KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Knox County Sheriff’s Office is getting new equipment to help keep officers safe while on duty.
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett announced Friday that the sheriff’s office will receive 400 vests to protect deputies from rifle fire. He said his goal is to have a vest in every officer’s car.
“It will save lives, these fatalities that we’ve had with our officers in recent history have all been by rifle fire,” said Mayor Burchett.
The vests are expected to cost around $400 per vest. The total cost to equip officers is expected to be around $160,000.
Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones said the vest will be used only when necessary, for example in an active shooter situation. “If we get a call like the last incidents we’ve seen where the individuals are armed with high power rifles,” said Sheriff Jones. “The soft body armor that we wear is not protective against rifle rounds, but these vest are.”
The vests are made of ceramic, according to Sheriff Jones. When an officer is shot, he said the bullet shatters on the vest, dispersing the blow of the bullet.
The announcement for the new vests was made at the graduation for new recruits at the Knox County Sheriff’s Office Academy. One of the graduates, Officer Travis Scates, said he has been dreaming about becoming an officer since he was a little kid, but he’s happy to know he will have extra protection in the field.
“The world being the way it is today, it’s important to always stay calm and do what we’re are supposed to do,” said Officer Scates. “We’re always reacting to somebody actions and the more protection things we have to help ourselves do our jobs, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Speakers at graduation encouraged deputies to remember the importance of the job when times get tough, and to remember their faith, family and friends.