The Washington Township Police Department applied for the Patrick Leahy Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant in June and was recently awarded $8,184 for new vests.
The grant program was designed by the Justice Department to help local and state police departments serving fewer than 100,000 residents buy lifesaving equipment for officers. The grant is 50-percent matching, so it allowed Washington Township to receive 20 vests while paying the cost for only 10 of them.
“In times like this, we look for ways to tighten our belts,” said Police Chief Patrick Gurscik. “Saving taxpayers money while purchasing lifesaving equipment for my officers is a win win.”
Even with proper care, the vests only last five years, so township police constantly seek grants to help purchase more. There are many mandates required to obtain a Leahy grant.
“In order to be approved for the partnership, it requires that every agency wears the vests at all times,” Gurscik explained. “We adopted a mandatory wear policy and all the officers are given bulletproof vests.”
The department has about 80 officers, and there is a rotating list of those due for new vests. An average of 15 vests is replaced each year. The officers receiving new vests from the grant this year have already been fitted and will wait five weeks for them to arrive.
“We are able to complete comprehensive and exhaustive searches for grant opportunities,” Gurscik said. “We have the skills and abilities in house to put together a well-written and competitive grant application to the extent that we believe we should be awarded.”
The police department also applied for the 2020 Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Year- End Holiday Crackdown grant on Oct 26, seeking $8,000 to fund extra drunk driving patrols during the holidays.
If it gets the grant, the department will be able to add extra patrols on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights during the season as well as DWI checkpoints in the township. The outcome of that grant proposal will be known early next month.
“We use grant finding programs to search for funding, and we submit proposals to foundations and government agencies for grant funds,” Gurscik noted. “We are constantly searching for grant opportunities for the police department and the municipality.”