A bill that would require county sheriff’s deputies to be issued a bulletproof vest is moving forward at the State Capitol.
House Bill 2717 was passed Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee.
Bill sponsor Roane County Del. Bob Ashley says it just makes sense to have this bill.
“We are just trying to do safety and save our deputies as they put their lives on the line for us,” said Ashley.
Currently, it is not state law that Sheriffs Departments need to purchase bullet proof vests for every deputy, although several do in the state.
This bill, would require that all deputy sheriffs be issued ballistic vests upon law-enforcement certification.
Vice President of West Virginia Deputy Sheriff’s Deputies Association David Gentry said having a vest on is very important and he knows first hand that bullet proof vests save lives.
“As being a deputy sheriff for twenty some years and being shot twice in the line of duty, taking a .44 magnum in the hand and a .44 magnum in the hip, I had a vest on and I paid for the vest at that time,” said Gentry.
The average cost of a bullet-proof vest is about $1,200 and normally it would be the deputy that would pay for it. But in the bill, Sheriff’s Departments would purchase them through the use of several different funds.
Delegate Ashley says the bill calls for the money to come from an existing equipment fund that sheriff’s departments have.
“That fund is looked at and if that fund is not available and does not have enough money, then they look at the county commission’s funds,” said Ashley.
If the commission doesn’t have enough money for the purchases, then the departments can apply to the Deputy Sheriff’s Association for funding through grants.
Gentry said no deputy should go without one of these vests.
“A very much needed part of equipment on a daily basis,” said Gentry.
The bill next heads to the House Finance Committee.