Interacting with others is where the potential for danger often lies. While private investigator's need training and licensing in most states to operate, in certain others, this is not the case, meaning untrained individuals may enter situations without knowing how to handle them best – possibly leading to trouble. Even for well-trained, licensed private investigators, some encounters lead to hostility, and they must draw on experience to find a way out. In some cases, you may even need a body armor vest (often referred to as bulletproof vests.) But how do you know which is right to keep you safe in any given situation?
Here are five tips to help you stay as safe as possible with body armor vests: whether you are familiar with the basics, or you're a novice, these five tips should boost your personal security, whatever the case.
1: Understand the Difference Between NIJ LevelsBallistic vests are tested and rated by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and assigned a specific level based on the amount of protection they offer against specific firearms. This is one of the most important parts of choosing the right body armor vest – if you wear armor with a low rating, you may set yourself up for severe harm.
Body armor vests are rated in five levels: 2A, 2, 3A, 3, and 4. covering 'soft' Kevlar-only armors, and 'hard' vests incorporating ballistic plates (typically made of steel or ceramics) as well as multiple layers of Kevlar.
2: Choose Your Visibility WiselyAs private investigator's perform surveillance on an individual (such as when gathering evidence on a person believed to be cheating on their spouse), maintaining a low profile is a necessity: if the subject suspects things aren't quite right, you may scupper your case – or worse. Armor is available in both overt (worn outside) and covert styles (worn inside.)
Covert vests are designed to be more lightweight, with breathable materials for greater comfort during periods of prolonged wear. These are available up to level 3A. If you believe your subject poses such severe danger to warrant wearing the highest level of protection, you should monitor them from a distance.
3: Wear Enough Ballistic Protection to Suit Your Own AmmunitionIf you are licensed to carry a firearm, make sure your vest offers enough protection to stop your ammunition – a shot may ricochet, or your firearm may fall into other hands – It has happened to the best of them. Be prepared for all possibilities.
4: Be ExactProper fit is essential to ensuring your vest offers the protection you need – an improperly sized armor can still leave you exposed to danger. Wearing an oversized vest will leave a gap between the material and torso wide enough for a bullet to pass between; it may also cause the top to push into your throat or drop as you move. On the other hand, an undersized vest may feel too tight, and leave your mobility restricted. Measure your height and chest before you order, and check your results against supplier's size chart.
5: Consider Adding Extra ProtectionWhen ordering body armor, it is possible to add more protection to defend against blades and spiked weapons. This will add more to the cost, but could prove invaluable if you encounter an aggressive individual carrying a knife or hypodermic needle instead of a firearm. Stab and spike protection is achieved through a tight weave of Kevlar fibers, to create friction and trap pointed tips before they can tear through.
Body armor may save your life someday if you find yourself working cases involving dangerous individuals. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the options available, and the advantages each offers.
Brian Blackwell Investigations