New K-9 body armor coming to the Bridgeport Police Department

Bronco will be getting a specialized vest soon to protect him against bullets and knives. The department says it is working on getting more vests for the other K-9 officers.

Jeff Derderian and Robyn Karashik

Jan 23, 2024, 10:22 PM

Updated 112 days ago

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A K-9 officer in Bridgeport is getting new body armor.
News 12 Connecticut's Jeff Derderian met up with K-9 Bronco from the Bridgeport Police Department to hear more about the new form of protection for these loyal workers.
In some instances, K-9's on patrol are the first line of defense for dangerous crimes and are willing to protect their handler if they sense a threat.
“That dog will lay its life down beyond a second's hesitation with no regard for its safety,” said Bridgeport Police Lt. William Simpson.
Bronco will be getting a specialized vest soon to protect him from a variety of weapons like bullets and knives. Officer Patrick Tuths is Bronco’s handler and has been in this field for seven years. The bond they share is a special one.
“I told him from the day that I got him....I have his back, he has mine. That's the way it's going to be...he's part of my family now too,” said Tuths.
The donation of his protective vest has been made possible through a nonprofit organization out of Massachusetts dedicated to keeping K-9 officers safe.
Vested Interest in K-9's has been operating since 2009. They've donated nearly 6,000 vests for K-9 officers all possible because of donations. They also pay medical insurance for working K-9's from any law enforcement agency.
Officers have stressed that these dogs don’t just chase and bite people – they are crucial for everyday cases like finding missing children and searching buildings and schools. They are trained to move on a single word, but when the badge comes off they know they’re off the clock.
“At home he's a dog...let him be a dog at home...he knows when to work, he knows the difference. He knows the difference between a police car and a pick up truck,” said Tuths.
Now that Bronco has been fitted for this special equipment, made specifically for him, it'll take about 8-to-10 weeks to come in. Once it does, he’ll be a little bit safer on the streets. The department said they are working on getting more vests for the other K-9 officers in Bridgeport.
This all comes one month after a Connecticut State Police K-9 officer was killed in the line of duty. State troopers were serving Vaughn Malloy with an arrest warrant in Stonington on Dec. 21, 2023 when the deadly shooting happened. Officers said when they arrived, Malloy refused to surrender and eventually opened fire killing Broko. Malloy was subsequently shot and killed. A memorial service for Broko was held on Jan. 15, 2024 in East Hartford.


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