Albany, NY - June 10, 2014 - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today 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. Unfortunately, because of partisan gridlock in Washington, BVP grants to departments in New York State have dropped precipitously in recent years. In fact, since peaking in 2010, 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.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “In Yonkers we take pride in the fact that we are one of the safest cities of our size in the country, and we know that keeping our residents safe starts with fully equipping the men and women in law enforcement. That’s why I’m so proud to support Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s inVEST Partnership. Thanks to the Attorney General, departments across New York will have access to more resources to purchase the bullet proof vests that keep our men and women in blue safe.”
Michael Palladino, President Detectives' Endowment Association-NYPD and New York State Association of PBA's said, “I thank the Attorney General not only on behalf of those who risk their lives but also on behalf of their families, who love them.”
State Senator George Latimer said, “Police officers have the dangerous job of protecting all of us, and while they all heroically carry out their duty, some do not have the proper equipment to protect themselves. This is why I wholeheartedly support and applaud Attorney General Schneiderman in his efforts with this program to help provide that protective equipment."
Assemblymember Shelley Mayer said, “Today’s announcement is a great development for the Yonkers Police Department and all police departments across the state. This initiative will go a long way in helping to protect Yonkers’ police officers in the face of uncertainty and violence. I applaud Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for stepping up to address this issue statewide and here in Yonkers."
Detective Keith Olson, President of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association, said, “I thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his effort to ensure adequate protection of our officers with the inVEST Partnership. The safety of our officers is paramount and we applaud any and all assistance to ensure this.”
Steven Heider, President of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said, "The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police strongly supports and appreciates the efforts of the Attorney General in assisting agencies with purchase of soft body armor. Soft body armor is a necessary piece of safety equipment that all officers in the state should access to."
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber said, "Bullet-resistant body armor has an outstanding safety record in protecting officers, said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber. The Suffolk County Police Department fully supports the initiative to use forfeiture money in order to fund this essential piece of equipment. The safety of our officers is a top priority."
Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli said, “We are grateful that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is making forfeiture funds available for bulletproof vests. With declining Federal funding for vests, the assistance provided by the Attorney General will be very helping in ensuring that all Rochester Police Department officers are provided with bulletproof vests.”
Chief Frank Fowler of the Syracuse Police Department said, “I commend Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for working to keep police officers safe. The funding provided by the Attorney General for bulletproof vests comes at an opportune time. Many police departments across the state are forced to deal with very tight budgets, and the financial assistance is welcomed news.”
New Rochelle Police Commissioner Patrick Carroll said, “There’s no way to measure the importance of our kevlar vests for police officers. I have personally had two of my officers’ lives saved due to bulletproof vests during my time at the NYPD. I’m gratified that the Attorney General has announced a program to ensure that our police officers are equipped with this life-saving equipment.”
City of Mount Vernon Deputy Police Commissioner Richard Burke said, “This program is a great way for New York to say ‘thank you’ to our law enforcement officers for all of the hard work they endure daily. We are thrilled that money seized from those who do not uphold the law will be used for the officers who risk their lives to protect it.”
Schenectady Police Chief Brian Kilcullen said, “Every single day police officers across the state risk their lives to keep New Yorkers safe. A lack of federal funds cannot act as a justification for ill-equipping our officers with the materials necessary for their own safety – we owe our law enforcement officers more than that. I’m grateful to Attorney General Schneiderman for taking this important step to ensure more officers will be saved in the line of duty.”
White Plains Commissioner of Public Safety David Chong said, “This program is timely and necessary since the Federal funds are being cut back. The Attorney Generals program will insure that our men and women who proudly serve and wear the police uniform to protect us will indeed continue to be protected themselves."
Robert T. Riley, President of the White Plains Police Benevolent Association, said, “I can think of no better way to spend forfeiture money from the bad guys, than to spend it on ballistic vests to protect the men and women who put their lives on the line every day and night to protect the residents and visitors of this great state.”
Town of Harrison Police Chief Anthony Marraccini said, “We appreciate the initiative and continued commitment to Law Enforcement that New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has provided. With these funds and programs, we at the Harrison Police Department are better able to serve our community.”
Peekskill Police Chief Eric Johansen said, “I can think of no better way to spend assets seized from criminal enterprises then to use those assets to protect the lives of the men and women who so bravely serve and protect our communities from criminal offenders.”
New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry said, “The Attorney General's initiative comes at a time when federal funding has decreased and remains uncertain. The Attorney General's use of forfeiture funds to fill this budgetary void will protect the lives of police officers who serve and protect our communities.”
Town of Bedford Police Chief William Hayes said, “I commend the Attorney General for addressing this time-critical issue that directly affects the safety of New York’s police officers and the communities they serve.”
Mount Kisco Police Acting Chief Lieutenant Patrick O’Reilly said, “With Attorney General Schneiderman supporting the funding of ballistic vests to law enforcement first responders it speak volumes in regards to the A.G.’s office recognizing the dangers of the job we face day in – day out. Additionally, I am of the opinion members of law enforcement across the state welcome the support and sincere concern from such a highly recognized and respected office.”
Town of Pound Ridge Police Chief David M. Ryan said, “It comes as such a relief knowing the funds are in place allowing for law enforcement agencies across the state to provide another layer of protection for the men and women who so valiantly protect our communities."
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.