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Fla. Sgt. Sues Over Mandatory Armor Policy

June 07, 2013  | 

Screenshot via WKMG.
Screenshot via WKMG.
Orlando Police sergeant has sued her agency and claimed she has been the victim of harassment over her refusal to wear body armor, a mandatory requirement at the agency.

Master Sgt. Rhonda Huckelbery, a 25-year veteran, said she has been excused from wearing body armor in the past due to an undisclosed medical condition. She claims the agency gave her several low-level assignments, including her current role as an airport police supervisor, due to her refusal to wear the armor.

The department hasn't commented on the lawsuit, reports WKMG.

Comments (31)

Displaying 1 - 31 of 31

Rich @ 6/8/2013 7:31 AM

Hopefully the courts dismiss this case quickly. No agency is going to put an officer who refuses to wear a vest into a high risk or dangerous situation. If you want to do the higher level roles and higher risk positions then put on the vest. They now make external vest carriers if your medical issue causes you to have issues if it is near your skin.

Troop @ 6/9/2013 2:42 AM

If u can't wear your armor for ANY reason then u can't be a uniformed officer. There are
Too many whackos out there. Simple.

Five-0 @ 6/9/2013 6:56 PM

If its policy, you don't have a leg to stand on. Wear it or find a job at Public's. On the flip side, I friggen hate wearing that damn thing, and if given a choice I would stick the damn thing in the back of my closet.

Kilrbc @ 6/10/2013 3:51 PM

If you can't meet agency requirements, then you don't have a job...
Time to find another agency!

Runbot @ 6/10/2013 3:58 PM

Body Armor? How about physical requirements? I doubt if the "Master Sgt." could run a hundred yards. Do police that are out of shape like this realize that they are a disgrace to the uniform?

John Storms @ 6/10/2013 4:09 PM

Don't wanna wear it, fine. Zero benefits for you and/ or your family if you get shot.

Calcop @ 6/10/2013 4:15 PM

Oh good lord. This is ridiculous. As a female officer myself I am embarrassed by this lawsuit. Accommodations for a medical condition are one thing, but body armor is non-negotiable. Especially in this current climate, you can't sit at a coffee shop or stop at a red light without getting killed just for wearing your uniform. I'm surprised there are still places that DON'T have body armor as a requirement.

flmotorcop @ 6/10/2013 4:22 PM

I have to agree with the majority here. If you can't wear it, you can't be out in a patrol or high risk position. I've been a cop for 25 yrs 6 miles from Orlando so I can tell you vests are HOT here. I've been a motor cop for 9 of those years. It's part of the job. I do feel bad for her medical condition.

DavidA @ 6/10/2013 4:27 PM

Count me in with the above. Wear your vest. If you can't wear your vest, get a different job. Hard to see how being told to follow policy can be harassment!

Boston @ 6/10/2013 4:31 PM

Dictionary Please! Mandatory look it up. What you don't want wear a vest? Fine no vest, no weapon. Why is it when certain people feel they are being treated unfairly a medical, harassment, religious, or racial law suit pops up. First off lady you are a fool for not wearing a vest these days. Secondly you have twenty-five years retire under a medical then. We all know how this one will end.

Chuck @ 6/10/2013 4:35 PM

Whats her medical condition ? Probably bad B O Ille wear my vest if it gets me one step to going home to my family. My ex wife is always reminding to wear my vest, no big deal just friggin wear it

Tom ret @ 6/10/2013 5:00 PM

If the medical condition precludes her from wearing a vest then she probably should be precluded from working the street.

Informer @ 6/10/2013 5:34 PM

Most agencies today have mandatory wear policies; first for safety and liability to protect their officers, second because most agencies received federal money from the Bullet Proof Vest Program that reimburses cities and counties half the cost of the vest. However, you can ONLY get this grant if you have a MANNDATORY wear policy. Thus this is also about saving money for your local tax payers as well as your safety.

Troy @ 6/10/2013 6:15 PM

I agree with the majority here. If you can't wear a vest stay inside where it's safe...period. But, the department set themselves up for this lawsuit when they made previous exceptions for her in the past. Now it's expected.

Jerry @ 6/10/2013 7:20 PM

OK Sure... don't wear your vest and maybe skip your gun too ! Leave your cuffs home too. Awww lets skip the uniform. Lets face it what you should really skip is all those donuts. Go ahead and put all your brother and sister cops at risk. You take the easy and safe jobs. Nice. Your a real team player. I'd hate to be your partner.

Ed @ 6/10/2013 7:33 PM

Does she also plan to sue the State of Florida due to the mandatory seatbelt use law?

Dan @ 6/10/2013 8:23 PM

"Past Practice" has been.......As much as I agree with everyone here, policy, mandatory, if the past practice has been to allow her to work without the vest, in positions where the department feels she is at low risk, then her union rep will definitely bring this up in the law suit. HOWEVER!!! how stupid can you be to not wear a vest!! I am getting the feeling here, and no disrespect to all my female partners out there, but that this lady made her rank of "Master Sgt" by exceptions and deals. And since when did l/e have a rank of "Master Sgt?" Any-who, if policy says, "you SHALL wear a ballistics protection vest while performing your duties..." it should be that simple, but we all know it wont.

Brennan @ 6/10/2013 9:01 PM

Have her drop weight, I bet that is why she is not wearing it, not comfortable when you are over weight, medical condition may go a way

Nichole @ 6/11/2013 4:37 AM

Accommodations for a medical condition are one thing, but accommodations because you're too out of shape to "comfortably" wear armor is unacceptable. I'm not buying the "medical condition" excuse. You can clearly see why she can't wear it.

Lt. Sal @ 6/11/2013 4:59 AM

The importance to wearing the vest is not only for your safety, but the safety of your partners. If you get hit during a shootout in an area where the vest should have covered, you now are part of the problem. You cannot provide cover for fellow officers and now they have to save you as well. I have been in D-Bureau now for many years and even we wear our vest when doing anything other than desk work. Several detectives across the nation have been killed these past two years. I have a family and pension I would like to enjoy. It is just smart to wear it and it is part of the job. Stay safe.

Trigger @ 6/11/2013 5:08 AM

Wow, you people are heartless. If this 25 year veteran does not want to wear her body armor then so be it. I pray the that chief puts her inside a vault where no one has a chance of testing her non compliance. This is rediculous, wear the darn thing if not for your self but for your fellow officers and family.

Cook @ 6/11/2013 5:18 AM

How rediculas is it that she gets sergeant pay and a "safe" assignment attempting to keep her out of harms way? Equality?

Renee @ 6/11/2013 5:32 AM

Wear the vest! No vest, no high risk assignments. Why would anyone want to be out there with no protection on anyway. She should be glad she's being removed from dangerous situations. She gets shot and her partner not only has to deal with the perp, now they have to deal with a dead or dying partner who can provide no backup.

rob @ 6/11/2013 5:39 AM

25 years on the department. Sounds about retirement time for her and why not sue over a safety precaution. Any money will help with her pension. Sad.

Getum @ 6/11/2013 6:50 AM

She is a disgrace to the department she works at! This is a waste of a law suit! Find a different job!

Bman @ 6/11/2013 10:04 AM

Agree with everyone else here. I knew a few guys back in the 2000s that began their careers in the early 80s. They would get BS medical excuses and then brag about not needing the vest and macho this and that. Now I know Lieutenants that shuffle papers for 85% of their shift but they don't have a problem wearinf their vest. 2 things. She should wear her vest for officer reasons and leadership reasons. Secondly, she needs to hit the gym for a little while for both officer safety and leadership reasons. 25 years on or not.

Dave @ 6/25/2013 4:29 AM

I don't know about her situation but as I have gotten older, I have developed a panic type feeling wrapping that tight vest around me. It hinders my movement and makes me feel short of breath. There is a condition for this and it's the same that stops me from wearing jewelry out of fear I won't be able to get it off me. I will still work the road but I should not be ordered to wear the vest.

Ima Leprechaun @ 8/17/2013 3:39 PM

I completely understand her plight. My agency refused to supply body armor when I was first hired so I bought my own. Years down the line my agency finally supplied ballistic vests but made it mandatory to wear at all times. I liked wearing it for safety reasons but being a very hairy guy I was prone to frequent rashes and staph infections caused by the sweat and the constant rubbing of the vest. I tried every kind of under armor body moisture protection barrier shirts that were supposed to wick away the moisture but there was no place for the sweat to go except back on me. I grew a hot rainforest under my vest especially on my back. My department harassed me over this problem too. There were times I had to go without the vest just to heal up from the rash and skin infection. I had a doctors note but I was mocked by supervisors and received reassigned duties. I did carry it with me and in a potentially hazardous situation I put the vest on over my shirt but at that time our regulations prohibited wearing the vest externally. This was back in the day before all the new high tech gimmicks available to cool you under your vest and way before shirt vest combinations were made. I do understand what she is going through, most police agencies are not at all interested in helping their officers with these kinds of difficulties.(Sorry but [email protected] is one of the problem people zero compassion and zero flexibility) I have yet to ever find the perfect Police Officer, we are all only human and the inability to be compassionate makes for a lousy cop.

sbron @ 5/28/2014 6:27 AM

Maybe you should ask her medical condition. It's breast cancer with a double mastectomy and muscle replacement. She still wants to work. I give her credit.

sbron @ 5/28/2014 6:29 AM

Maybe you should ask what her medical condition is. It's breast cancer with a double mastectomy. She still wants to work. I give her credit.

Karen S @ 2/23/2015 5:58 AM

Has anyone had a double mastectomy and can still wear a vest?

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