Police Body Armor | Guide for School Resource Officers

Police Body Armor | Guide for School Resource Officers

School Resource Officers (SRO) are police officers strictly assigned to a school in their jurisdiction. SROs are responsible for the overall security of the school and the students, teachers, and other faculty inside. Today’s blog is all about the body armor that SROs are expected to wear. We want this blog to serve as the official guide for SROs searching for body armor in a school environment. 

What’s the Role of an SRO?

An SRO is assigned to most schools across the country to ensure the safety of students and faculty. Unfortunately, our society has needed the added security of police officers inside schools due to the increase in violence. Having an SRO inside a school can be the difference between a thwarted attack or the next school shooting. 


HOW COMMON ARE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS?

One of the biggest misconceptions in our country is that school shootings happen all the time. According to Supervisory Special Agent Dr. Mary O’Toole, school shootings are not an epidemic and do not occur near as often as the public assumes. However, one shooting is too many, and an SRO can be the biggest difference between a massacre and a scare.

According to the F.B.I., 42 of the 277 incidents between the years 2000-2018 were from K-12 grade schools. That comes out to 15.2% of active shootings in the United States, which is admittingly less than we initially thought. The most commonplace that innocent people get shot is commercial districts, such as malls, department stores, and other business facilities (43.7%). 


WHY DO WE NEED SRO’S?

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, between 2000-2017, there have been 153 casualties in K-12 schools across the country. Sixty-seven students, faculty, and staff members have been killed and 86 wounded in these attacks. Having an armed police officer on site is vital to the successful defense of our youth in a school setting. Police officers are the only ones trained to run towards the gunfire to stop the threat.

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WHAT TYPE OF THREATS DOES AN SRO FACE?

When choosing body armor, it’s incredibly important to understand what kind of threat you’re trying to fight against before selecting your armor. Fortunately, the F.B.I. collects all pertinent data on the weapons used in school shootings. As ominous as this is, these statistics give our nation’s SROs all the information they need to know.

The most common weapons used are handguns, with 94% of school shootings involving a pistol. However, shotguns and rifles have been used with a combined 62%. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 62% of school shooters use one gun only. That gun is most likely going to be a 9mm pistol.


Which Body Armor Should I Wear as an SRO?

Now that you have the information on likely weapons you’ll face, it’s up to you to decide which level to choose. Within the 15% chance of encountering a school shooter, the shooter is 62% likely to have a shotgun or rifle. This tells me everything under a Level/Type III is unacceptable if you want your best chance at survival.

If you’re not sure what the threat-level protections are, read our blog, ShotStop | Buyer’s Guide to Ballistic Armor.

Many officers may think it’s overkill to wear hard plated armor in a school setting. We understand how it looks to the students and faculty, but safety should always be first priority. 

 

One of the most underappreciated aspects to a police officer is the expectation of sacrificing his/her life for the public good. As a police officer, you’re expected to take a bullet for American citizens without a second thought. 

For an SRO, there is nothing more important than the children inside that school. If you don’t have the right protection level, you’re not only risking your life but the lives of those around you. This is why it’s so important to make sure you cover your bases with at least Level/ Type III ballistic protection. 

LEVEL/TYPE 3 BODY ARMOR

We’ve gone over the threat-level protections more than enough in other blogs, so I want to keep this simple. Level 3 body armor will protect you against most AR-15 and AK-47 rifle fire on the market today. 

Most rifles used in school shootings are either an AR-15 style rifle or a hunting rifle found in their home. Most hunting cartridges use a 7.62mm bullet, so level 3 body armor will stop these rounds. Unfortunately, level 3 body armor will not protect against anything stronger than a Dragunov sniper rifle, but that is incredibly rare and illegal to own for most civilians. 

Even though it’s a possibility, there have been no recorded school shootings ever to use a weapon this powerful. Personally, I’d go with the facts, listen to the statistics when choosing which armor to wear. Even if your community is low in crime, it sure doesn’t mean something can’t happen. 


LEVEL/TYPE 4 BODY ARMOR

Level 4 body armor is capable of defeating any ballistic smaller than a .30 caliber blacktip / Armor Piercing. If you’re under attack by a weapon of this caliber, you’ve been let down by the federal government. These weapons are only used in warfare and only given to civilians with very strict FFL licensing. 

Why would an SRO want a level 4 body armor insert? I’d never judge anyone wanting the maximum protection level because level 4 armor will give you the best chance at staying in the fight.  

Level 4 body armor will also offer a low backface deformation in the event of a rifle assault contact. The only concern is if you don’t choose a company like ShotStop®, you’re going to sacrifice comfort and weight. 


Why Would I Not Choose Level 3 or 4 Body Armor?

As a former police officer and soldier, I know body armor very well. The first question we’d always ask when issued new armor was, “how much does it weigh?” During my time as a cop and soldier, my armor weighed around 7-10 lbs for level 3 and Level 4. 

Another issue was the thickness of the plates because it always felt like it restricted cross-arm movement. This severely impacted my ability to draw my sidearm and fire at different angles. 

When we’re trained for active shooter incidents, we must run without a second thought toward the fire and engage the threat without considering our well-being. The last thing you want to think about during an active shooter is if your armor is going to restrict your movements or not.

 

Why Choose ShotStop® Level 3 Body Armor?

Most body armor companies are unable to provide maximum protection and maintain any resemblance to comfort and practicality. ShotStop® produces the lightest, thinnest, and most comfortable body armor in the world. Our Level 3 body armor weighs as little as 2.7 lbs. (stand-alone plate) and will protect you against any shotgun, pistol, or rifle ever used in a school shooting. 

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Our body armor provides each SRO with the peace of mind that if they’re forced to engage a shooter, their armor will protect them. The low-profile of our Duritium® ensures that you won’t sacrifice cross-arm movement. This allows you to shoot at any angle you’d be able to shoot at without armor. 


Conclusion

The job of an SRO is incredibly challenging and complicated because there is so much more to consider being in a school setting. We hope that understanding the facts about school shootings and the threats you’ll face will help make your decision on which armor to wear. We have no doubt, if your organization chooses ShotStop®, you’ll be happier and safer than you could’ve imagined. 

By contacting our sales team today at sales@shotstop.com, your organization can qualify for special deals and discounts for law enforcement. Please take your personal protection seriously and give us a chance to show you why we have the best body armor ever made. Stay safe, and thank you for your service to our communities.


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