Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has awarded more than $345,000 in grants to more than 60 local police departments over the last three months to purchase body armor vests for their officers.
“Every department wants to have a vest for every officer, but the vests are not cheap and have to be replaced after a certain number of years,” Yost, a Republican, said. “Helping to protect these officers is a meaningful way to thank them as they put themselves at risk for our sake each day.”
Yost’s office released updated maps and statistics reflecting the latest awards in the Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program.
Even though a department has to front a quarter of the cost for each vest, one officer says the economic impact is huge because it frees up resources for other needs.
Reminderville Police Department Lt. Jamie Siegfried told the Akron Beacon Journal the $15,249 his department received helped buy 10 bulletproof vests.
“The vests we had before this grant were halfway through their life cycle,” Siegfried said. “We upped the threat level of the vests.”
Siegfried said the grant also helped free up funds to improve the department’s computer system, which had 10-year-old servers.
Since its inception in fiscal year 2018, the Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program has awarded grants exceeding $3.9 million to 426 local law enforcement agencies statewide to purchase body armor vests, Yost said. Grants awarded in August through November 2019 reached 63 agencies and totaled $345,837.
The Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program is administered by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, with funding provided by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) as part of its Safety Intervention Grant Program.
In August 2019, Yost and Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) announced $3.5 million in new funding for the program.
Participating agencies can receive up to $40,000 to purchase body armor vests with a local match of 25 percent. More than 40 of the agencies receiving grants in the last three months had received grants previously but had not claimed the maximum $40,000 and were therefore able to apply for additional grant dollars.
Cuyahoga County was the largest recipient by county, claiming $335,013.
Agencies that maxed out on the $40,000 offer are:
- Clermont County Sheriff’s Office
- Maumee Police Division
- Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
- Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office
- Richland County Sheriff’s Office
- Ross County Sheriff’s Office
- Warren Police Department
Eligibility is restricted to law enforcement agencies that pay Bureau of Workers’ Compensation premiums and have policies in good standing.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.