Following the tragic shooting of two NYPD officers by a suicidal, mentally ill man, state lawmakers are calling for funding to install bulletproof glass in all police cruisers. Four assembly members announced on Sunday that they are drafting legislation to use part of a $5.1 billion budget surplus to outfit squad cars in departments across the state with the impenetrable glass.
Meanwhile in Brooklyn, the Bedford Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps can barely keep its life-saving vehicles running due to budget shortages. The BSVAC is “the nation’s first minority-run volunteer ambulance corps” and was founded to provide better medical services in underserved Bed-Stuy neighborhoods. It’s a private non-profit entity that wouldn’t be necessary if public services were properly funded. The group has six ambulances but has only been able to afford to keep one in service recently. Just last week, it broke down. Speaking with the New York Times, the group’s founder, James Robinson, says that the organization is eligible for $125,000 in state money, but only if it can match the funds. A proposition that is virtually impossible for the small organization.
The BSVAC saves lives by providing emergency services, teaching first aid skills and offering job opportunities to citizens who’ve been pushed out of the system. All functions that the state has failed to adequately address.
Lawmakers might be better off insuring that proven life-saving services are funded before they pump money into an extremely expensive and reactionary bulletproof glass program.