Texas House debates 'Chris Kyle Bill' to fast-track police jobs for ex-military

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on February 28, 2013 at 6:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 28 at 10:15 PM

AUSTIN -- He had so many titles, but he wanted one more: Chris Kyle wanted to be a cop.

“It was important to him, he wanted it, he was excited about the process of getting a badge," said his widow, Taya, in Austin Thursday.

Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were killed in early February on a gun range, allegedly by a veteran they were trying to help. Chris Kyle's police officer dreams couldn't come true, but perhaps other people's dreams can, and fast.

On Thursday, Taya Kyle went to Austin to hear the first public testimony about a proposal to change Texas law. It would allow military veterans who prove their skills to skip out on certain parts of the police academy, streamlining access to employment.

"We have this pool of skilled people that we need to take advantage of," said Rep. Dan Flynn of Van Zandt County, the sponsor of the bill.

He calls his bill a "jobs bill." It will likely be renamed for Chris Kyle.

Chris was on his way to becoming a police officer with the Dalworthington Gardens Police Department.

“Chris was going to go to the full-time academy," said Chief Bill Waybourn, a friend of Kyle's. "The police academy he’d be attending, the range officer there [is a young man] I coached in baseball, and now he’d have to supervise Chris Kyle for 60 hours of gun range traning. Seemed a little silly.”

Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jose Menendez raised one concern: that people may fake their backgrounds.

"We’ve already had people that claim to be decorated in certain ways, who've created a ruse," he said.

Flynn said there would be proper vetting.

Kevin Lacz served two tours of duty in Iraq with Chris Kyle. He came home and could only get two P.E. credits in college from his service. He is now in physician assistant school. He, too, is a highly-decorated Navy SEAL.

"Most people don’t realize the obstacles veterans face today," Lacz said.

Taya Kyle wants to see this through.

"The fact that it meant something to him makes me feel like I have a very tangible way to honor my husband," she said, "and I’m so blessed to have that.”

The committee asked for another week to tweak the language, but does expect to pass the bill to the entire floor.

From the hearing, Taya Kyle and others went to the house floor for a resolution honoring her husband's life.

“It's overwhelming," she said. "There is no question about the love and support from Texas. I already thought it was the great 'nation of Texas,' so to speak -- this just brings it home. It’s wonderful.”

There will be a resolution honoring the Llittlefield family at the state capitol in the coming weeks.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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