The Kissimmee Police Department is the first in Florida to begin equipping all officers with new ballistic rifle protection plates to keep them safer in the line of duty.
The department announced last week that 147 new plates have been assigned to all sworn officers. The items are manufactured by a company called Paraclete, and were purchased by KPD for about $49,000, according to Bailey Myers, KPD public information officer.
Although KPD has always outfitted its men and women in blue with armor plates, the ones capable of withstanding assault weapon ammunition were extremely heavy and only used in active shooter or other emergency situations.
Federal Eastern International, a supply company that provides daily gear to the department, informed law enforcement officials earlier this year about a new, lighter weight body armor technology.
According to Myers, KPD Chief Jeff O’Dell worked to immediately purchase the new gear, which arrived Oct. 9.
“Protecting those who protect and serve the Kissimmee community is one of our top priorities,” O’Dell said. “It’s our hope that now our officers will be able to feel comfortable and confident knowing a new piece of technology is protecting them out in the field daily.”
KPD officers are the first in Florida with this equipment, which weighs nearly the same as the older pistol ammunition protection plates, according to Myers.
Myers said KPD can’t release the exact firearms or ammunition the plates protect against, but she did say that the equipment is designed to withstand high powered ammunition like the kind used by rifles or other assault weapons.
The plates protect against pistol rounds as well just like the older ones.
The department recently added another life-saving tool to its fleet.
KPD announced this month that all officers will now be equipped with tourniquets and tourniquet training to assist gunshot and stabbing wound victims.
“A few years back, one of our officers had to use a bandage to stop someone from bleeding out after being shot in a robbery,” Myers said. “Now, Kissimmee Police officers will all be equipped with a tourniquet and tourniquet training.”
Police department captains conducted tourniquet training with patrol officers and members of the media Wednesday.