At this year’s IACP show in Boston, Officer Daniel Starr (Houston PD), Det. Daniel Sivori (Connecticut State Police) and Officer John Wrigley (Chicago PD) were inducted into the Survivors Club, which now includes more than 3,000 members who were saved from death or injury by wearing ballistic vests.
Since their debut in the mid 1970s, bullet-resistant vests have had a profound impact on the law enforcement profession. Body armor has led to improved officer safety and survival, but 40 percent of American law enforcement officers today still do not routinely wear a vest while on duty.
Knowing that officers are likely to be influenced by their peers on this issue, the IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors Club was formed in 1987 to recognize officers who survived potentially fatal or disabling injuries as a result of wearing body armor, with the hope that these survival stories would inspire more officers to wear vests.
Houston Senior Officer Daniel Starr never routinely wore a protective vest until his chief, Harold Hurtt, implemented a mandatory vest wear policy for the department on November 1, 2005. This past August Officer Starr was pursuing two armed men outside a Houston-area apartment complex when he was struck twice in the upper left torso with a .380 caliber pistol. Both bullets were stopped by Starr’s vest, quite likely saving his life.
On the night of March 14, 2006, Det. Daniel Sivori and two fellow officers were regulating construction traffic when two suspects fleeing an armed robbery became trapped by the traffic congestion. The officers engaged the suspects, but as the driver of the vehicle was being handcuffed, the suspect in the passenger seat raised his pistol. One of the officers on the scene jumped into the vehicle to subdue him, at which point he sustained a gunshot wound. Sivori quickly moved to assist his fellow officer and was subsequently hit by two bullets, the second of which struck him in the center of the chest. The second bullet was stopped by his body armor, thereby allowing Sivori to remain on the scene and help safely extract the wounded officer from the vehicle. Sivori and the other officer are now recovering.
“Like a badge, body armor should be considered an essential part of the law enforcement officer’s uniform. You can never know what may happen out there and wearing a vest provides an additional layer of protection that can mean the difference between life or death,” says Sivori.
On the night of February 21, 2005, Officer John Wrigley and his partner observed a vehicle being operated without lights and traveling the wrong way on a one-way street. When they stopped the vehicle, the driver became verbally abusive and then began shooting at the officers. When the shooting subsided, four officers sustained injuries including Wrigley who was struck twice - in the left forearm and in the upper left torso. His ballistic vest stopped the second bullet. Wrigley and the other officers were transported for medical care, where they were treated for various injuries and released. The suspect is awaiting court action on charges of attempted murder of police officers.
"Wearing protective body armor is the single most important thing an officer can do to reduce the risk of injury while on duty. I know because a vest saved my life," says Wrigley.
For information on the IACP/Dupont Kevlar Survivors Club program visit www.dupont.com/kevlar/lifeprotection/survivors.html.