MCCURTAIN COUNTY, Okla. (KTAL/KMSS) – Some community leaders have formed a non-profit to raise money for bullet proof vests for law enforcement in McCurtain County.
McCurtain County is among the largest areas in the state. “McCurtain County is 1,902 square miles. We’re the third largest area-wise in the state of Oklahoma,” said McCurtain County Sheriff Kevin Clardy.
The vast coverage area also means backup for law enforcement may not always be nearby. “They can be an hour or farther from any help from another officer,” said Curtis Luna, Adopt-A-Cop Coordinator.
Luna is an Idabel business owner who said he formed the non-profit out of concern for local deputies and police officers who are his friends and neighbors. He said the goal of the Adopt-A-Cop program is to raise $60,000 for bullet proof vests. “That would cover all the law enforcement in the county for a level 3a vest and a level 4 vest,” he said. Luna even donated the first vest.
Some of the county’s larger departments, like the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Department and Idabel Police already have level 3a vests that can protect against bullets from handguns. “We’ve had calls … and our officers have literally driven up right in the middle of the scene while it was still an ongoing situation,” said Idabel Police Chief John Martin. However, some smaller departments don’t have the vests because of budget constraints.
Adopt-A-Cop organizers said all departments are in need of level 4 vests. “Especially in the rural parts of the county, everybody’s carrying rifles. These vests will stop a rifle round up to a .308 caliber,” said Clardy.
The McCurtain County Sheriff’s Department has one level 4 vest. It was acquired after a drug seizure. “It’s a shame that the law enforcement have to get the protective equipment they need from a criminal,” said Luna.
Adding that extra layer of protection is a goal that Luna hopes the community will support. “We have guys out here protecting us that we expect to protect us, and we need to protect them.”
A community meeting about the Adopt-A-Cop program is set for Tuesday, September 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Idabel.
You can follow McCurtain County Adopt-A-Cop on Facebook @MCAdoptacop. Donations can be made at First State Bank in Idabel, Valliant and Hochatown.
For more information you can contact Curtis Luna at (580) 212-6766 or Nichole McAtee at (580) 775-4032.