Columbus, OH (WorkersCompensation.com) – Ohio Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine unveiled a proposal last week, asking the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) to pay $5.75 million for new ballistic vests. The investment will outfit more than 50 agents at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI).
DeWine said his office had been in talks with BWC about forming a program that will replace the older bulletproof vests.
Anthony Gottschlich, spokesman for the BWC told WorkersCompensation.com, “A big part of our mission is improving workplace safety for Ohio employers and employees, so we have grant programs focused on such efforts.”
In a news release last month, the BWC announced that $4 million would be set aside for both Ohio police departments, and schools, plus another $2 million for state agencies as part of its safety grant program.
This proposition to replace the vests stems from a union complaint that was filed back in May 7, because BCI agents have been wearing bulletproof vests that have expired.
According to media outlet reports, a complaint to the Ohio Labor Council listed that of the 99 special agents, personnel transport workers, and investigators, 55 of their vests were passed their 5-year expiration dates that are set by the National Institute of Justice.
Dan Tierney, the spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office, told WorkersCompensation.com that all agents that were not on leave were fitted last month for new vests and that they have been ordered. He also confirmed that the manufacturer has started making the vests, and as of now their office is awaiting an estimated date from the vendor.
This isn’t the first time that bulletproof vests have been worn passed the five-year mark. Back in 2015, it was made public that thousands of officers in New York City were wearing obsolete vests. The New York Daily Post reported that the vests should have been replaced years ago, according to experts and sources.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito later announced police employees were getting more than 12,000 new protective vests to replace their outdated gear.
Over time the protective gear can become less and less effective in protection, because moisture and heat break down the synthetic fibers. Once the fiber degrades, the vests stop working. Bodyarmornews.com said the vests, if taken care of properly, should last for five years. Then, the vests should be replaced.