Unstable tax revenue means Texas lawmakers are expected to curb spending when the 2017 legislative session convenes Jan. 10 and crafts a new budget. But, despite spending cuts, state leaders are urging legislators to prioritize the implementation of police safety measures.
In October, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he would ask legislators for up to $20 million to supply more protective bulletproof vests to nearly 60,000 law enforcement employees statewide. The improved vests are capable of stopping high-caliber rifle bullets.
The dialogue about safer police vests began after a sniper murdered five Dallas police officers in July. Investigators discovered two of the fallen officers' vests were pierced by rounds.
Local law enforcement agencies support the proposal to protect officers. Temple Police Spokeswoman Shawana Neely said she would welcome better vests, along with more tactical training to prepare officers for shooting situations.
"We see the attacks that our police officers are facing every day," Neely said. "We need to be protected. If we can get better vests, if we can get better equipment, that will be great."
Local police officers are outfitted with bulletproof vests after they are hired. And, they are taught how to care for the vests, which need to be replaced frequently because they are easily damaged. Even with proper care, protective vests may only last up to five years, on average.