WHDH news reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan reported tonight that over 185- and possibly as many as 300- ballistic vests worn by Mass State Troopers have outlived their 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.
According to a MSP administration statement, “[u]nfortunately, due to an administrative oversight, the vests in question that have reached the five-year mark were not replaced last year.”
The department will begin issuing short-term replacement vests this week and the purchase of new vests is already underway and should be completed later this year.
According to the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), there are a number of factors that can influence the service life of body armor. The NIJ has sponsored research that indicates that age is not the only factor in determining the service life of armor. Other factors to consider include: how regularly the armor was worn; how it was cared for; if the armor fits the wearer properly (most people lose or gain weight over a period of years); and the overall condition of the armor (do the fasteners still work properly and so on).
The NIJ encourages departments to have a routine inspection program for body armor, just as they would for weapons, vehicles, and other types of issued equipment.
According to a recent RAND corporation study, wearing body armor more than tripled the likelihood that an officer would survive a shooting to the torso and estimated that providing ballistic vests to all officers nationally would save at least eight lives annually. While most police departments already use body armor, many still do not.
The study estimates that it costs $112 per year to provide an officer with body armor. So outfitting the 236,000 police officers who do not have body armor would cost about $26 million annually, while the study estimates the economic value of the lives saved each year at $51 million.