By Joe Farkus, NDG Contributing Writer
In the aftermath of the shooting in Downton Dallas on July 7, 2016, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick requested creation of a grant program that would help fund the purchasing of new protective vests and gear for Texas law enforcement officials on-the-job. SB12, authored by State Sen. Royce West, did just that by creating a $25 million grant program from which law enforcement agencies across the state could apply to ensure men and women in uniform are better equipped to handle the dangerous conditions of their jobs. The program helps agencies purchase anything from protective plates to high-powered automatic weapons.
“I did not think twice when the Lt. Governor came to me with the idea that became SB12 in the aftermath of the unforeseeable event that happened [that] summer in Dallas,” said Sen. West upon its passing. “While headlines have sometimes been made for reasons that cause us all to shudder, it does not detract from the fact that those who wear the badge of law enforcement daily make the commitment and sacrifices that help keep all of us safe.”
After passing the Texas Senate unanimously and the Texas House with only one “nay” vote, the program has gone on to award funds to more than 450 law enforcement agencies in the state. Currently, more than 32,000 vests or items of protective gear are ordered to be purchased at a cost of $22.93 million. The Dallas Police Department alone has purchased 2,565 vests with assistance from the grant. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department has purchased 317 vets.
Sen. West joined Lt. Gov. Patrick and Governor Greg Abbott for the governor’s announcement of the grants awarded through the Senator’s program at the Dallas Police Association headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 9. The announcement coincided with Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.
“The job of our law enforcement community is becoming more difficult as the threats our officers face continue to increase,” Gov. Abbott said at the announcement. “That is why I’m proud to present these grants to Police Department’s across Texas so they can equip their officers with the life-saving equipment they deserve.”