City council members voted to approve Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher's request for emergency funding to make safety improvements in order to better protect officers.

Chief Fred Fletcher asked for more than $150,000 that would go toward purchasing body armor to protect against high-powered assault rifles and safety improvements to the police department's access gates.
Assault rifles are becoming more common on the streets and in deadly shootings, and Chief Fletcher said officers need the protection as soon as possible.

In light of targeted attacks against police, Chattanooga officers are now required to wear protective vests whenever they leave the building.

"Appointments, court, lunch, whatever, they are required to wear their body armor," said Deputy Chief David Roddy.

But there's one major vulnerability in that current protective clothing, "currently the body armor that you do have does not protect you against a rifle assault, is that correct?" council member Chip Henderson asks,  "Correct," said Chief Roddy.

Chief Fletcher asked city council members to approve emergency funding to purchase 500 protective inserts that can slip into existing body armor.

"To try to make officers safe in this changing environment," he said, "Which includes a year ago a terror attack with a very high-powerful rifle and recently targeted attacks on law enforcement in other cities in the south."

Fletcher said his officers are confiscating about one thousand guns a year. That includes high-powered rifles.

The threat is already on Chattanooga's streets, now he wants safety improvements to follow.

"So it would be easier for officers to wear, it would be light enough to where they could wear it every single day," Fletcher said.

The department also asked for funds to make security upgrades to the Police Service Center gate, a gate that has stayed mostly closed since July 16th to protect officers.

"They're often most vulnerable when they're transitioning on and off duty."

City council members unanimously voted in favor of the emergency funding.