The Life-Saving Effectiveness of Body Armor for Police Officers

Published in: Journal of Occupational & Environmental Hygiene, v. 7, no. 10, Oct. 2010, p. 557-562

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2010

by Tom LaTourrette

Read More

Access further information on this document at oeh.informaworld.com

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of protective body armor on a police officer's risk of being killed and estimate the benefits and costs of outfitting police with body armor. In the United States, for police shot in the torso from 2004 to 2007 (n = 262), we calculate the relative risk of death from a gunshot without and with body armor. We estimate the benefit of body armor using the willingness-to-pay approach and compare it with the cost of supplying armor to police not currently wearing armor. The results show that the relative risk of dying without armor is = 3.4 (95% CI: 2.4 to 4.6). Outfitting all police with armor would save at least 8.5 lives per year, resulting in a benefit that is nearly twice the cost, or a net benefit of ~$100/officer. Body armor more than triples the likelihood that a police officer will survive a shooting to the torso. Outfitting all police with armor yields a positive net benefit and is strongly justified economically.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.