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Revised Body Armor Standard and Testing Program

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2009
5 pages
This report reviews the history and components of the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice's (NIJ's) revised standard and testing for body armor, following the failure of a Pennsylvania police officer's body armor to perform according to its rated level of protection.
The incident in Forest Hills, PA, in June 2003 launched 5 years of intensive research, focus group meetings, workshops with body-armor manufacturers, and intensive scrutiny of the entire body-armor testing program and the standard for body armor. The end result, officially launched in December 2008, was a revision to the existing body-armor standard (Ballistic Resistance of Personal Body Armor, NIJ Standard-0101.06) and a complete restructuring of the compliance testing program. The new standard incorporates a number of major changes, including the addition of a conditioning protocol, revised test methods, changes to the levels of armor classification, and more stringent performance requirements. Law enforcement and correctional agencies need not immediately replace armor listed as compliant under previous versions of the body-armor standard; however, for any future purchases, they are encouraged to select armor that complies with NIJ Sandard-0101.06. NIJ's new body-armor testing program includes the addition of a testing laboratory accreditation process, ongoing manufacturer conformity assessment, and a conditioning protocol that imposes controlled elements of "wear and tear" on armor before it is tested. The conformity assessment follow-up portion of the NIJ Body Armor Compliance Testing program ensures that, to the greatest extent possible, the body armor used by the law enforcement and corrections communities continues to remain safe and reliable through periodic selection and testing of NIJ-listed production models, in order to determine whether they continue to meet the standard.
Date Published: May 1, 2009