External vests manage weight for MPD

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MINOT, N.D Minot Police officers say they carry at least 20-pounds of equipment on their duty belts.

Now a new accessory to their uniforms will make carrying the weight more manageable.

Minot Police now have the option of wearing an external load-bearing vest as part of their uniform.

This vest replaces the one that officers usually wear under their uniforms.

"We take our normal vests which most officers wear underneath their uniform shirt, you take the ballistic panels out of that and you place them inside the pockets on the front and the back of the vest," said Lt. Jason Sundbakken.

Sundbakken says the vests provide relief for officers who experience back pain from the weight overload of their duty belts.

He also says these vests are more comfortable and less restricting than the standard ones.

"The fact that we have these external vests that have a tendency to breathe a little bit better, you can move that weight around, equally distribute the weight to make it more ergonomic and will give you the potential to have a longer history of healthy work without creating these back issues," said Sundbakken.

Sundbakken says a police officers uniform will never be completely comfortable, but they do what they can to make officers feel better while on the job.

"Our hope is that distributing that weight in a more ergonomic fashion will reduce the tendency for officers to have some of these low back problems that we have and create a more healthy work force," said Sundbakken.

Officers have worn the vests now for about three weeks.

A grant through the North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance helped to purchase them for the department.