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Police Unions Call for Mandatory Body Armor, Seat Belt Policies

November 21, 2014  | 

The nation's largest police unions and a national coalition of police chiefs agreed Thursday to mandatory use of body armor and seat belts for all law enforcement agencies.

The accord, the first of its kind between labor and law enforcement leaders, comes amid persistent reports that large numbers of officers die in shootings and traffic accidents without the basic protection afforded by bulletproof vests and seat restraints, USA Today reports.

Although traffic-related incidents were the leading cause of officer deaths in 13 of the past 15 years, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, which closely tracks police fatalities, about half of officers do not regularly wear seat belts.

During the past three decades, 42% of police killed in auto accidents were not wearing seat belts, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration review. Law enforcement estimates of seat belt compliance hover around 50%, well below the 86% rate of compliance among the general public.

In fatal shootings, 36% of officers killed from 2003 to 2012 were not wearing body armor, according to FBI statistics.

Comments (12)

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

Mike @ 11/22/2014 7:40 AM

Police Unions call for mandatory body armor and seatbelt policies? Help me here. I've been a cop for over 25 years. Seatbelts and body armor have always been a part of my workday. Why do the police unions need mandatory policies? It is called being responsible to ones self and ones family. No Officer/Deputy/Trooper should need a policy telling them to wear their body armor or to buckle their seatbelt. So for all my fellow Officer out there JUST SIMPLY DO IT! If not for you, then for your Family, friends, agency and community. I, and not the only one, am tired of hearing of Officers killed because they were not buckled up.

Bman @ 11/22/2014 7:59 AM

Its about time unions embraced something that will save lives instead of making excuses that the officers need discretion in body armor and seat belts because their morale sucks. If your an old timer that thinks you shouldn't be told you have to wear it, then your most likely not the most proactive or most effective back up anyway and if you missed your chance to work a desk, sorry but it's probably time to embrace living after police work and not putting yourself at more risk.

Mike Check @ 11/22/2014 9:46 AM

I have seen officers in my 30 years be issued a vest, and then a new one every 5 years. These same officers have never worn them.

Tschako @ 11/22/2014 6:02 PM

I lost an academy buddy who didn't buckle up. the call them accidents because we don't know when they're going to happen. Just practice unbuckling fast like you practice unholstering fast.

Tschako @ 11/22/2014 6:03 PM

Also, I would hope this makes smaller departments provide those vests. It's amazing that some still don't.

Dirtdiver @ 11/22/2014 6:09 PM

Sure, give the PD one more tool to use against officers. Sometimes departments wait in the shadows for a reason not to pay benefits for an injury or death or to simply wreak disaplinary havok. Never mind the untold sacrifices made by officers. Yes seat belts they should be worn, BUT, sometimes they are just not practical. ANY good officer worth his/her salt will say so. I do agree that vests should ALWAYS be worn.

Old timer @ 11/22/2014 9:31 PM

"Just not practical " You are shitting me right? If your vehicle is moving buckel up, unless you are taking on gun fire. Bad enough I have to argue with uninformed, uneducated citizens about this but L.E.? If you refuse, find another career you hipocret. YOU ARE WRONG my friend.

Dirtdiver @ 11/22/2014 10:03 PM

Old timer must be an administrator, the ones lurking in the shadows waiting to apply "book smarts" to a situation in need of "street smarts." I've seen it many many times in my dept. You might also need to look up the definition and spelling of "hypocrite" because you used it wrong.

Ray Meyer @ 11/22/2014 10:35 PM

Has a vest fron the start of my time with a SF Bay Area City PD in Jan 1973. Switched to State Police and continues wearing mine. In 78 the state of CA issued vests. Wore that one. Even used to wear it during my 2 weeks National Guard duty. MP Company. always picked to do LE duties - Ft Irwin. 1995 merged with Ca Highway Patrol. Wore a vest at least 90%-95% of uniform duty time. Retired in 2006. Worked for State Fair Police, bought my own vest. Always wore a seatbelt, even when driving military emergency vehicle (1967-71 active). Only time I didn't belt up was when slow driving blacked out looking for suspects. 33 yrs involved in 4 patrol car solo collisions - 1 during a pursuit. No injuries to me. Dented the patrol cars.

Old timer @ 11/23/2014 4:24 PM

Damn it Dirtdiver you are right, don't you just hate it when you hit that enter button then notice you screwed up, oh well, too late. And yes, I did retire as a sergeant (so half right I guess), but I spent 38 years in the business and I lost a friend, a deputy in a neighboring county, who would be with us today had he belted up. Sorry for bad mouthing a fellow LEO, but I know the belt saves lives and hate to see a message otherwise go to our young officers just getting into the business. Stay safe!

Ima Leprechaun @ 11/23/2014 5:15 PM

Not every agency issues vests or guns for that matter. When I first started I had to supply my own gun, bullets, ballistic vest and rain coat. The rest was issued. Not everybody has all this stuff taken for granted by the rest of you. There is a need to "require" basic tools for the job. My only gripe about ballistic vests were once they became a department issue it followed with tight regulations concerning wearing them. I wore mine all the time but I was very prone to staph infections being a hairy monster under the vest. There was never a decent fix to the greenhouse effect under my vest in my time. So the need to have time when you can heal should be allowed but regulations never allowed the vest not to be worn once the city provided it. This is the only problem I have with wearing a vest, the skin rashes and infections brought on by them can be life threatening. Desk duty is fine if that means I can go without a vest but even our administrators all wore a vest. The only ones than did not wear a daily vest were Detectives and the Chief. Otherwise, I wore it diligently. I never had a problem with wearing a seat belt and a sergeant taught me how to remove a seat belt just prior to arrival so as to not get hung up or entangled in it.

Trigger @ 12/1/2014 12:11 PM

Below100 is an excellent resource that needs to be presented to all law enforcement officers. Sometimes we forget that "life" can change in an instant. Having two weeks or 25 years in this profession we need to be reminded that there are some things we as humans just cannot not protect
ourselves from: bullets and crashes, unless we utililze the proper safety equipment to protect us.

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