Good Question: Why aren't all K-9s wearing bulletproof vests?

March 25, 2019 08:39 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — They are critical comrades for local law enforcement, so viewers asked us why it's not mandatory for them to wear bulletproof vests.

Pat Taney looked into it for this week's Good Question report.


Whether it's sniffing out drugs or tracking down the bad guys, K-9s are critical team members of local law enforcement agencies.

To protect them, more and more departments are getting K-9 bulletproof vests. The Brockport Police Department was the most recent to get one in our area.

But the vests are not mandatory, in fact, at the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, none of the 12 K-9s are equipped with them.

We asked Sgt. Shawn Edwards why.

"Going back some years, the vests were not always around for K-9s and in our unit, we never trained with the vests," explained Edwards.

The sheriff's office is not opposed to getting the vests, but if they do, most of the K-9s on the force would have to retrain.

Cost is also an issue.

"The vests can be anywhere from $500 to over $1,000," said Edwards.

That's where nonprofits like Vested Interest come into play. The organization was established in 2009 and allows people to donate online to buy vests for local departments. It helped pay for Brockport's K-9 vest.

But while the vests may be bulletproof, Edwards says they're not foolproof.

"We've had some positives and negatives from K-9 handlers." 

One of the negatives:  the vests could slow down K-9s.

"I am concerned about them getting over the fences that we're constantly going over and through the woods. We often go through thick woods and rough terrain in the county," Edwards said.

Newer vests that are hitting the market are lighter, so Edwards says the sheriff's office is open to looking into it.

"Nobody is going to oppose buying a bulletproof vest," said Edwards "It's just sitting down and figuring out the costs and figuring out the donors and the companies out there that donate the vests. Then we can ultimately start with some training and getting the dogs used to the vests."

Edwards says no K-9s have been killed in the line of duty in Monroe County, but nearly 30 died last year nationwide.

If you are interested in donating to Vested Interest, you can visit their website here.

If you have a question you'd like Pat to answer, send him an email at


Pat Taney

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