Picayune Police officers now more protected than ever
Published 7:00 am Friday, January 27, 2017
This story has been updated to reflect the vests are capable of protecting officers from assault rifles.
“Years after we’re gone, these vests could still save officers’ lives in this community,” Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey said.
During a Picayune City Council meeting last week, the city accepted a donation of 36 steel-plated bulletproof vests from a representative of a local organization, Saving Police Lives.
The state-of the art police gear has a shelf life of over 20 years, Dawsey said, providing the department with a long-term investment for officers’ safety.
Saving Police Lives was started by Tanya Cialona, owner of Bodies by Tonya Bootcamp, which raised over $19,500 for the Picayune Police Department, previous coverage states.
After the police shooting in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the Picayune community rallied behind the organization to purchase new bulletproof vests capable of stopping high-powered assault rifles, Dawsey said.
“Everybody wanted to step up and help; we’re very appreciative of their outpouring of support,” he said.
The steel-plated vests weigh as much as 30 pounds with a front and black plate, as well as two side plates, so they aren’t intended for daily use, Dawsey said.
Officers are issued standard Kevlar vests, but those are only capable of stopping most handgun rounds, Dawsey said.
Due to increasing capabilities of assailants, Dawsey said it’s necessary for the department to adapt safety procedures and equipment.
“We haven’t had an officer shot and killed in the line of duty since 1964,” Dawsey said. “We hope that we never have one again.”
Officers will continue to wear the standard Kevlar vests during routine calls and shifts, he said, but each officer has already been issued one of the new adjustable vests to wear when responding to more serious incidents such as an active shooter.
“It gives the officers piece of mind,” Dawsey said.
“If you pull up to an active shooter and you just have a Kevlar vest, you know if you get shot you could die,” Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said.
With additional training, Dawsey said he hopes to continue adapting to the changing times and working with his officers to meet their needs so they can do their jobs better.
“Twenty years ago we wouldn’t have thought about it,” Dawsey said. “Times have changed since I started in 1984.”
The 36 vests only cost $11,152 of the almost $20,000 funds raised, Dawsey said, so the department and Saving Police Lives are working together to purchase other safety and training equipment with the remaining funds.
“I can’t thank these ladies enough…and the city for stepping up to protect us,” Dawsey said.