HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville Police keep the heat in mind as they are training another cadet class at the academy.
At the Huntsville Police Academy, trainers explain to cadets the importance of staying hydrated.
"Heat can be very physically demanding. Anything we throw on top of that [in training] can absolutely stress the body," commented Joseph Deboer, HPD Training Adviser. "We want them to have a good solid foundation of hydration, nutrition, and physical fitness here at the academy because it's a big factor in performance of their job."
Officer Deboer said before cadets even start training at the academy, they are given lots of information including workout plans and nutrition tips. They are also issued water bottles with their uniforms.
"We want them to have lots of opportunities to drink water," he explained. "One of the main things we say is that the water they drink today is going to be what you're using for tomorrow."
Officers also make sure there is plenty of water outside when cadets are doing physical training.
Once the cadets graduate, they will encounter hot summer days where they may be working in the hot sun.
"Directing traffic in the middle of an intersection, the asphalt gets very hot," said Lt. Michael Johnson, Huntsville Police Public Information Officer. "It is our policy that an officer not direct traffic more than 2 hours without getting relief."
This summer, HPD also has new vests that can keep them safe and more comfortable too. Johnson said the department switched to new vests mainly for comfort.
"Air can flow back and forth more freely in here," he demonstrated, moving the new carrier vest back and forth over his shirt. "Normally, the vests we used to wear are under the shirt. The shirts were buttoned up, zipped up, not as comfortable like this."
Johnson said the new carrier vest, being outside the shirt, allows officers to loosen them during a moment of downtime. It also provides different options for the utility belts.
They can also remove the carrier vest in favor of another vest, called an attack vest which offers stronger protection. HPD will issue that in addition to the carrier vests.
"The attack vest is what stops rifle rounds," remarked Lt. Johnson, stating the attack vests are still so new to HPD that they are still being distributed to the force.
As extreme heat can endanger a police officer whose job is to keep you safe, leaders believe these new vest coupled with training to rely on can make a difference.
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