New Law Protecting Officers

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By Amy Fox

JACKSON COUNTY--  Governor Quinn has signed a new law, requiring all new police officers be supplied with bulletproof vests.  That means added protection, but police agencies don't think it will have too much of an impact.  Many departments already provide vests to all officers.

Police officers put their lives in harms way every day, and most don't go out on the job without one important piece of equipment: a bulletproof vest.  

"You may go your whole career and not get struck or shot at, but I would rather have it on than not have it on," says Murphysboro Police Officer Sergeant Brian Brewer.
 
"It's absolutely vital because we are out there and we are in potentially dangerous situations at a drop of the hat," said Lieutenant Heather Reno, Carbondale Police Department.
 
But the vests do come with a big price tag.
 
"The vests that we wear right now run about $545 a piece.  So, if we hire 3 or 4 people at a time, that's a couple thousand dollars just in vests alone," said Reno.
 
"The money that you spend buying a vest might be a very good investment as opposed to what an injured officer might cost in the long run," said Brewer.
 
Departments like Murphysboro and Carbondale already provide bulletproof vests to their officers, 
but smaller police agencies in the state that don't provide vests, will soon get help paying for them.
 
Brewer said, "Basically, it will keep the officers in smaller departments from having to use their own money to buy body armor and it can be fairly costly."
 
The state will pick up half the cost; the department will cover the rest. There are also federal grants available to offset the expense.
 
"I hope that they don't have to sacrifice another piece of equipment to provide the vests," said Reno.
 
Law enforcement agencies still have a few months before the bill goes into effect on January 1st.
Under the new act, each bulletproof vest should also be replaced before its expiration date. Typically, a vest is good for about 4 to 5 years.
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