Sunday, August 09, 2009

Police Assist with ‘Vested’ Opportunity

DAPHNE, Ala.—On Wednesday, Mobile Police Capt. Kara Rose picked up 11 ballistic vests from the Daphne police station to be donated to Ten-Four Ministries’‘Armor of God’ project, which collects used protective vests and ships them to underprivileged police departments.

Mobile Police Capt. Kara Rose flanks Daphne Police Chief David Carpenter, who loads a box of used ballistic vests into a police cruiser. The vests will be shipped to officers who need protective gear as part of the ‘Armor for God’ project. (Staff photo by Sasha Heller)

“The vests are expired here but they may be able to save someone else’s life,” Daphne Police Chief David Carpenter said. “If this will save a life, we’re all for it. We’re just happy to help out.”

The Daphne P.D. regularly updates its vests every five years; before this project, old units were discarded.

Body armor can be the one thing that keeps a police officer alive after taking a slug in the chest while chasing a perp down a shadowy alley.

But for some law-enforcement officials, that extra line of self-defense against piercing bullets and shotgun shells is not a reality.

“There are officers out there who don’t have vests and need them,” Daphne police administrative assistant Tracy Bishop said. “This is an opportunity for them to get the level of protection they need to perform their duties.”

The project’s founders—Muscle Shoals Police Lt. Clint Reck and Tulsa, Okla., Police Capt. Travis Yates realized a need for increased personal protection among police officers.

“There is a real issue with law-enforcement officers here in America and across the world that are working without ballistic vests to protect them,” Yates said.

After communing with pastors congregating in the Phillipines, the two policemen set their plan in motion.

For the initial delivery, Reck and Yates, Ten-Four Ministries director, shipped 24 used vests to the Philippine National Police.

The day after receiving the vests, a high-ranking Phillipino officer in Cabuyao, Laguana, chased a stolen car down a dead-end road and was shot in the chest by the suspect. Had he not been wearing the donated vest received the day before, the officer would likely be dead.

“It was a one-time event but once the life was saved, we decided to continue this as an ongoing project,” Yates said. “We placed our efforts under the umbrella of Ten-Four Ministries,” formed in 2002 in Los Angeles to provide practical and spiritual support to law-enforcement members around the world.

The anonymous nature of donating used-ballistic vests means that officers from West Virginia to the West Bank may survive a deadly encounter thanks to a small act of charity.

Saving lives and souls

Yates lists two primary goals to the project.

The first goal is to save as many lives as possible by distributing protective vests to underprivileged police departments.

The second goal is of a higher calling.

“This is a Christian project and we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those that receive the vests,” Yates said. “This is done either in person when we give the vest to the officer or through a letter that we send along with the vest.”

The only requirement for receiving a vest, Yates said, is that they must be a sworn officer. The ministry only delivers the message; it is up to the receiver of the vest to remain open to receiving the message.

“We will present The Gospel to the officer but there is no other obligation on the officer’s part,” he said.

Hand-picked protection

Prior to shipping the vests overseas, Yates personally inspects each unit and coordinates deliveries with missionaries and local pastors.

“It is very important that before we agree to provide vests to other countries that we ensure the vests actually end up with sworn peace officers,” he said.

The last thing Yates wants is for the vests to mistakingly find their way to some fanatical guerrilla outpost threatening a coups.

“While we have had several countries express interest in our vests, including some in Africa, we currently only send vests to two countries: the Philippines and Guatemala,” Yates said. “We have excellent contacts and we are working within those countries and they ensure the vests go to officers.”

Studies show

Many tests have been conducted showing that vests can still stop a variety of bullet types long after a manufacture warranty has expired.

“We have worked with Rochester (N.Y.) rangemaster and vest expert Sgt. Roy Adams and, in addition, both Clint and I have over 30 years of combined experience in law enforcement,” Yates said.

“We are very familiar with how and why vests degrade,” he said. “We have both been involved in ‘vest shoots’ where we shoot at vests to test their effectiveness.”

Some factors accounted for during testing include: how old the vest is; the type of vest; and the type of wear and environment the vest has been in.

“We will not issue a vest unless Clint and myself will also wear that vest,” Yates said. “We do not recycle every vest that comes to us. Sometimes the vest cannot be given out.”

Ten Four Ministries is a non-profit organization that also works with the 10-33 Fund, helping to support thousands of families of officers in financial hardship.

On July 14, Yates started an online fund, at, which at press time had raised $20. A $20 donation covers the cost of sending one ballistic vest overseas, the site said.

To date, Ten-Four has received 500 vests; it expects 600 more, Yates said, adding that the organization has distributed 400 of its donated vests: 250 went to the Philippines and 150 stayed in America.

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