The Senate Finance Committee on Monday gave unanimous approval to a invoice meant to assist defend Division of Public Security troopers who’re attacked of their autos as they patrol the state’s highways. For the reason that division was initially commissioned because the Texas Rangers in 1823, DPS has seen 223 officers slain within the line of responsibility.
The newest was Chad Walker, who was shot to dying by means of his cruiser windshield on March 26 when he pulled over to render help to a automobile parked on the aspect of the highway. Only a few weeks later, Trooper Juan Tovar was additionally shot by means of his windshield, sustaining critical harm.
“Sadly, our DPS officers are more and more focused by people wishing to do them hurt,” mentioned Senator Jane Nelson, Committee chair.
“Our troopers are most weak whereas patrolling our highways, as we have seen with latest circumstances wherein our troopers are ambushed of their automobile.”
Her invoice, SB 2222, would require the set up of bullet-resistant windshields in all DPS patrol autos.
“Law enforcement officials are extra targets as we speak than they ever have been,” mentioned DPS Director Steve McCraw, who testified earlier than the committee. “For those who simply have a look at the final two-and-a-half years, we have had a 500 % enhance in shootings at DPS officers.”
Within the case of Trooper Chad Walker, McCraw mentioned the officer was solely seeking to assist what he thought was a stranded motorist.
“Generally public security – a very powerful factor you are able to do is change a flat tire or assist any individual off the roadway. When Chad pulled up, he is there to do public help – a disabled automobile,” McCraw mentioned.
“The suspect had a .40-caliber at his aspect and he pointed and shot proper within the windshield, straight into it…he did not even have time to place his automobile in park.”
Trooper Walker died 5 days later. Trooper Tovar was additionally shot by means of his windshield as he responded to an lively taking pictures in Bryan on April 8. He survived, however misplaced his left eye within the assault.
There isn’t a such factor as a bulletproof windshield, McCraw instructed committee members, simply rising ranges of resistance that add extra safety -and extra time to react- in violent conditions.
“You shoot sufficient instances into it, relying on the caliber, you are going to break by means of that exact glass,” he mentioned. “It provides us a window, a chance to outlive, and be capable of return hearth or escape lethal hearth.”
Resistance is graded on a scale from one to eight; McCraw says that his company is a resistance stage round three. Any greater than that, he says, the glass begins so as to add an excessive amount of weight and the chance of an vehicle accident turns into too excessive.
“It might’t be a tank,” he mentioned. “These are pursuit autos, we drive them over 100 miles an hour and crashes are deadly as properly.”
Stage 3 resistance, he mentioned, would defend troopers from just about all handgun calibers whereas not considerably degrading the drivability of DPS cruisers. Although they have not but solicited bids for the retrofit, McCraw mentioned his company estimates it would value round $20 million to put in these windshields in current cruisers and one other $5 million for upgrades to new DPS autos.
Committee vice-chair and Brownsville Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. mentioned that the Legislature goes to do what it takes to guard state troopers.
“I believe Senator Nelson spoke loud and clear,” he mentioned. “We will stand by our peace officers right here within the state of Texas.”
The subsequent step for the invoice is a vote of the complete Senate, however as Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has cited the necessity for this invoice from the dais a number of instances this session, it ought to simply go the physique.