Claremore Police Chief Stan Brown applied for the 2018 Justice Assistance Grant-Local Law Enforcement (JAG-LLE) for ballistic resistant helmets and shields for Claremore police officers.
The Justice Assistance Grant is a federal grant that is awarded to the state, and then state officials allow local law enforcement to apply for a portion of that money for a pre-set purpose.
The State of Oklahoma District Attorneys Council determined that they would only accept applications for the following equipment, according to the grant application guidelines: “In-Car mobile data systems, radios - in-car and hand held, in-car or body worn law enforcement video systems, vehicles - up to a max of $10,000 or ballistic-resistant officer protection equipment, limited to daily wear ballistic vests and high-entry vests, helmets, and shields.”
Brown said he chose to apply for ballistic resistant helmets and shields because the Claremore Police Department frequently responds to calls where weapons are involved or alleged to be involved.
“Even though the citizens have been generous in ensuring that we have funds to provide, ‘body armor’ for our officers; we are still at a disadvantage because the wearable ballistic vest will not withstand the damage caused by a high powered hunting rifle or many quasi-military style weapon systems available to the average consumer,” Brown said. “Most all daily worn ballistic vests are only rated to protect against impact from handgun rounds. Some of the calls that we respond to are reported to involve the aforementioned rifle(s).”
Claremore has received this grant before, several years ago, and was classified as eligible to apply this year. JAG will announce the 2018 receipents in the first few months of 2019.
Shields and helmets would be useful in cases like “barricaded subjects holding hostages, persons with intent to ambush and harm us or those who seek to remain hidden from view,” Brown said.
When events like those happen, the criminal has a significant advantage over the police officers, especially if they possess rifles or high powered handguns.
The JAG-LLE, for which Claremore applied, is distinct from the JAG, which is a portion of the same grant which the District Attorney Council earmarked for purposes like: “Law enforcement programs; prosecution and court programs; prevention and education programs; corrections and community corrections programs; drug treatment programs; planning, evaluation and technology improvement programs; and crime prevention and witness programs other than compensation.”
Brown said that he did not apply for the JAG because a state-wide application of those programs would have a greater impact than a similar program on a much smaller scale.
“I am in agreement that programs and resources should be funded for the purposes they mentioned and on a scale larger than our city, county or even region of this state,” Brown said. “The Claremore Police Department is willing to participate in programs offered by these grants; however, I do not feel as department head that we can administer one of the large scale grants to its greatest potential and efficacy.”
“The ability for officers to have helmets or shields designed to protect them from this rifle fire would better protect the officers and potentially allow them to more quickly stop the threat to hostages, innocents or themselves,” Brown said. “Our officers deserve every chance they can get to go home safe.”