Officers get new ballistic vests

chester Banner/Dave Ryan Cambridge Police Department Chief Mark Lewis, in front at the right, and several of his officers thanked Executive Director of the Spirit of Blue Foundation Ryan T. Smith for the organization’s funding of 13 new ballistic vests.

chester Banner/Dave Ryan
Cambridge Police Department Chief Mark Lewis, in front at the right, and several of his officers thanked Executive Director of the Spirit of Blue Foundation Ryan T. Smith for the organization’s funding of 13 new ballistic vests.

CAMBRIDGE – The city’s police officers are safer today.

Chief Mark Lewis and several of his officers announced on Monday a safety grant provided by the Spirit of Blue Foundation. The money has been used to buy 13 new, modern ballistic vests valued at $20,969.

“We’re just excited to be able to qualify for this grant,” Chief Lewis said. “It makes me feel that I and the city can provide the best possible protection.”

Vests are considered outdated after five years. During that time, moisture causes the deterioration of epoxy that bonds the many layers of fabric in the vests, reducing their effectiveness.

Chief Lewis said some of his officers have been wearing vests seven or eight years old, the result of lack of money to replace them. That led him to seek alternate funding arrangements.

It took two years, he said, to complete the grant arrangements after his initial contact with Spirit of Blue. At the press conference Monday, Mr. Smith spoke about the chief, telling assembled officers, “This guy went to bat for you.”

“The Survival Armor Plexus Level II body armor provides officers with exceptional protection that is both lightweight and comfortable to wear,” a statement from Spirit of Blue said. “Each vest comes with two outer carriers to be rotated and a soft trauma pack to absorb energy from an impact, which provides additional protection. This body armor has also been tested against a number of special-threat rounds that exist in the market and has proven to be effective in protecting against penetration from those.”

Statistics released from the Officer Down Memorial Page show that 53 law enforcement officers have already lost their lives in 2018. Twenty-eight of those deaths were firearm related, a 65-percent increase over the same period in 2017.

The Spirit of Blue Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Rochester, N.Y., dedicated to enhancement of officer safety. Since 2011, the foundation has awarded 68 grants in 25 states, valued at more than $300,000.

The funds for the CPD vest grant came to the foundation from Law Enforcement United, a group that honors fallen officers and supports their families.

Mr. Smith told the officers on Monday, “Our prayer is that you never have to understand how good a vest this is.”

To learn more about Spirit of Blue Foundation, call (585) 662-9032 or email rsmith@spiritofblue.com. The Cambridge Police Department is located at 8 Washington St., phone 410-228-3333.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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