Faulty bullet-proof vests could be putting officers' lives at risk

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Hundreds of Phoenix police officers are being asked to hand in their Kevlar bullet-proof vests because they might not be bullet proof and could be putting officers' lives at risk.

After Officer Tony Daley was wounded in the abdomen when a bullet fired from about 15 feet away went through his vest while he was on a trespassing call in November, the Police Department had an independent lab in Oregon run some ballistics tests. The Kevlar vests failed. They did not stop a bullet fired from a .44-caliber handgun and allowed two more to penetrate deep into the vests.

According to the president of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA), the body armor made by Phoenix-based Custom Armor Technology, which has since ceased operations, and approved by the National Institute of Justice. Daley's vest was manufactured in May 2008 and was supposed to be able to withstand .40-caliber bullets.

The recent tests on a vest from the same lot, however, have raised some serious concerns.

"The problem with the vest as we saw it was there was a penetration of the Kevlar material, the ballistic material that the vest is made of that's suppose to stop the rounds," Joe Clure said. "This was concerning to us.

"We're not comfortable with our Phoenix police officers in this particular vest so we are going to make attempts to get those police officers out of those vests and into something different," he continued.

While it's not known exactly how many Phoenix officers have the Custom Armor Technology vests, the Department of Public Safety says 56 of its officers are equipped with them.

In light of what the Phoenix Police Department has found, other Valley police agencies are looking at the body armor their officers have.

As for Daley, he is still recovering.