- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Federal funds to reimburse local police departments for the cost of bulletproof vests have fallen significantly in recent years - a trend that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is urging Congress to reverse.

The New York Democrat called on Congress on Wednesday to pass legislation that would increase funding for bulletproof vests from $21.5 million this year to $30 million in future years, the same level of funding as in 2010.

The vests can cost as much as $850 each. The federal grant program once paid for as much as half of the costs of the vests but now covers about a third. Schumer said the reduction in funding has meant that New York received nearly 9,000 fewer vests last year than it did in 2010.

“We need to do everything in our power to make sure cops have the equipment they need,” Schumer told reporters during a conference call Wednesday. “Police budgets are tight. Street weapons are getting more powerful.”

The legislation increasing the funding could get a vote in the Senate as early as next week, Schumer said.

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