Officers Thankful For Bullet Proof Vests - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/29/02

Officers Thankful For Bullet Proof Vests

They're designed to stop a bullet. But most police officers would rather not experience their bullet proof vests being put to the test.

Such a vest is credited with saving the life of Hancock County deputy, Lamar Jones, who exchanged gunfire with a suspect in Pearlington early Thursday.

News of that shooting has area police officers thankful for their own protective vests.

Biloxi police officer, Vince Myrick, usually doesn't think about putting on his bullet proof vest. It's standard equipment. But the shooting in Hancock County made him thankful for the body armor.

"My sister works at dispatch. She called me right when it came out and told me what had happened. Just touch your vest and thank God you've got it on," said Myrick.

Kevlar is the extra tough material most vests are made of.

"This is the ballistic panel. This is actually what stops the round," explained officer Larry Murphy, as he showed a reporter his bullet proof vest.

Along with the Kevlar, Murphy adds an extra layer of protection. A titanium plate covers the chest area.

"It's not that the metal is supposed to stop it. All that does is make the bullet expand before it hits the Kevlar. Actually this Kevlar has more strength than the titanium does," said Murphy.

The older version vests are big and bulky and rather uncomfortable to wear. But technology has changed all that. The new version is lighter, stronger and a lot more comfortable.

Gulfport officer, David Waltman, says the vests are a standard part of the police uniform.

"Safety is first. The goal is to go home at the end of the day. And if the vest helps you do that, then we're going to wear them. We strap on the badge, the gun and the vest goes with it," he said.

The vest that stopped a bullet in Hancock County is all the convincing officers need.

"It's a very, it's an essential piece of equipment that you need. It could save your life. It did the other day for that other officer," said Myrick.

By Steve Phillips

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