While working as a police officer, one of the most important things you’ll ever carry after your firearm is your bulletproof vest. You’ll have moments in which the bulletproof vest is not required to be worn throughout your career, which can be dangerous in some instances, but it depends on the officer. If you ever consider a career in policing, it is essential to understand the vest’s significance and wear it.
All uniformed officers will be required to wear a vest while on duty; however, a plainclothes officer will not wear the vest at all times. However, when making an arrest or participating in an operation, all officers must wear a bulletproof vest.
So if you’re thinking of not wearing a vest, you should keep reading this article so that you know when you should wear the vest. This article will allow you to determine your best interest when it comes to your vest.
Mandated Wear for Vests
So when exactly is a police officer required to wear the vest? The answer to this question may vary by state or even department basis, but overall the policies are about the same. While it is in your best interest to wear your vest at all times, some departments are more lenient than others and, therefore, only require officers to wear their vests if they fall within the following guidelines.
A uniformed officer will be required to wear their vest while they are on duty. This is because uniformed officers are considered an “easy target”, and should therefore wear the vest at all times. However, this does not mean that uniformed officers are at increased risk, but should instead exercise increased casting while on duty in uniform.
If an officer is performing an arrest, then they must wear a bulletproof vest. This applies to both uniformed officers and detectives. This is because sometimes an arrest warrant can go wrong, so the officers should prepare themselves for a worst-case scenario. It is important to note that this applies to arrest warrants, and any detective conducting a spontaneous arrest should use increased caution if they are not wearing a vest.
If a uniformed officer or detective is about to participate in an operation or respond to an active shooter situation, they will need to wear a bulletproof vest because they will be going into a dangerous situation. If you’ve ever seen any crime tv shows, then you’ve likely noticed the multitude of officers from various ranks participating in operations; one thing that they all have in common is that they are all wearing vests.
As you can see, there are very obvious reasons as to why officers will be mandated to wear their vest. Not all police work is dangerous, but there will often be times when you will go into a dangerous situation, and your vest will be there to protect you at all costs.
Different Departments Different Rules
As you continue to conduct your research on police work, you may notice that police department will vary, and their policies will also differ. Therefore it is important that you carefully read your police department policies when it comes to bulletproof. This article will provide you with more collective data and a general idea of police department policies on bulletproof vests.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2003, only 65% of all police departments in the United States made it a requirement for officers to wear their vests; in 2013, the number increased to 71%. As tensions between police and civilians continue to grow, the number is sure to rise again, especially after the most recent events where police were killed in the line of duty.
If you enter a police department that does not have a large budget compared to the larger departments in our country, then there may also be a shortage of vets. Most bulletproof vests can range anywhere from $800-$1,000 each, making it difficult for department heads to issue vests to all of their officers if they do not have the funds for it. In addition to funding, there is also the question of city policies. Whether or not your elected officials will mandate the use of bulletproof vests at all times, this is where voting comes into profound effect.
So before you commit to wearing bulletproof vests at all times or not wearing one at all while on the job, you should be ready to brush up on the department policies of your local police department.
Police Officers View on Vests
Although a bulletproof vest is made to save a police officer’s life, it does not mean that officers enjoy wearing them. The truth is that the vest is quite uncomfortable and adds extra weight onto your body, which can be quite exhausting while working an eight-hour shift; this is why many officers opt out of wearing the vests when they are not required to do so. Here are just some of the reasons why officers do not wear their vests.
The discomfort of wearing the vest for a long time can be a game-changer for the officer, resulting in them taking it off even for just an hour or two. This is likely to happen in police departments that do not require officers to wear the vest at all times. However, if the department has a stricter policy, the officer will likely stick it out.
A plainclothes officer or detective will likely not wear their vest while on duty so that they do not “blow their cover” if civilian notices the vest then they will automatically know that that person is a police officer, which is something most plainclothes officers wish to avoid.
Many officers believe that the chances of being shot are extremely low, and it is not worth the immense discomfort of wearing a vest if there is a slight possibility of even being shot. Many believe that this form of thinking is extremely dangerous and should not be considered putting on the uniform. Your safety on the job should always come first.
Some officers may have a skin condition that can cause a rash if they wear a piece of clothing that has bad material. The vest is not made out of quality material and may cause some officers to break out in a rash if they wear it. If this is the case, the officer may need to request special conditions from their department head to avoid having to wear the vest; this may involve having to obtain a note from a medical professional stating that the vest is harmful to their skin.
Although it may seem like a no brainer to wear a vest, the reasons provided for not having to wear one is also quite understandable. Just imagine walking the beat in 90-degree weather and wearing a vest under your uniform; the sound of it is almost unbearable. With that being said officers are forced to make a judgment call when it comes to their best and looking out for their best interest. After all, the number one goal of every shift is getting home in one piece.
Safety is Your Priority
Before you decide to leave your vest in the trunk of your squad car or at your desk at the station, there are a few things to consider. The number one thing to remember while on the job is that your job’s circumstances can change in an instant; one moment, you’re walking down the street, and the next, you have to respond to an active shooter. This means that you should always be prepared for the dangers that come with the job.
The hope is that manufacturers and designers will find a solution to the uncomfortable vest and opt for a more comfortable option to protect police officers. Hopefully, with a more comfortable vest, option officers will wear their vest more and be protected at all times.
Can a cop pull another cop over? Check out our article HERE to find out!
What Happens Next?
So will things change? Will more departments mandate the use of vests? As the years continue to pass and the dangers of the job continue to increase, more departments will continue to require the use of vests. The truth is that department heads are keeping a close eye on increased tensions, and they want to look out after their officers. Until vests are mandated on a federal level, states and local officials will continue to mandate vests on their terms. Therefore make sure you choose wisely before putting your vest to the side!
How much does a bulletproof vest weigh?
A bulletproof vest can weigh anywhere from 5 to 8 pounds depending on the brand and manufacturer. The armor in the vest contributes to the weight. Therefore, a heavier vest may give you extra protection.
How long can a bulletproof vest last?
If used almost every day, the vest can last you five years; however, it can last even longer than that if used less often.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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