Atlanta police officers are getting new helmets and body armor designed to protect them from assault weapons.
Mayor Kasim Reed on Thursday announced a $900,000 donation from the Georgia Power Foundation to purchase the gear, which will be distributed to officers in the coming weeks.
The city is matching the gift with more than $900,000 and expects to spend about $1.89 million on equipment.
“This body armor will immediately enhance the safety of our brave police officers and strengthen the security of our city,” Reed said.
The 1,856 vests and helmets weigh about 10 pounds and are strong enough to withstand multiple rounds from an assault rifle, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner said. The funding will provide helmets and vests to beat officers for the first time in police department history, the city said.
About 1,500 vests and helmets will go to police, while 281 will go to firefighters and 75 to department of corrections officers.
“All of the tactical units will have them so they can don them when the situation arises,” he said.
Reed said the equipment upgrade is a response to calls he received from families of law enforcement after the shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge over the summer. The families told Reed they were worried about copycat shootings during Atlanta protests over law enforcement tactics around the country.
Reed said he challenged the business community to match the $900,000 he planned to spend on upgraded armor and was surprised when Georgia Power Chairman and CEO Paul Bowers “picked up the phone and said, ‘Mayor, Georgia Power is going to pick up the whole $900,000.
“Paul really is the picture of what exemplary business leadership looks like,” Reed said. “(He) is someone who understands you can do good and well at the same time and who backs up his words with his deeds.”
Said Bowers, “It is a shared responsibility of Georgia’s businesses to partner with local governments specifically to make sure Georgia is a safe place to live, work and play.”