Maker of Bulletproof Vest May Face Charges

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By JOHN SOLOMON, Associated Press Writer
Mon Sep 26, 8:37 AM ET
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050926/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/bulletproof_vests_3 [Broken]

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors are investigating whether a maker of bulletproof vests endangered lives by concealing potentially deadly flaws in the body armor sold to the government and police agencies.

A whistle-blower from the company, Second Chance Body Armor Inc., of Central Lake, Mich., testified this month that the Secret Service tested and bought some of the defective vests for the president and first lady.

The Pentagon also obtained the same armor for elite troops who guard generals, according to transcripts obtained by The Associated Press.

Many sales occurred well after Second Chance had been alerted that the Japanese-made Zylon synthetic material in the vests was degrading faster than expected from heat, light and moisture exposure, allowing bullets to potentially penetrate the armor, according to the whistle-blower's testimony and other company documents.

Prosecutors have gathered documents showing that Second Chance was alerted as early as 1998 by the Japanese material maker, Toyobo Co., that Zylon had trouble maintaining its protective properties.

But I bet it was cheaper than a better material, and the company was making a bigger profit, as is the primary goal in Capitalism. :rolleyes:

By 2001, Second Chance's research chief, Aaron Westrick, was pleading unsuccessfully with his company's president to replace the vests after his own tests showed them degrading, the memos show.

"Lives and our credibility are at stake," Westrick wrote then-Second Chance president Richard Davis in a Dec. 18, 2001, memo. "We will only prevail if we do the right things and not hesitate. This issue should not be hidden for obvious safety issues and because of future litigation."

Westrick urged Davis to "immediately notify our customers of the degradation problems," let those with pending orders cancel them and cease all executive bonuses to save money so the company could pay for a replacement initiative, the memo shows.

But Second Chance customers were not alerted to the problems until September 2003 — after a California police officer was shot to death wearing the vest and a Pennsylvania officer was seriously wounded.

In the interim, the Secret Service paid $53,000 in 2002 to Second Chance for body armor, enough to equip the president and the security detail that protects him and other VIPs, federal procurement records show.
:rolleyes:

And how many of these are not protecting the US forces in Iraq?

Company executive bonuses vs safety and how many lives?

Do we really need government regulation (I suppose it would cost too much)? Now who was saying, "Get the government off the backs of small business." After all these guys are honest, right? It would be ironic if the company president supports Bush and is a registered Republican.
 
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  • #2
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Astronuc said:
I bet it was cheaper
Body armor is typically uncomfortable and conspicuous. The purpose of Zylon is to provide a "lighter and more wearable alternative".

secondchance.com/zylon.asp
 
  • #3
russ_watters
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This is roughly equivalent to the Morton Thiokol scandal with the space shuttle Challenger. GOOGLE

Some businessmen will never learn: when lives are at stake, the engineering is non-negotiable.

Regarding the law: it is tough for laws to be able to prevent such things, you can only hope they will be adequately punished for it. And I suspect the company, at least, will. The execs themselves will probably not be prosecuted. Charging executives with murder for putting out a product that they know is flawed only happens on "Law and Order", though I'm really not sure why.
 
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