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Survivors' Club

Survivor's Club

Anna Knight, Club Administrator, and Ron McBride, Chief of Police (Ret.) and Law Enforcement Consultant

he IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club® pays tribute to those deserving officers who have avoided serious or potentially fatal injuries through the use of any kind of body armor. This column is dedicated to sharing their experiences, in hopes of persuading others to wear their armor. If body armor has helped you or a member of your department survive such an accident or assault, please contact Anna Knight, Club Administrator, IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club®, 5401 Jefferson Davis Highway, Richmond, VA 23234; 804-383-3853; 800-441-2746; fax: 804-383-2477; e-mail: Anna.G.Knight-1@

The Survivors' Club application is also available on the IACP's Web site,, under Awards/Survivors' Club.

Body Armor Saves Colorado Officer during Assault with Motor Vehicle

Early on a spring morning, Officer Michael E. Kippes of the Lafayette, Colorado, Police Department was assisting fellow officers attempting to make a motor vehicle stop of a suspected drunk driver who was fleeing police. As Kippes sought a position on the road ahead where he could deploy a tire deflation device designed to slow the suspect's vehicle, the suspected drunk driver veered into the officer's lane of travel and collided head-on with the marked patrol car at approximately 70 miles an hour. There were no skid marks from either vehicle and both vehicles were destroyed in the collision.

Kippes was able to walk away from the accident but suffered a broken hand, a damaged knee, and contusions to the head. When he was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, physicians reported that the body armor the officer was wearing probably spared him from severe internal injuries.

Officer Kippes was released from the hospital four hours after the incident and was out of work for three months. He has returned to full duty. The suspect, who was severely injured in the collision and required extrication from the vehicle, was later charged with multiple offenses.

Metal Trauma Plate in Vest Protects Virginia Officer in Knife Attack

When the landlord of an apartment complex called police just before midnight to handle a domestic dispute, Officer Chad E. Lee of the Norfolk, Virginia, Police Department responded to the scene. When he arrived at the apartment in question, Lee knocked on the door and identified himself as a police officer. A woman inside the residence responded angrily and refused to open the door, prompting the officer to call for backup.

After the second officer reached the scene, the officers again attempted to communicate with the suspect, ordering her to open the door. She complied and the officers attempted to place her under arrest for disorderly conduct. When Lee tried to handcuff the woman, a struggle ensued. During the confrontation, as the officers attempted to subdue her, the suspect produced a six-inch buck knife and wounded Lee three times. The first strike of the knife caused a superficial laceration to his left thigh. The second strike was stopped by the metal trauma plate in the center of his chest. The third strike was to his hip, where the knife cut his duty belt.

The officers were able to gain control and handcuff the suspect. Lee was treated at the scene for the minor laceration to his leg. The suspect was charged with aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer.

Body Armor Saves the Life of Minnesota Sheriff's Deputy

On a recent afternoon, Deputy Jason M. Christensen of the Olmstead County Sheriff's Department was patrolling a residential area of Stewartville, Minnesota. During his tour of duty, Christensen recognized Calvin Clarence Barrett, a subject with a long criminal history, moving items out of an apartment.

After confirming an active warrant on Barrett, Christensen exited his patrol vehicle and spoke to the suspect. It initially appeared as if Barrett would allow Christensen to arrest him without incident. But suddenly the suspect bolted and ran across several back yards of the normally quiet neighborhood. Christensen radioed for assistance and pursued the suspect. As he closed on the suspect, Christensen attempted to subdue Barrett with two shots from his taser without success. After the deputy cornered the suspect in a back yard, the suspect drew a .32-caliber revolver and fired five shots at the officer. Two of the shots struck the officer in the chest and were stopped by his personal body armor. A third shot entered his left hip. Deputy Christensen drew his .40-caliber pistol and returned fire, striking the suspect twice in the back.

Both Christensen and the suspect were taken by helicopter to a nearby hospital for treatment. Barret died in the hospital emergency room from the wounds received during the gun battle. An autopsy later revealed that he had been under the influence of alcohol and cocaine during the incident.

Christensen was hospitalized for a day following the incident and continues to recover from his wounds. He is preparing to return to full duty status later this year. Olmstead County Sheriff Steve Borchardt said the body armor worn by Christensen not only protected him from more serious injury but also enabled him to defend himself against a very dangerous suspect who was obviously intent on not being arrested. ■

Although manufacturers of bullet-resistant vests engineer their products to meet ballistic standards, history shows that such garments also provide limited protection against other threats, such as club and knife assaults (will not protect against sharp, pointed knives or ice picks), automobile accidents, motorcycle spills, falls, fires, explosions, etc. Nothing offers total protection, but personal body armor will improve the odds of surviving many of the life-threatening incidents constantly facing law officers.



From The Police Chief, vol. 70, no. 9, September 2003. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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