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Officers to get new body armor: Ohio AG, BWC grants go to three law agencies

Three law agencies in Lawrence County will be able to purchase new body armor vests after getting grants from two state agencies.

The Chesapeake Police Department, the Ironton Police Department and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office are the recipients of grants from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Ohio Law Enforcement Body Armor Program.

And the departments are happy to get funds to supply all of their officers with new vests.

The Chesapeake Police Department was awarded $2,310.52.

“It is very important that all of our officers have the protection they need to do the job of keeping the community safe,” said Chesapeake Police Chief Randy Thompson. “It’s very difficult sometimes to obtain the funds we need for those things and when the opportunity arose to get help from the attorney general and the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, we seized upon it.”

The Ironton Police Department was awarded $13,914.78.

Ironton Police Chief Pam Wagner said they have been getting donations towards purchasing new vests for a while now.

Last November, the American Legion Post 433 Riders donated $7,000 to the department that was raised by doing memorial rides and getting donations from local businesses and civic groups.

Wagner said that money would go towards their local match of 25 percent, since the grant covers 75 percent of the cost of the vests.

“So, we should have enough money to get vests for all 15 officers, including me,” Wagner said, adding vests generally expire after a few years. And the vest she wears is 14 years old. “We are ecstatic to get this grant. Officer safety is one of our main priorities and we are so happy that we were even considered.”

She said it would probably take some time for the grant to come in and then get the vests ordered.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office got the biggest grant, $23,250, because it has 40 certified employees including deputies and correctional officers.

Sheriff Jeff Lawless said that their local match will be just over $7,000, although they are going to try to come up more than that because some of the officers want stronger bullet-resistant plates for their vests.

“So we are looking at the $8,500 range for our part to get the right vests for everybody,” he said. “We are grateful the Ohio AG’s office is providing this grant so we can get our guys outfitted with protective gear.”

Attorney General Dave Yost said law enforcement happens at the local level and officers need to be safe.

“Seeing that these grants are being used in every corner of our state helps me rest easier at night knowing that our peace officers are better equipped to return home safely to their loved ones at the conclusion of each shift,” he said.