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FBI Says Ballistic Vests, Seat Belts Not Worn in Many Officer Deaths

May 13, 2015  | 

An FBI analysis of police officer deaths is revealing a troubling and persistent pattern in which substantial numbers of officers were not wearing body armor or seat belts when they were fatally shot or involved in deadly vehicle accidents.

Of the 46 officers killed by firearms in 2014, 11 were not wearing bullet-resistant vests. During the same period, 10 of 28 officers killed in vehicle accidents were not wearing seat belts. Six of the 10 auto accident victims, according to the FBI report, were ejected from their vehicles during the crashes.

Although traffic-related incidents have consistently been among the leading causes of officer deaths, law enforcement seat-belt compliance has hovered around 50%. The compliance rate among the general public has been estimated at 86%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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

A rising number of agencies have adopted mandatory-wear requirements in recent years. Those rules have been met with resistance from some officers who say that the armor is often too uncomfortable, especially in warm climates, and that seat belts slow their movement in and out of patrol cars, USA Today reports.


Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

Brian @ 5/13/2015 10:49 AM

Vests do a great job protecting the chest from blunt force trauma in accidents. I just wonder out of the 11 officers killed without vests, how many were shot in the face. That would skew that data a bit more. I'm an advocate of wearing vests, but it would have been good to know a bit more detailed breakdown in the article. It's important to get your vest correctly sized by the manufacturer. Fit and comfort is essential.

Todd E @ 5/13/2015 12:45 PM

The Feds don't like this initiative because they say the number should be zero, but Below 100 is great and should be pushed more. See

Stephen Walker @ 5/13/2015 6:34 PM

As a retired state trooper leaving my home without wearing body armor or not buckling a seat belt would be the same a going to work without my weapon.

jose martinez @ 5/16/2015 11:16 AM

Wow this article just blew my mind away. Simply amazing. I will never ever take my vest off again!

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/16/2015 10:50 PM

The vest protects well in the front and back. Mine saved me from a broken back. I still had injuries but they were less extensive than I would have had without a vest. When this happened I had bought and wore my own vest since my department refused to supply them.

Harry @ 5/18/2015 10:26 AM

I was told early in my career that the heat of a vest is nothing compared to the heat of a bullet entering your body.

Chuck @ 5/22/2015 1:43 PM

I wear my vest even when it doesn't appear necessary. I practice exiting my vehicle with my seatbelt on.

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