A.G. Schneiderman Announces First Round Of Grants To Police Departments Including Rochester, Buffalo And Albany For Bulletproof Vests

$579K In inVEST Partnership Grants Will Support Purchase Of 1,293 Life-Saving Bulletproof Vests For 60 Law Enforcement Agencies In Western New York, The Capital Region, And The North Country

A.G. Grants Provide Financial Relief To Agencies Hurt By Drastic Cuts To Federal Vest Program

Schneiderman: We Are Doing Everything In Our Power To Protect Those Who Are Sworn To Protect Us

ROCHESTER – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the first round of awards to law enforcement agencies in New York State through the Attorney General’s inVEST Partnership, a statewide program that offers law enforcement agencies the opportunity to purchase bulletproof vests for sworn officers. Awards were announced for law enforcement agencies in 23 counties in Western New York, the Capital Region, and the North Country, including $156,738.30 to support the purchase of 375 vests in Erie County, $90,504.48 for 234 vests in Monroe County and $160,368.50 for 272 vests in Albany County. In total, the first round of funding will provide $579,034.39 to support the purchase of 1,293 bulletproof vests.

“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, and we are. The inVEST Partnership grants we are announcing today will arm brave officers 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. In June, Attorney General Schneiderman announced the inVEST Partnership to replace funds cut from 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 officers’ lives nationwide during the same time period. On July 28th, New York Police Department Detective Mario Muniz was shot multiple times, including once in the chest, while attempting to execute an arrest warrant on a suspected sex offender. The round that struck his chest was stopped by his bulletproof vest, likely saving his life, according to NYPD Commissioner William Bratton.

“In 2009, Rochester Police Officer Luca Martini was shot during a home invasion, and the bulletproof vest he was wearing helped save his life,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. “Rochester’s police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens. These vests are another tool to protect them, and I would like to thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for not only recognizing the importance of keeping our police officers safe on the job, but for selecting Rochester as a community to participate in the inVEST Partnership.”

“We need to do everything in our power to protect our police officers and these new bulletproof vests are yet another critical layer of safety that will help us further reduce crime in Buffalo,” said Mayor Byron Brown, noting that overall crime in Buffalo has been reduced nearly 25% since 2005. “My administration takes the safety and security of both our citizens and officers very seriously. I thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for helping us further protect our officers in a continued effort to improve the safety of our neighborhoods.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarzsaid, “Attorney General Schneiderman is once again showing his commitment to WNY, this time with enhanced protection for members of the Erie County Sheriff’s office. His past efforts have led to greater protections for consumers, homeowners, and our environment, and with this grant the Attorney General demonstrates his understanding of and compassion for the needs of law enforcement in our community. Thanks to Attorney General Schneiderman, our Sheriff’s deputies will be better protected themselves as they protect the residents of Erie County.”

“Our law enforcement officials risk their lives on a daily basis in order to protect us,”Senator Ted O’Brien said. “The least we can do is to protect them when they are in the line of duty. I commend Attorney General Schneiderman for making the safety of our police officers a top priority. Using funds seized in criminal investigations to provide officers with bulletproof vests will save lives and make our state safer for these brave men and women, and all New Yorkers. I am pleased to work with the Attorney General in implementing this important program.”

Senator Tim Kennedysaid, “Every day, Western New York's finest leave their loved ones behind with no idea what dangers they may encounter and no guarantee they'll make it back home safe. They proudly take an oath to serve and protect  and willingly place themselves in harm's way in order to keep our families and communities safe. Nothing we do in state government is more important than providing our brave men and women in uniform with every protection available to ensure they return home to their loved ones at the end of their shift. That's why I'm proud to join Attorney General Schneiderman today to deliver this critical funding which will help outfit our local police force with the newest technology in lifesaving bulletproof vests, and I want to thank the Attorney General for his relentless work to protect Western New Yorkers.”

Assembly Member Sean Ryan said, “I thank Attorney General Schneiderman for creating this innovative program, which will help to protect the lives of the brave men and women who serve our communities each and every day. The inVEST Partnership will provide the critical funding necessary to get life-saving vests into the hands of police officers in Western New York and throughout the state. I’m thankful that the Attorney General and the State of New York are stepping up to the plate to support our police agencies and uniformed officers.”

Assemblyman David Ganttsaid, “Thank you to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Office of the Attorney General for establishing the inVEST Partnership.  Ensuring the safety of the men and women dedicated to keeping our streets safe is a huge step toward building better communities. I commend the Attorney General for the good work he is doing not only in Rochester, but across the entire state.”

“Our police officers protect and serve residents of the Queen City, and we have to protect them as well," said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes. “Securing $3.5 million for new bulletproof vests is great news for the safety and well-being of our law enforcement agencies in Buffalo and Western New York. I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for starting the inNVEST program and securing the funding. I also want to thank our law enforcement for their continued service, as they risk their lives every day.”

“These vests save lives,” said Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli. “We are very grateful to the Attorney General for helping to ensure that every RPD officer has a vest.”

The Attorney General’s office committed $3.5 million from criminal and civil forfeiture funds to create the inVEST Partnership. The office began accepting applications for the inVEST Partnership on June 9th. The awards announced today represent the first round of funding. Subsequent rounds will be announced in the coming weeks. For those departments that receive awards, matching funds will cover up to 50 percent of the total costs of vests, vest carriers, attachments, inserts, fitting, shipping and applicable taxes. Funding is available to equip newly hired officers or to replace expiring vests for veteran officers. Vests must conform with the performance standards delineated by NIJ in its most recent testing report. 

The inVEST Partnership will provide matching funds for between 6,000 and 10,000 vests. Although the initial priority application deadline for the inVEST Partnership has passed, law enforcement agencies still in need of funding for protective vests are encouraged to apply. Late applicants will be reviewed based on funding availability, on a first-come, first-serve basis. In order to apply, an agency must be a member of or join the United States Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Equitable Sharing Program. Approved departments will be required to submit receipts for reimbursement by the end of this year. 

The first round of awards is as follows:

County/Department

Amount of Award

No. of Vests

Albany

160,368.50 

272

Allegany

 10,239.65 

26

Cattaraugus

9,450.00 

21

Chautauqua

17,785.25 

40

Clinton

14,178.75

27

Erie

156,738.30 

375

Franklin

373.92 

1

Fulton

17,201.40 

44

Genesee

 1,743.00 

5

Herkimer

 1,900.00 

5

Jefferson

2,400.00 

4

Lewis

4,900.00 

7

Livingston

1,792.38 

5

Monroe

90,504.48 

234

Montgomery

9,854.81 

20

Niagara

8,500.00 

20

Orleans

13,733.26 

43

Rensselaer

8,451.41 

21

Schenectady

31,808.30 

69

Schoharie

1,396.50 

4

Washington

11,805.00 

38

Wyoming

 2,137.50 

5

Otsego

1,772.00 

7

Grand Total

579,034.39 

1,293

A full breakdown of the first round of awards, including the name of each police department, can be viewed here.

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