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CPD to get new bulletproof vests

COVINGTON -- Officers with the Covington Police Department will receive new bulletproof vests, to be paid for out of forfeited drug money.

Following the shooting of two Newton County Sheriff's Office deputies in fall of 2009 and subsequent efforts by the community to raise money to purchase Level III vests for the Sheriff's Office, Police Chief Stacey Cotton said his officers began discussing which types of vests -- Level II or Level III -- provide the best protection.

Both Level II and Level III vests are used in the patrol division, he said, with the Level II being less bulky and more comfortable.

In addition, a large number of the vests, which have a lifespan of about five years, are set to expire, so a committee was formed to determine which vests to purchase to provide the best protection for officers.

The committee recommended purchasing Safariland XT700 II Ballistic vests. Cotton said the Level II vests will give almost identical coverage as Level III and are thinner, more comfortable and provide better mobility for officers.

"Comfort equals protection because it means they will wear the vests," he said.

Level III vests will be purchased for officers who prefer those, Cotton said.

The Level II Safariland vests cost $781 each. An initial purchase of 29 vests will total a maximum of $22,649. More vests will be purchased in late summer and early 2011 to replace all vests used by the department.

Cotton said the department normally budgets replacement of two to three vests per year. No taxpayer money will be used to purchase the replacement vests, as the money will come from forfeited drug funds.