County requests federal grant for rifle-proof vests

In response to attacks nationwide against law enforcement officers, Hays County early this month approved a $13,580 grant application for Hays County constables to purchase rifle resistant bulletproof vests.

The grant, through the U.S. Department of Justice through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program,  requires applicants have a “mandatory wear” policy in effect to be eligible for the grant funds.

Hays County had to submit its application for the grant before a Sept. 5 deadline.

According to the Hays County Commissioners Court agenda, the grant money requested by Hays County Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hood and sponsored by Commissioner Ray Whisenant is $13,580; Hays County’s portion is $532

Hood said the constables and their deputies are in law enforcement positions that do civil service for the courts, and currently, daily body armor isn’t equipped to withstand automatic rifle fire.

The rifle resistant body armor would be used after a hostile situation has been confirmed, Hood said. Officers sent to answer the call would don the new rifle resistant vests before responding to a dangerous situation.

Hays County Development Services Director Clint Garza confirmed that the total projected cost of the vests between the grant and the county is $14,112.

“Each vest is currently priced at approximately $784 per vest,” Garza said.

Garza added that while the county plans to outfit all 26 Hays County Constables and their deputies with the new rifle resistant body armor, the grant funds would currently only cover the cost of the 18 specified on the agenda document.

“If the per-unit cost changes, we’ll adjust the order to increase the purchase number,” Garza said.

Hood said in a later interview that the constables would forgo wearing the new vests, allowing their deputies, who are more active in the community and would most likely respond to a hostile situation, to wear the vests..

“The constables have decided to outfit their deputies first,” Hood said. “If the funding doesn’t cover all the cost then only the deputies will be outfitted.”

Buda City Council approved a similar grant application for a grant through Texas Governor’s office for rifle resistant body armor for Buda Police officers.

It is unknown at this time if JAG has awarded Hays County the grant funds for the new vests.

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