Free body armor program - help I'm conflicted

Guys, I've not been as active here for the last year or two as I would have liked, so if this has been mentioned or covered, my apologies. I'm putting this out for discussion, to check my initial thoughts against the level headedness of this board. 

Brief synopsis: There is a program, a not for profit company who's only purpose is to get rifle rated ballistic armor into the hands of officers through a donation/partnership with community organizations. My understanding is that it begun after the 2015 Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs, CO where a responding officer was killed when rifle fire penetrared his soft body armor. The company raises money from the community  for officers in that community. Gear is sized and issued to a specific officer (not a gear share /trunk of car situation).

I'm not here to advertise for/against the program. Just to put it on the table for discussion. I was unaware of the program until a few days ago when I was informed that my team and I, along with approximately 50 other officers of my agency had been selected to receive a set of kit from the company. 

 

My opinions:

The good:

This program is out there connecting pro-police community members with officers who need critical gear. Community members make a local impact on their own community, knowing they get a voice in how/where their funds are spent. Officers get to see pro-police people. Often times for us, these people feel like unicorns: yeah, everybody's heard of them, but they're a rare sighting. Several of the donors were at the gear presentation yesterday and interacted with us. Which was very cool.

 

The other

Here's the part I'm struggling with, because this makes me feel like an ungrateful asshole. 

The issued kit (this is the standard load out, as far as I can tell, for every officer benefiting from this program): 

- Paraclete 10260 LVL III plates

- Point Blank International vest/carrier  

- Paraclete MICH LVL IIIA helmet

(Photos) link is to photos I took of the gear I was given. A Google search of the above items will yield the vendor pages for them with better photos. 

Included in the kit is a collection of appropriate pouches and trauma kit. But they're outside the scope of this post. 

Here's why I'm torn between feeling  like an ungrateful asshole and like a great initiative missed the mark a bit:

The Helmet: 

As best as I can tell, the helmet is solid. It's got a good suspension system  with several points of adjustment for a good fit. No rails for lights or NODS, but that's really beyond the scope of your average patrol officer high risk/active shooter deployment situation  

The carrier:

The carrier is... not ideal. It's designed to be able to be worn  "concealable" or as an external carrier. It has pockets for Kevlar panels as well as rifle plates. It has an inner cumberbund /outer buckle system, which, in my opinion - makes it much much too slow to don effectively, when seconds matter. It also sits long, hitting the belt worn gear of the average-sized patrol officer, for whom this gear is the target demographic. I'm 5'9" and was fitted with the "regular" length carrier, the shortest they had, and the bottkm  was still resting on my belt mounted magazines, radio, etc. There were several officers there who were shorter than I, including several females who were much slighter built than I am. 

However, a solid "over the uniform" purpose built plate carrier can be had for not much money, and is probably the least expensive part of this package for an officer to upgrade, on his own dime.

The Plates

Paraclete 10260 lvl III stand alone poly plates. They're 10x12  shooters cut, and weigh 3.0lbs/ plate.

This represents a 50% weight savings over my HighComm Guardian 4SAS7 that I currently run in my SKD Pig. (Photo of my current set up, purchased by me based on information and research gathered from LF). I was excited about the weight reduction for my kit, but... 

I got to looking into the rated threats for these poly plates and Paraclete's documentation (pdf file) states its NIJ 0101.06 certified, and rated for 7.62 x51 (M80 and 5.56 x45 (M193). What stuck out to me was the absense of M855/SS109 threat rating. I spent some time on the phone with Pointblank/Paraclete this morning , finally talking to someone in their lab/testing area that confirmed that these poly plates were not tested against M855 because the ploy plate won't defeat it. I did get confirmation that Paraclete's 20260 hybrid plate will defeat M855, at 5lbs/plate. 

As I sit writing this, a quick Google search shows M855 bulk ammo on the shelf at a nearby big box store, 5 miles from me. 

My area is no stranger to large shooting incidents( Co Springs Planned Parenthood, Aurora Theater, among many others). We've also had a high number of ambush style attacks, I can think of 3 involving rifles just in the last 24 months.  So I feel like M855 and rifle threats aren't so much in the "possible" threat category, but well within the "probable", even "likely" threat realm. 

Every one on my team (non swat, specialized team doing mostly violent crime/fugivite/stolen vehicle interdiction stuff, already had rifle plates/carriers prior to this gear drop. But for 60-75% of the cops who got this gear, it's the best  or only gear they've got.

 

So guys, set me straight. Am I being an overly picky asshole, blind to the good gear being freely given by a company funded by very generous community members who care for our well-being?

Or, are officers, who don't know any better, being issued gear that may or may not be suitable for the mission for which it was given to them?

I certainly don't mean to disparage the herculean efforts of this company  they're certainly stepping up in attempt to fill a void that many agencies can't or won't address. But, as I stated before - I'm conflicted. 

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It's all about priorities and mindset: "Why am I on fire?" is a much less important question right now, than: "How do I get not-on-fire?!"

Original Post

Not an LEO so take my post with a grain of salt but is it possible to reach out to the non-profit organization and let them know your concerns?

Perhaps with a similarly priced suggestion for gear that would meet your dept’s needs?

IMO I think getting the poly plates would potentially do more long term harm than good, not only because of the possibility of being shot with M855 but once those plates are issued, you’ll have a hell of a time gettting the Dept to upgrade later on.

treehopr posted:

Not an LEO so take my post with a grain of salt but is it possible to reach out to the non-profit organization and let them know your concerns?

Perhaps with a similarly priced suggestion for gear that would meet your dept’s needs?

IMO I think getting the poly plates would potentially do more long term harm than good, not only because of the possibility of being shot with M855 but once those plates are issued, you’ll have a hell of a time gettting the Dept to upgrade later on.

I considered reaching out to them. But I wanted to get some feedback from folks here, regarding my thoughts and whether they were valid, of I should just shut my mouth.

 

Re: "hell of a time getting the dept to upgrade later. .." 

Bingo. 

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It's all about priorities and mindset: "Why am I on fire?" is a much less important question right now, than: "How do I get not-on-fire?!"

It's nice armor but not great armor, considering the best selling and most common rifle in the US right now is the AR carbine.

Poly plates are nice and light.  Great against pistols, maybe even against 30-cal rifles.  I couldn't penetrate one at 750 Meters with a .338 Lapua, but the backface deformation would have killed the wearer.

Will it meet your most likely threat vice your most dangerous?

Our most likely threat,  like most CONUS agencies, is handgun.

 

But our area has seen at least 4 attacks in our area in less than 2 years (that I can think of this minute), that killed 4 and injured 6 more officers.

So, yes it will defeat the most likely threat, but so will our soft body armor - albeit, with a bit more energy transfer.

 

But these poly plates may not  defeat our next most likely threat, which is also, potentially, the most dangerous.

 

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It's all about priorities and mindset: "Why am I on fire?" is a much less important question right now, than: "How do I get not-on-fire?!"

Pure poly plates are a no-go in areas where M855 or M855A1 are a likely danger.  

Let the nice folks at the organization that you appreciate their efforts, but they might want to alter their equipment to appropriately protect officers against expected threats...

Doc, I was hoping you'd weigh in. Thanks for confirming my initial impressions.

 

Considering I can buy m855 off the shelf of Cabelas and Bass Pro, both, right now, within 20 miles; I'd say it's definitely a likely threat.

 

I'll stick with my HighComm plates. Thanks again. 

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It's all about priorities and mindset: "Why am I on fire?" is a much less important question right now, than: "How do I get not-on-fire?!"

Maybe approach the organization, explain how grateful you are for their kindness. Explain the threat concern. If possible, offer to have your association pick up any price difference. That way you don't come off as ungrateful, or asking for more.

Garg 'nuair dhùisgear

CAE5 posted:

If possible, offer to have your association pick up any price difference. That way you don't come off as ungrateful, or asking for more.

I'm thinking I will probably try to reach out to the organization and voice my concerns, if for no other reason, than to ensure they're not just unaware of the problem /solution.

 

As far as having my agency pick up the tab for the difference in plates, that'd be ... highly unlikely.

 

Large metro agency, 1600+ sworn ... Even if it was just a few hundred or less per kit, I doubt they'd do it. Neither will most of the cops. We get $900/yr for a uniform/equipment allowance. Our uniforms are provided, that money is for gear, boots, tailoring, etc.

I've preached for the last four years to guys that will listen, that they can get a solid kit for about half of one years' equipment allowance. Those that were motivated and willing - have already done it. Those that weren't - never will. And they're certainly not going to pay out of pocket to upfit their new hotness free gear. 

I'm sticking with my current rig with my (relatively speaking ) heavy plates that stop all known threats. Maybe I'll start saving my pennies and upgrade to a lighter level III plate next year. 

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It's all about priorities and mindset: "Why am I on fire?" is a much less important question right now, than: "How do I get not-on-fire?!"

Crash-7 posted:
CAE5 posted:

If possible, offer to have your association pick up any price difference. That way you don't come off as ungrateful, or asking for more.

 

Large metro agency, 1600+ sworn ... Even if it was just a few hundred or less per kit, I doubt they'd do it. Neither will most of the cops. We get $900/yr for a uniform/equipment allowance. Our uniforms are provided, that money is for gear, boots, tailoring, etc.

I've preached for the last four years to guys that will listen, that they can get a solid kit for about half of one years' equipment allowance. Those that were motivated and willing - have already done it. Those that weren't - never will. And they're certainly not going to pay out of pocket to upfit their new hotness free gear. 

 

I was afraid that would be the case. My son is LE. Makes good money, won't spend a dime on better kit for his safety. I end up getting him stuff (plates, IFAC etc) for Christmas. Still trying  to convince him his Keltec P3AT backup/ off duty should be upgraded.

Garg 'nuair dhùisgear

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