Law Enforcement Technology

JUN 2016

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Page 6 of 55 JUNE 2016 LAW ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY 7 T here are some growing trends in armor plates that unfortunately expose issues we have in society itself. The growing daily threat to law enforcement has increased and changed how we look at personal ballistic protection. This culture change has driven sev- eral trends: • Manufacturers have risen to the task with lighter, more efficient equipment. • Officers are more likely to have rifle plates in their car than any other moment in history. • Manufacturers have begun to pro- duce "in conjunction with" (ICW) armor in order to save bulk and weight. • Independent testing, rather than submitting products for NIJ certifica- tion, has become more common. Ballistic plates worn over soft armor have been made of several different materials, but the most common is ceramic. Plates made of metals like steel are the heaviest, and polyethylene plates are the lightest. When it comes to selecting, I recommend that agencies do something similar when looking at soft armor: Wear plates that, at the very least, are capable of defeating the firearm/car- tridge combination that the agency uses. There are advantages and disad- vantages to each material. Consider carefully what your agency does, your replacement policy, and your working environment. Steel is heav y (8 to 10 pounds), but it is probably the least expensive. Steel users know that the plates often deflect more than they absorb impact, opening the door to E Q U IP P IN G T H E O F F I C E R Armor plates shed the weight The changing landscape of officer safety is influencing the use of strong, lightweight material for all-day wear protection By Lindsey Bertomen

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