The Dallas Police Department may require its entire patrol force to wear body armor to retain federal grant funding, an agency spokesman told POLICE Magazine.
The DPD is considering the mandatory wear policy to continue receiving grants from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which are used to purchase armor issued to officers, said Senior Corporal Kevin Janse. The NIJ provides $100,000 annually to the agency for the purchase of ballistic vests. The vest primarily issued to patrol officers is Point Blank's HI-LITE Proformance; however, others are also issued.
Currently, the Dallas PD requires body armor among its specialized units such as SWAT and the gang unit. Patrol officers who assist those units in high-risk operations must also wear their vests.
The NIJ has informed the agency that, "If we're going to supply funds, we expect the officers to wear the vests," Janse said. "In order for us to continue receiving the funds, they're asking us to make it mandatory."
The Dallas PD has given their officers the option to wear the vests. Veteran officers often cite a "comfort issue" for declining to wear the vests. Cadets are custom-fitted with the vests prior to entering the police academy.
"Some of the more senior officers may express displeasure about wearing them," Janse added. "We expect to have some feedback."
The vests can also offer a layer of protection against edged-weapon attacks and blunt-force injuries caused in police vehicle accidents. Most ballistic vests are designed to prevent bullet penetration.
The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Police Department is also considering a mandatory-wear policy, following the line-of-duty death of Officer David Crawford, who wasn't wearing body armor when he was fatally shot by a 16-year-old.
The Dallas Police Department maintains about 3,200 officers on the force.