BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Bowie County Sheriff Jeff Neal says his department needs more bulletproof vests, and he is requesting thousand of dollars from the Commissioner’s Court for the purchase.

Sheriff Neal is requesting $26,500 from the commission to supply more vests for his department. The level two vests are those typically worn by officers daily and protect against most handguns. 

Neal says 23 of the department’s vests are near the end of their lifespans, which is projected at about 5 years. 

“The materials start to degrade, you can imagine from wearing them in this kind of weather that we have here in East Texas that there’s a lot of sweat that goes on with that, and it begins to deteriorate the vest and while that may still be good, they recommend replacing it every 5 years just to be on the safe side. When you’re dealing with a person’s life there’s no sense in taking a chance,” said Sheriff Neal.

The sheriff’s office has applied for a grant that would reimburse the county for 40 percent of the cost of the vests if it’s approved.

Neal adds that some generous members of the community have also donated money to the department to be used for the purchase of vests. One person gave $250, while another gave $5,000. 

The department should find out if their request has been approved when next year’s budget is finalized by the commission later in 2021.