A non-profit is raising money to outfit all South Carolina first responders with active shooter vests

Published: Apr. 22, 2018 at 12:14 AM EDT
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- One non-profit is trying to make sure that local law enforcement is prepared for the worst. They are raising the money to outfit all South Carolina first responders with an active shooter vest.

Yesterday it was a site becoming too familiar. Dozens of first responders rushing in after a shooting in a Florida high school. Luckily this one ended without any deaths. But, it raises concerns across the country and close to home for law enforcement here.

"We have to make sure that we provide the necessary equipment so that they are just as safe as we want them to keep us," Michael Letts said.

Michael Letts turned concern into action by forming a non-profit called In-Vest USA. It has one goal in mind; raise enough money to buy an active shooter vest for every member of South Carolina law enforcement, starting with Burnettown PD.

"We would like to take this opportunity to present this active shooter vest to Officer Barton, Burnettown Police Department. God. bless you," Letts announced to the crowd.

Letts says the heavy duty vest is something officers would carry in their cars. Anytime they roll up on an active shooter investigation they would throw it on. These vests costs around a thousand dollars each and are designed to stop high caliber rifle rounds. They are the latest model, using titanium steel alloy plates.

"This can make the difference between you going home to your family in the afternoon, night or not," Keith Barton said.

Keith Barton is one of the officers getting this vest. He says it doesn't hurt to be prepared.

"It's essential to have the right tools and equipment to hopefully never have to use in the situation with active shooter," Barton said. "But, if you do, at least you're better prepared then you were if you didn't have it."

Letts isn't just stopping at one police department. He hopes to equip them all in South Carolina.

"The need is large, but we're committed piece by piece, a little at a time, we're going to make sure our first responders, America's heroes, know that we care about the job that they do," Letts said.

This non-profit, In-Vest USA, holds special fundraising events to raise money for these vests. On Saturday the 21st, they held a poker run at Timms Harley Davidson of Augusta. The money raised goes to active shooter vests that are shipped to the police department. Michael Letts says the fundraisers won't stop until their mission is complete.