The Body Armour Shoulder Cut
July 26, 2022 By Drew Clark
Since 2015, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Quartermaster Unit (QMU) has been ordering Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) under the Ontario Police Cooperative Purchasing Group (PCPG). This falls under the Ontario Provincial Police’s body armour (5lb 5.0oz on a 44S+2W) contract from Pacific Safety Products Inc (PSP). With more items being issued to officer(s) by OPS and the Ontario Ministry, the abilities to add more equipment/holders to the uniform and human body has its advantages, and OPS members are grateful for the jump forward.
With new police technologies, lighter Kevlar panels and concepts being adopted from the military side of body armour, the QMU started hearing about a “shooter cut” vest in 2017/18 on the North American market for law enforcement.
In December 2019, QMU reached out to Jennifer Murch, Shelley McLachlan and Earl Green of Pacific Safety Products Inc., a brand of the Safariland Group, about a “shooter cut” vest. The team informed OPS that the Waterloo Police Service (WPS) just finished their tender process and will be listed under the Ontario Police Cooperative Purchasing Group (PCPG). QMU invited PSP to Ottawa to design a new outer carrier from the research and development of five different concept body armours. These concepts included adding details like: Side Kevlar Sleeve for Extra Protection, removeable Velcro suspend straps, pen pockets, locking zippers, inside trauma pockets for a plate, mic slit on shoulder pad, two inner pockets that are 6.5 inches long for OPS duty book and OPS cell phone inside the kangaroo front large pocket, large reflective silver POLICE patch on back, and more.
The team used the WPS Kevlar panels and carrier to develop the OPS “Shoulder Cut” Body Armour (4lb 12oz on a 2214/2015) in January 2020. OPS also has sizing kits, provided by PSP, so that the members know exactly what the vest will look and feel. Plus, female vests have two options: Female Gender-Neutral Panels or Female Structured Panels. Other options for officers are the new inner carrier design for plain clothes officers and a covert F-1 T-shirt version for the undercover units that the Kevlar panels slide inside. Creating an updated version of the OPP 2110 Modified Ext. Carrier for this new body armour is being reviewed to see if the new carrier can allow use-of-force items to be attached by the Professional Development Unit, which means that QMU would only need to order one carrier and save on uniform budget.
The QMU has had a 99.8 per cent positive rating and feedback from the officers, so much that officers are eager to change out of their old OPP PCPG contract vest. Interim Chief Bell and Ceremonial Sergeant Major Steve Boucher have been guiding the QMU on where the Service is heading towards in the way of uniforms, and the next prototype GEN 2 Shoulder Cut Body Armour is being reviewed in 2022. This GEN 2 will allow a Ceramic Armour Plate (CAPS) carrier/plates to be worn within the soft body armour, so it will no longer interfere with the officer’s molle holder on the outer carrier and cause an officer safety issue with outset/unbalanced CAPS.
There is limitation with molle on how much real estate they have on the body armour and duty belt. This limitation is due to how large the individual is; smaller officers can’t carry as much as a larger officer can—when more items are being issued, the more weight is added onto the human body. The QMU has noticed more medical/health problems with sore backs, legs, hips and neck, when uniform members are not reviewing what is mandatory by the Service and Ontario Ministry for molle equipment. With PSP’s lighter design of Kevlar, external molle cummerbund and attachable inner Velcro suspenders, officers will be able to spread out the weight of police gear over 210 degrees of molle and have the support off their waist with the aid of the padded shoulder straps. All UOF items need to be on the duty belt, but that philosophy could be pivoting thanks to this new Shoulder Cut Body Armour design entering Canada, that is being evaluated by the use-of-force Unit.
Since 2019, the QMU has moved towards operational uniforms to support officers’ long term careers: our new molle duty shirts go under our new Molle Shoulder Cut Body Armour, that links to our new molle support duty belt and will link to our new future Operational Police Trousers (OPT). QMU wants to push the limits with manufacturers’ technology in the hereafter but being fiscal management smart.
Drew Clark is the Ottawa Police Service QMU Coordinator, with 20 years of Material Management.
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