Each day that police officers patrol the streets and ensure public safety, they make a huge sacrifice by putting their life on the line.
Arguably, the most important article of clothing worn by an officer is a bulletproof vest. At the Puyallup Police Department, a mandatory-wear policy applies to all officers.
“All of our staff members wear vests,” said Capt. Scott Engle of the Puyallup Police Department.
But protecting the officers comes at a steep cost. Fortunately, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership under the U.S. Department of Justice provides financial assistance to those departments in need and covers 50 percent of the cost associated with the purchase of the vests.
“We’ve been awarded each time for the grant; we have saved between $5,000 and $10,000 each time,” Engle said.
The Puyallup Police Department has applied for the grant assistance since the inception of the BVP in 1998. Last fall, the department applied for the 2015 budget year to help subsidize the cost of 23 vests needed over the next two years. The grant total will be $10,571. The remaining balance of the cost to purchase the vests will come out of the City of Puyallup’s general fund budget. The department expects to hear this summer if it has been awarded the grant.
Vests need to be replaced every five to seven years, Engle said. Without the BVP assistance, Engle said the department would be hurting to replenish its supply.
“It would cost a lot of money to the city,” Engle explained. “It would get very expensive.”
According to a federal report, since 1999 the BVP has awarded more than 13,000 jurisdictions with more than $390 million in federal funds for the purchase of more than one million vests. Based on data collected by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the BVP has been directly attributed to saving the lives of officers.
Fortunately for the Puyallup Police Department, no officer has yet been shot.
“Thank goodness we have not had an officer shot in the line of duty,” Engle said.
But the need — and the importance — for all officers to wear a vest at all times will remain. And, unfortunately, so will the price to ensure officer safety.