YONKERS, N.Y. – After a brief visit to New York, members of the Dominican National Police will head back to their country this week with bags quite a bit heavier than when they arrived.
The Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association presented 100 bulletproof vests, collected from departments around the county, to police officials from the Dominican Republic on Wednesday in a ceremony at Yonkers’ Lincoln Memorial Park.
Standing in front of five large cardboard boxes filled with vests and flanked by police brass from seven Westchester departments, David Reyes, representative of the Dominican National Police, said the donation will help save lives.
“This is going to be a great tool to use to protect our brothers and sisters in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “This is a great day for our police department, and we really appreciate this.”
Members of the Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association began the drive last year after hearing there was a need from a pastor in the Dominican Republic. Soon after reaching out to various departments in Westchester, the group had rounded up dozens of vests.
Miguel Paulino, president of the New York State Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 920, said many officers in the Dominican Republic are ill-equipped to go about their daily routine. They are not able to afford the basic necessities that many in the United States take for granted, he said.
“By doing this, we are providing police officers in the Dominican Republic with great tools to do a better job while protecting their lives and the lives of the citizens they serve,” he said. “Today is great day for law enforcement and all the officers.”
All of the donated body armor was surplus and had been stashed away in various departments, including Yonkers, Elmsford and New Castle, organizers said. They said the donations were about teamwork and providing the Dominican police with tools they desperately needed.
“These vests will help protect our fellow brethren in the course of their duties so that they can continue to serve their county, protect the community they patrol and be able to protect themselves so they can be able to make it home safely to their families at the end of the day,” said Alex Rodriguez, president of the Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association.