Police cars are getting crowded, and it’s not due to increased crime rates. Vehicle equipment such as computers and cameras fills the officer’s functional space. Making things even tighter is the Law Enforcement Officer’s personal gear with the addition of body armor, body cameras, portable radios, tasers, and other weaponry on an overall larger citizenry. We’re working with university and government partners to get the skinny on the situation.
Quick U.S. Government taxonomy lesson: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is part of the Department of Labor. Its mission is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards…” (osha.gov) To accomplish this mission, a unit of the CDC known as National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research to “develop new knowledge in the field of occupational safety and health and to transfer that knowledge into practice.” (cdc.gov/niosh) What does this have to do with the police? Well, the police cruiser is considered a workplace and therefore our government has an interest in its safety and security as well as that of its occupants, who spend hours each day in said space.
How Anthrotech Helped
In 2014, Anthrotech and the University of Michigan performed a pilot study where police officers were measured and scanned in uniform, wearing all of their equipment. They were also measured and scanned in fitted biker type shorts and tanks or sports bra (for women) to understand the bodies under the uniform. Then computer models were generated to put the fully-outfitted police officers inside of the cars.
Today, we’re working alongside NIOSH to expand on and update the pilot study to reflect changes in police officer bodies. These changes have to do with evolving demographics in the force (Bureau of Labor Statistics) as well as overall population transformations. We’re traveling to 11 locations around the country to measure approximately 1,000 officers both in and out of uniform, paying particular attention to the feet, head, and hands as important and dynamic variables within the studied workspace. The team is taking both traditional tape and caliper measurements as well as three-dimensional scans of officers (whole body, head, hand and foot), ensuring the reliability and usability of the new data set.
While we can’t be certain of all of the applications of the data, we do know that cost is an increasingly important driver of public services. From speaking with local departments across the US, we expect that this information might be considered when making future decisions about fleet purchases, weighing vehicle cost versus cabin space for instance. In addition, manufacturers of in-cab and body-worn equipment may use these data to improve their products as well.
The officers who have volunteered for this project are enthusiastic. They face this constrained space issue every day, and Anthrotech is honored to help those who protect and serve.