With federal cutbacks, police around New York are now getting bulletproof vests from New York’s Attorney General.
It’s called “inVEST Partnership'' and will use up to $3.5 million forfeited in civil and criminal cases to enable New York police agencies to cover up to half the cost of equipping new officers or replacing expiring vests for others, according to AG Eric Schneiderman’s office.
The matching funds are expected to help fund 6,000 to 10,000 vests.
Sgt. Thomas Kelly of the Schenectady Police Department, who survived a gunshot wound to the chest thanks to his bulletproof vest, spoke at a press conference announcing the program.
State authorities say grants from the 1998 federal Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act in New York peaked in 2010 and have decreased 81% or about $3.27 million.
In the past 30 years, they say 71 officers were fatally shot on duty statewide, while federal data suggest vests saved an estimated 3,000 officers nationally.
Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider, President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said in a press release: "The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police strongly supports and appreciates the efforts of the Attorney General in assisting agencies with purchase of soft body armor. Soft body armor is a necessary piece of safety equipment that all officers in the state should access to."
Schenectady Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said: “Every single day police officers across the state risk their lives to keep New Yorkers safe. A lack of federal funds cannot act as a justification for ill-equipping our officers with the materials necessary for their own safety – we owe our law enforcement officers more than that. I’m grateful to Attorney General Schneiderman for taking this important step to ensure more officers will be saved in the line of duty.”