We Love Our Ballistic Vest

Idaho Falls Police Officer Malin Reynolds' life was saved by this vest after a suspect shot him point-blank in the chest.
When Officer Malin Reynolds was shot in the chest last month, I received kudos for having changed the policy to mandatory wear on ballistic vests a few months prior.  Under this policy all officers who are primarily first responders are required to wear a ballistic vest.

Prior to the mid-1980s vests were not standard issued. In fact, officers had to purchase their own if they wanted it. Officer Ken Knoelk purchased a vest when he first started in 1982 at the cost of $75. To this day he says it’s one of the best investments he ever made because ultimately it saved his life after he was shot by an armed robbery suspect in 1985.  Once ballistic vest were provided by the police department, most officers chose to wear them.

The change to mandatory wear was a good move.  But in fairness, the reason for taking a look at the policy in the first place was driven by a change in grant rules requiring some type of mandatory wear policy in order to receive 50% funding for the $19,000 spent on vest annually.  Each vest cost about $950 and is replaced after the 5-year warranty expires.

That said, the money obviously isn’t the deciding factor in mandating that officers wear ballistic vest.  If an officer is taken out of the fight, they can’t help their partner or the people of Idaho Falls.  In Malin’s case, after being shot, he immediately came back fighting as he continued to help protect his fellow officers from being shot too.