Union/Houston Police Foundation partnership resulting In the prompt purchase and distribution of Level 4 vests

Tom Kennedy

The Union has undertaken another productive partnership with the Houston Police Foundation to purchase Level 4 bullet-proof vests for HPD officers. The effort is producing an exciting success story.

And that story isn’t over. In fact, it is only beginning. So far the plan has resulted in the purchase of 400 vests with another 200 in the works – all without having to go through the city of Houston’s sometimes lengthy purchasing process.

After the July domestic terror attack that resulted in the murders of five Dallas officers, it became apparent to HPOU for the need to supply Houston officers with vests that would withstand high-caliber automatic weapons.

“The city bid process can take up to nine months,” HPOU 2nd Vice President Joe Gamaldi said. “We decided we needed to move much faster than that.”

HPOU took on the task of raising private donations and soon got the cooperation of the foundation, which is under the direction of Executive Director Charlene Floyd. Floyd took the steps to ensure that any private donations for this worthy cause would be tax-deductible.

“Charlene and the foundation created a donation webpage,” Gamaldi explained. “Any money donated to this page would go to the vests for officers.”

The website: http://www.houstonpolicefoundation.org/body-armor.

HPOU and Texas Police Trust each donated an initial $15,000, thus sparking a number of private donations. “The foundation stepped up with enough contributions to enable us to buy the first 400 vests,” Gamaldi reported. “We were able to purchase them now rather than later because of the pressing need.”

He said delivery was expected early in the fall. Gamaldi said as soon as enough funding was in the hopper, another 200 vests would be ordered.

Who gets to use the vests?

“The first order of vests,” HPOU’s 2nd vice president explained, “will be going out to patrol stations. Every time an officer checks out a set of keys for his shop he or she will get a heavy vest. The next vests will go to any unit operating a marked vehicle.”

Gamaldi had other productive suggestions. He said that HPD officers may purchase their own Level 4 vests at cost. They may get the vendor contact information through the Union.

The approximately $290 cost is wholesale and will not be taxed, he said.

Gamaldi also urged officers to suggest to friends and neighbors in the private sector that they might want to make a $290 contribution to help protect a Houston officer.

“And, if you do that, you might be protecting yourself, too,” he opined. “An officer might be wearing it when he or she answers a call to your home to protect you from an intruder.”

Gamaldi explained that HPOU would be having a press conference one day soon to outline the Level 4 vest crusade to the news media and the public. He expects all members of the foundation’s board of directors to be present in full support of the plan.