The most recent ambush and pre-planned attacks on law enforcement officers across the United States have demonstrated the lack of adequate body armor worn or available to uniformed patrol officers. Pre-planned attacks carried out by protesters armed with long guns pose a challenge to the concealable armored vests that police officers are currently equipped with. Being outgunned and out protected by the suspects they face is becoming a serious problem.
The increase in police shooting incidents has led to police departments increasing budgets and upgrading the body armor issued from NIJ Level IIA to IIIA. as the latter provides the highest blunt trauma protection rating in soft body armor and is the best solution for high-risk situations involving uncommon or unusual threats.
Police departments have also been purchasing Kevlar helmets for their officers and some regional government bodies are considering the addition of ceramic plates that would be inserted into the existing fabric armor and stop handgun bullets. Law enforcement officers will be required to wear the fabric armor regularly and fit the ceramic plates in high-risk situations such as riots.
Several mayors have filed legislation to withdraw money from their reserve funds to acquire ballistic plates, vests, helmets, and non-ballistic face shields to protect officers.
While it is up to local police departments or agencies to dictate what threat level officers need to be protected against on duty, it is becoming a topic of national debate whether to provide more riot control equipment to protect police officers even further.
Law enforcement agencies around the world remain the biggest market for riot control equipment. By the end of 2020, the market is expected to generate revenues of over USD 3.5 billion. American law enforcement has started procuring riot control equipment of higher protection levels including special vehicles equipped with water cannons for use in areas of conflict. Demand for such equipment is expected to rise over the next few years after recent violent demonstrations.