East Hampton Town Police have been awarded more than $6,000 from New York State to purchase bulletproof vests thanks to a grant from inVEST, a government program meant to help departments hurt by federal funding cuts, according to Police Chief Michael Sarlo.
The grant operates as a matching fund—meaning it will match whatever the town budgets for bulletproof vests—and will supplement the cost of 19 new vests, which run about $653 each, according to Chief Sarlo.
But the upgrade, he added, is required by the state and is not a reflection of increased gun violence in East Hampton.
“We haven’t had anyone shot,” he said in a phone interview, “but it’s part of … an order to be compliant for certain grants.
“We have to have a mandatory wear policy,” he continued, referring to the town’s bulletproof vest policy for its officers. “It’s part of our rules and procedures that all uniform patrol officers must wear them.”
The grant is brand new as of June, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s website, and has provided the town with a considerable amount of financial assistance, Chief Sarlo said.
“We have had a lot of turnover over a short period of time,” he said. “The inVEST will really help put us where we need to be. We just need to make a budget modification or two in order to make sure we have matching funds.”
East Hampton Town Police also receive a federal grant for bulletproof vests to the tune of roughly $20,000 every two years to help supplement the costs.
“In the current fiscal climate, with the state’s 2-percent tax cap imposed on municipalities, and the difficulties the town has faced, grant funding has been instrumental to allowing the department to continue to meet its needs,” Chief Sarlo said.