Anna Knight, Club Administrator, and Ron McBride, Chief of Police (Ret.) and Law Enforcement Consultant The 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@USA.dupont.com.
The Survivors’ Club application is also available on the IACP’s Web site, www.theiacp.org, under Awards/Survivors’ Club.
Officers Inducted during Annual IACP Conference
A trio of police officers from Philadelphia was formally inducted into the IACP/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club during the 110th Annual IACP Law Enforcement Education and Technology Exposition.
Officer Sean F. Mellon was pursuing a vehicle wanted in a carjacking on when the vehicle's two occupants stopped and fled on foot. As Mellon overtook one of the fleeing suspects and attempted to apprehend him, the subject brandished a .40-caliber pistol and fired two shots. The first shot struck Mellon in the lower right chest and was stopped by his protective vest. The second bullet went below the vest into the officer's lower torso, fortunately missing vital internal organs. Fellow officers returned fire, killing the suspect at the scene. Mellon was hospitalized for two days and released. Since the incident, Mellon has qualified for promotion to detective.
Officer Alfred Diggs of the Philadelphia Police Department's Northwest Narcotics Field Unit was working surveillance when he observed a person buying drugs on a street corner. After arresting the buyer, Diggs and his fellow officers went after the dealer. As they identified themselves as police officers and attempted to arrest the seller, the subject pulled a .357-caliber handgun and fired a nearly contact single shot striking Officer Diggs in the upper right chest. The bullet was stopped by Diggs's body armor. As the suspect fled the scene, he was shot and wounded by officers. He was later apprehended. Diggs was treated at a hospital for a bruise and was released. He has returned to active duty.
Officer James T. Madden observed a suspicious male subject near the 30th Street train station in Philadelphia. After determining that the subject had escaped from Amtrak police officers, Madden attempted to arrest the suspect. A struggle ensued as the officer tried to apply a pair of handcuffs to the subject. The suspect swung his left arm with the handcuff attached, striking Madden in the face, and grabbed the officer's 9mm service pistol. The suspect fired a single shot into the officer's back that was stopped by his personal body armor. Madden spun around to see the suspect aiming the gun at the Madden's head. Madden knocked the gun away from the suspect, who then fled. The suspect was arrested a short time later and charged with attempted murder of a police officer. Madden, who was hospitalized briefly for a bruise caused by the bullet that struck his vest, has returned to active duty.
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. 12, December 2003. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.