New Body Armor Performance Standard Enhances Safety

The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs announced a new performance standard for body armor July 21 at the National Institute of Justice's (NIJ) annual conference in Arlington, Va. The new standard includes more rigorous testing and methods that expose body armor to temperature, humidity and wear and tear prior to performance testing.

Performance standards ensure that commercially available body armor, such as bullet-resistant vests, provide a minimum level of protection. NIJ has published standards for both ballistic and stab resistance of personal body armor for law enforcement and corrections officers.

"This important advancement in body armor standards is in direct response to changes in threats faced by law enforcement, advances in ballistic materials and technology and the need to ensure that body armor performs well when subjected to environmental factors," said Associate Attorney General Kevin O'Connor. "Body armor standards are needed to ensure that law enforcement and corrections officers' equipment provides a high level of safety and protection.”

The new standard is a major component in the Department's 2003 Body Armor Safety Initiative, established in response to concerns from the law enforcement community about the effectiveness of body armor then in use. As part of the initiative, NIJ developed the enhanced compliance testing program in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Office of Law Enforcement Standards.

With the release of this new standard, law enforcement officers do not need to immediately replace the body armor they currently own. NIJ recommends replacing armor when its useful service life has expired with armor that meets the requirements of the new standard and encourages officers to continue to wear body armor listed on NIJ's comprehensive list of models compliant with the NIJ standard. This list is located on NIJ's Justice Technology Center Network Web site at http://www.justnet.org/BatPro.

More information on the new body armor standard and the Body Armor Safety Initiative is available at http://www.ojp.gov/nij/topics/technology/body-armor/safety-initiative.htm.

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