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A changing tide in body armor

New NIJ Level IIA Systems are well-suited for full-time use by police departments

By Darrell Peetz
Point Blank Body Armor

Today's law enforcement agencies face a number of challenges. For one, the current economic downturn lending to budget constraints and limited resources (coupled with an ever-changing and increasingly complex environment where officers are facing more special threats) is enough to keep police chiefs awake at night.

The economy has significantly impacted expenditure on equipment and related accessories. Frankly, we don’t see the number of new officer hires as we used to and as a result, we don’t see the new equipment.

Despite the difficulties, agencies must continue to meet their obligations to protect and serve. In response, departments are taking both a cost-conscious and innovative approach to manage challenges – to better protect the protectors – which is driving the adoption of budget-friendly, advanced body armor solutions that provide officers with the highest performance and comfort benefits available.

The New NIJ Level IIA Solution: This isn't your daddy's package
Helping to usher in the changing tide are the 'latest and greatest' ballistic vests certified under the new NIJ 0101.06 Standard and are tested to be stronger and more resistant. With the new testing requirements, NIJ 0101.06 Level IIA ballistic systems, for example, are performing more like Level IIs under NIJ 0101.05. Not to mention, these lower cost systems are typically lighter in weight and therefore more comfortable than a Level II or IIIA package. Agencies facing budget cuts but still needing the best protection ought to look more closely at the IIA system.

I feel that if officers had a chance to see how the IIA ballistic system performs in the field, using ammunition at velocities they could expect to see on the streets, they would be impressed. I’ve found demonstrating products in the field, we are able to stop up to and including Level IIIA rounds at street velocities.

Now, more than ever, is the time to consider the Level IIA option
The Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) reports that following two years of declining law enforcement officer line-of-duty deaths, the country realized a dramatic 37 percent increase in officer deaths in 2010. Fifty-nine of the 160 officers killed in 2010 were shot during violent encounters; a 20 percent increase over 2009 numbers. Additional preliminary data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) show a total of 98 federal, state and local law enforcement officers died during the first half of 2011 (January 1, 2011 to June 30, 2011). This represents a 14 percent increase over the 86 officer fatalities during the same time in 2010. Firearms-related fatalities reached a 20-year high, increasing 33 percent from 30 to 40 officers shot and killed in 2011.

How soon will your agency adopt a Level IIA body armor solution?
The current climate warrants officers to seriously consider this package for its:

1.) High Performance – Recently, an officer in Georgia was shot with a .40 cal hollow point was saved by his Level IIA vest. Similarly, a female security officer in Texas survived after being shot with a 9mm from only 8 feet away.
2.) Light Weight – Some packages weigh as low as 0.57 psf
3.) Great Value / Lower Cost

About the Author
Darrell Peetz is a 40-year law enforcement veteran. Currently, Mr. Peetz serves as Point Blank Solutions’ Director of Technical Support where he is responsible for ballistic solutions training and oversees live fire demonstrations of Point Blank’s products to Law Enforcement, Federal Agencies and International customers. Mr. Peetz retired as a Lieutenant for the Columbus, Indiana Police Department after serving for 20 years with the agency. In addition, he has served as Section President for the National FBI Academy as well as President of the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police. For more than two decades Peetz has held various positions in the Military and Law Enforcement body armor market, including Director of R&D, Director of International Sales – where he has led brand and sales strategy development, and National Sales Manager – working with sales representatives and distributors to meet their sales goals. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

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