by Ian D Scofield
Recently on Facebook I saw this article come up from the NRA. When I saw the title, Spokane Police To Use Suppressors To Protect Hearing, I was a little unsure about the article and the idea. Suppressors have that mystique added to them by the movies and the fact it takes extra work to get one as a civilian has placed them on a shelf of negativity in most people’s minds.
Then I started to think about it and read the article a little. The reason that the department is trying to get suppressors for their rifles is truly to help their officers, not just to be tacticool. I did a little research and read a few more articles, let’s take a look at the issue in depth.
It turns out that policing made a list of 5 jobs that have workers losing their hearing. While learning to shoot is a requirement for police officers, so is the ability to hear. Hearing helps to ensure that you are able to be situationally attuned. Here is just another study that talks about hearing loss in police personnel.
But shooting isn’t the only cause of hearing loss in police officers. Traffic control and protest/riot control can also do serious harm to your hearing. Firearms noise is just one of the easiest ways to address hearing loss in police officers.
The idea of issuing sound suppressors for reducing hearing loss could bring the amount of worker’s comp complaints down. A suppressor attached to a rifle is capable of reducing the noise output of a rifle to 134 decibels, which is inside the OSHA safety levels.
During an active shooter situation or any other reason that a rifle needs to be deployed, you can only hope that there will be no civilians put at risk. Chances are, there will be civilians in the area. Using suppressors can help prevent civilians from hearing damage and could potentially reduce the fear caused by the discharge of the rifle.
Now the fact that sound suppressors could help police employees and even the public, does not come without its challenges.
One point is that Spokane Police Department is only equipping its rifles with sound suppressors. Officers still carry handguns while on duty and have to train with those. Shooting off duty pistols without a suppressor still has the chance to harm hearing. However, due to the need to have your pistol in a holster, it makes it significantly harder to suppress.
Second, the public opinion of purchasing 181 sound suppressors for a police department in the current atmosphere might not be great. Spokane PD has the challenge of showing that these suppressors will help their officers as people. It won’t turn the SPD into a private army or military unit, like many people tend to worry about police militarization.
While sound suppression is a great start to reducing the hearing injury of police officers, you need to take it a step further. Many police officers report that they have not received proper training in reducing the impact of damage from noise. Proper signage, education on ear protection, and more can help officers be prepared to reduce hearing damage.
There are a lot of hazards to being a police officer and some of them come with the job. Others can be tackled and removed. Reducing hearing damage can help preserve the health of officers and keep them safer in the field. Spokane isn’t the only department to currently be considering issuing suppressors and they wouldn’t be the first to issue them. Stay safe out there everyone.
About The Author:
Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content. Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.
Did you just get a job as a law enforcement officer or are you trying to get one?
Let’s take a moment to examine how you can prepare for a job as a law enforcement officer.