HPD Chief, union urge officers to wear a second vest on top of ballistic vest after Sgt. Brewster’s death

HOUSTON – Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and the Houston Police Officers’ Union both issued letters Tuesday urging uniformed officers to wear two ballistics vests while they work as the investigation continues into the weekend shooting death of Sgt. Christopher Brewster.

Brewster was shot and killed on Dec. 7 while responding to a domestic violence report in east Houston. Acevedo said Monday the department was investigating after it was discovered that one or more shots may have penetrated Brewster’s ballistic vest when a suspect opened fire at him.

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“The discovery of the noted penetration will require expert analysis of the ammunition used by the suspect to determine if it was designed to penetrate ballistic vests,” Acevedo said in the Monday statement. “Moreover, in an abundance of caution, the vest will be further examined to determine if it performed to the manufacturer’s specifications."

On Tuesday, Acevedo sent an email to officers to “recommend frontline uniformed personnel consider wearing their Level III rifle plate vest, in addition to your Level II soft-body armor," until the department concluded its investigation.

Acevedo told KPRC 2 Tuesday the first test of a vest from the same lot as Brewster’s vest fulfilled requirements but nevertheless they were urging officers to wear two vests until investigations were completed. He also said Brewster’s vest was 3 years old and the typical lifespan of a bulletproof vest used by HPD officers was 5 years.

The Houston Police Officers’ Union agreed with Acevedo’s directive in a Tuesday memo and suggested officers double up on ballistics vests out of “an abundance of caution.”

“This is purely a precautionary measure at this time, as we do not believe there is a systemic problem with our current vests, but safety of our officers is our top priority,” the union wrote. “Please wear your heavy vest until this issue can be sorted out. We realize this can be a bit uncomfortable for an 8-hour shift, but precautions must be taken.”