Vest Saves Life Contest
Law Officer has been looking for the most compelling ballistic armor save stories on our Facebook page. We’ve gotten some incredible submissions from all over the country, each of which drives home the point—wear your vest! We've narrowed down all the submissions to the following four stories. Now we'd like you to select the final winner!
How to Vote
Please read each body armor save story before you cast your vote on the Law Officer Facebook poll. Please visit www.facebook.com/lawofficer to find the contest poll question pinned at the top of the page. Please don't post your vote as a comment on the Facebook wall.
When to Vote
Poll question will be posted on the Law Officer Facebook page on Thursday, May 31st (noon PST). The body armor save story with the most votes by Friday, June 1st (noon PST), wins and will be displayed in print and online! Note: You can only vote once!
- Promotes officers to wear body armor
While working as a deputy in North Western Vermont, I was responding to an active domestic call and traveling code on a rural road during heavy rain. As I rounded a corner, my cruiser hydroplaned on the standing water in the roadway and I lost control. The cruiser spun around and was rear ended into a boulder at about 70 mph. The force of the impact was so severe that the cage behind my seat was dented from the driver’s seat thrusting into it. Despite being momentarily unconscious and having a laceration to my head, whiplash and my boots pulled from my feet, I didn’t suffer any injuries to my torso thanks to my seat belt. Also, my Point Blank level IIIA vest that I had purchased a week prior dispersed the impact, keeping me from receiving bruising or broken ribs from the collision.
Submitted by Chad Parah, Swanton Village, Vt. PD
On January 2, 2010, I put on my Safariland ABA vest and wrapped it around my waist like I had done a thousand times before. Then I went on to the new step in my routine and kissed my 12-week-old son goodbye before snapping a picture of my wife holding him. Being a new father, I was still in the “snap-a-picture-of-every-moment” stage. Little did I know how close that moment was to being my last memory of them.
The first half of my 12-hour shift seemed to fly by. After several reports and a couple arrests, I found myself parked behind a desk working on paperwork. Around 4 am, I decided to walk out into the bone-chilling morning air to grab a snack from my cruiser. As I reached my car, I heard a metallic click that I hadn’t noticed before. When I turned my head to investigate, I locked eyes with a suspect I had arrested earlier in my shift for drunk driving—only this time he showed up with a .357 revolver and an ambush plan.
I had zero time to react. His first round hit me in the back, but my training took over as I began to return fire and make my way to cover while calling for help on the radio. The suspect’s next four rounds missed me. After nine rounds from my weapon and seven more from my partner, the suspect was down in the parking lot.
My brain and emotions were running at record pace as I met my partner in the parking lot to check me out. As I lay there on the pavement as the first responders started to arrive, imagine my relief as he screamed, “It’s in your vest!” Instead of a helicopter ride or a body bag, I was given a short trip to the local hospital to get checked out.
I don’t want to think about the alternative outcome of this situation had I not put my vest on that night—I would have been out of the fight before I realized what was happening. I’m sure it wouldn’t have resulted with me walking out of the ER just a couple hours afterward with my son in my arms. I still think about that day often and always cheer myself up by looking at my favorite picture—the one they took of me holding my son in my living room that morning after I arrived home. Bottom line: Please always wear your body armor!
Submitted by Justin Conley, Mount Orab, Ohio PD
The night of July 17, 2005, was cold in New York City. Only a few cars were out for the midnight tour so coverage was sparse. When it began to rain at about 1 a.m., the night took on an ominous feel. Calls were coming in but nothing too crazy.
But something changed around 2 a.m. “Shots fired” came over the air. In New York, “shots fired” could mean nothing—or it could mean everything! That night it meant everything—and more.
The address was right up the street. In the short ride over, my mind began to process what to expect. Expectation was far off from reality.
The scene unfolded outside a Roman Catholic Church. We patrolled the area, seeing and hearing nothing. After a while, I called into central to close the call out with ‘unfounded.’ But just then—BOOM! We backed up and made a U-turn. The sound was reminiscent of an M-80 firework. Just as we completed a 180-degree turn, we could see a man with a long object in his hand. He began to charge after us, firing twice in our direction. This was fight-or-flight time. With my adrenaline pumping and my mind racing, it was time to fight!
“Central, we have a man with a gun!” With those eight words, the whole precinct and nearby commands were coming. With every “show me going” coming over the radio, a calmness surrounded me, unlike anything I felt before. Being in the passenger seat, I felt it was my job to assess the situation and come up with a tactical plan. I directed my partner to park about 200 feet away from initial contact. Thinking this was enough of a buffer to give us a chance to prepare, we pulled over to the side of a park. As the car came to a stop, I knew there was a chance this may not end well—for us or the assailant.
I put my radio in my left hand and ripped my gun out of its holster. Just as I was opening the door and bursting out, I could hear the cries of my partner as he was shot in the leg. My mind was aiming for the park slide made of metal, knowing that was my only chance at cover since he was so close. As I exited, I took two steps and—boom.
All I remember was getting knocked to the sidewalk like I was checked in a hockey game. Once all the chaos was settled, I was transported to the hospital. Turns out the gunman had a sawed-off shotgun with double-OO shells standing about 15 feet away when he fired at me. One pellet struck my head and 8 pellets hit my back. Somehow while injured, my partner was able to return fire and injure the gunman.
My partner—and my vest—saved my life. Not one pellet penetrated my vest. All that’s left are faint scars—and an experience to last a lifetime.
Submitted by Dominick Romano, NYPD
On Oct. 22, 2010, I was working the swing shift (17-0300). There were two other officers on at this time. One was working a regular patrol shift and the other was working a DUI shift. At approximately 20:20 hrs, we were dispatched to a verbal domestic disturbance. The other patrol officer and I were only a few blocks away and arrived on scene at about the same time. While traveling to the address, we were given an update that the male party was beginning to throw items. After we got on scene, it took a few moments to get a response at the door. Once in contact, I asked where the male was located. I was advised of his name and told he was in a back room. When I reached the door that went to the back room, I announced myself and received a rude response. The male yelled at me to leave and entered from another part of the room.
Once I observed the male, I also saw his hands reaching for something—he was pulling a gun from his pocket. He stripped the holster off and pointed the gun in the air. I drew my service weapon (Sig 226). I began to give orders as the male walked away and my partner came into the room with his weapon drawn. Just as quick, the male reached a garage door, he bent down for the door and at the same time lowered the gun and fired. I was stuck in the upper left side of my chest. I fell to the ground. As I was falling, I recall seeing my partner returning fire. I reached for my radio microphone and yelled, “shots fired!” I stood up and followed my partner. I holstered my service weapon and grabbed my handcuffs. I handcuffed the suspect and walked away in disbelief.
My partner grabbed me, ripped my shirt open and then lifted my vest away from my chest. He told me I was good, meaning my vest stopped the bullet. Still in “cop” mode, I called for assistance and EMS. The officer who was working a DUI shift grabbed me and asked if I was OK. I told him I was, and with both his hands on my arms, he said, “Good, now go sit in my car.” I was caught by EMS personnel and loaded into the ambulance.
While I was in the ambulance, my partner and I asked to call family. When I reached for my cell phone, which I always keep in my left breast pocket, I found it—with a hole in it. I was later taken to the hospital and released a few hours later to go home. I’ve been told that not only did my vest save my life, but so did my cell phone because it absorbed a lot of the impact. Thank god for Point Blank Body Armor!
Submitted by Garrett Duncan, Rifle, Colo. PD