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Supplement I: Status Report to the Attorney General on Body Armor Safety Initiative Testing and Activities

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2004
15 pages
This is the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) interim report to the U.S. Attorney General on the Body Armor Safety Initiative, which was launched on November 17, 2003.
The report first reviews the testing of the specific body armor worn by a police officer in Forest Hills, PA, in the summer of 2003, when a bullet penetrated the front panel of his Second Chance Ultima armor, which is composed of multiple layers of fabric woven from Zylon yarn. This incident was the first case reported to NIJ in which NIJ-compliant body armor apparently failed to prevent penetration from a bullet it was designed to defeat. As of the writing of this report, the definitive cause of the bullet's penetration has not been determined. After reviewing the testing on the Forest Hills body armor, this report describes the testing of upgrade kits offered by Second Chance for certain models of Zylon-based body armor. Second Chance provided approximately 50 armors and matching upgrade kits for each of the 3 primary soft armor protection levels. Research thus far indicates that ballistic-resistant materials, including Zylon, can degrade, which may reduce the ballistic-resistance safety margin that armor manufacturers build into their armor designs; however, determining the performance level of used armor is a difficult and complex task. Still, research to date indicates there are analytical tools and techniques that can measure degradation in ballistic-resistant fiber. Testing has shown that upgrade kits do not bring used Second Chance armor up to the performance level of new Second Chance armor. The report cautions that even though armor degradation may occur over time, any officer not wearing armor is 14 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury than an officer wearing armor. Appended chart showing the results of upgrade-kit testing

Date Published: December 1, 2004