LA Tech assistant professor works to improve police officers’ health by making uniforms safer

Local News

RUSTON, LA. (KTVE/KARD)– Most law enforcement officers work 12-hour shifts. During that time, they wear a full duty belt that can weigh up to 30 pounds. In order to keep all of that weight in place, the belt is tightened, which causes constriction.

“Riding around in those cars with all of your stuff mashing on you, against your spine and the carseat at a time,” Sheriff Shephen Williams said. “Then going from an idle position to where you really have to exert yourself, back pain and hip pain is a chronic problem.”

Sheriff Williams said over the course of their career, this extra weight causes high blood pressure or can even lead officers to needing surgery. That’s why Dr. Todd Castleberry with the department of kinesiology is working with LA Tech’s Nursing department, Tech Police, and the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office to find a better way for officers to carry their equipment.

“It means a lot to us,” Sheriff Williams said. “Especially with the way things have been in our environment in year 2020 with all of the unrest.”

Dr. Castleberry said through his research, he’s found weight distribution is an important factor when it comes to having these uniforms on for long periods of time.

“To help develop different ways of loading a vest with weight,” Castleberry said.

He said it all depends on the size of the officer.

“Some officers may need to put more weight on the sides or the back of the vest versus putting weight on the front of the vest.”

Castleberry said the idea came from his best friend, a police officer who has dealt with high blood pressure himself. He said once his full duty belt is removed, his blood pressure returns to a healthy level.

Castleberry said the project is still a work in progress. The next step is to figure out a better weight distribution for the vest.

“It’s nice to know somebody out there actually has your back and is trying to make your job better,” Sheriff Williams said.

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