A Mount Airy police officer who finds himself confronting an armed suspect or executing a search warrant for narcotics can now feel a little safer, thanks to the generosity of the community in providing a special vest.
That item is not just any piece of protective gear, but is a “tactical entry vest” designed for high-risk situations. Its $2,400 price tag parallels the degree of sophistication involved.
“It’s a very critical piece of equipment,” Police Chief Dale Watson said Monday. “It can mean the difference between life and death.”
The new vest was acquired through efforts of the group Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department. It was formed last year to help local officers acquire extra gear that wasn’t being supplied through normal budgetary channels.
“It’s a step up from what our regular patrol officers wear,” Watson added of the standard vests that cost about $600. Before the new one was received, the force had only one other of its type available.
Melanie Jones, who is involved with Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department, said Monday that the funds to buy the vest resulted from various fundraisers the non-profit organization has mounted, including a jewelry raffle and bingo event. In addition, contributions have come from the community to aid the new group’s mission of supporting police operations, Jones said.
Unlike the standard bullet-proof vest an officer wears underneath his uniform, the tactical entry version is more like that donned by military personnel. Built for increased maneuverability and protection, the vest includes a throat and groin guard, ballistic plate and various additional safety features.
Along with providing a superior level of protection to the wearer, its various pockets and pouches mounted on the outside allow more equipment to be carried than otherwise would be possible.
The vest is expected to play a vital role in drug investigations, the delivery of search warrants, vehicle stops involving armed suspects and in other situations.
Since being pressed into service by the police department, it already has been worn during three raids.
The new organization can be contacted at FriendsMAPD@surry.net for additional information regarding membership, volunteer opportunities and donations.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.