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I have been asked a question from the higher ups. We're investigating getting hard armor for some of our officers. The higher ups want it to be individual issue (good), but once an officer leaves patrol, they want to pull back the armor and re-issue it to someone else. I mentioned that we might be issuing compromised armor (not shot, but dropped/damaged/worn), in addition to the usual annual inspection requirements. This brought up the follow-up: how do we handle annual inspections or inspections prior to re-issuing the armor?

 

Is there an existing topic or link about how departments should handle inspection of armor plates? FWIW, we're almost certainly going with some sort of ceramic hybrid type of plate (not steel, and not 100% poly).

 

Thanks,

 

Mike

Not stressed, but I am a carrier.

Original Post

Uncommon but wise practice is to start an x-ray file for each new unissued plate. Then follow up with whatever frequency interval seems appropriate for re-x-ray. Plates are pretty durable. Annual Xray is probably overkill, but annual visual inspection of plates and soft armor at the same time an officer's issued firearms are armorer inspected would be reasonable.

I would be comfortable with re X-raying plates every five years, when turned in by an officer who is quitting (prior to reissue), or following a MVA or other incident that could conceivably have damaged the plates.

I saw that thread, and I understand the recommendations. What I'm wondering is, do most departments contract for this type of service (and how much would it cost?), or do they send out their plates for analysis (again, how much $$$, and where?). I get that we should be examining the plates every few years and any time trauma is suspected. We'd probably want to inspect any plate we reissue, too.

 

Departments like policies and "best practices" that are in writing and done by other agencies. Stuff like that is what I'm looking for. Heck, is there some sort of training or certification for armor inspection? my PD would probably want someone on staff to have such a thing if it exists.

Mike

Not stressed, but I am a carrier.

This topic makes my head hurt. There are so many variables for "in-service" plates it's hard to predict what will cause a true failure. Everyone wants to X-ray plates for some assurance of serviceability but x-ray is widely known as the worst NDT method to use for crack detection. There are many variables that come into play if you want to x-ray your plates. The tech's skill, equipment, film quality, size and orientation of defect, etc. Medical x-rays wouldn't be my first choice but may be all you can find available locally. If you want to go down this route, make sure the tech is using a reference standard like a line pair gauge. This will show you that you have sufficient clarity to see and compare defects against. 

One of the simplest methods to check for breakage in a standard personnel plate is to attempt to softly bend it over the edge of a hard counter in different directions. Any give at all should have the plate taken out of service. 

I've X-rayed plates in test scenarios that showed big cracks but still performed acceptably when shot. I've also seen plates fail spectacularly when shots were made into fairly minor flaws. I think the backing material used for the ceramics and the encasing material is going to make the biggest difference. If you can hold broken ceramics together well, you have a better chance of defeating a threat. If there is play or movement, the rounds will tear the casing and sneak through. 

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