Illinois officials have joined other law enforcement agencies in an investigation of a Michigan manufacturer of bulletproof vests that the firm acknowledges may not stop bullets. Law enforcers are demanding answers from Second Chance Body Armor Inc., which manufactures vests made of Zylon, says the Chicago Tribune.
A company spokesman acknowledged that its testing of the vests over the last two years produced “inconsistent” results. Testing of vests used by police officers around the nation showed that some remained highly bullet resistant after 50 months of use, but others “were performing at lesser levels and were not nearly as old,” said spokesman Greg Smith.
Last summer, a Pennsylvania police officer was critically wounded when a .40-caliber round pierced his Zylon vest and tests showed “a steady degradation of the fiber.” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s consumer fraud office has launched a two-pronged investigation. Her office wants to know how many of the faulty vests were sold to police officers in Illinois and “at what point did this company know the vests were faulty.”
The company gives vest owners options of shoring up the Zylon vests with panels made of Kevlar, a heavier bullet-resistant material; or officers can purchase new vests made with a different material at a discount, either through a reduced price or a credit equal to the cost of their Zylon vest, Smith said.
Illinois police officials are not satisfied. “If you’re an officer wearing a $1,000 vest and they’re saying you yourself can replace the panels, how comfortable would you feel” about the performance of the vest, said Elmwood Park Police Chief Tom Braglia, first vice president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. In most departments, officers are responsible for buying their own vests.