The New York Police Department is spending $7.5 million on military-style bulletproof vests and helmets after a spate of recent attacks on police, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Bill Bratton announced Monday.
"You name it, we are buying it," Bratton said at a press conference Monday morning. "There’s not a police department in America that’s spending as much money, as much thought and interest on this issue of officer safety."
The shopping spree includes 20,000 new helmets, 6,000 new bulletproof vests, ballistic car doors and trauma kits. Some special units will also receive automatic long guns, more powerful pepper spray and Tasers, Bratton said. Officers will receive training on how to use the gear, which is slated to arrive by September.
"We are committed to protecting the safety of the public in this city to ensuring the safety of our officers to the best of our ability," the police commissioner said.
The Patrolmen's Benevolent Association had previously filed a complaint with the state Labor Department claiming officers lacked adequate protective gear to handle extreme work conditions.
"The little vests we wear during the day are not adequate to take on a guy with military gear," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association spokesman Anthony O’Leary told DNAinfo New York. "It's not a fair fight."
Police departments across the nation have stepped up patrol tactics after a lone gunman opened fired on police officers in Dallas on July 7, including requiring patrol officers to pair up while on duty, Reuters reported. At least 31 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty so far this year, up from 18 officers who had died during the same period in 2015, according the statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
"It’s so important to recognize the threats our officers face and to act on them immediately," the mayor said. "We will not be the police department that brings a knife to the gunfight."