The Clark County Sheriff's Office rolled out new safety equipment for its deputies that it calls "critical" after the deaths of two local deputies over the past 10 years. The widow of one of the deputies said the ballistic shields could have saved her husband last year.
"It just kind of gives me cold chills to think that you know, we at least have another tool for our officers to be able to use out there when they're in a bad situation," Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett said Tuesday.
More than $13,000 of money from Enon-based Brandeberry Winery's fundraiser last year was donated to the sheriff's office for the purchase of safety equipment. With that donation and other funding from the Fraternal Order of Police, the sheriff's office was able to purchase 60 personal ballistic shields for deputies and supervisors in its uniform patrol division.
The personal shields have been in the office's possession since last week and have the ability to stop a wide variety of ammunition, including high-powered rifles, according to Maj. Chris Clark.
The ballistic shields are coming to the sheriff's office after the 2022 fatal shooting of one of their own.
Deputy Matthew Yates, 41, was shot and killed on July 24 last year as he was responding to an incident at Harmony Estates Mobile Home Park.
Cole White, 27, of South Charleston and Jodie Arbuckle, 47, of Springfield, were also killed that day. Relatives said Arbuckle went to check on White, her son, because of concerns about his mental health. White shot Arbuckle, relatives said, then shot Yates as he responded to the scene.
SWAT forces pulled the deputy out after being trapped inside for three hours, and shortly after, the mobile home where it happened was destroyed by fire.
Deputy Yates' wife, Tracy, provided input to the sheriff's office for the new safety equipment, telling sheriff's office leaders that she believed her husband would have had a shield on his person the day he died if he had the option.
She said on Tuesday that she's been advocating for ballistic shields for all deputies on the streets in Clark County since the passing of her husband.
"I'm so grateful for it," she said. "Now it's there for the other deputies that I care deeply about. And I don't want this to happen to anyone else."
Grants are available for some policing equipment, but not all, Burchett said. Budget constraints also proved difficult for the office, as a bulk of their funding goes toward personnel-related expenses, Burchett said.
"We want boots on the ground," she said.
Yates' death came 10 years after the death of Deputy Suzanne Hopper, 40.
Hopper was shot and killed on Jan. 1, 2011, as she was responding to shots fired call at a camper at the Enon Beach Campground. She was ambushed by Michael Ferryman as she responded to the incident.
Dozens of officers and deputies from surrounding jurisdictions responded to the officer down call and engaged in a shootout with Ferryman, who fired upon anyone attempting to help Hopper. Ferryman was killed in the shootout.
The sheriff's office said the ballistic shields were purchased through money raised in October by Brandeberry Winery and other donations from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 209. The winery donated a portion of money for every bottle sold of its Hero in Blue wine.
(c)2023 Springfield News-Sun, Ohio
Visit Springfield News-Sun, Ohio at www.springfieldnewssun.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.