Tyrone police secures grant for bulletproof vests

Tyrone may not be as large as Chicago or New York City, but “big city” crime does happen here.
In recent weeks, the Tyrone Police Department has answered several calls that involved suspects with firearms.
Yesterday, the force received positive news when Congressman Bill Shuster announced funding that will allow the department to purchase new bulletproof vests.
“We’re really happy about this,” said police Chief Joe Beachem. “We respond to an awful lot of calls and many of them involved firearms. You never know what’s going to happen out there. It’s going to be a good feeling to know that we are protected when answering these kind of calls and know that we’ll all go home safe when they are over.”
The grant is through the U.S. Department of Justice Bulletproof Vest Partnership program. This program is designed to protect the lives of law enforcement officers by equipping them with armored vests.
The partnership provides priority funding for jurisdictions of populations under 100,000 people. Funding requests this year totaled $59 million. The federal government can cover up to 50 percent of each jurisdiction’s total cost for the vests.
The Tyrone police department will receive $4,891.51.
“Realistically, we could outfit 11 officers with this grant,” said Beachem, noting that 12 officers are on staff. “When I assumed the position, the borough purchased me a new vest, so I don’t need a new one.”
He said the matching funds will come from the department’s uniform budget.
According to Beachem, the department’s current vests are outdated, not to mention heavy. He said the ones officers rely on now weigh between four and five pounds.
“The new vests are made of Kevlar and are ultra-light, weighing a half pound or less,” said Beachem. “It feels like you are wearing a real thick T-shirt.”
Despite the light-weight, Beachem said the new vests are just as strong or even stronger than those made in the past.
Although he is not sure which type of vest will be purchased, Beachem said that a couple of different models are being looked at. He said the budget will determine which type the borough will get.
“On Tuesday, a gentleman will be coming to the office to fit the officers for the equipment,” he said. “We’ll determine what kind we’ll get after that.”
Beachem said the turn-around time for receiving the grant was surprisingly quick. He said they filled out the application for the funding just two months ago.
“I am pleased to announce this grant for our local police departments,” Shuster said. “This money is instrumental in keeping our law enforcement officers safe and thus increasing their effectiveness, and keeping our front lines of Homeland Security secure.
“Law Enforcement officials provide a tremendous service to the community, and it is important to equip them to ensure their safety as they protect ours.”
Tyrone Mayor Patricia Stoner was very pleased with the announcement.
“I was very happy to hear the news of the release of funding to upgrade the bulletproof vests for the police department,” said Stoner. “The fact that just in the past couple of weeks, our police officers had occasion to come face-to-face with subjects carrying firearms emphasizes the importance of our officers having the very best protection available.
“We’re very grateful for this grant.”
Two other area departments also received funding, including $2,508.99 for Hollidaysburg Borough and $18,705.23 for the City of Altoona.