GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Loved ones can breath a little easier tonight, knowing Greene County Sheriff’s officers are now equipped with new bulletproof (bullet resistant) vests.
Three months ago, News Channel 11’s Kylie McGivern tracked down the expiration dates for bulletproof vests in the seven Tennessee counties in our viewing area. and found Greene County was the only department with officers in vests beyond the 5-year warranty date. Many, were between 10 and 16 years old.
The National Institute of justice determines that warranty date – a 5-year shelf-life for body amour, based on extensive testing. Friday, the sheriff’s office began issuing 50 new bulletproof vests to officers, along with a signed agreement to wear the vest at all times while on duty.
Sgt. David Beverly has been with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office for 17 years. At least two, spent wearing a bulletproof vest past it’s 5-year warranty date.
“My other vest was issued in 2007,” Sgt. Beverly told News Channel 11.
Sgt. Beverly is one of 50 officers this week replacing a dated vest – with a new one.
“As far as concerns, yes and no,” Sgt. Beverly told News Channel 11. “As long as you don’t submerge them in water, or do the things that’s not recommended, they should still hold up to the capability that they’re built to do.”
But Greene County Sheriff Pat Hankins told us in November, he wasn’t about to take the chance.
“Who knows? Who’s gonna stand behind that vest and let someone shoot ’em after a year to find out if it does work?” Sheriff Hankinds said. “It shouldn’t have never, never happened, in my opinion. And I hope that in my term here as sheriff, that it never will happen.”
Today, five months into that term, marks the first time in years every officer will have an up-to-date vest, and the department, a bit more peace of mind.
“I worried about it a lot, and that was one of my main priorities to get that done,” Sheriff Hankins said.
“When you’re going out here working every day, it’ll help you mentally to know you have a new vest,” Sgt. Beverly said.
A grant through the Department of Homeland Security paid for a majority of the bulletproof vests. About two months ago, the sheriff’s office issued 27 tasers to officers as well. Next up, Sheriff Hankins said they’re setting their sights on a grant for new radar units and more computers.