Dallas police may require officers to wear bulletproof vests

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on March 2, 2011 at 11:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 3 at 12:50 PM

DALLAS — Body armor can stop a bullet and save a life, but some police officers do not use the equipment.

That is about to change at the Dallas Police Department.

Officers may soon be required to wear a bulletproof vest or else the city will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal money.

We remember the scenes and their names. Officers who were shot in the line of duty. Some were saved by wearing their body armor.

Senior Cpl. Brian Jones is on the streets every day. He knows the price he could pay if he is shot in the line of duty without the protective gear.

“It's really not even an option," Jones said. "I would never choose not to wear it."

A recent report showed officers are 14 times more likely to be killed if they are not wearing a vest, but some still do not use them.

“It is hotter, especially in the summertime," Jones said. "It is kind of restrictive, and if you are not used to wearing it, you are uncomfortable."

In 2010 there was a 20 percent increase in the number of officers killed nationwide.

The federal government said any department that used federal money to buy vests must require officers to wear them.

“Officers have an interest in wearing their vests — not only for themselves, but also for their families and their loved ones," said Deputy Chief Randy Blankenbacker.

In the past, Dallas police officials have encouraged officers to use vests, but it has not been mandatory.

The department will lose $200,000 in federal money unless it changes its policy. So, the department is looking at making vests a requirement.

“Some people may have a problem with that, but I would be OK with it," Jones said.

Unfortunately, body armor does not always save lives. Officer Brian Jackson had his vest on, but died anyway.

Senior Cpl. Mark Nix also died, despite having a vest on. He was shot in the neck.

Still, thousands of officers nationwide have survived because a vest took the bullet for them.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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