Toledo Chief Bans Cops From Wearing Outer Vests Because He Doesn't Like The Look
Toledo, OH – The Toledo police chief has banned outer tactical vests for his department because he doesn't like how they look.
“We’re not soldiers, we’re peace officers,” Toledo Police Chief George Kral told WTVG. “In my opinion, that looks too much like a military soldier.”
Chief Kral is a big fan of community policing and he said doesn’t think officers wearing tactical vests, covered in flashlights, knives, and Tasers sends the right message.
“Picture this,” the chief told WTVG. “Two six-foot-three big strapping policemen are in a house and there’s a five-year-old child in the scene. And they see these guys with all of this, and the Tasers, on the vest. And it’s intimidating.”
He said he knew his decision would be unpopular with the officers but said that wasn’t a factor in his decision-making process.
“What it comes down to is there are some young officers on this department who have never been said ‘no’ to before and they have to understand that I’m the chief of police and I make those decisions,” Chief Kral explained. “And I make those decisions based on the citizens that we serve and themselves. So this is gonna be something that they’re just going to have to live with.”
The average police officer carries upwards of 30 lbs. of gear at all times while on patrol and most of the officers who wear tactical vests have said they help dramatically reduce strain on their back and hips.
The chief said he has taken the health of his officers into consideration and ordered an alternative system that would do the same thing, WTVG reported.
“I know a big concern for the officers is with the Molle vest, it takes all of the pressure off of their back and their hips… the new solution comes with a built in suspender system that clips onto their belt keepers that does the exact same thing,” Chief Kral promised.
Despite complaints from officers about the change, the union can’t do anything about it because uniform decisions lie with the chief, according to WTVG.
Toledo Police Patrolman’s Association (TPPA) President Michael Haynes said officers are retraining to get used to having their equipment back on their belts after the brief reprieve.
Haynes credited Chief Kral for making “good attempt on addressing the health issues” and said officers were slowly getting used to it.