Law enforcement talks about body armor after vest saves officer’s life

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A shot to the chest is often a death sentence, but body armor vests can be life saving for law enforcement.

Vests cost between $600 and $700 and have to be replaced every three years.

They're definitely not cheap, but to the officers who wear them they are priceless.

"Instead of penetrating into the officer, it's spread out and dissipates over a larger area. So, instead of getting a penetrating wound, they get a bruising or something of that nature," Chief Joe Ruff with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office explained.

This week, both a Memphis undercover officer and a Knoxville officer were saved by body armor.

"You've got the soft body armor that officers wear and then you've got the tactical armor that our swat people or some of our other tactical people wear," Ruff said.

One body armor company, Safari Land, holds a ceremony to honor officers after they have been hit while wearing their vests.

Memphis Police Officer Charles Wren, who was shot in 2012, is even featured on the cover of their company's magazine.

"I was shot once in the head, arms and legs," Wren told WREG back in 2012.

Ruff said officers wear the armor around the clock while their on duty.

Armor is designed to be lightweight and easy to wear.

He said while it may seem like overkill, you never know when it could save a life.

"We look at the number of times officers have been assaulted where they did survive the attack, and many times it's a vest save," he said.