Bill would require federal law enforcement agencies to update their bulletproof vests after FBI reports of deficiencies for female officers

Joanna Putman
Police 1

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan effort is underway to pass legislation aimed at providing improved bulletproof vests to federal law enforcement agencies after an FBI report revealed problems with the performance of bulletproof vests worn by female officers, Sen. Jacky Rosen’s office announced. This was announced in a news release.

According to the announcement, the “Improved Ballistic Body Armor Act,” which passed the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, seeks to address serious design flaws in current body armor that put female police officers, and some male officers, at risk of deadly ricochets.

“Federal law enforcement officers in Nevada and across the nation put their lives on the line to protect our communities, and we have a duty to keep them safe,” Rosen said.

The impetus for the law came after an FBI study found that traditional bulletproof vests, designed primarily for men, could deflect bullets off a woman’s chest and strike her in the throat. Washington Times report.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), would require all Department of Homeland Security agencies to provide police officers with next-generation bulletproof vests that are specifically designed for women, according to the report. The bill passed unanimously out of committee on May 15, coinciding with National Police Week.

“Our brave Homeland Security law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and they deserve the best equipment possible to protect themselves while on the job,” Peters said.

The issue of bulletproof vest inadequacies came to light when the U.S. Capitol Police, alerted by the FBI, discovered similar vulnerabilities in their equipment, according to the report. Testing showed that a bullet striking the upper chest area of ​​a women’s bulletproof vest could be deflected into the neck area due to the vest’s non-planar design.

In 2020, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Division reported that focus groups of female officers concluded that existing designs were inadequate because they didn’t conform well to their body types, according to the report. In response to this feedback, the National Institute of Justice updated its standards and testing methods for women’s body armor.

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