Almost 3,000 custom-made Multi-Purpose Load Bearing Vests (MPLBV) will begin to be rolled out to SAPOL officers in coming months following the Marshall Liberal Government’s $8.5 million commitment to strengthening the safety of front line personnel.
The state-of-art ballistic and sharp weapon armour will be delivered by Australian supplier Aquaterro (Advanced Product Supplies), boosting the safety of officers from mid-2021 – another first of its kind for South Australia.
Minister for Police Vincent Tarzia said the Marshall Government continues to deliver extra resources to SAPOL and is committed to ensuring the safety of the hardworking men and women who protect the community.
“Given the unpredictable nature of policing and security response, these new vests will provide the highest level of safety for our SAPOL and protective security officers (PSO) who perform front line operations,” Minister Tarzia said.
“These vests are custom made because our officers deserve more than a one-size-fits-all approach. All 2,983 vests will be personally measured and fitted to ensure officers have the best protection possible if they come up against offenders armed with sharp weapons or firearms.
“This enhanced kit is manufactured using the latest technology, is lightweight and comfortable for officers to wear daily. We learned from other jurisdictions that this is a non-negotiable.”
The Safariland LN0245 model – one of six options considered – was selected after overwhelming support during an extensive trial period conducted by SAPOL. The trial investigated protection, comfort and performance of the vests under different weather conditions across metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia.
The first 800 vests are projected to be delivered mid-year. Allocation of the remaining kit is expected in 2021/22. The Safariland LN0245 will replace SAPOL’s outdated Overt Body Armour, which is heavy and impractical to wear on a full-time basis.
Funding for the vests – which includes provisions for lockers and storage – is a part of the Marshall Government’s $93.2m in additional funding for SAPOL in the 2020/21 State Budget.
Since 2018, the Marshall Government has provided more than $170m in extra funding to SAPOL to keep South Australia safe and strong.
SAPOL Assistant Commissioner Linda Fellows said the vests are a highly visible demonstration of the Marshall Government and SAPOL’s commitment to operational safety and public protection.
“Uniformed officers on the front line will wear the new vests when conducting operational duties and carrying an exposed firearm,” Assistant Commissioner Fellows said.
“This will ensure the highest level of safety for our uniformed police officers and protective security officers.”
The announcement of the chosen vest comes less than two weeks after the national 2021 Report on Government Services (RoGS) revealed SAPOL mobilised 310 operational staff per 100,000 people in 2019/20 – the second-highest ratio of officers to citizens in the nation.
The RoGS also revealed satisfaction with services provided by SAPOL ranked highest in the country at 83.1% compared to the national average of 78.3%. South Australia was top yet again with an 89.5% approval rating for community belief in SAPOL to perform its job professionally.