Senate Law and Public Safety Chairman John A. Girgenti (D-35) of Hawthorne lauded the $3.6 million in grants that will be provided for law enforcement agencies to buy bullet-proof vests and body armor. Attorney General Paul Dow made the announcement on November 1st. All agencies that had applied for grant money were accepted, including every municipality in the 35th District.
“Our local law enforcement agencies and police department should be provided with the most up-to-date and state-of-the-art technology and equipment. This grant money will go a long way in ensuring our officers have the body armor they need. I am pleased that every police department in my district will be receiving funding for this purpose,” stated Girgenti.
Police departments in the 35th District municipalities will receive the following amounts:
Glen Rock: $2,289.36
North Haledon: $2,033.73
Prospect Park: $1,692.90
Additionally, the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office will receive $7,316.60 and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office will receive $42,762.92.
The Division of Criminal Justice, part of the Department of Law and Public Safety, will be administering the grant awards. The funds, totaling $3,586,827, will come from the Body Armor Replacement Fund and is funded through a $1 surcharge on bail forfeitures and traffic tickets. According to the Division of Criminal Justice, the Body Armor Replacement Fund has distributed close to $50 million since its inception in 1998 to law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey to purchase body armor and bullet-resistant vests. Due to budget reductions as a result of the budget crisis, the program was severely cut in 2009, when it was allocated $1.3 million. This year’s program funding represents an increase of nearly $2.3 million from 2009.
“Earlier this year, the 35th District – and the entire State – lost our Municipal Safety Aid due to short-sighted budget cuts. Thousands of police officers, law enforcement officers, and local protectors lost their jobs, and as a result, public safety is put at risk. The City of Paterson was forced to lay off nearly 125 officers, a third of its police force. Despite the hard choices that we must make in this climate, we must not forget our most important responsibilities. Protecting the residents of New Jersey must be our top priority. But we also must protect our law enforcement officers. While these officers put their lives on the line every day to ensure the safety of our communities, it is our responsibility as elected officials to ensure the officers’ safety as well. As Chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, I know firsthand how important it is to provide the funding for protective equipment for this purpose. The grant awards for body armor and bullet-resistant vests from the Division of Criminal Justice will go a long way to protecting our law enforcement officers, while they protect us.”