A month after the point-blank murder of Detectives Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as they sat in their patrol car, local pols are banding together in hopes of bringing a major boost in funding to the NYPD for new bulletproof vests and bulletproof glass for patrol cars.
Councilmember Vincent Gentile and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras, and Public Safety Committee Chair Vanessa Gibson, have proposed a $7.3 million allocation in preliminary budgeting to replace the NYPD’s current bulletproof vests, an upgrade that will equip officers with the most “advanced and effective” technology at a cost of approximately $600 per vest.
“New York City’s police force is unparalleled and we owe it to our officers to ensure they have the resources they need to stay safe as they protect New Yorkers,” said Gentile, who previously secured $12 million in funding in 2006 to provide vests to 18,000 NYPD officers. “The City Council is a staunch supporter of the NYPD and we are proud to do our part to make sure all NYPD officers have new bulletproof vests.”
Additionally, Assemblymember Felix Ortiz and State Senator Marty Golden, himself a former cop, are among lawmakers looking to equip patrol cars with bulletproof glass, a process that could take up to five years. The two are sponsoring legislation in their respective houses that would fund the initiative through a newly created Police Protection Fund, with legislators hoping to utilize funds from the state’s almost $5 billion budget surplus.
“It’s important that we keep our police officers safe,” stressed Golden, noting that bulletproof glass on police cars and bulletproof vests are important investments as we move forward into the future and face possible similar incidents as well as other threats.
“As a cop back in the 70s,” he added, “we had these types of assassinations. It was very grueling for police officers and their families and the city in general, and it hurts everybody.”
“The lives of our law enforcement officers must not be compromised by partisan politics. I am joining my colleagues in the Senate to become the Assembly sponsor of this important legislation to create safe vehicles for New York City’s finest,” added Ortiz. “The brave men and women who put their lives on the line for all of us deserve the best safety equipment we can give them.”
Golden said that several Senate committees would be holding hearings around the state to determine what is needed, how effective various measures are and what they would cost. The New York City hearing will be held on January 28 at 250 Broadway.
Helen Klein contributed reporting to this article.