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NY Lawmakers Want Bullet-Proof Glass In Police Cars

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Four state lawmakers are proposing that all police cars in New York be retrofitted with bulletproof glass after two New York City officers were gunned down in their car Saturday.

The bill is being drafted by Republican Assembly members including Jim Tedisco of the Capital Region, who says police are most vulnerable when sitting in thier vehicles. He believes if New York City police cars were equipped with bulletproof glass, the slain officers would be alive today.    "So what we're trying to do is everything we can do governmentally, as an organization, as a community, as a state, as a nation to protect our law enforcement officials, those who protect us 24-7 everyday and deserve to be able to go home to their families after their shift. Right now we're in an atmosphere where they are the prey and the predators are out there after them. It seems to be a jungle, we wanna move away certainly form this type of atmosphere, but while this atmosphere's in place, while law enforcement officials' lives are on the line, when they're made to be less safer all of us become less safer."

According to a news release Sunday, the legislation to be introduced in the next session would have the bulletproof glass installed over a phased-in period, starting with the New York City Police Department.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy:  "Any time you can do things that improve officer safety, we want to look at those."   Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco agrees bulletproof glass would help, in a limited way.  "You know, the bulletproof vest is what we have to protect our upper bodies. The bulletproof glass won't help us once we're outside the car. But in an ambush type situation or what we call an 'active shooter' situation, then by all means that might help."

Police officials also have concerns that should a police cruiser be involved in an accident, bulletproof glass might impede rescuing an officer from a damaged vehicle.

There is a sacrifice municipalities may have to make: the lawmakers are calling for part of the $5.1 billion state surplus to be used to pay for the retrofit. The mayors had been hoping that a hefty chunk of that surplus would go toward the Rebuild New York effort to repair and replace aging infrastructure.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan isn't sure what stance her administration will take. She is planning to discuss the matter with Police Chief Steven Krokoff.    "I really wanna have that conversation with our police chief as to from his standpoint in looking at an infrastructure investment that would improve public safety and improve the safety of our police officers. We need to have that conversation and I just haven't had the opportunity to have that yet."

The legislators don’t provide a cost estimate. Texas Armoring Corp. of San Antonio told the Associated Press it charges $55,000 and up per vehicle, depending on level of bulletproof protection.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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