Fort Bend County seeks to provide law enforcement with enhanced training and protective gear

On Sept. 13, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office submitted a grant application to Governor Greg Abbott’s Public Safety Office for a portion of the $53 million the state has spent on active shooter training and to protective equipment.

The Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the county’s four precinct police programs, is vying for $783,151.20 in grant funds for the 2022-23 fiscal year to provide bulletproof shields to local law enforcement. . This state-sponsored initiative comes after the Uvalde Primary School shooting in May.

In June, Abbott and other Texas legislative leaders transferred $105.5 million to the Bureau of Public Safety to support additional school safety and mental health initiatives through August 2023, including $3 million dollars for local law enforcement agencies to offset travel costs for advanced law enforcement rapid response training. and $50 million for bulletproof shields.

“The State of Texas is working to ensure that our law enforcement partners across the state are able to protect our children, our teachers, and our schools as the new school year begins,” said Abbott in an Aug. 17 press release. “These new funds will give law enforcement officers expanded access to training for active shooter scenarios as well as essential protective equipment.

Other initiatives and cost breakdowns include:

  • $5.8 million to expand Texas children’s health care access through telemedicine statewide;
  • $4.7 million for the Health and Human Services Commission to increase multisystem therapy statewide;
  • $950,000 to HHSC to expand Coordinated Specialty Care Teams across the state;
  • $7 million for rapid response training by the ALERRT center;
  • $7 million for the Texas School Safety Center for on-site campus assessments to assess access control measures;
  • $17.1 million for school districts to purchase silent panic alert technology; and
  • $5 million to the Texas Department of Public Safety to expand fusion center research and capabilities.

Elizabeth Signorotti, grants coordinator for the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, said their department was the third priority for this initiative because Abbott’s office “primarily seeks to provide schools and school staff with protective shields.” -bullets”.

However, Signorotti said Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick reportedly said his office wants all law enforcement in Texas equipped with this equipment.

Signorotti said this particular grant will only fund Tier III or higher equipment.

“The difference between a shield and a vest is not just the coverage, but the level of rounds it can take,” Signorotti said. “Most vests can take bullets with firearms, but the weapon of choice increasingly seems to be what they call an assault rifle. Anything below Tier III is only not resistant to rifles.

Another requirement for the grant is that all grantees receive ALERRT, which is designed to equip first responders with effective strategies to respond to active attack events and is led by veteran first responders with proven experience in attack response. active, according to the Texas Bureau. Governor’s website.

“Almost all of [the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office] deputies have been there,” Signorotti said. “[Officers] in the police stations which are going to participate in this and which still have to go through it will obviously follow the training.

The application deadline is Sept. 19, and Signorotti said the sheriff’s office would expect a decision within the next two months.

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