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Peru PD makes switch to load-bearing equipment vests

NEW GEAR:Officers with the Peru Police Department started wearing load-bearing equipment vests on Aug. 1.

STAFF REPORT - Peru Tribune

Officers with the Peru Police Department haven’t lightened their load, but new equipemnt put into the field this month may help them feel like they have.

Starting Aug. 1, the department issued what they call “load-bearing vests” to help officers more evenly distribute the weight of the equipment they have to carry.

In a brief phone interview with the Tribune on Friday, Police Chief Michael Meeks said he knows some might be concerned that the new vests look too much like military equipment, but the change is driven mostly by a consideration for officer health. 

A social media post from the department about the decision, said a recent study found that officers who carry most of their roughly 30 pounds of equipment on vests rather than a traditional “duty belt” experience far less hip and lower back pain. 

That study, which was conducted in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with the help of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the Eau Claire Police Department and Mayo Clinic Health System was cited in a story from policeone.com about that police department’s switch to the vest.

“The findings are clear and they are significant,” Dr. Jeff Janot, a professor of kinesiology and the faculty lead on the study, said in that story and was quoted in the local police department’s post. “While the vests weigh more, the weight is more evenly distributed so there is less strain on the hips and lower back.”

Meeks echoed those findings in the recent post. 

“Officers are carrying more equipment on their person than they ever have in the past,” he said. “The load-bearing vests will help our officers both from a health and comfort standpoint.”