For the first time Friday, Sulphur Springs Police Department issued bulletproof vests to its reserve officers, something the agency in the past has only been able to afford for its fulltime duty officers. But, thanks to Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Crime Stoppers Board the SSPD was able to purchase two vests for the two officers who most recently joined the department as reserves. In the past, due to budgetary constraints, the department hasn’t been able to offer vests to reserves. Thus, those who wore them while acting in an official capacity for SSPD as peace officers, in the past, had to buy their own protective gear at a cost of about $500 per vest, SSPD Chief Jim Bayuk explained Friday morning, when reservist Brian Shurtleff was presented with one of the two vests.
“I can hardly begin to describe how much this means; this is a good investment. I think one of the most important, if not the most important tool, is a protective vest. If not for this, I was looking at buying one with my own personal funds. It’s a lot better to have one, I feel much better with it,” Shurtleff said.
“Crime Stoppers is all for helping to stop crime and this will help police do that. We do give cash rewards for information about crime. This will support officers, help them keep citizens safe. We want to do all we can to help these officers serve and protect any time we can,” said Crimes Stoppers Board Chairman Art Romanat. “We want to help them keep up the good job they do – and they do a good job – by helping any time we can.”
“We encourage officers to wear them at all time, at least until it reaches a certain degree out, when serving on patrol or providing court protection,” noted Bayuk.
In addition to awarding cash to people who report information that helps solve crimes and giving funding to SSPD for “body armor” or protective vests, Crime Stoppers also approach Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office in the same way SSPD was contacted, asking it there was a need for that office with which Crime Stoppers could help. They were able to purchase video recording system to aid in public and officer protection, according to HCSO Cpl. and Crimes Stoppers Coordinator Dennis Findley.
“We gave this time to the police. We gave the sheriff’s office this same kind of thing. We like to help them equally,” Romanat said.
Funding from Crime Stoppers comes from state money as well as from the courts and probation. Crime Stoppers carefully budgets a certain percentage of its funding for resources such as the protective gear and security recording devices for law enforcement, according to Romanat.
Among the members of the Crime Stoppers Board and law enforcement representatives present for the vest presentation Friday were: Glen Hall, Scott Ferguson, HCSO Cpl. and Crime Stoppers Coordinator Dennis Findley, Sheriff Butch Adams, Aubrey Washington, Crimes Stoppers Board Chairman Art Romanat, Police Chief Jim Bayuk, SSPD reserve officer Brian Shurtleff, Larry Marker, County Treasurer Treva Watson and Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Patterson.
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