Bulletin Reports

Body Armor

The Body Armor National Survey: Protecting the Nation’s Law Enforcement Officers, Phase Two Final Report was produced by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The purpose of this study was to add to the understanding of body armor policies and practices among law enforcement agencies across the nation. This BJA survey was the second phase of a large-scale project regarding body armor and officer safety. Phase One focused on the use of Zylon-based body armor by the 100 largest law enforcement agencies in the United States. This second study, Phase Two, collected additional data on the use of body armor from a large, nationally representative sample of law enforcement agencies. Data were collected on policies regarding the wearing of body armor, whether officers were provided with armor or had to purchase it themselves, the types of body armor used, fitting and maintenance of armor, and data on outcomes of use and officer safety.

Highlights of the findings included—

  • almost all law enforcement agencies (99.4 percent) nationwide reported that their officers wear body armor when on duty;
  • while not a requirement of many law enforcement agencies (41 percent do not require their officers to wear body armor), almost all agencies do provide fiscal support/resources to ensure their officers wear body armor; and
  • there was an overall move by agencies toward promoting the wearing of body armor and providing the necessary resources to do so.

These findings of agencies’ policies indicate that officers were more likely to be wearing body armor while assaulted in the line of duty and the number of officer deaths was lower than it otherwise would be. On the other hand, while most agencies did encourage the wearing of body armor, most did not have stringent fit and maintenance policies and did not conduct inspections of armor to ensure proper fit and maintenance. The complete study (NCJ 229250) can be found at the National Criminal Justice Reference Service’s website, http://www.ncjrs.gov.