Equipment would be used in active shooter situations, Sheriff Tom Knight says
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight has accepted $135,000 in support from Karen E. Rushing, Sarasota County clerk of the circuit court and county comptroller, for the purchase of 350 ballistic vests, the Sheriff’s Office has announced.
The assistance comes in the aftermath of “active shooter situations that have unfolded nationwide over the past several years,” a Sheriff’s Office news release points out. Each vest weighs approximately 16 pounds and contains rifle-rated plates that offer deputies an extra layer of protection in large-scale incidents, the release explains. Every one of the sworn law enforcement officers, as well as deputies assigned to the Sarasota County courthouses, will be equipped with a vest, the release adds.
“As we’ve seen across the country, an active shooter situation can unfold in a moment’s notice,” said Knight in the release. “For that reason, it’s critical that we continue to equip our members with the best technology out there.” He added that Rushing “is a tenured and very well-respected elected official who can appreciate being fiscally conscious,” while balancing the need for enhanced public safety. “We are very grateful for her support.”
“I’m honored to be able to help protect the men and women who risk their lives every day for the quality of life we enjoy in our community,” said Rushing in the release. “May these vests help keep our law enforcement professionals safe.”
During the Aug. 23 County Commission meeting in Sarasota, Rushing discussed the plans for the purchase, noting that she had talked earlier with County Administrator Tom Harmer about the proposal. Her ability to assist the Sheriff’s Office through funds she had left in her budget for the current fiscal year made it unnecessary for Knight to submit a formal spending request to the commission, she pointed out.
Commissioner Christine Robinson thanked Rushing for the explanation. Robinson added that she wanted the public to understand that the board had not turned down a request from the Sheriff’s Office.
“I’m fully in favor of purchasing this equipment,” Commissioner Charles Hines said. Chair Al Maio added that he saw no board member wishing to object to the process Rushing proposed.
The vests, which were purchased through Federal Eastern International, were manufactured by Point Blank Body Armor based in Pompano Beach, the Sheriff’s Office news release notes.