Investigation into status of bullet-resistant panel retrofitting for NYPD vehicles in wake of officer shooting

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Jim Hoffer reports on the investigation into the status of retrofitting NYPD vehicles with bullet-resistant glass.

Officer Miosotis Familia is the fourth New York City police officer to be shot and killed sitting in her police vehicle in the last two and a half years.

The NYPD has on order bullet-resistant panels for the windows of its 4,000 car fleet.

But it will take another year to outfit those cars.

We should acknowledge that the NYPD vehicle fleet is the largest in the world and outfitting thousands of vehicles with ballistic protection is a huge undertaking.

But with another officer ambushed in their police vehicle, Eyewitness News thought it was important to see where this project to protect police stands.

In December 2014, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot and killed while sitting in their patrol cars in Brooklyn. Six months later in Queens, Officer Brian Moore was shot to death when an ex-con fired into his patrol car. The police assassinations prompted the city to begin equipping dozens of police cars with bullet-resistant door panels and side windows.

"To have that panel window panel and door panel to protect our cops, I think will go a long way in helping them do their jobs," said Police Commissioner James O'Neill, NYPD, back in May 2016.

Seven months later, the city announced the piloting phase had ended and the Mayor was ready to commit more than $10 million to retrofit the windows and doors to every patrol car so it could stop a bullet from a .44 caliber magnum or even a shotgun blast.

"Couldn't believe my eyes, you saw that material that absorbed the bullet," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Takes the bullet's trajectory and uses it against it to stop it dead in its tracks."

Five months after beginning a fleet-wide retrofitting, the NYPD lost another member in an ambush when early Wednesday morning, Officer Miosotis Familia was shot as she sat in a police vehicle. This is the fourth such ambush in two and a half years.

Could a bullet-resistant window have protected her as a video from the NYPD suggests? Perhaps, but it had not yet been installed.

"We also have to look at how many they rolled out and where they rolled them out to," said Joe Giacalone, Former NYPD Detective, John Jay College. "I mean, this is something they put on a big show, but I'd like to see where they are and how many there are actually in use."

It should be noted that installing protective glass in 4,000 police vehicles takes time. Yet, even as the retrofitting continues there's still the question, will it only change the criminals' tactics?

"I don't where we are in the process. It's certainly something that can't hurt, but if you want to shoot a police officer you wait until they're out of the car," said Ray Kelly, Former NYPD Commissioner. "You know, if you're mindset is to kill a police officer there are other ways of doing it."

In a statement to Eyewitness News, an NYPD spokesman said, "The Department is continuing to retrofit additional vehicles as the equipment becomes available."

We should note, City Hall has funded the retrofitting through October 2018.

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