DOJ Press Release letterhead

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 16, 2006
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/
Office of Justice Programs
Contact: Sheila Jerusalem
Phone: (202) 307-0703
TTY: (202) 514-1888

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FUNDING TO PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICERS FOR BULLETPROOF VESTS

        BOSTON – The Department of Justice today announced nearly $29 million in funding to over 4,500 law enforcement agencies across the nation for the purchase of bulletproof vests through the Department of Justice's Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program. The grant awards are expected to fund the purchase of over 213,000 vests for public safety officers nationwide.

        "Law enforcement is a difficult and dangerous profession. The safety and well-being of our public safety officers is fundamental to effectively administering justice in the communities they serve," said Regina Schofield, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. "Providing this support to state and local agencies is essential to protecting those who are charged with confronting some of our country's most violent criminals."

        Administered through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of the Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program provides for up to half the cost of bulletproof vests to eligible units of local governments. Each jurisdiction may purchase one vest per officer per year, and all vests must meet or exceed standards developed by OJP's National Institute of Justice (NIJ). Since 1999, over 12,000 jurisdictions have participated in the BVP Program, with $173 million in federal funds committed to support the purchase of an estimated 450,000 vests. A list of this year's funding recipients is available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA.

        In 2003, the Department formed the Body Armor Safety Initiative following the failure of a body armor vest worn by a Forest Hills, Pa., police officer. The NIJ initiated an examination of bullet-resistant armor, and following ballistics and properties testing, determined that used body armor currently in use may not provide the intended level of ballistic resistance. As a result, NIJ recommended that new bullet-resistant body armor comply with the NIJ's 2005 interim requirements for bullet-resistant body amor. As NIJ continues testing new models of body armor, vest models will be added to a list of models that comply with the requirements. The list of compliant vest models is available at http://www.justnet.org.

        The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP is headed by an Assistant Attorney General and comprises five component bureaus and two offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime, as well as the Office of the Police Corps and Law Enforcement Education and the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk. More information can be found athttp://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

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