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Participants Needed for Body Armor Coverage Study

Written by Marianne Wilhelm

From 1997 to 2006, 101 officers were feloniously killed when they were shot in areas of the torso. About 78% of these deaths occurred as a result of shots to areas not covered by body armor. This trend cannot continue.

Last fall, I was awarded funding through the National Institute of Justice to investigate the effects of increased coverage area for soft body armor. This is a two-year effort in collaboration with Mississippi State University. The first part of this effort will determine the types of injuries sustained by officers while wearing body armor compared to the type of injuries sustained by those either not wearing armor or in areas where there was no armor coverage. I believe that this will provide unique insight to the research community as well as those forming policies related to soft body armor design, evaluation and use.

At this time, I would like to request your help in gathering information on officer injuries related to vest coverage area. My focus will be to extract information related to area of gunshot injury, severity of injury, and caliber of weapon in order to develop a risk assessment specific to areas of the body where armor coverage should be increased. Since there is not a central location for this information, I am asking for your help in publicizing the study to your officers and requesting their participation. Officers can contact me directly (see contact information below) to enroll in the study.

The study is not limited with respect to age, gender, or time of service. The study will include all type of body armor but will be limited to gunshots only. I am specifically looking for officers who were shot outside of the vest coverage area (armpit region, above or below the vest).

The information generated will be shared with the law enforcement community and the National Institute of Justice. I am very excited about this effort and feel strongly that it will assist in making appropriate advances in body armor and ultimately saving lives. Please contact me at (480) 338-7693, or e-mail me at mwilhelm@ltu.edu with any questions you might have or to enroll in the study.

Published in Tactical Response, Jul/Aug 2008

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