Ballistic Body Armor Protection for Terrorism Prevention and Response Units

Police departments across the United States must retain a high level of vigilance against terrorist threats. While different departments have enough funding and resources to devote to counter-terrorism operations, forces in major cities now take a greater role in tackling suspected threats: the LAPD's Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau has approximately 300 officers dedicated to investigating potential dangers, while in early 2015, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton revealed plans for a new 350-strong unit within their force dedicated to anti-terrorist activities. Other departments in major cities maintain their own counter-terrorism divisions, usually in association with federal agencies and additional organizations.

When law enforcement officers are required to launch raids on the residences and bases of suspected terrorists, their safety may well be at risk: if individuals or groups are plotting atrocities, they almost certainly will be armed and prepared to defend themselves and their plans. These risks may range from lower-velocity handguns to armor-piercing rounds, even to explosives – terrorist-response teams need to be prepared for all dangers. Having the right training and equipment is essential to maximize personal security and minimize risk.

For officers soon to be assigned to counter-terrorism operations, understanding the range of armors and protective accessories available may seem somewhat overwhelming – if your life is on the line in the pursuit of justice, you need to feel confident in the gear you're wearing.

Ballistic Armor: Stopping Bullets, One Layer at a Time
For maximum safety, officers should be outfitted with the toughest ballistic armor available: if wearing one of the thinnest bulletproof vests while raiding a suspected terrorist's home, officers will have insufficient protection if fired upon with a high-velocity weapon. To safely and securely apprehend a suspect, no matter the caliber of their guns, anti-terror teams should wear vests carrying ballistic plates designed to resist even the most lethal rounds.

Ballistic vests, like all armor, are tested and rated by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), to ensure they offer adequate protection against specific types of ammunition. According to the current NIJ standard of evaluation, there are five levels of armor available: IIA, II, IIIA, III, and IV. Each of these is designed to stop certain bullets. Kevlar and Dyneema® are two synthetic materials used in the manufacture of ballistic vests, with each being tightly-woven into a solid grid – this is then arranged in multiple layers, creating enough stopping power to slow bullets to a halt, trapping them in the topmost layers.

Over the years, ballistic armor has become more and more comfortable: while previous incarnations have been bulky and cumbersome, Kevlar and Dyneema vests today are more lightweight than ever.  With new lightweight, streamlined designs being built every year, bullet proof vest engineers over at have their work cut out creating the next lightweight vest. Because of this response teams can now wear the toughest ballistic vests when in civilian clothing – in the past, armor at levels III and IV could only be worn over layers, given its bulk. However, multiple high-level ballistic vests can now be worn covertly and upgraded to stop armor-piercing rounds, simply by inserting ballistic plates (steel or ceramic, depending on the level of defense officers need) into panels.

Armor for Other Threats
During a raid, response teams may well become engaged in close combat with suspects – knives, blunt objects, or fists will become a threat. Body armor – particularly those vests at a higher level – provides varying protection against blunt trauma: if a fist or a steel pipe (for example) strike the torso, the vest should absorb the brunt of the impact, and reduce the force, decreasing the chances of injury.

Stab and spike protection can be added to most ballistic vests, for a more comprehensive range of protective capabilities. However, in order to stop blades, Kevlar or Dyneema fibers need to be tighter, to cause friction against a blade with enough efficiency to stop them penetrating. Likewise, to resist spiked objects, the weave should be even tighter to trap the tips, using narrow gaps.

Additional accessories which may prove essential in the line of counter-terrorism duties include ballistic helmets, goggles, shoulder & arm protectors, and gloves – all of these keep other areas more secure against injuries. Helmets are typically available with up to level IIIA ballistic defense, while goggles can stop shrapnel, dust, and other substances damaging the eyes and affecting vision when it matters most.

If an officer is wounded in the line of duty – by a bullet or blade – immediate on-scene treatment can help save their life, provided they get eventual full medical assistance. A new 'trauma foam' has been developed by David King, a trauma surgeon with field experience in two wars: after seeing too many injured patients die on-route to hospital from internal bleeding, he worked with collaborators to design the foam, which is injected into the abdomen twice, creating a chemical reaction which causes the foam to expand. This apples pressure to stop internal bleeding, boosting the chances of survival. Though still under evaluation, this foam could become a key tool in law enforcement officers' kits, allowing for more effective, immediate treatment of potentially-fatal wounds in extreme situations.

About SafeGuard ARMOR™
SafeGuard ARMOR™ is a world-leading premium body armor designer and manufacturer. We have been selling our body armor to thousands of individuals and companies across the world. We have been established for over 7 years, we have grown from a small operation selling bullet proof vests to local companies, to one of the largest body armor companies in the world. We now manufacture our body armor in the U.S. and Europe, and have multiple distribution points around the world.


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