GREENFIELD — Greenfield Police Department officers soon will carry additional bullet-proof vests in their cars after department leaders expressed a desire to increase officer safety.
City leaders will spend $16,600 to purchase an additional 37 bullet-proof vests for the police department’s patrol officers, Chief John Jester said.
The vests would be worn in the event of an active shooter, Jester said. Off-duty officers, who might head to the scene in street clothes, will have the protective gear in the trunks of their take-home patrol cars, ready to be put on at a moment’s notice. On-duty officers called to the scene could wear the vests over the bullet-proof vests they already wear under their uniform, offering each an extra layer of protection, Jester said.
In addition to shielding a police officer from bullets and shrapnel, each vest holds a first aid kit and has pockets to hold extra ammunition, Jester said.
Though Jester began laying the groundwork for the purchase weeks ago, recent shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge only highlight the need for additional security for police officers, city officials said.
Five police officers were fatally shot and seven others wounded in Dallas on July 7 while providing security for a Black Lives Matter protest. Three more officers were killed in Baton Rouge 10 days later by a lone gunman along a city highway.
Officials believe both attacks were spurred by the deaths of two black men killed by police separate incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier this month.
The shootings served as evidence of the dangerous situations police officers face every day, said Kelly McClarnon, a member of the Greenfield Board of Public Works and Safety.
The board unanimously approved Jester’s request to purchase the vests days after the incident in Dallas, which made city leaders even more eager to assist officers, McClarnon said. He was pleased to see Jester was thinking ahead and equipping officers with the tools needed to face dangerous scenarios.
“The timing wasn’t lost on me; it was so surreal” McClarnon said. “There is no such thing as a routine stop or a routine call anymore. (Police officers) are so exposed and vulnerable. We have to do whatever we can to protect our folks.”
And officers are thankful city officials are willing to extend resources to keep them safe.
Greenfield Lt. Brent Inman said the additional bullet-proof vests will give officers a sense of security when responding to dangerous calls.
A lot has changed since Inman became a police officer in the 1980s; they carried less equipment and fewer weapons but didn’t seem to face as many risky circumstances, he said.
Each additional piece of gear officers are required to keep with them goes a long way to help them protect themselves while protecting their friends and neighbors, Inman said.
The police department will used proceeds acquired from civil forfeitures — assets confiscated from those suspected of committing a crime and sold – to pay for the new vests. Each device costs $450.
“That’s a cheap price if it helps even one guy,” Jester said.