Feds pay for new bulletproof vests for area police departments

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Stock image of body armor vests.

WASHINGTON DC – The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded $20 million dollars in grants to police departments across the country to purchase new body armor for officer safety.  Through the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), 189 police jurisdictions in New York are sharing $1.2 million of the overall grant.

In the Hudson Valley, several departments have been awarded grants ranging from $1,000 to nearly $50,000 for purchases of new body armor, commonly referred to as bulletproof vests.

Putnam County has been awarded $49,764 for body armor while Columbia County is slated to receive $12,381.  Sullivan County has been awarded $7,425 for the officer safety equipment and Greene County will get $4,800 for the vests.

Several individual departments have been awarded body armor funding in addition to the awards going to various counties.

The largest grants awarded to police agencies in the Hudson Valley include:

  • Clarkstown Police Department $29,550
  • City of Kingston Police Department $20,000
  • City of White Plains Police Department $18,000
  • City of Mount Vernon Police Department $16,957
  • Village of Mamaroneck Police Department $14,836
  • Town of Fishkill Police Department $10,450
  • City of Poughkeepsie Police Department $10,149

City of Poughkeepsie Police Chief Tom Pape told Mid-Hudson News that he applies for the grant every year to replace approximately six vests that expire each year. The grant requires that the city matches the grant amount, dollar for dollar.

“Bulletproof vests are essential to every law enforcement officer for their safety,” Pape said.  “You can’t put a price on an officer’s life, which oftentimes is saved by body armor.”  Body armor manufacturers require specific care to maintain the integrity of the armor.  Most DOJ-approved manufacturers put a five-year expiration date on their products.  The relatively short lifespan is attributed to the breakdown of the internal fibers that break down over time.  Chief Pape also noted that the vests are worn for eight hours a day and the carriers (external coverings of the fibers) take a lot of abuse which contributes to the loss of performance of the vests.

Chief Pape recalled that when he first became an officer many years ago, the vests were not custom-fit to the officer and were considered a “one-size fits all” device.  The requirements for this grant demand that each vest is custom fit to the officer.  “The fit, combined with the advanced technology of the body armor has caused an increase in price but it’s worth every penny,” Pape said.

The price of a ballistic vest ranges from $300 to $1,000 depending on the features and level of safety.  A full list of the body armor grants awarded to agencies across the country can be found here.