By Austin Williams
Proceeds from the sale of confiscated firearms may soon provide the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department with improved body armor.
“They’re dinosaurs,” Lt. Rodney Van Zant said about the bulletproof vests currently in use by the department.
Since vests are fitted to individual officers, staff turnover and technological obsolescence have left the department with vests that do not fit properly and that do not provide the same level of comfort and protection as those currently on the market, Detective Jason Back added.
On Feb. 28, the Laurel County Fiscal court approved the application for a grant administered by the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security’s Law Enforcement Protection Program, according to Laurel County Judge Executive David Westerfield. The grant provides “$550 for each considered unit of body armor requested and/or awarded,” according to Homeland Security’s website.
Unlike other grants to law enforcement administered by Homeland Security, the money for body armor purchases does not come from state or federal taxes. Instead, the program is funded by proceeds from sales of weapons confiscated by the Kentucky State Police to licensed firearms dealers in the state, the most recent of which involved the sale of over 1,000 confiscated weapons.
The department’s oldest body armor is around four years in age, but is still functional. Back said that this armor will be sold to another law enforcement agency, or donated to one with limited resources for purchasing new equipment.