Covert vests are available with all the levels of
protection offered in overt armor, including NIJ Level
III and IV armor. These are the highest levels of
protection available, and are not available in ‘soft
armor’, which only uses Kevlar or similar materials.
These high levels can only be achieved by using rigid
plates of Ceramics and/or Polyethylene, which are
usually worn in conjunction with ‘soft armor’. For
SWAT teams, these are essential. A tactical vest
with rigid plates is vital equipment for SWAT teams,
as they are required to work in the most extreme
situations. The rigid plates provide protection
against the strongest calibers of firearm, including
armor-piercing ammunition, and can even protect
against explosives and fragmentation. However,
tactical armor has the added benefit of protection
for the throat, neck, groin, and upper arm, meaning
any Officer wearing this vest will be fully protected.
|What Armor Should Each Branch of
Law Enforcement be Wearing?
By Joshua Nash for SafeGuard Armor
Most Officers will understand the importance of a
bullet proof vest. In any altercation a vest can mean
the difference between life and death, as it absorbs
the impact of attacks. Even without a weapon, an
attacker can be fended off by an Officer wearing a
vest. Similarly, many Law Enforcement Officers
(LEOs) find themselves surviving otherwise fatal
traffic accidents thanks to a bullet proof vest.
However, not many realize that there are a number
of different options available, and that each branch
or department of Law Enforcement can benefit from
each. Understanding the specifics of the vests you
should be wearing allows you to go into any
situation fully confident in your own protection.
Uniformed Officers will benefit from a wide range of
bullet proof vests, as they are required to deal with
a wide range of threats. However, there will be
different situations for Uniformed Officers that will
require specific protection. For example, most
Uniformed LEOs will want to wear an overt vest,
particularly one that is equipped with pouches and
clips to hold their equipment. Similarly, by wearing a
vest that has their logos and insignia on they can
display their authority to the public. Another
important feature for this overt vest is a front zip
or quick release system, as this allows the Officer to
quickly equip a vest and react to specific situations.
However, these vests should also have stab and
spike protection. While ballistic protection is a
necessity for all LEOs, Uniformed Police should also
have stab and spike protection. This is achieved
using additional materials like chain mail or plastic
laminate, and is needed to help them deal with the
threat of weapons like knives and
Those working in Traffic, or simply those working
around vehicles, may require an overt vest made of
different materials. The need to stay protected will
necessitate a bullet proof vest, which as mentioned
above, can protect against traffic collisions.
However, it will also need to be overt to display the
Officer’s authority. However, in a traffic environment
this has to be displayed as clearly as possible, and
so a high-visibility vest will be required. These vests
are made from durable, weatherproof, and high-
visibility materials which allow an Officer to be seen
clearly and to deal with the elements. This can be
augmented with logos and insignia also, making
their authority clear to all.
Just like Uniformed Officers, LEOs working
undercover will require protection against ballistics,
stab, and spiked weapons in order to perform in the
face of likely threats. However, this protection of
course cannot be worn in the same overt style, and
so instead these Officers will require covert armor.
Covert body armor is available in the same levels of
protection as overt armor, as the materials required
are lightweight, thin and flexible. Covert vests often
have the added benefit of sitting closer to the body,
thereby allowing a greater freedom of movement
without sacrificing protection. Of course, the main
advantage is the discretion that these thin vests
provide, and to Undercover Officers or perhaps
LEOs working in sensitive environments, this is
invaluable. Moreover, some covert vests are
designed using breathable materials that actually
improve the temperature-regulation of the wearer.
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