CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When someone earns the right to work as a deputy sheriff, he or she is given a badge and a gun.
They aren't given a bulletproof vest.
That's a problem, said Rudi Raynes-Kidder, executive director of the West Virginia Sheriff's Association.
"It's one of those things that you wouldn't even think would need legislation," Raynes-Kidder said Friday.
A bill mandating that all deputy sheriffs receive a vest is coming closer to passing in the House of Delegates, though. The measure is set to come before the full House today and potentially final approval Wednesday.
Delegate Bob Ashley, R-Roane, is the lead sponsor of the bill. He said there were a few changes made as it made its way through the committee process, but the spirit of the bill remains intact.
The changes include federal testing requirements for the vests and calls for the equipment to be issued on a one-time basis. A sheriff only needs to provide the vests if a deputy doesn't have one already. The deputy can also elect in writing to wear a personal vest, as long as it meets testing standards.
It still specifically calls on the county commission to provide money for the vests, but Ashley said there are ways to get the equipment regardless of a county's budget.
"It holds on that the county can do it. If the county can't afford the bill, then there can be some fundraising to help do it," Ashley said. "From right now, from what I understand, the sheriff's association has already been raising some private money."
Funding for the vests is not included in the bill. They can cost anywhere from $450 to $1,200, Raynes-Kidder said.