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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Low-Quality Gear Endangers Police

The death over the weekend of a policeman whose low-grade bulletproof vest was pierced by two bullets has prompted city police to reiterate a point they have been making for months: In the battle for control of the city streets, the enemy is often far better armed.

"Many of the criminals we fight wear much lighter and stronger vests", said Vladimir Andreyenko, deputy chief of the Krasnopresnensky police security squad. "They also have UZI submachine guns which are as light as my pistol, they have foreign-made cars, and excellent radios".

Police officers said in interviews Tuesday that the danger they face each day as a result of superior equipment in the hands of criminals was illustrated in the death of officer Vyacheslav Tolokonnikov. The 26-year-old policeman was killed Saturday when he and two other officers arrived on the scene of an armed robbery.

"In the Saturday incident, if there had been more cars with more people, it is possible the policeman wouldn't have died", said Andrei Mayatsky, of the Interior Ministry's press service.

Andreyenko said Tuesday that the standard police vest Tolokonnikov was wearing was not hard enough to block a bullet from a submachine gun.

Andreyenko said that he was satisfied with the AKM and AKS submachine guns employed by police. But he complained about the Hungarian-made radios his officers have to use.

"The range of such a radio is about two or three kilometers, and the quality of transmission is awful, it is often difficult to make out the message", he said.

The worst problem is the cars, other officers complained. Nikolai Shokhin, in charge of supplies for the squad, said it was almost impossible to get spare parts to repair a car.

"We have been driving these Ladas here for seven years on the average", he said, pointing to about seven shabby cars. "That is the maximum age for a police car, but we don't have enough money to buy new ones, and it takes a lot of time to find the spare parts".

Andreyenko denied, however, that the transport problem complicated the situation during the stand-off last Saturday saying that officers from a different precinct arrived at the scene five minutes after the start of the shooting.

"Police couldn't get there sooner", he said. "But it took 40 minutes for the ambulance to turn up when we had a man dying out there. I'd like to find out who was on duty at the ambulance station at that time".

Vyacheslav Tolokonnikov, the policeman who was killed in the shootout, lived with his wife and 3-year-old son. He had served in police for four years.

"He was a very active policeman with an excellent record", Andreyenko said. "I know his mother was against him joining police, but he had a knack for this work".

Tolokonnikov is this year's ninth policeman killed in the line of duty in Moscow. Fourteen police officers were killed in 1992, according to the city police press center.

"I am convinced that inadequate equipment is partially responsible for all the deaths", said Vladimir Zolotnitsky of the press center.