COLUMBUS, Ohio the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents and supervisors raised repeated concerns about expired body armor for more than a year before one of the union’s complaint is submitted, May, in the public records show.
E-mails released by Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office shed new light on the behind-the-scenes fear surrounding more than 50 bullet-proof vests that had passed the five-year expiration date is set by the National Institute of Justice.
“I WILL NOT ALLOW MY PEOPLE TO GO THROUGH A SINGLE DOOR!!!,” a BCI supervisor said in one of the e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.
All vests are now on order, said DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney, followed by a report on the complaint by The Associated Press.
As he gathered statistics on the number of expired vests, one person per e-mail that he was “afraid to ask” how old to be an officer of the vest was.
Another employee said that the vest situation “severely limit, or staff who are able to take part in a search warrant, and other law enforcement functions.”
A law enforcement agent described a practice he began that he urged colleagues to follow: submission of a monthly photo of his vest to the management.
“This will send an e-mail paper trail, which can be restored by your spouse in the event of an accident! (May the good god forbid!),” he wrote.
If agents’ concerns burgeoned, DeWine was scheduled to be fitted for a vest of his own. Tierney said the attorney-general did not ask, nor has he ever received — body armor.
“The attorney-general has not asked for a vest, to our knowledge,” he said. “The best thing we can say, this was the staff being proactive.” Tierney said two employees who planned DeWine appropriate are no longer with the office and could not be asked how the appointment came.
Body armor has become common in law enforcement, and special agent Larry McCoy told the Ohio Labor Council at the May 3 complaint is that 53 of 99 special agents, researchers, and staff employees in the transport were assigned Kevlar vests that had expired.
Ballistic panels woven in the vests are designed to stop bullets for five years, even with heavy wear. After that, although the manufacturers no longer guarantee their effectiveness in the attack.
Tierney said 95 special agents, two proof security transport officers and two other bureau researchers are under 115 sworn advocate-general employees assigned protective vests.
DeWine’s office has said the fittings for the expired vests were already underway when the complaint was filed, but DeWine, a candidate for governor, faced with intense pushback about the situation in his race against Democrat Richard Cordray.
Last week, DeWine announced that he would collaborate with the Ohio Bureau of Workers ‘ Compensation to make available grants to help local police agencies pay for bulletproof vests.
The Fraternal Order of Police said it was grateful for the extra financial help, but “dismayed” that DeWine showed politicizing a police safety issue.
“DeWine has seven years to the law enforcement officers’ safety seriously, and he waited until the politics is necessary and advisable to do this,” FOP President Gary Wolkske said last week on a call coordinated by the Cordray campaign.
“As members of the FOP, we put our lives on the line every day to keep Ohioans and their families safe, and we deserve to be treated with respect, not as political props.”
Tierney said DeWine has admitted to the vest issue and is working through the union complaint process to address it.
“To our knowledge, each person that is not on a leave now furnished, and their vest is provided and the production process has begun,” he said.