New bulletproof vests for Hays County Sheriff’s deputies could be on the horizon after commissioners authorized submission of a grant application for the items.
The application, which was approved by a 3-0 vote June 27, is part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program (BVP). Commissioners Will Conley and Mark Jones were absent when the vote was taken.
“We want our officers to be protected,” said Bert Cobb, Hays County judge. He continued by explaining that the county applies for the grant every year.
The grant program provides a reimbursement for 50 percent of the cost of each vest and the county must pay the remainder of the cost, according to county documents.
The total cost of the new and replacement vests is $36,750 for up to 49 vests, with each vest costing $750.00 a piece.
If the county is awarded the grant, it will cover $18,375 of the cost.
According to Hays County Grants Administrator Jeff Hauff, even though the county applies for the grant every year, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is awarded the grant.
“The county does apply annually for funding to provide for bulletproof vests through the Bulletproof Vest Partnership program … but that does not necessarily mean we receive the grant from this program,” Hauff said in an emailed response.
Hauff said the BVP program supplies funds for new bulletproof vests to law enforcement agencies all over the country. Since the demand for the vests is high, there is a shortage of funds within the program.
“Lately funding has been allocated to jurisdictions of less than 100,000 population due to both the shortage of funding within the program and the nationwide demand for these funds,” Hauff said.
Bulletproof vests for county officers have a life expectancy of five years, while vests are upgraded in the department based on need, Hauff said. Hays County officials can turn to other programs for assistance if needed.
“We have also applied through the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, also administered by DOJ, to help defray the costs of the vests to the County,” Hauff said.
Hauff said the county’s portion of the cost would come from the General Fund.
When acquiring new bulletproof vests, “upgrades to the armoring materials are taken into account,” in order to better protect officers from the advanced weaponry they may come into contact with, Hauff said.