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Body Armor: Don't Leave Home Without It

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2008
2 pages
This article describes the work of an international panel of experts that is analyzing the cases of 65 law enforcement officers who experienced bruising, lacerations, and/or internal injuries caused by a bullet striking but not penetrating their body armor, so as to improve the medical care that such cases receive.
Although final study results will not be available until 2009, some preliminary conclusions have been reported. First, when an officer is shot in an area covered by body armor, resulting injuries will not always be obvious. Even if no injury is apparent after a shooting, the officer should still seek medical attention because of the possibility of internal injuries. Second, accurate records about ballistic information (e.g., caliber, grain, and barrel length), as well as the distance between the officer and shooter, are key factors in assessing injuries. Third, because of the infrequency of officer shootings in most communities, formal guidelines should be issued to emergency-room physicians for diagnosis and treatment of blunt trauma injuries from bullets that strike officers wearing body armor. Fourth, a tag on the vest should include the address of a Web site that provides the latest information on medical treatment for blunt trauma injuries, as well as how to collect information on the event for later analysis. Fifth, such events can cause psychological trauma to an officer that may require long recovery period and counseling for the officer’s family.
Date Published: July 1, 2008