Rebecca McClelland Stickley, IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club
fficer safety and wellness has always been a top priority for IACP. The association believes that no injury or death of a law enforcement officer is acceptable, and the IACP’s projects and programs work toward the goal of zero law enforcement officer fatalities by encouraging a culture of safety and wellness.
|Survivor Story: Detective Phillip Schaper|
Detective Phillip Schaper has served with the New Middletown, Ohio, Police Department (NMPD) for the entirety of his nine-year law enforcement career. NMPD is a village agency that serves a population of less than 10,000 in northeastern Ohio.
On the afternoon of July 11, 2013, while on patrol, Detective Schaper experienced a dramatic drop in blood sugar levels that caused him to go into a “twilight” type of consciousness. He drove from New Middletown, through several adjoining jurisdictions, before entering the city of Youngstown. There, he lost consciousness and struck a guardrail while traveling in excess of 50 mph. Detective Schaper had to be extricated from his vehicle, which was determined to be a total loss. He was transported to a nearby trauma unit where he was diagnosed with various facial injuries.
The emergency personnel that responded to the scene, emergency room doctors, and investigating officers all credit the reduced injuries to the fact that Detective Schaper was wearing his seat belt, the airbags deployed properly, and the detective was wearing his bulletproof vest.
|Survivor Story: Officer Gregory Ivory|
Officer Gregory Ivory of the Springfield, Ohio, Police Division (SPD) has been a law enforcement officer for 10 years, all of them with SPD, which is a midsize agency in southwest Ohio.
On August 24, 2012, just after 2300 hours, officers were dispatched to respond to a domestic dispute. When Officer Ivory arrived on the scene, he found the suspect fighting with another male. Upon Officer Ivory’s verbal order for the men to stop fighting, the suspect produced a handgun and fired a round at Officer Ivory, striking him in the abdomen. Officer Ivory returned fire and the suspect fled the scene on foot.
Officer Ivory radioed that he had been shot, and additional officers responded and began treating Officer Ivory. The suspect, found in a nearby shrub row, was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital where he died.
Officer Ivory was transported to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released. Because Officer Ivory wore his protective vest, he was able to effectively deal with the situation at hand and continue to serve his community.
|THE BULLETPROOF VEST PARTNERSHIP|
initiative provides resources to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to purchase body armor for sworn officers. Since 1999, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership has reimbursed more than 13,000 jurisdictions for the purchase of over one million vests.*
For more information on this program, visit http://ojp.gov/bvpbasi/home.html.
* U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, “Bulletproof Vest Partnership,” http://ojp.gov/bvpbasi/home.html (accessed March 20, 2014).
|FOR MORE INFORMATION|
To learn more about innovations in body armor and other protective gear for officers and to find companies that provide those types of products, check out the the Product Feature.
One topic that has been a vital component of officer safety efforts is the use of personal body armor, such as bulletproof vests.
In 1987, IACP and DuPont Kevlar joined together to create the IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club. This non-commercial partnership was formed for the following three-part mission:
- To reduce death and disability by encouraging increased wearing of personal body armor.
- To recognize and honor those deserving individuals who, as a result of wearing personal body armor, have survived a life-threatening or life-disabling incident.
- To serve the law enforcement community by collecting this important data and sharing valuable information relating to these survivor incidents.
To fulfill this mission, the Survivors’ Club focuses on recognition, awareness, and practice. As stated in the mission statement, the Survivors’ Club recognizes law enforcement officers who have survived a life-threatening or disabling situation as a result of wearing personal body armor. Through this recognition of individuals and the collection and dissemination of data, the Survivors’ Club raises awareness of the importance of wearing personal body armor. The ultimate goal of the Survivors’ Club is to increase the practice of protective body armor wear by law enforcement officers to reduce injuries and fatalities.
Since its inception, over 3,100 law enforcement officers have been inducted into the Survivors’ Club. Survivors’ Club members become advocates and help raise awareness of the importance of personal body armor wear. Survivors often comment on how they use their status as a club member to discuss body armor use in trainings and in day-to-day encounters with other law enforcement officers. Many Survivors’ Club members wear their pins, not only in remembrance of what they have been through, but also as a conversation starter with others. Through their stories, Survivors’ Club members are able to inspire others to make the practice of wearing personal body armor a standard and thereby save countless lives.
To become a member of the IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club, an officer must have survived a potentially life-threatening or disabling incident because of the use of personal body armor. The types of incidents that qualify a candidate for membership include assaults and attacks with firearms, knives, clubs, chains, and other weapons. Also included are incidents such as vehicle and motorcycle crashes, fires, and explosions. The use of any brand of body armor or ballistic material is acceptable for consideration.
Following the receipt of an application, candidates are verified by the club administrator to ensure that they qualify for membership. Upon acceptance into the Survivors’ Club, new members will receive recognition by the IACP and DuPont in the form of a letter, membership plaque, and lapel pin as well as a complimentary, one-year subscription to Police Chief magazine. Club members are awarded their personalized mementos via their departments. Survivors’ Club members may choose to have their stories shared through various dissemination channels or may remain anonymous. To download an application, visit www.iacp.org/survivorsclub.
Law enforcement leaders are encouraged to submit an application if a qualifying incident occurs in their jurisdictions. The recognition of officers sends a message to all officers within the agency and surrounding agencies that body armor wear is important and commendable. The data from the application is also vitally important as IACP furthers its safety and wellness initiatives.
While recognition is a key part of the Survivors’ Club mission, this recognition contributes to the second focus area: awareness. Survivors’ Club members become ambassadors for body armor wear among their peers. In addition, the data collected through the Survivors’ Club application process is analyzed and used to inform future safety and wellness efforts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI’s) Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) data reports that 52,901 officers were assaulted in 2012 with 27.7 percent of those officers (14,678) sustaining injuries from the assault.1 Data-based research shows that the use of personal body armor reduces the instance of injury or death for officers that encounter life-threatening or disabling scenarios.
In 2009, the IACP in partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, embarked upon a project to track and analyze injuries incurred by law enforcement officers. The Reducing Officer Injuries project looked at OSHA reportable injuries. The study found that officers who were wearing body armor at the time they were injured reported fewer lost workdays and fewer days in rehabilitation than those who were not wearing body armor.2 The data from both Survivors’ Club and the Reducing Officer Injuries project shows that the use of body armor can save lives and reduce injury, not only in incidents involving assaults, but also in cases of motor vehicle crashes and other situations where an officer may experience blunt force trauma.
The Survivors’ Club is fully integrated with the IACP’s Center for Officer Safety and Wellness. The Center takes a holistic approach to officer wellness by addressing the challenges in policing at all stages of an officer’s life cycle, including recruitment, early career, advanced career, and retirement. The Center for Officer Safety and Wellness serves as a thought leader in synthesizing wellness information into the tools and resources that will effect a cultural mind-set change toward wellness throughout officers’ lives.
The Survivors’ Club in conjunction with the Center for Officer Safety and Wellness continues to raise awareness through its members and resources. The Survivors’ Club disseminates a quarterly e-newsletter with information and updates on members and available resources. To sign up for the newsletter, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ultimate purpose of the Survivors’ Club is to increase the practice of wearing body armor among law enforcement officers. In order to fulfill their duties of protecting the communities they serve, law enforcement officers must first protect themselves. Most officers know that they should wear protective armor; however,
many choose not to wear it or do not have armor available to wear.
Too often, officers do have department-issued body armor that they choose not to wear because they do not feel it fits comfortably; it is too hot; or they think that, should the need arise, they will have time to put to it on before dealing with a situation. These perceptions create a major obstacle to officer safety efforts and a true culture of safety and wellness. The Survivors’ Club uses the stories of its members and the data collected to show the direct benefits of wearing personal body armor. Body armor is an integral piece of a law enforcement agency’s overall officer safety measures, and one that cannot be ignored.
The IACP, along with other groups and organizations such as Bulletproof Vest Partnership (a program of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice), encourages the implementation of mandatory vest-wear policies. In 2011, the IACP passed a resolution that “calls on all law enforcement executives to immediately develop and implement mandatory body armor wear policies for their departments.”3 The resolution cites numerous statistics from LEOKA, as well as the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF). The resolution also points to the responsibility of government and government leaders to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents and the officers who have dedicated their lives to protecting their community. The IACP has developed a mandatory vest use model policy, which is available through the National Law Enforcement Policy Center.4
It is vitally important for the law enforcement community to recognize the importance of making available proper, functioning body armor to all sworn officers. As is evidenced through the stories included with this article and countless others from Survivors’ Club members, bulletproof vests and other forms of body armor save lives. Not only do they save the lives of the officers who wear them, they save the lives of those that the officers are able to protect.
The IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club recognizes law enforcement officers in order to raise awareness in an effort to ultimately increase the practice of body armor wear by officers and thereby reduce and eventually eliminate all law enforcement officer injuries and fatalities. This initiative is vitally important to overarching officer safety and wellness goals. It is hoped that law enforcement leaders throughout the world will encourage the use of body armor by all sworn officers and implement mandatory wear policies in their agencies. Should an event occur in your jurisdiction where the use of body armor saves an officer’s life, it is hoped that you will share that information by completing a Survivors’ Club application. The story may impact another officer or law enforcement leader. Even if you would like to remain anonymous, and the individual story is not shared, the aggregated data available through the Survivors’ Club informs other safety and wellness efforts that affect the law enforcement community as a whole.
For more information about the IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club or to complete an application, contact Rebecca McClelland Stickley at email@example.com or visit www.iacp.org/survivorsclub.♦
1U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), Uniform Crime Reports, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2012, http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/leoka/2012/officers-assaulted/assaults_topic_page_-2012 (accessed March 20, 2014).
2The International Association of Chiefs of Police, Reducing Officer Injuries Final Report (September 2013).
3Executive Committee, “Mandatory Vest Use by Police Officers,” IACP Resolution adopted at the Executive Committee Meeting (Scottsdale, AZ 2011), http://www.theiacp.org/portals/0/pdfs/Mandatorywearresolutions%20042011.pdf (accessed March 20, 2014).
4The International Association of Chiefs of Police, “National Law Enforcement Policy Center,” http://www.theiacp.org/Model-Policy (accessed March 20, 2014).
Please cite as:
Rebecca McClelland Stickley, “The IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors’ Club,” The Police Chief 81 (May 2014): 44–46.