Honolulu police get
HPD is using slip-ons
with potentially faulty Zylon
Some 1,000 Honolulu police officers are receiving slip-ons to provide added protection for Zylon bulletproof vests that were recalled in September.
An additional 505 officers must wait for more slip-ons to arrive. A total of 1,900 have been ordered.
Detective Alex Garcia received his Kevlar slip-on about two weeks ago.
"I'm surprised they acted as quickly as they did," said Garcia, chairman of the Oahu chapter of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers. "We're glad they did."
The inserts, made of Aramid fibers, which go by the Kevlar and Tawron trademark names, slip over Zylon armor panels to provide added protection should the fibers deteriorate.
Second Chance Body Armor Inc. announced in September that Zylon, a synthetic fiber used in making the protective vests, would weaken faster, especially in heat and humidity, than earlier studies had shown.
Zylon had been touted as a stronger, lighter and more flexible fabric than Kevlar.
A Pennsylvania police officer was injured in June when a .40-caliber round pierced his Second Chance Zylon vest manufactured in December 2002.
In October, about three-fourths, or 1,505, of the Honolulu Police Department's police officers were wearing Zylon vests, which were manufactured in December 2002, with a five-year warranty. The remainder wore Kevlar vests.
HPD is returning to Kevlar vests, which have been purchased from Second Chance through vendor Security Equipment Corp.
At no additional cost, Second Chance is providing the temporary slip-ons now and will supply permanent replacement armor panels later.
The Hawaii County Police Department will replace 200 Zylon vests. The department of 391 officers "from the chief down" will be issued Kevlar vests.
"All of our vests are almost brand new, so we're just doing a swap-over," said Capt. Paul Ferreira.
He expects the vests very soon, but is not concerned.
"Second Chance is saying it's not failing," Ferreira said.
Cyrus Lee, owner of Security Equipment Corp., said about 250 slip-ons arrived at the end of December and another 750 came in 10 days later.
The officers are picking up their slip-ons and are being fitted for new vests if they require resizing, Lee said.
"Aramid is the safest way to go," Lee said.
"Zylon seemed to be the cutting edge when it first came out," he said. "It passed all existing standards for testing. Only thing I don't think anyone conceived of is that it wouldn't last as long as Aramid fibers do."