By Steve Tawa

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (CBS) — When Upper Darby Police Officers find themselves in potentially dangerous situations, they will be able to deploy tactical armor vests, that are strong enough to protect officers from shots that come from powerful rifles.

Photo credit: KYW's Steve Tawa

Photo credit: KYW’s Steve Tawa

It’s mandatory for Upper Darby police officers to wear bullet-proof vests, which will stop projectiles from a handgun. But Police Superintendent Mike Chitwood said if there are reports of an “active shooter,” they will be able to slip on vests over them for maximum ballistic protection.

“Most of the weapons being used against police officers are rifles, AK-47’s, and AR-15’s.”

Detective Dustin Clark said the kit, 16-pound vests with pockets includes hard armor face plates on the chest and back to protect vital organs, much like SWAT teams wear.

“You have a front panel and a back panel. Each panel weights about 7.5 pounds,” Clark said.

“They’re actually called active shooter kits, ballistic helmets.”

 KYW's Steve Tawa

KYW’s Steve Tawa

Chitwood said you never know when that active shooter call comes in, especially the increasing gun violence against law enforcement officers.

“In 2016, 64 police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty in America.”

The township purchased 137 Armor Express Level IV vests for $37,000. They’re not mandatory but will provide an extra layer of protection when needed.

CBS 3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report. 

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