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Legislation proposed to equip police cars with bulletproof glass

Jason Lawrence

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

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," said Tedisco.

According to a news release, 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.

"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 want to 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," said Tedisco.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy says the proposal is worth considering.

"Any time you can do things that improve officer safety, we want to look at those," McCarthy said.

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," said Falco.

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 repairing and replacing aging infrastructure.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan isn't sure what stance her administration will take.

"I really want to 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," she said.

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