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Island cops get vested

"Clothes might not necessarily make the man, but they can definitely save his life. Especially if the man - or woman - is a police officer in Oak Harbor or Coupeville.That's because those two departments recently received more than $5,000 in grant money to buy new bulletproof vests.The money was made available through the U.S. Department of Justice's Bulletproof Vest Partnership, which granted 90 Washington police departments more than $500,000 to buy vests this year. The grants provide up to 45 percent of the cost of ordering and outfitting vests for jurisdictions with populations under 100,000. Assistant Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace said his department will use its $4,800 grant for five new uniform vests and two sets of tactical body armour, used by the city's special response team.Wallace said the use of vests definitely reduced by a significant number the amount of gun-related fatalities among police officers. But bullets aren't all they stop. They protect officers from from knives and blunt trauma from auto accidents, Wallace said.Typically, uniform bulletproof vests run between $300 and $500, Wallace said, adding the grants reduce those costs by nearly 50 percent.It's a really terrific program, Wallace said. Anytime you can cut that price in half the tax payers are getting a heck of a deal.Coupeville Marshall Lenny Marlborough thinks it's a good deal too, though he's in no hurry to test the vest.I've never had to use my vest and hopefully I never will, he said. It's not something you want test.Marlborough said his office has received $768.77 in grant money to spend towards five new Kevlar vests.The ones we have were getting old and tattered, he said.Marlborough said the vests weigh about two pounds each and are made of a finely wound mesh of Kevlar fibersIt actually catches the bullet but it doesn't stop the impact, Marlborough said. You still get a blunt trauma injury like getting hit with a baseball bat. But at least you live to talk about it."

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