Police to get bullet proof vests

Published 1:04 pm Monday, March 13, 2006

By By MARY-ALLISON LANCASTER – Managing editor
East Brewton Police Chief B.C. Cooper remembers the day he decided to pick up his bullet proof vest on a whim and wear it to work. He wasn't required to wear it to work everyday, and he still doesn't remember why he decided to try it on. Fortunately, his whim saved his life. It was on that same day he was shot by a drug dealer while on duty. Had it not been for his vest, Cooper may have been seriously injured, or worse, died.
It was after a class showcasing police officers that members of the Leadership Brewton Class IX decided that as their project they would initiate a fundraiser to help with the purchase of 30 vests for officers in the Brewton and East Brewton police departments
The campaign is titled &#8220Protect those who protect us” and members are hoping to raise $15,000 to purchase the vests. The Brewton officers will receive a bulk of the vests while East Brewton officers will receive six vests. Cooper said that his officers currently have no vests to protect them while on duty.
Officers in both departments will be required to wear the vests while on patrol. The lightweight vests, made by Smith and Wesson, will be fitted to each officers' body type. McGougin said that he has seen it too many times where the vests do not fit correctly and a stray bullet will hit an officer in a loose spot under the arm - often causing severe injury, even death.
Chiefs and investigators will be required to wear a different type of armor. Often, Cooper said, by the time they reach the scene everything is already over and in action. By wearing the vest stamped &#8220Police” on the front, it makes it easier for them to slip it on over the clothing rather than wear the vest all the time, and it allows other officers to know who else has arrived on the scene.
However, since they still work on the &#8220administrative side,” they often wear their uniforms to work.
Wearing bullet proof vests will take some time to get used to, but eventually, it will become a natural habit.
Members of the leadership class have already sent out letters to businesses and trusts requesting donations, and others will be visiting civic clubs to educate the public on the need for bullet proof vests in police departments.
Donations are accepted by everyone to help protect officers in the community. Checks can be made to Leadership Brewton and sent to the Chamber of Commerce at 1010-B Douglas Ave., Brewton, Ala. 36426.

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