Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald said he hopes the rest of the nation takes notice of what happened at the Dec. 13 city council meeting.
The council accepted 900 enhanced ballistic vests from the Fort Worth S.W.A.T Support Group Inc. They will be used by front-line officers and graduating recruits in the Fort Worth Police Department.
In November, the Mallick Group, a Fort Worth real estate and energy related investment firm led by husband and wife Mike and Valerie Mallick, donated $355,000 to the group to pay for the vests, which offer ballistic protection against high velocity rounds and armor piercing ammunition.
“We’ve all seen the attacks on police officers throughout the country and the level of weaponry people have used,” Fitzgerald told the council.
Five Dallas police officers were killed in a sniper attack on July 7. Nationwide, statistics show that fatal shootings of police officers are the highest in five years.
The donation launched the Protect The Fort Initiative that was coupled with a holiday Call to Action by The Mallick Group to residents, organizations and businesses to help protect police. Additional contributions will be used to buy enhanced ballistic helmets and other protective equipment for Fort Worth police officers.
“They responded to what they saw and acted. They put together a movement,” Fitzgerald said.
Former Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and his wife, Rosie, were also on hand at the meeting.
“There are few higher callings than protecting life in a community,” Rosie Moncrief said. “We care very deeply about their safety and their families’ piece of mind.
“We want our men and women on the front line to have the safest equipment possible.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price praised the Mallicks for their forward thinking, something she had also done earlier when the original decision for the donation was announced in November.
“This generous donation from The Mallick Group exemplifies both the incredible community support for our first responders and the strong culture of public-private partnerships that we are blessed with in Fort Worth,” Price said. “I’m excited to see the Protect the Fort Initiative open the door for others to tangibly give back to our officers.
“I trust that these vests will not only provide additional protection for our police force, but also convey to our officers that we as a community support their sacrifice to Fort Worth.”
Fitzgerald said the donation inspired his department and provides a level of support and protection other cities may not have. “It is our hope that others will answer the Call to Action of the Protect the Fort Initiative by participating in this endeavor with the goal of augmenting the safety of all public servants,” Fitzgerald said.
He said this is the largest donation of this type in the nation for a police department.
Moncrief said she and others in the Protect The Fort Initiative are also working on another project to provide even more protection for officers. She said they are raising $234,000 for life-saving helmets.
“Tonight, I’d like to report that we are well on our way to reaching our goal,” she said.
For further information about this program, or to send contributions, donors may visit www.protectthefort.com.