XENIA — Xenia police officers now have the opportunity to get some relief from the bulky duty belts they wear.
Xenia Police Chief Randy Person has given the green light to allow officers to purchase a new ballistic vest cover that will help distribute the weight from all the equipment they carry. Currently, their firearm, extra magazines, taser, flashlight, two pairs of handcuffs, pepper spray, tourniquet, radio, medical equipment, and multi tool are all carried in their belt. That adds at least 10-15 extra pounds of weight, straining officers’ hips and lower back.
The new cover, along with appropriate carriers, will hold as much or as little of the equipment officers choose to place on it.
“Each year we review equipment that officers are authorized to purchase using their uniform allowance,” Person said in a release. “While the load-bearing vests give us a more militaristic look than we would prefer, the benefit to both the health and safety of our officers make this a timely option.”
The biggest benefit is that equipment will no longer need to be carried on the back, which can cause myriad issues. A six-month study done at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire found that officers who wore load-bearing vests during the period of six months reported significantly less hip and lower-back pain.
“Just imagine sitting in a seat for multiple hours a day and having something stuck between your back and the seat,” said Capt. Gary Johnson, adding that with all the equipment they are required to carry, it’s difficult to not carry some items on the back.
“(The new cover) moves that weight up onto the vest and also allows them to have nothing on the back,” Johnson said.
Officers will still wear a belt and are free to keep whatever items they wish on it. The only piece of equipment that is required to be on the duty belt is the firearm, Johnson said.
The cost is $145 not including the cost of the actual carriers for equipment, which all comes out of the officer’s uniform allowance. Officers are not required to purchase the new cover.
Johnson said there are a couple officers already wearing the new cover and others are in the process of purchasing one.
“The couple guys that I’ve talked to that have worn it have said it really does make it much better,” Johnson said. “Their equipment is more accessible and all that weight is off their hips and their lower back.”
An added benefit of the vest is that if an officer is not on a call, it can be taken off and easily put back on.