Suburban Dallas police departments are arming officers with ballistic helmets and body armor after the Dallas and Baton Rouge attacks on police.
Typically, if officers want military gear, they buy it themselves. But since the police attacks, several DFW departments have decided to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to outfit officers with 'active shooter kits,’ including helmets, vests, shields, face masks and batons.
Plano police say it was an attack on police in 2004, years before the Dallas shooting, that got them thinking about getting stronger weapons and armor.
"We didn't have rifles at that time. We were going up against individuals who did,” said David Tilley. “We were clearly outgunned."
Three "takeover bandits" who were armed with automatic rifles had a rolling gun battle with Richardson and Plano police after robbing a bank and carjacking three drivers. A Plano officer dodged a bullet by inches.
After that, Plano police armed themselves with AR-15s, and talks began about getting better body armor.
"It was at that point that we started looking into these plate carriers."
The Plano City Council just approved the purchase of 350 sets of ballistic helmets, plates and vests for all of the department's sworn officers.
At the end of August, Allen Police will ask their city council to buy a hundred "active shooter kits" that include a helmet and armor.
Richardson police just ordered 160 similar sets, and McKinney police also plan to purchase military gear.
The vest Plano Police Spokesperson David Tilley wears now works for every day, but would not protect him from bullets shooting out of high-powered guns.
"We've always been classified as a very safe community,” said Tilley. “But what is happening in Dallas could happen here, and we have to be prepared."
The Frisco Police Department wants to equip each of their 200 officers with a ballistic helmet, plates and vest, plus riot gear and rifles, for about $400,000.
Tilley says a dozen or so Plano police officers have chosen to carry an AR-15 as their patrol weapon since the Dallas shooting. And as long as they are trained on the gun, it's an officer's prerogative to do so.
"We're at a disadvantage and we're failing our community and our ability to protect them,” said Tilley. “We have to be able to make sure we have the necessary weapons to keep our citizens safe."
A Collin County Sheriff's Deputy said the department has ordered every patrol deputy ballistic helmets, plates, vests and rifles.
David Tilley with the Plano Police Department also said he took calls from two other area departments asking for information about the equipment Plano police is ordering for their own departments.