Rescue 4: Officers Bulletproof Vests Found To Be Unsafe
Department Promises To Replace Expired Vests
POSTED: 12:41 p.m. EDT September 21, 2005
UPDATED: 1:43 p.m. EDT September 21, 2005
Story by Click On Detroit
-- Police on the street are required to wear bulletproof vests, but Rescue 4 learned the Detroit Police Department has more than 100 officers wearing jackets that might not protect them.
A Detroit police officer and father of four -- with a fifth child on the way -- asked Rescue 4 to conceal his identity as he spoke about his concerns.
"My wife gives me grief every day," the officer said. "I go on the street that she fears for my safety, that I might not make it home."
The officer is blowing the whistle on officials at the Detroit Police Department because his life and the lives of up to 200 officers depend on it, Rescue 4 reported.
"I fear going on the street every day and my vest might fail, and the bullet would penetrate my body," he said.
Hidden behind the uniform of every officer on the street is a bulletproof vest, which can make the difference between life and death.
But bulletproof vests don't last forever, Rescue 4 reported. Officers' sweat and constant movement causes wear and tear, and the protective pads deteriorate and fall out of place. The vest will also stretch, possibly leaving gaps where a bullet could get through.
Police vests are tested on gun ranges, and no officer should be on the front lines in a vest more than five years old, Rescue 4 reported. Dates are stamped on every vest, and Rescue 4 found that the vests of Detroit's officers are outdated or expired in every district.
In many cases, the vests are two to four years outdated, Rescue 4 reported. The officer that spoke with Rescue 4 wears a vest that's seven years old, or about two years past the expiration date.
"I went in on Jan. 10 to order my vest and they said, 'We'll call you when it comes in,'" the officer said.
The officer said he still hasn't received the vest that he ordered.
A police union spokesperson said that he was told that orders on vests were stopped when rumors of massive layoffs in the department began to spread.
The layoffs were far fewer than the 600 projected, but officials deny the vest issue has anything to do with police layoffs.
Authorities said the city switched vendors, and orders have been bogged down in red tape.
"One company went bankrupt and we had to go through the entire bidding process again," said James Tate, of the Detroit Police Department.
Rescue 4 obtained a copy of a complaint filed by an officer with the state of Michigan, which claims the department has put officers in an unsafe work environment.
The vests cost $600 each. Union officials said they hope the city thinks an officer's life is worth more than that, Rescue 4 reported.
Union representatives are telling officers with expired vests to request desk duty until they are provided the most basic protection, Rescue 4 reported.
When approaching authorities about the expired vests, Rescue 4 was told that steps were already being taken to keep officers safe.
The department said that anyone with an expired vest can come in and get fitted immediately. They have promised a new bulletproof vest within 30 days.
FWIW we get new vests every 3 years in my agency.
LEO's need to be protected.
BTW-AR15fan you do GREAT cop stories!
quick, put some on quam
If I was worried about a 2 or 3 year old expired vest I think I would have bought one myself and then sell it when the deptment vest came through.
Aramid (Kevlar, Twaron, etc) body armor will last indefinately if properly cared for...that means no excessive UV exposure, or bunched up panels. 20 year old vests have been found to have the same level of protection as the day they were made. The 5 year number is for insurance reasons and takes into account heavy/abusive use.
This DOES NOT apply to vest containing ANY Zylon. All vests containing Zylon have been decertified by the NIJ
What do you do with the old vests?
Those vest were made by 2nd chance body armor, dunno if that makes a difference or not.