A possible state grant for rifle-resistant police body armor got the Killeen City Council thinking about the future Tuesday during a discussion on long-term effects of the equipment on the city budget.
The city applied earlier this year for a newly minted body armor grant program approved by the Texas Legislature following the ambush-style killing of five police officers during a protest in downtown Dallas in July 2016.
According to an email from Killeen Police Department Cmdr. Alex Gearhart to Killeen City Manager Ron Olson on Aug. 4, the department has noted an increase in violent crime involving rifles in Killeen.
“Current armor leaves a gap in the protection we are providing to our officers who must respond to these threats,” Gearhart wrote.
The grant will provide $127,350 in body armor plating and plate carriers with no local match needed. The equipment has a five-year warranty and replacement period with the state before the grant expires. But the council was interested in how the city would fund replacing and maintaining the armor once the grant expired, after council members asked no questions on funding demands during earlier discussions on the grant.
Olson said the city’s new financial policies currently under consideration would require city staff to create an in-house plan for future funding of grant opportunities years before the grants expired. However, the policy would not require the city to have a spending plan outlined at the time a grant was approved.
“(The policy) sets the framework for us to think ahead,” Olson said. “We have lots of expensive things that we don’t have adequate plans for.”
An external management audit of the city’s finances completed in August found the city had previously accepted grants without a plan to cover local matching funds and continuing expenses, contributing to years of overspending. Olson has worked to phase the city out of the most cumbersome of those grants, tying recurring funds to police and fire salaries.
Councilman Steve Harris said while funding wasn’t certain for the armor, he trusted the city to find the funds to cover what he considered a necessary expense.
“I’m putting faith in all of us,” Harris said. “I have to believe we can come up with the (money). If that doesn’t happen, I would be very disappointed.”
The city estimated the cost to replace the armor plates alone at the end of the program will be $81,675, not accounting for inflation.
In other business, the council:
Appointed an ad hoc committee to discuss an overhaul of city council meeting protocol. The committee will be comprised of council members Harris and Gregory Johnson and chaired by Councilman Juan Rivera.
Discussed the purchase of $95,000 of training and duty ammunition for the Killeen Police Department. Funds for the purchase were allocated in the fiscal year 2018 budget.
Discussed the purchase of $300,000 in Killeen Fire Department uniforms paid over the next three years. Funds for the purchase were allocated in the 2018 budget.
Discussed the purchase of $450,000 in consumable medical supplies for the fire department paid over the next three years. Funds for the purchase were allocated in the 2018 budget.