From The Tribune-Review by Mark Hoffman, March 15, 2014
The Connellsville Police Department is seeking donations for a matching grant to obtain new bulletproof vests.
Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln said he met with the police department for the first time since taking office in January, where officers voiced concerns.
“The officers said one of their main concerns was with the age and condition of the bulletproof vests they currently wear while on duty,” Lincoln said.
Lincoln sat down with Connellsville Police Chief James Capitos, who told him about the Bulletproof Vest Partnership through the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Program.
Since 1999, the BVP program has reimbursed more than 13,000 jurisdictions, a total of $288 million in federal funds for the purchase of more than 1 million vests, according to the OJP website.
Capitos said the cost for the vests will be between $815 and $915 each. About $16,000 will be needed to purchase the vests, which he said will be custom-fitted for each officer.
“We are registered (with the OJP), and we have a vendor who handled a grant with the Mt. Pleasant Police Department,” Capitos said. He said it’s up to the city to come up with about $8,000. The grant will only pay 50 percent of the purchase of the vests.
Capitos said the grant window will open on April 1.
“So now I am working on the matching funds so we can submit our application in April,” Lincoln said.
The Masonic Lodge No. 562 has committed $1,000 to the campaign, but more is needed to show the OJP that half the money to qualify for the grant is committed.
“Any organizations that wish to contribute would be appreciated,” Capitos said.
“I’m hoping to talk to our local service and social clubs for help raising the money,” Lincoln said. “Our police officers work very hard to keep our community safe. My goal is to make sure they have the necessary equipment to do their job and to keep them safe, too.”
Lincoln said the money is a small amount to raise that will go a long way to keep the city officers safe.
According to the OJP, in fiscal year 2012, protective vests were directly attributable to saving the lives of at least 33 law enforcement and corrections officers in 20 different states, an increase of 13.7 percent over fiscal year 2011. At least 14 of those life-saving vests had been purchased, in part, with BVP funds.