Friday, October 10, 2008

A "Vested" Interest

By: MARGARET GIBBONS, Times Herald Staff

COURTHOUSE - The old bulletproof vests worn by Montgomery County (Sheriff's) deputies have a second life when they are replaced with new vests.

And that so-called second life also has the potential to save lives.

County Sheriff John P. Durante said he donates the old protective vests to the military.

They are primarily used as added protection under seats on military planes flying in war zones, according to Durante.

Durante explained that the vests have about a three-year shelf life when worn by the deputies; the department then replaces them.

Initially, he said, he had to pay for disposal of the old vests.

"I can't exactly throw them in the trash and have the bad guys getting them," he explained.

In discussing the situation with others in the law enforcement community following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the call up of the military for engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq, Durante said he subsequently learned the military could make use of them.

"It was a no-brainer," the sheriff said.

Durante's comments came during Tuesday's review by the county commissioners of his proposed 2009 budget.

Included in the proposed $5.26-million budget is an allocation of $17,000 for new protective vests.

Durante said that about one-third of his deputies get new vests on a rotating three-year schedule.

New-hires also get new vests rather than hand-me-downs because the vests are fitted to each deputy.

Each vest costs about $600 but the department receives reimbursement for about half of that cost, according to Durante.

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