The FBI and Capitol Police have found a potentially deadly flaw in the body armor they use when worn by female officers.
Testing found that when a projectile hit the body armor at an extreme angle it bounces off the armor and goes into the neck region.
The advisory says “because of the angle at which female body armor lays when worn, projectiles may skip off the top center of the female armor and travel to the area of the jugular notch.”
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The U.S. Capitol Police alerted its rank-and-file this month that FBI lab testing of long-approved body armor has uncovered a previously unknown flaw that can subject female officers to deadly ricochets from bullets.
The advisory, obtained by Just the News, revealed that the FBI first detected the problem, known as the “skip effect,” when it “departed from legacy testing protocols in a desire to test body armor in an ‘as worn’ condition, and to account for various body shapes and sizes.”
“The testing revealed that when a projectile strikes the female body armor at an extreme angle on the upper chest area, the projectile does not penetrate the body armor, but rather, skips or deflects off the surface of the armor into the neck region,” the advisory explained. “Because of the angle at which female body armor lays when worn, projectiles may skip off the top center of the female armor and travel to the area of the jugular notch” in the neck where the jugular vein passes.
The advisory said the current body armor that had been utilized by the FBI, Capitol Police and other law enforcement had been certified by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) for years, but the FBI decided to create new testing to take into effect among other things the curvature of women’s bodies on potential ricochet.
The FBI Ballistic Research Facility confirmed the issue with the body armor.
They are now working on a fix for the issue.
In 2019, The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology began looking at female officers’ concerns with body armor.
To start, NUSTL’s System Assessment and Validation for Emergency Responders (SAVER) program convened a focus group of female first responders from several states to obtain their expert recommendations for evaluation criteria, product selection, and operational scenarios. Because the responders use ballistic-resistant body armor in daily operations, their input is critical to ensure that the right models are tested, and that they are assessed in true-to-life environments. All of their initial input is available now in NUSTL’s recently-published focus group report, which will serve as the basis for evaluating several PPE models during an upcoming assessment.
“I was very impressed by how women in law enforcement are able to handle many of the difficulties caused by wearing body armor that is mainly designed for men,” said NUSTL chemist Karin Decker. “They are often uncomfortable and not fully protected while on the job. Many of the women purchase their own better-fitting and more functional armor, which may or may not meet specifications for ballistic protection.”