The Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP) announced last week that it has determined that the Pinnacle Armor, Inc. bulletproof vest model SOV 2000.1/MIL3AF01, known as Dragon Skin, is not in compliance with the requirements of OJP's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) voluntary compliance testing program for bullet-resistant body armor. Effective immediately, this body armor model will be removed from the NIJ list of bullet-resistant body armor models that satisfy its requirements.
Pinnacle has called the NIJ move "unprecedented." It says the decertification was based solely on warranty documentation. And the official NIJ statement appears to back up this claim. It reads, "NIJ, OJP's research, development, and evaluation component, has reviewed evidence provided by the body armor manufacturer and has determined that the evidence is insufficient to demonstrate that the body armor model will maintain its ballistic performance over its six-year declared warranty period."
Pinnacle says that it is working with the NIJ to regain certification and clarify issues regarding its warranty. It also claims that there has never been an on-duty failure of Dragon Skin armor. "Dragon Skin has been serving flawlessly in Iraq and Afghanistan and all corners of the globe with contractors, military, and civilian law enforcement with no reported longevity issues for well over the term of our warranty period. It is at our option and peril that we offer a better than industry standard warranty. We stand behind every vest that we manufacture," the company said in a statement on its Website.
Despite the products decertification, the DOJ encourages public safety officers to wear their Dragon Skin armor until replacement because research has shown that officers are more likely to suffer a fatal injury when not wearing body armor.
In addition, the DOJ strongly recommends that public safety agencies and officers who purchase new bullet-resistant body armor verify, prior to purchase, that the body armor model appears on NIJ's list of models that comply with its most current requirements, the "2005 Interim Requirements for Bullet-Resistant Body Armor." A list of these models is available at www.justnet.org. DOJ also encourages public safety officers to follow body armor manufacturer "wear and care" instructions, and not to store armor in the trunk of their vehicle or other environments in which armor might be exposed to extreme heat or cold.
Information about the DOJ Body Armor Safety Initiative can be found at http://vests.ojp.gov.