To protect police officers against snipers using rifles, Charlotte City Council on Monday voted unanimously to spend $600,380 on stronger, steel-plated helmets and body armor.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officers today mostly wear what’s known as Level II body armor, which the department said is “sufficient in handling the majority of threats” faced by officers.
But CMPD said that equipment isn’t enough to stop a shooter with a rifle.
The department plans to buy 680 Level III vests – one for each patrol car. In addition, the department plans to buy 1,315 Level III helmets – one for each officer. The helmets can also be used for protection during riots or civil emergencies.
The contract is with Galls Inc., which supplies law enforcement agencies with equipment.
Council member LaWana Mayfield, a Democrat, asked if the vests have been needed before.
“"Has there been a need previously for a steel-plated body vest?” she asked.
A CMPD official said that a Level III vest can stop a rifle or a shotgun round. Current vests can only stop a handgun round.
The vests would be donned before an officer went in to confront a possible active shooter, such as in December, when officers shot and killed Daquan Westbrook in Northlake Mall after he shot at another person in the mall.
Ely Portillo contributed.