At the press conference today, State Senator and former Mayor Kevin Eltife and Mayor Martin Heines gave an update to the public/private partnership campaign initiated recently to raise money for the purchase of body armor vests for local law enforcement.

Eltife announced that the total cost for the vests is: $204,400. The City of Tyler committed to half the cost of the vests for each officer of the Tyler Police Department. Smith County also agreed to provide half of the funds needed to purchase vests for officers of the Sheriff’s Department.

With the City paying $67,900, the County $34,300 and Eltife’s $20,000 contribution, there is a remaining balance of $82,200. The goal of the “We Back Our Law Enforcement” campaign is to raise the additional funds from the public to provide vests for each law enforcement officer in the City of Tyler and Smith County.

The “We Back our Law Enforcement” campaign committee was announced to help in the fundraising effort. Committee members include:
• 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
• Patrick Willis

Starting today, individuals and businesses may contribute to the “We Back Our Law Enforcement Fund” set up at the East Texas Communities Foundation. Donors can go online to or to the link to contribute using a credit card.

Donations 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 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.