MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WAAY)- Police departments across the country are strapped for funds. Many don't have the money in their budgets to purchase new bullet proof vests for their officers. However, one ministry in the Shoals is hoping to help with that problem.
Northwest Shoals Community College police officer Jeff Thompson said that he never leaves home without his bullet proof vest. But up until about a year ago, his department didn't have the money to purchase them. That's when the Armor of God Vest for Life Program stepped in.
"It's important to agencies outside that are small and can not afford the vest. To have someone nice enough to donate them to us makes a big difference because you never know what kind of situation you may run in to," said Thompson. "It's helpful to have some protection than nothing at all."
Muscle Shoals Police Captain Clint Reck helped start the program in 2008. Since then, hundreds of police agencies across the nation have donated their old vests which expire after five years.
"We're giving away vests that may be slightly out of expiration of the five years, but something is better than nothing," said Reck. "We've sent a vest to or received a vest from every state. It was kind of a goal. We were trying to get a vest to every state and our goal is to get a vest to every officer who needs one-deputy, school resource officer, anyone who's working as a law enforcement officer that doesn't have a vest."
So far, 3,400 vests have been sent out including ones shipped overseas. A couple of those vests have even saved the lives of two officers in the Phillipines. With each vest that's sent out, the Gospel message is sent with it.
"We give them a vest to maybe protect their life here on Earth, but we also give them the message of Christ to save their life after," said Reck. "That's the main thing our ministry is about."
Those requesting a vest, fill out an application and sign a liability release form on the program's website. They also send in their measurements and then Reck finds a vest that will fit.
The ministry operates solely through donations. It costs around $10 per vest to mail them out. Hundreds of vests are still waiting to be shipped out to save a life. Anyone wishing to help or to receive a vest should visit http://www.vestforlife.com/index.php