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WPD receives grant to fund protective vests for every officer

WORTHINGTON -- Thanks to recently received grant funding, Worthington police officers will soon be equipped with an extra boost of confidence when responding to a call.

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Worthington Police Department Sgt. Brett Wiltrout holds up one of the department's 24 new crisis response vests it recently received thanks to Firehouse Subs grant funding. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Thanks to recently received grant funding, Worthington police officers will soon be equipped with an extra boost of confidence when responding to a call.

That’s what Sgt. Brett Wiltrout, who secured a Firehouse Subs grant to purchase crisis response vests for each of the department’s 24 officers - believes. The grant amounts to more than $7,000 in equipment.

The vests, which secure tightly around the officer’s upper body, are equipped with two ceramic plates to protect an officer’s chest and back from high-powered firearm bullets and knife blades. They’ll be distributed to every officer in the coming weeks during a department-wide meeting.

“We can’t do any good if we don’t have the appropriate protection to help people,” Wiltrout said of the crucial role the vests play in the department’s response.

Although the department currently equips its on-duty officers with a similar refurbished vest, it has been shared by approximately three officers who are assigned to one squad car.

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Wiltrout expects that the opportunity for each officer to have their own vest customized to their height and weight should increase the ability to quickly and confidently respond to a call - which ranges the gamut from a crisis to unknown situations.

“You trust your own equipment,” Wiltrout said. “If it’s personalized to you, that will build confidence, and that confidence will help in a crisis response situation.”

The vests are further customizable to attach additional equipment based on an officer’s specialty.

For example, Wiltrout said, the department’s four medics will have the option of attaching medical supplies directly on their vest so they’re protected and prepared in a crisis event.

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Grant funding allows the Worthington Police Department to equip each of its officers with their own crisis unit response vest. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)

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