"We don't ask what material was used in a vest," McGonagle says. "Our goal is to work collaboratively with IACP so that more officers wear their vests. Promotion after lives have been saved by vests really helps. That's peer-to-peer communication — police officers talking to police officers about the importance of wearing their ballistic vest. Vest wear certainly helps. Technology also helps. Police officers will tell you that the more comfortable, lighter-weight vest they have, the more likely they are to wear it. It's a simple matter of comfort and the conditions they have to work in. It's a very active role being a police officer … and the less weight officers must carry and still have the protection, the more likely they are to wear their vest."
By 2015 DuPont aims to launch 1,000 new products, some of which will include Kevlar and protect the nation's protectors.
Rebecca Kanable is a freelance writer specializing in law enforcement topics. She lives in Wisconsin and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.New NIJ standard factors in temperature, humidity and wear and tear
The National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) new performance standard for body armor, NIJ standard-0101.06 (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/223054.htm), includes more rigorous testing and methods that expose the armor to temperature, humidity, and wear and tear — before performance testing. Performance standards ensure that commercially available body armor provides a minimum level of protection. NIJ has published standards for both ballistic and stab resistance of personal body armor for law enforcement and corrections officers.
"This important advancement in body armor standards is in direct response to changes in threats faced by law enforcement, advances in ballistic materials and technology, and the need to ensure that body armor performs well when subjected to environmental factors," Associate Attorney General Kevin O'Connor says. "Body armor standards are needed to ensure that law enforcement and corrections officers' equipment provides a high level of safety and protection.
The new standard is a major component in the Department's 2003 Body Armor Safety Initiative, established in response to concerns from the law enforcement community about the effectiveness of body armor then in use. As part of the initiative, NIJ developed the enhanced compliance testing program in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Office of Law Enforcement Standards.
With the release of this new standard, law enforcement officers do not need to immediately replace the body armor they currently own. NIJ encourages officers to continue to wear body armor listed on NIJ's comprehensive list of models compliant with the NIJ standard. The listing is located on NIJ's Justice Technology Center Network Web site, www.justnet.org/BatPro. NIJ recommends replacing armor when its useful service life has expired with armor that meets the requirements of the new standard.
More information on the new body armor standard and the U.S. Department of Justice's Body Armor Safety Initiative is available at www.ojp.gov/nij/topics/technology/body-armor/safety-initiative.htm.