Community raises funds to make active shooter protective armor part of uniform for McCormick County deputies

MCCORMICK COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) - McCormick County deputies are sporting new lifesaving tactical gear.

Sheriff Clarke Stearns say before Wednesday only a handful of deputies had the active shooter body armor and that's only because they purchased the equipment themselves.

Thanks to a community-wide effort, more than half the McCormick County Sheriff's Office is now armed with the proper equipment.

On Wednesday, McCormick County deputies proudly suited-up in their new bulletproof active shooter protective armor.

"The county council only gives me a $3,000 dollar a year budget." Sheriff Stearns told WJBF NewsChannel 6. "One vest cost about $900 bucks. If I have one new officer, which they approved and I did hire, that basically is one-third of my budget. My uniform budget is gone."

Since he took office Sheriff Stearns has been working on getting his officers the lifesaving gear. By partnering with local businesses and In-Vest USA the McCormick County Sheriff's Office got a 3 for 1 deal on the vest.

"It's just absolutely awesome to get them the equipment they need to keep them safe, so they can go home to their families at the end of the shift." Sheriff Stearns said.

The armor can be worn like over clothes, or hidden beneath an officers uniform.

Stearns says this gear is necessary, because officers never know what they may walk into. Especially now that the county is growing and deputies are responding to 66 percent more calls, then this time last year.

Through a fundraiser the community stepped up to help the officers who so proudly keep them safe.

"They may be responding to save my life, or your life or a my family's." Billy Norris, of the Norris Auction Company, said. "They need to have the equipment, that they must have, to do it."

"This is just the first step. We took care of 10 officers today, they have 8 more to go. The exciting part about this is it gives the community the opportunity to demonstrate to our first responders how valuable they really are," said CEO, President and Founder of In-Vest USA Michael Letts.

Another fundraiser to get 8 more vest is being organized for Spring 2018. A date has not been set.

Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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