ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The Abilene Police Department (APD) reported that it will be using grant money to purchase 83 bullet resistant shields to be placed in all marked patrol units, as well as 10 set to go to school resource officers (SROs) across Abilene and Wylie ISD campuses.

Following the horrific Robb Elementary School shooting in May, a grant was made available for law enforcement agencies across the state to purchase new equipment.

On Thursday, October 27, Abilene City Council approved the grant of $327,468.42 for APD to purchase 83 ‘Level III bullet resistant shields’ with protective shield hoods. These Level III shields are capable of protecting against multiple rounds of rifle ammunition, according to documentation provided by APD before City Council.

The purchase was made in effort to be proactive ahead of any potential threat. For Cooper High School SRO Cody Brown, he said he’s looking at the purchase as imperative.

After serving nearly seven years on patrol, Brown was moved to serve as a school resource officer at Madison Middle School four years ago. After three years at Madison, he made the jump over to Cooper High.

Brown told KTAB/KRBC he always knew he wanted to work as a police officer, however, he also wanted to be a coach. He said both careers leave a lasting imprint on children’s lives.

“The reason I wanted to be in schools was because I wanted to make a positive difference in our community, and that starts in the schools,” Brown said.

On his day-to-day job, Brown said he walks the halls, checking doors and has been appointed to be the first to respond should anything break out. Moreover, he’s also there to develop relationships with the faculty, staff and students at Cooper High School – which is something he said he takes great pride in.

“The kids feel like they’re my own, and I’m going to protect them like my own. Even if they get into a disagreement, it’s like siblings getting into a disagreement,” Brown detailed, “So, I have to play referee for a little bit, but it’s a really unique position.”

Most of the kids he sees, he’s known for years. He said he believes the kids are able to see him, a police officer, in a more positive light and he has the opportunity to show how helpful officers can be to the kids.

However, after the Uvalde school shooting just about six months ago, Brown said his job has become more important than ever.

“I want to be in the schools to make sure the 2,000 students are safe, and the staff,” Brown explained. “I want to have everything available to me to protect the kids, the teachers and myself. I want to have everything available to me to go and handle business if I have to.”

Now, thanks to the Bullet Resistant Shield Grant Program, Abilene and Wylie ISDs will have a new tool that can further help protect their students in the case of an unprecedented emergency.

Abilene Police Chief Marcus Dudley Jr. said APD felt the need was there to equip all of their vehicles with these shields, as well as the SROs they have spread across each of Wylie and Abilene’s campuses.

“These will help to improve our ability to provide the kind of response that we hope we never have to use, but in the event we do, we have the tools to get the job done,” Chief Dudley said.

Speaking from a parent’s perspective, Chief Dudley said he understands concerns parents have following the Uvalde shooting.

“Our officers are no different, you know, they have kids that are attending school,” Chief Dudley said. “My message to our parents is that if their child sees something, teach them to say something. Don’t hesitate to give us a phone call because all of the tools that we go out and acquire won’t be as productive with stopping the threat, rather we want to make sure that the threat never happens to begin with if we’re able to get out in front of it.”

To report an emergency, dial 9-1-1. For non-emergent reports, call (325) 673-8331.

Chief Marcus Dudley said purchasing the shields is just one aspect of APD’s goal of improving the overall readiness. Along with the shields, he said APD was also able to purchase door-breaching tools and Halligan tools for their vehicles, as well as door-breaching shotgun shells.

APD has bullet resistant shields already in its SWAT vehicle and supervisor vehicles. However, the new shields have not arrived yet and will be slightly larger than the current shields APD has.