According to the Harrington Beach Herald, Officers in this resort city will have another uniform option this summer.Harrington Police Chief A. Faber has recently signed off on a new general order allowing the option HPD officers to carry equipment like the pistol, ammo, TASER, radio, etc from the officer belt, to a more modern “modular vest and equipment carrier.” All of the equipment you see on an officer’s belt is now held in pouches about the vest along with his or her body armor.
This reporter tried on the traditional fully loaded belt, and then I tried on the vest, and with both I did some scenarios with the HPD Training Unit. With the belt I felt encumbered and my hips and back hurt after about 20 minutes. Getting in and out of the patrol car was difficult and I kept getting my PR24 nightstick hung up in the seatbelt. When I tried on the vest, it took the weight off my hips and spread it around my torso. Not only was this more comfortable, but the various pieces of gear was better placed and easier to get a hold of. Command staff for the police department has said the response from the line staff is mixed. A lot of the older officers have the muscle memory to grab off the belt and will need to relearn where his or her had a particular piece of equipment, said an officer who did not want to be named as she was not authorized. “Yes they can retrain their minds to find the item they need, however that takes time.”
Another change will be the option of wearing briefs instead of the traditional wool pants or bicycle type shorts for the beach patrol. Chief Faber said in his general order that with the need to wear a belt gone, briefs make much more sense for beach patrol noting that it fits in with what beachgoers are wearing.
While with the HPD Training Unit one officer was testing out the vest and briefs combo. He pointed out that he could ditch his heavy vest and be ready to enter the water if need be. And afterwards don his vest and be back in service in just a few minutes after his undershirt dried.
I for one welcome any uniform change that makes our officers more comfortable and efficient while working. Although I would point out to Chief Faber there are a few officers that just don’t look good in spandex.