Yesterday Sept. 18, 2012, PLEA became aware of an officer who had submitted a note from a Medical Doctor to his supervisor with regard to the adverse impact to the low back caused by wearing an equipment laden gun belt. The note specifically stated that the removing items from the belt and placing them on an outer ballistic vest carrier would greatly alleviate the pain.
The officer, at the request of his chain of command, subsequently met with the Industrial Hygienist for the department, Christina Collins to address the doctor’s note.
PLEA also spoke to Ms. Collins about the doctor’s recommendation to place items on the vest. Ms. Collins advised that she had been given specific parameters to work within by Chief Montgomery with regard to assisting officers with medical issues. These parameters did not include allowing officers to place anything on the outer vest carrier. She explained the options she was recommending to officers which include carrying the Taser in a thigh holster, having officers that normally carry two sets of cuffs go to a double cuff case in order to eliminate one cuff case from the belt, the use of a suspender system under an outer vest carrier and turning ammo pouches vertical as opposed to horizontal.
PLEA questioned this direction since PLEA President Joe Clure had met with Chief Garcia weeks previously (August 11, 2012) and asked if he was O.K. with officers putting items on an outer vest carrier. At this meeting the Chief stated he didn’t have a problem with the placement of radios and Tasers on the Class C outer vest carrier. Also discussed at this same meeting was a newer type class C outer vest carrier both had seen, that Commander Klima had been using. This vest carrier is made of a material much stronger than that of the standard uniform shirt which can easily support the attachment of a radio and Taser. Prior to meetings end, Chief Garcia again assured President Clure that this was not a problem as he recognized the issue.
After hearing this Ms. Collins assured PLEA President Joe Clure that her directions were what she had previously related to him.
PLEA has several concerns with the way the uniform issue is playing out. Of primary importance is the well-being of our members, secondly, we believe this is a continuation of the City’s failure to negotiate on a topic of bargaining, third, it appears this is yet another expense being thrust on our members, and finally, of great concern, is the contradiction of the Chief’s comments to PLEA President Joe Clure compared to the reality of what is playing out and what is being relayed to us by others. This leads us to only one of two conclusions:
- There is a serious disconnect in communication between the Chief and his subordinate staff members or,
- The Chief lied to us.
For any officers that have questions or concerns reference medical issues involved in the transition to class C and especially for those who already have Doctor’s notes, please contact the PLEA office.