"The economy has impacted expenditure on equipment and related items," he explains. "You don't see the number of new officers being hired and thus, you don't see the new equipment."
Wrage, who has worn three different ballistic vests in his 15-year career, says there may be some adjusting to some of the necessary evils of the tougher armor.
"If there is a downside to it, it's the carrier," Wrage explains. "It's got a waterproof membrane that encompasses it. It's not very pliable at times." However, he notes that in the past, other models needed some breaking in.
Ballistic vests that perform under the new 0101.06 NIJ standard are tested to be stronger, more resistant and hold up better against atmospheric conditions and wear.
Even on its worst performing day, the armor needs to stop a bullet meant for an officer. Trusting the armor's capability, it is hoped, can give an officer confidence and prevent a seed of doubt from distracting the sentries in our cities and on the streets.
But some armor makers say they'd rather officers not have the chance to see how far the standard has advanced armor.
"Hopefully, you never have to use this performance because when an officer actually sees this performance, a bullet is actually engaging with the armor," Milligan says.
"We hope that all of our officers on the street are safe all the time."
But should a threat present, officers shouldn't have to rely on a false sense of safety again.
Protecting the protectors
Companies with body armor products that are NIJ-tested and certified to the new 0101.06 Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor standard include:
- Blackhawk Armor
- GH Armor Systems
- Mine Safety Appliances (MSA)
- Pacific Safety Products
- Point Blank Body Armor
- Protective Products International (PPI)
- Survival Armor Inc.