Leahy And Vermont Law Enforcement Leaders Herald The Importance To Vermont Of Leahy’s Newly Renewed Bulletproof Vest Program

. . . Leahy Program Followed 1997’s Deadly Drega Shootout On VT-NH Border

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), joined by leaders from Vermont law enforcement organizations, on Friday heralded the importance to Vermont of the renewal two weeks ago of Leahy’s Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program.

President Obama signed the Leahy bill into law on May 16, capping years of work by Leahy to renew the program’s earlier charter after it expired in 2012. 

Since 1999, the matching grant program has leveraged $412 million in federal funds to help purchase more than 1.2 million vests nationwide, including nearly 4600 vests in Vermont, among 68 Vermont jurisdictions.

Leahy teamed up with former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) to establish the program in the wake of the Drega shooting rampage on the Vermont-New Hampshire border in 1997.  Federal officers engaged in that shootout were protected by body armor, but many of the state officers were not.  Two New Hampshire state troopers were killed.  John Pfeifer, then a U.S. Border Patrol agent, was seriously injured in the shootout, in which four people died.  Two others in addition to Pfeifer were injured.  Pfeifer – now the Chief Patrol Agent of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Swanton Sector – joined Leahy and other law enforcement leaders to talk about the vest program’s importance at Friday’s announcement in Burlington.

Leahy, a former Vermont prosecutor, said:  “This partnership has been a personal priority for me dating back to that sad and shocking day in 1997.  I am grateful for this program’s value and proven success.  But moreover, I’m grateful to the officers who put their lives on the line in our communities for our safety.  I hope that renewing this program will help keep other names from having to be etched on the memorial wall in the Nation’s Capital which now bears the names of 20,000 fallen officers.”

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