Police Officer Ergonomics Pt. 1

ErgonomicsErgonomicsErgonomicsErgonomics September 24, 2012

For this week’s blog we will be taking a look at a complex ergonomics question that The Back School recently received from a former student working as a risk management consultant. Given the complexity of the question we will be breaking Ron’s answer up into two separate posts. Here is the original question:

“I was wondering if you might have any resources you could direct me to on ergonomics related to police officers, not in regards to arrests, foot pursuits, use of force etc., but more specifically solutions that might address positioning in the squad car while using the computer terminal (most I’ve seen have the officer twisted to the right) and also in regards to the equipment (belts) they wear—reducing the weight.  I’ll take anything else you might know of beyond what I specifically asked for, if it is related to ergonomic risks/solutions for police officers.”

In the first part of this two part series we will take a look at Ron’s response about laptop computer placement.

“Usually the computer is placed on a swivel table in a police cruiser as described in this link: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/police-car3.htm

Instead of an arm rest, modern police cars have a swivel mount for a laptop computer. Officers use this computer to access a number of databases, to fill out paperwork and record witness statements while they’re still at the scene. The computer can also be used to upload digital photos they’ve taken of crime scenes. Some departments utilize wireless technology, so officers can check license plate numbers or suspect IDs against a database of stolen cars or outstanding warrants. They can even get a suspect’s criminal record and photograph on screen right in front of them, without having to relay information through a dispatcher.
–from HowStuffWorks.com

“We typically also recommend that they sit in the passenger seat to access the laptop so it gives them more space and a different posture.”

Later this week we will have Ron’s advice for ergonomic solutions for police officer’s utility belts.


4 thoughts


  • Granthana Sunder

    Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team
    of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on.
    You have done a wonderful job!

  • opony

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  • Dona Leonard

    Thank you, Back School, for approaching this topic. I work with local municipality struggling with laptops both in cruisers and SUVs. One challenge is also seat constrction – some vehicles with more concave seat pans and seat backs — that make maintaining a rotated position more difficult . . . expecially with added girth of belts. I am looking forward to Ron’ input here as well. Our local force has looked at moving the bulk of equipment from belts to vests. Thanks again!

    • Ron Porter

      Hi Dona,

      While I plan to do some further research on this topic, here are a few quick notes:

      1. The vests are a great idea for decreasing the limited mobility.
      2. Placing a pillow like the “Air Pillow” in the seat back to fill in the concavity should assist. An air pillow will allow the officer to choose the “correct amount of support” specifically needed for them.
      3. Have you contacted the manufacturer of the vehicle to request an option on the seat that will allow it to rotate?

      More to follow 🙂

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