Cunningham Secures Grants for New Protective Armor

Should a mass-shooting event happen in Bay County, area police have some new equipment at their disposal to keep them safe as they combat the situation.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office in September applied for grants to obtain active-shooter kits, which contain heavy-duty vests, helmets, goggles and trauma kits including tourniquets and QuikClot, a sand-like substance that stops bleeding quickly. In December, the office received a $6,751 grant from the Bay Area Community Foundation and $7,500 from the Justice Assistance Grant to purchase the gear.

Since mid January, the sheriff's office has received 20 kits, with a total of 30 expected by the end of February.

The vests, made by Spartan Armor Systems of Tucson, Ariz., weigh 17 ½ pounds.

"We'll have enough vests so that every deputy will have one," said Undersheriff Troy Cunningham. "Right now, the guys have soft body armor that they wear underneath their uniforms every day, which stops handguns and small rifles. What these will do is stop a lot of armor-piercing rounds and larger-caliber rifles like .30-06, .30-30s, .270s."

Bay County Sheriff's Deputy Art Kleinert with Lisa Cleland from the Bay Area Community Foundation.Courtesy Art Kleinert 

The vests are outfitted with two steel plates, which are designed to prevent a projectile from fragmenting and spewing shrapnel upon impact, Cunningham added.

The kits did not cost Bay County or the sheriff's office any money, Cunningham said.

Deputies won't be donning theses vests for their daily duties. The kits will be in deputies' patrol vehicles, ready for use if a situation calls for it.

"If the deputies are out and someone has a gun or we hear there is an active shooter or a mass casualty situation, they'll be ready to throw these vests on over top of their uniforms," Cunningham said.

In August, police participated in a school shooting training scenario at the Bay-Arenac ISD Career Center in Monitor Township. The sheriff's office applied for the grants after that training.

"The reason we did this is with all of the events and everything that's going on throughout the nation and some of the rising trends with active shooters ... this gives our guys a way to be better equipped to handle those situations," Cunningham said. "It's a way to make them a lot safer."

The undersheriff added he wants to thank the Bay Area Community Foundation for its part in keeping deputies safe.