Staten Island Advance
Updated: July 25, 2016 at 7:31 PM

Better protection for cops: $7.5M for new helmets, vests

By Anna Sanders

Two officers at the 84th precinct in Brooklyn try on the new ballistic vests and helmets the NYPD has purchased. (Staten Island Advance/Anna Sanders)

CITY HALL -- NYPD officers will be equipped with new heavy duty helmets and ballistic vests after recent attacks on police across the country.

The city ordered 6,000 vests and 20,000 helmets for about $7.5 million last week. Officers are expected to begin carrying them in patrol cars by the beginning of September.

"It's so important to recognize the threats our officers face and to act on them immediately," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the 84th precinct in Brooklyn.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he wanted to upgrade equipment after recent fatal attacks on police in Baton Rouge, La. and Dallas, TX.

Last Wednesday, a Hoax bomb was tossed through the open window of a police van in Times Square. Officers were also shot at in Flatbush last week.

Bratton also recently watched a video of two officers being fired on responding to a shooter within the 94th precinct in Brooklyn.
"There's not a police department in America that is spending as much money, as much thought and interest on this issue of officer safety," Bratton said.

The helmets will cost $5 million and the vests will cost $2.5 million

The equipment will not be paid for with city tax levy funding, the mayor's office said. Federal grants will pay for $1.5 million and $3.5 million will come from assets seized by the NYPD. Another $2.5 million in asset forfeiture funds will come from the mayor's office.

Bratton said the roll-out of the vests and helmets could take a couple months, and more may be ordered if necessary. NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill will decide which precincts will be prioritized.

O'Neill said that two ballistic vests will be put in 3,000 patrol vehicles in all precincts, transit districts and police service areas. Twenty thousands cops will be given the helmets, which weigh about seven pounds and are similar to those worn by American combat soldiers.

The vests would be worn over the traditional bulletproof vests that cops already must wear beneath uniforms.

"This will be even greater protection," O'Neill said.

Officials said the new gear would be worn only when needed, like when police respond to active shooters.

"These types of vests would not be routinely worn by our officers," Bratton said. "They're not intended for long-term wear."

The new equipment was called a half-measure by Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch, who represents rank-and-file officers.

"The ballistic vests and helmets in patrol cars can provide immediate protection for police officers, but without long rifles to counter the immediate threat of the shooter, the officers and the public they are sworn to protect will remain in great danger," Lynch said.

De Blasio spokesman Austin Finan said that Bratton "knows the needs of our police department best."

"He raised the issue, and the mayor delivered -- just like he's always done," Finan said.