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Correctional Officers Body Armor

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Correctional facilities are essential for public safety, and Being a corrections officer is a dangerous and stressful job, however, correctional officers put their lives on the line every day to make sure that dangerous convicted inmates serve their sentences.

Considering the environment prison officers are in, they need to make sure that they have all the right gear for their protection. In the streets, Police officers wear ballistic body armor, which keeps them safe from gunshots, however, in prison, the threats faced by correctional officers are usually different.

Instead of guns, knives and improvised stabbing weapons are a much more serious threat. Therefore, correctional officers use different body armor, and here is everything you need to know.

What threats are correctional officers exposed to when on duty?

Being a correctional officer is not an easy job, apart from the stress and difficult hours, there are a lot of other more serious threats they have to face every day. Prison and penitentiary are filled with some of the worst criminals in society, and Prison security officers are charged with the job of controlling them in a confined environment.

In such situations, a correctional officer’s life is always in danger. From prison riots to routine checks around the prison yard, a correctional officer can get jumped, or stabbed with an improvised weapon

Though it is difficult for prisoners to get their hands on a gun, improvised stabbing devices (shivs) are a common threat. Moreover, most prison guards don’t carry guns on them either, because they can easily be stolen by prisoners.

Therefore, the most common threats a corrections officer is exposed to are improvised stabbing devices, and blunt force weapons, like batons or the famous batteries in a sock.

What do corrections officers wear?

Like most law enforcement officials, prison officers also have to wear a specific uniform that is approved by the (Department of corrections) DOC. The officer uniforms consist of a shirt, pants, a tie, boots or work shoes, and in some cases a hat as well. The uniform shirts also have rank patches and nameplates, and in the winters, they might also wear jackets as a part of their uniform.

Security officers in prisons also wear armor undershirts, or even overt stab armor in some cases.

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Do correctional officer uniforms include body armor?

Yes, prisons are obviously a very inhospitable area, and correctional officers need to wear body armor as a part of their uniforms to maintain personal and public safety. However, unlike police officers, and law enforcement, most correctional officers wear stab-resistant vests instead of standard ballistic vests.

These vests are specifically designed to prevent attacks from edged blades and spikes, which are more common of a threat inside correctional facilities.

What Level of protection do correctional officers need?

Correctional officers have to face different levels of threats in different kinds of correctional facilities and roles, and usually, the kind of armor they wear is according to that threat level.

For the most part, prison guards do use stab and spike-resistant armor rather than bulletproof vests. The NIJ Standard 0115.00 regulates the protection levels of stab-proof clothing and body armor in the US, and there are three general protection levels, that are, Level I, II, and III.

Level I stabproof armor is quite rarely used. This type of stab-resistant shirt is usually worn by guards in low-security prisons in administrative roles. Level I armor is flexible and usually designed to be worn under an officer’s clothing. it allows officers to do their job easier, while still being prepared for threatening situations.

Level II stab-proof armor is more common for correctional officers, and it is the kind of armor most guards would wear under their uniforms. It offers higher protection against stabs and blunt force trauma, however, it is significantly thicker than Level I stab-resistant armor.

Level III armor is the most common level used by federal correctional facilities. They are used by guards in high-security prisons and offer the highest level of protection against knives, spikes, needles, and blunt force attacks as well. However, unlike level I and II, level III stab-resistant armor is always overt. It is thick and can be more restricting as well. It is also used as a part of riot gear in most prisons.

What duty gear do correctional officers carry?

The duty gear, tools, and equipment used by a correctional officer can be quite different from what a normal police officer may use. One of the most prominent differences in thor duty gear is that most prison duty officers, especially those who remain in direct contact with the inmates don’t carry guns.

They usually have batons instead, which are better considering the fact that if a gun gets in the hands of an inmate it can be quite problematic.

Moreover, the body armor used by correctional officers is also quite different. They use stab armor instead of ballistic armor since they are more likely to face stab threats in the controlled environment of a prison. Correctional officers also have specific riot gear, which may include things like a face shield, and helmet as well.

However, in maximum-security prisons, some guards that patrol the premises of the prison, have guns and ballistic armor as well. Apart from their clothing, weapons, and armor, correctional officers may also carry handcuffs, flashlights, and keys or other items.

Do correction officers need covert or overt body armor?

The kind of armor correctional officers use depends a lot upon the situation or prison they are in. in some prisons guards may wear overt armor, while others may use covert armor worn under their shirt.

Riot gear always includes level III stab armor, which has to be overt since it is bulky and thick, however, it does offer the highest level of stab protection. As far as the everyday gear and equipment for a correctional officer is concerned, they will more probably wear covert armor under their uniform, like police officers.

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Do correction officers wear ballistic helmets?

Though correctional officers may use helmets as a part of their riot gear, they don’t usually wear ballistic helmets. In reality, there is no need for ballistic helmets in prisons, since it is highly unlikely that the inmates are going to get a firearm.

In the control environment of a correctional facility, stabbing threats and blunt force trauma weapons like batons, pipes, and clubs are easier for inmates to acquire, therefore instead of ballistic helmets, bump helmets are much more useful for the safety of prison duty officers.

Simple ballistic helmets are great at stopping small-caliber bullets, but they don’t offer the best protection against strong impacts and blunt force trauma. They don’t have that much padding, or a major shock absorption system. Therefore, prison guards use bump helmets more commonly, however, it is quite unlikely that they will wear helmets as a part of their everyday gear, except for in some super high-security prisons, which house the most dangerous inmates.

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