Factors that Affect Officers' Use of Body Armor

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Agency Policies Promote Use of Body Armor

An NIJ-funded survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum in 2011 found that agency policy was the second most important factor cited by law enforcement officers for wearing body armor. Safety concerns was cited as the most important factor.[1]

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Comfort of Body Armor

Designing comfortable, well-fitting armor for female officers is particularly challenging. However, many manufacturers will custom fit armor to the body contours of individual officers. Additionally, NIJ provides funding to the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop standard definitions of body armor types and standardized testing methods for assessing the performance of contoured body armor designs for women.

Other actions that NIJ has taken to address issues that affect officers' use of body armor include:

  • Issuing guidance that advises agencies to consider comfort when selecting body armor and includes information on design elements that can affect comfort. NIJ's body armor guidance also provides information on proper fit and advises agencies to inspect armor for proper fit. In addition, the guidance advises agencies to select armor that provides full front, back and side protection and includes information about the balance between comfort and protection.
  • Funding research to better understand the impact of body armor on officers' core body temperature in real-world situations. This data set could aid in the development of cooler vests.
  • Working with ASTM International, a globally recognized leader in the development of voluntary consensus standards, on a guide for measurement and fitting of body armor. The standard can be purchased on the ASTM website.


[note 1] Grant, H., B. Kubu, B. Taylor, J. Roberts, M. Collins, D. J. Woods. Body Armor Use, Care, and Performance in Real World Conditions: Findings from a National Survey. November 2012, NCJ 240222.