New law reauthorizes bulletproof vest program

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WASHINGTON (GrayDC) Bulletproof vests have saved thousands of police officers’ lives. Many officers have to raise money for this gear. Lawmakers are working to make sure officers stay safe on the job.

Colorado's Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) discusses why he helped introduce the legislation to permanently reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program. (Source: GrayDC)

“I was on a horse-mounted unit for four years and wore ballistic armor out every day,” said Barry Bratburd, a retired Maryland-National Capital Park Police officer. He served for 20 years.

He now works at the National Institute of Justice, which sets the standard for bulletproof vests.

“Any type of blunt force trauma, the vest can only help,” said Bratburd.

According to the National Institute of Justice, bulletproof vests have saved the lives of more than 3,000 police officers over the past 30 years.

Bratburd says they can be expensive.

“I’ve seen instances in departments where officers have had bake sales and raffles to raise money to buy vests,” said Bratburd.

Since 1999, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant program has helped police departments offset the cost. But Congress had to renew it four times.
That’s why Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner helped introduce legislation to make the grants permanent.

President Trump signed it into law in May.

“Departments, people in law enforcement will know that this is a resource they can always count on,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

The bulletproof vest grant program will cost 30 million dollars annually.

Last year, the program awarded funds to local law enforcement in Grand Junction City and Elbert county in Colorado.

The Bulletproof Vest Program awarded 13,000 cities and counties $467 million in federal funds to purchase vests since 1999, according to the Office of Justice Programs.

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