WVVA EXCLUSIVE: Summers Co. deputies buy new Kevlar vests with a - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

WVVA EXCLUSIVE: Summers Co. deputies buy new Kevlar vests with aid from community

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HINTON, W. Va (WWVVA)- Deputies in Summers County say they're safer on the job, thanks to members of their community.

Friday, Sheriff Garry Wheeler handed out new Kevlar vests to the officers.

He said the department was able to buy them without using dipping into their budget of taxpayer money. 

Summers County sheriffs deputies had been working hard to raise money for these vests. They had even sold some old weapons to make some extra cash, but still, they were coming up short. Sgt. TJ Cochran said their old ones were getting well-worn, and it was time for an upgrade. 

Community members stepped in to raise the remaining money needed to make the $4,800 purchase. Pastor Robbie Merritt at Central Baptist Church in Hinton decided to spearhead the effort.

His wife Mary Ann told WVVA that church members sent letters to their community, asking for donations for the sheriff's office. What they got back was more than ten envelopes filled with checks to raise the remaining funds.

As of Friday, each deputy has two vests. Police say that's great because those are often their first line of defense in times of trouble.

Sheriff Wheeler expressed his appreciation for his community, saying, "It's just overwhelming that our community steps up to help the... department," he said. "They know we are short on funds. We don't have a lot of money for out-of-the-box things. And I just thank the community so much for stepping up and helping us-- they always have."
Deputies say these vests are 95% effective, and most effective in stopping handgun bullets.

Cochran said
police officers have also been saved from serious injury in car wrecks because they remembered to wear their vests.

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