Monday, June 22, 2009

Project Providing Protection For Officers

MUSCLE SHOALS - Muscle Shoals police Lt. Clint Reck expressed amazement as he looked at boxes filled with bullet-proof vests lining the floor and covering several tables - all of which will be heading to the Armor of God project.

"We started this in February, and I don't think anyone could have imagined it would have grown like it has," Reck said.

The project began in 2008 as Reck worked with his church, Parkway Baptist, of Tuscumbia, the city and the police department to send 24 used ballistic vests to the Philippine National Police Department in Manila. He soon realized that thousands of law enforcement personnel in the United States and worldwide are in need of bullet-proof vests. Reck and Ray Mahan, another member of the church, teamed with Capt. Travis Yates, of the Tulsa Police Department in Oklahoma, to form the Armor of God project.

"It started by word of mouth and people got excited about this and started getting involved," Mahan said. "We have had contacts one way or another from coast to coast."

Reck said the project has received donations of used vests from several agencies nationwide and daily receives calls from individuals or other departments wanting to participate. Donated vests, totaling more than 300 to date, have come from Alabama, New York, Georgia and West Virginia.

He said usually the only thing wrong with the vests donated to the project is that the warranty has expired.

"Tests have shown that the vests are good and continue to provide protection for up to 10 years or longer," he said. "Ideally, we wish every officer in every department could have a new vest. They are expensive, costing from $500 to $1,000. So that's not the case.

"When you're not wearing anything, the next best thing for an officer is to have these used ones," he said.

Used vests are cleaned, inspected and packaged to be shipped. Some vests that are out of warranty have never been worn. Reck said only sworn, certified officers can receive the vests. He verifies each request.

"I will not send anyone anything that I wouldn't wear," Reck said.

He said plans are to send more vests to the Philippines and give Northwest-Shoals Community College 12 vests. Officials with the Colbert-Lauderdale Baptist Association want to take vests with them when they take their mission trip to Honduras, he said.

Mahan said he constantly receives requests for information about the project.

"Almost every time I check my e-mail, I look at the inbox and there's a request or a donation," he said.

Reck said the first request was from a police officer's fiancee in upstate New York.

"She said the department he worked at was small and couldn't provide vests," Reck said. "She said he couldn't afford one and she was worried about his safety. We sent a vest the next day."

He said they have received e-mails from officers who say the vests "help their wives sleep better at night."

"When you give something to someone who can use it and know that it could save their life, it gives us a blessing," Mahan said.

Each vest is accompanied by a pamphlet about the Armor of God project and the gospel. "The individuals who get the free vests are also going to hear about the free gift of salvation," he said. "This project was put together with the help of the Lord, and through the help of the Lord, we've been able to help others."

Courtesy: Times Daily, Original Link

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