President Donald Trump has signed into law a renewal of the Bulletproof Vest Partnership grant program.
Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, led the effort to renew the program, which he had first championed 20 years ago.
The program has helped saved countless lives, including the life of Union City Police Officer Jerome Turner Jr.
On April 1, a routine call nearly lost him his life when he was shot several times. Three of them could have been fatal if he weren’t wearing a bulletproof vest.
“The fatal shots like right down the middle of the torso – the vest actually stopped those there,” Turner said in a Skype interview.
Since the incident, Turner has undergone four surgeries and is still working to make a full recovery.
“If I wasn’t wearing my vest that day I wouldn’t be here doing this interview,” Turner said.
“I worked very, very hard to get thousands of these out to police officers all over the country,” Leahy added.
Under an amendment by the Senate bill’s lead sponsor, Senator Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, the program has been re-named in honor of Leahy, and is now called the Leahy Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program.
“We’ve saved over 3,000 lives with bulletproof vests,” Leahy said.
Leahy’s federal grant program has distributed millions of vests to more than 13,000 of the nation’s law enforcement agencies, including Turner’s.
Trump signing the grant program into law is something that has helped Leahy rest a little easier.
“If there’s some time when I’m gone, or others are gone, and it doesn’t get renewed people are going to die,” Leahy said.
Leahy said the program is vital to saving lives, especially in small, rural police departments that don’t have the necessary funds to cover the costs of the vests.