By Brad Brewer

The ballistic standard established by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is widely known and accepted by police agencies throughout the world. Thus, the NIJ standard provides the performance level for most ballistic-resistant materials like body armor or vehicle armor plating. As it stands, there are currently no 100-percent bulletproof materials available on the market. Thankfully, most body armor or vehicle armor plating does provide the officer with a substantial amount of protection from various kinds of handgun ammunition. However, it is imperative that officers be aware that the amount of protection offered varies depending on how a piece of armor is classified and rated in terms of the threat level it protects against. The NIJ standard specifies what the minimum requirements are for body armor or vehicle armor that have undergone their performance and testing protocols. The NIJ then rates the various types of available armor according to the threat levels they offer protection against. When armor is undergoing testing, self-regulating NIJ-certified laboratories put the body armor through a number of different tests to ensure they meet NIJ code and performance standards.
There are numerous vendors that supply armor vehicles and armor vehicle panels to law enforcement and the military. All three police vehicle OEMs offer some type of ballistic door panels as an option when ordering their vehicles, or as a factory-authorized option. Several aftermarket suppliers also offer retro-fit packages to add in vehicle door armor. Ford has performed significant testing with internal door ballistic panels and currently offer factory-installed ballistic panels. Their testing videos can be seen on the Dew Engineering website or You Tube.


DEW Engineering


DEW Engineering, which built its business on producing military armor for the U.S. and Canadian militaries, is now the producer of ballistic door panels for Ford, Dodge, and GM. After extensive design and testing that was first initiated by Ford’s Police Program Team, DEW Engineering offers Level IV panels that can be installed by the OEM when factory ordering a new Ford Police vehicle or as an aftermarket add-on for GM and Dodge.
For a standard patrol vehicle, the areas that are most likely to come under attack are the doors and side windows. So that is where most law enforcement agencies are focusing their armoring efforts. There are two basic ways to add ballistic armor to the doors of a law enforcement vehicle that is not specifically designed to be an armored vehicle. You can install it into the door or apply it to the surface of the vehicle. Used extensively by police forces throughout the United States, the DEW PD panels act as a ballistic shield when installed in a vehicle door, allowing officers to arrive on site protected. These panels are integrated into the interior of the door, between outer skin and interior trim, and do not have any external mounting requirements. The PD series can be customized for different applications, such as the protection of panel vans, shelters, and containers.
The DEW PD Ballistic Panel solutions have been tested in accordance with the requirements of the NIJ Standard 0108.01 as well as other special threats, including the multihit Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) specification MTD 11-BDP01. The DEW Engineering Team also performs significant durability testing that includes shooting at extreme hot and cold temperatures, pre-condition test panels by high/low temperature cycling, pre-condition test panels by saltwater submersion, and 100,000 x door slams.




Hardwire, LLC


Hardwire provides protective armor systems to the military, law enforcement, and public entities such as school systems. The company has produced armored police vehicles for large cities and municipalities, covered miles of the nation’s critical bridges with armor, outfitted countless police officers with life-saving protection, and supplies the U.S. military with hard and soft body armor.
Blending in covertly for a less aggressive look that works well with community policing while still offering life-saving ballistic protection, Hardwire vehicle armor is a popular choice of fleet managers. As the lightest and strongest armor panels ever developed, Hardwire vehicle armor gives critical protection and valuable decision-making time to police officers when the right decision is what matters most.
The ballistic technology used and trusted by the U.S. military is mirrored in the B-Kit Add-On Vehicle Armor, where the armor is quickly and easily installed onto the outside of the vehicle door. Unlike other armor packages, Hardwire’s vehicle armor is under the door handle as well, limiting vulnerabilities from top to bottom and still allowing full functionality. Similarly, the Hardwire Transparent Armor Window Insert fits into the existing vehicle OEM window opening, while allowing for regular window operation. Hardwire is 100 percent made in the USA with a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.
New for 2021, the armor has been fitted for the new body styles of the 2021 Chevy Tahoe and the 2021 Ford Interceptor. The sleek, low-profile design and minimal weight causes no performance issues for the OEM vehicle. Stock armor in NIJ Level IIIA is available now for 14 different models, all typical police issues:
• 2011–2021 Ford Interceptor
• 2013–2019 Ford Interceptor Sedan
• 2013–2020 Ford Fusion
• 2011–2019 Ford Transit
• 2017–2019 Ford F-150–F-550
• 2006–2016 Chevy Impala
• 2003–2020 Chevy Express Van
• 2004–2021 Chevy Tahoe
• 2020 Chevy 2500 Silverado
• 2018–2020 Chevy Traverse
• 2014–2018 Freightliner Sprinter Van
• Dodge Charger
• Dodge Durango

Installed on the outside of the automobile, installation is quick and easy and can be done by Hardwire’s partner, Havis, or training information can be provided for fleet teams. Kits contain all necessary hardware. The protective skin blends with OEM door and paint colors. Modularity offers the ability to remove the armor package and reuse on new life-model vehicles as decommissioned vehicles reach the end of their life cycles.
Hardwire’s patented solutions have been road, crash, and impact-tested in real life, offering superb protection whether impacted with bricks, cinderblocks, or gunfire.



Angel Armor


Angel Armor’s AVAIL vehicle armor series features Level IIIA and Level III+ panels. Their goal is to easily and cost-efficiently transform fleet vehicle doors into shields, further protecting officers who keep our communities safe. Angel Armor panels are durable and simple to install.
All panels are discreet and weatherproof. Angel Armor IIIA panels are constructed of a proprietary technology that is not only remarkably strong, but also thin, lightweight, and weatherproof. The Level III+ panels are made of a premium steel plate packed with superior protective capabilities. Panels may also be removed and transferred to another vehicle of the same make and model.
Some of the key things to consider when purchasing vehicle armor are cost, protection level, and construction. For cost, you will want to consider both the price of the panel and the time it takes to install. Agencies may not be aware that there are great vehicle armor options available that are often lower priced than OEM offerings, and installation can easily be handled internally.
Protection levels can range from handgun threats all the way up to armor-piercing rounds. For domestic law enforcement, armor-piercing threats may not be applicable. You could argue that the associated weight and thickness of those panels might not be practical.
Construction is an important consideration that determines durability. How will the panel respond to extreme weather? What is the likelihood it could interfere with internal door components? Is the material prone to cracking or snapping from mounting brackets? These are all good questions to ask to make sure the panels will provide the expected protection over the lifespan of the panel and will not require taking a vehicle out of commission for panel repairs. Angel Armor’s panels are seamless, single-panel designs that conceal within the door.
Installation of Angel Armor’s panels is completed either by an upfitter partner or by the agency’s in-house fleet team. They intentionally made the installation process as simple as possible. Angel Armor’s engineers have designed a process that doesn’t require specialized tools or templates and there is no welding or cutting required. All their customers have access to a specialized team that quickly answers any questions that arise during installation.
One of the most significant changes happening today is that more and more agencies are recognizing that this protection is necessary. What was once “nice to have” is becoming required life-saving equipment. Angel Armor is working hard to reduce the barriers to procuring this protection by offering low-cost, easy-to-install armor for a variety of police vehicle makes and models.



Outback Armour


Outback Armour supports armored vehicles by providing design and engineered suspension solutions for 4×4 and armored vehicles that are fit for purpose and exceed customer expectations. This service is also supported with inventory, product knowledge, and customer service.
Outback stacked their company ranks with the best suspension engineers and product specialists. They pulled all the vehicles apart, and started the design process from scratch, free of legacy, with a targeted approach to creating their new suspension products specifically designed for vehicles with heavy armor.
Outback’s goal of cultural immersion in the customer environment is achieved via 100-percent owned and operated regional distribution centers in Australia, the Middle East, and North America.
Outback Armour service teams in each regional center support local distributor networks and customers with advice and product knowledge. Outback’s qualified distributors are key to ensuring that the customers’ vehicles are set up correctly and they continue to support their distributors to achieve this end.
Outback showcased the 2021 Tahoe PD suspension (Police Package) at the recent Police Fleet Expo in Richmond, VA. This suspension is designed to enhance the performance of police vehicles, reduce wear and tear on engine, transmission and drive train, and reduces the cost to police departments. Police vehicles require suspension that can handle not only the paved road but also perform when those rugged off-road evasive maneuvers must be performed. Drivers need the ability to maintain speed and controllability and this is exactly what Outback Armour provides.



Flat Bullets


Flat Bullets by Securassure has a wide variety of ballistic glass options. Their UL752 Level 1 tested one-way Ballistic Curved Automotive Glass is fully functional in specific vehicles (i.e., Ford F150/250/350, Dodge Charger, and Ram 1500). It will fit most vehicles and stops rounds from the outside-in, but allows the defender to shoot inside-out. Their UL752 Level 3, 5, & 7 tested Ballistic flat automotive glass inserts can be offered with full-glass-area coverage or half-area coverage, depending on the needs of the agency. Finally, their UL752 Level III tested and NIJ IIIA tested Ballistic Door soft armor door panels are offered to cover the full lower door area.
When a fleet manager is purchasing vehicle armor, Flat Bullets recommends that specific requirements need to be determined first. The questions that need to be answered include: What level of protection is required? Handgun or Rifle rated? What rounds are you most worried about? Multi-shot or single-shot? How much coverage do you need armored on the vehicle?
Flat Bullets by Securassure specializes in manufacturing functional and high-use armor specific to the needs of the purchaser. However, they work with upfitting partners to help install the product regardless of the state they may be in.
Whether through insurance requirements or the strong desire for the safety and well-being of the employees, there is a growing need for ballistic armor in vehicles in many industries with fleets. This has expanded to include armor that will last long, is functional, and will allow for the safety desired. UL1-tested curved glass that is fully functional does just that. It is meant to stop the most standard rounds in the United States, which primarily are 9mm. Having one-way stopping power and functions much like a normal window would, the industry is quickly maneuvering to include this product into their line of defense.
As things change, Flat Bulletts by Securassure will continue to develop products to the ensure safety of our law enforcement partners.

Sergeant Brad Brewer is a 30-year member of the Vancouver Police Department. He was an eight-year member of the Ford Police Advisory Board and regularly gives presentations at law enforcement conferences on mobile computing, wireless technology and police vehicle ergonomics. He can be reached at sgt1411@gmail.com.


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