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Article Title

EFFECT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT LOAD-BEARING EQUIPMENT ON PHYSICAL AND JOB-SPECIFIC TASK PERFORMANCE

Abstract

Christopher J. Sole, Giovanna Leone, Ryan S. Sacko, Kimbo E. Yee, George L. Grieve, Christopher R. Bellon. The Citadel, Charleston, SC.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to compare acute job-specific skill and physical performance between two forms of law enforcement load-bearing equipment. METHODS: Ten Cadets from a senior military college participated in the study. A randomized cross-over design was used. Participants completed a series of seven (four general performance and three law enforcement job-specific skill) physical performance tests. Tests were performed under three equipment conditions: 1) traditional load-bearing police belt, 2) load-bearing vest system, and 3) uniform only (control). A series of ANOVAs were used to compare performance between equipment conditions. As a measure of practical significance, control trials were used to estimate a smallest worthwhile change (SWC = sd x 0.2). Finally, following each test and equipment condition, participants were asked to provide a subjective rating of their performance between conditions. RESULTS: No statistically significant (p > 0.05) differences were found when comparing performance between equipment conditions in any test. Additionally, no differences observed between conditions were large enough to be considered practically “meaningful” (i.e., > the smallest worthwhile change). CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate no distinct performance advantage from either style of load-bearing equipment. Interestingly, when performance was expressed categorically for each participant (i.e., “better in vest”, “better in belt”, or “no change”) the vest outperformed the belt. Finally, the majority of participants perceived their performance to be better using the vest in addition to rating the vest as more comfortable. Although no meaningful acute performance differences were found between load-bearing equipment, the vest system may be preferable given its positive influence on perceived performance and comfort.

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