The Bellaire Police Department will be the recipients of six new bullet-resistant shields after Texas officials approved the city’s request to fund the tactical equipment.

Bellaire Chief of Police Onesimo Lopez said acquiring the new shields was a “crucial” investment to protect the community and to be able to respond to cases of active shooters, such as what occurred in May at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
“The state of Texas made this protective shield grant available to law enforcement agencies following the active shooter incident in Uvalde, Texas. When the grant was announced, the department saw an opportunity to secure crucial protective equipment that we did not have in the current budget. California has had six active shooter incidents this month alone. We want to be prepared locally if something like this happens in or around Bellaire,” Lopez said.

The shields cost $43,800 and will be approximately 18 inches by 32 inches in size, with an integrated viewport for the police to see, and they will be used by the city of Bellaire’s Special Response Team, according to Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg. For price and size approximation, armor retail distributor Armor Empire sells similar shields that weigh about 26 pounds and cost more than $4,000 each.

Lopez said the shields can also be deployed during armed barricade suspect scenarios as well where first responders might encounter high-powered rifle fire.

“Whether officers have the shields or not, we would still go; however, having these shields increases the odds that the officers will be able to respond safely. The shields offer greater surface area protection and can cover more of an officer's body than our current single-arm protective barrier shields,” he said.

A May 2022 report by the FBI recorded 61 active shooter incidents in 2021. Out of the 61 active shooter incidents mentioned in the FBI report, five took place in Texas. While none of the incidents recorded by the FBI occurred at a school, the report listed three occasions of an active shooter in Houston and one in Bryan, Texas, and San Antonio.

For Judy Cheng, Bellaire High School Parent Teacher Organization president, she commends the city’s efforts of keeping school safety a priority.

“School safety is always a priority on the mind of students, teachers, administrators and parents. It is commendable that the city of Bellaire is utilizing the state grant to purchase the bullet-resistant shields. In the event of an active-shooter or a high-risk engagement, bullet-resistant shields are essential to law enforcement officers' safety,” Cheng said. “The shields will allow the officers to be quickly deployed, and make our community and officers safer in case of emergencies.”