Keeping Our Officers Safe

Keeping Our Officers Safe; What You Need to Know About Body Armor

By: Safeguard Armor


On the 8thof October in Sacramento a Police Officer was lured out of his vehicle and attacked by a man while another man filmed the attack. This is by no means an isolated incident, and sadly news reports constantly report attacks on our Police Officers. These brave men and women already know the importance of being protected while performing their duties and thankfully protective clothing is made available to most Officers. However, this is not the case everywhere, and very often the vests they are provided with are second-hand and have no guarantee of protection. Furthermore, many Officers refrain from wearing their vest for many reasons, usually comfort, and this can all too often end in disaster.

 Body armor is available in multiple different styles and levels of protection, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, the fact remains that a protective vest will increase the safety of the wearer, and should be considered a vital piece of equipment.

Many do not realize that ballistic protection is available in various levels of protection. Ballistic testing is standardized by the US National Institute of Justice, which is considered the world-leader in ballistic testing. The NIJ assigns levels to vests to outline what ammunition it is capable of stopping, with the lower levels capable of stopping low velocity handgun ammunition, where as the highest levels can stop even high-caliber ammunition and armor-piercing rounds.

 Ballistic protection is usually provided by Kevlar vests, which use flexible and lightweight fabric that are nonetheless very strong. This fabric can absorb and disperse large amounts of energy, which allows them to protect against bullets. This means that a bullet proof vest can provide a wide range of protection, and will help against any kinds of impact.DuPont, the makers of Kevlar,hold a ceremony every year to honor Police Officers whose lives have been saved by bullet proof vests. A vast number of these were involved in traffic accidents that would otherwise have been deadly.

Of course, a Kevlar vest cannot protect against edged and spiked weapons, and additional protection is needed against these weapons. While Kevlar is incredibly strong,the fabric will simply be cut by edged weapons like knives or axes. Similarly, spiked weapons like needles or screwdrivers pass through the fabric unhindered, rendering the vest little more than an expensive piece of clothing.

Similarly, Kevlar can only protect against bullets to a certain extent. Even though the highest level of Kevlar can stop even .44 Magnum rounds,it will not stop rounds from rifles and automatics.Protection against these weapons will not be necessary for the vast majority of Officers,and yet those serving in SWAT teams or Armed Response Units will need the protection. Therefore, rigid plates of Ceramic and/or Polyethylene will be needed.

All of the above protection is available in multiple styles, and while many Officers will understand what level of protection they need, many do not know what style of vest is most appropriate.Many Officers do not wear their vests because of the temperature increase they naturally cause. However, some covert Kevlar vests incorporate temperature-regulating technologies to help keep the wearer cool, making bullet, stab, or spike proof vests comfortable to wear even for extended periods.

On the other hand, many Officers will prefer an overt vest; wearing body armor over clothing will help reinforce an Officer’s authority. Moreover, these overt vests can be augmented with logos, insignia and even high-visibility covers, making it a useful part of a uniform. Additionally, many overt vests have the option to equip equipment like radios and handcuffs, making it a versatile protective option.

Body armor is available at different levels of protection and indifferent styles. From soft stab proof vests to complete, rigid tactical armors, there are myriad options available to suit the diverse needs of the Police Force. However, it is only by understanding exactly what a bullet proof vest can protect you against that an Officer can keep him or herself safe, and therefore confident in performing their duties.