Pelion police officers received new safety vests Thursday described as state-of-the art protection.
The nine vests for town police and reserve officers feature plates make of lightweight steel that officials say provides better security against rifle fire.
“It gives you more confidence when you’re out there,” town Police Chief Chris Garner said. “Your officers have a better sense of well-being.”
Officers who patrol the Lexington County community of 700 residents and assist in calls for help in nearby areas are the first in South Carolina to receive the vests.
The vests “allow those in harm’s way to protect themselves,” said Michael Letts, founder of In-Vest, a nonprofit group that helps supply the equipment.
Buffalo Armory of Upstate New York developed the new vests because “traditional body armor is not enough any more” against many weapons, company President John Batiste said.
The equipment also will be made available for firefighters. And the plates in the new vests can be adapted to fit into older vests, company officials said.
At a State House ceremony celebrating the donation, Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster endorsed the goal of providing more of the new vests to law enforcement across South Carolina.
“These vests will make an enormous difference,” he said. “This is a great step forward.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483