A federal program involving bulletproof vests that mixes law-and-order Republicanism and big-spending Democratic outreach has gone awry in Washington, D.C., says the Easton (Pa.) Expess-Times. The outcome may cost U.S. taxpayers $93 million or more. Since its start in fiscal 1999, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act has financed the purchase of about 1 million vests. About 200,000 of those were defective because they were made with Zylon, a fabric that loses its tensile strength over long-term exposure to light and humidity.
The U.S. Justice Department said in August that vests made with Zylon did not meet ballistics standards. The Justice Department said it was providing $33.6 million right away to help state and local agencies buy replacement vests. A separate bill making its way through Congress may allocate another $60 million for vests. Gene Voegtlin of the International Association of Chiefs of Police contends that Congress should keep funding the bulletproof vest initiative despite its troubles. “The problem has been the standards and certification process” for vest strength and safety, not the grants-in-aid to police agencies, he said.