Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has blocked reauthorization of the 15-year-old Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant that has supplied 1M vests to officers
WASHINGTON — A program that has supplied more than 1 million bulletproof vests to police departments around the country is facing a holdup on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has blocked reauthorization of the 15-year-old Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant, arguing that the federal government has "no role" in funding local police departments.
But Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and author of the program, said at a hearing Wednesday that "the law enforcement community has spoken with a single voice on this issue. They understand the unfortunate reality that life-saving vests can be extremely expensive, particularly for smaller jurisdictions, and that they can wear out too soon."
Local police officials testified that the vests, which on average cost between $800 and $1,000 apiece, can be life-saving tools in a dangerous job.
Ann Carrizales, an officer with the police department in Stafford, Texas, was shot in the face and chest during a routine traffic stop last October.
"I remember the muzzle flash, looking directly at the weapon and taking a mental note of its caliber, and then there were his eyes," Carrizales told the senators Wednesday. "I will never forget his eyes."