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Are bullet-resistant vests offering enough protection for law enforcement?

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PUEBLO -

"The closer it is to home, the more uneasy it makes you."

On the eve of his 2-year anniversary with the Pueblo Police Department, it's hard for Officer Phillip Vigil to not think about fallen deputy Micah Flick.

"Traffic stops are probably one of the most dangerous things to do but it's part of our job," he said during a ride along with News5.

Vigil says he feels well equipped during those traffic stops.

"I have the tools I need and I know how to utilize them if I need to.  It's always walking into the unknown.  Expect the worst but hope for the best," he said.

Though concerned citizens have started questioning whether tactical gear, worn across the state, offers enough protection.

"It does not protect your from every threat.  Certainly looking forward, we would hope that some technology develops that would give us that opportunity," said Captain Charlie Taylor, with the Pueblo Police Department.

This is what's called a soft body vest.  All officers are required to wear what's called a soft body vest before heading out into the field on any call.

"We are providing the best level of protection that we can right now," said Taylor.

The other type of vest is about 10-15 pounds heavier and is designated for more dangerous incidents, like a stand-off.

"It will stop a higher caliber bullet," said Taylor.

But as we learned this week, you can't always predict which calls are routine--and which ones turn deadly.

So why not wear these types of vests all the time?

"It's simply impractical to wear because it's so bulky and so heavy," said Taylor, who had a News5 reporter try the vest on.

"It would prohibit you from moving the way you typically would.  Even bending over and being flexible at the waist, it creates a lot of obstacles," he added.

Taylor says the extra weight, after an extended period of time, can even affect how an officer holds or aims their gun.

The Pueblo Police Department says at this time, they do not plan to change their tactical gear protocol.

How do we keep law enforcement safer on the streets?

"Training in my mind is probably the bigger component as opposed to the body armor."

Taylor says these recent tragedies may be incorporated into future training sessions.

"I'm sure there will be opportunities for us to look at that and find ways to learn from those scenarios so we can train our officers about potential cues that those people presented."

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