Gardner and Leahy Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Reauthorize Lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Grant Program

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation, S. 1231, to permanently reauthorize the lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, a federal grant program that helps state and local law enforcement agencies purchase lifesaving bulletproof vests for officers working in the field. 

Across the country many law enforcement agencies struggle to maintain necessary protective equipment for all of their officers. Vests are costly and wear out too soon. For more than 20 years, this partnership grant program has filled in the gap, playing a crucial role in ensuring that the nation’s police officers are equipped with the latest protective technology to keep them safe. The program has awarded more than 13,000 jurisdictions a total of $467 million in matching federal funds for the purchase of more than 1.3 million vests. Congress has renewed the program five times, most recently in 2016. The current authorization expires next year. 

“Law enforcement officers in Colorado and across our nation are the foundation of safe communities, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they have the best possible equipment to protect themselves while serving in the line of duty,” said Senator Gardner. “This bipartisan legislation will provide lifesaving vests for officers, and I’ll continue to fight for measures like these to support our men and women in uniform.”

“This is a partnership that makes a lifesaving difference. I hear about its importance all the time, across the country, from officers who have this protection because of this program. That’s why I’ve fought for this program for more than two decades,” said Senator Leahy. “Protective vests are perhaps the most tangible support Congress can provide for our nation’s law enforcement officers. This legislation will outfit hundreds of thousands of police officers with protective vests. It will save lives. And I’m hopeful that Congress can come together to renew and strengthen the program once again.”

Other cosponsors of the Senate bill include Senators Graham (R-SC), Feinstein (D-CA), Grassley (R-IA), Coons (D-DE), Cornyn (R-TX), Durbin (D-IL.), Tillis (R-NC), Whitehouse (D-RI), Hawley (R-MO), Klobuchar (D-MN), Collins (R-ME), Blumenthal (D-CT), Hirono (D-HI), and Toomey (R-PA).  

Supporters of the bill include the Fraternal Order of Police, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Sheriffs' Association, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Tactical Officers Association, and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.