ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s attorney general on Monday pledged $3.5 million from criminal and civil forfeitures to help outfit police statewide with thousands of bulletproof vests.
Intended to fill the recent funding gap in a federal grant program, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the so-called “inVEST Partnership” will enable New York law enforcement agencies to cover up to half the cost of equipping new officers or replacing expiring vests for others. The matching funds are expected to help fund 6,000 to 10,000 vests.
“We have an obligation to do everything in our power to protect those who are sworn to protect us,” Schneiderman said, announcing the program Monday in Yonkers. “We cannot allow political wrangling in Washington to compromise the safety of New York’s law-enforcement community.”
State authorities say grants from the 1998 federal Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act in New York peaked in 2010 and have decreased 81 percent 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 have saved an estimated 3,000 officers nationally.
Departments will have to submit written proof they adhere to the federal “Mandatory Wear” policy to ensure the field use of bulletproof equipment bought with state money. They will also have to supply information on their current inventory and replacement cycle.
Citing the Officer Down Memorial Page, state officials said 95 police or peace officers have been killed by gunfire in New York since 1984. They included 24 who were off duty, most trying to stop a crime.
While officers were fatally shot in every region of the state, the total included 63 New York City officers, 44 shotwhile on duty, over the last 30 years.
Since 1791, gunfire killed 525 police statewide, according to the memorial page.