By Sheyanne Romero
lindsay – The job of a police officer is physically demanding. Whether they are stopping a crime or helping a local resident with a concern, officers put their lives on the line every day. One officer and his superior at the Lindsay Police Department (LPD) are looking for a ways to ease the physical stress of their unit.
On Feb. 9 Lindsay Police officer Eddie Alcantar and interim chief of public safety Chris Hughes gave a presentation at city council regarding the departments desire to switch from utility belts to tactical vests.After healing from a back injury, officer Alcantar still had a few aches and pains. Moving in and out of his patrol vehicle only made the nagging pain worse. The long time LPD officer isn’t the only officer who has felt the discomfort of lower back pain.
“We’re patrolling all day and sitting in the vehicle with the belt putting weight on your lower back is uncomfortable,” said Alcantar.
A news segment on officers in Seaside, Calif. using tactical vest prompted Alcantar to make a call to the police department. Officers he spoke with all confirmed that they couldn’t be happier with the switch and felt a significant difference in their lower back pain.
Alcantar approached Hughes who was receptive to the idea of switching to tactical vests. Hughes then requested that Alcantar do the research and present him with his findings. Alcantar researched several companies who manufactured the vests for a number of law enforcement agencies.
It has been four months since Alcantar zipped up his vest for the first time. Although there were a few features to get adjusted to, he found the transition to be seamless. Alcantar stated, “The only thing I had to get use to was reaching for my handcuffs, which would sit on the back of my hip.”
In addition to the decrease in lower back pain the vest also fitted with the officers’ kevlar vest and match the color of the officers uniform. In an effort appear less militaristic Hughes stated, “We are limiting how many items the officers can place in the vest.” Alcantar shared with members of city council and staff that he has received positive feed back from those in the community. In fact, Alcantar shared that unless he asks the residents for their opinion, they have not seemed to notice the difference in the officers uniform.
Since Alcantar has been wearing the vest, other officers have begun asking when they will get theirs. “They know how much it’s going to benefit them,” said Alcantar. Hughes went on to share that other officers are envious of Alcantar’s vest and can’t wait to get one of their own. The cost to outfit the entire LPD unit is approximately $5,000. According to Hughes, the department is exploring alternative funding sources for the vests and is unsure when the unit will be outfitted.
For those interested in donating to the Lindsay Police Department, they can reach Sgt. Meza at 562-2511.