One week after a Texas state trooper was killed during a traffic stop by a suspect with a rifle, WFAA has learned that the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office is wanting to provide rifle-resistant body armor to about one-third of its deputies who don’t have any.
Trooper Damon Allen was killed Thanksgiving Day. Investigators say that Dabrett Black, 32, ambushed Allen during a traffic stop.
Allen’s death is reminding departments that officers are facing dangerous situations involving armed suspects more often, and in most cases those suspects have stronger firepower.
Captain Don Rowe with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office calls it a sad realization.
“What we’re seeing in the United States, and across the world unfortunately, is officers being attacked with high-powered weapons,” Rowe said.
Both Dallas police and the sheriff’s office started buying rifle-resistant body armor shortly after 5 Dallas officers were killed in an ambush downtown by a suspect with a high-powered rifle last year.
Rifle-resistant body armor is designed to stop high-caliber rounds.
After the ambush, WFAA reported that Dallas Police Department was buying at least 200 rifle-resistant body armor units.
DPD has over 3,500 officers. The department didn’t respond with any updated body armor numbers when asked this week.
However, the sheriff’s office told WFAA this week that it still has deputies without rifle resistant body armor.
“The body armor that they’re carrying now is just not keeping them in the fight,” Rowe said.
The department says about one-third of deputies, which is a little over 240, need heavy vests that will stop high-caliber rounds.
Deputies in the warrant, traffic, and tactical units already have those vests.
But, the sheriff’s office says deputies working the jail, bailiffs, reserve deputies, and some detectives still need rifle-resistant body armor.
Deputy Edward Cloud was given a rifle-resistant vest a few months ago, and says it provides a peace of mind.
“In high-stress situations, I’m not thinking, ‘I hope this vest stops every round’,” Cloud said. “I feel secure.”
Rifle-resistant body armor isn’t cheap; however, the State of Texas is willing to help.
This summer, the legislature approved $25 million in grant money for Texas police departments which could be put towards purchasing heavy vests.
As of right now, DCSO is asking for a little over $120,000 to outfit its remaining deputies who don’t have heavy vests. However, the department might not get rewarded every dollar it asks for.
Meanwhile, Rowe says rifle-resistant body armor is a must-have for any officer.
“It’s no longer a want, it’s a need. And we need it bad,” Rowe said.
The Texas Rangers were investigating Trooper Allen’s death, and wouldn’t comment on the investigation.
It’s not clear if he had rifle-resistant body armor, but most officers we spoke with say they don’t wear it all the time and only put it on when going to a call where it might be needed.