Police charity buys 2,200 protective vests for Chicago cops

A fundraising drive by the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation raised more than $1 million.

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Former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline and Supt. David Brown speak after a press conference at the Chicago Police Department Headquarters in Bronzeville Tuesday morning, July 21, 2020.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline and Supt. David Brown speak after a news conference announcing over 2,000 police officers received new protectives vests from the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

More than 2,200 Chicago cops received new protective vests in the past two weeks, including one officer whose vest saved his life last month.

The Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit that aids Chicago police officers, handed out the vests over the past two weeks. A fundraising drive covered the $1.1 million price tag.

Chicago cops are issued a protective vest when they graduate the police academy, but it’s the responsibility of each officer to replace them. Vests cost about $500 and have a five-year shelf life, after which their effectiveness begins to diminish, according to a Police Memorial Foundation spokeswoman.

“Cops have other things going on — braces for the kids, brakes for the car — so they put that off, and then before you know it, they’ve got a 10-year-old vest they’re wearing that’s not as effective as a new vest,” Phil Cline, executive director of the foundation, said Tuesday at a news conference at police headquarters.

Chicago Police Officer Nathaniel Hollis speaks during a press conference at the Chicago Police Department Headquarters in Bronzeville Tuesday morning, July 21, 2020. A few weeks ago, Hollis was shot in his chest, but he survived because of his vest, according to Phil Cline, the former Chicago police superintendent.

Chicago Police Officer Nathaniel Hollis

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Officer Nathaniel Hollis, whose vest stopped a bullet last month as he responded to a call of shots fired on the West Side, received a replacement vest.

“It’s an unfortunate incident that happened to me, but I’m glad to be here,” Hollis said Tuesday.

Police Supt. David Brown attended the event and thanked Hollis, who has returned to work after a brief hospital stay.

“Being shot in the chest and coming back to work, there is no greater love than this — that I would give my life for this city. And I just wanted to publicly say, thank you,” Brown said.

Cline, a former Chicago police superintendent, also congratulated Brown on how officers performed Friday during a protest at a statue of Christopher Columbus in Grant Park that turned violent.

“I just want to congratulate Supt. Brown and CPD on the way they handled the protests the other day. Thank you very much, we’re proud of you,” Cline said.

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