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Law enforcement agencies get funds for new bulletproof vests

Officers in several area law enforcement agencies will bereceiving new bulletproof vests with funding assistance from theU.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Third District Rep. Chip Pickeringsaid recently.

Under the Bureau of Justice Assistance program, the individuallaw enforcement agency pays at least 50 percent of the cost and thegrants cover the rest. The funds, which become available thismonth, are paid on a reimbursement basis.

“That’s been an ongoing thing,” said Lincoln County Sheriff LynnBoyte, whose department is scheduled to receive $2,233 for 10vests. “It’s something we do periodically.”

Boyte was appreciative of the grant program. He said vests needto be replaced every so often and the program helps in thatregard.

“These vests don’t last forever,” Boyte said. “You wear themevery day and they tend to deteriorate.”

For Franklin County, the grants mean new vests for Sheriff JamesNewman and his four deputies. That department is in line to receive$856 for the new vests.

Franklin County Economic Developer Garrick Combs, who willadminister the funds, said the new vests are needed.

“It’s something that will help keep our officers safe whenthey’re out doing their duty,” Combs said. “We’re looking forwardto getting this new equipment.”

Reserve officers in the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Departmentwill be the first to receive new vests using grant funds, saidSheriff Joel Thames. The sheriff said there is a three-year windowfor using the funds and vests for full-time officers will bereplaced as needed.

“We’re not going to be able to do it all at one time,” Thamessaid.

The Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department is budgeted to receive$3,814 for 17 vests. Thames said his department’s reserve officershave been through certification training and they perform valuableservices for the county.

“We want them to have the same equipment as the full-time guys,”Thames said.

In Pike County, the sheriff’s department has been allocated$3,243 for nine vests. The Magnolia Police Department will receive$3,671 for 18 vests.

In Walthall County, five vests will be bought for the TylertownPolice Department using $1,223 in grant funds.

Overall in Pickering’s Third District, 24 county and municipalgovernments will get $139,170 to purchase 418 vests. Pickeringcited officer safety while carrying out their duties as a benefitof the grant program.

“Oftentimes, small towns and rural counties are unable topurchase all the materials needed by local law enforcement,”Pickering said. “These funds will assist them in acquiring theseneeded resources.”