NIJ's Role in the Body Armor Safety Initiative

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In November 2003, the U.S. Department of Justice announced its Body Armor Safety Initiative in response to concerns from the law enforcement community about the effectiveness of body armor then in use. These concerns followed the failure of a relatively new Zylon®-based [1] body armor vest worn by a Forest Hills, Pennsylvania, police officer.

The officer survived the shooting, but sustained severe injuries. The Forest Hills shooting was the first case ever reported to NIJ in which body armor compliant with the NIJ standard failed to prevent penetration from a bullet it was designed to defeat.

As part of this Initiative, NIJ examined both new and used Zylon®-based bullet-resistant armor, analyzed upgrade kits provided by manufacturers that retrofit Zylon®-based bullet-resistant armors, and reviewed the existing program that tests bullet-resistant armor to determine whether the process needed modification. Results of this research are reported in the Third Status Report to the Attorney General on Body Armor Safety Initiative Testing and Activities (pdf, 47 pages).

Learn more about the Body Armor Safety Initiative:


[1] Zylon® (poly-p-phenylene benzobisoxazole or PBO fiber) is a high-strength organic fiber produced by Toyobo Co., Ltd. Zylon® is a registered trademark of Toyobo Co., Ltd.

Date Modified: July 10, 2013