JERSEY CITY, NJ – The recently elected leaders of the Jersey City Police Officers Benevolent Association (JCPOBA), the union that represents Jersey City’s rank-and-file police officers, has provided 25 female police officers with new ballistic vests, replacing those that were either outdated or designed for the opposite sex.
“All of these officers had previously been issued erroneously size vests that were shaped for their male counterparts,” POBA Second Vice President Jim Woods said in a letter to Jersey City police officials last June.
Woods said it was paramount that each female receive a vest structured to their unique shape. “We cautiously selected a supplier who would tailor these new vests to account for the physical differences in the female form,” Woods said.
Distribution of these was the first phase in the vest replacement project, made possible by the union officers donating their annual stipends to pay for the cost – about $22,000.
“We recognize this financial burden and do not believe officers should have to choose between their safety or making rent,” POBA President Joe Cossolini said. “We are going to continue making every effort to ensure that our officers on the street have the proper equipment and training to better serve this community.’
The vests were supplied by Blue Line Uniforms of Rahway. The owner of the company, Gary Derogatis, said each vest is specifically fitted to the individual officers.
“This is something that can protect their lives,” he said.
The company came to Jersey City to take measurements in August and delivered the vests for distribution at the South District Headquarters on Tuesday.
“These are certified for five years,” said Cossolini, adding that many officers in the Department are wearing vests that, despite standards calling for them to be replaced after that period of time, are being utilized ones after their expiration date.
“We are going to continue making every effort to ensure that our offices one the street have the proper equipment and training to better serve the community,” Cossolini said, adding that the union has asked the city to join forces with them to replace the 222 pieces of body armor which have already expired.
“Every single new officer is provided a vest as the vendor visits onsite to fit male and female officers for a vest, and the officers can choose their preference,” Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione, a spokesperson for Jersey City, said. “Additionally, as per the union contract, every officer receives a $1,350 uniform and clothing allowance specifically for vest and other uniform replenishing purchases.”