ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York’s attorney general on Monday pledged $3.5 million from criminal and civil forfeitures to help outfit police statewide with thousands of bulletproof vests.

“Providing bulletproof vests to police officers is a no-brainer,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Intended to fill the recent funding gap in a federal grant program, Schneiderman said the so-called “inVEST Partnership” will enable New York law enforcement agencies to cover up to half the cost of equipping new officers or replacing expiring vests for others. The matching funds are expected to help fund 6,000 to 10,000 vests.

“Every day in communities all across New York, the brave men and women serving in our police departments put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe,” said Schneiderman. “We have an obligation to do everything in our power to protect those who are sworn to protect us. We cannot allow political wrangling in Washington to compromise the safety of New York’s law-enforcement community.”

Departments will have to submit written proof they adhere to the federal “Mandatory Wear” policy to ensure the field use of bulletproof equipment bought with state money. They will also have to supply information on their current inventory and replacement cycle. Police agencies have until July 15 to apply, 1010 WINS’ Derricke Dennis reported.

State authorities say grants from the 1998 federal Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act in New York peaked in 2010 and have decreased 81 percent or about $3.27 million.

In the past 30 years, they say 71 officers were fatally shot on duty statewide, while federal data suggest vests have saved an estimated 3,000 officers nationally.

Four years ago, Sgt. Thomas Kelly of the Schenectady Police Department, took a shotgun blast to the stomach from a murder suspect standing six feet away, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported.

“As soon as the round went off, I felt it, it pushed me back against the wall,” Kelly said. “I was like, ‘wow, OK, that could’ve been really bad.'”

Citing the Officer Down Memorial Page, state officials said 95 police or peace officers have been killed by gunfire in New York since 1984. They included 24 who were off duty, most trying to stop a crime.

While officers were fatally shot in every region of the state, the total included 63 New York City officers, 44 shot while on duty, over the last 30 years.

Since 1791, gunfire killed 525 police statewide, according to the memorial page.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories:

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Watch & Listen LIVE