Story last updated at 1:31 p.m. Thursday, June 6, 2002

Police get vest grant
Several law enforcement agencies in Alaska have been awarded grants totaling more than $56,000 to help in the purchase of bulletproof vests, and the Homer Police Department is among those agencies.

According to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' office, the Homer Police Department will receive $5,193 to purchase 13 vests for the departments officers through funding from the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance. Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said the money is matched by the city, and provides a new vest for each officer. The vests, which Robl said have advanced significantly since the heavy earlier versions, cost around $800.

"It's important to us to replace the vests every five years because the weave of the fabric tends to open up and delaminate itself," Robl said. "It's a good program because it supplements our meager budget and helps everyone get a new vest who needs it."

Robl said the Homer department officers are not mandated to wear the vests, but most do. Homer has never had an incident where a vest saved a life, according to Robl, but officers are strongly encouraged to wear the life-saving gear.