A rising number of law enforcement officers are required to wear body armor after two consecutive years in which police were being killed by gunfire with increasing frequency, reports USA Today. A new Justice Department study has found that 92 percent of officers reported that their agencies now have mandatory body armor policies, up from 59 percent a similar 2009 survey. The jump also comes in the wake of a 2010 directive by Attorney General Eric Holder, who warned that local police risked losing millions of dollars in federal aid if body armor did not become mandatory.
The new report, based on a survey of more than 1,000 officers, also found that 78 percent of police said their agencies had written policies related to mandatory body armor use, up from 45 percent in 2009. Although the 2009 report surveyed 782 police agencies, the new study drew information from officers on the street — mainly from large agencies — to measure their understanding of and compliance with new or existing policies. Nearly 90 percent of officers at agencies that required body armor to be worn said they complied with the mandatory-wear policies “all of the time.” The report comes as firearm-related police fatalities have declined by a third so far this year, compared with the same period last year.