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Wearing the Bulletproof Vest

July 10, 2016 , , , , ,

Oakmont police force 1947

Oakmont police force 1947

When I was growing up in a small suburb of Pittsburgh my town had a small police department. Oakmont was so small that neighborhood policing was natural, as well as the only option. Everyone knew everyone’s business and everyone’s children.  The photo above of the 1947 Oakmont force with the mayor was only a few years before I took up residence in the town.  This was taken, no doubt, on Memorial Day after the parade at the cemetery.  This is probably all the motorcycle cops, with the mayor in the middle.  None of the people in this picture could have imagined how much the role of the police would change in society.

motorcycle cops today

motorcycle cops today

I had a frank discussion recently with Officer Marquis, who is a motorcycle cop at TPD.  I asked him what it is like to wear the vest.  His answers surprised me because he brought up an issue I had never considered.  He told me how hot it makes him.  OMG, you are out in Tucson in the summer wearing leather boots, and now you need to add a ceramic vest to protect your vital organs!!! How cruel and unusual can your job be?  I was just thinking about the way the weight compresses the spine, but he made me see another way the vest has unintended consequences.  The K9s are not allowed to wear their vests for too long because it will overheat and damage their organs and possibly their brains.  Meanwhile, we are roasting our human cops.  Officer Marquis wears a lighter style vest with ceramic inserts that he adds when he wears it.  I think this eliminates a few ounces of the total burden..but then there is the physical mastery of the bike, which is heavy in itself.  Tough job.

We talked about his bike and other interesting stuff.  He seemed pretty happy about his job, despite the roasting factor.  I asked him if he feels like a target (this was months before the world truly went barbaric). He said yes.  On his motorcycle he is obviously less protected than the car cops. He was not complaining and I am absolutely sure he would not have brought the subject up had I not done so. I went on to ask a couple more cops that day if they felt like targets. The other two said no, but I wonder what they might answer now, after the the violent events of last week.  All cops have to feel like victims now, because it is a very reasonable assessment of the situation that prevails.

The lady cop vests look particularly uncomfortable.  I am not sure how they are fitted, but this lady told me hers was as long as possible (makes sense).  She said she does not feel like a target.  I was apparently the only person from the fashion police who had ever asked her about it.  It does not flatter the female figure, to say the least.  Even Jessica Rabbit would look like the Marshmallow guy from Ghostbusters in the lady cop vest.  This lady cop wears hers well and does not mind wearing it, but one can only imagine how attractive she is in real life.

lady in vest

lady in vest

I have become obsessed with this vest question.  It is symbolic as well as physical.  It does compress their spine and add weight for their skeleton to carry, as well as keep them safe. It heats them up and makes it hard to cool down.  The looney in Dallas wore one himself. In Tucson the cops have to pay for their own because city taxes are not set aside for that.  I am shocked that the city can get away with that.  In private industry I don’t think you can demand that workers risk their lives and BYO safety equipment.  Can you think of an example of that, gentle reader?

I doubt that people here know that there is a charitable organization here with a purpose of providing the vests to the individual cops.  Adopt-a-Cop is the program provide this necessary safety equipment to the force, since as taxpayers we are not even doing THAT.  We need to step up to solve our civil unrest problems on all sides. This seems like a basic step to take, Tucson.  Let’s buy them vests. Then let’s get some new politicians who will put the vests in the city’s budget.

What do you think?

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It’s a very cruel situation to be wearing anything like a bulletproof vest whether it’s dry heat or humidity. The ability to maintain hydration is really unpredictable and it’s got to be one of the hardest jobs out there (along with farm-workers and similar groups). I know that I think about the oddest things but I don’t know if motor cycle patrolmen here in LA are wearing bulletproof vests.

Liked by 1 person

Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

July 14, 2016

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