TAYLOR COUNTY—Across the nation, groups are coming together to show support and solidarity for the people of Ukraine, and here locally, it is no different.
Taylor County Sheriff Terry A. Austin shared that he wanted to help join in with efforts being conducted statewide.
“What is going on is terrible,” he voiced. “So, to help out, the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department will be collecting gently worn and newly expired bullet proof vests that will be sent to Ukraine.”
According to Austin, he is joining in on an initiative being carried out by all sheriff’s departments across the state.
And the sheriff’s department isn’t the only local law enforcement agency joining the cause. The Grafton Police Department will also be hosting a collection of body armor for Ukraine.
“Sheriff Austin is spearheading the initiative here locally, but we are working in collaboration with him and his office,” revealed Grafton Police Chief Bobby Beltner.
In fact, the campaign was created at the behest of Governor Jim Justice, who last week called upon the United States National Guard and West Virginia Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enlist the help of law enforcement agencies across West Virginia in obtaining body armor for the war-ridden country.
“In West Virginia, we stand up for what’s right, which is why we stand united with Ukraine in every way,” Gov. Justice said. “Our incredible law enforcement officers throughout West Virginia are prepared to answer the call – they are well-stocked to be able to continue safely serving our people and communities throughout West Virginia, while providing this much-needed assistance to the Ukrainians who are bravely defending their home country against Russia. We hope and pray that this initiative will make a difference and that justice will win the day.”
“A lot of people are stepping up to make this happen with our surplus armor,” he added.
In coordination with the West Virginia Law Enforcement Coalition, which consists of the state associations for chiefs of police, county sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, troopers, narcotics officers and the Fraternal Order of Police, the entities are working to secure recently expired or unused ballistic vests.
County sheriffs and municipal police departments are accepting vests at their offices for pickup by the West Virginia State Police and the state Division of Emergency Management, both of which are part of DHS.
After collection locally, it will be pooled with other collections throughout the state. The donated body armor will then be transferred to a single collection point in the U.S. with many other states.
From there, the armor will be sent to Ukraine.
“What is happening in Ukraine is just unimaginable. Our hearts go out to the families affected by the ongoing battles with Russia,” Beltner voiced. “This collection is just one way for us to come together to show that we are in support of the Ukrainian people.”
Those wishing to take part in the initiative may drop off bulletproof vests at the Taylor County Sheriff’s Department or Grafton Police Department during regular business hours, Monday-Friday from 8:00-4:30 p.m.
For additional information, please call the sheriff’s department at 304-265-3428 or the police department at 304-265-0101.