With the observance of National Law Enforcement Week as a backdrop, U.S. Congressmen Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Pete Visclosky (IN-01) have introduced a four year reauthorization of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program. Created in 1999 by the two lawmakers, the bipartisan BVP program provides state, local and tribal law enforcement officers with needed protection by aiding the purchase of protective equipment. The last reauthorization in 2008 will expire this fiscal year.
"The men and women in our local law enforcement play an essential role in safeguarding our communities and protecting the freedoms all of us enjoy. Bulletproof vests and body armor have saved thousands of law enforcement officers. However, they cannot protect the lives of those who do not have access to them," said LoBiondo. "As protectors of our lives and our property, it is imperative that we give law enforcement the critical tools they need so they may do their jobs and carry out their duties safely and effectively. The Bulletproof Vest Partnership program is one of those critical tools."
"Bulletproof vests save lives," Visclosky said. "This grant program provides local law enforcement with vital resources to protect our communities in the safest manner possible. We owe our local officers a tremendous debt of gratitude for their commitment to protect and serve, and I am honored to once again have the opportunity to support this program."
Since 1999, over 13,000 jurisdictions across the country have participated in the BVP program with nearly $300 million in federal funds committed to support the purchase of an estimated 800,000 vests. Additional information on the BVP program can be found here.
"There is no legislation, no government program, no grant or public-private partnership that can erase the sad fact that law enforcement officers will die. They will die in the line of duty at the hands of armed and violent criminals. But this program can document more than 3,100 officers whose lives were saved because they were wearing soft body armor," wrote Chuck Canterbury, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police, in the organization's endorsement letter to LoBiondo and Visclosky. "On behalf of the more than 333,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I thank you both for your support of law enforcement and this important program."
The lawmakers' bipartisan bill, "The Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 2012" (H.R. 5742), was introduced on the House floor on Tuesday.