SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -

The Sioux Falls Police Department's K9 Unit will be getting some new body armor.

Since crime is rising in the area, officers want to make sure their four legged partners are as protected as they are.

The best part is, they've found a way to do that for free.

The K9 Unit currently has two bullet resistant vests for their four K9’s Rio, Robi, Max and Doerak.

But they're a little bulky, not to mention, they don't stay on too well.

"They're 10 to 15 years of age and the warranty life on a vest is usually about 5 years,” says Sgt. Michel Olson.

Sgt. Olson says the vests are used when they're called out to high risk situations.

"Barricaded subjects or for tracking a suspect that we think is potentially armed or that we think has committed a very serious felony."

Which he says happens a couple times a month.

"Right now we don't work the dogs in them full time because it would make them get more tired easily and plus they're very hot,” says Sgt. Olson.

But in 8 to 10 weeks, the dogs will be able to wear vests more often.

"These will fit better; they are custom made for each dog,” explains Olsen.

Thanks to the non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9's, the department will be receiving four new bullet and stab resistant vests at no cost.

"The basis of their program is that they seek donations or if a person actually purchases a vest then they will distribute them to agencies that ask,” says Sgt. Olsen.

He says there is a need for this extra protection.

"We've had situations in the past where suspects have tried to attack the dogs or assault the dogs.”

So having the new gear will add another level of confidence.

"When the dog has a vest, they have a little more comfort sending them in these high risk situations and have a little more ease that the dogs are going to be protected and safe,” he says.

Each vests cost $2,000 to $2,500.

So without the donation, the department would have had to pay $8,000 to $10,000 for the four vests.