The Denison City Council approved a request by the police department to pursue a grant for rifle-resistant body armor for 11 Denison Police officers. The grant, offered through the Office of the Governor and the Criminal Justice Division, was created after five Dallas police officers were shot in July of last year.
The grant was created through Senate Bill 12 and allocated additional funding to assist agencies in the purchase of rifle-resistant body armor. The $4,800 being sought would allow the city to purchase 22 sets of armor for the 11 officers that are requesting it.
“After the Dallas massacre, people determined that we need more protection,” Denison Police Lt. Mike Eppler said Monday in a phone interview.
Lt. Paul Neumann said officers currently wear a ballistic vest that is gauged to resist most handgun ammunition. The additional armor would be slipped into the existing vests and offer resistance for most rifle ammunition, including bullets used in high-power weapons such as the AR-15, Eppler said.
Neumann said the armor would be focused on the chest and back, and would increase the weight of an officer's equipment by just over six pounds, while sticking out about three-fourths of an inch. If an officer does receive the armor, they will be required to wear it as a part of their normal everyday load.
Neumann said this would be the first time the department would have armor of this type. Neumann clarified that patrol cars are equipped with a set of ceramic ballistics armor in the event of an active shooter situation or other similar emergencies. However, he said this armor is designed to be one use, and breaks when it is shot.
When asked whether other departments were taking a similar stance with regard to increased armor, Eppler said he was uncertain and has not consulted with neighboring agencies.
City Manager Jud Rex said the grant offers the city a unique opportunity in that it does not require local match funds. Through this, Rex said the city has a chance to acquire new equipment at little to no cost to Denison or local taxpayers.
“It is a good opportunity to reinforce the body armor we have now,” he said.
When asked details about the grant, Rex said it was new, and expected it to be competitive due to the limited funding involved. Rex said he was uncertain of the city's chances at receiving the funding, but still felt it was worth apply for.