Sprinkle list: House pitches $500K for FLDE to buy earplugs

Manhattan 2019. Behind the police with gun belt
Police experience prolonged exposure to loud noises throughout their careers.

The House is floating $500,000 toward a hearing protection procurement program carried by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).

The one-time appropriation will allow FDLE to seek out the ideal in-the-ear hearing protection for law enforcement officers in Florida. 

The agency is specifically seeking earplugs with a “minimum noise reduction rating of 25 decibels and a maximum output of 80 decibels, to protect the hearing of law enforcement officers.”

“Upon completion of the competitive procurement the department shall make the hearing protection available to any law enforcement agency in the state on a first come first served basis,” says a House Document. 

According to Police Health, law enforcement officers are 19% more likely to suffer from hearing loss than the general public. 

Unlike most occupations, police experience prolonged exposure to loud noises throughout their careers — sirens, radios, large crowds and even gun fire, among other possibilities. 

“Whether it’s rushing into burning buildings or controlling a large, unruly crowd, emergency workers put their lives (and hearing) on the line, every day,” the website says.

Sound is measured in decibels. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), noise above 70 decibels can cause healing loss after pro-longed exposure. For reference, sounds at a movie theater average 74 to 104 decibels.

“Your distance from the source of the sound and the length of time you are exposed to the sound are also important factors in protecting your hearing, the NIDCD adds. “A good rule of thumb is to avoid noises that are too loud, too close, or last too long.”

Led by Commissioner Richard L. Swearingen, FDLE employs about 1,900 members statewide and operates on a roughly $300 million budget 

FDLE is composed of five divisions: Executive Direction and Business Support, Criminal Investigations and Forensic Science, Criminal Justice Information, Criminal Justice Professionalism and the Florida Capitol Police. 

Both the House and Senate get millions in tax revenue to play with near the end of budget negotiations. That money is spread across different projects in what’s known in legislative parlance as the “sprinkle list.”

The House and Senate released their “sprinkle lists” Wednesday evening. Leaders agreed on $759 million for local projects.

The release of the list is a sign budget negotiations are wrapped and the Legislature will hit its new planned end date of Monday, March 14.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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