If you work in Law Enforcement, you know how important the right body armor is for your safety. Although most police departments issue standard protective armor to new officers, vests and other equipment have usually been worn by previous law enforcement agents and this can compromise their protective properties.
Equipping yourself with previously worn body armor means there is no way of knowing the state of its condition. This means you don't know if the previous owner has taken proper measures in storing and caring for their protective equipment. Body armor has a shelf life of about five years (with proper maintenance). It is imperative to know how it has been handled to determine if it can provide adequate protection against ballistics.
A common sign of wear and tear results in the damage of the armor panels. This is not always visible to the naked eye, but even minor scrapes and cuts can render a vest useless as it may no longer protect you.
If you are supplied with body armor we recommend that the armor panels are inspected and approved by an armor specialist. This will guarantee that the body armor would protect up to the specified NIJ levels at the time of issue. You can always purchase your own body armor yourself, putting you in charge of your own safety and allowing you to own a carrier that fits, looks, and functions the way you want it to.
It is important that you store and care for body armor properly. You may want to store your armor at your home rather than at your department so that you can clean your carrier when needed, and you have your body armor when you need it. You can also be sure it is cared for and handled how you would like it to be.
Police Body Armor Vests Worn Over Clothing
Police officers typically wear overt vests however your body armor must adhere to your department’s unique specifications and regulations.
Before buying body armor, you may want to take the time to talk to your superiors and find out what’s acceptable. Some stations only allow carriers to be a certain color, or to be made from certain materials - this may be to ensure uniformity among officers.
If you choose a covert vest, you should ensure the vest fits you properly. A vest that's too big could get in the way of your active daily duties. Similarly, a vest that's too small could cause movement restriction or excessive crushing or folding of the panels. Your vest should fit you perfectly. You can refer to our size guide for further information on how to select the best fit for your build, or contact our team for help choosing the correct size here.
Specialist teams, such as SWAT teams, often require bulkier and more enhanced protective vests. These vests are usually worn over standard uniforms and can feature additional protective panels that cover areas such as the neck, throat, upper arm, and groin areas. Although these are less comfortable to wear over extended periods, they provide the necessary protection level in ahigh-risk environments.
When selecting additional protective panels, including Ballistic SAPI plates and helmets, we recommend you take the time to practice moving around in full gear. This will help you maneuver during tactical operations, and ensure that you remain as safe as possible in your job.