LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — Leander police are now equipped with more protection in the event of an active shooter situation thanks to a donation from a resident.
Police thanked Marilie Walker and her son, Carson Walker, in a Facebook post describing the donation. The Walkers donated 10 ballistic vests that officers can wear to help stop rifle rounds; the vests are worn in addition to officers’ standard ballistic vests.
“A rifle round went right between our heads.” Lt. Derral Partin of the Leander Police Department recalls an incident when he used to patrol the streets. He didn’t have these types of ballistic vests at the time, but his future officers will have the extra layer of protection.
“It started with the Dallas shooting a year ago,” explains Walker. “I started thinking, ‘what can I do to help.'”
It’s not just Leander PD Walker is helping. She also donated tactical vests to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, and she isn’t stopping there. On Friday, Walker and her son visited the three constable offices in Williamson County, as well as the Taylor and Hutto police departments. They’ve also asked Cedar Park police how they can help, as well as Liberty Hill PD.
“God forbid somebody gets shot, and these officers have these vests, at least maybe I can help save one life,” said Walker.
“We’re grateful,” exclaims Lt. Partin. “Although her gift was a huge, generous donation, we’re used to being around a grateful community if that makes sense, and we feel it when we’re out there.”
Lt. Partin says these type of kits cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 each. All 52 Leander police officers already have the body armor; Walker’s donation is designated for new hires. The department would like to hire at least 10 more officers within the next year.
The Leander Police Department says they applied for a federal grant for soft body armor and was given $3,000 last year.
Police departments across the country have been seeking funding for the additional ballistic materials. Austin police began handing out similar vests, which cost $336 each, in February.
Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday described officers’ need for extra protection saying, “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 [existing] vests won’t stop that.”