Wall Street Journal

Updated July 25, 2016 9:35 p.m.


Protecting the Safety of the NYPD

After police shootings, NYPD patrol officers to be outfitted with new tactical equipment

By ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS

Bullet-resistant helmets and vests will be available to New York City Police by September.  PHOTO: CLAUDIO PAPAPIETRO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The New York Police Department unveiled new tactical equipment for patrol officers in the wake of shootings targeting law enforcers.

The 20,000 bullet-resistant helmets and 6,000 vests cost nearly $7.5 million and will be paid by department and city funds, said New York police commissioner >William Bratton. Mr. Bratton said the equipment was ordered for patrol officers, usually the first to respond to an active shooter.

Officers would be donning them by the start of September, he said.

“We are committed to protecting the safety of the public in the city to ensuring the safety of our officers to the best of their ability—understanding that they must always go in harm’s way no matter what the incident,” Mr. Bratton said at the 84th precinct along Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The department has taken steps this year to invest in modern technology, including rolling out smartphones to every officer and armored doors for police cars. Mr. Bratton said over the past 18 months, around $320 million has been spent on equipment and training officers to use it.

The mayor said the added resources were imperative after five police officers were killed in Dallas and subsequently three were killed in Baton Rouge, La. Last week, a man also threw a fake bomb into a police car in Times Square.

Commissioner William Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio look at one of the NYPD’s new armored doors. PHOTO:CLAUDIO PAPAPIETRO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“We made this decision quickly in light of what we saw happening around us,” said Mr. de Blasio, who campaigned on improving police and community relations. “I think it’s absolutely the right decision and we’ll be moving quickly to implement it.”

New York police chief James O’Neill said the helmets saved the lives of many officers during a mass shooting in Orlando last month and the vests were “rated a step higher” than what officers currently wear.

But the president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said the initiative was a “reactive approach” by Mr. de Blasio.

“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,” said Mr. Lynch in a statement.

Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of law and police studies at John Jay College, said the added equipment was important since the officers receiving it were often first responders. The NYPD Strategic Response Group, Emergency Services Unit and Critical Response Command already have similar equipment.

“It’s actually front line cops, patrol cops, that are really the critical players here,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “It’s in the first five minutes of an event. They are the crucial moments.”

—Pervaiz Shallwani contributed to this article.