Washington, DC - Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice will return over $11 million from a settlement with Toyobo Co. Ltd. and Toyobo America, Inc. (collectively Toyobo), companies that produced the fiber used in bulletproof vests that the Department alleged were defective, to help purchase approximately 18,700 additional bullet-resistant vests for law enforcement officers through the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) Program.
“Bulletproof vests are sometimes all that stands between a police officer and death,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Having just come from this year’s Blue Mass, I am more determined than ever to get effective vests to officers who need them. Companies who have sold us faulty or defective vests should compensate us so that we can get our officers the vests they need. That’s why this Department of Justice will give these settlement funds to those who deserve them: the men and women in blue.”
Since 2007, the body armor industry has paid the United States more than $132 million to resolve alleged violations of the False Claims Act by knowingly manufacturing and selling defective bulletproof vests containing Zylon. The most recent and largest recovery was from Toyobo, the company which manufactured the Zylon fiber and promoted its use as a ballistic material, which paid $66 million to resolve its potential liability. The United States is proceeding against the two remaining participants in the fraudulent Zylon scheme: Richard C. Davis, the former President of Second Chance Body Armor, Inc., and Honeywell International, Inc. Mr. Davis’ trial is scheduled for June 2018.
The BVP Program, administered by the Office of Justice Programs' (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), protects the lives of law enforcement officers by helping state, local, and tribal governments equip their law enforcement officers with bullet-resistant vests. Since 1999, over 13,100 jurisdictions have participated in the BVP Program, with more than $447.7 million in federal funds used to support the purchase of more than 1,294,000 vests.
BVP funding covers 50 percent of total vest costs for rural law enforcement agencies with community populations of fewer than 100,000 residents. For larger jurisdictions, the program provides up to 50 percent of funding, depending on the annual appropriation from Congress and the amount of funds requested by the rural jurisdictions that apply.
“Marketing faulty protective gear to law enforcement officers who put themselves in the line of fire is an unconscionable act and a betrayal of trust” said BJA Director Jon Adler. “This settlement and the Attorney General’s laudable decision to allocate these funds to the BVP program represent the Justice Department’s strong commitment to officer safety. Our unwavering priority is to protect our officers as they keep our communities safe.”
BVP funds may be used to purchase only vests that meet the minimum performance standards established by OJP's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor Standard. The NIJ Standard, updated in July 2008, establishes minimum performance requirements and test methods for the ballistic resistance of personal body armor designed to protect the torso against gunfire.
According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police/DuPont Kevlar Survivors' Club, since 1987, there have been over 3,000 recorded cases where individuals working in law enforcement have survived both ballistic and non-ballistic incidents because they were wearing body armor.
In 2010, the Department of Justice returned to the BVP Program $11 million from earlier settlements with other participants involved in the manufacture and sale of Zylon vests. Today’s payment brings the total returned to the BVP Program to more than $22 million, and ensures that the BVP Program has been fully compensated for its losses in supporting law enforcement agencies’ purchases of allegedly defective Zylon vests.