New Upper Darby police vests to protect officers from rifle bullets

- Upper Darby police officers will be 16 pounds heavier but a lot safer when they start wearing new vests that were issued Tuesday.

The township’s police department had a mandatory-wear policy for bulletproof vests, but Superintendent of Police Michael Chitwood explained officers asked for additional protection due to more gun violence and police shootings.

“We are under siege. We are being shot and killed,” Chitwood said.

The mayor and township manager developed a plan, and bought 137 new vests -– one for each officer -– at a total cost of $37,000.

The new vests are not required. They would be worn over the top of their current vests that protect from handguns and protect them from a rifle round, if necessary.

Chitwood mentioned domestic violence and people wanted for significant gun crimes as hazardous situations when an officer would feel extra vulnerable, and that the new vests should be worn.

One drawback is the new vests weigh 16 pounds each and they’d go over the current vests, which weigh eight pounds each.

However, Chitwood noted 64 police officers on duty were killed in 2016, with many others seriously wounded.

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