ECPD gears up officers with bullet-resistant vests


ECPD purchased 22 bullet-resistant vests in December 2018. Photo by Hongyu Liu / Beacon Correspondent

By Hongyu Liu, Multimedia Managing Editor

The Emerson College Police Department gradually started purchasing and wearing bullet-resistant vests in December 2018 following a request from police officer union members, an ECPD official said.

ECPD Chief Robert Smith said in an interview that he decided to purchase ballistic vests in April 2018 after ECPD supervisors and union members discussed the safety of police officers at a meeting held by the American Coalition of Public Safety, a union of full-time law enforcement officers working for private sectors. There, the union members asked that ECPD provide ballistic vests to officers for their safety.

After the meeting, Smith contacted eight other college police departments—including that of Suffolk University, Boston University, and Boston College—to find out if they also provided ballistic vests to their officers.

“We are the last,” Smith said during an interview while wearing a vest under his shirt.

Smith said he contacted Vice President of General Counsel Christine Hughes to purchase the vests. While Smith would not disclose the exact cost of the vests, he said they were included in ECPD’s budget for 2018.  

Thirteen vests for each of the union members arrived first in December 2018, but Smith said he wanted every officer to have one. He ordered vests for supervisors, including three sergeants, three lieutenants, the deputy chief, and himself in January.

“Everybody goes or nobody goes,” Smith said

Smith said he requires every officer to wear the vest when on duty, except for dispatchers who only stay in the station.

Smith said the station ordered light ballistic vests for the officers’ comfort.

“They are not the vests you see in movies,” he said.

Deputy Chief Eric Schiazza said these vests are industry-standard, protect the officers from basic shootings, and reduce the damage from an edged weapon.

Smith said he ordered the ballistic vests out of ECPD’s respect to the safety of the police officers.

“Unlike others, [police officers] have to run into a situation instead of running away from it,” he said.

Assistant Express Editor Anissa Gardizy did not edit this article due to a conflict of interest.