BPD does not have bulletproof vests for their K9s

There are several reasons police dogs in Boise aren't wearing the vests.

BOISE - One week ago, K9 Officer Jardo was helping his fellow officers search for 33-year-old Marco Romero. During that manhunt Jardo was shot once in the chest. A wound that eventually claimed his life just days later. Boise Police told KTVB on Friday that even had Jardo been wearing a bulletproof vest, the outcome would have been the same.

"Where his injury was sustained would have been outside of the vest coverage. The vest only covers certain areas, for officers as well, that actual injury would have been outside the coverage of the vest," Lt. Brian Lee said.

Currently, the Boise Police Department does not have any bulletproof vests for their K9 unit. Lee says it's not a money issue but rather a safety issue for their K9s. He says the vests are very hot.

"Certainly one of the biggest drawbacks to the dogs wearing vests is the heat that they accumulate under those vests, even officers get super hot in those vests," Lee said. "So the dogs don't have the way to deal with heat the way officers do."

Which means that any prolonged exposure to the heat could cause a dog to overheat.

"That's one of the major issues is them overheating with that vest on. So we don't want to diminish the dog's capabilities by putting that on them in those kind of circumstances," Lee said.

Lee added that vests are also bulky, which can cause a dog to get hung up while it's performing its duties.

"Their mission is going to remain the same. It's just their ability to carry out that job. It may hamper them," Lee said.

Sandy Marcal with Vested Interest in K9s, a non-profit that works with law enforcement to outfit their K9 officers, says their bullet and stab resistant vests have come a long way and can actually be custom fit.

"The ones that we offer, which are made by Armor Express out of Michigan, weigh about 4.5 pounds and they're custom fitted for each dog," Marcel said.

Marcal added Vested Interest has reached out to the Boise Police Department to discuss outfitting their K9 units with their bullet and stab resistant vests. Marcal says the company plans to get back in touch with the department after Jardo's memorial service.

Other companies KTVB spoke with say to help with any heat exhaustion, they've made vests where an officer can remove the ballistic material to make it lighter and cooler. Officers can then put that material back in, when they deploy a K9 officer in dangerous situations. It's something the Boise Police Department is looking into.

"We are looking into new vests. They're lighter now, maybe a little more flexible. They may be more practical for our dogs to wear, but as of this time we're still not using them on the dogs," Lee said.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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