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Vidalia gets bullet-proof vests

VIDALIA — Officers at the Vidalia Police Department can feel safer and maybe even a little more nimble in the new bulletproof vests they received Tuesday from the Department of Homeland Security.

Concordia Parish Director of Homeland Security Morris White said he has been working for a year to get the new vests for the department.

“These vests are long overdue,” he said.

White said the nine new vests are custom-fitted to each officer and the price of each was approximately $1,200.

“The price ranged depending on the fit,” he said.

White said the vests will be for the patrolman and will be a great asset to the force.

“These are the newest things out there,” he said. “Since they are custom-made, they provide better protection, and we hope it will help preserve the lives of our officers using them.”

VPD Chief Arthur Lewis said the importance of the vests should not be overlooked.

“The meaning of an armored vest to a law enforcement officer can be the difference of going to the hospital to get checked for bruising or going to the morgue,” he said. “Every officer comes to work to do his or her job, and every officer knows they may have to give their life or take a life.”

White said when an officer wears the vest, they are given more than just extra protection.

“They are given just a little more time to figure out what they are going to do in the situation they are in,” he said. “It gives them an extra moment or two that they would not have otherwise.”

A traffic stop can turn bad at any minute, and Lewis said being prepared for the worst case scenario is the only way to save lives.

“The vest makes the difference of whether the officer goes back home to his or her family at the end of the shift,” he said.

Officer Bruce Wiley said the new vests are lighter than the department’s previous ones, giving an officer more mobility.

“They are also less bulky but they are just as effective,” he said. “You just feel safer as an officer when you are wearing one.”

White said he was glad to finally see the vests in the hands and on the chests of the officers.

“It seems like everyone has a gun these days,” he said. “And the officers can always use the safety and self-confidence that these vests can bring.”

Lewis said he always wants the best equipment for his officers.

“The bad guys seem to have the armored vests and other things that officers need,” he said. “So we are doing our best to provide our officers with every piece of equipment and tool they need to protect and serve but also to live to see their children grow up.”

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