A major fundraising effort is underway in Edgar County with the goal of providing 30 law enforcement officers with better protective gear — including protective vests that will stop …
A major fundraising effort is underway in Edgar County with the goal of providing 30 law enforcement officers with better protective gear — including protective vests that will stop high-powered rifle rounds.
The goal of the Friends of Edgar County Law Enforcement, according to Granville Colvin, is to raise $40,000 to outfit the Edgar County Sheriff’s Department as well as the Paris, Brocton, Chrisman and Kansas Police Departments.
Edgar County Sheriff Jeff Wood said the current vests worn by the county’s law enforcement community when on duty are lightweight and will stop only a handgun round. Also, none of the officers serving in the county have helmets. The total cost to outfit each of the officers with the new vest and helmet is $1,050.
In addition, the group is trying to raise enough money to acquire at least two protective shields — one for the county and one for the city. The shields provide protection for the first officer entering a hostile situation, according to Paris Police officer Travis Vice. The cost of each shield is $5,500.
Colvin said local businesses have been contacted about the project and are responding. The idea for the project was hatched last fall, Wood said, when a group of citizens and law enforcement were together at an event.
“They started questioning us about our equipment,” the sheriff said.
“Honestly, I was shocked,” Colvin said. “These are our friends, family members and neighbors who are protecting us, and we aren’t protecting them?”
The result was the formation of the Friends of Edgar County Law Enforcement. The group members recognize local government funds are limited for the purchase of such equipment and decided to help.
The group planned to conduct the fundraising in the spring, but the COVID-19 restrictions put a halt to that.
“Everyone recognized it was on the back burner,” Wood said.
Now that Illinois is moving to Phase 4 of Recovery, the group has planned a UTV ride Saturday, July 18, beginning at the Vermilion Park. Registration — which costs $20 per person — begins at 11 a.m. with the ride starting at 1 p.m.
“Absolutely 100 percent of the UTV ride registration goes to the fund,” Colvin said.
The group has received permission from three Vermilion area resident to use their land for the ride. A dinner will be served at 5 p.m. at the Vermilion Park for no additional charge. The menu includes pulled pork and all the trimmings. It’s rumored Georgia Colvin’s famous brownies will also be served.
All officers are invited to join the group for the meal, Colvin said, and arrangements are being made to provide all on-duty officers in the county a meal. The meat is being prepared by Colvin and Jake Henson.
Wood emphasized the event is a family ride strictly for UTV’s — no four-wheelers, three-wheelers, Jeeps or dirt bikes. An ATV — all-terrain vehicle — is also known as quad or four-wheeler and is meant for single-riders. A UTV — utility task vehicle — tends to be beefier and allows for side-by-side riding for up to four people.
“This is something a lot of families enjoy doing together,” Wood said.
Once purchased, the new equipment will ride in the seat next to each on-duty officer, Wood explained. The officers are already wearing the lightweight Kevlar vest with a smaller protective plate.
“All they have to do is slip the other vest over the daily vest and put on the helmet,” he noted. The full-body protective shield will include lights and a view port for the officer.
Wood said no additional training is needed for the officers to use the new equipment, although he noted the new vest weighs about 25 pounds — without any of the additional equipment which may be placed on the vest.
Colvin said although Edgar County is not an urban area, smaller towns cannot assume an active shooter attack will never occur in a public area, school or church.
“They (law enforcement officers) are protecting my family and we need to protect them,” he said.
Anyone wanting to donate to the project may do so through the Edgar County Community Foundation, Colvin said.
“Doug Hasler, Christian Colvin and Warren Sperry of the ECCF were kind enough to set up this project for us,” Colvin said. All donations are tax deductible as ECCF is a 501(c) (3).
Wood said all county law enforcement officers appreciate the work being done by the Friends of Edgar County Law Enforcement — especially in a time when law enforcement is under scrutiny in the U.S.
“This is equipment we need, but that we don’t ever want to have to use,” Vice concluded.
For questions about supporting the UTV ride, the project or donations, contact Colvin at 217-822-3425.