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Vilas County Sheriff's Office armors up with new vestsSubmitted: 02/16/2018
Erin Beu
Erin Beu
Reporter/Anchor
ebeu@wjfw.com

Vilas County Sheriff's Office armors up with new vests
EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County officers can now respond to active shooter calls better prepared.

All deputies and patrol offices now have access to steel-plated body armor, something only the Vilas County SWAT Team had before.

"We want to make sure our staff are fully protected," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain Gerard Ritter. "I never want to see anything happen to any one of my staff. And we should outfit them with the protection they need."

Before the new body armor, Ritter said officers and deputies only had access to soft body armor.

"The weave material is designed to stop or slow down a projectile," said Ritter.

Officers will still wear the soft-bodied armor every day, but in active shooter situations, officers can now essentially double up on protection, protection once only offered to the SWAT Team.

"There has been an increase in active shooter incidences across the United States," said Ritter.

The SWAT Team is normally called to active shooter situations, but since most of the time officers and deputies are the first on scene, they can't always wait for the SWAT Team to step in.

"Law enforcement officer primarily responsibility in an active shooter situation is to stop the threat. Any officer goes down, shot, becomes a causality, they can no longer do their job," said Lt. Gregory Fulton.

Fulton said the SWAT Team's body armor is a lot bulkier than what officers and deputies will now use so they can respond at a moment's notice.

"[The vests are] easily put on and they are smaller," said Fulton.

Ritter wants his staff to be as prepared as possible for active shooter situations.

"We want the staff to feel secure, students to feel secure," said Ritter.

The Vilas County Board approved Fath's request for the vests which cost 350 dollars each.

The office is also in the process of getting all members a ballistic helmet.

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