Pine Ridge, SC (Paul Kirby) – In-Vest USA, a Columbia based non-profit that donates protective vests to police departments across the country, donated two Active Shooter vests to the Pine Ridge Police Department Tuesday. Representatives of the organization including its founder Michael Letts and Interim Police Chief Vincent Silano of the Pine Ridge Police Department were on hand for the presentation at the department.
The two donated vests, valued at $1,000 each, are different than a regular ballistics vest often worn by officers. Those vest’s protective panels are made of bullet resistant, high-tech fabrics like Kevlar. Those are rated for protection against rounds fired from a sidearm or pistol.
Active shooter vests are equipped with titanium plates. They will stop rounds from long guns like the popular AR-15 that most commonly fires a .223 caliber round. This type of semiautomatic rifle was used in the Sandy Hook school shooting as well as the Las Vegas Music Festival massacre.
Michael Letts, the founder of In-Vest USA, says he’s seen demonstrations where a .50 caliber round was fired at the new armor and that round did not penetrate the titanium in these vests. He also personally saw one placed on the ground and a US military M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tank run across it without damaging it.
Chief Silano said that the new vest will be issued to his part-time personnel that normally patrol at nights when more unknown situations occur. Because of the weight of these, they are normally kept in an officer’s cruiser, but can quickly be swapped with a standard vest should the occasion arrive.
Letts said during the presentation that now all that stands between the citizens and social unrest that often turns to violence is our first responders and the thin blue line. He said in the last few months, he’s had an increase of calls from front-line officers of large departments like the NYPD and even Santa Monica California PD asking for help with vests. As unrest has grown, officers feel the need for the additional protection the heavier armor of the new vests provide. “We’ve never seen attacks like we have recently had on our own shores,” Letts said. “All that stands between us and total anarchy at times is that thin blue line. Without the proper equipment like these new vests and our support, that line could collapse.”
Letts said their first goal was to provide one of these upgraded vests for every SWAT Team member in the country. Now, he says the everyday officers on patrol feel the need for one because of the uncertainty of the different types of situations they may run into every day. “All of them want to go home to their families at night. We want to be a part of what makes that happen.”
Letts said when he founded In-Vest USA 20 years ago, about 48% of officers across the country had no protective vest at all. Eventually, with the help of In-Vest and its donors and supporters, that number was reduced to about 25%. Now, about 92% of officers don’t have access to the new advanced technology vest. In-Vest USA is hoping that they will be able to make a dent in that percentage in the coming years.
Silano said that he felt very fortunate to have these vests for his department. “Should the need arise, we will have the equipment to go into an active shooter situation and neutralize these shooters. This gives us that extra level of protection that evens the odds between us and the bad guy that’s on the attack.”
In-Vest USA operates as a non-profit on donations from ordinary citizens. All donations are tax deductible. Your donation makes a huge difference. All donations are used to purchase and distribute vests and to build public awareness of the lack of vests to support community fundraising. To donate, go to www.investusa.org.