LAW ENFORCEMENT PURCHASES OVER 175,000 BULLETPROOF VESTS
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- The Justice Department announced today that about $24 million is being awarded to law enforcement and corrections agencies for the purchase of bulletproof vests through the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program. Approximately 4,700 jurisdictions are receiving funds that will provide for up to half the cost of purchasing over 175,000 bullet-resistant and stab-resistant vests nationwide.
"The safety of our nation's law enforcement officers is paramount," said Attorney General John Ashcroft, "and bullet-resistant vests have the ability to keep officers from being killed or injured. This program ensures that the vests are available to the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe."
OJP's Assistant Attorney General Deborah J. Daniels added: "Over the past five years, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program has helped purchase over a half million vests throughout the country. OJP is pleased to support this truly life-saving effort."
Under the initiative, 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). The BVP program provides up to 50 percent of the cost of each jurisdiction's bulletproof vest purchases. The governing legislation requires that jurisdictions with populations under 100,000 receive the entire 50 percent of the amount they request. Any remaining funds were divided proportionately among larger jurisdictions according to their requests. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), a component of the Justice Department's Office of Justice Programs (OJP), administers the program. A list of this year's bulletproof vest awards is available on the BJA website at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bja.
In March, as part of the Justice Department's Body Armor Safety Initiative, OJP convened a summit to address the reliability of body armor used by law enforcement personnel, and to examine the future of bullet-resistant technology and testing. Representatives of federal, state and local law enforcement, law enforcement associations, manufacturers of bullet-resistant fabric and equipment and standards and testing organizations participated in the summit. The summit fulfilled part of Attorney General Ashcroft's commitment to address law enforcement's concerns regarding the reliability of body armor that resulted when officers wearing Zylon vests were killed or injured.
NIJ, along with the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology, is currently conducting a comprehensive body armor testing program of both new and used materials from a variety of manufacturers, as well as armor upgrade kits offered by the manufacturer of the failed vests. The comprehensive report of findings is expected to be completed before the end of this year. Additional information on BJA and NIJ, as well as other programs and activities of the Office of Justice Programs, can be found at the OJP website, www.ojp.usdoj.gov.
OJP provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist crime 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 program.