New York Daily News

September 17, 2002

NYPD wants credit on defective vests

By ALICE McQUILLAN
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU

The Police Department wants the maker of its bulletproof vests to give it credit for 1,000 vests that are considered defective.

"We believe talks will lead to a joint satisfactory negotiation," an NYPD official said yesterday.

Point Blank Body Armor Co., a subsidiary of Long Island-based DHB Industries Inc., makes the vests, which cost $400 each.

Several vests for male officers, made in 1999, failed to stop high-speed bullets during recent testing at the police range, a police official said.

Tests were conducted after a police officer complained this spring that his vest kept wrinkling. That vest and others with the same lot number failed to stop 9-mm. and .45- and .38-caliber bullets in testing, which was confirmed by an independent lab in Maryland, police said.

More vests contested

Preliminary testing found the same problem with other samples, which if confirmed by the independent lab could increase the number of vests considered flawed to more than 4,000, officials said yesterday.

The NYPD ordered all 1,000 officers who had the disputed vests to borrow replacements from the Police Academy or other cops.

Point Blank said yesterday it disagreed with some of the testing methods the NYPD used, saying they weren't in line with national standards. Company spokesman Robert Leonard said the NYPD fired on about 20 vests and found problems with three or four. However, he said, the firm wants to negotiate a resolution.

"Point Blank takes police officers' safety very seriously," Leonard said. "While we do not agree with some of the testing methods that were used on these vests, we are working very closely with the NYPD to resolve any questions or concerns officers may have about a certain lot of vests."

PBA wants quick fix

The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, the union representing the city's 22,000 police officers, pressed for a quick resolution of the problem.

"This is a critical piece of equipment for our cops, we want them to get through their tours and get home safely to their families," said PBA spokesman Al O'Leary. "If the vests don't stop bullets, what's the point?"

In February, the PBA complained to state labor and health officials about problems with how some vests fit.