City cancels bulletproof vest order after officer concerns

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – The Alabaster City Council canceled an order for 60 new bulletproof vests for the Alabaster Police Department during an Aug. 13 meeting, after officers who tested them during several-hour shifts expressed concerns with movement and comfort.

Council members voted unanimously during their April 9 meeting to accept a $25,320 bid from the Richard Cowell Tactical company to purchase the 60 new external armor carrier vests for the APD. The purchase was intended to provide new vests for all of the city’s full-time officers.

Richard Cowell Tactical was the sole bidder on the new vests. The money for the vests was not included in the city’s 2018 fiscal year budget, but it would have been covered by the equitable sharing fund, which includes proceeds generated from property seized in drug busts.

The new vests were intended to be custom-fitted to each police officer, and would have been worn outside of their uniforms, rather than underneath, as the department’s current bulletproof vests are worn.

The new vests would have been designed to allow officers to carry most of their duty equipment on their vests, rather than their belts.

However, once officers wore the new vests throughout their several-hour shifts, they reported multiple issues, which were relayed to the council by Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney, said Ward 5 City Councilman Russell Bedsole. For now, APD officers will continue to wear the current vests.

“I’m glad the officers shared their concerns, and that their feedback was relayed to us,” Bedsole said after the Aug. 13 council meeting.

As a result of canceling the order, the money intended to fund the vest purchases will remain in the equitable sharing fund.