This report summarizes the findings of a survey designed to obtain information from police officers about their need for visibility in certain tactical situations; the amount of training they have received in the use of reflective vests and safety gear; the agency policy governing vest usage; and the officers' experience and perceptions in the use of reflective vests.
The survey found significant consensus among the respondents regarding the need for high visibility while directing traffic, assisting motorists, stabilizing an accident scene, taking down an accident scene, and conducting roadblocks. These duty settings are generally consistent with the regulatory requirements regarding the wearing of the vests. There was no consensus among the respondents on the need for high visibility in other tactical situations, such as during routine patrol or while conducting traffic stops. There was significant disagreement among respondents about certain aspects of vest usage, which may reflect geographic and demographic differences among the departments represented. There also seems to be some confusion about the scope of the Federal requirement for reflective vests. The U.S Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) or some other authoritative source should consider developing guidelines for law enforcement agencies in implementing the regulations, particularly since the scope of the regulations is currently being expanded. In addition, training in the requirements of the regulations and the use of the reflective vests is inconsistent, suggesting the need for a training module or sample training material for the use of reflective vests. Further, since there is a desire for a unique law enforcement color scheme for reflective vests, there may also be a need for research into the effectiveness of various color schemes, the variety of ways they may be incorporated into vest design, and their visibility and utility. 31 references and appended survey instrument and visibility matrix