POLICE Magazine Supplements

Ballistic Protection 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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s patrol officers execute more search warrants for dangerous offenders or respond to an in- creasing number of active shooter attacks, they need specialized equipment including first-rate head protection. at's why more and more agencies are providing patrol officers with helmets that offer ballistic protection. As a patrol officer being issued a helmet, you likely have questions about this gear. Here are some answers from helmet experts to some common questions you are likely to have about your head protection. 1. What are the current standards for head protection? e current body armor standard and testing program of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ 0101.06) does not stip- ulate specific requirements for ballistic helmets as it does for ballistic vests, but protocols established by the Department of Justice through its federal agencies are driving developments and adoption. Similarly, military/NATO requirements like the STANAG 2920 and international specifications such as VPAM (HVN-2009)—considered to be the gold standard in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland—have been instrumental in provid- ing guidelines for the global law enforcement community. 2. What are the latest technologies advancing ballistic hel- met performance? New materials based on ultra-high molecular weight poly- ethylene (UHMWPE) tape technology are leading the way. Tape technology involves a different creation process com- pared to traditional fiber production and presents an innova- tive structural element that boosts ballistic-resistant properties for use in helmets and other hard armor applications. ere is also ongoing research in resin technology that shows signifi- cant performance enhancements in ballistic material fibers. 3. How are innovations helping to make officers' jobs safer and easier? New advancements are giving officers more options and features than ever before. ese include: increased edge and multi-impact capabilities that boost the helmet's protective area; lighter ballistic materials that provide a more ergonom- ic and comfortable solution; dial/extension systems that offer uni-sizing, greater adjustability, and better fit; and more com- pact designs that make it easier to store and access equipment from the officer's patrol car. 4. What should agencies be looking for when considering ballistic helmet protection? A helmet that is designed to stop NIJ Level IIIA rounds and is multi-hit capable is a must-have. Agencies should also consider a modern helmet solution that provides a one-size-fits-all op- tion, so that any officer can utilize the equipment. Further, the helmet needs to be easily accessible from a patrol vehicle. Look for key features such as blunt force protection, high-fragmenta- tion protection, a riot/impact shield, advanced padding system for shock attenuation, NVG mounts, rails with speed-system connection for adding critical tools such as visors and camer- as, and a quick release harness detachment system. Traditional helmets protected officers against liquid threats and other im- pacts but now there are advancements that safeguard against missiles, including thrown bottles and rocks and, depending on ballistic rating, bullets. Agencies must consider what their budgets can afford them. If they are able to purchase more advanced capabilities, they should do so. Your run-of-the-mill helmet will not offer the lev- el of flexibility to add features as needed. 5. How can helmets be an affordable line item in my agency's budget? e modular and multi-use capabilities provided by today's ballistic helmet innovations make them a more budget-friendly option for law enforcement departments. is is reinforced by one-size-fits-all designs that let agencies purchase fewer units than they did in the past. 6. How important is officer training? 8 | SP E C I A L R E P O RT | B A L L I S T IC PR O T E C T IO N Head protection is becoming more prevalent in police operations, and many officers have questions about how to gain the most benefit from this gear. Jonathan MacNeil and Steve Murphy 10 Things You Need to Know About Ballistic Helmets A

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