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How Bulletproof Vests for Law Enforcement Save Lives

July 29, 2022

Every day, men and women in law enforcement risk their lives to protect us. And in recent years, the number of officers shot in the line of duty has skyrocketed. Several factors have contributed to this, including increased violent crime, biased media coverage and a backlash against the law enforcement profession. In the event an officer does get shot protecting their community, wearing a bulletproof vest can very often be the difference between life and death.

According to the Florida Sheriffs Risk Management Fund (FSRMF), officers who do not routinely wear body armor are 3.4 times more likely to suffer fatal injuries to the torso than officers who do. That’s why the Florida Sheriffs Association encourages all deputies to wear their vest every day and is passionate about providing life-saving bulletproof vests to counties that otherwise can’t afford them.

Do Bulletproof Vests Really Work?

Stopping a bullet is no easy task. So how do bulletproof vests do it?

The material used to create these vests is made of interlaced tethers. These tethered fibers form a net, which can absorb the impact of a moving object (i.e., a bullet) and dispenses the energy as it hits. Pieces of the net are layered between pieces of plastic film for maximum protection.

Instead of blocking a bullet entirely, bulletproof vests absorb the impact, decreasing the harm to the officer wearing it.  In addition, these valuable pieces of equipment can protect an officer against blunt trauma. Wearing one provides significant protection for someone walking into a potentially dangerous situation.

The Bulletproof Vest Grant Program

Detective John Garrison of the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office certainly knows the value of a bulletproof vest. Wearing one saved his life.

On that day, he and his partner were in the process of making contact with two suspects, both of whom had active felony warrants. One of the individuals drew a gun and fired one shot that landed on the right side of Detective Garrison’s chest.

“There is no doubt that I would have suffered a critical injury – and there is a good chance I would have died that night – if I had not been wearing my ballistic vest,” he said. “My vest was purchased through a Florida Sheriff’s Association grant, and it saved me.”

There’s no doubt about it – bulletproof vests for law enforcement save lives. But not every county has the resources to supply these vests to its deputies. Each year, the FSA receives requests and supplies these vests to counties in need. FSA’s members make it possible.

The Mission: To Protect and Save

According to FSRMF, there have been more than 3,100 instances of officers’ lives being saved by body armor since it was introduced in the 1970s. By supplying equipment to counties in need, the FSA is actively working to protect the lives of law enforcement personnel through our bulletproof vests grant program.

Bulletproof vests can be expensive to supply, however, with some units costing up to $1,000 each. Our goal for the future is to provide 386 bulletproof vests to the deputies, SWAT members, correctional officers, and K-9s in counties that have shared their need for these vests.

While this may be a lofty goal, we believe that FSA’s members and supporters will continue to work together to provide the funds for vests for those who need them most.

How You Can Get Involved

If you are interested in donating to the Bulletproof Vest Grant Program, you can do so in several ways. First, you can visit here to make a donation online in five easy steps. Second, you can mail a check to the following address:

The Florida Sheriffs Association
P.O. Box 12519
Tallahassee, FL 32317

A donation of any amount helps bring us closer to our goal of saving lives through the bulletproof vests provided by this program.

Join the FSA

The Bulletproof Vest Grant Program is just one of many ways FSA is committed to supporting the Office of Sheriff through leadership, innovative practices, legislative initiatives, education and training. You can help us accomplish these goals by becoming a member of the Florida Sheriffs Association today. Click here to learn more.