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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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.