Masons help protect local law enforcement

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Jon Decker photo

Under Sheriff Katie Mills inspects new Kevlar vests received by the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. The new vests came to the department courtesy of the local Masons.

Jon Decker photo

Local Masons donated body armor to the Dawson County Sherrif’s office. The Masons’ donation allowed the department to make a needed upgrade to the equipment which degrades over time.

The Dawson County Sheriff’s Department recently received a donation from the local Free Masons Chapter in order to purchase 11 new bullet resistant kevlar vests.

The vests arrived on Friday where they were opened in one of the sheriff’s department’s training rooms with members of the Masons present.

Under Sheriff Katie Mills thanked the masons for the new vests.

“Now we have enough vests for everyone, including our reserve officers,” Mills said.

As for the Masons, this kind of generosity is nothing new for them.

Worshipful Master Sandy Stinnett, who was present at the unveiling of the new vests explained that the Masons have worked with the local police department before.

“In the past we helped purchase gun mounts for their patrol vehicles,” Stinnet said, “We helped get photo and video equipment for their uniforms.”

He went on to say that the Masons attempted to help out when the department was considering a dog program in the past. As for the Mason’s reasoning? The organization has many ties to law enforcement.

“We have several retired officers that are Masons in town,” Stinnett explained, “We also have officers that are Masons out here. We do everything we can to support law enforcement.”

As for the need for new vests, it turns out that like canned food, bullet resistant vets have an expiration date.

“Well they actually expire every three or four years from the manufacturer’s warranty,” Sheriff Ross Canen explained. “We’re always looking for funding to replace vests. We’re always in a pickle.”

According to Canen, manufacturer say that the body sweat breaks down the material, thus they end their warranty after a few years.

“I think it means that some lawyer put an experiation date on them,” Canen said, “So let’s say an officer is wearing a vest and it fails, that way he cannot sue the company because he was wearing one that was expired. This is just my opinion, but it’s a great way to sell more vests.”

Either way, having fresh vests keeps the department up to date and their officers potentially safer.

As for the old vets? According to Canen, the department keeps them as back ups, and will even take a few of them down to shooting range to show officers how they work and why it’s important to wear armor.

“They say it’s like a volleyball net,” Canen explained,” The net catches but it still bulges in, so you’re gonn break a rib or two, but it’s not gonna penetrate.”

As for the effectivness of bullet resistant vests in policing, they make a huge difference.

According to the National Institute of Justice, an officer is 14 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury if they are not wearing armor when struck.

The vests received by the sheriff’s department also have pockets or carriers in them, which allow for ceramic or metal plates to be inserted for extra protection.

Without the plates, vests are built to stop lower velocity projectiles such as pistol rounds. Because hand guns are used much more often than rifles in crime, this is usually adequate.

However, according to Mills, if the need should arise, a vest with a plate in it can stop a .243 rifle round.

Either way the masons hope that the department won’t have to use these vests any time soon.

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