Texas House Approves Bulletproof Vest Bill after Dallas Shooting
On May 17, 2017, the Texas House of Representatives passed a law allocating $25 million in grant money to purchase 50,000 rifle-proof vests for police officers across the state. This clears the way for Governor Abbott to sign the legislation which was passed by the Texas Senate in March.
Grants Approved to Buy Rifle-proof Vests for Officers
This move during National Police Officers Memorial Week clears the way for local police departments to start applying for grants from the funds which will be administered by the Governor's Criminal Justice Division requires a report be filed annually with lawmakers showing how many vests are purchased and what departments received funding.
Move Follows the Deadliest Shooting of Police Officers
Frederick Frazier, first vice president of the Dallas Police Association, says that four of the five police officers killed by Micah Xavier Johnson on July 7, 2016, would still be alive if they had rifle-proof vests on at the time of the shooting during a Black Lives Matter rally. Responding officers had on bulletproof vests, but they were not strong enough to protect them from the rifle fire. This shooting was the deadliest for law enforcement officials since September 11, 2001.
Senate Bill 12 is Priority Legislation in Texas
State Senator Royce West sponsored this bill that passed the Texas House of Representatives on a vote of 141-1. He originally submitted the bill that is officially called Senate Bill 12 on January 12, 2017. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has made this a priority during this session of the legislature. Governor Abbott says that he looks forward to signing the bill into law.
Riffle-proof Vests Offer Better Protection for Officers
According to Frazier, most police departments do not have the money to purchase these vests for their officers. Many officers currently wear bulletproof vests when on duty. These vests, however, offer very little protection against bullets filed from high-powered rifles. Therefore, he is very happy that police departments can now apply for grants to purchase this better level of protection for their officers. Rifle-proof vests are bulkier and heavier so officers would only wear them when they were responding to more dangerous calls where gunfire is expected.
Levels of Bulletproof Vests
People can buy several different styles of bulletproof vests. These vests are rated on a scale from I to IV. Level I offers minimum protection against long-rifle-nose bullets, but they are soft and comfortable for officers to wear regularly. Level II offers some protection against .357 Magnum and 9 millimeter rounds, although they are bulkier for officers to wear. Level III vests offer protection against 7.62 millimeter M80 rounds and other ammunition because they have a bulky plate. Level IV provides protection from a single shot, but is not intended for officers to wear regularly.
Governor Abbott Calls Police Officers Selfless Heroes
After learning of the passage of the bill, Governor Abbott said that he and his wife asked that all Texans proudly show their support for police officers across the state. Nineteen police officers across Texas died in the line of duty during 2016 making it one of the most tragic years for the state. The Governor’s Mansion was lighted in blue to show support for police officers across the state who Governor Abbott applauded for their selfless dedication.