Scanning the news, I saw that it was an issue close to my heart. Literally.

Privately held Second Chance Body Armor, which is going through bankruptcy reorganization, announced the recall of nearly 100,000 bullet-resistant vests --sold to law enforcement officers around the country --because the material used to make them degrades too quickly.

To the public, the soft body armor that police wear is considered to be "bullet proof," but cops understand that nothing is guaranteed, so we, more properly, say that our vests are "bullet resistant."

In the course of normal wear and tear, heat, perspiration, and humidity can break down the fibers that form the layer of protection. As a result, it is recommended that vests be replaced about every five years. But Second Chance uses a fiber that has been found to degrade even faster under such conditions. The fiber, called Zylon, comes from Japanese manufacturer Toyobo.

Several years ago, Second Chance recalled 130,000 body armor vests -- constructed entirely of Zylon -- because of degradation problems. Now it is recalling vests that are made of a combination of Zylon and other materials. Toyobo insists its fiber is not the problem, citing the fact that Zylon is used by a number of manufacturers.

Kevlar, another popular fiber used in soft body armor, is manufactured by DuPont (NYSE:DD). It has the drawback of being bulky and heavy, and that's why manufacturers began seeking an alternative that was lighter, but still offered many of the same bullet-stopping properties.

Many companies offer armor containing a mix of Kevlar, Zylon, and other fibers, such as Honeywell's (NYSE:HON) Spectra Shield. I wear body armor that is a mix of Kevlar, Spectra Shield, and other fibers. It's manufactured by Armor Holding's (NYSE:AH) American Body Armor "Xtreme" division.

Vest failures are not uncommon. DHB (AMEX:DHB), a company on Tom Gardner's Motley Fool Hidden Gems Watch List, had a problem a few years ago with fiber degradation in vests sold to New York City police. Although DHB disagreed with the results of tests performed by the NYPD, it agreed to replace some 5,000 vests free of charge -- and to supply some 3,500 more at a discount. Last month there was a little hullabaloo over the Marines recalling vests made by DHB's subsidiary Point Blank.

Second Chance isn't able to offer such discounts, because it's in bankruptcy. Some seven states have filed lawsuits against the company, and there are at least 10 class-action lawsuits pending, as well. The company hasn't received any reports of the vests failing in the field; instead, it discovered the problem itself. But since Second Chance can't afford to buy back the vests, it is hoping funds will be available through the federal Bulletproof Vest Partnership Act.

If nothing else, these situations should serve to remind law enforcement officers that their vests are not suits of armor, regardless of the company name they bear -- and that more lives will be saved by smart tactics than by body armor.

Tom Gardner's performance at Hidden Gems over the past two-plus years has seemingly been bullet-resistant. He's trouncing the market by more than 3 to 1! A 30-day free trial gives you access to all his picks.

Motley Fool contributor Rich Duprey always wears his soft body armor while on patrol, but he does not own any of the stocks mentioned in this article. The Fool has a strict disclosure policy.