AUSTIN (KXAN) — Officers patrolling Austin streets could soon be outfitted with vests that can protect them against high-powered rifle rounds—current lighter vests can only shield against a shot gun or pistol round.
The Austin Police Association president made the plea for the more expensive ballistic vests this summer after the attack on police officers in Dallas.
“In the past, this hasn’t been as big of an issue in the country, but as we’ve seen in the last year, very violent crimes have been committed with AR 15s and AK-47s, and quite simply our vests won’t stop that,” said APA President Ken Casaday in August.
The department is expected to use funds from last year’s budget to cover the cost of the new vests. The city plans on extending an existing 2014 contract with TYR Tactical LLC out of Arizona. City records show less than a third of a $280,000 contract has been spent to date. It is set to expire a year from November. Casaday originally said the level four ballistic vests usually run around $600 to $800.
“I want to thank Chief [Art] Acevedo and his executive team for finding the money to purchase level four ballistic vests. This is a huge win for our officers,” said Casaday in an APA newsletter.
It remains unclear when the Austin Police Department will actually receive the ballistic vests—which an officer would only don during a critical incident such as an active shooter. Most officers would store the extra 20 pounds of gear in their vehicle.
Just up the street, Cedar Park police officers are already outfitted with metal plate ballistic vests. The department spent $32,000 this year to purchase 87 vests and 78 kevlar helmets.