Your Ballistic Vest: Wear It!

Recent incidents of unprecedented violence have, despite their tragic consequences, benefited law enforcement by reinforcing the fact that every officer in every jurisdiction faces the possibility of serious injury or death every shift. Although administrators and politicians hope that these events will help lessen the public outcry surrounding officers’ use of force. Trainers’ and front line supervisors’ expectations are a bit closer to home, hoping that this surge in attacks causes every officer to make personal safety a daily priority.

In the months to come, departments and individual officers will be bombarded with offers for out of service training designed to counter ambush attacks, increase firearms proficiency and equip officers with the latest and greatest in gear. However, the single most important piece of gear is already available to every officer and requires little training to be used effectively. It is your ballistic vest.

VestFor most officers, every day starts with strapping on their vest. Whether in uniform or plain clothes, wearing a ballistic vest is considered as much a part of their daily equipment as their firearm. However, there remain a number of officers who, for a variety of reasons, do not wear their vest on a regular basis. Some claim the vest is too hot, others too bulky and some simple believe “it will never happen to me.”

Sure, vests can be uncomfortable when the temperatures climb. But it has been my experience that if worn every day, every shift, you will become accustomed to the extra layer and, although you will never find it cool on a 100 degree day, you will find it tolerable. Same goes for the extra bulk. Today’s vests are not quite like a second skin, but they are leaps and bounds above what was available only a decade ago. Further development of materials and manufacturing methods are sure to lead to smaller yet better models in the days to come.

As far as whether “it” will happen to you, what exactly do you consider “it” to be?

Do not expect to get shot on duty? Neither did the any of the 50 officers killed by firearms in 2014.

How about automobile accidents, or blunt force trauma? It’s true that ballistic vest were primarily designed to protect officers from gunfire, however, there is unarguable evidence that each and every year an unknown number of officers are saved from more serious injury, or death, from blunt force trauma because they were wearing their vest.

While we could spend hours debating the merits of the various excuses not to wear a vest, one fact that is without question is that vests only work when they are worn. Another unavoidable fact is that no matter where you work, the beat you work, or the uniform you wear, the world is a dangerous place – it is more dangerous if you do not take the steps necessary to protect yourself.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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