January 27, 2015 | 11:26pm   

 

Pat Lynch calls on city to replace cops’ expired bulletproof vests

By Shawn Cohen

Gregory P. Mango
PBA President Pat Lynch

PBA President Pat Lynch on Tuesday said the city should act now to purchase thousands of bulletproof vests and not wait months to replace equipment that’s dangerously outdated.

“While we are very appreciative of both the mayor’s and council speaker’s support for the purchase of new vests in FY 2016, we have called upon them both to move up the timeline and to purchase this lifesaving equipment immediately,” Lynch said. “We see absolutely no reason to have to wait a half year or more in order to equip our members with the best protection available.”

The Post revealed this month that tens of thousands of city officers are wearing body armor with expired warranties, putting them at potentially catastrophic risk because the gear becomes less safe over time as heat and moisture break down the synthetic fibers. Some rank-and-file cops have been buying their own replacements.

The Post story prompted City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to announce, two days later, support for purchasing more than 12,000 new vests, which go for about $600 each and will cost the city $7.3 million in total.

The new fiscal year starts July 1.

Late Tuesday, the Mayor’s Office indicated the city could start buying vests now.

“As the mayor has said, he looks forward to working with the City Council and including these funds in the budget,” a spokeswoman said. “The vests will be in the mayor’s upcoming preliminary budget as an expenditure for the current fiscal year, which means vest purchases can begin now.”

Lynch, who said “it is clear that the funds are available” now, also urged the city and the NYPD to establish a program for replacing vests as they expire.

“Doing so will show real concern and support for the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep this city safe,” he said.

Lynch has been a vocal critic of Mayor Bill de Blasio, accusing him of not supporting cops in the wake of the Eric Garner grand-jury decision, but he’s also faced criticism from some of his own members who say his fiery rhetoric has distracted from real issues such as cop safety.

Cop-union trustee Brian Fusco, when he announced this month that he’s challenging the longtime leader for Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association president, cited a need for bulletproof vests as part of his platform for increased officer safety.

Fusco leads a group of candidates calling themselves Strengthen the Shield, who are seeking to supplant the PBA leadership.