City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has taken up a new crusade for the fiscal year 2016 council budget: bulletproof vests for all of New York’s finest. The NYPD estimates that such protection has saved 87 officers since 1978, and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch called them “essential” and pressed for them to become a permanent part of the budget.
The council wants to allocate $7.3 million for the vests, which cost $600 apiece, in the latest safety measure proposed after NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed in their patrol car in Brooklyn. Last month, state lawmakers began a push to upgrade all police vehicles in New York with bulletproof glass after that same shooting.
“We must ensure that the brave men and women of the NYPD have all the resources they need to stay safe when they are out protecting New Yorkers,” Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “This City Council is committed to supporting our police officers and that starts by ensuring they have the most up-to-date and advanced technology at their disposal. Modern, reliable bulletproof vests will help ensure that police officers throughout the City are safe and the City Council is proud to support funding for this critical initiative which will help save lives.”
This proposal comes amid high tensions between Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD, with some on the force blaming de Blasio for violence against officers. De Blasio spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick told the New York Observer that “ensuring the safety of NYPD officers is paramount,” and the mayor’s budget, expected later this month, will also include funding for this measure.