The state Division of Consumer Affairs will be reaching out this week to 100 police departments in the state that might have purchased defective bulletproof vests more than a decade ago.
More than 260 police departments bought about 5,000 Second Chance Body Armour vests between 1999 and 2003 through a firearms and sporting goods store in North Plainfield.
According to the Attorney General’s Office of New Jersey these vests were made with Zylon, a material that has been found to fail and deteriorate over time. In 2003, bulletproof vests used by an Oceanside, California police officer and a Forest Hills, Pennsylvania police officer failed. The California officer died of his injuries while the other sustained a severe gunshot wound.
A year later, in 2004, Second Chance Body Armour filed for bankruptcy.
“It is hard to imagine a more unconscionable business practice than the sale of defective bulletproof vests for New Jersey police officers,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said.
Many of the police departments that purchased the vests already have received reimbursement from a prior class action lawsuit.
The state, which has received $173,780 from the company’s bankruptcy proceedings, is now contacting about 100 police departments who bought the vests but did not receive reimbursement from the previous settlement. The state did not release the names of the police departments.