Since he took over as Crescent City’s chief of police, one of Richard Griffin’s priorities has been updating the department’s equipment.
After securing a patrol ATV through a Homeland Security grant earlier this month, Griffin received approval Dec. 16 from the Crescent City Council to buy 13 outer carry vests, one for each of the department’s officers.
“The first thing that was on my desk as the new police chief was a proposal from the Police Officers Association to immediately approve these,” Griffin told council members.
He cited the benefits of switching from carrying gear on a belt versus the outer carry vest, pointing out the advantages of a vest he wore as a detective for several years. “The biggest thing this vest does is take everything that’s on my hips, which is about 40 pounds (of gear), and puts it up here (on the chest), where it’s natural as a human to have load-carrying,” Griffin said.
“The weight on the hips isn’t as big an issue while walking around (as when) spending hours in the patrol vehicle or sitting down, putting strain on your spine.
“I can attest to that. I’m only 40 years old, I work out a lot, used to be a competitive powerlifter. I still have sciatic nerve issues just from the day-to-day, and I have 15 to 20 years left.”
Griffin said state labor law actually addresses lower-back pain and injuries caused by employment used by law enforcement agencies.
He said the vest features several storage pockets: two for magazines centrally located for accessibility by both hands, and one each for pepper spray, flashlight, taser and radio, and a spot for two handcuffs.
Above that row are the “admin pouches” - for pens, business cards and the like. A chest cam mounts centrally on the badge tabs.
He flipped the vest over and showed that on the back are spaces for a spare AR15 magazine for a rifle, extra medical kits, or power bars “for when you’re on a scene for a long time.”
He touted the ease of removing a vest during downtimes, such as when writing reports, and for putting it back on in less than 10 seconds.
Griffin said officers would still be required to carry their firearm on their belt, along with a tourniquet for emergencies.
To pay for the outer carry vests, Crescent City Manager Eric Wier said the city has received full accreditation from the Golden State Risk Management Authority to use funds from its Risk Management Accreditation Program.
Crescent City has received $89,800 in risk management funds over the last two years. The staff report said such funds are awarded to members of the risk pool that “demonstrate sound risk management and safety policies and improvements.”
It’s left to the city to determine how to spend those funds.
The current year’s budget has $21,000 in risk management money in a variety of safety programs, with about $68,800 remaining. City staff recommended allocating $6,500 of those funds to buy the 13 outer carry vests.
Griffin said there’s a four- to five-month wait time once the vests are ordered.
He said next on his to-do list is updating the police department’s less-lethal ammo, including bean bag rounds and pepper ball guns.