Fox 4 gets rare glimpse into factory making bullet-proof vests

Gabrielle Sarann

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Fox 4 gets rare glimpse into factory making bullet-proof vests

CREATED Aug. 8, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. - As two southwest Florida detectives make headlines this week, one taking the stand to share his story of survival, the other dying in the line of duty, we're finding out what a bullet-proof vest can and cannot do.

At Survival Body Armor in Fort Myers, workers are literally sewing the seeds of survival into each bullet-proof vest. 

"Most armor that's worn is made out of AeroMid fibers," said Cathy Lowe, the director of sales and marketing at Survival Body Armor, Inc. "They're protective from most handguns you're finding on your streets today."

For 4 watched as a Fort Myers police officer vest was made. It protects critical organs from the neck to the waist. But, as with any body armor, it has its limitations.

"You can't cover 100 percent of all the body, otherwise the officers loses mobility and the ability to react to situations they may encounter," explained Lowe.

The company also makes vests for all 592 Lee County sheriff's deputies who are required to wear them. The cost per vest is $592 and they're replaced about every five years.

"By and large, when we're in uniform, day in and day out, we're wearing our vests," said Lt. Larry King, with the Lee County Sheriff's Office.

It's their first line of defense against enemy threats. But, it's no guarantee.  

"We realize that our heads and necks and other parts of our body are certainly susceptible," added Lt. King.

The tragic death of Sgt. Wilson is a painful reminder of the risk all officers face, even in the toughest body armor.

"Many of us could have sustained the same tragic result," said Lt. King.

The last Lee County Sheriff's deputy killed in the line of duty was Cpl. Ronald Fewell in 1982. He was responding to a domestic disturbance, where shots were fired. 

Survival Body Armor does not manufacture vests for the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, the law enforecement agency Sgt. Wilson worked for.