The Chief
October 25, 2002

6,300 Cops Given Replacement Vests

PBA: Check’ em Out

By Mark Daly

The Police Department last week began issuing new bulletproof vests to 6,300 officers under a replacement agreement with the manufacturer after some samples in a previous vest order flunked shooting trials.

The NYPD also pledged to conduct “annual inspections” of all vests to ensure that wear-and-tear problems are detected early, according to a spokesman.

“Need Random Checks”

However, a spokesman for the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said, “it’s too early to tell” if the replacement deal will satisfy the union’s concerns.

“We believe there needs to be regular random sampling to check the capacity of the vests,” using shooting trials, said PBA spokesman AL O’Leary.

Point Blank Body Armor, a Florida subsidiary of Nassau County-based DHB Industries, agreed to give the department 1,000 vests for free and 5,300 at a reduced cost, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Oct. 9.

The new vests will be heavier and more bullet-resistant than the current vests, in use since 1999, which failed to stop bullets in some department tests.

“The question is, can you wear them in a patrol car? And can you move in them? Mr. O’Leary asked.

The PBA called in a state Labor Department investigator last year after officers complained of ill-fitting vests that, over time, “curled up” in a way that reduced their effectiveness. The investigator found some officers had cut off the tuck-in flaps at the bottom of the bests to make them easier to wear when sitting in a patrol car.

At about the same time, the NYPD was investigating a complaint from an officer that his relatively new vest kept wrinkling.

Some Vests Porous

In firing tests at the department’s shooting range and in follow-up tests by an independent laboratory, some of the vests failed to stop 9-mm and .45- and .38- caliber bullets. But the company disputed the results, saying the rigorous tests departed from Federal standards.

Police officials acknowledged some of the results were inconsistent, with some vests showing greater weaknesses than others from the same