ArmorSkin Case Study: Buncombe County, NC Sheriff's Office
Buncombe County, in North Carolina, has a population 250,539 as of the 2010 US Census, spread over 660 square miles which includes environments ranging from urban (including the county seat, Asheville) to rural. The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office is comprised of 420 total personnel, and performs duties ranging from street patrol to investigations, community policing, court security, and the operation of a large detention center.
The agency’s then-current uniform, consisting of a thin poly-wool blend, did not meet the needs of operating in a hot climate, according to Jana Thompson, who oversees uniform selection and acquisition among other responsibilities for the agency. Deputies would frequently have to change shirts multiple times during a shift, compounded by the fact that the uniform material did not wick moisture at all, trapping sweat against their skin.
Senior leadership at the agency became aware of the Blauer ArmorSkin® system, comprising an outer carrier (which envelops deputies’ existing inner body armor carrier to maintain fit, and adds flexible mesh side panels with zippers for comfort) and a base shirt (50% matching uniform fabric on top, and breathable durable mesh on the bottom for enhanced breathability). They communicated their interest in evaluating the ArmorSkin® for use by field deputies internally, which led to samples being obtained and sent into field testing for determination of suitability.
Deputy Jerry Jackson was one of the field personnel selected to evaluate the ArmorSkin system:
“My first impression after beginning to wear the system was that the undershirt (base shirt) made a huge difference. We work 12-hour shifts, and it used to be that guys would change shirts 2-3 times a day with our previous shirt, a 100% polyester traditional uniform shirt.”
“Now, with this, I can just unzip partially for increased airflow for 10 minutes at a time, or longer if I’m in a secured location, and cool right off. I believe this allows a Deputy to maintain increased alertness throughout the shift. In terms of safety, the same level of safety is maintained because it is the same vest, just worn in a different way.”
“I have now worn the new vest continuously for the past month, and there are other benefits I noticed. Health wise, I saw an incredible improvement to skin health, with enormously reduced irritation, itching, and discomfort during and after work. Professional appearance is maintained or enhanced. With the vest on it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the outer vest and a regular uniform shirt. I have been in many groups of Deputies that have not even noticed the difference until after I pointed it out.”
“Overall, this is a very good improvement for the Deputy while maintaining our professional public image. Personally, if you were to put the keys to a brand new patrol car and ArmorSkin on the table and ask me to choose, someone else would be driving the new patrol car.”
Jana Thompson reports that the overall weartest impressions were so favorable that the agency has made the decision to transition over to the ArmorSkin for all 340 sworn personnel, and are additionally considering the ArmorSkin TacVest™ for personnel who require a deployable or tactical vest due to their duties. The reports back from deputies proved that the design of the ArmorSkin functioned as-designed by allowing officers greater range of motion and breathability, allowing for increased comfort while still offering a professional look consistent with the mission and public profile of the Sheriff’s Office, and the affordability of the system allowed the agency to purchase the uniforms without breaking their budget for the year.
For more information on the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Van Duncan, visit their website at http://www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Sheriff/ . For more information on Blauer ArmorSkin®, including the new TacVest tactical vest, visit http://www.blauer.com/armorskin and http://www.blauer.com/tacvest . Weartesting samples obtained courtesy of Read's Uniforms - visit http://www.readsuniforms.net/what-we-do/public-safety/