THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 15, 2000
Protecting and Honoring Our Nation's Law Enforcement
May 15, 2000
At today's 19th Annual Peace Officers Memorial, President Clinton will announce new efforts to protect law enforcement officers and honor their extraordinary service. Today, the President will announce: 1) that the Justice Department has funded over 92,000 armor vests to date for State and local police officers across the country through the Bulletproof Vest Partnership; 2) the availability of $24 million in FY 2000 funding to double the current number of vests funded; 3) support for authorizing legislation to extend the vest grant program through FY 2004 and double current funding to $150 million; and 4) his directive to the Attorney General to help create a Presidential award of valor to honor the extraordinary service and valor of public safety officers.
IMPROVING OFFICER SAFETY WITH BULLETPROOF VESTS
- Over 92,000 Vests Funded Last Year. In June 1998, President Clinton signed into law the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act to provide grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to purchase bulletproof vests for their officers. Under the Bullet Vest Program (BVP), the Justice Department pays up to 50 percent of the cost for vests purchased by law enforcement agencies. The BVP has been an unqualified success, and the President will announce that in its first year, the vest program helped state and local law enforcement purchase 92,500 vests.
- Another $24 Million Available In FY 2000 To Bring Total To 180,000 Vests Funded. The President will also announce that $24 million in FY 2000 funding is available from the Justice Department to fund another 90,000 or more vests. Police departments may apply through May 26, 2000 for these funds. Over 2,400 applications have already been received. Police Departments will be able to access grant funding to pay for new vests next month.
SUPPORTING THE EXTENSION AND DOUBLING OF THE VEST PROGRAM
- Endorsement Of Legislation To Extend And Increase Bulletproof Vest Grant Program. The President will announce his support for new legislation, sponsored by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Campbell (R-CO) and Representative Visclosky (D-IN), to reauthorize the Bulletproof Vest Program for another three years (FY 2002-2004) and double the authorized funding from $75 million to $150 million. The BVP is set to expire in FY 2001. In addition, the legislation would guarantee that the program will pay for the full 50 percent of the costs of bulletproof vests for jurisdictions of under 100,000 persons.
CREATING NEW AWARD OF VALOR TO HONOR EXTRAORDINARY SERVICE
- Presidential Directive To Create New Award Of Valor For Public Safety Officers. In addition to helping keep law enforcement safe, the President believes we must honor the exceptional valor and sacrifice of our public safety officers. The President strongly supports legislation to create a medal of valor award to honor the officers who act above and beyond the call of duty. Unfortunately, the legislation has remained stalled for months. The President believes that public safety officers should not have to wait any longer to receive the recognition they deserve. Today, the President will issue a directive to the Attorney General to develop a plan to create a Presidential award through Executive action to recognize public safety officers who have exhibited extraordinary valor. Under the directive, the Attorney General will designate a group of experts representing all aspects of the public safety sector to provide input into the award.