EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSIN-VEST PROPOSED LEGISLATION
from Eyewitness News Online
Bulletproof Vest Bill Overcomes First Hurdle
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Troy Morgan
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Mar. 6, 2013 8:42 PM EST
Updated: Mar. 7, 2013 4:54 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
It could soon be a law for deputies to be provided with bulletproof vests.
Our In-Vest initiative last year at Eyewitness News is what sparked the Bulletproof Vest Bill.
"It's a no brainer type of bill," West Virginia Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Rudi Raynes-Kidder said. "This should have been in code a long time ago."
The bill cleared its first hurdle Wednesday in the Senate Government Organization Committee. It passed unanimously, and with no hesitation from committee members.
"I used to be circuit clerk, so I've seen the effects when officers go out. It's a very dangerous profession. This is an added tool," Sen. Ron Miller, a sponsor of the bill, said.
The bill would require county commissions to buy deputies' vests. There are an estimated 1,080 deputies in the state. According to a survey by the sheriffs' association, at least 49 deputies don't have a vest. Smaller counties like Clay, Ritchie and Upshur are among the 15 counties that can't, for whatever reason, provide vests for each of their deputies.
"Once we took a look at the survey, it's a big mix on how they've gotten these vests," Raynes-Kidder said.
Some vests are funded through grants, other through donation, or out of the sheriff budget. Some vests are paid for through an office's concealed weapon's fund. If a county says they simply can't afford the added cost, the In-Vest fund comes into play. There is about $42,000 in it now, and the money will be there for the counties that need it.
"We'll stockpile that money, and we will keep it exclusively for vests so that they can use it for years to come. If you, in a few years, a county is having a big strain in their budget, they can go there in 2016 and say, 'Hey, we bought vests before and now we can't.' They can reach in that fund, and we can help them," she said.
The bill now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and still needs to go through several House committees before going up for a vote on each side.
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