A bill filed by Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) and backed by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R) would provide all Texas law enforcement with bullet proof vests.
Law enforcement from across the state surrounded West and Patrick Thursday as they announced the filing of Senate Bill 12.
SB 12 will create a grant program run through the governor's office to help law enforcement agencies purchase bulletproof vests that can withstand high caliber rounds. The bill would also allow departments that don't have any type of bullet proof vests to purchase them.
Patrick called for the bill after the ambush on Dallas Police officers last July that left five officers dead.
"The weaponry that's out there on the streets is not the same weaponry that was out there years ago. These rifles, they go through us like butter. And, even with the vests that we're wearing at the moment," said Frederick Frazier who is a Dallas Police officer and 1st Vice President of the Dallas Police Association.
The grant program is going to cost $25 million in what is shaping up to be a very tight budget year for the state. But Patrick said in a tight budget year lawmakers set priorities and his number one priority is to "protect those who protect us."
There are between 50,000 and 60,000 law enforcement officers in Texas.
Because some departments already have vests that can withstand rifle shots West says that's why this bill is not a one size fits all measure. Departments would apply for what they need.
Patrick added as vests need replacing, the state will allocate money for that.