‘It’s a little overwhelming - it’s emotional’: Va. law enforcement agencies donate equipment to fight in Ukraine
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Law enforcement agencies across Virginia are stepping up to help in the fight in Ukraine.
Many agencies are donating body armor and bulletproof vests to protect those fighting overseas.
This statewide effort is thanks to a VCU police officer who wanted to do what he could to help after speaking with friends who have loved ones in Ukraine.
Over the past few weeks, boxes upon boxes of body armor have been packed up by law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth. Many of the vests and panel inserts will soon be outfitted on folks in Ukraine.
“[We’ve] collected over 650 vests this week, and we have another 1,000 vests that we’ll be collecting by Monday or Tuesday of next week,” said VCU Police Officer Levin White.
White is also the co-founder of the non-profit ‘Lift Up Ukraine,’ created just days after Russian forces invaded the neighboring country.
One of White’s recent tasks was to get 5,000 bulletproof vests. He originally went to a manufacturer, but due to supply chain issues, the company could not fulfill the order. As a result, White went to his next best option – those who serve and protect the Commonwealth.
“Most profound response that we had were from the smaller agencies,” White said. “They may donate 20 or 25, maybe 50 vests.”
“We were able to give him 22 actual body armor vests along with nine carriers,” said King George County Sheriff Chris Giles.
It’s a fulfilling feeling for Sheriff Giles, who has a little more than 30 deputies who make up his force. It also hits close to home for the Marine Corps veteran.
“To be able to help a country that is like that, it’s a little overwhelming - it’s emotional,” Giles said.
According to White, equipment gathered earlier in the week and last week could reach Ukraine as early as this weekend.
“We’ve actually made two shipments already with protective gear, military-style clothing, kneepads, elbow pads, and emergency medical supplies,” he added.
While many of these pieces of equipment are no longer used by these agencies, Giles said the armor is still effective.
“We’ve actually done some testing previous years on old vests that we just wanted to see what they could do - we’re talking 15–20-year-old vests that are still very functional and very protective.,” he said.
However, getting these donations to Ukraine also requires assistance from the public.
“Financial donations, simply because it’s not free to ship heavy cargo to the Ukraine,” White said.
The non-profit has also teamed up with local restaurants in the metro-Richmond area to help fundraise for these efforts.
When it comes to the body armor, though, White and Giles say these donations are what serving is all about.
“We feel like we’ll at least meet 3,000 by the end of next week,” White said.
“It’s overwhelming to see so many people pulling together in this day in age when, unfortunately, a lot of people are looking out for themselves,” Giles said. “It just reinstates the faith that you have that there is a brotherhood, and we’re going to work together to make sure people are safe.”
As for metro-area law enforcement agencies, Chesterfield County Police and Sheriff’s Office said they were working on donating to the cause, and Richmond Police are currently looking into it. At the moment, Henrico County Police and the Hanover County Sheriffs’ Office are not involved, but spokesmen said it could be brought up for discussion in the future.
Meanwhile, VCU Police donated 180 panels inserts to Lift Up Ukraine.
For more information on the non-profit, click here.
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