FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: TIM RICHARDSON
17 NOVEMBER 2003 (202) 547-8189
F.O.P. Calls on U.S Attorney General to Investigate Body Armor Material
Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, today called on U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to initiate an investigation into possible deficiencies with a material used to produce soft body armor for law enforcement officers.
Canterbury, who met with officials at the Justice Department earlier in the month to discuss this and other issues, said, “The F.O.P. has learned that Toyobo Co, LTD of Japan, the company that produces Zylon, has acknowledged that their product may experience a twenty percent (20%) loss of strength over a two (2) year period--well before the five (5) year warranty on the body armor itself. Many manufacturers of soft body armor use Zylon in their vests, making our concerns about such vests ao life-and-death issue for every law enforcement officer in the nation.”
Canterbury met at length on this issue with Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum, Jr., who thanked the F.O.P.’s National President in a letter, writing, “Your information and insight on the bulletproof vest issue and the Public Safety Officer Benefit Program is extremely helpful. It is vitally important to have your input on these and many other issues so that we can work together in serving our state and local law enforcement.”
Canterbury requested the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) test all new and in use brands of vests that contain Zylon, saying, “If this testing proves that Zylon degrades to a point of lessening the effectiveness of soft body armor, we would respectfully request that NIJ withdraw their certification of such vests and move to have the manufacturers replace them. Further, we believe very strongly that NIJ must change the way they certify soft body armor and should develop standards that include the testing of vests from manufacture through the termination of the warranty period.”
In reaction to reports that some police executives were warning their officers about wearing soft body armor with Zylon as a component, Canterbury asked that the Attorney General join the F.O.P. in urging that all law enforcement officers wear their soft body armor at all times.
In addition to requesting a formal inquiry into this issue, the Fraternal Order of Police called on all manufacturers of soft body armor to provide the Justice Department with their internal testing materials and cooperate fully. He noted that Second Chance Body Armor has already instituted a recall on this product and has offered several options for law enforcement officers to exchange vests which are made with Zylon.
Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), the original authors of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program, which provides a Federal matching grant to law enforcement agencies purchasing soft body armor, wrote to the Attorney General to express their similar concerns earlier this month.
The Fraternal Order of Police is the largest law enforcement labor organization in the United States, with more than 310,000 members.
Chris L. Granberg
Senior Legislative Liaison
Fraternal Order of Police
National Legislative Office
309 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
(O) (202) 547 - 8189
(F) (202) 547 - 8190
Ban guns so officers wont have to wear bodyarmor!
Yeah that will do it!