MCCURTAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KTA/KMSS) – The effort to provide bullet proof vests to all law enforcement officers in McCurtain County has made progress, despite fundraising issues caused by COVID-19.
In fact, the pandemic has created a new urgency to provide protection for all first responders.
“Officers were working in t-shirts, or shirts, they had no protection at all,” said McCurtain County Adopt-A-Cop Founder Curtis Luna.
Thanks to corporate and community support, Luna said the non-profit has ordered 85 bullet proof vests for law enforcement in McCurtain County since 2019.
But, he said, there’s more work to be done. “Every department in the county still needs some level four vests,” Luna said.
“Level four vest is the vest that actually would stop a rifle round,” said McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy. He added that most of his officers now have level 3 vests, which can protect against bullets from handguns.
“We wouldn’t have the equipment we’ve got right now if this program wasn’t established and Curtis wasn’t doing what he was doing,” Clardy said.
Law enforcement officials said the support couldn’t come at a better time, as officers respond to more calls involving domestic violence. “They’re generally, rapidly changing, from the time the officer gets the call to the time they actually respond on the scene, the situation could’ve changed dramatically,” said Idabel Police Chief John Martin.
According to Luna, about 35 more vests need to be ordered to cover every officer in the county. Then, Luna said, he wants to take the effort a step further. “We’d like to see vests in ambulances and on fire trucks … these people are in some of the most dangerous jobs that we have in the country today.”
Many residents in the area said they support the mission. Joseph Depriest said he thinks all officers should have bullet proof vests. “I think we should do that more, I mean, more people should come together, especially these days, and these trying times that we’re having,” he said.
“You may not think about it until you need them, but when you need them, it’s nice to be sure that they’re gonna go home at the end of the day, too,” Luna said.
You can follow McCurtain County Adopt-A-Cop on Facebook @MCAdoptacop. For more information, contact Curtis Luna at (580) 212-6766.