May 9, 2006
Jefferson City, Mo. — Attorney General Jay Nixon is urging law enforcement agencies around the state to examine their inventories of body armor after tests have found flaws in certain models that make them vulnerable to penetration from firearms.
The U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) performed extensive tests on body armor containing Zylon fibers and concluded that the armor failed to provide adequate protection to stop a bullet, particularly when the armor is exposed to heat or moisture. Last August, the NIJ decertified all vests containing Zylon because the vests appeared to create a risk of death or serious injury.
“Body armor has become a vital tool for law enforcement and has been responsible for saving many lives,” Nixon said. “Unfortunately, body armor containing Zylon can be flawed, and I urge agencies to replace those vests as soon as possible to protect their officers.”
Nixon sent a letter this week to Missouri law enforcement agencies to inform them of the manufacturers affected by the problems with Zylon and about several class action lawsuit settlements. Many of the manufacturers have agreed to replace the vests or compensate vest owners. Law enforcement agencies can find out more these settlements through www.ago.mo.gov. Those manufacturers are:
In addition, legal action is pending against First Choice Armor & Equipment. The lawsuit claims that First Choice knew as early as 2001 about problems with Zylon.
“The safety of the men and women of this state is of the utmost concern to me and I urge you to take necessary steps to ensure the well-being of your officers,” Nixon wrote.
Nixon said his Consumer Protection Division is prepared to assist Missouri law enforcement agencies with any questions they have about replacing body armor containing Zylon.