AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is now pushing to provide police officers with more bulletproof shields in the wake of the Uvalde school shooting last week. It's something he said the State can do more quickly, without having to wait for next year's 88th Legislative Session.
"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," he said Friday. "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."
Patrick said he will be asking the Speaker of the House to join members of the Senate and himself in a budget execution letter next week to move $50 million to either the governor's office or the Department of Public Safety to begin purchasing the shields as soon as possible so that "every member of school law enforcement has one."
"This will begin the funding necessary to eventually provide bulletproof shields to all law enforcement," said Patrick. "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."
Patrick said the efforts will start by giving a shield to every school officer who does not already have one. And he wants it done before the fall semester begins.
"There could be a supply-chain issue at present," he noted, "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."
After every school officer receives a shield, he said efforts will then shift to providing shields to all law enforcement agencies.
"On July 7, 2016, five Dallas police officers were ambushed and murdered," Patrick said. "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."
That year, Patrick noted that the $25 million he helped commit for vests went to work a few months later.
"Last session, after two 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," Patrick added. "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."
Patrick said he plans to draft a letter to Speaker Dade Phelan on Monday.
While Gov. Greg Abbott has called for special sessions after previous legislative years, there has been no indication that he plans to call one in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.
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