The federal government is pushing law enforcement agencies to require uniformed police wear bulletproof vests after a sharp increase in the number of officers killed in the line of duty last year, says the Dallas Morning News. Fifty-nine of the 160 officers who died in the line of duty last year were shot. That was a 20 percent increase from the previous year. While many officers working the streets already wear the vests, Dallas is considering making it mandatory.
“By and large, our officers understand the importance of these vests because they have families and they know these things save lives,” said Dallas Deputy Chief Randy Blankenbaker. “That vest gives them the best opportunity to go home to their families every night. Most officers do not have to be told to wear their vest.” The Justice Department will not continue giving law enforcement agencies funds for body armor — which amounted to about $100,000 annually in Dallas — unless they enact a mandatory-wear policy. An FBI study found that an officer who was not wearing a vest was 14 times more likely to be injured in the line of duty. The International Association of Chiefs of Police says about 60 percent of U.S. police agencies have mandatory-wear policies for body armor. Since their creation 40 years ago, the vests have been credited with saving more than 3,000 law enforcement lives.