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City to vote on funding ballistic police vests

September 22, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on spending $3,819 to help buy 30 ballistic vests for the police department.

Police Chief Arthur Smith said the request marks the first time he has asked the council for money to buy vests. The city usually uses state and federal grants for vest purchases, but funding from the state was cut this year, he said.

"The hope is if one of our officers is unfortunate enough to get shot, these vests will provide safety," Smith said. "This is a nice piece of equipment ... It makes police work a lot safer."

The 30 vests cost $20,982 - in which $17,163 would be paid for by grants that already have been secured, he said. The remaining $3,819 would be paid for by the city.

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Smith said Hagerstown police officers have been required to wear vests since he became chief seven years ago.

Police officers wear the vests under their shirts, Smith said. Each vest comes with four carriers, or shells, that can be removed from the ballistic material and washed.

The police department replaces vests about every five years, he said.

Twenty-four of the vests would be used in the replacement rotation, and six would be issued to new hires when they graduate in February from the police academy, Smith said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he plans to vote in favor of funding the vests.

"They need the vests ... Safety is the No. 1 issue," he said.

If the council gives its approval, the city would buy the vests from Atlantic Tactical in New Cumberland, Pa., according to city documents.

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