State program provides bulletproof vests to local police

Aug 5, 2014

Hundreds of police officers in Western New York are to get new body armor under a new state program.

Credit Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Washington has been getting rid of a program to help pay for what are called "inaccurately" bulletproof vests.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the plan during a visit to Buffalo Monday. The funding comes from forfeiture money resulting from civil and criminal cases.

Across the state, $579,000 will pay half the cost of nearly 1,3oo vests in the first round of grants.

There's a constant need for new vests because new people become officers, body shapes change for officers and, because the vests carry an expiration date and have to be replaced.

Evans Police Chief Ernie  Masullo says his officers need to wear their vests because violent crime isn't limited to urban areas.

"That's not the reality. The reality is officer-involved shootings is in the suburbs as well as it's in the city limits. And, crime shows no boundary. And, bad people show no boundary," said Masullo.

In the last 30 years, 71 officers across the state have been shot and killed in the line of duty. Schneiderman says there will be more grants in coming weeks, since the program has $3.5 million to pay the half share for departments over this year. Police departments in Erie County will receive 375 vests; Niagara County, 20 vests; Chautauqua County, 40 vests; Cattaraugus County, 20 vests.