12.29.14

Leahy: Senate Must Reauthorize Lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Grant Program Next Year

. . . More Than One Million Vests Provided Through The Program

MONDAY, December 29, 2014 – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will reintroduce legislation next month to reauthorize the lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, a federal grant program that helps state and local law enforcement agencies purchase bulletproof vests for officers working in the field. 

Leahy, a former prosecutor, coauthored the original law establishing the matching grant program, which has issued more than one million lifesaving vests to state and local law enforcement officers throughout the country since 1999 – including more than 4000 vests for officers in Vermont.  Legislation to reauthorize the popular program was blocked in the last Congress, despite having broad bipartisan support. Leahy, the incoming ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, encouraged the incoming Republican majority to work with all Senate Democrats who support this critical, life-saving program.

“Members of Congress often speak passionately about the need to support the officers who serve and protect the public on the front lines, but we need to match words with action,” Leahy said. “No action to protect and support law enforcement officers is more tangible and effective than this partnership. It proves and renews its value each time an officer goes on the beat.”

Leahy continued: “No officer should have to serve without a protective vest. I am disappointed that a single Republican blocked the Senate from passing the bill this year, but our work does not stop at the end of the year. I will introduce the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 as soon as the new legislative session begins so that we can work quickly next year to pass this important legislation. I hope that Senators from both sides of the aisle will join me in this effort.”

The Judiciary Committee approved bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the lifesaving Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program in August 2013. The bill had the support of every Senate Democrat, and Leahy sought to pass the legislation through the full Senate last May. Those efforts were blocked by Senate Republicans. Congress last reauthorized the program in 2008, and its authorization expired in 2012.

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