City Replaces Body Armor After Safety Notice

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A recommendation to replace body armor has been taken to heart by the city of Cadillac.

The city is ordering 27 new vests from American Body Armor at a cost of $11,700. The move follows a revelation from Second Chance Body Armor that it does not have confidence in its Tri-Flex products to perform for the life of the original warranty. “We had to scramble and make other arrangements,” said Jeff Hawke, Cadillac Director of Public Safety.

There is also little hope of recovering any money from Second Chance or Toyobo, the manufacturer of the synthetic fiber Zylon that was determined to deteriorate over time. Second Chance has filed for bankruptcy and is pursuing legal action against Toyobo.

According to information on the Second Chance Web site, the individual fiber degrades and can result in sudden, dramatic or catastrophic loss of tensile strength. Second Chance was informed on May 17 of the problem.

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The company cannot predict when the fibers will reach the point of failure, none of which have been reported to date. The Tri-Flex vests are the second bullet proof vests from Second Chance the city has had to replace. The company’s Ultima line of armor was also determined to have deterioration potential. In total, the company issued warnings on 98,000 bulletproof vests.

Hawke said the city intends to retain the old vests while it keeps an eye on litigation proceedings. “Officers safety is No. 1, there is no question what needs to happen,” Hawke said. “Although it was a surprise and totally unbudgeted, there was no hesitation at all.”

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