A bulletproof vest can be the last - and only - line of defense for law enforcement. But nationwide, it's estimated as many as 200,000 officers are working without them.
Now, with some high-profile help, one man is working to help Virginia's protectors get the equipment they need. Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown is on a mission to put vests on every officer who needs one – in Virginia and across the country.
“Probably the most important piece is his weapon. The second most important piece of safety equipment, or equipment, is the ballistic vest,” Brown said.
But that protection doesn't come free; one vest can cost as much as $600, a price some police departments and sheriff's offices in the state can't afford. That's where Brown is stepping in. With help from Moose International, Brown's nonprofit, the Safe Surfin' Foundation, is donating 33 new vests.
Some like the Waynesboro Sheriff's Office can't afford them, and will be able to equip all four deputies for the first time. Town of Louisa police say their five new vests will help keep officers safe in a time of tight budgets.
Brown is also getting high-profile help from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose office is awarding $245,000 to pay for more than 500 vests in Virginia. The money is part of a $115 million Medicaid fraud settlement reached last year.
“These law enforcement officers, whether they be deputies or police officers, are protecting us,” Brown said, “and they should have every piece of equipment they can possibly have to protect them.”
Brown's effort only began about three months ago. Already, it has secured funding to equip more than 650 officers and deputies with new vests.
Bulletproof Vests Donated to VA Law EnforcementMore>>
Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science.Full Story
Ed joined the NBC29 news team in May, 2011. A Charlotte, NC, native, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in journalism and political science. Email/Follow on Twitter/ Full Story
Sign Up for Email Alerts
Sign up to receive NBC29 news and weather updates in your inbox daily.