This report presents the technical details for a field-tested prototype system that consists of a concealable, under-the-shirt suspender system that transfers some of a police officer's duty-belt weight to the officer's shoulders, relieving weight and pressure on the officer's lower back and hips.
The project's goal is to alleviate the discomfort, fatigue, and chronic physical problems reportedly suffered by many police officers due to the weight of their equipment-laden duty belts pressing on their hips, nerves, and lower backs over many years. The suspenders are attached with keepers to the duty belt through small openings sewn into the officer's uniform shirt. The majority of the testers found that the suspenders provided significant improvement in the comfort of wearing their duty belts. It relieved the waist, hip, and back pain the testers regularly experienced when wearing their duty belts. Thus, with minor refinements in design and materials as indicated by the field-testing feedback, it appears that concealable duty-belt suspenders of the type developed may relieve the discomfort reportedly caused by police duty belts. The prototype suspender system may also prevent or alleviate the chronic physical problems reportedly caused by the long-term wearing of duty belts; however, an appropriate medical study would likely be needed in order to definitively make this determination. Initially, two versions of a "concealed" duty belt suspender system were field tested by a small group of experienced officers (Round I), after which one of the two versions was selected for further testing. This selected prototype version was then field tested by a second group of officers (Round II). After minor refinements, the prototype was further field tested by a third group of officers (Round III). The three groups of testers represented a wide range of individual body types, sizes, ages, degrees of experience, and physical condition. Appended photographs, drawings, and tester feedback forms
Date Published: January 1, 2009