Dallas Senator Files Bill to Provide Bulletproof Vests for Every Texas Officer

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By Michael MarksJanuary 13, 2017 7:31 am,

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

A state senator from Dallas offered a bill yesterday that would supply bulletproof vests to every law enforcement officer in Texas. State Sen. Royce West, a Democrat, unveiled the $25 million program with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

West pointed to the July 7 shootings in Dallas as evidence for the need for vests that can stop high-caliber rounds – five officers died in an ambush at a Black Lives Matter protest that evening. 

“The best method to show our support at a state level is to try to make certain that all 50,00 to 60,000 law enforcement officers in this state have what we commonly refer to as bullet proof vests,” West said. 

The vests must be replaced after about five years. Patrick said funding the program is a priority even though the legislature will be faced with a tight budget.

A pilot program aimed to reduce violence in parts of San Antonio has been slow to get off the ground. Shotspotter is a system that uses mounted microphones to triangulate the location of gunshots and then notifies the police.

The city spent $270,000 to install the system in a few violent neighborhoods. But so far, the system hasn’t yielded many arrests. Paul Flahive of Texas Public Radio has more: 

SAPD says after six months, ShotSpotter had detected more than 1,400 gunshots in 359 incidents, but with only 11 arrests.

“By six months we hadn’t really started any interventions. We were just gathering data, seeing where shots were occurring and building cases,” says District 2 Councilman Alan Warrick.

Warrick was an advocate for getting the technology, and he says in December — seven months into the pilot year — SAPD started making changes. First, they made ShotSpotter alerts a higher priority for officers. As “In-Progress” crimes, police use squad car lights and sirens to arrive on scene.

Second, they assigned one officer per shift, per ShotSpotter area to respond to those calls. Both cut response times. Finally, the city will begin sending its Stand Up SA –the city’s violence interrupter program — out to follow up in areas where shots were fired.

In April, the department will release an analysis of the Shotspotter data and the city will decide whether to continue the program.

The Air Force has selected Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base as the new home of an F-35 fighter jet squadron. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the base was picked partially because of its proximity to the Lockheed Martin plant, which manufactures the F-35. 

Republican Rep. Kay Granger said that the squadron’s first planes are expected to be ready in 2025. Granger represents part of Fort Worth and chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

The decision will be final after an environmental impact study is completed, although it’s unlikely that the study’s outcome would strip the squadron from Fort Worth. Bases in Arizona, Florida and Missouri were also in contention.