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Assessment of an alternative duty belt: The case of law enforcement officers

Derafshi, Mercan Haddad
The purpose of this study was to offer an alternative duty belt that is lighter in weight and evaluate the new duty belt by comparing it to the current duty belt used by officers. A questionnaire was administered at the State level to various police departments. The results from the survey were used to determine the composition of a belts (FDB) and a reduced duty belt (RDB). Two separate laboratory assessments were carried out. On the first session, 11 officers (nine males and two females) were tested for electromyography (EMG) muscle activity for eight superficial muscles and ratings of perceived discomfort for various body regions while wearing three duty belt conditions (CON, RDB, and FDB). On the second session, nine officers (six males and three females) rated perceived ease of movement for all three duty belt conditions. The control (CON) condition resulted in significant increase in muscle activity compared to the RDB condition and no differences with the FDB. The RDB resulted in the lowest muscle activity. Ratings of perceived discomfort indicated clinically significant differences among the RDB condition, compared to the FDB, RDB being more desirable. Ratings of perceived ease of movement showed statistically significant differences between the FDB and the RDB. In conclusion, wearing the RDB significantly reduced muscle activity, increased perceived comfort, and allowed officers to move easily. The results of this study may be of importance to higher authorities in providing further options to their officers with respect to duty gear.