We talk to a lot of people who have a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that there are still (far too many) law enforcement officers working without body armor. Most law enforcement outsiders are of the assumption that body armor, like a firefighter’s turnout gear, is an unquestionable necessity that just gets issued.
We’d gladly close down tomorrow if that became a reality!
But the sad fact is that thousands of American law enforcement officers ARE serving their communities without the protection of this vital equipment.
Here are some comments collected from a few of our vest grant applicants just to gove you an idea of what some Chiefs and Sheriffs are dealing with:
“My department is very small with a low budget to operate under…as the Chief of Police it worries me on a daily basis for the officers not to have body armor. Whatever you can do to help me and my officers would be greatly appreciated.” – Georgia Police Chief
“Budget restraints have made it difficult to be able to provide our deputies with new body armor. At current time, all officers, including investigation units, are using expired body armor.” – Texas Sheriff
A 2010 Rand Study estimated that as many as 236,000 (about 20% of the total) American law enforcement officers do not have body armor. It was noted in the report that at least some of these officers worked for agencies that simply chose not to provide body armor or require their officers to wear it, but cost is certainly a leading factor behind most officers going without a vest.
The average cost (2010 numbers) for an agency to provide an officer with body armor is $112 per year, which totals $560 over the 5 year lifespan of a vest. This doesn’t seem like much, but when you consider the fact that about 50% of American police officers work for small agencies (10 or fewer officers) with an average operating budget of only $502,076, it makes more sense.
Consider this: personnel costs (salaries, insurance, etc.) take up about 70% of a police department’s budget. Using the average above, that’s $351,453.20 out of a $502,076 budget. The $150,622.80 left over for uniforms, ammunition, training, vehicle maintenance, fuel, facility costs, and equipment, etc. will not go very far!
The need for American Armor is, sadly, very real!
We’re proud of the small impact we’ve made in a short amount of time, but we still have many applications that we cannot fund at this time. You can help us change that with a gift towards our mission! Your donation – of any amount – will go a long way towards our mission!