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Conroe ISD police seek better body armor

December 20, 2017 GMT

Officers with the Conroe Independent School District Police Department are submitting an application to the state for rifle-resistant body armor they say will help keep them safe in an emergency.

Conroe ISD police Sgt. Matt Blakelock told said the district began considering the upgraded body armor capable of stopping rifle rounds from piercing through the vests just one year after a sniper fired “ambush-style” at several police officers in downtown Dallas, leaving five dead.

“The body armor that our officers wear, they are required to wear it every day, but it protects against handguns,” Blakelock said. “Rifle rounds are much stronger, stronger rounds and they travel at a higher velocity. (Our current body armor) would not stop a rifle round.”

In July, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that law enforcement agencies can begin sending grant applications for assistance in purchasing rifle-resistant body armor to the state’s Criminal Justice Division after signing Senate Bill 12, which would fund the $25 million statewide grant program, according to a state news release.

At roughly $450 for each set of body armor for 63 officers, that’s a “drop in the water” from the $25 million state grant, Blakelock said.

The body armor in question is two levels above the current type of body armor worn by officers in the district and is capable of stopping .30-caliber steel core armor-piercing rifle ammunition, according to information from the United States National Institute of Justice.

“As an ISD officer, we’re fortunate that the environment that we work in for the majority of the time wonderful,” he said.

But district officers perform a variety of tasks and respond to several emergencies every day, including routine traffic stops and assisting other agencies.

“And God forbid, we have an active shooter situation,” Blakelock said. “Our officers are there to protect the kids. For officers to be able to effectively do that, then they need to feel safe, too. This will provide extra armor that the officers can carry; and in a threat situation like that then they can throw it on over the existing armor, which just adds that much more protection.”

The body armor applied for by the district will be fully paid for by the grant if approved by the state.