A NYS Court Officer displays the tactical carrier vest for body armor on Tuesday, September 3, 2013. Because of improper sizing, the badge doesn’t fit in the two holes provided.
A $77,000 bundle of body armor purchased for 148 city court officers has been collecting dust for nearly a year because the majority of them do not fit properly, and all of the flaps to fit the officers’ shields were botched, the New York State Court Officers Association charges in a new lawsuit.
The union filed a claim in Manhattan Supreme Court Tuesday against North Carolina-based KDH Defense Systems, demanding they take back the $525-a-piece body armor after the company allegedly did not make needed adjustments.
“On or about said date of October 3, 2012, the 148 vests were delivered, but the majority did not fit the officers properly,” the lawsuit charges.
“Moreover, without exception the flaps wherein the court officer’s mandated identification badge must be inserted were too small, owing to misplacement of the grommets that set the limits of these flaps,” wrote attorney Bruce Baron.
Baron said the affected officers “are being put at risk by the inadequacies” of KDH and are “denied the right to protect the courthouses of this city, and themselves, in safety.”
The standoff is having serious repercussions, in that the 148 officers are at risk for their safety because of a lack of these vests,
The New York State Unified Court System will reimburse the union for the vests, but only once the union pays the company, which hasn’t happened because of the quality issues, said a union spokesperson. Bullet proof vests became mandatory for all state court officers in October and the court system issued vests to eligible officers.
Because the NYSCOA had already ordered them on their own before the rule went into effect, the state agreed to refund the 1,600-member union’s purchase.
NYSCOA president Dennis Quirk said the officers affected have worn old vests or have gone without while waiting for KDH to fix the problem.
“This company has provided an inferior product in both the manufacturing and the measuring, and has been non responsive to our numerous requests for correcting the outstanding problems,” Quirk said.
The CEO of KDH did not immediately respond to a request for comment.