Hard Body Armor for Patrol

Active Shooter/Killer incidents seem to be increasing. Research indicates the need for increasing your armor capability.

In the March 2013 report United States Active Shooter Events from 2000 to 2010: Training and Equipment Implications, written by J. Pete Blair and M. Hunter Martaindale of the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) of Texas State Univesity, several different suggestions are submitted.

Research findings from that study:

  • 84 Active Shooter Events (ASEs) occurred between 2000 and 1010
  • The frequency of ASEs appears to be increasing
  • Business locations were the most frequently attacked (37%), followed by schools (34%), and public (outdoor) venues
  • The median number of people killed during ASEs is 2.  The median number of people shot is 4
  • The most commonly used weapon was a pistol (60%), followed by rifles (27%), and shotguns (10%)
  • Attackers carried multiple weapons in 41% of the attacks
  • Body armor was worn in 4% of cases
  • Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were brought to the scene in 2% of cases
  • Some shooters attempted to deny police access to the attack site through the use of barricades
  • The attacks ended before the police arrived 49% of the time.  In 56% of the attacks that were still ongoing when the police arrived, the police had to use force to stop the killing
  • EMS entry to the attack site is often delayed because the police must conduct a thorough search of the scene in order to declare it secure


Some Training Implications (partial list):

  • Expect a fight – Training must not assume that the attacker will be dead or give-up without resistance
  • Medical – Officers should be provided with training that will allow them to stabilize victims long enough for either EMD to enter the scene or for officers to transport victims to the EMS casualty collection point


Equipment recommendations:

  • Medical – Officers should be issued the equipment they need to provide immediate lifesaving aid
  • Harm Body Armor – Officers should be issued plate carriers to increase their survivability
  • Patrol Rifles – Officers should be equipped with rifles to allow them to more effectively resolve ASEs


Nothing Earth shaking here that we note.  Most law enforcement survival authorities and trainers, including yours truly, have recommended an aggressive response to an active killer.  Frequently police officers actively hunting for the perpetrator will drive him to commit suicide (thus solving the problem) if the LE officers don’t neutralize the threat on their own.  In pursuit of this aggressive response, well-trained carbine equipped officers can be more accurate and effective on target with 5.56 carbines.  Recommendations for carrying a CAT – Combat Applications Tourniquet, Israeli battlefield dressing or a hemostatic bandage such as Quick Clot® as well as increased training in combat first-aid have proven lifesavers for military personnel and have filtered over into civilian police work.

But hard body armor or plates capable of stopping rifle fire from active killers?  Actually the notion makes perfect sense.

Threat Levels of Armor

Most police body armor whether concealed beneath the duty shirt or outside the shirt in one of the popular external carriers is Level IIA.  According to the National Institute of Justice, Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor; NIJ Standard-0101.06, published in July of 2008, Level IIA is designed to stop 9mm and .40 S&W handgun rounds.

Level II is a heavier vest and is rated to stop higher velocity 9mm rounds and .357 Magnum handgun bullets.

Type IIIA armor is rated for the even faster .357 SIG and .44 Magnum rounds.  Because of the weight and thickness of Type IIIA it is usually worn as an external vest by SWAT or tactical teams.

Type III is rated for rifles and can be a conjunction design to be worn in addition to soft body or a plate or armor that can withstand 7.62 X 52mm (.308 Winchester).

Type IV armor has been certified by the NIJ to withstand .30 caliber, armor piercing rounds.  This can be a stand-alone plate or a conjunction design.

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