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Ohio troopers say new shoes may be safety hazards

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The union for Ohio troopers says new shoes being issued to them by the State Highway Patrol are slick — and not in a good way.

The footwear, a type of short boot, is in a buckle-and-strap style instead of the lace-up style many troopers prefer.

They complain the shoes can cause slips and aren't secure enough when officers run after or tussle with people, The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/17BLKy8) reported Friday.

They say the new style doesn't resist moisture or provide ankle-support while certain officers, such as canine handlers, can still wear the older version.

Troopers are being required to begin wearing the shoes by Nov. 1, although they still can choose to wear a more rugged boot in bad weather.

The Ohio State Troopers Association and several officers have filed grievances, contending the shoes create unsafe working conditions. The union also alleges patrol leadership is emphasizing appearance over safety in the choice of shoe, the newspaper said.

"They are more of a dress shoe than a shoe suitable for units actually working the roads," said Trooper Larry Phillips, president of the troopers' union.

In response to the complaints, the Highway Patrol wrote that "safety has never come into question" as troopers wore shoes in a similar style for years. The patrol said the union can't support claims of unsafe shoes causing injuries or "loss of work time."

A patrol spokeswoman said the agency is willing to discuss the issue, instead of waiting for an arbitrator to consider the grievance in a potentially length process.

"It's management's right to determine the equipment troopers will wear while on duty," Lt. Anne Ralston said. "At the same time, we would never compromise officer safety."

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