WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a co-founder of the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, voted yesterday to pass a permanent reauthorization of the Patrick Leahy Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program, which provides bulletproof vests to local law enforcement agencies.  Thousands of vests have been purchased by Delaware law enforcement through the partnership over its 20-year history, including more than 2,000 in the last five years.  On February 11, 2013, bulletproof vests purchased through the program saved the lives of two Capitol Police officers during a shooting at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington.  Both officers were struck, but survived because of their vests. The bill has passed the House and is expected to be signed into law in the coming weeks.

“The men and women of law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities, so the least we can do is ensure that they have the equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively,” said Senator Coons. “Since I was elected to the Senate, I’ve fought to fund and expand the bulletproof vest partnership program, and I’m proud that this week, as we celebrate the men and women of law enforcement all across the country, the Senate has acted to increase funding for the program and make it permanent.”

More than one million vests have been purchased with the help of this program, and according to the Government Accountability Office, bulletproof vests have saved the lives of more than 3,000 law enforcement officers since 1987.  The Bulletproof Vest Partnership has helped provide resources to law enforcement officers in over 13,000 jurisdictions for the purchase of lifesaving vests that their departments may not be able to afford otherwise.  In recent years, demand for bulletproof vests has been outpacing funding for the program.