Body Armor for Law Enforcement Officers: In Brief [January 13, 2015]   [open pdf - 312KB]

"Firearms are one of the leading causes of deaths for law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty. Since FY1999, Congress has provided funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them purchase armor vests for their officers. The Matching Grant Program for Law Enforcement Armor Vests (hereinafter, 'BPV program') provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to purchase armor vests for use by law enforcement officers and court officers. The BPV program was first authorized by the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-181). It has been subsequently reauthorized four times. The most recent reauthorization expired in FY2012. Since FY1999, appropriations for the program have generally been between $25 million and $30 million. However, over the past three fiscal years appropriations for the program were less than $23 million. Armor vests can only save lives when they are actually worn. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that an increasing percentage of police departments and sheriffs' offices have instituted 'mandatory wear' policies. […] Should Congress consider legislation to reauthorize the BPV program, policy makers may consider several issues, including (1) what role the federal government should play, if any, in providing armor vests for state and local law enforcement, (2) whether Congress should rescind deobligated balances from the BPV program, (3) whether Congress should invest in developing new technology for armor vests, and (4) whether Congress should require law enforcement agencies to provide training on the care and maintenance of body armor as a condition of receiving funding under the BPV program."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43544
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