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2016 deadly Dallas shooting spurs $937K in funding for police rifle-resistant vests

Photo of Dallas Police in riot gear in front of Black Lives Matter protesters during President Trump's visit to North Dallas on June 11, 2020.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA News
Dallas Police suit up in riot gear in front of Black Lives Matter protesters during President Trump's visit to North Dallas on June 11, 2020.

The Dallas Police Department will soon be getting more vests designed to protect its officers from bullets fired by high-powered rifles. The funding comes from a program created after a deadly shooting in Dallas that claimed the lives of five local officers.

Dallas city council approved more than $937,000 in grant funding Wednesday as part of a state program. The money will be used to purchase 675 concealable rifle-resistant vests.

“It’s been a long time in coming, especially after [July 7, 2016]. We lost those five officers and the other 13 that were injured or were from a high caliber rifle that was shot from a long distance away and went right through the vest that we were carrying at that time,” Sergeant Michael Mata, president of the Dallas Police Association said.

The Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's office has assisted 47 local police agencies across the state in purchasing rifle-resistant body armor and a total of 38,664 bullet-resistant vests have been distributed since 2017. DPD previously participated in the program in 2018.

The Dallas Police Department will be commemorating five years since the ambush that killed five police officers, on July 7, 2016.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
The Dallas Police Department will be commemorating five years since the ambush that killed five police officers, on July 7, 2016.

“This incident validated the imperative need for vests and plates to protect officers from higher velocity rounds,” Sergeant Warren Mitchell, a spokesperson for Dallas Police Department said.

Officers responding to critical incidents will wear the new vests for maximum protection, according to DPD. The body armor is meant to absorb impact of projectiles and withstand rifle fire.

“Each Dallas Police Officer wears body armor while on duty. With the increase in aggravated assaults and the relative ease of criminals to acquire firearms, it becomes imperative that the City acquire rifle-resistant body armor,” Mitchell said.

As of June of this year, 28 officers were killed in the line of duty by firearms fatalities, which is 4% increase from 2020 at that same time of year, according to National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum.

“No matter how skilled an officer may be in this technique when an assailant has a gun, there is no proper way to assume how he or she may use it. When officers are the first responders, they are often also victims,” Warren said.

DPD officers who routinely patrol or respond to events currently use of rifle-resistant armor, but the shelf-life of ballistic armor is about 5 years.

“This new infusion of funding is going to allow us to be able to retrofit all the officers who are now on the street to have these [vests],” Mata said.

“To increase the protective layers that officer can wear every day will save lives and ultimately save families.”

The additional funding would allow DPD to replace approximately 22% of its current rifle-resistant vests that will expire within the current budget year. The funding will be used during the period September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.