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SARASOTA, Fla. – Local law enforcement agencies around the U.S. are shipping tactical gear to Ukraine to defend against Russian forces.
Officials from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office say they were inspired to help after seeing images from Ukraine. Now they want to do anything they can to help save lives.
“It will stop certain rounds and obviously protect you from, you know, headshots and falling debris and some of the things that we’re seeing on TV,” Sheriff Kurt Hoffman said as he showed a ballistic helmet.
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Sheriff Hoffman’s office recently boxed up and shipped about 340 ballistic helmets to Ukraine through a connection it has with a Department of a Defense contractor. Despite being in good condition, the helmets must be replaced and destroyed every five years for liability reasons, Hoffman said. The donated helmets would have soon been destroyed in favor of newer helmets
“And rather than be destroyed, they can be put to good use, hopefully protecting what appears to be a fragile democracy,” Hoffman said.
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The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office isn’t the only agency stepping up to help the fight. The Colorado Department of Public Safety also shared a video of at least 750 helmets and 80 sets of body armor donated by over two dozen Colorado law enforcement agencies.
Some states, like Ohio, have asked local law enforcement for surplus or expired ballistic gear that could be donated to the effort.
“The Ukrainian community handled the whole logistics end of this,” said Chief Nelson Whitney of the Falls Township Police Department in Pennsylvania.
Whitney’s department donated personal hygiene products, rugged police uniforms and more tactical vests with the help of the nearby Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center.
“All we had to do is function as a collection point. And they literally came to headquarters with the truck, picked everything up, put it on a plane and flew it over to Poland,” Whitney said.
These donation efforts have been happening for weeks, and Sheriff Hoffman says it’s likely to continue.
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“It appears from the emails and from the text messages that I’ve received from other law enforcement agencies in Texas, Oregon, California, Minnesota, that there’s a lot of people that want to help the people of Ukraine.”