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DeSOTO (CBS11) – A newly-proposed bill aimed at protecting police is beginning to gain traction at the State Capitol in Austin.
Senate Bill 12 would set aside $25 million for a grant program to help equip officer with heavy, military-like protective vests.
“The threat out there is real,” said Sgt. Nick Bristow with the DeSoto Police Department. “The threat is increasing and you have to be prepared.”
Bristow said the July 7, 2016 Dallas police ambush changed everything for local law enforcement.
“Nobody had ever seen anything like this where one shooter can take down that number of officers in a single incident,” said Bristow.
Armed with a large caliber rifle, Bristow said patrol officer and their standard equipment on July 7 did not stand a chance.
“It kind of brought home the fact that we are all vulnerable,” said Bristow.
State Senator Royce West (D- Dallas), wants to change the unsafe feeling officers might have through a thick, protective vest.
“This is not a blue issue or a red issue, it’s a Texan issue,” said Senator West.
West said the grant would help equip patrol officers with gear normally reserved for SWAT and tactical units.
“They have to put their life on the line each and every day for us,” said West. “So we have to make certain that we provide them the best possible equipment.”
Standard police vests protect against handguns. The heavy vests are built to protect against rifle fire and have thick plates to protect vital organs.
Bristow said if his department landed the grant funding, patrol officers would likely keep them in their squad cars. He said it would be another tool at their disposal if and when a dangerous scenario arises again.
“It’s going to save lives,” said Bristow. “It’s going to save officer’s lives. It’s going to put the officer’s families at ease knowing that they’ve got this kind of protection.”
SB 12 just passed the Senate unanimously. It now heads to the House.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has already vocally supported the bill.