Car show raises money for police bulletproof vests

Bulletproof vests are emotional garments.

This was illustrated when the wife of a young Chicago Police officer became overwhelmed with tears Sunday at the thought of her husband wearing one.

“Every day he leaves the door, there’s no guarantee he’s coming back,” Jezzica Uy, 27, said of her husband, Visal Chum, 32.

She made the comments at the first Cars Cops Car Show, held in the parking lot of Collectors’ Car Garage near Addison and Western. The show was held to raise money to buy vests for Chicago cops.

“The proceeds that come through this mean the world to me. And I don’t think people really understand that,” said Uy, a nurse practitioner.

Chum wrapped his arms around his wife as the two stood next to his fire engine red 1992 Acura NSX — a childhood dream realized.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline now leads the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline, who now leads the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, said proceeds will help fund the “Get Behind the Vest” initiative.

Officers are issued a vest in the police academy, he said. But after about five years the warranty expires and the vests become less reliable over time. Officers have to pay for replacements, Cline said.

“The fact that we had three cops shot in the last two weeks — one of them directly in the vest — shows how important events like this are,” Cline said.

Money from the event — which included nearly 250 car enthusiasts who each paid a $25 entry fee — will be used to pay for vests, which cost about $500 each, Cline said.

The foundation has already bought about 7,000 vests, Cline said.

“It’s an absolute essential tool,” said robbery detective Ken Becker, as he stood next to his black 1965 Pontiac GTO. “It’s a lifesaver. It’s been proven time and time again . . . an essential part of police work, unfortunately.”

Chum said the vest gives him a sense of extra protection in an unpredictable job.

“There are times when domestic calls get a little fishy and a little heated, and just having the vest, you know, that extra protection . . . you don’t know what’s behind that door,” he said.

Chicago Police robbery detective Ken Becker stands beside his 1965 Pontiac GTO at the first Cars Cops Car Show on Sunday, May 21, 2017. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times