New York Daily News

February 6, 2015, 10:56 PM

  

 

De Blasio rushes to purchase 13,000 bullet-resistant vests for NYPD cops

 

The New York mayor joined Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the 34th Precinct stationhouse in Washington Heights to announce the city would budget $7.3 million dollars for the vests — and start handing them out in May.

BY KERRY BURKE, BARRY PADDOCK

MICHAEL SCHWARTZ FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The new vests, which cost about $700 each, boast a ceramic chest plate designed to withstand knife thrusts and rifle shots.

Mayor de Blasio put his money where his mouth is Friday, rushing through the purchase of 13,000 new state-of-the-art bullet-resistant vests.

    
MICHAEL SCHWARTZ FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS  
The vests offer wraparound protection many of the current vests lack and are 25% to 30% lighter.  

Two weeks ago, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association hand-delivered a letter to City Hall demanding de Blasio buy the vests without delay.

De Blasio joined Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the 34th Precinct stationhouse in Washington Heights to announce the city would budget $7.3 million dollars for the vests — and start handing them out in May.

“Two weeks after the issue was raised by the unions, the mayor and the Council responded,” Bratton said Friday. “When in government does anything happen that quickly? Not in my recollection.”

A spokeswoman for the city’s office of management and budget vowed two weeks ago that money for the vests would be included in the preliminary 2015 budget, as de Blasio announced Friday.

The new vests, which cost about $700 each, boast a ceramic chest plate designed to withstand knife thrusts and rifle shots. They offer wraparound protection many of the current vests lack and are 25% to 30% lighter.

“These new vests will make a big difference,” de Blasio said.

“A single vest can save a life and make sure a family doesn’t have to go through the unspeakable pain of losing a loved one.”

De Blasio has been desperate to make peace with police since hundreds of cops turned their backs on him at the funerals for Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were assassinated in Brooklyn on Dec. 20.

Patrick Lynch, the PBA’s firebrand leader, infamously accused the mayor of having blood on his hands in the wake of the officers’ deaths. Lynch was furious de Blasio had expressed sympathy for protesters.

DAVID HANDSCHUH
Two weeks ago, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association hand-delivered a letter to City Hall demanding de Blasio buy the vests without delay.

But Lynch’s battle with the mayor proved controversial, with some delegates accusing Lynch of losing focus on cops’ day-to-day concerns, including the need for new vests. PBA delegate Brian Fusco announced plans to try to unseat Lynch in June’s union election.

“We are thrilled that the issue is resolved,” Fusco said of the vests. “We will continue to fight for police officers on the issues that impact their safety.”

Lynch did not attend the mayor’s announcement Friday.

“We are grateful that the mayor and (City Council) speaker heard our urgent call to purchase the vests immediately,” Lynch said in a statement.

“We hope this represents the first of many actions that demonstrate City Hall’s true support for New York City police officers.”

All of the 21,900 vests currently out of their five-year warranty will eventually be replaced, starting with the 6,400 vests that are more than a decade old, Bratton said.

De Blasio vowed that in the future, vests will be replaced as soon as their warranties expire.

According to an NYPD analysis, vests have saved 87 officers’ lives since 1978.

kburke@nydailynews.com