(WBNG Binghamton) Attorney General Eric Schneiderman unveiled the inVEST Partnership, a new statewide program that offers law-enforcement agencies the opportunity to purchase bulletproof vests for sworn officers. The Partnership will provide financial relief to agencies hurt by federal spending cuts and unable to afford the life-saving vests for their own officers.
“Every day in communities all across New York, the brave men and women serving in our police departments put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We have an obligation to do everything in our power to protect those who are sworn to protect us. We cannot allow political wrangling in Washington to compromise the safety of New York’s law-enforcement community. The inVEST Partnership will arm officers across our state with life-saving vests they might not otherwise have, adding a critical layer of safety to one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.”
In 1998, the federal government passed the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (“BVP”) Grant Act, which established a competitive grant program to provide up to 50 percent matching funds for state, county and local law-enforcement organizations to purchase bulletproof vests.
Schneiderman said because of partisan gridlock in Washington, BVP grants to departments in New York State have dropped precipitously in recent years. Since peaking in 2010, Schneidarman said grants awarded to law enforcement agencies in New York State decreased by 81 percent, or approximately $3.27 million. The Attorney General’s inVEST Partnership will restore cuts in funding to the BVP program.
The danger that law-enforcement officers face on a daily basis cannot be overstated: Since 1984, 71 officers in New York State have been shot and killed in the line of duty and 29 different law-enforcement agencies have experienced gunfire fatalities. The National Institute of Justice (“NIJ”) estimates that bulletproof vests have saved more than 3,000 police officer lives nationwide during the same time period.
The Attorney General’s office will allocate $3.5 million from criminal and civil forfeiture funds to create inVEST Partnership. Specifically, matching funds will cover up to 50 percent of the total costs of vests, vest carriers, attachments, inserts, fitting, shipping and applicable taxes. Funding will be available either to equip newly-hired officers or to replace expiring vests for veteran officers. Vests must conform with the performance standards delineated by NIJ in their most recent testing report.
The inVEST Partnership will provide matching funds for between 6,000 and 10,000 vests. Law-enforcement agencies can begin applying for the program as of today and the deadline for application is July 15th. In order to apply, an agency must be a member of or join the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Equitable Sharing Program. Approved departments will be required to submit receipts for reimbursement by the end of this year.