While I believe that the possession of body armor by a criminal or during the commission of a crime should be an additional criminal charge against the suspect, I truly believe that sheepdogs should be able to own and wear body armor for their personal protection.
I see the days coming in the fairly near future that those who have body armor will need to wear it on a daily basis, whether LE or not. Get level III or IIIA if you can afford it. But remember, it’s better to be wearing level II if you get shot than nothing at all. It’s 25 pounds that can save your life.
A few important things to know about body armor. Even level IV rifle plates (steel OR ceramic) will not stop a .50cal. And even with rifle plates, you are going to feel the blow of a 5.56 or a 7.62.
Soft body armor is considered successful in stopping a bullet even if you get a heck of a bruise or broken ribs. The NIJ standards allow for about a 44mm backface deformation, and if you think that won’t bother you, please let me smack you in the chest with a ball peen hammer as hard as I can. 44mm backface deformation means that the armor will push that far into your chest, back or stomach. A bruise you won’t forget.
Another thing to think about is that there are unprotected areas that can still allow you to get shot, hopefully not fatally. The armor does not normally extend to your belt line, and that can be a good thing. Early body armor was about as flexible as a chunk of plywood. If your vest was too long, and sometimes if it wasn’t, you’d slide into your patrol car and get your belly pinched between the armor and your duty belt when you sat down. It’s something you never forget. That early stiff-as-a-board kevlar was good for absorbing body punches or protecting you from the steering wheel in an accident, but climbing through a window or over a fence was a real pain.
The stuff our troops wear in the sandbox is heavier and hotter, but protects better. And speaking of hot, there is no way to describe working checkpoints, etc. in 100 degree humid weather with no breeze, but it’s a great way to lose weight (or get seriously dehydrated). But like the officer in the story above, better hot than shot.
For my brother and sister LEO’s, I remind you to wear your armor ALL THE TIME! And for security officers, sheepdogs, and average Joe citizen, consider becoming one of the few, the overheated, the survivors.