Sullivan Co. Sheriff’s Office: SWAT team’s bulletproof vests expired five years ago

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SULLIVAN CO., Tenn. (WJHL) – The tact vests worn by S.W.A.T. team members in Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office expired five years ago.

Bulletproof vests are a typical item you would expect in a sheriff’s office and on their purchase list.

But Sullivan County Sheriff Jeff Cassidy says outfitting the SWAT team with new tact vests just isn’t in the budget.

“Usually equipping a SWAT team is very pricey, very expensive, and our budget is so strapped anyway with the jail healthcare, food, water, shelter and gas for our patrol cars, and necessities to make sure our county is safe, we just don’t have the funds to get those every five years,” Cassidy said.

So, to make up, they are hosting a fundraiser next weekend: the Scorpion Run. Their goal is to raise $35,000 for 16 new vests and other equipment needed for SWAT officers.

The first annual Scorpion Run is set to take place Sunday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m., beginning at the Sullivan Co. Sheriff’s Office. It’s a 5K run and two-mile walk.

SEE MORE: Sullivan Co. Sheriff’s Office holding Scorpion 5K & 2 Mile Walk to raise money for SWAT safety gear

The ones currently being used were purchased back in 2009, long before Cassidy took office.

“When I came in, I always made sure that each and everybody had exactly what they needed. So we’re looking at a lot of different things that’s within our budget that we’re going to equip our officers in” said Cassidy.

Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable says that he thinks the county commission has funded the office based on what was asked.

“That’s the sheriff’s responsibility, or his department’s responsibility to provide a budget that provides for their needs. We think they did that,” said Venable.

Venable says the sheriff’s office takes up about 40% of the county’s general fund. He also says that this fundraiser is warranted.

“I don’t think there is a shortfall that is requiring this fundraiser,” said Venable.

Cassidy says that patrol officer’s bulletproof vests are covered by grants and are not line items in his budget.

“We just fill out a grant every five years, and we usually receive those vests through grants, which is great, because even the regular flack vests for patrol are probably $700-$800,” said Cassidy.

Both Sheriff Cassidy and Mayor Venable say they think the Scorpion Run is a great opportunity for the community to come together to support the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.

“It gives the community an opportunity to show how much support they have for our law enforcement personnel,” said Venable.

If you would like to sign up for the fun run, you can sign up here.

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