BWC pledges $1 million for body armor

COLUMBUS — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced last week that an additional $1 million will be dedicated to funding body armor for Ohio law enforcement officers.

Due to high demand, BWC will contribute the funds to the Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program, which was created by Governor DeWine last year while he served as Ohio’s Attorney General. The additional money brings total funding for the body armor program to $3.5 million.

To date, BWC has approved funding for 335 law enforcement agencies, slightly exceeding the funding initially allotted to the program for this fiscal year. The new $1 million in grants, which is in addition to $500,000 added to the program in February, will go toward funding body armor for agencies whose grant applications are still pending or agencies that are anticipated to apply.

“It is critical that law enforcement officers in Ohio have access to equipment that can help them come home to their families every day,” said Governor DeWine. “Officers should have access to this life-saving safety gear, and by adding this extra funding to the Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program, we can ensure that more officers throughout the state are protected.”

The Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program, which is administered by Yost, allows local law enforcement agencies to receive up to $40,000 per agency to purchase body armor vests with a local match of 25 percent. BWC pledged funding for the program after announcing it would dedicate a portion of its Safety Intervention Grants to prevent injuries and fatalities among law enforcement officers.

“These funds are clearly making a difference, and we’re pleased to commit these additional dollars so the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Ohioans can return safe to their families after their shift each day,” said McCloud. “By adding this funding, we can ensure that there is enough money in the program to meet demand through the end of this fiscal year.”

Added Yost, “Law enforcement happens at the local level. Seeing that these grants are being used in every corner of our state helps me rest easier at night knowing that our peace officers are better equipped to return home safely to their loved ones at the conclusion of each shift.”

Eligibility is restricted to law enforcement agencies that pay BWC premiums and have policies in good standing. Interested agencies may apply for the program through the Ohio Law Enforcement Gateway. Applications will be reviewed and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Vests purchased with grant funding must meet the National Institute of Justice standards, and agencies must demonstrate they have a mandatory wear policy in place for uniformed officers on duty.