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Gardner: Law Enforcement Protective Gear Isn't 'Up To Speed'

By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) - As the nation pauses this week to remember law enforcement officers lost in the line of duty, one of Colorado's U.S. Senators is pushing for better protection for men and women in blue.

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(credit: CBS)

"In Colorado, we've seen far too often, over the past several months and certainly the last year tragic deaths of our police officers," said Sen. Cory Gardner.

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Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner pays respect at the National Law Enforcement Memorial. (credit: CBS)

He says some of those deaths may have been prevented if officers had better body armor. All three Colorado deputies killed since the end of December were wearing bullet proof vests, but not the kind that stop bullets from high powered rifles.

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(credit: CBS)

"Over the past several months, we've held a number of round tables with police officers and sheriff's deputies across the state of Colorado talking about what they need to help protect themselves in the line of duty," Gardner said. "One of the things that we discovered was that some of the equipment they need to help protect themselves - body armor, bullet proof vests - aren't up to speed."

The Department of Justice says the vast majority of ballistic vests used by law enforcement nationwide are Type II vests. Gardner is introducing a bill to change that.

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Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (credit: CBS)

It would provide additional funding for the federal Bullet Proof Vest Partnership Grant program to pay for Type III vests -- with rifle-resistant plates -- for every officer in the country.

"This is about paying respects to the men and women in Colorado and across this country who've given their lives in the line of duty in service to their fellow neighbors," Gardner said.

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(credit: CBS)

The bill calls for $1.1 billion to pay for the vests. It also doubles funding for advanced body armor research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology - or NIST - from $1.5 million to $3 million.

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(credit: Douglas County Sheriff's Office)

This year, Douglas County Deputy Zackari Parrish's name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial in Washington D.C.

Gardner attended the ceremony.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4's political specialist. She's a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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