Police officers and sheriff's deputies across the country are checking the tags on their bulletproof vests. That after the U.S. attorney general ordered an investigation into vests made with a fiber known as zylon. It wants to be sure those vests aren't failing the officers they're meant to protect.
When Tallahassee police officers surrounded a Westside home last week, you can bet they were all wearing bulletproof vests. Fifteen-year TAC team veteran Mark Wheeler chose the "safariland" model instead of the newer zylon vest.
"Even though both vests stopped the same bullets, the actual blunt force trauma was less, so I picked that," says Mark Wheeler.
On Tuesday the attorney general ordered a 90-day investigation to see if vests made with the fiber called zylon degrade too quickly and leave officers prone to a bad guys bullet.
"In several cases around the country, vests less than a year old have failed. Bullets have penetrated and caused critical injuries to police officers."
We found that most agencies in Tallahassee do not use these new lightweight vests. FHP has a few that were chosen by the individual troopers, and the Leon County Sheriff’s Department has a handful too, which Lt. Gene Revell says will be replaced by the manufacturer ASAP.
Officers cross-country are waiting for answers from the feds though his department doesn't use the vests in question. Tallahassee Police Lt. Mark Wheeler says all officers need to know if the new fiber is safe.
"If one bullet is getting through because the material is bad, we need to know make sure it wasn't that strain of manufacturing or the stuff that was made that Monday. So it's very critical they find out exactly what it is, not just generalize, because we need to know."
The U.S. justice department will conduct its own longevity tests and report back to the attorney general in 90 days. We'll let you know what they find out.