View Full Version : Question about bullet proof vests, and general investigation protocol

06-07-2014, 09:47 PM
So, the two largest motifs in my WIP are super powers and interconnectivity. Allow me to give some background:

Rae, and FBI agent, is ordering a smoothie in her first scene. She is flirting with someone, Barney, but it gets interrupted when the news leaks that the president has been found murdered at some random warehouse. She and Barney get calls from work, and need to part. Her task is to investigate the scene, but as she was leaving she bumps into someone running down the sidewalk, Dan, and gets the smoothie spilt on her.

When she gets at the scene, her partner and friend is there and sees the mess on her. She offers Rae her own jacket, saying she needs it more. This one is bullet proof though.

As they investigate the scene, it turns out that the assassin was found there, too, and the coroner reported him dead. Turns out a few pages later, he isnt so dead, and him and the coroner are missing when they go to check back. Rae and her partner give chase, and they stop the fake "coroner" at gun point.

However, he has power, and uses "body control" to have Rae and her partner shoot each other, and he leaves.

The parter was shot in the head or heart (something that would kill her instantly), and dies immediately. Rae was shot in the chest.

As she is dying, a man comes by and find her. Somehow he is able to heal her and tells her to keep moving and to follow him (it's too late for her partner). The healing guy is Barney, the man from the smoothie place.

There are a few things that might read off as weak. For example, do FBI agents need to wear bullet proof vests, is it more logical to have neither Rae or her partner wear a vest than to have her partner hand Rae her only protection over a smoothie stain.

And, most importantly, can a bullet proof vest "partially" stop a bullet. That is, the bullet goes through, but if there were no vest, then that person would have died a lot faster.

What I'm trying to cook here is that that smoothie spill in a sense saved her life, because Barney was able to come at a time when she was dying, but still heal-able. Her partner, not so lucky.

I like the set up, but there are a lot of ifs, so I'm flexible. I can ditch the smoothie/vest swap if that comes off like crap. All I want from this scene is to have her partner dead, Rae dying, but Barney comes and gives her a second chance. I can easily arrange that by simply having her partner shot in the head, and Rae shot in the shoulder abdomen.

Sorry for the preamble, but thanks in advance!

06-07-2014, 09:57 PM
In my experience, uniformed patrol officers wear vests (or at least, they're supposed to, some secretly forego them because they're uncomfortable). There are probably jurisdictional variations. I'm from Southern California, all the PDs down there have protocol that you have to wear the vest. Smaller, less violent municipalities may have different rules.

I have only seen plainclothes officers, whether they be police, FBI, CIA, what-have-you, don bullet proof vests when they know they are about to enter a hostile/shooter situation (or if there is some other threat that merits the extra protection, or in some cases if the officer in question has gotten shot before and just makes it a point to always wear the vest). For the most part, no one in plainclothes is going to wander around with a vest if they don't actively need one.

T Robinson
06-07-2014, 10:00 PM
First, if the president is dead, I think it is the Secret Service that would take the lead.

Second, vests are sized for the individual, (at least ours are), and her friend couldn't just hand her a vest.

A bullet can be "partially" stopped. Vests are rated for stopping power. Here it is Type I, II, III. Type III stops most things that would go through a type II.

Others may advise you as well. HTH.

06-07-2014, 10:01 PM
Oh and as for partially stopping a bullet, yes, that can happen. It can either slow the trajectory/impact of the bullet such that the wound is more shallow and less devastating, or you have the issue, like with a shotgun, where you get pellets in the vest, then pellets below the stop of the vest as well. Like T Robinson said, the rating of the vest determines a lot of that.

There are probably other variations on that as well. But those are my two cents :)

06-08-2014, 12:24 AM
The US Secret Service investigates threats against the President. The FBI would have primary investigative responsibility in the event of his murder (although it would be a cooperative investigation involving both - and likely a number of other agencies).

Ballistic vests/body armor are readily available and usually specifically assigned and fitted to individual federal agents, but the routine wearing thereof is situational. For a basic understanding of body armor, I'd recommend you begin here...


FWIW, the higher rated the vest (potential projectile "stopping power") the heavier and more cumbersome it is. There are such things as ballistic jackets that hold panels of Kevlar, but they're stiff and heavy - remember, the higher the rating, the heavier. They don't get much use and tend to be rare - think in terms of a protectee who otherwise refuses to wear a vest, but might not balk at a fashionable "trench coat" on a singular occasion.

Of course, if you know you're going into a possible shitstorm, over-concern about the weight tends to evaporate, but you always worry about your ability to move.

Taking a non-penetration hit on a vest still hurts - a lot. Severe injuries (broken ribs, heavy bruising) are common; fatalities are not unknown. Being missed by the incoming round is far preferable to any sort of vest hit. If you must have an agent succumb to a gunshot wound, make it an unprotected area - keep it simple, and you won't owe the reader a convoluted explanation.

06-08-2014, 12:29 AM
Thanks everyone! The information on the protocol, departments, and vest facts were absolutely invaluable!

If anyone else wants to add more--by all means :)

06-09-2014, 09:50 AM
"She offers Rae her own jacket, saying she needs it more. This one is bullet proof though."

It doesn't work that way. Law enforcement body armor is either concealable vests, worn under the uniform shirt and rated to stop handgun rounds, or larger vests worn over the clothes rated to stop rifle rounds and typically worn by SWAT teams, etc.

No one in law enforcement wears a "jacket" that is also body armor. It just isn't done.

I'd put the book down and quit reading at that point.