So on Sunday, crowds of people gathered for breakfast on the South Side to raise money to replace them.
The Beverly community was out in force Sunday morning to help protect the men and women on the Chicago police force.
"A Chicago police officer is issued a vest when they graduate from the police academy. But after that, they're on their own," said Alderman Matt O'Shea.
That's why the 19th Ward alderman organizes a pancake breakfast every year, supporting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation's Get Behind the Vest program.
Sunday marked the 6th annual "Get Behind the Vest Pancake Breakfast."
"We have over 150 students in this school who are the children of Chicago police officers," said St. John Fisher School Principal Maura Nash.
The school on Chicago's South Side helped serve up $5 all-you-can-eat breakfasts.
O'Shea said officers need to replace their bulletproof vests around every five years.
"They can exceed up to $1,000 to replace the inside and the outer garment," said Chicago Police Officer Kristen Fahey.
Thanks to the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, officers like Fahey no longer need to spend their own money on the lifesaving equipment.
Maureen Connolly, a mother of two CPD officers, said the city's first responders deserve the very best.
"These men and women never know from the time they get up in the morning, if they're going to come home at night," Connolly said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the vests essential, saying she'll discuss added funding with police union leaders during contract negotiations.
"Our finances are tight but we can't skimp out when it comes to our first responders," Lightfoot said.
For more information on the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation's Get Behind the Vest initiative, you can visit www.getbehindthevest.org.