I just find the things to be comfortable and practical. FWIW my LEO buddies wear it for the same reasons, not to look tacticool. That being said, I try to limit myself to wearing only one "tactical" looking item to keep the snickering down, but then again I can wear shorts and a t shirt and still get taken for an officer or a soldier (must be the 9mm).
My big question is who knows of a bonafide case where someone was shot first while wearing a "shoot me first" vest? I have not heard of one. The closest I have heard is a detective being shot during a bank robbery, supposedly because the perp recognized his second badge wallet (and this was many years ago). If you really care, 5.11 makes a vest that takes panels and plates!