Chattanooga police seek emergency money for body armor upgrades

Chattanooga police tile

The Chattanooga Police Department wants improved body armor and facility security.

Tonight, Chief Fred Fletcher will request an estimated $160,000 in emergency funding from the City Council to accomplish this.

"We've received a lot of support for law enforcement," Fletcher said in a phone interview today. "People want us to make sure our public safety officers are safe."

Fletcher said the department has been overwhelmed by an outpouring of concern by the community following the targeted shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

"The community has said they want to protect those who protect [them]," Fletcher said. "These requests are follow best practices and are cost-effective."

About $109,000 of the funding request will go toward hard ballistic panels that can be inserted into the protective vests currently used by police officers. Each panel costs $200 and offers resistance to rifle-caliber ammunition, Fletcher said.

Currently, only specialized units like the SWAT team routinely have access to this level of body armor protection.

Fletcher projects the department will take 1,000 firearms off the streets this year, which include an increasing number of rifles.

Another $50,000 to $55,000 will go toward station security upgrades, he said. Fletcher declined to publicly comment on the improvements, citing safety concerns for officers.