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Coweta County Sheriff's body armor to be upgraded

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

COWETA COUNTY, Ga. - Adhering to the adage "Better safe than sorry," the Coweta County Sheriff''s Department will upgrade the body armor worn by deputies. Second Chance Body Armor, the maker of the vests worn by Coweta deputies, in September warned customers that two styles of its vests wear out faster than expected and that there is potential risk to officers.

The vests are made with a super-strength fiber called Zylon. Second Chance routinely tests vests worn in the field by law enforcement officers.

The company is providing free armor panels that are inserted easily into pouches on the front and back of the vests, said company spokesman Greg Smith.

About 80 of the 175 Coweta department''s employees wear body armor, said Sheriff Mike Yeager.

"If there is a possibility one out of 100 [vests] might fail, one of 1,000 might fail, we''re working with the company to upgrade," Yeager said.

Yeager said the department may test some of its own vests to ease concerns of officers.

"Age, exposure to heat, humidity, sunlight, wear, care . . . and other factors all can have an impact on the performance of any used armor," Second Chance President Paul Banducci said in a letter posted on the company''s Web site. "You just can''t tell without ballistic tests that destroy the armor."

The body armor worn by law enforcement officers is replaced typically every three to five years, and Coweta County is no different.

The department buys 12-24 vests a year, Yeager said.

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