Ohio agents with expired vests receive fittings after complaint


Associated Press

COLUMBUS

Additional fittings began this week for Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents wearing expired bulletproof vests after political pushback against their boss, Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine.

DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said Friday that some agents were measured for their new body armor Thursday and more fittings are scheduled Monday and Tuesday. Also, 18 bulletproof vests ordered in March arrived this week, he said.

Tierney said the fittings were already planned for June before The Associated Press reported Tuesday about a union grievance concerning the vests.

The May 3 complaint listed 53 of 99 special agents, investigators and personnel transport workers whose Kevlar vests had passed the five-year expiration date set by the National Institute of Justice.

In response to AP’s report, DeWine, the Republican nominee for governor, said he was unaware of the situation until the grievance was filed but that he was acting to correct the situation.

“I understand they have been fitted and the orders are in, but that doesn’t do any good if they don’t have them,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “The buck stops with me, and I have told my team to do absolutely everything possible to get that sped up. It’s not acceptable and it has to be dealt with immediately.”

The complaint listed eight vests purchased before DeWine took office in 2011 that had expired between that year and 2015. Another 24 were purchased in 2011 and expired in 2016, and 21 more were purchased in 2012 and expired in 2017. It listed one vest purchased in 2017 that was not expired. Two agents have no assigned vest.

Ballistic panels woven into the vests are designed to stop bullets for five years, even with heavy wear and tear. After that, though, manufacturers no longer guarantee their effectiveness in attacks.

Several county sheriffs convened by DeWine’s Democratic rival in the governor’s race, Richard Cordray, called DeWine’s failure to keep the vests up to date mismanagement.

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