Can you afford technology that saves lives?

Last week I attended the International Chiefs of Police Conference (IACP) in Philadelphia. It was encouraging to see some truly cutting-edge exhibits and displays, brought to law enforcement agencies from all over the world by companies who make products because they truly care about the end user. In fact, a lot of these new products coming out, from analytics software to flashlights to ammunition, are from folks who currently are or used to be sheriff’s deputies or police officers themselves. Shows like IACP also give us a chance to see what’s coming down the line to public safety directly from the military men and women overseas. These people are passionate about what they do and they truly want to bring the very best products to market. It’s not all about turning a profit to these folks; you can’t say that for many industries.

I had a lot of good conversations there. At one point I was chatting with a body armor manufacturer. This gentleman had mentioned to me that despite all the recent changing technology and adaptations to vests and ballistic panels, it was his understanding that a lot of agencies and personnel are still slow to regularly change-out vests or wear something above a Level II. This thought gave me a moment’s pause. After all, I had just been a couple aisles down where I saw the fragmenting ammo, not to mention some serious automatic weaponry. Unfortunately this stuff isn’t sole propriety of “the good guys.” A good offense goes hand-in-hand with a good defense, and as he pointed out it only takes one bullet, one time.

There are more options available now than ever in lightweight, comfortable body armor for men and women, some that protect against the most aggressive threats and weigh significantly less that earlier versions.

How about your agency? Where does body armor rank in your list of “vital duty gear”? Is it a struggle to stay up-to-date, or get everyone one the same page?

As the adage goes, “Safety first.”