Senator Kevin Eltife and Mayor Martin Heines announced today that the “We Back Our Law Enforcement” Campaign has exceeded the goal of raising $104,000 from the public.

Eltife kicked off the public campaign with a $20,000 personal contribution 1 month ago.

Eltife announced, “We are so proud of the enormous response from our community during the last few weeks for this campaign to raise money to purchase body armor vests for officers of the Tyler Police Department as well as Smith County Sheriff’s Deputies and Constables. The total cost for the vests is $204,000 with approximately $100,000 to be provided by the City of Tyler and Smith County. Our goal was to raise the additional $104,000 from the public. We are pleased to announce that the fund now has $150,000 with more still coming in.”

Eltife and Heines will work with the City and County to order the vests as soon as possible and to determine priorities for the Police and Sheriff’s departments in order to use the additional funds to address the most important safety needs for local law enforcement.

Individuals and businesses may still contribute to the “We Back Our Law Enforcement Fund” set up at the East Texas Communities Foundation. Go online to make a donation.

In addition, gifts by check should be made payable to “East Texas Communities Foundation” with “We Back Our Law Enforcement” included in the memo line. Checks may be mailed to ETCF, 315 N. Broadway, Suite 210, Tyler, Texas 75702 or delivered in person to the same address, 8 am – 5 pm Monday – Friday.

The We Back our Law Enforcement Campaign Committee, announced previously, includes: Senator Kevin Eltife, Chairman, Mayor Martin Heines, Co – Chairman, Robert Bailes, Barbara Bass, Nelson Clyde, Susan Davis, JoAnn Fleming, Ric Freeman, Bobby Garmon, Rev Reginald Garrett, Randy Grooms, Mike Hogan, Gaylord Hughey, Diannia Jackson, Robert Peltier, Gus Ramirez, Debbie Roosth, Joey Seeber, Gene Shull, Sheriff Larry Smith, Brandon Steele, Chief Jimmy Toler, Lonny Uzzell, and Patrick Willis.

-Tyler Police Department

How it started

Tyler Police Department and city officials are hosted a press conference on Monday September 26 providing the community with details on how residents can donate to the campaign to fund rifle-resistant vests to area law enforcement officers.

State Sen. Kevin P. Eltife and Tyler Mayor Martin Heines both provided information on the recently launched "We Back Our Law Enforcement" campaign to purchase the safety equipment for Tyler and Smith County Law enforcement.

Officials launched the campaign last week after Eltife announced a $20,00 donation to kickoff the campaign.

“I heard from many of our citizens about their desire to show visible support for law enforcement, and I knew I wanted to help as well, so I talked to Mayor Heines and Chief Toler to find out what was really needed, “said Eltife in making the announcement. “Chief Toler told us that officer safety is the highest priority. These rifle–resistant vests will enhance officer confidence during active shooting scenes or high-risk events. The vests are not part of officer’s daily uniform, but can be used when necessary as a layer of protection over existing soft body armor. These vests will provide officers with the highest level of protection.”

Mayor Heines announced that cost for the vests is $135,800. The city will pay $67,900 or one-half the cost. Senator Eltife is providing the initial $20,000 donation and contributions from the private sector are requested to make up the remaining $47,900.

“We are honored that Senator Eltife has offered to spearhead this effort to make a tangible contribution to the safety of our officers as they protect our citizens,” Heines said.

Sen. Eltife continued, “In a few days we will announce a campaign committee and formal plans to raise the rest of the funds for the new vests. At that time, we will provide information regarding how and where people can make donations.”