EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSPOLICE VEST INITIATIVE
from Eyewitness News Online
Roane Police Agencies Raising Money For Bullet Proof Vests
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Sep. 6, 2012 9:37 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 6, 2012 10:23 PM EDT
Spencer , Roane County , West Virginia
Protecting police officers, one life-saving vest at a time. It's an initiative to make sure the men and women who protect us go home at the end of their shift.
In light of last week's tragedy in Clay County, many police departments are taking an extra look at officer safety, and for two agencies in Roane County, where one of their deputies was saved by a bullet proof best, it means making sure every single one of their officers is equipped with the best.
Sgt. John Caldwell has spent years on the Spencer police force, but rarely did he wear his bullet proof vest.
"I'd complain, too hot, it's uncomfortable," he says.
But today, things are different.
"I've been wearing it every day since," he says. Every day since August 28th, when he responded to the call at the Wallback exit with Roane County sheriff's deputy John Westfall. It's a promise he gave him since that night. Westfall was shot three times, and his bullet proof vest likely saved his life.
"I'm going to keep my word. I told him I am. You know, he is a brother to me. I'm going to wear it everyday," he says.
But for some agencies, becoming a police office doesn't guarantee you'll get a bullet proof vest, and in Roane County that's the unfortunate reality for their seven deputies and six Spencer police officers.
"All of us need to look at the safety of our officers across the state and see what they do need," explains Spencer Mayor Terry Williams.
They quickly realized what they need are bullet proof vests. Some of the officers are wearing 10 year old, hand me down vests that are supposed to only last about half that time. Some of them don't even have one, including some of the officers who responded to the call in Wallback.
"We feel so horrible for the Workman and Bailey families. We're really blessed that we're not in a situation with any of our officers like that and John is still with us," explains Roane County Prosecuting Attorney Josh Downey.
Since the tragedy, calls and support have flooded the two agencies, and he main question they were getting was, 'what can I do to help?' With that answer now clear, they're turning to the community to help raise $6,500 to buy ten vests. Any left over money would be used to by other police equipment.
"We want to be safe. And so its just a small thing that we want to do and that's why we're dong it," said the mayor.
To help the Spencer Police Department and Roane County Sheriff's Office you can mail checks to or drop off donations at:
City of Spencer
116 Court Street
Spencer, WV 25276
You can also make a secure donation via PayPal at www.cityofspencer.com
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