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“Survivors’ Club” Salutes 3,000th LE Vest Save

March 23, 2006  | 

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club - an organization dedicated to reducing death and disability among police officers by encouraging the use of personal body armor - has inducted Atlanta Police Officer Corey B. Grogan as the group's 3,000th member.

"Since the formation of the Survivors' Club in 1987, we have documented 3,000 instances of law enforcement officers who survived potentially fatal or disabling injuries because they were protected by their body armor," says IACP President Maryanne Viverette. "Unfortunately, far too many of today's on-duty field and investigative personnel - an estimated 40 percent - still do not routinely wear soft body armor. Our hope is survival stories like Officer Grogan's will inspire others to wear vests and, where needed, upgrade outdated vests."

DuPont Kevlar was the first high-performance fiber to be used in bullet-resistant vests and continues to protect law enforcement officers around the world. Kevlar - an organic fiber that uniquely combines high strength with light weight and comfort with protection - is five times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis, providing reliable performance and solid strength.

"DuPont is proud of the role we have played in protecting law enforcement officers over the past three decades," says William J. Harvey, vice president and general manager - DuPont Advanced Fiber Systems. "We continue to work on developing new technology to make vests lighter, stronger, more durable, and ultimately, more likely to be worn by law enforcement officers, like Officer Grogan."

On Oct. 8, 2005, Grogan was part of a team attempting to serve an arrest warrant to a person with a prior criminal conviction when shots were fired. As Grogan reached to pull Lt. John Demmit out of the line of fire, he felt a blunt impact to his chest. Grogan had been hit twice in the upper torso with bullets from the suspect's .45 caliber pistol. Both rounds were stopped by his protective body armor (he also suffered a grazing wound to his face). Demmit suffered fragmentation wounds to his face after a bullet struck and shattered his radio microphone. The officers were transported to an Atlanta area trauma center where they were treated and released. Both Grogan and Demmit have returned to duty.

"It is an honor to be part of a heritage that stretches back more than 30 years," Grogan says. "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."

Grogan's story continues a line of survivor stories whose origins date back to the summer of 1975 when the National Institute of Justice, working in partnership with the U.S. Army, issued 5,000 protective vests to 15 urban police departments as part of the first national field-testing program. One of the recipients of the first-generation vests was Seattle Police Department Officer Raymond T. Johnson. On Dec. 23, 1975, Johnson was waiting in line at a local convenience store when he interceded to stop an attempted robbery and was shot twice at close range with a .38 caliber pistol during the ensuing struggle. Undeterred, Johnson eventually managed to tear off the suspect's ski mask before the man broke free and fled. Johnson survived with severe hand injuries, chest bruises, and a unique distinction as one of the first law enforcement officers to be saved by soft body armor. Johnson, who is now retired, returned to duty and completed his police career. In addition to Johnson, 17 other vest-wearing officers were saved during the initial one-year testing period, helping pave the way for more widespread adoption of body armor.

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