ORLANDO, Fla. — It's been nearly five months since 49 people were killed and 53 others were injured in the Pulse Nightclub mass shooting.
Channel 9’s Daralene Jones found out that the Orlando Police Department is in the process of upgrading equipment for its officers following the tragedy.
9 Investigates learned some the officers at the nightclub didn't have the equipment they needed and were stuck in a situation that could've gotten them killed.
Bulletproof helmets and bulletproof vests will now become part of the standard Orlando police officer uniform.
“They'll have that Kevlar helmet. They'll have that heavier protective vests and they'll also have that long rifle to respond,” said Orlando police Chief John Mina.
All officers currently wear vests, but the new ones will be heavier and provide better protection, police said.
“Any idea how much the extra protection will cost?” Jones asked.
“To save an officer's life, it's worth every penny,” Mina said.
The vests will cost a total of $288,000. The costs of the helmets haven't been finalized.
Mina plans to use money from the department forfeiture fund, which currently holds $3.6 million. It’s money confiscated during drug arrests and raids.
Mina told 9 Investigates that even more money from the federal government is needed to prepare for terrorism.
“We use that money for training, equipment, like our armored vehicle. Very instrumental in Pulse tragedy,” Mina said.
9 Investigates read through reports detailing funds available through the "Urban Area Security Initiative" grant program for cities considered high threats. The fund has dwindled from $854 million in 2005, to $587 million in 2016.
Orlando received about $12 million between 2008 and 2012 and even more money went to Tampa and Miami.
The federal government stopped sending money to Orlando in 2013, a year after overall funding reached an all-time low.
“Based on 66 million visitors who come here, we should be on that list.” Mina said.
The city has an opportunity to apply for funds again next year. Applications are typically due in May. However, Mina said he hopes the city will qualify for money through another Homeland Security grant early next year.
Cox Media Group