EVERY police officer in Tasmania will be issued with new protective vests next year after the state government pumped an extra $1.5 million to replace the existing ballistic vests due to expire in 2015.
Five different types of the high-visibility vests, which can also hold capsicum spray, a radio, handcuffs and spare magazines, are being trialled to decide the best one to be rolled out to the 1120 officers in the force.
The move follows several violent attacks on police officers this year, including one incident in August where a Hobart policewoman was bashed unconscious and sprayed with capsicum spray.
Police Commissioner Darren Hine said there had been a 20 per cent reduction of assaults on police officers in the last financial year, but it remained a risk.
``Any assault on a police officer or emergency worker is unacceptable and we should make it as safe an environment as we possibly can,'' Mr Hine said.
The multipurpose vests will become a standard part of the uniform instead of only used in potentially dangerous circumstances.
``It's like a seat belt in a motor vehicle. You never know when you're going to have a crash so you should wear it all the time and that's what we're thinking about these as well,'' Mr Hine said.
``Wearing it all the time, just in case you come across that incident where a gun or knife is going to be used, and it's about that added protection for the officers.''
Mr Hine said the load-bearing capability of the vests would make life on the beat more comfortable for officers by removing weight from their waist belts.
Only a firearm will remain on the belt.
The extra funding will be reflected in the mid-year budget update due in February.
Victoria is the only other state to have police vests that offer protection against sharp-edged weapons and guns as well as the ability to carry equipment.