Op-Ed by Dan Steubs: Body Armor is a Police Officer’s Best Friend
Police Departments Should Look at the Value of Body Armor before Making Budget Decisions
By Daniel Stuebs
In our times of increasing societal turmoil and political divisions our police officers are facing violent offenders and the threat of harm against them. For this reason, increasing research on body armor is important to protecting our men and women in law enforcement. Solutions are being investigated to find ways to get officers to wear the armor, while also making it cost effective for police departments of any size.
Body armor can be expensive. Smaller police departments may see body armor become a significant portion of their budget while larger departments face the financial strain of replacing armor on a frequent basis if its damaged. With police departments of all sizes facing budget crunches, the issue of body armor should not be a manner of luxury but one of necessity. Body armor can be a police officer’s best friend and can mean the difference between life and death.
Some rural municipalities can pose more danger than the inner cities for officers, not due to the amount of crime, but more due to the distance between hospitals and back up. If an officer is called to a dispute in rural America and gets shot, lifesaving minutes could be wasted waiting on the arrival of a medical team to the officer. Response times in rural localities can be much longer than larger cities or higher income suburbs.
Police officers in larger cities across the nation are being undermanned especially in higher crime neighborhoods. This poses an increased safety risk for officers if they are responding to calls relating to gun crimes or other violent offenses. The lack of officers on the ground to respond to emergencies in the inner cities makes body armor necessary. Both scenarios previously mentioned in both urban and rural settings raise the importance to why high quality body armor is necessary.
Increasing the durability and life expectancy of armor is essential in order to provide body armor for rural officers. Most officers believe that body armor does not last indefinitely and must be maintained. The industry standard for body armor is $112 a year per officer; therefore, it has to be replaced constantly, which can put a strain on any police department’s budget. Each police department hires at least 2.1 full-time police officers per 1,000 residents according to the U.S. Department of Justice. This means Increasing the life expectancy and durability of body armor will make it more cost effective for any police department to buy the best body armor possible.
Police in both urban and rural cities pose the danger of facing subjects with higher caliber firearms. The higher caliber weapons can penetrate body armor made of lesser quality. Any body armor that is properly maintained should last up to five years. The police industry should be working with manufacturers of body armor to ensure that body armor can withstand any threat including bullets from higher caliber weapons.
Police officers all across America are putting their lives on the line to protect the communities they serve – the least we can do is work to increase funding to purchase high-quality armor and funding for research on body armor.
Daniel Stuebs is the Executive Director of the American Police Officers Alliance. The American Police Officers Alliance is a grassroots political organization that advocates for the interests of America’s police officers.