One department’s experience implementing load bearing vests

The health and wellness of officers has become a more pressing matter than ever, as officers find themselves with hip, lower back, or sciatic nerve pain after beginning their career in law enforcement. While they want to lessen the load on their bodies, they are required to carry 20-25 pounds worth of equipment at all times. On top of that, officers also need to maintain a clean, uniform look while carrying the department’s required items. While this can be a difficult task, load bearing vest carriers have been shown as one of the best options to alleviate hip and back pain, while still keeping a professional appearance.

Sergeant Zabee of the Elk River PD met with representatives from a variety of load bearing vest companies, and after careful consideration, he decided to present Bluestone Safety Products’ LBV to his police administration. “The overall appearance of their LBV product, fit, form and function were superior to other products. This, in addition to their ability to customize features of the LBV and their customer service, made the selection easy,” Sgt. Zabee said.

The administration decided to move forward with a custom designed LBV by BlueStone Safety that met all of their specifications, including front and rear rifle plate pockets, additional MOLLE webbing on the lower half with traditional uniform chest pockets, lower hidden accessory pockets behind the MOLLE, custom Axon BWC mount tabs and a custom American flag sewn on the chest pocket. “At our request, Bluestone Safety custom ordered the exact thread color match of our existing uniform embroidery and was able to implement it in our department approved LBV,” Sgt. Zabee said.

Several patrol sergeants were the first to be custom fitted for BlueStone LBVs, and after their successful trial, the department worked with their admin to create a LBV program. This program went live in January of 2021, and provided participating officers with a tailor-made load bearing vest from BlueStone.

After the successful implementation of load bearing vests at his department, Sgt. Zabee provided some additional thoughts on the LBVs. “I have received terrific feedback from patrol officers. Several veteran officers with more than 20 years of law enforcement experience have told me they noticed the positive impact the LBV had on their body within the first few weeks of use. Many of these veteran officers firmly believe that they would have experienced less injuries and less discomfort during their career if this piece of equipment would have been readily available when they started their careers.”

“Newer officers on the department, some of whom have transferred from departments where they were allowed to wear an LBV have expressed how impressed they are with the quality of the LBV product from Bluestone, compared to the previous LBV manufacturer they were allowed to wear,” Sgt. Zabee said.

“I believe I speak for not only myself, but on behalf of the police department administration that we have been very satisfied with the overall response from our officers of the LBV product and
greatly appreciate the customer service afforded to us by Bluestone Safety Products. To be able
to rely on a company like Bluestone Safety, to manufacture such a quality piece of equipment
and provide the customer care that they do, allows officers to focus on their job, knowing they
are well equipped and most likely feel physically better than if they were still wearing a
traditional duty belt,” Sgt. Zabee said.

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