Officers Get Vested (Literally) VIA the Net
July 24, 2000, a car-theft suspect pumped a bullet at point-blank
the chest of David F. Azur, a Detective with the Baltimore Police
But thanks to his bulletproof vest, Azur survived the shooting
with only minor
21, 1999, a suspected vandalist shot Police Officer Alan Freed of
Virginia at close range. But thanks to his bulletproof vest,
the shooting with only minor injuries.
25, 1997, a gunman who was part of an ambushing team shot
A bullet from
his 9-mm gun into Officer John Ruane of the Special Mountain
of the Philadelphia Police Department. But thanks to his
vest, Ruane survived the shooting with only minor injuries.
and Ruane are just three of about 1,500 U.S. police officers
have been saved by bulletproof vests since 1987, according to
Association of Chiefs of Police. Indeed, an officer wearing
a bulletproof vest faces only a small fraction of the fatality risk
faced by an
officer not wearing such a vest, according to the Federal Bureau
about 150,000 officers, or 25 percent of our nation's officers,
currently remain deprived of bulletproof vests, according to
estimates. Why? Because many state and local governments
afford these vests, which each usually cost between $400 to
why, in 1998, Congress began annually allocating $25 million
to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them buy a total
of 90,000 bulletproof
vests each year. Administered under the Bulletproof Vest
Partnership (BVP), the grant program allows each participating
to use BVP funds to cover up to 50 percent of its total vest
Indian tribal governments may use federal funds as matching
funds, all other jurisdictions must us nonfederal funding.)
But the BVP
is no ordinary "hurry up and wait" grant program. Created
an urgent, life-threatening problem, the program is specially
efficiency and speed. How? The BVP is entirely web based.
that program applicants walk through the entire process
with the help of easy-to-understand instructions," explains
Watkins who manages the program from the Department of Justices
of Justice Assistance. "The entire payment process also occurs
the Internet." The program's web
electronic format eliminates unnecessary and tedious paperwork.
It also "allows
us to quickly communicate with program participants through
mailing lists, electronic articles, and our web site, which
is linked to
the web sites of potentially interested organizations, such as
associations," adds Watkins. "We can immediately tell
important deadlines, program updates, and any additional information
we need in their
web site supports quick analyses of important data that used
to be the sole
provence of manufacturers. "But now we can identify
in the popularity of various types of bulletproof equipment
new models of equipment," says Watkins. Posted on the
BVP web site,
this type of information helps jurisdictions select the types of
equipment that best suit their needs.
By law, at
least half of the BVP grant money must go to jurisdictions that
have fewer than
100,000 residents. Why? Because small communities generally
have the tightest budgets, so they need the most help. Small
however, also tend to be the hardest to reach.
the BVP web site is successfully beaming the word about the
to small communities. How do we know? For one thing, the
indicates that over 99 percent of communities that are interested
in applying for its funds are plugged into the Internet.
the programs second year, 3,079 of the 3,508 communities
for funds had fewer than 100,000 residents. BVP managers
the Internet has enabled them to reach more communities faster
than would ever have been possible solely through conventional
methods of communication,
such as mass mailers, flyers, newspaper articles, announcements
at professional conferences and notifications to Congressional
and effective is the BVP that it won a Gold Award from the
Government Information Processing Councils (FGIPC) in 1999.
to the BVP?
membership includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the National
and Space Administration, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Office of
Policing Services, the Office of Justice Programs, the National
Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The BVP will
begin its third year of operation in January, 2001. Speaking
at a May 15,
2000 ceremony honoring 139 officers killed on the job this
Clinton encouraged Congress to pass a bipartisan proposal
that would extend
the BVP, which was originally authorized for just three years,
for an additional three years. "If we do it, we'll be able
every single police officer in the United States with a bulletproof
the President said.
Watkins with the Bureau of Justice Assistance. You may reach him
at (202) 514-3447 or email@example.com
Whiteman, National Partnership for Reinventing Government, 750-17th
St., NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20006; (202) 694-0086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.