types and brands of carriers, trying to ensure a balance could be reached between, function, form, and durability, and because I believe it’s important to place the health and wellness of our deputies very high on our priority list.  Having personally worn a duty belt for nearly a decade, I can tell you that my back, hips, and knees have paid a price for the extra 20-30 pounds of gear worn by most officers.  Being able to have the ability to remove some of the weight from the hips, and spread that weight out over the shoulders and upper back help to greatly relieve a lot of the strain caused by a duty belt. 

The Sheriff’s Office set out over the last 8 months to find a vest that would be durable, look professional without looking overtly militaristic, be comfortable to wear, and meet the needs of getting gear off of deputies’ belts.  We believe that we have found an ideal option, and want to keep our community apprised of what you will be seeing as we head into the future.  I’m also including a link to a great article that discusses this topic, and I’m eager to hear your feedback. 

https://www.policeone.com/Officer-Safety/articles/482040006-Load-bearing-vest-vs-duty-belt-Ergonomic-researchers-determine-the-winner/

We started ordering these vest carriers in September of 2018, and you will be starting to see them out on the streets as early as the next week or so.  They are made by the same manufacturer who makes our ballistic vests, so they take longer to get when ordered.  However, they fit the vests better, look better, and should last much longer than generic carriers.  Pictured are a couple of our deputies wearing the new carriers.

-Sheriff Chris Brown

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