HOUSTON – Today, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued the following statement:
“In the coming weeks and months, there will be many recommendations to prevent school shootings in the future. However, there is one thing we must do and can begin to do right now without waiting until the 88th Legislative Session in 2023.
“If every member of law enforcement across the state, approximately 80,000 officers, had a bulletproof shield in their vehicle, their ability to respond to an active shooter situation would be greatly enhanced. Of course, more training is needed, but we cannot wait for another school year to begin to better-equip our police who respond to these attacks.
“I am asking the Speaker of the House to join the Senate members of the Legislative Budget Board and me next week in a budget execution letter to move $50 million to either the Governor’s Office or Department of Public Safety (DPS) to begin buying these bulletproof shields as soon as possible so every member of school law enforcement has one.
“This will begin the funding necessary to eventually provide bulletproof shields to all law enforcement. We have used transfer authority this year to spend billions on the border. We can surely find this amount of money to better protect our kids. There are several sources in the current budget that can be tapped to provide this funding.
“We will start by providing the shields to every school district officer in the state who does not have one. There could be a supply-chain issue at present, but we should buy every quality shield we can find and order the rest so we are at the front of the line when more become available. DPS shall be tasked with buying the shields so that they are standardized across the state.
“I want these shields spread across as many of our nearly 9,000 school campuses as possible before the fall. TEA can design a plan to distribute them to school law enforcement officers around the state. The Governor’s Office or another agency will distribute the shields to all other law enforcement agencies.
“After all school districts have them, we will begin to supply all law enforcement agencies. This straightforward solution can begin right away. If all responding law enforcement had bulletproof shields last week, lives may have been saved.
“I have put forth this model before on two other occasions to take quick action after identifying an immediate step to address that need.
We Have Done this Before
“On July 7, 2016, five Dallas police officers were ambushed and murdered. Their “bulletproof” vests did not protect the officers from a high-powered rifle round. Dallas police officer Frederick Frazier said we needed vests that could stop that round. It would not stop all attacks on police, but it was a straightforward solution we could implement quickly to protect officers.
“I said I would commit the $25 million or more needed to buy one for every member of law enforcement in Texas. I asked DPS to find the best vest. Even in a tight budget year, the Senate funded those vests in our base budget. The House agreed and they were purchased only a few months later.
“Last session, after 2 troopers were shot and killed through their windshield during a traffic stop, I asked DPS for the cost to put bulletproof windshields in their vehicles. Again, it was just one solution to help protect our officers, but one we could do fairly quickly. The Senate funded the windshields and the House concurred, and they are currently being installed. My goal is to expand that program next session to more departments.
“I will send a draft letter on Monday to the Speaker and ask that he act quickly. The new school year will be here before we know it.”