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Issue No. 381 June 2014

SRBA goes high-vis

Senior Constable Rose Wilson and Constable Nu’u Ropati, of Wellington District, model a prototype high-vis load -bearing vest, worn over SRBA, with pouches with retroflective edging. (Rose and Nu’u are not part of the trial).
Photo: Stephen Matthews, Ten One

The days of struggling to retrieve equipment from under a high-visibility vest may be numbered as a frontline trial of high-vis SRBA options gets under way.

Staff are testing four prototypes which aim to balance the required standards of protection, visibility, flexibility and ease of access to equipment.

Police policy, based on Australian/NZ Standards, dictates compliant high-vis safety clothing must be worn outside other garments and kept fastened at all times when policing on the road, or other situations where safety is a factor.

“If this interferes with ease of access to tactical equipment it creates new safety concerns,” says Senior Sergeant Paddy Hannon, Coordinator Tactical Equipment and Uniform. “There are an increasing number of complaints about difficulties accessing equipment beneath high-vis jackets or vests.”

Many staff now wear high-vis clothing more often because of Prevention First's focus on visibility, says Paddy.

The six-month trial involves 30 officers in Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Eastern and Counties Manukau.

Paddy, part of a six-strong project team within the Response and Operations Group, says not all prototypes meet high-vis safety standards so triallists are instructed to use current high-vis wear if they believe it safer in a given situation.

Feedback – ranging from washability to details of incidents in which triallists judged the current option safer - will inform decisions on what is needed from the next-generation SRBA.

The prototypes are one high-vis load-bearing SRBA, one high-vis over-vest with cutaway sections giving access to equipment on blue load-bearing SRBA, and two high-vis load-bearing over-vests worn over existing SRBA. All are worn with a high-vis undershirt at night.

The trial follows consultation with triallists, participating districts, the Police Association, Legal Section, Wellness and Safety Group and the Standards Committee independent consultant.

Other options

1: High-vis load-bearing SRBA
Load-bearing SRBA overt cover in high-vis fabric; ballistic plate-holding capability; pouches with retroflective edging.
2: Load-bearing SRBA with high-vis cutaway vest
Load-bearing blue SRBA overt cover; ballistic plate-holding capability; high-vis vest with cut-away sections for access to appointments.
3: Load-bearing high-vis over-vest
Tactical load-bearing vest incorporating a two-way weave attachment system for appointment carriage; appointment pouches with retroflective edging.

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