New Zealand police are being kitted out with $20.7 million worth of new body armour that officials boast is lighter, more comfortable and more customisable.
Commissioner of Police Mike Bush announced the rollout today at Auckland's North Shore Policing Centre.
The partnership with manufacturer Cooneen Protection will result in all officers receiving the updated vests over the next three years.
"With more than a million interactions with the public every year, the vast majority of New Zealanders engage with us appropriately," Mr Bush said. "However, it's unfortunately the nature of police work that some people want to harm us."
While the existing body armour remains safe, and Mr Bush says he's confident it is fit for purpose while the new gear is being rolled out, it is important to continue investing in safety, he says.
"Our vision for New Zealand is to be the safest country, and that starts with our staff," he says. "To keep communities safe, first police must keep themselves safe.
"With advances in technology over the past 10 years, we have the opportunity to enhance police body armour with a new, innovative body armour system that feels lighter and more comfortable, is more adjustable and customisable, while retaining all of the safety benefits of current body armour."
It is important for the armour to allow officers to be comfortable in all weather and on long shifts, Mr Bush says.
The new armour, which is being rolled through mid-2022, better integrates the ballistic armour into the stab resistant armour and provides individually-issued tactical pouches.