DID YOU KNOW? – The Randolph County Sheriff’s Office transitioned from under the shirt ballistic vests to ballistic outer carriers in 2019.
Law enforcement is a physically demanding profession. If deputies aren’t running or jumping while in pursuit of an assailant with a 20-pound duty belt weighing them down, they are sitting in their patrol vehicle at an odd angle to accommodate the items on a duty belt or sitting at an angle to type a report on their in-car computer.
One of the deputies’ requests to Sheriff Seabolt was to change from duty belts to outer carriers for their equipment that would also carry their bullet proof vests. In the past, many deputies suffered back and hip related issues due to the weight of their duty belt. Sheriff Seabolt himself had the same experience during his career with the NC State Highway Patrol. Pain relief/pain prevention and encouraging deputies to wear body armor were therefore high priorities for Sheriff Seabolt. Implementing his desire and the deputies’ desire for load-bearing vests was research based with the help of staff and outer carriers were therefore purchased initially for all patrol deputies. Instead of the traditional duty belt putting a strain on officer’s hips and back, the carriers distribute the weight of all the gear they carry evenly across their torso thereby reducing back fatigue and pain. Each custom, load-bearing vest is tailored to each deputy ensuring a comfortable fit. In addition, deputies can easily remove their vests for a meal break or when they get overheated. By transitioning to the outer carrier, patrol deputy vest wear rates increased from 40% to 100%.
According to the National Institute of Justice, wearing a ballistic vest reportedly increased a deputy’s confidence in performing their duties. Their sense of safety and security is most certainly beneficial and advantageous to the deputies, the department and the community. The focus of this project was determined by interviews with deputies that led Sheriff Seabolt to make the decision to find a means in 2019 to outfit every Sheriff’s Office sworn deputy with this preferred lifesaving, ballistic outer carrier vest option and started purchasing these as equipment funding allowed.
In December 2019, the Sheriff’s Office received grant funding to purchase outer carrier vest for the remaining 85 sworn deputies who did not have one. Deputies are more comfortable with a vest they can easily take off during breaks, cool off and put it back on. The benefits increase deputy stamina throughout the work day, which affect the quality of service to the citizens. In addition, deputies are more confident in confrontations with volatile subjects and in hostile situations, thereby increasing their safety. The County’s insurance claims by deputies has decreased regarding back and hip issues.