CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — A Chicago alderman is encouraging people to support a couple of fundraising efforts to continue replacing outdated bullet-proof vests being worn by some Chicago police officers.
A bullet-proof vest would not have saved Cmdr. Paul Bauer’s life this week, but Ald. Matt O’Shea knows vests do save lives. He’s helping the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation raise money to replace vests.
“When a police officer graduates from the academy, they’re issued a vest. That vest does not last forever. It has a five-year shelf life,” he said.
The problem is, O’Shea said, that police officers are, many times, raising families and often think of themselves and their safety last. He said, the foundation found that “officers 10, 15, 20 years on-the-job and still were wearing the same vest they were issued when they came on. In the event of a catastrophic incident, the vest would not save them.”
This Sunday is Alderman O’Shea’s 4th annual pancake breakfast to raise money for new vests. He said that, in the first three years, the breakfast has raised more than $80,000.
The breakfast is at St. John Fisher Church’s Kane Hall from 8 a.m to noon.
Also, on Friday, the Ald. O’Shea will be pumping gas at the Kean gas station on 111th and Talman. Through donations from Kean, Beverly Bank and Trust, Alliant/Mesirow Insurance Services and an anonymous donor, 25-cents of every gallon pumped at the gas station this week will go to the Get Behind the Vest Fund.
Ald. O’Shea says that, in the past three-and-a-half years, the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation has “replaced 8,000 vests for officers and, moving forward, we probably need to replace about 500 per year to maintain.”
He said people who can’t make it to the gas station or the pancake breakfast can still donate online at GetBehindTheVest.org.
In the very least, he said, “stop a policeman on the street and thank them for their service.”