Protecting your protective armor

Over the last 20 years, new materials and fabrics have contributed significantly to the wearability of body armor. Today’s vests boast increased ballistic protection, more flexibility, less weight and better comfort. Some in-vest materials even go so...

Foreman does not recommend spraying any chemical directly onto PBBA products, and says regularly scheduled washings of the carrier, which is the item that holds onto odor and other foul smells, will protect the armor.

Davis: There are many non-toxic deodorizing products commercially available that can be purchased in your local supermarkets. But always check the ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals, such as bleach.


What should officers be aware of when they go to inspect their armor for rips and tears? What are they looking for?

Davis: Check the seams of your panels. There should be no separation whatsoever; the pad covers should be air-tight, sealed and in-tact. If this is not the case then contact your manufacturer. NIJ-approved ballistics are covered under a five-year warranty — this includes the seam-sealed pad cover.

Foreman: Another thing to look for when inspecting are any creases or folds that could be forming over time that could weaken the ballistic panel if a permanent crease or fold forms. Part of that process is to ensure that an officer is properly fit, that when they are in a standing position or seated position in the patrol car, the vest continues to fit properly and there are no folds or creases or curling. Unnecessary folds and creases are created by an improper-fitting vest.


How often should an officer perform regular cleanings and inspections?

Foreman: It’s good hygiene practice; it’s basically recommended that the carrier be washed weekly as you would any item, and it can be washed more than once per week, but most officers either work on a four-day work schedule or work two to three days at a time, so on their days off they can launder it, but at a minimum we recommend once a week.


Say an officer’s body size or job duty has changed. What should he or she do to ensure a proper fit?

Foreman: The number one problem officers face regarding body armor is change in the body shape or size over time. Make sure the vest fits properly and is still comfortable to wear. If there’s a radical change in the body shape or size they’re encouraged to be resized and consider an updated or newer vest so they have proper coverage. The number one thing about body armor is it’s for the officer’s safety, it’s to save lives, and one way of doing that is to ensure it fits properly and covers the body appropriately.

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