Despite a federal grant that helps Burbank Police cover the cost of
bulletproof vests, officers might still have to spend some money out
of their own pockets for the lifesaving gear.
This week, the City Council approved a request to reapply for
continued funding from the Department of Justice. Burbank Police have
participated in the program since 1999, receiving about $21,750 to
offset the cost of the vests, police said.
Each Kevlar vest has a lifespan of about five years due to the
rigors of being worn every day, police spokesman Sgt. Bruce Speirs
said. The grant reimburses officers for up to $495 toward the
purchase of a new vest, but Speirs said vests could cost between $600
and $700. Some of the extra cost might come from the officers' annual
uniform allowance, but he said the rest comes out of their pockets.
However, Speirs pointed out that until about 10 years ago,
officers shouldered the entire cost of their uniforms. The city
briefly shouldered the cost until the federal grants became
"I've never heard anyone complain about having to pay $20 or $100
for their vest," he said. "There's a lot of guns on the streets, and
wearing a vest is as accepted by officers as wearing a seat belt."
Officers select their own vests because preferences vary as to
which style and brand is best. Speirs said the department requires
uniformed officers to wear the vests at all times, while
non-uniformed officers must keep theirs on-hand at all times.
The vests will stop all common handgun calibers as well as shotgun
blasts, Speirs said. While no Burbank officers have ever been saved
as a result of wearing a vest, he said national statistics make it
clear the vests save lives.
"It's incredible how many officers have been shot and saved by
these things," he said. "In light of the threats of modern police
work, we can't do our job without it."