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Vermont State Police display body armor collected to send to Ukraine

 Some of the body armor collected by the Vermont State Police to be sent to Ukraine
Pat Bradley
Some of the body armor collected by the Vermont State Police to be sent to Ukraine

The Vermont State Police are sending nearly a thousand pieces of body armor collected over two weeks to Ukraine.

On March 9, the Vermont State Police asked for donations of used and expired body-armor vests rated level III or greater that would then be donated to military units in Ukraine.

Captain Michael Manley, who coordinated the Vermont collection effort, said the idea was started by a California National Guard unit that asked states to assist in collecting body armor. Captain Manley explained that Governor Phil Scott’s office directed the state police to organize a collection in Vermont.

“A lot of support from a lot of different people," Manley said. "Not just from law enforcement but there’s people out-of-state. A woman that was born in Ukraine, she lives in Connecticut, and she purchased brand new vests and donated them. And there’s another person in New Hampshire that bought brand new vests and donated them. A lot of law enforcement people that were retired law enforcement and still have vests. The Pennsylvania State Police gave a large donation of vests. And there was another gentlemen that’s a retired law enforcement in Pennsylvania, he drove around for a week collecting vests and hundreds that are here from that person driving around to police departments all throughout Pennsylvania for a week. Not all of the states were doing it so some did reach out to us because they knew we were participating and collecting.”

Wednesday closed Vermont’s collection efforts. Over the course of two weeks Captain Manley says about 1,000 pieces of body armor were donated.

“We have 122 tactical vests and then we have 876 soft armor vests and 30 helmets," explained Manley.

VSP says the items weigh over 3 tons.

Speaking at the Williston barracks, Manley explained the difference between the tactical and soft armor vests.

“The main difference is the tactical vests will have a hard plate either in the front or both the front and back," Manley said. "But at least in the front it’ll have a hardened plate which the soft body armor does not for protection against higher caliber rounds."

"So what you would use the soft body armor for?" WAMC asked.

"That can be used for a variety of reasons," Manley explained. "You know that could be more for like aid workers or other people that are not on the front lines.”

While the armor is categorized as “expired” Manley says it is still usable in the field.

“Most vests have a five-year warranty and after that warranty is up those vests are removed from service for front-line police officers," Manley detailed. "But it’s well accepted that they can offer protection well past five years. So we’re confident that what we’re providing should give plenty of protection still. For a situation like this where they don’t have enough, there’s a dire need, there’s people that don’t have a vest so if it came down to not having a vest or one that’s expired then obviously this is a good solution.”

The Vermont State Police is working on shipping logistics to get the body armor to Ukraine as quickly as possible.

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