HOUSTON (AP) - Law enforcement officials are hoping for funding to buy hundreds of bulletproof vests for officers in Harris County.
Many officers with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and eight elected constables either lack bulletproof vests altogether or have ones that are damaged or old, the Houston Chronicle reports (https://bit.ly/1lfLzpG ).
Sheriff Adrian Garcia and seven of the eight constables started asking for money for bulletproof vests as early as last fall. They cited a decrease in donations and funds from an endangered federal grant program.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Morman asked for an update at Commissioners Court last week, saying the funding is taking a lot longer than he had hoped.
“These guys need the vests and I want to make sure they get them,” Morman said.
The county budget officer promised to bring a plan back to court in two weeks. The cost would be about $630,000 for 830 vests.
Some of the cost of the vests has been covered in past years by donations and matching grant money from the Bulletproof Vest Grant Partnership, administered by the Department of Justice. But the sheriff’s office says that funding has decreased sharply in recent years. A bill to reauthorize the program is stalled in Congress.
County Budget Officer Bill Jackson said it has taken time to put together a plan because he wanted to find out how many vests officers have and who actually needs them. He has said in the past that some vests are being stored and not worn, so he plans to recommend a countywide policy requiring officers to wear the vests they are issued. Only one Harris County law enforcement agency lacks a written policy requiring officers to wear vests. That agency, Precinct 6, has a written policy encouraging officers to wear them. They are expected to buy their own.
Information from: Houston Chronicle, https://www.houstonchronicle.com
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