The Sam Browne vs. The Load-Bearing Vest: Vesting into the future




Blackwell, James Shawn

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Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas (LEMIT)



The purpose of this work is to inform the reader that police agencies bear the responsibility to care for employees; therefore, agencies should offer the option for officers to transition from the Sam Browne duty belt to the load-bearing vest. The duty belt presents the possibility of health issues for employees such as back and sciatica pain, to the less obvious issues, to include nerve damage, soft tissue damage and circulatory system restriction. The load-bearing vest offers a more comfortable, versatile, and highly functional platform compared to the duty belt. The weight of the officer’s equipment can be dispersed evenly across the vest and the weight is supported by the shoulders and torso. Not only does this help eliminate any health issues that may arise, but this also promotes less environmental stress for the officer. Less environmental stress promotes productivity and job satisfaction. Opponents of this change include the perception of police militarization as a hurdle; however, this term is highly subjective and undefined. Other Opponents believe that the cost to supply the officers with this equipment is unattainable. Just the opposite is true. The cost of the unit is cheap and non-recurring. The health benefits alone are predicted to pay for the vests, but productivity should also be increased. The issues with the duty belt platform should not be ignored by departments. It is time that departments offer the option for officers to transition to the load-bearing vest.


Police--Equipment and Supplies