Our police officers put themselves in harm's way to protect the public, and they deserve the equipment and resources that will make our communities safer. That is why I am extremely proud to have authored the legislation that created the Bulletproof Vest Partnership (BVP) program in 1998 and honored to be the lead Democratic sponsor for H.R. 5742, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 2012. This legislation would reauthorize the bipartisan BVP program until Fiscal Year 2016.
The BVP program provides state, local and tribal law enforcement officers with needed protection by aiding the purchase of protective equipment. Since its establishment the program has provided over 13,000 jurisdictions across the country with nearly $300 million in federal funds committed to support the purchase of an estimated 800,000 vests. There is no better measure of the success of the BVP program than the 3,100 officers whose lives have been saved because they were wearing soft body armor. As a result, the legislation enjoys the strong endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents over 333,000 members.
In Northwest Indiana, the BVP program has been extremely beneficial to the men and women in our local law enforcement. In Fiscal Year 2011 alone, recipients in the 1st Congressional District include the following jurisdictions - Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Dyer, East Chicago, Griffith, Highland, Kouts, Merrillville, Munster, New Chicago, Portage, Porter County, Schererville, Valparaiso, Westville, and Whiting. Additionally, tens of other local jurisdictions have benefitted from BVP awards in previous years and continue to rely on the program to keep their officers safe.
I am honored to have led in the efforts to establish such a successful program and you can be assured that I will continue to advocate for this and all programs that provide critical resources that allow law enforcement to carry out their duties safely and effectively.