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UWEC study helping Eau Claire police reduce back pain on the job

Eau Claire (WQOW) — A recent study from UW-Eau Claire is helping the Eau Claire Police Department reduce pain on the job.

“I’m having no pain wearing this vest. The weight is carried differently, and it just makes it a whole lot easier on your body,” said David Chapin, an officer with ECPD.

Chapin was a part of a six month study, conducted by kinesiology students at UWEC (led by Dr. Jeff Janot), which focused on ways to ease officers’ lower-back pain. Everyday, officers carry about 25 pounds worth of gear on their duty belts.

For the study, officers carried their equipment in a load-bearing vest, instead of the traditional belt. The study found the vests were safer and officers experienced significantly less hip and lower-back pain on the job. Deputy Chief Matt Rokus told News 18, switching to the vests will improve overall officer performance and health.

“Policing is a physically demanding profession. Officers spend a considerable amount of time seated in a squad car, that’s their office,” Rokus said. “Then without a moment’s notice they may have to run or control a combative suspect.”

Each of the vests costs $300. Rokus said the department will slowly start transitioning its officers to the vests, which will require some re-training so the officers can get accustomed to how they fit and where their gear is.

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Samantha Wensel

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