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Protective Equipment for Civil Disturbance Units

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2017
2 pages

This paper outlines threats that may be faced by officers deployed in a civil disturbance unit (CDU), lists protective equipment needed, recommends British standards for CDU personal protective equipment (PPE), and reports on the status of U.S. efforts to develop such standards.


A CDU is composed of law enforcement officers who are trained to respond to protests, demonstrations, and civil disturbances for the purpose of preventing violence, destruction of property, and unlawful interference with persons exercising their rights under law. Typical threats faced by a CDU in performing these tasks are impact weapons, Molotov cocktails, thrown or sprayed chemicals, projectiles, and firearms. Typical gear for a CDU officer includes flame-retardant coveralls/uniforms, protective footwear, protective and flame-retardant gloves, protective helmets, personal defense shields, blunt-trauma limb protectors, and blunt-trauma torso protectors. There are no existing U.S. standards for such equipment. The U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is in the process of forming a Special Technical Committee to develop standards for CDU personal protective equipment. In the meantime, NIJ has identified either British Standard 7971, Protective Clothing and Equipment for Use in Violent Situations and in Training or standards developed by the U.K. Home Office (HOSDB Blunt Trauma Protector Standards for UK Police, PSDB Protective Headwear Standard for UK Police, and HOSDB Flame Retardant Overalls Standard for UK Police).

Date Published: October 1, 2017