EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSShooting Of Deputies Highlights Need For Vests
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Kera Mashek
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Also Contributing: Bethany Simmons
Reported: Jul. 9, 2013 11:31 AM EDT
Updated: Jul. 9, 2013 11:47 AM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Two Nicholas County deputies are recovering after being shot during a standoff over the weekend.
Hansford "Buddy" Stapleton and Richard "Tommy" Allison have been upgraded to satisfactory condition.
The case demonstrates the importance of officer safety equipment. Both Stapleton and Allison were wearing bulletproof vests when they were shot this weekend.
It's a reminder of how important those vests are and the reason why a law just went into effect to make sure all West Virginia deputies have them.
Police everywhere know bulletproof vests are a crucial piece of the armor they wear every day.
"It can and does save officer's lives,” Capt. Jim Sizemore of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office said. “That vest is a vital piece of life saving equipment."
But as Eyewitness News reports uncovered last year, some departments simply couldn't afford to offer that protection to their officers. Eyewitness News partnered with the West Virginia Sheriffs’ Association to raise funds for the vests in an initiative called “In-Vest,” a drive that raised more than $40,000.
Spurred by this effort, West Virginia lawmakers passed a law requiring sheriff's departments to offer vests to their deputies, a law that took effect last week.
Kanawha County commissioners decided to get a head start, mandating vests here back in January.
Not all county commissions statewide have agreed, arguing officers aren't shot often enough to warrant the expense of buying vests.
The state commissioners association, a lobbying group supporting those commissions, said it always stands against "unfunded mandates."
But ultimately, the vest law was an exception.
The commissioners association did object to part of the law that also requires counties to keep updating vests and replace them when needed, insisting that should be part of the regular budgeting process.
But despite that objection, it is now the law of the land and all deputies can now go to work able to strap on a piece of equipment that could save their life.
Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper is a believer in the need for the safety equipment.
“It's just common sense,” Carper said.
There is still concern that the new law might not be enough.
Officers can still choose not to wear vests, which does happen.
And since the law is directed at sheriff's departments, officers at local police agencies might still go unprotected.
But the law is certainly a good step in helping protect those who work to keep us safe.
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