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Taking the Stab Out of Stabbings

NCJ Number
Date Published
2 pages
After describing testing in the United Kingdom that led to the development of a standard for stab-resistant body armor, this article describes such testing efforts in the United States.
The development of a standard for stab-resistant body armor in the United Kingdom was performed by the Police Scientific Development Branch (PSDB) of the Home Office. PSDB researchers developed an "instrumented" knife blade designed to measure the thrust and energy of a stab. The first series of tests instructed 500 young male recruits to perform stabbing motions with the "instrumented knife," varying stabbing directions and techniques. Based on information from the instrumented blade, researchers determined the level of energy a human being was capable of delivering with a knife. The testing determined that for the highest level of protection, a vest should be able to withstand 43 joules of energy (1 joule is approximately 1 foot-pound of energy), allowing no more than approximately 1/4-inch penetration. In 1999, PSDB issued a stab-resistant standard for vests worn by law enforcement officers. Leveraging the research conducted by the PSDB, the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) adopted the segments that represented the stabbing threat to American law enforcement and corrections officers. The NIJ standard for stab-resistant vests will be published in 2000 under the title "NIJ Standard-0115.00: Stab Resistance of Personal Body Armor." The standard places vests into two categories according to the kind of threat it is designed to stop. Within each category of threat are three levels of protection; the first level stops 23 joules of energy; the second, 33 joules of energy; and the third, 43 joules of energy.

Date Published: January 1, 2000