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Safe Communities

Column: Partners in Safety
Body armor vests
Date Published
May 20, 2024

Protecting our protectors: The importance of body armor

A bullet can strike a police officer in a blink, so their body armor must be proven to work. Feeling more under fire than ever, the law enforcement community is raising the standards for ballistic-resistant police body armor to stop more rifle bullets, like those often used by active shooters, in an effort led by OJP’s National Institute of Justice.

NIJ has published performance standards for ballistic-resistant police body armor for over 50 years. Many law enforcement agencies look for the NIJ seal on body armor to ensure it meets the standard set by the U.S. Department of Justice's research, development, and evaluation arm.

The lowest bidder may not ensure officer safety when tight budgets and threats are rising. The new standards certify increased protection against rifle fire. The standards also provide improved test methods and instructions for labs that work to provide body armor for female officers. 

The impact of these protections is not new. Studies have shown since the 1970s that female officers make a positive difference in communities.

And countless officers are alive today thanks to their body armor.

Body armor that meets the current NIJ standard is still considered safe and should always be worn on duty. While the new standard provides a higher level of safety for rifle fire, the threat from handguns remains the most common risk that officers face today. 

Learn more sbout body armor


Date Published: May 20, 2024

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