Central Texas officers welcome initiative aimed to outfit office - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Central Texas officers welcome initiative aimed to outfit officers with rifle-resistant vests

Source: KXXV Source: KXXV

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is launching an initiative to protect police officers and support the families of first responders.

Patrick plans to ask the Texas Senate to put an appropriation for up to $20 million to purchase rifle-resistant vests for the 40,000 officers on patrol regularly.

"It's the least we can do for the families of those officers when they leave home. For the families and for them to feel that at least they have the best protection possible every time,” Patrick said.

According to Patrick, some of the officers killed in the Dallas ambush earlier this year had bulletproof vests unable to stop high-caliber rounds.

“One thing that was clear is that we were not giving our police officers the protection they needed. Everyone was wearing a vest that day. Those who were shot in the vest didn't survive,” Patrick said.

Hewitt Police Chief Jim Devlin said his 26 officers currently wear bulletproof vests while in uniform.

“I have seen officers who have been shot and the vest actually save them,” Devlin said.

However, his department has recently discussed the possibility of getting rifle resistant vests that the Patrick is referencing, which officers can put slip on top of the body armor and uniform, if needed.

The vests are worn when the threat level is high or someone is suspected of having a gun or a rifle.

"I like the fact that they're willing to participate for the overall protection of law enforcement in these scenarios that take place. It’s something that we have been talking about for months now, even prior to the  Dallas incident because you never know when you are going to come up against that long gun,” Devlin said.

He said they would welcome the vests, if the state provides them. However, if they

The Waco Police Department already has the rifle-resistant vests after the City Council approved the purchase of 250 of them for every officer earlier this year. The vests, which officers wear on top of their uniforms, are used during active shooter situation or going to a scene with someone with a high caliber gun.

Sgt. Patrick Swanton, who said the department is thankful for the city’s effort to purchase the vests, believes other departments would also benefit from having an additional of protection.

“We are excited that the Lt. Governor is doing that. That's a good thing for officers. Anything they can do protect us in turn helps our citizens because if we are hurt. It's hard to help our citizens,” Swanton said.

According to the Lt. Governor’s spokesman, it is unknown the type of rifle-resistant vest that would be purchased, if the funds are allocated. In addition, if the vests are given to departments, they would make the decision when to wear them.

Another part of Patrick’s initiative includes exempting surviving spouses of fallen officers from paying property taxes on their homes.

“I think that just goes to show the service we provide for our community and our citizens, certainly we appreciate and applaud their efforts to take care of our spouses,” Swanton said.                                                                                

Devlin also said survivors should receive benefits.

“Personally, I think it is beneficial to the survivors. Having an officer who has died in the line of duty and what that does to the family, it’s tough,” Devlin said. “It’s tough enough just to go through the loss of a loved one who died in the line of duty versus other things that could potentially take place.”

Lt. Governor Patrick will present the initiative during the 2017 legislative session.

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