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Responder News: Understanding Body Armor Basics Could Save Your Life

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In an effort to keep current, the archive contains outdated information that may not reflect current policy or programs.

Responder News: Understanding Body Armor Basics Could Save Your Life

Release Date: 
August 14, 2015

Officers who become engaged in a deadly assault situation are more likely to survive if they are wearing body armor. Nearly 3,500 officers can attest to the life-saving qualities of their body armor. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 23 of the 44 officers killed by firearms in 2012 were not wearing body armor – underscoring its importance.

Fit is an important factor in the life-saving properties of body armor. A recent National Institute of Justice (NIJ) brochure offers several criteria for officers to consider when assessing the fit of their body armor.

Among the standards recommended in the brochure, well-fitting body armor should:

  • Not restrict breathing;
  • Not have gaps between the torso and the armor at the armhole; and
  • Allow the wearer to reach equipment located at the center back of the duty belt with minimal interference at the arms in the back.

The brochure also advises law enforcement officers to only wear body armor that meets the minimum performance standards set by the NIJ Standards and Testing Program.

Law enforcement officers can access the Ballistic-Resistance Body Armor Basics brochure and additional information on body armor models that have been tested and found to be in compliance with the latest NIJ body armor standard at

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