• A new study by the Force Science Institute documents that officers may be “significantly” impeded in trying to move quickly away from threats because of the weight of their duty-belt gear and protective equipment.
Subjecting a pool of law enforcement students to a series of “maximal-effort” sprint tests, researchers led by FSI’s executive director Dr. Bill Lewinski found that adding about 20 lbs. to the recruits to simulate a typically outfitted duty belt and ballistic vest resulted in “significant detrimental effects on officer velocity and acceleration” in taking the critical first six strides away from danger.
“This impediment can impact how quickly an officer can move to cover from a shooting attack, get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle, or maneuver effectively during a close-quarters physical encounter,” Lewinski told Force Science News. “Because our test subjects were young and very fit, the average officer is likely to be even more negatively affected than they were.” The answer, Lewinski suggests: a career-long commitment to lower-body strength and power training and maintenance, as well as intensive agility training.
A full report of the study, titled “The influence of officer equipment and protection on short sprinting performance,” is available online free of charge until Nov. 8. Click here to get a copy before that date. It will be published in print form next year in the journal Applied Ergonomics.